Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ankle Sprains Suck

Or alternatively I would like to title this, "To Big Sur, Or Not to Big Sur"

First off, after hopping around on one foot last Tuesday in fairly significant pain, I awoke on Wednesday able to bear weight on my left leg. I was so amazed at the rate of recovery from Tuesday to Wednesday. However, things have been improving much more slowly ever since. I feel comfortable walking around. I would dare say that if I could guarantee my ankle would not roll, I could probably even run with no pain right now.

My ankle yesterday -- The swelling has gone way down but there is now a nice subtle black and blue color to the whole area. All those lines on my skin are from the non-stop compression junk I've been using.

I've mentioned the fact that I have sprained my left ankle in the past. In late 2007 I planted my left foot poorly and twisted my ankle. It was not as serious as this one (I never felt the need for crutches) though it was bad enough I took a week off from running. I got myself an ankle brace that you can run in, and trained for months for my first Goofy Challenge wearing that thing on every single run. It actually got to be more of a mental crutch than a physical one.

I didn't wear the brace during the races. It looks stupid and my ankle hadn't given me any problems for a while. At mile 26 (right by the infamous Gospel Choir) of the marathon I mildly rolled my left ankle. It was the type of roll that you would normally just catalog as a misstep with no pain, but with my ankle being weak it did hurt and it took me more than a few strides to shake it off. That incident really scared me. What if it had happened at mile 2? Could I have finished the whole race?

When I started running again after Goofy, the brace went back on. I ran Napa in 2008 a couple of months after Goofy (PR, baby) and this time I didn't leave the brace at home:

I mention this because once I start running I guarantee I'll be wearing that brace again for months to come. Sprained ankles are terrible in that they don't hurt at all with a forward running motion, but if you misstep and roll it, it can literally stop your run dead. With things like shin splits you know what you're dealing with, but an ankle twist or misstep happens suddenly.

There must be something about my running form which is off because I roll my left ankle 99.9% of the time. I rarely roll my right ankle. And as this incident shows, it isn't as if I am landing on uneven surfaces when it happens. Sometimes, something must be not working right because I just don't plant my foot flatly down.

I know from the past that I will have set backs in the coming months. I'll be out for a run and will roll the damn thing and and will take a few steps back in recovery (both mentally and physically). It will probably be a year before I am mentally clear of this ankle baggage. As such, I am rethinking my race calendar in the future.

First on the agenda, the Big Sur Marathon is 4.5 weeks away. I am at a minimum giving my ankle one more week off. That leaves 3.5 weeks to go from not running for two weeks (and it wasn't as if I was in great marathon shape pre-sprain) to 26.2 mile shape. It can be done but it won't be pretty. I have the option of downgrading to a shorter distance (9 miles) which I know is the smart thing to do. The race has given me almost a month more to submit my decision and I'm thinking I'll wait at least a week or two to see how it goes.

Part of me thinks I should downgrade now while the healing is good. I wouldn't even have to attempt anything longer than 7 miles for a month if I went that route. Another part of me is stubborn and refuses to believe I left both Oakland & Big Sur out on the pavement that day. Thoughts?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Mario

He finds the most interesting ways to make napping look so uncomfortable and irresistibly cute at the same time.

Rabbit Guy commented that there must be lots-o-wires underneath my computer desk. This spot happens to be one of Mario's favorite hangouts when he is out and about (I like to think it is because he thinks it is my favorite spot to sit). I am lucky to have a computer with only ONE electrical plug and by serendipity have it it rigged in such a way that there are no cords for bunny teeth to find along the ground:

That power strip is flush up under the desk and its cord runs along the wall above bunny reach to the adjacent kitchen where the only grounded socket in reach of my computer is located.

I'll have an ankle update in my next post.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Can't Catch a Break (or maybe I did)

In mid-February I got a chest cold which stopped me from running for a week. The week after that I got bucked off a horse and lost another week of running. The last few weeks I've been trying to get some endurance back. It hasn't been easy but I was out there getting it done. I still have some residual aches from the fall so I went to see my chiro yesterday. He gave me some stretches for my back/ribs and also did a couple of adjustments. Even today I could tell things had improved and had high hope that in another week I may be practically back to normal.

I left the house for a 6 mile run today very excited. I had a new pair of running shoes to try out as well as a jazzy new running song. I was going to attempt some mileage at a slightly faster pace than "easy" which is all I've been doing the last month since the fall. It was going to be a fun run. Lots of interesting elements and a distance short enough that I'd end feeling strong.

I did a warm-up segment and then started ratcheting up the pace. I hit the cruising speed I was going to try to hold for a little over two miles and was trotting along nicely at an 8:45 pace. It felt easy. Maybe I hadn't lost as much as I had thought. Then all of a sudden, I hit the ground.

