One Step at a Time

Since my last post things have been uneventful, yet productive.  It took me about a week or so to finally come to accept the fact that I wouldn’t be able to run any of my spring races this year, including the Salisbury Marathon.  Knowing this, I have been able to clear my head and focus on the road to recovery.

After running the 5K at the Tim Kennard River Run and waking to a re-aggravated achilles tendon the following day, I fessed up to my Physical Therapist and vowed to not run again period until she says I can.  Not one mile, not one minute, not one step!  Since then there have been a few times at work or at home where I’d be in a hurry to do something, making an attempt to get from one location to another as speedily as possible on foot.  Whether it would be from one exam room to another or from my car to a building in the rain, I would have to stop myself from running.  I was determined to keep my “no run” promise!

My physical therapy seems to be going well.  I am making progress every day.  I am being super-diligent about getting my prescribed exercises done each day, even if it means I have to get them done at 11:00 PM.  I had an assessment early last week and it was determined that I need to continue Physical Therapy.  I am making progress, yes, but as my achilles improves and heals, more problems are coming to light.  One of them being a problem I’ve been aware of for a few years now as it was pointed out by my previous Physical Therapist…my hips!  They are weak and lax on one side and super tight on the other which is throwing my form off and, likely, is why I keep having these nagging injuries.  Having me watch myself in a mirror while I performed some prescribed work at a recent session really brought it to light.  Now, when I do my exercises at home I do them in front of a mirror and it is making a difference.

Sunday, April 15, 2018 was the 7th annual Run for the Animals.  For those of you who have been following my pathetic blog, you know that this is my “heart” run!  I have participated in the event every year!  This year was the first year that I had to walk the entire thing.  I only did the 5K, but I am happy to report that C.J. and I completed it and I still feel great!  I haven’t had any problems with my achilles at all.

Today I had another Physical Therapy session.  I was able to run for 5 minutes on the treadmill.  I hate a treadmill, but for PT purposes I will do it!  It was a super-slow pace and I was extremely mindful and cautious throughout every millisecond of movement.  I am feeling good as of writing this post.  We will have to wait to see what tomorrow morning brings.

It’s a process, that’s for certain.  This time I’m going to do it the proper way and hope that I come out stronger (and maybe even faster!) than ever before!  I’m going to take it one step at a time, patiently yet persistently.

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Running will not be in my near future…

Even though I felt fine before, during and after my 5K yesterday, I woke this morning to a crunchy, swollen achilles. In addition to that, my calf has been cramping up all day, worsening with each step.

I was so hopeful that I would be fine today. If there was a slight tinge of something, that would be okay! No big deal! I would just continue to rest and do physical therapy exercises and everything will be okay. But my hopes were shattered when I took my first step out of bed this morning. As soon as I lifted my right heel I could feel the crunch of my achilles tendon. Then I noticed the “bump” was back as I was shaving my legs in the shower. “$h1+!!!! You dummy!” That’s what I screamed to myself in my head.

I took a hefty dose of ibuprofen this morning, and iced my achilles for about 10 minutes prior to teaching my SoulBody Barre Unhitched class this morning. I taught the class with complete modification so as not to perform any heel raises myself. I also cued but did not perform anything plyometric! I will continue to do this for the next several weeks. In addition, every minute I was on my feet at work today made my calf tighten up more and more.

As of early this afternoon I swore I wouldn’t run again until I got the okay from my Physical Therapist. I’m out for both the Run for the Animals (but I should be able to walk the 5K) and the Salisbury Marathon (I won’t even be able to complete the half-marathon at this juncture). I’m in a state of depression, I’m not going to lie. I am looking for all things positive from here on out! I will fess-up to my PT on Wednesday about my foolishness and own up to my failure. Things are about to get really serious here for me. So if you see me out running about in the next 2 months, stop me! I have a problem and I need help in multiple ways.

Being injured as a runner, in any way, really sucks. Running is my therapy. It’s what helps me clear my head and get my affairs in order. It’s my zen, my happy place! Without it I am … this. I don’t like this.

