Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Trail running to pool running

Last weekend was a wonderful time to relax (apart from running) and to attempt to run with my PT's blessing.  I ventured out for a run Garmin-less and felt good enough to get in about 6 miles Friday evening; I felt some tightness in my Achilles but did my eccentric calf exercises and stretched, hoping Saturday would be a double digit trail run.  Saturday I waited until around 11am to hit part of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park- Bommer Canyon Trail, Willow Trail into Willow Canyon and back with a few short runs down misc. trails included.  It was very warm and I felt sluggish early so I walked all the uphills and just focused on getting in 10 miles, despite increasing tightness and creakiness in the achilles. 

Random ribbon along Willow trail....seriously made me stop and wonder where the runners where

Love the flowers in bloom

Told you that it was hot!

I iced and tried to stretch/relax the remainder of the day before venturing out to meet up with some girlfriends.  I bravely wore heels, not intending on being out for long.  After only a few minutes standing, I felt the creakiness in my achilles worsening and I looked forward to getting home, icing, and putting on my night splint (pathetic I know). 

Sunday was another warm but beautiful day and, despite the nagging feeling that I should rest (or not run), I headed back to the same trails.  The day before I had felt the notch in my Brooks Cascadia's pushing into my achilles so I cut two slits in it so that it would not put pressure on that sensitive area; unfortunately, that did not solve my issue.  The tightness was there from the start but I got excited from running El Moro (different part of trail than day before) and being in nature that I pushed myself too far until the discomfort in my achilles reduced me to walking.  At least I got in 9 miles....

View from El Moro trail- see the Pacific?!

Even the lizard was taking in the beautiful day

Snow capped mountains in the distance- view from Bommer Ridge

Post-running Sunday I looked forward to Monday's podiatrist appointment, as the creaking was getting worse.  My calf was very tight and so sore that my boyfriend's massaging it brought me to tears.  Not a good sign. Knowing that I would be taking a self-induced break from running for at least a few days, I went to Dick's Sporting goods and bought a flotation belt for pool running.

Monday I saw Dr.Marcus to get my new orthotics (forgot to ask how to wear them as they are different than my last ones and seem too small to replace the insoles....) and asked him about my achilles.  He confirmed that it's intact but that the tendon is sticking to its sheath, causing the creaking sound (crepitation).  He offered an injection similar to novacane in order to "lube" the area between the tendon and sheath- a procedure called brisement- and I accepted, trusting he knows what's best.  His directive of no running at least until he sees me again next Monday was heartbreaking, as I feel I am running out of time to prepare for the SD100.

Today I iced, iced, iced (ice massages every 1.5 hours) while at work and hit the pool to "run."  My apartment complex has a pool and I was so stoked to discover it's heated!  While it was still chilly outside to be in the water, it made pool running more bearable.  I have no idea if my form was correct but I took advantage of having the pool to myself and ran back and forth from the 5 foot to 7 foot part, just zoning out and without any tunes.  I could feel my legs burn and I hoped it had been at least 20 minutes (goal was for 30) when I ventured out to check my phone clock...surprisingly, it had been 52 minutes so I hopped back in to make it a cool hour of pool running.  I guess I have the mental fortitude to do something very monotonous without dying of boredom..who knew??!?!

Hopefully the rain will skip over the area.  If not, I may see how it feels to pool run outside during a storm tomorrow.

Monday, March 22, 2010

LA Marathon weekend as a specator

I had such a blast over the weekend thanks to the LA marathon.  Friday Ryan arrived from Hawaii and Billy took us for a trail run in Temescal Canyon near Malibu.  Though it was only a quick 4 miler, I loved the chance to run with them, especially when we realized it was our first (and last for an extended time period) trail run together.  (insert misty-eyed face)

The view from the top (pic thanks to Billy)

The way least likely for me to sprain my ankle again...like a slip and slide!!!

Friday afternoon/evening was a fantastic opportunity to see other runner friends at the LA marathon expo.  A group of us ended up getting dinner in Silverlake at Gingergrass, a hipster Vietnamese-style restaurant, and grabbing some drinks and German sausage at Red Lion Tavern (love that place!!!).  Fun times and lots of laughs made me sad for the night to end.  The evening was a huge reminder of why I love running- the awesome people!!!

Another pic courtesy of Billy :)

Saturday I drug myself out of bed and hit Peter's Canyon for a quick, hot 5 miler.  I hiked the uphills as I know I'm not used to heat and hills and I was feeling ill prior to the run.  Getting "attacked" by a cactus made for an interesting run and a lesson learned- never touch my face if I just pulled cactus bristles from my hand.  (No pics of that...sorry guys!)