I must have taken a misstep because I twisted my left ankle and subsequently fell. My knees and hands hurt from the fall a little but I knew the big problem was my ankle. I hobbled over to the side of the walkway and tested it out. Oww. I waited a few minutes to see if it would pass but I decided I had better walk back home. I was 2.55 miles into my run and probably a smidgen under 2 miles walking distance to home.

I made it home, and as I stopped moving so much my ankle started to stiffen and swell. I somehow got into the shower as I wanted to get cleaned up and on the couch icing, compressing, and elevating as soon as possible. By the time I got out of the shower, it was clear that this was by far the worse ankle twist I've ever had. I could barely ambulate around the house and was hopping from furniture piece to furniture piece for support.

I got an ice pack out of the freezer and put it on my ankle which made it really hurt. I called Boyfriend and was a sobbing mess. At first I thought I was crying because my ankle hurt, but I think I was really crying because I am so incredibly frustrated. Just when things felt like they were getting back on track this happens. And unlike everything else, I can't run through this.

I'm obviously pulling the plug on Oakland this weekend. I'm praying this is just a bad sprain and not a break. I've been using a wheeled computer chair as a makeshift walker/wheelchair to get around and cannot wait for Boyfriend to bring home a pair of crutches for me to use. I'll see how things shape up the next few days as far as going in to get it x-rayed or not. I have a history of rolling my left ankle which means I already have two ankle compression thingies to wear as well as a left ankle brace. With my new pair of crutches I will be 100% prepared for any running injury in the future (sad laughter).

These things never look as dramatic in photos as they do in person, but...

My good ankle

My poor swollen ankle

My falling spot was marked by a splat of water since my handheld broke a lot of my fall (this is the third time, at least, that a handheld helped to break my fall). While I was limping about deciding if I could finish my run, I went back over to the spot I fell. Flat. F-L-A-T. No stray little nugget I may have stepped on. I always knew I was enough of a klutz to fall on nothing and had a weak enough left ankle to roll it on flat ground. Now I know for sure. And people say I should take up trail running!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Mario

Two choices under my computer desk to roll/rub your feet on.
I picked the furry option.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oh, My Aching ______

“The better you ride, the harder you fall. Beginners fall off. Good riders get launched.” ~ Jean White, advising all riders to wear helmets.
I found this quote on The Barb Wire (may I just say that this woman leads the life I think I might have led if I had gone down a slightly different path). It helps my ego a bit. Ha. But it is true. When you first learn to ride you sometimes just slide off the side. You get to a certain point when you only hit the ground after some sort of "incident."

A quick update on the status of my catapulted body: I am happy to say that I can run with no aches or pains from my back. I took a misstep off a sidewalk the other day which torqued my back and caused me some trouble for a few strides, but otherwise I don't notice anything in that department while running.

Sadly, my body is far from 100%.

Extremes in the range of motion (bending downward and standing up very straight) causes me discomfort. My neck was relatively pain free after the accident and now it aches when I turn my head or tilt my head backwards. The night I fell off, my ribs ached when I tried to take a deep breath. This disappeared the first couple of days, but is back with a mean vengeance now. I can't pinpoint it to one rib so I don't think I cracked anything. It is more a general displeasure from my entire upper torso. I notice it the most when I stop running at a stoplight and I'm breathing heavily. But I also have a general discomfort in my torso with certain movements and I sometimes for no apparent reason get a sharp pain.

I have no idea if these two things are related, but my running has been pretty hit or miss the last couple of weeks. There are days I feel pretty good and days I can barely get through a mile without a walk break. And these two types of runs seem to flip flop, one after the other.

I haven't been doing any speed work and have just been trying to get the miles completed. I have a marathon next weekend and I am not looking forward to it. During my run this morning I contemplated downgrading to the half. If the race falls on a bad day, it is going to be a looong time out there and I'd rather not right now. Even if it is a good day, I am sorely under trained for this race and it is still going to be a slog. Boyfriend reminded me I did the inaugural event last year and the idea of maybe doing a streak of this event is probably the only thing keeping me from doing the half instead.

To answer a question from Mario's birthday (Thanks so much for the birthday wishes!!): Mario does not like to be held, but he tolerates it patiently. He'll cooperate while you've got a hold of him, but once you set him down he gives you a few foot flicks to let you know that was NOT cool. So I generally do not pick him up except for the occasional photo-op.

In completely unrelated news, my aunt sent me this photo:

It is the Year of the Rabbit display at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. That is one giant bunny!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Mario

Welcome to the secret lair of King Lazy Bum

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thanks for the Memories, Psy

Generally, I take great glee in "killing off" a pair of shoes. When I use them to the point that they don't work anymore -- little aches here, nagging pains there -- they get taken out of the rotation. What a feeling of accomplishment! But even with shoes I never really loved, there is always a moment of sadness when I drop them into a bin at a running store. They've been with me through a lot and they always serve me well.