Tim Kennard 2018

Today was the 15th Annual Tim Kennard 10 Mile River Run & 5K Run/Walk. I registered for the 10 miler about 2 months ago, then promptly injured myself. (If you’ve read my recent blog posts, you know all about my achilles injury!)  I have not run at all in over 6 weeks, so I downgraded myself to the 5K because I knew I wouldn’t be ready for 10 miles.  Walking hasn’t been a problem for me, so I figured I could walk the entire 5K if I had to.

The weather was nice today.  It was cool, in the upper 30’s, with a light breeze.  We could have done without the breeze in these temperatures, but at least it was very light.  It was clear and sunny, so that helped ease the discomfort of the coldness (for me anyway).  I didn’t have enough fingers and toes to count how many half-naked people I saw on the course!  One guy was wearing shorts and no shirt, countless others were in shorts and tanks.  I don’t know how they do it.  I wish I could do that.  If I did, my entire body would seize up with a Raynaud’s event.  I was covered from the tip of my head to my toes, with Hot Hands insole foot warmers in place and hand warmers in the pockets of my jacket. Not my personal ideal running conditions, but I’m happy it wasn’t raining or snowing, or, worse, blowing gale-force winds.  For late March on the middle East Coast, it was decent.

I was dreading the start line, I can’t lie.  I just knew that my first attempt at “lift off” would lead to pain or discomfort and I would be further disheartened.  Did I mention how I have not run an inch in over 6 weeks?  I did a little on the bike and some on the elliptical, but that isn’t running.  My plan was to walk for 5 minutes, then attempt to run until I felt any type of discomfort, then walk/run from that point on as needed.  I don’t know who I was trying to fool because as soon as the gate was open I took off like a dog breaking loose from his leash (only much slower).

To make a short story shorter, I ran the whole darn thing!  I felt good the entire time and finished with a time of 27 minutes and some change.  Nothing close to a PR for a 5K, but way better than I would have ever even thought given my current circumstances.  And I know I’m going to pay for it.  That dull ache on the lateral side of my achilles has been there since I started my heel lift exercises prescribed by my PT.  My PT has not cleared me for running yet, but she knew I was going to walk/run this 5K.  She told me if it hurts to stop!  It never hurt beyond that dull ache.  So I continued and pushed through.  I finished with an official time of 27:31.  WHOA.  I was bookin’ it harder than I realized.

Because I already registered for the run way back when I figured I’d, at least, show up and get my shirt and take a DNS.  Then I could support and encourage all of the other runners!  Thankfully I was able to default to lesser mileage.  I knew in my brain I needed to take it easy, but I didn’t…

I haven’t run in 6+weeks and managed to pull this out of my ass today.  I’m going to pay for it in the coming days and will likely get a scolding from my PT this week.  I didn’t want to do this, it just happened!  The dangers of organized races.  It gives me hope for the marathon that I will not run in late April!  But maybe, just MAYBE I will be able to do the half?

I say as I am icing my ankle/achilles and noticing some swelling and such.

At least I got some cool stuff this year!  Awesome shirt and my first bling from Tim Kennard!

 

Run for the Animals is next.  From now til then it will be determined whether or not I might be able to do a half marathon (marathon is OUT) in Salisbury on April 28.  I’m going to go for it!

PT =

My PT is PT with my PT is turning into PT and PT.  Totally makes sense, right?  If you need help deciphering this message, here’s the key:

Personal Trial | Physical Therapy | Physical Therapist | Positivity Therapy | Patience Testing

As of Tuesday this week I have started my Physical Therapy for my achilles tendon injury.  After meeting with the Physical Therapist, there’s a very slight chance I might be able to run my marathon in late April.  One of my major downfalls is that I haven’t been keeping up with enough cardio exercises to maintain my aerobic capacity.  I was hesitant to do too much bike riding, wasn’t sure if the elliptical would be okay, and in performing HIIT exercises I have to modify most of them to not strain my ankle and achilles tendon.  My Physical Therapist told me on Tuesday that the elliptical would be fine (and is recommended) for this type of injury until I can get back to running again.

