Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another freezing May-vember Run...with better gear!

I am lucky, so very lucky, to have a job where I can pretty much make a lot of my own schedule.  I am a researcher who sees patients but I also do a hell of a lot of's research after all and I have to document EVERYTHING.  That being said, if I am not seeing patients, then I am at my desk, on the computer, typing away----entering information---making phone calls---- you know, the fun stuff.  However, because of this type of work, I have been able to get to work early and then leave early and hit the trails mid-week!  2 weeks ago, Owen and I went to Tiger for a 2-1/2 hour trail run with the dogs.  We figured, well-it is raining but it's spring time, how cold can it get?  We had on arms warmers, shirts, hat and gloves, that should be enough for mid May.....NOT!  We were FREEZING.  When I say FREEZING, I mean we were not even talking, we had our heads down making it down the trail as fast as we could to get to the car.  There was no sense in talking about how we had no dexterity in our hands because they were numb.  Or to talk about how cold and wet our feet were, the fact that we were no even TRYING to dodge the puddles and instead running right through them was a testament that we could no longer feel our feet.  I was a prune when we finally got back to the car.  The dogs even looked a little out of sorts, especially the brown dog.  The brown dog, Ella, is short haired.  I call her a muscle with some fur.  She is a lean mean sprinter who gets cold easily.  She looked miserable.  The black dog, Struth, can pretty much handle anything.  He does not seem to be effected by it being too hot or too cold, he just likes to be outside.  But even he was looking at my with dismay.  Usually I have to make big efforts to round them up and get them in the car but this day, they were waiting for me to open the back so they could get in a curl up in a wet ball and stink the car up.  It took Owen and I about twice the time to get changed because we had no dexterity to unclasp backpacks, untie shoes or make the quick change.  it was almost humorous at the time. 
The next week, we went back and what a different story, a beautiful day.  The dogs were hardly muddy and neither were our shoes. 
Yesterday was a different story.  However, we had different gear.  I did a little research for Big Horn.  After Pine to Palm 100, I learnt my lesson.  Waterproofing is important.  Owen and I bought the Northface Leonidas jacket. It's breathable, lightweight AND waterproof.  It has a hood with some elastic in it to make it stay in place and the sleeves are long enough and they too have elastic to keep them from letting water seep in.  This jacket gets the thumbs up.  It was hailing, raining, windy, muddy and generally...just rather unpleasant and uncalled for in the month of May.  I had to thank my lucky stars that my house or the house of a friend or family member had not been taken out due to flooding or a tornado in order to not feel like I had done something terrible in order to deserve this constant cold rainy sunless weather we've been having.  I also thanked my lucky stars that I was better prepared for the weather this time with the Leonidas.  We were so happy to have the jackets and they worked wonders.  I was not wet at all under the jacket.  I wished Struth had one, he was so stinky, muddy and wet.  I was still brushing dirt clots out of him this morning. 
Now....I just need to find some pants that I can run in at night time at Big's gonna be cold, wet, snowy and muddy.  GEAR GEAR GEAR!

Monday, May 16, 2011

If you fly a kite, you'll always look up

Things are looking and shaping up these days.  Owen is back on the trails 6 weeks post surgery!  We ran a few hours each weekend day last weekend and then hit Tiger Mt for some 12 summits this past Saturday. 

We look like chipmunks

We are really happy for A view
12 summits is a hard run, and it's not that exciting either.  It's all about the company.  It was a great company day- Owen, Sara Malcolm and Steve Stoyles.  (photo courtesy of the latter 2 mentioned)  I slept terribly the night before and was wondering how this 12 summits would go compared to the one I did 4 weeks ago....I was really hoping it was not going to be a suffer-fest.  As it turned out, it went really well.  Owen ran great, my leg was significantly less of a factor, the company was awesome and to add icing to the cake, the sun came out and it did not rain once while we were on the trails. 
We hardly got that muddy and for being on Tiger...that is saying something.  We were like an hour faster than last time, but in all fairness, we weren't running through any snow like last time.  Once we got to East Summit, summit #4, we saw Justine Angle.  He ran with us for a bit until he took a different trail than us.  He is so fast but he still hung out and ran and chatted with us.  We would be running side by side and then a hill would come and I would just hope he was doing the talking otherwise I would be so winded.  But when the hills got to be time for me to walk, he stopped and walked too.  What it would be like to be an elite athlete that runs up the hills!?

Sara's husband Luke met us at the turn around with salty snacks and AB&J's.  There were plenty of water and coke to go around as well.  He ran and out an back so was able to joing us for a few hours which was nice.  Once we finished, we had my special almond butter brownies to celebrate Steve's birthday.

I'm really happy for Owen that he is able run and gain confidence on the trails as we head into Big Horn 100 next month.  I am feeling more optimistic as well.  I've been going to acupuncure for 6 weeks and I started a yoga class last week that complimented the acupuncure, I believe. Last Saturday I ran 3-1/2 hours with leg pain about 80% of the time, range 3-8 on the scale.  I went to this yoga class on Sunday specifically for runners and recovery and then hit the trails for another 3-1/2 hours and I had leg pain only 20% of time time.  Wow!  What a difference it makes mentally to not be in pain a lot of the time, it was actually WAY MORE FUN!  12 summits was much better as well.  I am keeping up with the stretches on a daily basis and continuing acupunture.  Who knew..?  It seems like I tried everything without too much long standing success.  I don't think I'm totally in the clear, but I might be on to something.  It really is amazing how my outlook is more optimistic about Big Horn and running in general now that I am finding a groove again with running without continual pain.  I hope it lasts....

