Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Mario

Perhaps more rare than the elusive bunny yawn, I present Bunny Sneezes.  Turn up the volume and enjoy eighteen high quality Mario sneezes.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday Mario

I smell BANANA!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Injury Favorites: In The Meantime

I have been keeping busy ever since I got my stress fracture diagnosis.  I try to maintain this schedule:  Bikram yoga 3x a week, strength 4x a week, pool running 2x a week, spin 2x a week, and a sprinkling of additional core workouts here and there.  I am doing all of this with the hope of coming back a smarter and stronger runner.

I talked a little bit about my trainer and my bike trainer before, but thought I'd elaborate a little on the other new things that this stress fracture has introduced into my life:

1)  TRX

My trainer incorporates TRX a lot when she is working with me.  It is a suspension device which utilizes your own body weight to do exercises.  I think the fact that this piece of equipment is respected so much in the fitness community and not relegated to a "one piece of equipment does it all!" infomercial-type offering is nothing short of marketing genius.  Because really, it could have gone either way.


You can get a full body workout with these straps.  Legs, core, upper body, and stretching.  I decided to get my own TRX so I could train at home when I wasn't seeing my trainer.  I bought the Force Kit which came with a booklet and an app that has a 12 week program complete with videos demonstrating all of the moves and how to progress them as you get better.  The app is amazing and I highly recommend it.  We have a chin-up bar I hang the system from, but you can also use an attachment to make any door an anchor point.

I'm in the 7th week of the program and am really enjoying it.

2)  Pool Running

Pool running goes by a lot of names (deep water running, aquajogging) and involves running in deep water.  I have read differing opinions on whether or not you should use a flotation belt but for now I am using one.  I have also read differing opinions on what sort of leg motion is the best to do. I have personally settled on mimicking the normal running stride as much as possible and I try to spend time concentrating on the kick back which is something that is lacking in my running form.

Pool running was one of the first things my sports medicine doctor suggested I try when I was first diagnosed with my stress fracture.  Unfortunately, I did not have access to a pool and I did not intend to just go buy a belt and show up at a pool and give it a go with no idea of what I was doing.  I kept hearing such awesome things about how pool running is a great option for runners that my fears and the lack of convenience were overcome by my desire to elevate my heart rate.

I first ventured into the pool running scene by attending a 6:30 am Deep Water Running class at UCSF.  For the record, I am not a morning person.  To be in a pool by 6:30 am was nothing short of a Christmas miracle.  The fact that one of my classmates and the instructor helped me pick a belt and told me how I wanted it to fit was worth the $15 admission price.  This is great because the class was not quite what I was expecting.  I was the youngest person there by at least 25 years.  It felt more like a water aerobics class than a water running class.  Not to knock it, but I was there to get my heart rate up, not to pretend I was stepping over barrels or to do jumping jacks in the deep water.  Class fail.

I decided after a second class that I needed to do pool running on my own.  I had read a lot about how interval work was the way to go in the water and there didn't seem to be any sort of class geared towards people who wanted to do that sort of a thing.  I decided to check out my local YMCA.  It was serendipitous as I actually went to try out their Water Running class but I ended up looking at the wrong schedule and stumbled in on open recreational swim.  I was told I could strap on a belt and do whatever I liked in the deep end.  I was talking to another pool runner in the locker room after.  She said she taught water running classes at other locations and confirmed my suspicion that they were mainly geared towards the geriatric or overweight crowd.  She told me if cardio fitness was my goal I had to just do hard interval work on my own.

The next time I went back I did a few things differently:  1) I remembered that Garfield the Garmin was the waterproof triathlon model. I programmed in workouts like I do when I run and he will vibrate to let me know when an interval is starting or ending.  The first time I did my own workout I watched the clock on the wall which was hard because eventually I'd have to turn around and find the clock on the opposite wall and figure out how much time I had left.  2)  I loaded an ipod with my favorite running music and podcasts.  I bought my husband a waterproof ipod case a while back and it is finally getting some use.  3)  I put on a running hat.  I need it to have something to attach the ipod case to but psychologically it makes me feel like I am actually out for a run. I know, I'm strange. But I miss wearing my running hats!  And I secretly like how it screams, "poor injured runner" when you wear your running hat in the pool.  It also doubles as a splash protector when the guy swimming laps slaps his arm down heavily right by your face as he passes you.

