Sunday, December 4, 2011

I'm back!

It's been a long time since I have posted.  Life has been super crazy since I'm teaching an extra class period and commuting way too many hours per day.  Thankfully, I booked the major items for our wedding during the summer since I've had little time for wedding planning.  Running has also taken a backseat but I see that changing soon. 

I accidentally ran an ultra October 30th when I did the Richard Leary 6 Hour Challenge to benefit TAPS and Train for Autism.  I had little time to run in the weeks leading up to the race so my longest run since last November was 14 miles.  Somehow I managed to run about 33 miles and that gave me the motivation to get my butt back in gear; I love running ultras and I have a strong desire to to another 100 miler before spring of 2013.  I've been pushing the pace occasionally and am stoked to throw in some faster miles without my knee acting up too much.  Being able to go that distance without any training surprised me as I had assumed my body could no longer handle long distances.

I'm eyeing a 50K for February but will have to see if my schedule allows me to train for it; if I'm not ready for it, I have some others on the schedule for March.  I have some fun races coming up this month and in January and they are all shorter distances.  I used to hate shorter distance races but now I just enjoy the chance to be in a race setting and snap some pictures to capture these moments in my life.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Beijing and Hong Kong vacation and time to race!

Wow.  It's been a long time since I posted on here.  I went to Beijing, China and Hong Kong last month and that trip altered my running routine.  The trip was incredible and I was pleased with making myself get up early in order to utilize the gym for running.  I could not sleep on the flight there and was exhausted upon arriving in Beijing (total flight time not including the layover = 16+ hours); we decided to go on an additional tour that day but had a couple of hours to relax and get ready upon arrival at the hotel.  I hit the gym and my sleep deprived body managed a few miles (or shall I saw km!).  The days in Beijing were nonstop activity and I managed a couple of gym runs and, of course, did some running (but mostly climbing) on the Great Wall.  I would LOVE to do that race someday, though it would kick my butt more than any other race due to the inconsistent size of the steps; going up is challenging but descending sections is downright scary.  In Hong Kong, I loved the gym; it had the nicest treadmills I've ever seen so I made sure I ran each day, especially since the effects of very delicious, salty, greasy food (and too much of it) caught up to me.  I saw some trails on one of the islands near HK and was sad that I did not get a chance to run the trails there; maybe one day we will return and I'll have that opportunity.

After returning home, I decided to log a higher mileage week and then take a few weeks off from running.  I managed about 48 miles and my legs were not accustomed to running every day and doing double my recent mileage.  I hoped that a few weeks off would help my knee; I've gradually gone from no activity to slow walking to fast walking and hiking to slow running with mileage increasing gradually.  Unfortunately, the knee issue (cyst) is still there.  But yesterday's run with a Train 4 Autism group led by my friend Sam was good enough and long enough for me to decide that Alan and I will be able to do a half marathon next month!!!  We logged ten miles and the second half was faster than anticipated due to my leading the way; I had been eying the Heartbreak Ridge Half Marathon and yesterday's run confirmed that we will be ready to run and enjoy it.  We are not in "racing shape" but we have a wedding to prepare for so I'll sign us up this week. I love that Alan is excited about running and can't wait for the race.  Not being able to run as fast as I used to has been a blessing in disguise; I now enjoy my runs with him even more because I'm not having to slow down and his company makes every mile more enjoyable.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Freedom Run at the Ranch 10K

As promised, I'm going to be doing some shorter races over the next year as Alan and I plan our wedding.  Today was the first one and we chose the Freedom Run at the Ranch (Ladera Ranch) 10K.  It was a small race, especially for the 10K field, and we had a blast.  We got there around 6:20am, wandered our way through the really cute neighborhood and found the start/finish and registration table.  A quick walk back to the car and back to the race put us there just in time.  I had been warned that it was two loops and that there was a long hill so we took it easy.  I loved that most of the race was shaded and that the 10K started early (7am) as it turned out to be a warm day.  The second loop I pushed Alan a little bit up the  hill because I wanted to pass some women and then we really picked up the pace for the last 0.8 to pass more people and finish in 52:xx.  We crossed the finish line holding hands; what more could a girl want?!