Dang.  I wish it didn’t take so long to get an appointment to see her because I could’ve been training on the elliptical all this time.  But now I know and will train as much as is safely possible from here on out.

I have had zero achilles tendon pain in over 2 weeks since I’m not running at all and I have been modifying all of my activities.  According to my PT that means I no longer have tendinitis, but am now in tendinosis.  What does that mean?  It means that the inflammation has subsided but the tendon is still damaged so I have to be extra careful from here on out so as not to rupture the tendon.  No pressure!

Apparently I can “fix” or better this and that is the focus of my therapy; to remodel the scar tissue that has formed at the tendon.  The average time to full recovery is about 3-6 months.  My marathon is in 6 weeks, so when I said there was a slight chance I might be able to run it I really meant that I probably won’t be running it.  However, the positive is that I will be able to run some by then, and should be able to run/walk a half marathon as long as I take it super slow and easy, and if I feel any pain or discomfort at all to stop.  I have been in touch with the coordinators of the run and they have the course mapped out such that I can make my decision to go all the way or half-way while I’m running!  So, no matter what, I will be running that race in April!  I will likely not be running 26.2 miles, but will hopefully be able to complete 13.1 miles at a super slow and steady run/walk.

As for the other runs I have scheduled prior to the marathon, I can still participate in both.  I will not be running the Tim Kennard 10 Mile River Run, but I will be participating in the 5K Fun Run/Walk and will walk most of it.  I will not be running the half marathon portion of the Run for the Animals this year, but I will definintely be able to run the 5K and maybe run/walk the 10K.  Thankfully I have until race day to decide which one I want to and will be able to do.

So there you have it.  I will be ultra-diligent with my PT exercises for sure, and will be utilizing the elliptical machines at the Y very regularly in the next several weeks.  Though I will not be able to perform the way I had set out at the beginning of the year, at least I 1) can still perform at all and 2) can heal and recover to come out even stronger next time around!

Never lose sight of what is truly important to you.  Choose to find the positive in everything; even if you have to search really hard for it, it is there…always.

Runners are Crazy; Injured Runners are Crazier

Have you ever had that feeling like you are out of control? A feeling like your life is just getting away from you? I feel that way lately and I know why. It’s because I am supposed to be training for a 10 miler in late March, a half marathon in mid-April and a marathon in late April. However, an achilles tendon injury has me sidelined, so all that planning and scheduling I did for February, March and April was all for naught. I’m trying to stay active and moving, modifying strength-training workouts and cardio workouts to keep my achilles happy, but I feel lost since I’m not running. Those workouts cannot replace the feeling you get after finishing a long run, or a fast 5K, or just an easy run.

I’m having a really difficult time with this. I know I am not the only person in the world to suffer an injury during training, and others have suffered much worse injuries than what I’m dealing with! My friend Jen was training for an ultramarathon last year and slipped during a training run and broke her ankle. She was sidelined for a very long time, but after her doctors gave her the okay to start again, she did. She trained safely, she trained intelligently, she listened to her body and she completed that ultra this year! I respect her and look up to her and hope that I can be as strong as she was with my puny little injury. She’s a hero in my book.

My appointment for Physical Therapy isn’t until March 13, 2018. It’s just a few days away thank goodness, but I’ve been waiting since mid-February. It’s the waiting and wondering, “am I going to be able to run any of my upcoming races?” that’s making me feel out-of-control and lost. Am I crazy? Of course…I’m a runner.

JUST SAY NO! to the Retractable Leash

Having worked in the animal care field for over 20 years now, I have learned a great much about animals and their health and well-being.  I am fairly well acquainted with most pet toys and gadgets too.  Some are great, while others make me think “what in the heck were they thinking when they developed this thing?”  Retractable leashes are one of those gadgets that make me cringe.  I truly hope they, along with chain leashes, go the way of the dinosaur.