Ever since I started doing the above, I LOVE me my pool running.  I'm using Garfield, I have my running hat -- it is the next best thing to real running.  It is tough when you up the intensity and it gets my heart rate going.  My head even breaks a sweat.  I try to really concentrate on engaging my core and moving my legs and arms independently of my torso.  I'm hoping some of that muscle memory will translate onto the road later.  I am planning on using the pool running in my training even after I am back to regular running again.  I may swap out an easy day for a day in the pool or use it as cross training or double days.  I've been doing a lot of reading about the pool running online and it seems to work for a lot of people.

3) Gym membership

Related to the above -- I joined a gym so I could have pool access.  I've started attending a core strength class once a week and tried out a pilates class as well.  I haven't spent any time in the actual weight/cardio gym since I have my TRX at home and have been working with a trainer thus far.  But I think it is something I will get into more, especially when my fracture is healed up.  After a pool run I'll take a medicine ball outside and do some additional core work.

I am excited about all of the above for a couple of reasons.  First, as I mentioned, I think it is important to have strength in order to be the best runner you can be.  The "Anatomy for Runners" book talks about how you need to have a strong chassis in order to tap into the power your legs generate.  His analogy was firing a cannon from a row boat -- obviously this is disastrous.  But if you had a cannon on firm ground you'd get a lot more power.  Second, I got into this whole mess because all I wanted to do was run.  I am extremely Type A when it comes to training plans.  If it is written down I will do everything in my power to get that run workout completed.  This leads me to run through aches and pains and niggles.  I think down the road if I am experiencing an issue I will be much more likely to skip a run or three if I had another outlet -- get in the pool or on an elliptical or on the bike.

I used to really worry about what would become of me if the day came when I could no longer run.  I still worry about it a little -- I don't consider myself an exerciser -- even all this stuff I am doing is for the end game of running. But I feel a little more assured there are other things out there to help fill the void.  This year has been a good rehearsal for a show I hope never takes place.  And quite possibly all this extra stuff will prolong or prevent that from ever happening.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Mario

Mario is at the tail end of a huge shed.  Usually it is his fluffy soft under coat which comes out, but about two or three a year he'll shed out the longer overcoat hairs.  They come out by the handful and he'll have varying lengths of fur here and there.  He's shedding out in a male pattern baldness ring this time around.  Not nearly as cute of a look as the time he sported a heart.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Mario

I'm sorry, I know we've beaten the hay rack to death but I just love watching Mario eat from it. You can see his brain working it out.  I love that it gives him some enrichment activity and it tickles me to death I actually got something for him he uses.

Twitchy lips

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Mario

Lest you think the hay rack has been 100% sunshine and roses, there is a dark underbelly to the device. Mario is apparently a prima donna with his hay choice and is quite picky about what gets eaten and what gets left behind.  The above represents 2.5 days of hay selection carnage.  I've started scooping the above into a fresh litter box as the bottom layer so nothing gets wasted in the end.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Injury Favorites: Maintenance & Damage Control

Continuing on the "Injury Favorites" series, I'd like to highlight new gadgets I found to help keep myself from combusting.

1) R8 from Roll Recovery

I own pretty much every major trigger point/roller device known to runnerkind.  When I first saw this one, I was really intrigued.  The device applies its own pressure so you don't have to press down with a lot of force like The Stick or use your own body weight like you do with a foam roller.  I'm not saying having to support your own body weight is a bad aspect of foam rolling, but it is often a limiting factor (especially in my pre-injury weenie upper body strength days).  Also, there is no way to travel with a Stick or foam roller easily.  I have heard mixed stories about whether TSA will confiscate Sticks (for the record, I have gotten my Kid Stick through security once with no issues) and there is no way a standard foam roller is going to fit in my carry-on.  This thing was fairly pricey, but I figured it was comparable to a sports massage that keeps giving.

The first time I used it, the only thing I could thing was, "Oww!"  My husband claims the pressure is so great, it hurts too much to use.  I disagree.  I think it does a good job of applying needed pressure.  When I thoroughly roll my upper legs I get the "loose and free" sensation I have only ever experienced after first standing up after a sports massage.

My adductors were a big problem area for me and it is pretty much impossible to get in there good with a foam roller.  The R8 is amazing for the inner thigh area.  It also does a great job on hamstrings, quads, and the IT band.  Pretty much the entire upper leg.  With the double-sided action you are also rolling two areas at the same time.

I've found using it this way vs. the above way applies a different type of pressure.

