Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pictures of the sprained ankle

I did a great job at spraining my ankle multiple times during one run (see last post if you don't know what I mean) and it didn't look very good.  Monday, I spent the day at work elevating it, hobbling around on crutches, and icing every hour much to the bewilderment of my students.

Yesterday about 36 hours post-running, I was home with my foot in a lovely ice bath when my boyfriend looked at it and strongly suggested I go to my podiatrist.  After googling pictures of fractured ankles, I grabbed the phone and called.  Thankfully, Dr. Marcus has late afternoon appointments on Monday and they were able to squeeze me in.  While waiting, I took some pics of my ankle since I realized I might need to look at the healing process in the future given my propensity for injuries.

After examining the x-rays (hard because of all the swelling) and feeling around the bones, the doctor said it's sprained. He was shocked I was not experiencing more pain, though I have a VERY high tolerance for pain.  He wrapped it in a 24 hour soft cast because he said he knew I wouldn't want anything that I had to wear for long..lol.  So true.  I have to wear an air cast for an extended period of time and use crutches for about a week.  Now, the waiting game begins...how fast can the swelling subside?

Overnight my ankle and toes swelled more, despite being compressed and elevated.  My toes looked like little sausages poking out of brace but I'll keep that picture to myself.  This afternoon I removed the soft cast and was surprised to see how much my ankle changed in 24 hours; purple is the color of the day and it makes it easy to see where I did the most damage to my ankle.

I hope the changing color is a sign of healing because I still have desires of completing SD 100 (less than 2 months away).  I'll keep the ankle sprain updates coming...at least until I hit the pool and can describe my 1-3 hour sessions in great detail.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Volunteering/pacing/spraining ankle at Rocky Road 100

In January I ran a marathon  put on by Charlie Alewine Racing and loved the low-key, welcoming feel of his races.  He gets to know the runners and truly loves the sport.  CAR has events weekly, including some weekends/holidays where a person can run 2-4 races on consecutive days.  In other words, CAR enables Marathon Maniacs to be even crazier. Since January, he has been including more and more trail runs and I've been longing to race on but injuries or scheduling have gotten in the way.  That was the case for CAR's first 50/100 mile race, the Rocky Road runs; a range of events was offered from the half-marathon distance to the 100 miler.

I longed to do the 50 miler as a training run for SD 100 but my achilles issue made that impossible.  I had prior commitments for Saturday, including a 6 year old's birthday party at Scandia (small amusement park), that prevented my running a shorter race but decided to combine running and volunteering late Saturday evening into Sunday.  Charlie needed a volunteer from 4am-3pm Sunday and I thought it would be a great experience to see that part of a 100 miler; I asked if I could run a loop of the course before my shift and he was very gracious to allow that.  I decided to arrive around 11:30 pm and the night time did not stop by being amazed at the beauty of the Cota de Caza neighborhood, an exclusive "enter through guard house" area in southeastern Orange County.  The area made my jaw drop open and remain that way until I left! 

When I arrived, there was a guy (Troy) at the aid station who had completed 75 miles and was heading out for the technical 5 mile loop; he asked who I was pacing and, when he learned I was looking to get in some miles before my shift, asked if I wanted to run with him.  I jumped at that- my first overnight run and I'd have the opportunity to pace someone!!!  We took off and I was very happy he'd run the loop several times during the day because it was rocky, sandy, easy to lose footing, and overgrown with grass at times (last minute course change meant the RDs did not have time to clean up trail)- very remote and very cool!  The views of nature were incredible and I loved seeing the moonlit hills and vegetation, even just seeing the home with its own golf course made me smile; I planned on returning after my shift to take pics, despite knowing they were lots of snakes that had been spotted during the day.

I warmed quickly and decided to discard my gloves at the aid station after the loop.  My achilles felt good so I asked Troy if he wanted my company for the next 15 miles.  He seemed very happy for that.  He had mentioned having a goal of sub 24 hours and I realized he needed to make up time for that to happen.  I decided to make it my mission to get him in/out of aid stations quickly (he'd told me he lingers) and to push him gradually to pick up pace when needed.

When we headed out for the 7.5 mile (15 mile round trip) trek along the loose, sand-like horse trail, he mentioned there were lots of sandbags along the way due to recent rains.  I was not running with my headlamp on because the moon was so bright; big mistake!  I decided to run slightly ahead or beside him and tried to give him the best part of the path, the small part not blocked by the lines of sandbags.