Sunday morning I drove to West LA and easily found parking less than 2 miles from mile 21, the place where I told Ryan I'd meet him.  Since driving and parking too less time than anticipated, I leisurely jogged to mile 21 and decided to run closer to 21.5 and hangout at Coffee Bean.  My right achilles felt tight so I doubted being able to run anymore that day.  I got a sugar-free mocha IceBlended (yummy!) and scored a perfect spot for watching the race.

I loved seeing the wheelchair participants, including the eventual winner who flew by before I could snap a pic.  Even after seeing the female and male leaders, my favorites remained the wheelchair participants as I had such admiration for their strength and ability.  I'm accustomed to seeing runners so it was a different experience for me, one that made me even happier to be a spectator.

Female leaders...easier to snap their pic than the wheelchair leaders who were too fast!!!

Ryan came by and I got the chance to hang with him.  Crowd support was phenomenal from 21 to the finish.  Though the post-finish line area was crazy, I understood why the organizers had to use the parking lots near the beach (far from the finish) as it seemed like all of Santa Monica was shut down for the race.  After having lived in SM for years, I was shocked to see so much of the city devoted to the race.  I had the chance to see a few people post-race and thoroughly enjoyed the remainder of the day as a non-runner.  Unfortunately, my achilles is super tight and creaky-sounding after the weekend's running but I'm not worried...I loved the chance to see people enjoying running LA and to see friends...what an awesome weekend!

Ryan's GTTH pic and my looking like idiot trying to run in front of him for the shot!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Running on St.Patty's Day- not quite beer but great!

I love St.Patty's Day, even though I do not brave the been-drunk-since-6am-crowds at the local pubs anymore.  So I was so disappointed to realize that my school's Open House (kinda pointless in high school because it's not one-on-one conferences) fell on this evening.  I'm stuck at work until 7:30pm and traffic plus my communte will mean getting home close to 9pm.  Thus, there will be no celebrating at home or getting the chance to relax much before heading to night-night land.

However, I did manage to get away and hit the gym for a quick run.  The PT said I could attempt a run today based on how my feet feel. Well, one is still slightly tight and I feel that when I massage it (something I do so many times per day I lost count) but not bad.  I decided to play it safe and hit the treadmill in case it started to hurt; I didn't want to risk being a couple miles away and having to hobble back.  It took some time to hit my groove and I felt my lack of running plus some slight "niggleness" in the foot but not the pain I felt before.  So, I kept cruising.  Eventually my right hip flexor got tight and that started making my gait weird (okay, weirder than normal on TM); I've been stretching like mad but the tightness remains almost four weeks after Orange Curtain.  Guess I need to foam roll that area some more.  Finally realized I had to stretch and shower so I finished the run with a smile on my sweaty face.  6 miles in 50:40 (approx 8:34/mile). 

Hope my foot still feels okay tomorrow.  I'm massaging it tonight and will do so when no parents are here and then again first thing in the morning.  Feel great now and I'm very optimistic that I'll be able to run again tomorrow!!!  WOOOHOO!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cross-training and PT

Almost three weeks with minimal to zero running and, while I'm very anxious, I've yet to jump out of my skin and go bonkers...but I see it on the brink if I don't resume training soon. With less than three months before attempting to run/hike/crawl 100 miles, I'm getting very nervous that I won't have the specific training I need to survive. However, I know that including cross-training in my preparation is key to being successful in my attempt so I'm using this break from running as a chance to determine how/what I'll incorporate into my busy schedule once my evenings are filled with jaunts on dirt.

I've read that the stairmaster (the one w/revolving stairs) can help with buidling climbing muscles/endurance and last week my PT cleared me to use that (yippee!) and the elliptical. So I've spent more time in the gym on the stairs (climbing sideways to work outer hips and forward to get ready for mountains) and the elliptical plus a little time walking on the FreeMotion Incline Trainer. Also I've been doing lots of PT exercises to strengthen my weak hips (abductors; ie- gluteus medius, piriformis, etc.) in the hopes that helps reduce reoccurences of ITBS, plantar fasciities, achilles problems. I continued doing tons of stretching (yoga at-home) and some core work, part of my usual pre-injury program.