I am petite and I can just get this sucker up onto my glute area.  It is enough of a challenge that I prefer to use the foam roller for my glutes instead (rolling your glutes with a foam roller is really just sitting on a foam roller so that is easy enough).  I believe this is an invaluable part the arsenal, I don't think it is going to totally replace every self-massage device.  But I really believe it gets the job done better and easier than any other self-massage device for all the areas you can use it on.

I have not tried this on my lower legs because you have to find a way to protect your shin bone while you are rolling your calves.  I've heard of people putting towels there to protect the shin, but I have other rolling devices that work well for the calves so I haven't bothered to try that yet.  I have had to tighten the bolts up a few times with a screwdriver but the R8 seems like a solid piece of equipment that will last a long time.

2) Grid Mini

After I purchased my R8, Trigger Point Therapy came out with the Grid Mini.  I have had a regular size Grid for several years and it is far superior to your cheap styrofoam roller.  I rarely check any luggage when I travel and there is no way to take The Grid with me.  I had purchased the R8 with the intent to use it as my traveling tool.  But around the time the Grid Mini was released, we had a trip planned and my problem area was my glutes.  So I snapped one of these guys up to take with me on the trip.  You can attach it to the exterior of your bag so it won't take up any space at all.

Grid Mini Hawaii bound (And this photo also shows the two best pieces of race swag I have ever gotten:  Backpack from the Austin Marathon and a water bottle from the US Half Marathon -- I've used both regularly for years)

The downsides to the Mini vs. the regular Grid are:  1) Because it is not as long, it is also less rigid and I can tell there is more flex than with the regular Grid.  This means the pressure you get from it is not as great.  2)  Because it is skinny you have to have the line of direction you want to roll exactly parallel to the roller or you will fall off (this makes areas like adductors which are on a diagonal roll pattern very difficult).

I consider the cons to be tolerable given to ability to take your roller with you on the go easily.  I would not say it is a substitute to owning a regular size roller, though.

3) Pro-Tec Hot/Cold Therapy Wrap
I have been plagued with chronic shin splints since 2005.  All these years when I wanted to ice them, I would wrap an Ace bandage around and around and around and around my shin to hold a frozen pack there.  The wrap wouldn't always hold secure and when you give yourself 5 minutes after a run pre-work to do what needs 10 minutes, it was a major pain to spend time wrapping it on and then taking it off again.  The Pro-Tec Hot/Cold Therapy Wrap probably comes in many different variations from oodles of companies.  But it is the one I found and I wish I had gotten one sooner.  There is a pocket you can slide your gel pack into (it can be frozen or heated) and then you just velcro the sucker on wherever you need it. Two seconds on, one second off, and very easy to adjust the tightness and compression factor.

So simple.  Don't ask why I didn't get one earlier.

My massage therapist recommended I heat, massage, ice, and then heat my adductor.  I had a few of the gel packs already that can be frozen or microwaved so I have one that stays thawed and a couple that stay frozen all the time.  At one point I was using it so much that I bought a second one so I could ice my adductor and knee at the same time.  I took one with me on my above mentioned Hawaii trip. My dad rolled his ankle on a run while I was home so I let him have my second one since he had lots of ice packs but no way to attach them to his body.  So I'm down to one again and hopefully I'll never have a need to ice two places at the same time again!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Mario

The super soft fur on the top of Mario's head is my favorite place to put my nose and inhale. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Injury Favorites: Knowledge Is Power

I've been meaning to do this for quite a while and finally got inspired to get it done.  I've been injured for a long time now.  I haven't run in a quarter of a year.  I haven't run injury free in almost ten months. This means I have been spending a lot of time dealing with injury.  That is the downside.  There are actually quite a few upsides to this whole thing and I decided to document those as well.

First up on the agenda is how I have spent this time beefing up on my understanding of the way a body should work and how my body is deficient.

1) Mobility WOD and "Becoming a Supple Leopard" by Kelly Starrett

I stumbled onto the Mobility WOD website about half a year ago.  The site has since gone to a pay-to-view format for some of their videos but a ton of great stuff is still up there for free.  Starrett is a physical therapist and a pretty big person in the CrossFit world.  When I first found the website I couldn't bookmark videos for future reference fast enough.