About a mile out of the main aid station, I landed hard in a small gulley and heard/felt my left ankle snap; the accompanying pain was excruciating but I jogged it off and said I was fine when Troy asked; no way was I going to whine to someone on mile 81 of 100!  I could feel the ankle tightening and anytime Troy needed to walk or pee, I'd take a moment and rub it; I could feel it slightly swelling and it was super tender to the touch.  I kept landing in small gulleys and the pain would shoot to my sole.  But I was determined to help make up time and get him down to 15 min/mile average pace, the slowest pace possible for him to go sub 24; I'd see our chipping away at the 16, high 15 min/mile average pace and knew he'd be close if we could keep pushing.

The course had some rolling hills and I got to gawk at the homes while enjoying conversing about everything from races to work to family and the times of just running silently; it's still crazy to realize how much people can learn about others while running at night.  We hit the turnaround and we both snagged ibuprofen and he fueled up.  On the return, I could tell he was struggling as his run had turned into a shuffle; but the food kicked in and I started to pick up the pace and he followed suit.

I decided to turn on my headlamp to avoid the gulleys and it helped....until we were about 5 or 6 miles from the main aid station when I avoided one obstacle (railroad ties) and then managed to tumble when leaving the horse trail to cross a street; I stumbled off the curb, landed weird on my left ankle and it collapsed, sending me into the pavement.  Pain shot through my body and, as I got up, I worried I would not be able to put any weight on my ankle.  It hurt like hell but I did not want Troy to be concerned; he said we should walk for a bit and I reluctantly did for a few moments before checking my Garmin and realizing we had no time to lose.  My left hand was bloody and the cold air hitting it hurt but the worst was every step when pain would reverberate through my entire body.  I realized I had to make it back and that I wanted back asap so that I could get off my ankle and ice it beyond belief.

We continued running/walking and I made out as though everything was okay; my job was to pace and he was looking stronger by the moment so I did not want anything to mess up his groove.  As we made it to the aid station, he asked the time (I'd kept quiet about time, distance, pace except for the two times he asked) and realized he had 90 minutes to get aid and do the tough 5 mile loop.  I told him it was possible and that he should go for it; even if he did not make sub 24, he'd given up 15 minutes by helping a fellow runner earlier in the race.

Troy, me, Charlie (RD)

I proceeded to assess the damage to my ankle- worse than I expected- and start icing and elevating. I remained at the race, saw the winner, and was stoked to see Troy finish in 24:07, earning him second place!!!.  Seeing how happy he and his friend Gina were with his time, I was so happy I'd paced him; it was an experience unlike any other and I learned so much about myself, ultras, what it takes to finish 100 miles...way more than I can share in a blog!

After one round of icing...ice caused part of redness

I remained at the main aid station and then went to another one until 2 people remained; seeing how hard those two ladies were working, one of whom had officially DNFed but was still out there to finish the mileage, gave me such an appreciation for the distance, the mindset it takes to finish, and the determination of those ladies.  Jean and Ronnie rock!  All in all, the experience was incredible and badly sprained ankle and all, I would not take it back.  I got in about 20 miles and my achilles held up; I'm stronger and in better shape than I realized.

The house was incredible and it has an orange grove...holy smokes!

More on the ankle to follow...
Til then, hit the trails for me!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ramping up mileage

So far, my run/walks have been successful. :)  I've upped my mileage from doctor's schedule but I'm keeping his plan of run/walk intervals.  I've been increasing the length of the intervals and trying to keep my pace in check, the hardest part for me.  Thursday I covered 8.25 miles, including a few mile long intervals at sub-8 pace; the plantar fasciitis bugged me off/on and the achilles was tight but there was no pain or anything that caused concern.  I'm back to doing the laundry list of things to help the PF and am wearing both night splints, instead of just the right one.  Hopefully all of these things will allow me to continue increasing my mileage and hopefully hit the trails for some hills soon.

Today was a beautiful, warmer day and I headed out with the goal of 10-12 miles; plan was for 0.25/0.75 miles walk/run for the first half, then 0.25/1 mile walk/run intervals.  I felt good and stuck to the plan for the first 5 miles and then did 1-2 mile run intervals.  My legs were tired by the time I hit mile 10!  I guess my legs are not used to running as this was my longest run since February 28th.  The PF bugged at times and the achilles area was tight but I was able to finish 12.25 miles with no problems; I stayed within a couple miles of my apartment throughout the run in case something acted up but was very happy to finish the distance and feel good. 