Retractable leashes are leads with plastic handles that contain a reel system.  As a pet advances, the leash unreels and the pet is able to move farther from the handler.  If the handler wishes to stop the pet from being able to advance, the handler typically has to push a button that “locks” the leash to prevent it from unreeling.  The only way that the leash can shorten is if there is some slack between the leash handle and the pet.  The first 12 to 24 inches of most retractable leashes is a flat nylon-type material.  The rest of the length of these leashes is typically a thin cord.  In some cases the entire length is a thin cord.

I can understand only one benefit of the retractable leash.  Oh.  Wait.  I lied.

Why am I so down on these ever-so-popular gadgets?  Let me tell you!

  1.  They teach your dog to pull.  If you have a tiny little teacup chihuahua at the end of a leash, the pulling isn’t usually a big deal.  However, if you have a 75 pound lab or a 120 pound mastiff pulling at the other end of a leash, you’re going to have some pretty serious control issues there!  Teaching your dog leash manners is crucial in any case, but especially when it comes to muscular breeds or large and giant breed dogs.
  2. The locking mechanisms are not trustworthy.  As your pet pulls at the retractable leash to check out the flattened squirrel in the street while a car is approaching, are you going to trust that little plastic latch to save your dog from being struck by that oncoming vehicle?  I sure wouldn’t.  And for good reason.  I’ve seen what happens in such a case far too often.
  3. The thin rope cord is dangerous to you and your dog.  Imagine, if you would, the following scenario:  A woman is taking her 60 pound pointer for a walk in the park when a squirrel crosses the dog’s path.  The dog begins to chase the squirrel so the woman attempts to press the “lock” button, but the momentum created by the dog is able to overcome the lock!  In a panic the owner reaches and grabs for the leash.  BIG MISTAKE!  There are cases of dog owners losing fingers in cases similar to this.
  4. At the vet clinic:  All too often I see pet owners come into our office with a dog on a retractable leash and that dog begins to explore the entire waiting area!  We see both healthy and sick patients at the office.  I don’t want your healthy dog fraternizing with another waiting sick dog, or otherwise.  Also, your dog’s roaming creates a snag-line to other patrons or staff members!

These are my top 4 reasons for banning retractable leashes, but I could easily come up with 20 more reasons to ditch them.  Folks, if you have a dog, you need to properly leash train that dog.  If the dog pulls or is too “strong” for you, please talk with your veterinary staff about head halters or no-pull harnesses.

The Run For the Animals 5th Anniversary

For those of you who have followed my blog, (first let me thank you for hanging with me and my paltry writing skills) you know a little bit about The Run for the Animals and how much it means to me.  If you’re a little behind you can check out this post.  Today was the 5th Anniversary of the race and I did partake yet again, and will every year for as long as I can help it.  I ran the half marathon today.  I PR’d by under a minute from last year’s half!  Hey, any improvement is still an improvement.  I’ll take it!  And I finished first in my age group.  But that is not what made today’s run extra special for me.IMG_9441

The inaugural Run for the Animals was my very first race after I decided to take up running to get healthy and fit.  So that makes today my 5 year “RACE”iversary!  I will toot my own horn and pat myself on my own back to congratulate me for sticking with it, even when things got tough.  I finally followed through with something and plan to keep up with it for as long as my body will allow.  This is not to say that there aren’t others responsible for where I am today, because all of those times when I wanted to throw in the towel they were there to keep me motivated and to remind me of why I started running in the first place.  They pushed me further than I ever thought I could go and stuck with me throughout the process.  You all know who you are and I am forever grateful for each and every one of you!IMG_9446

That is one thing that made today extra special.  But there is so much more.

Since running the Shamrock Marathon three weeks ago, I have not seen my marathon training buddies.  All of them showed up today for the Run for the Animals.  It was a great reunion with an amazing group of ladies.  I’ve missed them so much!  I ran the half marathon with my training buddy Sarah.  The others did the 10K or the 5K.  Sarah’s husband and oldest son ran the non-competitive 5K (a first run for both of them) and did an awesome job!  If it was timed they would have gotten first and third overall.  Jennifer ran the 10K with her two sons, a first 10K for one of them and the other placed in his age group!  Awesome job Sage!  Lisa and her dog Chessie ran in the 5K and did great!  Becky and her dog Stark ran the 10K and placed in her age group.  Everyone did a fantastic job!IMG_9429

This was another extra special thing about today.  Still more though.