For example, this gem:

The first lesson I learned from my physical therapists and especially personal trainer was, "KNEES OUT!"  I swear I hear my trainer saying "KNEES OUT!" in my head every time I squat, stand up, and  walk up and down stairs.  Hopefully later when I start running again this will all translate.  I used to have to really concentrate on it and I find it is pretty much second nature for me now.  Both my knees are super crunchy because of sheer forces and I want to keep them happy for as long as I can.

After creeping the videos for a bit I learned that there was going to be a book released!  I got my hands on a copy right away.  Angela and I were discussing this a while back.  We both moaned over the odd title and I found myself hugging it tightly to my body as I walked to work so people wouldn't wonder about it.  The book encapsulates what is covered in his videos.  Good form for all types of movements, why it is important, and how to keep your body mobile.

I can't say I have read the whole thing as it is quite the monster, but it is a great reference and I highly recommend it.  Runners will probably delight in the extensive sections which teach you how to roll, stretch, and trigger point out tight areas in all parts of the body (he refers to it as smashing and flossing).

Starrett recently announced he is collaborating on a book focused for running which is coming out early next year.  I'll be keeping an ear to the ground to see if it is as good as I hope it will be.

2) "Anatomy for Runners" by Jay Dicharry

Oiselle pro runner, Lauren Fleshman, blogged about this book and after reading the reviews I got myself a copy.  I devoured it in just a few days.  Whenever a new runner asks how they should start out, the knee-jerk answer is usually, "Get professionally fitted for shoes."  My new answer is going to be to get a copy of this book and read it cover to cover.

If I had read this book over ten years ago when I first started running -- and had I the maturity to take it seriously -- I really believe I would never have had any serious injuries in my running life.  I admit it would take a pretty forward thinking person to read this book and apply what is in it when they are not in any pain.  But there were multiple scenarios in this book that described all types of things I have experienced over the years and I wanted to bang my head into the wall and scream, "If I only knew then what I know now!"

The book is not without flaws -- it sorely needs an index (this applies to the above book, too), they could have utilized photographs better, and I think the what-is-wrong to the how-do-you-fix-it link is not as strong as it could have been.  BUT, if you have a functioning brain you can fill in these gaps and turn this into an amazing reference.

This book pretty much sums up everything I have learned about what I have been doing wrong.  After describing the science behind everything, the book goes through assessments so that you can find your weak links and then provides exercises to fix them.  The information in the book is not new but to have it in a tidy little package is priceless.

If you run and want to run long-term, get this.  I am planning to read it again and put little stickies all over it the second time.

3)  Kinetic Revolution

I can't remember how I found this website.  I followed them on twitter and I literally favorite 4/5 of every tweet they send because the article it links to is that great.  For example, I had a major aha moment with this one about chronically tight hamstrings.  My hamstrings always feel tight but I can get 90 degrees or more of flexion with them.  I have a weak core.  Aha!

These are the top three things I have been utilizing for my understanding of my injuries.  It is so much easier to put the work into fixing issues when I have a full understanding of why those issues are important to my running.  Everyone knows it is important to have a strong core, but why?  I've been doing all sorts of exercises for my gluteus medius, but why?  Planks and clamshells and squats get really old when you aren't sure why you are doing them and can't visualize exactly how they are going to keep you safe down the road.  Knowledge isn't just power, it is the best form of motivation.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Mario

Mario assumes his typical daytime position.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Mario

Sometimes the best pieces are hidden at the top.

The hay feeder has been a big hit with Mario.  It is so entertaining, I could watch him searching for the perfect piece and then yanking it out all day.  I recently had to get him oat hay instead of his usual grass hay.  It looks like bland blah straw but Mario LOVES this new hay a lot.  He has even chosen to eat the hay when there is a fresh pile to sift through over fresh vegetables!  I wish I had gotten him a hay feeder years ago.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Mario

A rare total bunny eclipse.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday Mario

Yesterday we went to Bunnyfest 2013!   Last year we were out of the country so I was looking forward to going this year.  My goal was to pick up something nice for Mario.  I always think he has everything he needs but I usually find something new to get him at Bunnyfest.

The main thing I always want to do at Bunnyfest is to see Dr. Carolynn Harvey speak about rabbit health.  She is a local rabbit savvy veterinarian and I always learn something from her.  Sadly we were unable to make it in time to see her whole talk but we did catch the tail end and I did learn something new.