I'm optimistic I'll feel good tomorrow and will be able to do a short run/walk tomorrow.  Thankfully it's beautiful weather so I can get in some more pool running today and tomorrow and end the weekend feeling as though my legs are getting adjusted to working hard.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Returning to running

I'm not very good at listening to doctor's orders but I'm trying to be smart and trust that my podiatrist knows what he's doing.  Last week he told me I could do a walk/run Friday and Sunday and I jumped at that chance.  I followed his orders Friday, though I found myself using the run intervals as speed work and realized that's not the best idea when recovering from an achilles injury.  I did another long pool running session Saturday and walked/ran on Sunday; that day I diobeyed his orders by making the run segments longer (0.5 miles versus 0.25) and increasing the distance so that I covered 5 miles.  My achilles area felt "off" but not painful so I figured I was okay.

Monday I returned to his office and admitted I ran a little farther; he laughed and guessed that I ran 10 miles.  whew.  5 was not so bad apparently. :)  He examined my achilles and noted that it feels normal- edema and crepitation are gone.  Yippee!!  He gave me the green light to return to running but, unfortunately, he mapped out a VERY gradual return to running.  The next two weeks are the most critical.  I won't even admit what he mapped out for me as it almost brought me to tears; the plan for the next 5 weeks fails to even scratch the surface for what I know I need to be doing in order to run a 100 miles 8 weeks from now.  When I kept asking about increasing it more than his plan allows, he said I could but kept emphasizing how I have to be careful or I'll end up out for a long time.  Running PCT 50 in less than 4 weeks is so far from the running plan that I am contemplating writing the RD and withdrawing from it.  My boyfriend said I might as well see how I feel the next 3 weeks and then attempt to hike/jog it.  Obviously, that's now a thought in my head as I really need to train on the course...

Yesterday I did 30 minutes of pool running and then tried a land run.  I slightly upped the mileage (from doctor's plan) and the length of 2 intervals to make my total run/walk 6.5 miles.  The plantar fasciitis in my left foot bugged me from the start but my achilles felt okay.  While I was hoping for a "perfect" feeling run, I'll take it.  It was a reminder that I have to be diligent about working on loosening up the PF, something that I backed off of when it seemed better.  Today's another pool running session and I'll give running on the roads another go in the morning.  June 12th is still looking very iffy but I'm going to see what my body can handle over the next 3 weeks.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Best massage ever

While my boyfriend has been wonderful about giving leg massages and "torturing" me while trying to get knots out of my jacked legs, he's not a professional and my current right calf pain needed a massage therapist who knows what she's doing.  After a google search, I chose Dynamic Touch Massage, which has offices in Costa Mesa and Mission Viejo.  Testimonials on the site made me think that they know how to treat athletes, including runners.  The rates were higher than some other places but I decided it's better to pay more and get what I need than to leave another massage place wanting my money back.  I arranged to see Gillian, the one who was available this morning (love spring break!) and I am so happy I did!!! 

As soon as I told her I'm a runner training for a 100 miler, she responded, "Ah.  An ultra runner."  Sweet-someone who knows the lingo, a rarity, and a sign of good things to come.  She asked several questions about my current pains, running plans, etc. and recommended making the most of my hour by just working on my lower body and asked if it would be okay if she did no work on the rest of my body.  Bingo!  Finally, a therapist who offers what I need.  I'm so used to telling massage therapists that I only want my legs worked on and having them ignore me and give minimal attention to my trouble spots. 

Throughout the massage, she kept checking in to make sure she was digging deep enough but not so deep to make me cry.  She even offered to work on my psoas muscles and iliacus muscle, which is very painful work through the abdomen wall but very needed as they are involved in hip flexion/rotation.  It hurt so good and my hips felt so much better!  When she made her way to my right calf, she pinpointed the issues and worked so much on those, to the point where no more work could be done today.  I immediately felt relief.  She made sure I knew to stretch both calf muscles and to strengthen my hip abductors (hmmm...she tells me that but my first physical therapist did not?!).  I was extremely impressed with the massage, her knowledge, and her knowing how to treat runners.  Hands down, it was the best massage I've had.  Anyone in Orange County who needs a massage should see her!

