Thursday, March 31, 2011

Three Things Thursday - Paint, injections, and exercise plans

Preface: As anyone who's ever been benched due to injury or illness knows, it's hard to blog or read blogs when benched. I'm trying to find topics that might be vaguely interesting and avoid getting trapped in the "woe is me" space. Please bear with me as my blogging and commenting may be sporadic for another month or so.

1) Last weekend I painted the kitchen. This is something I started, then stopped almost 5 years ago. During that time, the color that I picked out no longer was available at the place I buy paint. So I had to choose another color. It's all done except for some touch ups and a small area on one wall that I will take care of on Friday. Next on my list is the great room. I've been struggling with color selection for that one. I think I'm going to get some color samples to paint onto the wall to help make the final selections in there. The little swatch cards just aren't big enough. Anyway, it's a big room with some complicated surfaces (adobe bricks and lots of wood detail) so I hope I don't stop mid-project for five years again.

2) Yesterday I received my second injection for my left knee. Apparently I didn't look so good when he came into the room because he asked what was wrong. Last time, the injection really hurt (not the needle so much, but the pressure in the joint from the gel). He quickly said "Let's try it with numbing medication this time." This involved an injection of numbing medication immediately preceding the HA injection. MUCH BETTER. I think I will ask for numbing next week as well. Right now I'm icing my knee. I think it should be good enough to finally be able t get out for a walk tomorrow.

3) I have been reading A LOT about arthrosis of the knee aka osteoarthritis aka degenerative joint disease. One of the things that strikes me is that when it comes to exercise, the experts recommend "short and frequent" stressing the importance of finding the right balance between rest and exercise. What strikes me most about this, is that I have been approaching running in a "longer and less frequent" manner. When my knee is run-ready again, I just might try something on the order of 5 days per week with runs in the 2-3 mile range (long runs maybe 5-6) at first and see how that goes. I had been running 3 days per week with runs in the 4-6 mile range (long runs 6-9). If more frequent shorter runs works better for me, I may also need to change my focus to 5Ks and 10Ks instead of half-marathons.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday Thoughts

I started the Euflexxa injection series for me left knee yesterday. So there will be no running for me probably until end of April. Maybe next week I'll blog more about my knee and what these injections do to help. Today I want to blog about something else - my experience with running skirts!

The first few skirts that I bought were inexpensive champion brand from Target. I still like these for walking the dogs, but they aren't ideal for running because I find that the undershorts ride up. Chafing anyone?

The next few skirts that I bought were the Running Skirts brand. I haven't tried the athletic skirts (with undershorts), just the running skirts (with briefs). Now I happen to think they have the cutest skirts on the market with so many wonderful designs to choose from. However, the design with the pockets on the side doesn't work for me. I can't put too much in the pockets for fear of the skirts falling down. Also, the last skirt that I bought from them, I found that the briefs ride up. Blah. If I get something else from them in the future, I think I would try the capris or atheletic skirt.

Last fall I bought the lotta breeze capris from Skirt Sports. I love the design and this cut is quite flattering. I have a black one and am interested in possibly getting it in some other color,. I also tried a black gym girl skirt and while it fits well, I don't particularly like the cut on me. Blah. That was disappointing because I've seen it on other people and thought it looked cute. I guess it just doesn't suit my body type.

My marathon friends (fellow winter warriors) bought me a pink Brooks PR II skort. They chose it because it matches the sporthill top that I wore most weekends running with them. I actually LOVE this skirt and am seriously thinking of buying one in another color. I even wore it on spring break to the pool as a bathing suit cover and got compliments, reassuring me that the cut on this one is flattering.

So that's a summary of my skirt experience. Ladies, which skirt brands are your favorites or least favorites?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Miscellany

As expected, my old Garmin decided to resurrect itself (at least for the time being) now that I have a new one. I don't regret my purchase one bit though because the old one is clearly on its last legs and cannot be trusted. For now, my Husband is using the gimpy Garmin and I have a brand spanking new one to call my own.