We caught a lecture on rabbit bonding:

These buns were SO cute.  Especially the little black lop.  He had so much energy and it made me wonder what living with a young rabbit must be like.  I hardly remember those days.
I didn't purchase raffle tickets as I have in the past but we were given two free tickets when we got there.  Can you believe that I actually won one of the free raffle ticket prizes?  The prize was a Vacation Villa which is basically a glorified giant cardboard house for your rabbit to play in.  I could tell my husband was not so thrilled that we won.  He was picturing just where this cardboard box would get erected in our living room.  But I gleefully claimed my prize.  Mario is not a cardboard chewer but he does like to climb so I am hoping he will explore it a bit whenever I get up the nerve to assemble it and plop it into the middle of our living room.

Welcome to Casa de Mario!

I almost bought that wooden stool with all the toys hanging off it for Mario but he basically ignores those types of things so I figured it would be a big waste of money.

Someone was walking around handing out carrots!  Mario has eaten all the tops but has so far only gotten one bottom. We'll probably have to help him with those.

The highlight of my day was meeting Marinell Harriman.  For my runner friends, this woman is the Kathrine Switzer of my rabbit world.  She recently released the fifth edition of her book, "House Rabbit Handbook."  I wasn't originally planning on getting one but she was there!  In person!  And I couldn't resist.  For the record, I now have THREE copies of this book.  I got the revised edition when I was about 11 years old.  I read the thing cover to cover and was so fascinated by the idea of having an indoor rabbit. My pet rabbits of childhood were outdoor buns since my parents had a strict no-animal-in-the-house-policy.  I bought the third edition when I was in my late teens just because I planned on getting a house bunny one day when I was a liberated adult.  And now in my 30s I picked up the fifth edition.

My three copies of "House Rabbit Handbook."
I was thinking about how much this little book shaped my view of rabbits.  How it led me to get an indoor bunny.  How in essence this book led me to Mario.  And I thought about how this book instigated the formation of the House Rabbit Society and how many rabbits out there have benefited from it.  Quite frankly, just like when I met Kathrine Switzer, I felt a bit verklempt.

Marinell signing my book!
I got my photo with Marinell and told her how this was my third copy and how I read my first copy when I was just a child.  She asked me how old my bunny was and I proudly told her that Mario was ten.

Fuzzed out my name but I am so tickled about this!
I also did manage to find Mario an awesome new gadget.  I have been meaning to get him a hay feeder for a while.  In his older age his hay consumption has dropped off a bit which I am sure is the cause of his sometimes gastro issues and possibly his dental issues.  I noticed he is much more gung-ho about his hay when his litter box is fresh (I don't blame him).  I wanted to be able to offer him clean hay 24-7. Most hay feeders are fairly large and usually quite expensive.

Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary was selling metal hay feeders for just $10.  And the size is perfect for Mario's set-up.  I gladly gave them my money and brought home this:

Mario has been nibbling from it and I am happy he has this option now.  Looking at this I have to remark how rabbits are really just tiny horses.

Two years ago at Bunnyfest someone was handing out samples of blueberry flavored alfalfa? treats which I brought home and Mario LOVED.  But I couldn't figure out who had been handing them out so I couldn't buy more for him (bad marketing there).  But this year the vendor was back and selling them by the bag.  I bought two of them since they were only $2 each.  As a bonus, they make our home smell amazing and I sort of want to buy a large amount to use as a potpourri/treat bin.

I also found myself some goodies.  First, this caught my eye on the hodgepodge of rabbit adorned stuff table. I like to leave my wedding rings in a ring holder when I take them off so I don't misplace them.  I have one holder that I keep in the bedroom but I often take them off in the kitchen area when I wash dishes.  I thought the little rabbit ring holder would be perfect as a second-location drop spot.

I also spotted this behind the House Rabbit Society table:

Bless my husband for saying I could get it if I really loved it.  I thought he would veto it right away.  It isn't my usual style but something about it makes me feel strangely calm and reminds me of old paintings you see in UK museums.  I always love buying stuff at Bunnyfest because I know the proceeds from most sale tables go to rabbit rescue.