My legs felt so much better so I hopped in the pool for some pool running (only 2 hours today after yesterday's 3 hours) and then did the grueling P90X yoga DVD.  I get to attempt a walk/run tomorrow and I'm feeling way more optimistic about it after today's massage. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Follow-up podiatrist visit

Yesterday was my follow-up appointment with my podiatrist.  He noted that the crepitation is gone from my achilles and that the simple injection appears to have cleaned out/cleared up the adhesion between the achilles and its sheath.  I was somewhat honest and told him the achilles felt tight immediately after the injection and that my calf has become very knotted and seems to be pulling on my achilles slightly; I didn't tell him the achilles still feels tight and that I "feel" it when walking and pool running...there's no pain, just a sensation that does not exist normally.  I'm hoping it is just caused by the recurring muscular knot so I figured I'd allow his physical examination of the tendon to be enough.

He seemed very pleased with my progress and I hoped he'd allow me to resume running today so that I could salvage my spring break to resume training.  Unfortunately, that's not what he had in mind.  Friday I'm allowed to do a warm-up and then run 1/4 mile, walk 1/4 mile 8 times...yeah, a total of 2 miles, not including my warm-up.  No running on Saturday and then I get to do the same thing for 2-3 miles Sunday.  I go back to see him Monday, exactly 2 months from the SD 100 start.  The reasonable part of me knows that testing it with 2 miles of walk/run is the smart thing but the running side of me is eyeing the calendar and hoping my goal race doesn't become impossible. 

I have no idea if the walk/run will go okay but if it does, I wonder if my body can handle going from zero running (except for in the pool) to running up/down mountains for 100 miles in 60 days.  That's what I contemplated for 2.5 hours today while I ran back/forth in the pool.  The calf tightness worsened during the "run" causing my achilles to get tight post-pool running so it's time to find a fabulous massage therapist....off to search for one in the Irvine area.  Suggestions anyone???

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pool Running

The past week taught me that I must be pretty determined to stay in shape and that I can push through monotony and boredom to reach a goal.  How did I learn this?  Pool running (aka. aqua jogging).  I bought my lovely flotation belt for $15, the cheapest and first that I found, and it was not comfortable so I doubted my ability to wear it and run back/forth in a pool for more than 30 minutes.  I knew I could handle 30 minutes on a treadmill so I assumed pool running would be just as exciting.

My first pool run was in the not-too-cold, not-too-warm water of my apartment complex.  I wore a bathing suit and a Nike long-sleeve drifit top for additional warm.  I jogged back/forth in the deep end and was surprised that an hour passed without my beating my head against the pool deck in boredom.  After the run, I was coughing a lot and hoped that the water had not been so cold that I would end up sick for my spring break.

The next day was slightly colder and much windier and the running was more difficult because I started coughing up phlegm about 30 minutes into the workout.  I kept pushing, though I did not keep doing intervals, and got concerned when my phlegm contained blood.  I got out after an hour and the coughing up blood (small amounts but enough to make me wonder...) continued for several hours.  I realized I needed to carry a water bottle and hydrate during the run as I felt very dehydrated and that could have caused the bloody phlegm.

Thursday I sought advice from another injured runner off the RWOL boards and decided to hit the lap pool at a 24 hour fitness.  The water temperature was much warmer and I easily did 80 minutes before calling it a day and heading to the sauna for some heat training.  Friday I again ventured to the gym and 90 minutes passed by quickly, especially since I spent about 20 minutes conversing with 2 other people in the pool area.  Both days I was famished and my legs felt like they were getting a good workout, as they had the prior days.  Hm...guess pool running is not so bad after all.

Saturday brought warmer weather and sunny skies and I checked the water temperature at my apartment pool- perfect!  I was stoked to be able to run back/forth in the sun and shade and soak in the beautiful day while getting in a 2 hour pool run; I know I could have continued but I was getting bored and my legs were telling me to quit.   The most annoying part of the longer runs is that the flotation belt rides up and I have to readjust the cheap elastic belt part; if I continue having to pool run for long periods of time, I can tell it will fall apart.

 I did have company for part of my pool running...

Considering I'm pool running sans an ipod or any music (except for the music I heard from a neighbor's apartment for about 20 minutes), I'm happy to be staying sane.  I'm planning on continuing to pool run after I'm allowed to return to trails/roads, but I'm doubtful I'll keep up the 2 hour runs.