I clearly have been afflicted by the spring cleaning bug. So far I have emptied an entire dresser from our office/sewing room (had fabric in it, I kept about half, but put it in bins in the closet), the top shelf of the cabinet in our master bathroom (had towels we weren't using), the middle shelf in the hall closet (had dish towels that we've never mom keeps buying them for us). I've also devised a plan to paint two walls in the kitchen while Husband is on business travel next week. And I chose a color for the fireplaces/bancos and two walls in the great room. I'm not usually this ambitious. I'm blaming it on the "supermoon".

I woke up at 6:15 Sunday morning and baked banana cake from scratch. Sounds impulsive, but actually I have planned this for an entire week. Bought the bananas and buttermilk and cream cheese last weekend. Let the bananas ripen all week while we were gone. Oh my gosh, this cake is so moist and delicious!! Too delicious! I've already eaten an entire row single handedly from the 9x13 pan. Eek. At this rate I will gain 20 pounds by next weekend. So the new plan to take it with me this evening to my women's group Bible study and hope they find it equally delicious.

Calling the orthopedic office later today. Fingers crossed that I can start the injections this week.

Off to tackle Monday before it tackles me!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Six Thoughts Saturday

Sorry for going MIA. Spent the better part of the week in Phoenix with Husband and Daughter. We had fun. In summary we enjoyed some warm weather, saw a Cubs spring training game, visited the ASU campus, had a failed attempt at a second Cubs game (sold out - saw a movie instead), visited old town Scottsdale, enjoyed the Art Walk, and ate lots of yummy food.

Today Son is in transit from California to spend his spring break at home. Yay! We are very much looking forward to seeing him. It's unfortunate that the kids' breaks didn't line up, would have been nice having him join us for our little trip.

Tried out my spanking new Garmin this morning. I ended up getting another 205 for a great price from amazon. Tested it out on my run-stop-walk-stop-run this morning (Uggh. Stupid knee!) and it worked like a charm. This probably means that my dead Garmin will resurrect itself, that's usually how things work out.

Came home to some nice spring weather, albeit a bit windy. I've been wanting to paint the indoor fireplaces and bancos. We went to get samples from Lowes after lunch. I thought we had some good colors picked out, but clearly the lighting in the store is very different than the lighting in our house. May need to go back and try again.

I was expecting a call from the orthopedics office last week telling me that the insurance went through so I could schedule my injections. Heard nothing. I guess I'll call them Monday morning and try to figure out what is going on. I'm anxious to get started with that.

Spring break is the only time of the year when I have normal bathing suit tan lines. The rest of the summer I end up sporting the traditional athlete's tan (which is sort of like a farmer's tan). How many of you are with me on that?!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Six Thoughts Saturday

I've been having trouble with my Garmin for months. Now it won't charge or turn on at all. Yes, I already tried reseting it. Without the Garmin, I was forced to use the "MyTracks" application on my phone. While it's great to have an alternative method to track distance, but it's not particularly user friendly for that purpose. I need a new Garmin. This time I mean it.

We've had a couple nice spring days. I used one of them to do some work clearing out the veggie garden in preparation for this year. Spent another one doing some spring cleani'ng in our office/sewing room. Still lots to do on both fronts, but I was happy to make some progress while I had the motivation.

Haven't heard back from the orthopedic office yet. I'm expecting a call early next week to set up the appts for those injections. I'm soooo ready to get this started.

I was supposed to take a urine sample back to the vet to be sure Bandit's infection is cleared up. After chasing him around with a Tupperware container trying to catch him in the act of peeing, I finally gave up. At this point, I figure that it's either cleared up and he's fine or it isn't and we'll know when he has problems again.

I've been taking our recycling to the same place for years. I loaded up the car and went over there on Friday and to my surprise, the recycle bins were gone!! What?!?! I was able to find an alternate location, but it's much farther away. What a bummer!