So all in all it was a great day.  The temperature was ridiculously hot (it hit 94 so they had to cancel the outdoor rabbit clicker training demo) and I was fairly surprised at how many people brought their rabbits this year.  Even without the high temps I am always surprised at the number of rabbits that are there because Mario would NOT like the whole idea of getting carted down to a large gathering like that.  I am amazed also at how many totally blissed out rabbits were sitting in people's laps and arms during the lectures.  Lap rabbit envy.

p.s.  Look who I spied as an honorable mention in the photo contest that that The Rabbit Haven had for their event publication:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Mario

I replaced the flooring in Mario's home recently.  The first prototype for the floor was a soft corduroy which he was able to chew holes through.  The black color also showed every single wisp of white fur.  For try number two I decided on denim which was a little thicker.  I turned it dark side down mainly so that he wouldn't turn blue.  The white in the fabric hides his shed fur a little.  It has been in for a few weeks and so far he has not made any holes in the material.  Denim for the win, perhaps?!  I call the new look Mario's cowboy house.  I noticed recently that the bottom of his front paws has a little bit of a blue tinge to them now, though.  Wash your rabbit with like colors.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Aftermath

Loooooooooongtime readers may remember that I once tried to be a triathlete.  Remember this post?  It was a very short-lived career because I hated cycling with traffic and I hated open water swimming.  Running may break your bones but it probably won't kill you.

When I dismounted my bike at my first triathlon back in 2008 I had no clue that I wouldn't sit on it again until 2013.  Poor Ferdinand has been sitting in my bedroom the last five years collecting dust.  Literally.

I thought about selling him a time or two but decided he was a sunk cost and it might be nice to have a bike one day for casual bike path rides.  I had been flirting with the idea of buying a bike trainer on and off the last five months.  But every time I came close I'd think that I'd probably be running again in a week or two and I'd put it off.  As soon as I got official word that I had a stress fracture, I bought the injured runner's white flag:

My new best friend

The above turns my carbon road bike into a glorified spin machine.  I like to say I've been cycling the last few weeks but it would be far more accurate to say I have been spinning.  I have no plans to venture into the great outdoors with Ferdinand.  The last thing I need is to break a collarbone while recovering from my stress fracture.  I even replaced my fancy clipless pedals and bike shoes for regular pedals I can wear running shoes with while riding.

I was not really looking forward to spinning but I have to say it has been strangely satisfying.  I treat the rides the way I treat runs -- fartleks, intervals, easy days, long runs.  I work up a sweat and I get my heart rate pumping.  I deeply regret not getting one months ago.  There is a good chance I may continue with this even when I return to the roads.  I have a sad feeling I have spent almost as much time on Ferdinand the last few weeks as I did when he and I were actually training for events together.

I also bought this:

My personal trainer does a lot of TRX with me and I bought my own system.  I love working with her but it is a huge financial luxury to have a personal trainer and it is not one I can stomach indefinitely.  I can pay for a year's worth of yoga with the same amount of money that will pay for six weeks of working with her the way she would like to see me.  I can't do Bikram at home but I can do strength training at home.  I wanted to find a way to make this training change a permanent one.  I am going to try to phase in my home-TRX as I segue out of personal training the next month or so.

One thing I have learned through all of this is that I have a lot of muscle imbalances and weaknesses. I used to think my ganky running form was just the way I ran.  I now know that a lot of it stems from my body trying to compensate for my inability to hold itself together when I am running.  Strength training is the solution and it is another takeaway from the stress fracture that I intend to continue working on long term.

Overall I have to say my spirits are strangely high.  In the end the knowledge there was an end to this did far outweigh the bummer of not running for X more weeks.  A part of me is even a little happy I have some time to work on my muscle weaknesses before I dive back into running.  Before the stress fracture diagnosis I viewed all of my strength exercises as things that were just not working to fix my problem.  I did hundreds of single leg squats and clamshells and my damn leg still hurt.  Now I view the things I am doing as things that are going to make me stronger and better in the future.  This change in my viewpoint has drastically improved my attitude towards everything I am doing.

In the past few weeks I may have cornily told my husband more than once, "You know, once I ran so far and so fast I broke my pelvis."  And when he asks me what I am doing I like to respond, "Building bone."  We've found the humor in the situation.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Mario

Yesterday my husband cooked a delicious dinner and had some chopped up parsley left over which we gave to Mario.  As I plunked it into Mario's house he said, "I chopped it on the board after the garlic so I'm not sure if that is okay."  I've given Mario leftover veggies chopped on the board after onions and he'll just not eat it if it bothers him.  Mario ran right over and started gobbling parsley so I figured either it didn't have any garlic on it or he didn't mind the taste.  But about a minute later we heard a "clink!"  Mario had plopped one of his toys into the bowl and he didn't touch another sprig of parsley.