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Give it to me straight doc, plus Capital Peak 50 Miler

Well, whoever said that a doctor has to have good bedside manners? 

I'd like to preference this post by saying, I do not have a life or death situation here and I am aware enough to have such perspective, but I thought the conversation I had with this doctor had to be posted here.
When I went to see the Naturopathic Dr to receive my MRI results, she told me that the results were inconclusive.  Inconclusive?  Hum, well at least I do not have a bulging disc that is pinching a nerve, arthritis, tendinitis, something that makes me never able to be active again, etc.  Yes, it's good nothing bad was found.  As a catch 22, I was hoping to get some answers that were more suggestive as to how to treat these symptoms of mine.  The ND was stumped as well and suggested I see an orthopedic sports medicine dr.  The doctor she wanted me to see was on vacation but in the office of this doctor on vacation was another doctor that had an appointment that same week.  I thought ok, well maybe a sports medical doctor might have a different perspective on how to interpret the MRI. Well, he did have a different perspective.  The conversation went like this;
Him; 'I don't know what's going on with your leg, I don't really see anything.  Maybe you have a bruised muscle or maybe you have a hemangioma.  I don't think it is a bruised or strained muscle because the area that seems unusual in the MRI is in the middle of your muscle and we generally see bruises and strains on either end of the muscle. If it is a hemangioma, then there is nothing you can do about it.  You just have to decided to run in pain or not to run.'
Me; 'So, you are saying that if it is a hemangioma, there is nothing I can do.  Why is that, what is a hemangioma?'
Him; 'A hemangioma is a benign tumor.  It's a birth mark.  Most people have them on their skin, few have them in their muscle.  If it is in your muscle, there is nothing that can be done.  You have had this since birth.'
Me; 'Well, if I've had this since birth, why did I just start feeling it last year?  I've been active my whole life and I never had this problem before.'
Him; 'I don't know.  I don't know why you are so upset, it is not like I'm telling you that you have cancer.'
Me; blank stare
Him; 'Have you ever considered that fact that you might be just too old to run?  I see a lot of people out running and it's rare I see someone as old as you."
Me; blank stare
Him; 'Listen, you have 4 muscles in your quad and 4 in your abductor region.  Only one of those muscles is effected, can't you find a way to run without using that muscle?
Me; blank stare
Him; 'Good luck with that' and off he went out the door. 
For the record, I did respond a few times, but I was taken back by his....his....insensitivity.  For crying out loud, this guys is a sports medicine doctor, of all people I would think that he values one's desire for pain free activity.  Anyway, I left there feeling lousy. 

I hymned and hawed for 2 days wondering if I should run Capital Peak 50 Miler on Saturday, let alone Big Horn 100 in June.  Ultimately, John and I decided to go.  He had rolled his ankle and had not been running much.  We decided that we can always opt for the 55k if we were really in bad shape. Owen drove us and was going to volunteer.  When I was getting my number, I saw some friends and a few of them said, man, I can't believe we're about to run a 50 miler, that's a far way.  It dawned on me I hadn't even thought about the logistics of the race at all.  I had been so consumed with whether or not I would run but hadn't thought about the distance.  That sometimes works in a persons favor though....

We started and immediately I was walking.  I saw everyone and their brother pass me by.  Literally, I believe I was the last person.  I walked and walked and tried to keep a good mental attitude.  After about 10 minutes, I was able to start to run.  I started off slowly and tried not to be discouraged.  I thought, no way am I going to be able to run 50 miles let alone 100.  Why did I start?  Then I reeled it in...I thought to myself, you don't know this course so just enjoy the new scenery and if it takes you 12 or 13 hours to finish, well, then that's that.  Mindset adjustment....complete. 

I started feeling better and was able to run some more.  I started catching some people, seeing some friends, Owen was at the first real aid station so I was happy to check in wit him.  I kept going and when the time came to go on for the 50M or drop down to the 55K, I decided to keep going. I was having fun just sort of being out there and enjoying the trails, my music, etc.  I got to the next aid station and Owen was there again, that was nice to see him there.  The next section was an out and back and I got to see lots of people.  It is always inspiring to see the lead peeps running.  I saw Sara Malcom and Eric Barnes out there and they were looking good. I saw Candice and Linda and Matt.  I saw John and was glad to see that he had decided to continue on the 50M.  Every one seemed to be in good spirits, it is so fun to see everyone on those parts.  I did notice that the boxing has been helping as there were parts that I probably would have been more inclined to walk but ran those parts, at the ultra-shuffle pace, but ran them none-the-less.  I saw Owen one last time and took off for the last 14-15 miles.  When I got to mile ~46, I looked at my watch, 9:19.  I thought, hum,,,maybe I could break 10 I just continued on with an ok pace and squeaked in at 9:55.  Pain level throughout the race was between a 3 and an 8.  But there were times when I was running without much discomfort and that was a sign that maybe this "thing" will go away with the right treatment and I can get back to the regular scheduled program. 

I won a pair of shoes for being 1st Womens Master and also won a pair of shoes in the raffle.  It was my lucky day.  John and I were ultimately glad that we had decided to go and run and finish the 50.  It was a very well organised event.  John Pearch is one of the nicest guys and Heidi Perry is so supportive.  The course was well marked and very beautiful in many sections.  The aid stations and volunteers were great and the sponsers were very generous with theirs donations.  The Balanced Athlete for one....There was more single track than I expected which I was grateful for.  I had fun seeing my friends and catching up with people I haven't seen in a while.
The best quote of the day came from Steve Stoyles and really sums up WHY I run.  I asked him what he was training for with all the running and racing he's been doing and his reply was, "LIFE".  I love it!