I recently had a pair that I was very attached to get killed off. Usually I get a little excited as that sacrificial point comes close, but I really dreaded it with this pair of shoes. Here is the tale of "Psy" (their abbreviation in my excel spreadsheet where I keep track of mileage).

I stumbled upon this model of shoe by chance. Pearl Izumi gave away a bunch of free pairs of shoes and I picked this one since it is their stability model. The first two pairs I got were rather ugly -- neon yellow and some blah blah blue. But then I got these puppies. Pink and cute and I knew they worked well for me.

It was love at first run.

We did some amazing things together this year:

Our first marathon together. Bear Lake Utah. They had very few miles on them at this point and I was skeptical about wearing them for a full so soon. But all was well (except for the altitude and that pesky marathon I had done the day before).

They even made friends with the bun.

Our second marathon together. Santa Rosa Marathon. Floated to a PR :)

We curtsied with the princesses at the DisneyLand Half.

And sashayed with the great Kathrine Switzer (yes, those are Kathrine Switzer's feet in the Asics!).

We ran the blue line at the Akron Marathon.

And they kept me going through 26.2 miles of steady rain at the Portland Marathon.

They were on my feet for my 16th marathon in 12 months at the Humboldt Marathon.

Running down the Avenue of the Giants at Humboldt.

We had a snowflake good time at the Holiday Half.

And they whisked me to another marathon PR at the Texas Marathon.

Our final race together -- my new shoes weren't feeling right (even though it is the same model) and I decided I could eek one more marathon out of Psy. They didn't give me any trouble (I honestly wasn't even sure I should have used them for Texas the week before they had so many miles on them at this point). And for my 26th marathon we ran 26.2 magical miles. Here we are with Donald and Goofy.

And then for days we walked miles and miles around Walt Disney World together.

And of course there were the training runs. The speed sessions and long runs. Those ordinary runs that I didn't always feel like doing.

Today I took the shoes to Sports Basement and dropped them off in the donation bin.

As I drove away I was filled with regret and sadness. Maybe I should have kept the shoelaces to wear on other shoes? I forgot to put back in the insoles (I wear orthotics) -- does this mean someone else can't wear them? I should have tied them together so they wouldn't get separated from each other!

I mean seriously -- it is a pair of running shoes! I am embarrassed to say I felt better that I had also dropped off a pair of Boyfriend's killed off Asics (the blue and white ones in the next photo) -- at least they had friends from home.

We ran 492 miles together. That is more than any other pair of shoe I've had before. I wanted to get them to 500 but got some strange aches in our last run together and I decided it was time for them to go. They've sat around the house for another month as I put off taking them in to Sports Basement for donation.

05/23/10 -02/02/11
492 miles

Yesterday, as if by fate, Sports Basement tweeted this:

I followed the link and it took me here. It makes me feel a bit better.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Mario

Yesterday was Mario's 8th birthday!! It is actually the anniversary of his adoption day + 1 year (he was full grown when I adopted him so I've always tacked on one extra year to the number, but really I have no idea how old he really is). At any rate, it has been 7 great years together.

The birthday boy snoozing as we prepared to go for an 8 mile run in his honor. His position as King Lazy Bum is still firmly in place.

Mario got a banana/peanut butter/craisin cake. The bipeds ate bananas with peanut butter and nutella :)

Here he is delicately picking the craisin off the top:

Happy Birthday, Mr. Man!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


So I'm trying to decide whether I should do the United States Air Force Marathon or the Akron Marathon in September. My dad is retired USAF and I'd love to run the marathon and give him my medal. If I do that race, I'd probably make it an A-race and try to PR.

Akron has a super cute jacket this year:

I mean really, it has much more awesomeness to it than the solid red one last year.

I sort of convinced Audrey to run Akron this year since she is from Ohio. I'd love to get that jacket and go back to my favorite marathon of 2010. I wouldn't choose Akron as an A-race since the course is a tad more challenging than I'd like for that sort of a thing. I'd like a little redemption for my 4:45 finish last year, though.

The bad news: Akron and Air Force are one week apart. And they are both in Ohio (I say this as a negative thing because who wants to travel back to the same state twice in two weeks -- nothing against Ohio in particular).

Air Force is first so I could A-race it and run Akron a week later (whether or not I'd be in any shape to beat 4:45 remains murky).

Thoughts? I could just run Air Force next year, but I've sort of got my heart set on doing it this year. Not sure why. Besides soliciting input for this decision, I'm writing about this for a different reason.

Boyfriend and I had "Seinfeld" on in the background tonight. I was telling Boyfriend how I could possibly fly out to Ohio one weekend, come back to California, then fly back to Akron the next weekend. As soon as I said this, Elaine on the tv said: "Ohio?!" Boyfriend and I looked at each other. Then Jerry said, "You're flying out to Akron just to zing somebody?" I haven't decided if this means I should go for both of them, or just one of them (and in that case which one?!).