Thursday, June 23, 2011

I may have lost it....

This is the first school year when I have been done with grades before the last week of school.  I managed my time wisely, planned the last weeks of school purposely, and stayed very organized so I've been in an odd situation this last week of school.  Having everything on my end-of-the-year list done, I've been very bored during class time.  I am accustomed to being very active and running around my classroom seemingly nonstop so boredom led to way too much internet surfing while my students do assignments.  Combine free time with a brain stuck on wedding planning and you get my attempts to come up with a good theme for our wedding.  My first idea led to tons of ideas from others' blogs but was met with little enthusiasm by my fiance.  My second idea was met with mixted reviews on Facebook but my fiance loved it, especially when we started discussing ideas for how to make it happen. of now, I am having a running themed wedding.  Yes, I may have lost it!  No, we are going to get married while running a race or do anything too extreme but guests will know that we run together,.  I read about a couple of triathletes who made guests race on stationary bikes if they wanted the couple to kiss but I've yet to figure out a way to get two treadmills in our reception space; that is the one extreme idea I would love to see his family deal with!  One huge bonus of making this a theme is that we will be doing many races together over the next year; while my knee doesn't allow me to actually "race" and I hate short disrances, it looks like I have several 5Ks and 10Ks in my future.  Considering I've yet to run a 5K, it will be an adventure all in the name of love.

If you have any ideas for how we can incorporate running and/or trails into our wedding, let me know!  I have many ideas but could use lots more!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's been a long time...

I realized it's been a very long time since I've updated on here.  I could say that I've been swamped with school, work, and wedding planning but the truth is that my running has been so minimal that writing about it has seemed pointless. 

Around my last post, I went back to my orthopedic doctor hoping he would give me a magical fix for the cyst in my knee; unfortunately, that doctor's visit left me sad and very uncertain about my running future.  He would not give me another cortisone injection since it had only been a few months since the first one and the first one did not completely help; the risk of another one outweighed any potential benefits.  Instead, he told me that he had no answer for me; the cyst is in an odd spot (and is very uncommon) so surgery is not an option.  He ended up telling me to keep getting soft tissue work and consider PRP (platelet rich plasma treatment), which insurance does not cover.  I was strongly considering that...until other events in my life made me realize at this moment I can't spend $500/treatment when there is no guarantee it will work; making my knee better is not a financial priority at this time.  What broke my heart momentarily was his telling me that I may have to just be happy running short, slow distances and that I may never run the speed and distances I did before; however, he did encourage me to get another opinion and to seek any alternative treatments. 

My chiro and I discussed my options and, in addition to PRP, he recommended I try acupuncture.  He's never known it to work for something like my injury but said it's worth a shot.  Today was my second acupuncture visit and I'm optimistic.  The acupuncturist has never heard of a cyst behind the pes anserine but he's confident that a few more treatments will cure me.  Fingers crossed....

While it's been very hard to get motivated to run short distances at a slow pace because every step causes discomfort, I am thankful I can run.  If acupuncture is unsuccessful, I'll stick to running what I can and remembering that there are so many people in the world who cannot run and so many people dealing with much larger issues than a knee injury.  Running has been my way of dealing with hard things in life and, while I and my family are facing some big challenges now, I am lucky that I CAN run and continue dealing with stress in a positive manner.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Wow.  It's been a long time since I updated my blog or read the ones I follow.  Life has been extremely hectic this year and many things have taken a backseat to my top priorities.  I'm still teaching and my commute makes that a long work day, but I'm also taking two courses in the hopes of making a career change within the next 18 months.  Being in class until 9pm two nights a week and doing all the homework, projects, and studying has left less time for running.  The weeks I don't need to study before class, I squeeze in a short (5 mile) run since my campus is located near a gym, which is near a park.  On the weekends, I'm pretty exhausted and run whatever mileage I have the time and energy to do.  I have no races on my schedule as my goal for the year was to get healthy and that's still my objective.