I have yet another running family.  I attend a local boutique gym called Attitudes Fitness as often as I possibly can, and I teach a class there once a week called Pound.  (You can learn more about how that happened here.)  I have met so many awesome ladies (and a few gents) during my time at Attitudes.  Just over one year ago, Sheila, the owner and trainer-extraordinaire, decided to give running a try during one of her stays at her second home in Florida.  She learned to enjoy it.  Even after she said she would never be a runner!  Sheila totally smoked her first 10K and earned first place in her age group!  Jen and Jean are two awesome ladies that took up running and actually took part in the Run for the Animals last year.  They both PR’d today!  Liz is another instructor at Attitudes, is 7 months pregnant, and finished the 5K in just over 30 minutes!  Then there’s another Liz,  Liz W.  Liz W. just started running with us about 6 months ago.  She has been doing awesome.  She signed up for the 10K a couple of months ago, but this morning had a bit of pre-race anxiety.  She told me she just wanted to finish at a respectable time.  She was hoping for a time of around 1:20:00.  She finished in 1:04:??!!!  Her first race, a 10K, and she smoked it!  Patty is another one of those OMG amazing women.  Patty is not new to running.  She’s been running for a few years at least. She has overcome so many obstacles over the last few years and she is still out there with us every chance she gets!  A cancer survivor, finished the Dirty Girl last year with 4 (or was it 5) broken ribs that happened during a collision on the first obstacle, then had a foot injury recently.  This woman is my idol.  She is one tough cookie and the most genuine spirit you could ever know.  She is always there for support when she can’t run, but she’s always finding a way to get it done-No Excuses!  I could go on for probably an entire blog post in and of itself about all of the amazing ladies (and few gents) from Attitudes, but I wanted to let these girls know just how proud I am of them and how much I love them.  They are all RockStars!IMG_9417

Today was extra special because I got to take part in all of these wonderful ladies’ victories!  And yet there is still more.

I have my running “families” which are those groups of friends that I run with on a somewhat regular basis, or those that I get crazy with and sign up for things that I wouldn’t normally do without their arm-twisting.  Then I have my running friends; those friends who I only see during races or special events, but not on a regular basis due to scheduling differences or location.  I was able to see several of my running friends today and that always makes me happy!  One of them, Laura, won the overall female for the 10K last year and again this year.  She improved on last year’s time by about 5 minutes!  How awesome is that?  I am so happy for her.  She is an awesome lady and a badass too.  She completed the Spartan Trifecta last year and placed for her age group.  She also leads a group fitness class and motivates and inspires people on a daily basis.  I saw several other of my running friends and regret that I couldn’t catch up with everyone as much as I would have liked to.

The Number One reason I enjoy running so much is all of the fantastic individuals I meet!  Every year my running-friends list grows and I hope it continues for decades.

Lastly, I am so thankful and grateful to the race director Andrea, all of the volunteers, sponsors and fundraisers.  Andrea created this awesome event and it has grown by leaps and bounds in its 5 year history.  The cause is something that I hold dear, and the venue is absolutely superb.  This year they added a 5K non-competitive run/walk and had almost double the number of participants from last year’s event.  That is amazing!  My only regret is that I did not do any fundraising this year.  I have every year in the past and have done rather well.  This year there was just so much going on that I didn’t have the time to get it done.  Thankfully everyone else stepped up to the plate and was able to raise a ton of money to help out our local needy animals!  ALL of you fundraisers ROCK and deserve huge recognition for your efforts.  And the volunteers.  You are the backbone to the event.  Without you it couldn’t go on.  Thank you for all of your support and your hard work.

If you ever find yourself on the Eastern Shore of Virginia during your travels, consider taking part in the Run for the Animals if your travels happen during the event.  It is always a wonderful time, supports a great cause, has awesome race bling and you will meet a lot of awesome people.