Bunny protest.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Best $632.54 I Ever Spent

If you recall this post about how the doctor thought maybe I had a stress fracture?  The idea just gnawed at me.  My symptoms were the same throughout the last 6 months and yet she thought I had one which had healed up (because I could hop one one leg with no pain).  She wanted me to try PT for 5 weeks and then we'd image if nothing improved.  The idea of a current stress fracture made sense to me, though, because I have been trying to loosen up my right adductor for SIX MONTHS and nothing had worked.  I had taken six weeks off at a time with little improvement.  So I decided to get imaged now instead of waiting another 5 weeks which I knew would improve nothing.

I had an x-ray which didn't show anything.  So then I went in for an MRI.

To be clear, my sports medicine doctor did not think I currently had a stress fracture.  My massage therapist did not think I had a stress fracture.  My chiropractor did not think I had a stress fracture. My physical therapist did not think I had a stress fracture.  My personal trainer did not think I had a stress fracture.

Everyone kept telling me they didn't think I had a fracture which made me feel that the $632.54 I spent on the MRI was another huge down-the-drain expense in this seemingly never ending saga from November.  They had me so brainwashed into thinking this, that I felt a little stupid for jumping the gun on imaging, I mourned my $632.54 and had planned to go for a short walk-run after my sports medicine appointment today.

It turns out, I do have a stress fracture of my right pubic ramus.

I'm really glad I decided on my own to stop running while I waited for my results because I already have 4 weeks of not running in the recovery bank.  However, my doctor thinks this will take a long time to heal.  She said typically they say 6-8 weeks but I've had this since November and have been running off and on the whole time.  I mean, holy jeepers, I did Goofy on a broken pelvis.

She asked if I had any plans the rest of the year.  I only had the New York City Marathon in November on my calendar.  Quite frankly, even if I didn't have a stress fracture I was thinking I might have to defer so when she told me I should scrap it, that wasn't hard to take.  What was hard to take was what she said after that, "I'm hoping we'll even have you running again by November."  I think I died a little.

As I left the office, I have to say I was vacillating between depression and relief.  It sucks that I cannot run for at least another 6 weeks (and the way she's thinking quite possibly longer).  But quite frankly, I've been operating on that mode the last three months.  On the other hand, I have an answer.  If I rest and give it time, it will heal.  I've spent 6 months trying this and that with no gains and that was just mentally fatiguing.  I was beginning to think I would never run at a high-quality level ever again.  In a way all of that was far more depressing than just having to give up running for a bit knowing that I'll come out of it whole again.

So there you have it.  The S-word and the F-word.  Stress. Fracture.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Mario

I almost forgot it was Monday.

Somebunny is O.U.T.  Notice the pellets strewn around the floor?  For a few days Mario was on a kick of flipping over his pellet bowl.  Once I even set it back up and he proceeded to flip it over twice right after!

Abuse it and lose it.  I put his old bowl which attaches to the side of the cage back up.  We call it the sippy cup bowl since he couldn't be trusted with the big kid one.

Looking sheepish with his kiddy bowl.

We were traveling last weekend and I was quite smug that when I went to pick Mario up from the bunnysitter, he had flipped over the pellet bowl there as well.  At least I know he doesn't act out just at home.  And it reinforced the idea I should continue with the new bowl at home.

On the running front, I hope I am coming upon some answers soon.  I had my pelvis x-rayed and that was negative. I had a MRI on Friday and am waiting for the results of that.  I saw a new physical therapist today and I really liked the assessment she gave me compared to the last two physical therapists I had seen.  She seems to think I do not have a pelvic misalignment but that I move in a misaligned way due to muscle imbalances.  I'm pursuing seeing her for a bit and am hoping there will be some useful progress made.  As soon as I get an all-clear from the MRI I'm hoping to start back up running again. I suppose I didn't have to stop the last 1.5 weeks, but I figured if I was getting it imaged I should just wait until I had those results.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Mario

"If I can just stick my nose out far enough, I'll definitely score some pets."

I will admit that with his new pen, I do miss seeing the above.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Avenue of the Giants 10K

Originally my plan for the Avenue of the Giants half  marathon was to train specifically for this distance from Jan-May and hopefully run a sub-1:45 half marathon.  To add some excitement to the pot, I challenged my husband to a little race since his PR for this distance is somewhere in the 1:46 range.  I signed us both up last summer and was really looking forward to concentrating on the half distance for the first time in almost four years.