It's become apparent that my knee issue is still there so I went to my chiro for an ART session this week; he did a number of my leg but he thinks I'll have to opt for another cortisone injection....that's better than his joke about my getting a pink prosthetic.  Normally, I would hate the thought of again taking time totally off running but I'm learning to go with the flow.  I'll see how my leg/knee feels over the next week and then get another injection if needed. 

Thankfully, I am so excited about things going on in the other parts of my life that this lingering knee problem can't get me down.  I got engaged recently so my attention is on planning a wedding for July of 2012!!!  While I'd love to run some ultras this year, my priority is spending time with my fiance and making our wedding fabulous.  I have zero problem with letting "life" be my top priority and letting running (long distances- short distances will still happen) and racing take a backseat.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Knee Update

Life has been crazy and, since injuries are not fun to think about, posting an update regarding my knee took a backseat to other things.  Since Stuart gave me a virtual kick in the pants, here's the scoop....

The inner part of my left knee has been hurting for almost two years; it's been an odd pain pain that did not match typical knee injuries and its effects made running, yoga, walking, sitting painful.  I actually gave up running "faster" miles because I would feel a catching in my knee and I would end up dragging my left leg/foot along....not exactly fun for someone who likes to race.  Last summer I finally had enough when yoga poses became painful.  I was seeing a wonderful chiro (Dr. Neubauer) for A.R.T. and he was also baffled by the cause of my pain.  My left calf is full of scar tissue and I swing my leg out in a funky way when walking/running so we worked on fixing those in the hopes that it would fix my knee.  After a few weeks of no relief, he sent me for a M.R.I.  The doctor (radiologist) said I had effusion (swelling) and bursitis in a lesser-known bursae.  My chiro recommended the typical course of treatment for it and told me to see an orthopedist if I was not better by November.  I took some time off running, ran very minimal mileage when I resumed, did so much stretching I felt like Gumby, and devoted time each day to using the Stick.  My knee never felt 100% but I held off on going to the ortho....until the pain became unbearable this month.

About two weeks ago I saw Dr.Graham and he took one look at MRI from last year before giving me a diagnosis.  I have a huge cyst along the pes anserinus (area where the three hamstring tendons insert into the knee); the radiologist misread my MRI!  It sucks because I've spent the past 5 months in pain and avoiding running when I could have been treated for it and on the road to recovery.  However, I should have gone to see him a few months ago instead of trusting the radiologist.  According to Dr.Graham, MRIs are often misread.  Yikes!!!!

Dr. Neubauer told me the course of treatment for bursitis when I made my appointment with Dr. Graham so I was prepared for aspiration (draining of burase) or cortisone.  Since my cyst is old (lots of layers), the only option was cortisone.  I happily jumped at the chance for getting cyst-free and he injected it twice.  Fingers crossed it works....he told me to give it 2-6 weeks and to return for another round of cortisone if necessary. It's such a large cyst that one injection may not be sufficient.

I took a mandated 5 day stretch off from working out and am counting down until I am allowed to resume running.  In the meantime, I am working with Dr. Neubauer on fixing what may have caused it; last week I had a grueling A.R.T. session and he taught me lots of PT exercises.  I am on an intensive hamstring stretching and strengthening routine.  Apparently, my hammys are weak so I'm working the life out of them.  I even (gulp) took his recommendation for inline skating; unfortunately, I recently donated my havent-been-worn-in-10 years Rollerblades so I had to purchase a new pair.  Now, I'm hoping I don't hurt myself trying to relearn how to skate.  I am allowed to start "power hiking" this week and next week, if my knee feels "ok", I get to run again...yay!!!

I am having less pain in my knee, though I experienced extreme shooting pains for about 36 hours late last week.  Those, plus some insane bruising around the injection sites, worried me but it could be that the cyst burst.  Apparently, pain and bruising are symptoms of a cyst bursting.  I'm monitoring it and will be smart in returning to running.  Until then, I'm working on getting buns of steel with rollerblading and hammy exercises.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011 Goal

As I look back on my running in 2010, I am happy that I survived the year.  While I had some successful races (100K and 100 miler), I spent most of the year injured or dealing with nagging issues that make running painful.  Obviously, I want this year to be different.  I long to sign up for races but have realized that I will have to deal with my knee injury as it has not gone away on its own.  I took time off running, limited my mileage, kept my paces slow, used the foam roller/stick/Strassburg sock, iced, etc. and got through most of the year without the pain getting back to where it was in late July/August.  However, I guess the combination of some faster miles and my body deciding to put me in check before I sign up for a slew of races caused my knee to start hurting a lot over the past week.  So, my only running goal for 2011 is to get the knee pain resolved. 