Saturday I met up with the So Cal Trail Headz and hungout with a few of the members (injured and non-running that day) while the others ran the trails in Peter's Cayon.  I offically joined that cool bunch and am very eager to begin running with them.  I chatted with the RD of Old Goat, a 50 mile race that is brutal but on my must-do list.  Unfortunately, my PT appointment yesterday means that race will remain on my "in the future" list as I didn't even ask if I could run it in less than two weeks; I knew she'd either say no so empatically that I'd cry or just laugh at me, neither of which I was in the mood to hear.

Physical therapy last night went okay. She showed me some new exercises and then used ultrasound with anti-inflammatory gel and massage to work on my feet. She noticed the PF is still tight but better. When I asked about running, she said later in the week....then eased up and told me to take it by feel...if my feet feel okay that I can run. My feet have been tight since I started teaching 6 years ago (gotta love walking on concrete for 7-8 hours daily) so I doubt they will feel perfect now but I'll listen to her. Sleeping with both night splints has been rough and I wake up so many times during the night and take forever to fall asleep but I feel the stretch and hope it's working.

I'm definitely doing what it takes to recover. However, I've been reading online that some people take months to years to recover and that many people never get rid of it entirely. So, I'm at the point of accepting that my feet will hurt and that I'll have to massage them when I change shoes during the race. I just want to resume training!!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Best Podiatrist EVER and fantastic new PT

After developing what I believed to be plantar fasciitis before or during the OC100K, I decided it was time to see a podiatrist and potentially get new custom orthotics; my old ones wore out (aka. pieces tore off) early last year and my efforts to use athletic tape to repair them made them wearable occassionally but not for long runs.  I did not wear them during the race and I figured that my high left arch was collapsing inward, which could have caused the PF.  Doing too much too soon in the Vibrams caused my right achilles to be inflammed so I went to the new doctor with a myriad of problems and I pondered how to tell him everything, get treated for all my foot/ankle issues.  Most doctors are on such a tight schedule that they barely take the time to hear what's going on and then send you off with what may or may not work.  I hoped this doctor would be different.  Since my previous podiatrist was in LA and I wanted one closer to home, I googled "irvine podiatrist runner marathon orthotics" and one of the first results was for Dr.Michael Marcus who has offices in Irvine and Montebello; I read his bio and realized he was the doc for me as he has completed 11 marathons, including Boston.  I wanted a doctor who would understand my training schedule and would work with me.  Calling his office, I found out he keeps super late hours so that patients can go there after work...so rare to find!

My appointment was for 5pm Monday.  The assistant took x-rays around 5:15pm and I got impatient waiting but I heard the doctor with patients and realized he took his time talking to them, etc. so I felt the wait would be worth it.  Boy, was I right.  It was closer to 5:45 before he entered the exam room but he was with me for almost 30 minutes, asking medical history, running history (even my PRs...lol), running plans, diagnosing me, and laying out my treatment options.  He said I have PF in both feet (way worse in my left foot) and that my right achilles is very tight.  He offered his advice and took my input, realizing I was a compliant patient who wants to recover.  Final verdict- night splints for both feet (apparently most people only get one), custom orthotics designed to last longer (specifically for an "ultramarathoner") and fit to prevent blisters, physical therapy.  Since I had not been pleased with my current PT (he rarely sees me himself, said I had no muscular/hip imbalances that I suspected were causing my numerous injuries, and only seemed to have my symtoms treated versus find out the cause), I asked for a referral.  Non-running note is that the doc's older sister was a high school bio teacher and that led to his becoming a doctor 33 years ago...so he said he had to make sure I'm well-cared for.  Awesome!

The set of night splints...

Tuesday I took the day off running and hit the gym for some rare cross-training.  Doing lower body weights, especially the abductor machine, made me AGAIN realize how weak my legs are despite my running.  Wednesday I returned Rhonda's (the PT at PARplus) call and made an appointment to see her that evening.  I had been desiring to test my foot on a run but figured getting started with PT was a priority.  Unfortunately, I learned that she's out of network but will only make me pay in-network costs...20% of the bill, which has me concerned as money is tight right now.  Why do I pay so much every month for PPO insurance to spend so much myself?!  However, she proved that she's an excellent therapist and, as a runner/triathlete, understands running injuries and the importance of treating the cause so that fewer injuries occur.  Her tests showed what I suspected- I have weak hip muscles, specifically the abductors, and that issue could be why I've had so many minor injuries.  She did treatment with a form of ultrasound designed to help break up the swelling in the PF feet and gave me a series of exercises to start strengthening my hips.  Bad news is that she said no running until at least next week. :(  Major bummer as I had been planning on hitting the trails.  Oh well, I'm hoping my PF improves enough by Monday (next appt) that I get the all-clear to run.  Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I only need a few PT visits because my bank account can't deal with more....here's to wishing for quick improvement!