Well, we all know that my body had other plans. My husband did continue training though he might have lost some of his mojo once he knew I wasn't out there to chase down and keep pride over.  But he was still up for the race so we headed north.  I was planning on possibly doing a short 1-2 miler while he was out on the course and setting up for cheer duty the rest of the day.  However, they let me drop to the 10K which I gladly accepted.  I figured I could either go for a beautiful stroll in the woods or get skin cancer in the sun waiting for over an hour and half at the finish.  That wasn't a hard decision.

I decided to run the first mile, walk the middle four miles, then run the last 1.2 miles.  The half marathon got a 15 minute head start over the 10K and I knew it was going to be pretty close for me to make it back to see my husband finish.

This isn't really a race report. More like a walk report.  But, I will say it was so great to be out there with everyone.  I still really want to race this half course one day so I tried to pay attention to the grade of the hills and sized up the course from a reconnaissance perspective.  Just like when I ran the marathon out here, it seemed to be all downhill optically in both directions due to the massive trees.

Maybe I'll just keep walking home to San Francisco

The Avenue of the Giants event has a marathon which runs a different out-and-back segment first, then does the one that the half and 10K runners utilize second.  The marathoners had a 75 minute head start over the 10K.  This meant that a couple of  miles or so into the 10K, the lead marathoners started to pass us.  I have to say, it must have been incredibly frustrating for them.  We were not given clear direction which side of the road to stay on.  The lead man had a biker who yelled out for him, but the poor second place guy was far enough behind that the wave of walking 10Ks had closed in again and he seemed extremely frustrated.  I'd say it took about 10 marathoners coming through before people "got it" that they had to stay to one side.  Civilian marathoners would probably not find it too frustrating, but word to the wise, you will be passing slower 10K and half marathoners the whole second half of the course.  I think as a marathoner I would prefer the Humboldt format (everyone does the first leg together and then only marathoners are on the second leg).

All the races mix heading in and heading out.
It was fun to cheer for the marathoners, returning 10Kers and eventually returning half marathoners while out for my stroll.  The scenery was gorgeous and I appreciated the amazing trees.

I love how they give you a heads-up about aid stations. Also, I don't remember so much of this out-and-back being exposed like this (in my memory the whole first leg of Humboldt was in the shady tall trees) but there were a fair bit of portions like this.  Granted, I only saw 3 miles of the leg so I'm figuring further out was more predominately giant trees.

The first mile things felt a little tight and I experienced that nice tightness in my groin that lingered for a few miles into the walk.  By the time I got to mile 4 I was chomping on the bit to get to mile 5 so I could run it in home.  The last 1.2ish miles were amazing.  My body was so ready to get running again.  I enjoyed passing all the 10Kers who were obviously much better walkers than myself.  I held pace with the returning half marathoners who were headed back to the finish.

As we got closer to the finish the cheering crowds gave me such an adrenaline rush and my pace started to pick up.  After so many months of gimpy running I felt like I was getting to experience the best part of the sport and I was so grateful I was able to do the 10K.  I even clocked a sub-8:00 pace for the last quarter mile.  Nothing hurt and I felt like myself again for 1.2ish glorious miles of running.

I crossed the finish, got my medal, and immediately headed back out to stand on the finish sidelines to try to see my husband.  I knew he would be coming in any minute.  I literally had enough time to set myself up in a good location and not 10 seconds later I saw him sprinting towards the finish around the corner.  I told him later he had the look on his face of someone who knew they were *this* close to making their time goal and was trying desperately to make it.

There he goes!
He was flying and said he did not even hear me screaming for him.  Sad to say he missed a PR by something like 25 seconds.  I'm pretty proud of him because to be honest, his training sucked a big one.  He ran 2.5 days a week, if even.  If I could run 25 seconds off a PR with the type of training he did I would think it was nothing short of a miracle.  I felt bad though, because we all know the sting of missing a time by that short of a window.

I wore my "Boston Strong" tank that was a fundraiser for the Boston One Fund.  I got a lot of nice comments about it and I'm glad I wore it to the race.

All in all it was a fun day and the unexpected race participation for me was a great plus.  I have since taken another hiatus from running while we sort out imaging my pelvis.  Better safe than sorry, I figure in regards to a stress fracture.  I'm really grateful my last run was at Avenue of the Giants because I think the finish line high will carry me for a while.

Hard to tell scale, but this tree was monstrous.