Wednesday I will see my orthopedic doctor.  I had a MRI in August and it showed bursitis in the semimembranosus gastrocnemius bursa (fluid sac where calf and hamstring meet behind knee).  I'm hoping the doc can use that MRI (paying for another is not in my budget), drain the bursa, and send me on my merry way to get more A.R.T. with very little time off running.  I am wishing I had taken care of this later in 2010 when I knew that the bursitis had not gone away, but I took less discomfort as a sign of now I have to see what the doc and my insurance can do to help me with my 2011 goal.  Fingers crossed!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Running in Memphis!

I traveled to the Memphis area for 10 days to spend time with my family for the holidays.  While I was always on other people's schedules (sharing car) and trying to optimize my time with my nephews, I still managed to get in some great runs.  Normally the weather does not allow me to run trails because they flood from rain but this year the weather was perfect and I could not get enough of trail runs.

Tuesday 12/21 I checked out Herb Parsons Lake in Fisherville, the tiny unincorporated town where my mom lives.  I ran there years ago but this year I was stoked to see that a newer, slightly longer trail option existed.  I felt like a little kid running through the woods, wondering if I was lost when the trail was hard to see, and silently thanking whoever marked the trail turns with ribbons...I felt like I was on a well-marked trail race course! While there were no true climbs, by the end of the run I felt the effects of the constant tiny rollers...about 7.1 miles with about 850 feet climbed...not bad for a flat trail run!  I was sad to cut my run after one loop but family obligations called so I was thankful for the time out there as it was so peaceful and the solitude was just what the doctor ordered.

Only a small section of the big lake!

"over the hill and through the woods"

 Where's the trail? lol...loved the tree roots, leaves, constant up/down

Photo op

One of many bridges

The new mile markers...a welcome sight

Wednesday I squeezed in a run around my sister's neighborhood in East Memphis/Germantown.  Again, I got to throw in some small hills and my body liked the cold temperatures so I cranked out faster miles than I have since the beginning of the year.  With 3 of the 5 miles in the mid 7s, I finished the run feeling fantastic.  Thursday was another short run around the neighborhood and I was surprised at my "recovery" pace.  Maybe I was so cold that I was just eager to get the run done?! 

Christmas Eve I set out for an 11 miler that would take me through a greenbelt area and allow me to run some on the dirt trails along the Wolf River.  I was limited by time but loved discovering the dirt trails that I had desired to run for years. 

Start of yellow trail

View from yellow trail

Christmas morning I awoke to snow flurries...something I had never experienced on Christmas in Memphis.  I could not resist the chance to run in snow so I went to Herb Parsons Lake and had a fantastic run scampering through the woods, being careful not to fall on slick bridges and leaves, and loving the sight of flurries!  I wished to stay out there but settled for one cold but heart-warming loop.

On the 26th, I was scheduled to participate in the Operation Jack Satellite Run; it was to be a 6.1 mile run as my friend Sam was finishing his 61st marathon/ultra of 2010 (ending a year of spreading awareness about autism and fundraising for Train 4 Autism).  I hit the blue trail along the Wolf River and then ran to my sister's house, throwing in an extra mile just because I was loving the snow flurries.  My recently weekly mileage has been low but that run pushed me to 41.5 for the week.

Snow on the blue trail

My boyfriend and his parents arrived the afternoon of the 26th so I took the 27th off from running but managed to get in some good runs on the 28th and 29th.  Since I wore my Garmin for all of my runs in Memphis, it was cool to see what my easy pace was as I've been running Garminless for most of the runs around my neighborhood.  I was eager to return to Cali but sad to leave the gorgeous trails of the Memphis/Shelby County area.  The pace of my runs boosted my confidence but I know I need to work on endurance in 2011.