I'll be making friends with 24 hour fitness and taking my bike out for a spin....getting in the cross-training I should be doing while skipping the running.  Sleeping in the night splints is not fun but I'm doing it..the time is ticking for me to resume training for SD100.  Could be waaaay worse so I'm being the compliant patient and hoping it pays off!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Malibu Creek- The "I didn't race" report

While I really wanted to run the Malibu Creek 50K, I had zero desire to be stupid and end up sidelined for months.  I already made the mistake of running (and/or walking) too much in my beloved Vibrams last week and causing my previously, repeatedly injured Achilles to be achey and have a "crunchy" sound when stretched.  My right leg and left arch were not 100% this morning so I arrived at the course with my running and carpool buddy, "Shacky," almost certain I would not be running anything more than the 25K.  When I felt my achilles tightness with every step I jogged around the parking lot prior to the start, I began realizing what I didn't want to admit yesterday...that a DNS was in my best interest.  After checking in and seeing Danica and Emil finishing/getting ready for volunteer duties, I realized that hanging out and seeing other runners would be a viable option.  I mentioned my thoughts to Sarah, the RD, and Shacky and Billy so that no one would wonder what happened to me if I did a U-turn early in the race.

 Rob ("Shacky") and I...he's the one whose advice about Vibrams I asked for after being stupid

Getting ready to start

The mountain I missed climbing:(

Being silly

The start was the typical, low-key affair that I love about ultras.  Billy zoomed ahead and I ran with Shacky.  I felt my right hip/butt/thigh, left arch but knew those might be okay...but the discomfort I felt with every step in my achilles made turning around after 1/2 mile an easy decision.  No point in doing a gorgeous, challenging run and risk tearing it or causing inflammation that would prevent my training for and running my goal race.  I jogged back to the start, getting odd glances from the other runners.  Back at the start/finish, I had the chance to catch up with Danica and see Stuart; Stuart was there to man an aid station and invited me to join him. 

Billy, Emil, Rob, me

Since I love seeing other runners and felt I should make the most of the beautiful day, I headed out to the first aid station of the race, the one right after the creek crossing.  It was cool seeing the runners coming through, helping them by refilling bottles, advising about taking salt tabs, etc.  I got to get advice on what trails I could hit for night runs from Stuart and to baby my achilles and foot with ice and my TENS machine.  Then, I headed back to the start/finish hoping I would see Billy and Shacky finish but those speedy guys were already finished and relaxing.  We waited for Emil to join us and for the 50K winner to finish before heading to Pho Show in Culver City for a great post-race meal.  While I hated missing out on a beautiful run, I enjoyed seeing friends and sharing in another PCTR race experience.

Tofu and veggie pho...yummy!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fingers crossed for tomorrow's 50K

Tomorrow I'm supposed to be running the Malibu Creek 50K, the race that I ran last year as my first ultra. I know that I am completely unprepared for the hills/climb as I have only done 3 trail runs in the past few months.  But I'm not worried about covering the distance.  What worries me is that I have not healed from the pains that hit during the OC100K.  Being sick the past 9 days has been a blessing in disguise as it's meant I've done very minimal running.  I've focused on resting, walking around in my Vibrams, doing yoga, and relaxing.

Last night my wonderful boyfriend gave me a deep massage on my right leg; what scared me is that he immediately noticed what he described as a red line under my skin running from my outer knee up my outer thigh to my hip.  He immediately started massaging along that line and the pain I felt was unlike any I've experienced; the pain I've been feeling has been going from my hip to my knee so it's not surprising that area is tender but the tenderness of certain spots has my hoping it's just muscular or my ITB but researching stress fractures.  Today it hurts to even gently touch those areas.

I tested out my legs on a short run and felt discomfort within a half mile.  I kept to a flat, gravel/dirt path near my apartment and, for the most part, kept to a slow, recovery pace.  Thankfully, the right leg pain improved over the run, though my left arch is not 100%.  And apparently I overdid it wearing my Vibram KSOs; I wore them for several hours daily at work and ran 1 mile on the treadmill in them; my right achilles (the one I tore 3 times in high school) was very tight and sore today.  I clearly suck at "gradually" easing into anything!  What this means for tomorrow is unclear.  I'm excited that I'll be able to see several runner friends, including Billy, Emil, Shacky, Deirdre, Lori, but I'm already prepared to drop at the 25K mark if I feel I'm doing damage to some already sore spots.

During today's run, I kept remembering that I've yet  to learn a very important lesson- gradually increase mileage.  My running logs over the past 7 months look like a "what-not-to-do" memo.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my body will forgive me and allow me to continue training for the SD100.  In about 26 hours, I'll know how much my body loves me.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Week Recap- Tampa and I hate being sick!

The last 10 days have been rough as my body rebelled and forced me to slow down and realize that I have to take care of it in order to recover from a race.  The night of the Orange Curtain 100K, I could not sleep; maybe it was the adrenaline still pumping or a standard bout of insomnia but, regardless, it was not what I needed.  I spent the next several days exhausted and unable to sleep well at night...not exactly what is good for recovering, allowing the body to heal, preparing for traveling cross-country.  While I did not suffer from DOMS or any major discomfort, I continued to feel the pain in the arch of my foot and the knee/quad/ITB tightness in my right leg.  I went to PT last Monday for ultrasound, massage, stretching and to the chiro for ART on Tuesday.  I still felt the lingering issues so I took most of the week off running, except for 30 minutes on the treadmill Wednesday.

I knew I was going to Tampa tired and not recovered, but the trip was for a good cause (Operation Jack) so I looked forward to it.  Unfortunately, I awoke Friday at 3am feeling like knives were embedded in my throat, the sure sign I was getting sick.  My friend Sam picked me up for the airport and we embarked on our journey; two long plane rides later we arrived in Tampa.  After eventually getting dinner at Macaroni Grill with one of Sam's biggest Operation Jack supporters (and her running buddies) and picking up a selection of cold medicines and Airborne, I looked forward to a good night's rest and hoped I'd feel okay to sign up and register for the 15K the next morning.

 I had to have coffee and a chocolate donut hole...why don't we have these in Cali?!

Neither one happened as I felt progressively worse but I decided to head to the expo and hangout/shop while Sam ran the 15k and the 5k.  Tampa puts on a series of races as part of the Gasparilla Classic, though this year was the last year they will host a marathon due to low participation and the cost of it.  I was very impressed with the expo and with the organization of the race, the goodies given out, the selection of post-race beverages and food...basically, everything!

After the expo, we grabbed brunch at Cracker Barrel near my brother's house; I grew up loving their food and one problem with rarely having the chance to eat at one is that I cannot decided what to order.  I LOVE their biscuits and hashbrown casserole but wanted breakfast so I ordered one with: 2 eggbeaters, turkey sausage, hashbrown casserole, grits (bleh), biscuits and gravy.  WOW!  So much food...I ate waaaaayyy too much but did not finish all of this monstrosity:

I was very tired (waking up at 4am without sleeping=need a nap) but feeling so sick that I failed to sleep much that afternoon and evening.  Needless to say, I was very happy that I had made the wise decision of registering for the 1/2, not the full!  Getting to the race was easy, despite the freeway being closed right before our exit due to a wreck, and I loved having zero pressure to run fast or hard.  Being sick made my plan of running slowly easy to manage.  The race started in the dark and we ran through some nice neighborhoods, with the highlight being the fire juggler...very cool to see during a race!  The arch of my foot started hurting during mile 1 and I regretted my decision to wear my custom orthotics as they fit my arch too well and were pressing on the "messed up" spot every second; around mile 3, my right knee/quad/ITB got super tight and I started counting down the miles.  The race was pancake flat and I kept eyeing the grass when we ran along the bay as I wished for hills or trails, with grass being the closest I could see.  I stuck to the asphalt and was so happy to see the finish line as my foot and right leg were killing.  Crossed it in 1 hour 50 minutes with my Garmin showing 13.3 miles; I sucked at tangents and weaved a lot during that short time.  I limped back to my car for a sweatshirt and returned to see Sam finish, ogle the food but not eat any of it, snap some pics, chug some coffee.

Tampa and Pirates...it makes sense!

Sam and I sporting our Operation Jack shirts and nifty medals

Just some of the food provided by the Columbia restaurant...

Sticker in the Starbucks across from the race...so true!!!

Since the arch of my foot hurt so much, I decided to cave and buy Vibram KSOs in Tampa at Fit2Run, a runner's paradise.  My best friend helped me choose the least weird color (black was sold-out in my size) and I sported them around the mall and at lunch since my foot felt better in them than in my Mizunos.  Hmm...I'll keep testing them and let you know my final verdict.  Since I've been sick (can't shake this cold), I've been taking rest days and hope that my arch and still hurting right leg heal soon.  Fingers crossed as the Malibu Creek 50k is only days away.