I have mixed emotions about daylight savings time. On the one hand, I'm glad that we won't be racing the sunset after work anymore. On the other hand, It's going to be dark when I leave in the morning again. Ugh.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No Gnus is good news?

aka - "The glass is half full"

I managed to score an appt with my orthopedic doctor for this afternoon. I have no idea how I got in so quickly. Last year I had to wait a good 6 weeks to get an appt. For that matter, I was in and out of x-ray in 10 minutes (they had planned for a full hour) and the doctor saw me right away after that.

The good news is that my knee issue is pretty much the same problem that I've always had. It's a chronic condition that will need ongoing treatment. For some reason this last round only lasted 6-7 months. But it's not because something new is going on. And that is a good thing. And as he reminded me, being able to achieve 6-7 months free of knee pain with a chronic condition is considered success even for folks with average activity levels. I sometimes forget that I'm asking my body to do more than 'average'.

The not so good news is the timing. The plan is to repeat the series of three Euflexxa injections beginning week after next. Then I need ~6 weeks recovery time. That takes me to the end of April/beginning of May. And what is on May 1? The run for the zoo half-marathon.

This means that there will be no Run for the Zoo Half Marathon for me (hence no gnus). In fact there will be no spring races at all. But, I should be good to go for summer/fall. All things considered, I'm pleased to have a relatively unobtrusive treatment option (the good news). And the sooner I get started, the sooner I get back on my feet.

Monday, March 7, 2011

If it looks like a duck...

What I want to be doing is training for a half-marathon. What I'm doing instead, is training around a cranky knee. And the realization is starting to hit me. If I can't run long and I can't run on hard surfaces, what makes me think I'll magically be able to run 13.1 on a hard surface come race day?

[yes, I realize some of you have come to this same conclusion already, but I'm still deep in denial.]

Looking at my training last week, I can't help thinking that it looks like 10K training, not half-marathon training (stupid knee):

Tue: 4 miles "steady run"
Thu: 4 miles "easy run"
Fri: 2.2 miles "tempo run" aka "redemption run"
Sat: 5 miles "long run"

Saturday's run was wholly on dirt and my knee was okay. I purposely dialed back on distance to give my knee some recovery time. At the end, I felt like I could go farther. I toyed with the idea of adding extra distance, but I figured it was good to quit while I was ahead for a change.

Next week I'm going to try to run 7. If that doesn't work out for my knee, I may need to seriously reconsider what I'm training for. Perhaps instead of training for a half-mary I should actually be training for a 10K.

While poking around on, I conveniently found a 10K in April on a relatively flat surface. Sounds like the setting for a new PR perhaps? Hmmmm. Thinking about it. Ducks aren't all bad.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Redemption Runs

I'm starting a new tradition on Fridays that I like to think of as Redemption Runs. These are short (2-3 mile) but hard effort runs that make me feel better about my knee situation. Last week it was up and down my favorite hill. This week it was out and back in 20mph wind.

But before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you about yesterday's easy four. Our running group has been meeting at 5pm. It's REALLY difficult to get there at this time, but we are trying to beat the sunset. Only three of us had shown up by 5pm/ We have a 'five minute rule' meaning that we don't start until 5 minutes after. This week three people showed up at about 7 or 8 minutes after. Of course, we didn't know that at first, because we took off at 5 minutes after.

The first person caught up to the group right away. The second person didn't know which route we were taking and never caught up because she went the wrong way. The third person chased us down, but we didn't see her until we got to the turn point. I certainly wasn't going to leave her out there on her own! So I slowed down, waited, and ran back at her pace. I also told her that I'd run with her on Saturday if she'd agree to run on dirt. Deal made.

Also, we decided that we should move the meeting time back to 5:15. That will make a world of difference to those who are struggling to make it at 5pm and still keep us running in daylight.

That gets us back this morning's redemption run. The path I took was somewhat of an L shape. The first part was slightly downhill with the wind at my back. Then onto a dirt portion with a crosswind. Turn around, still on dirt with a crosswind. Then slight uphill into the wind. And a little extra at the end for a cool down.

It's necessary to understand the route to make sense of the half mile splits. At first glance, it looks like I went out too fast, but knowing that the first half mile was downhill with the wind at my back, and the 4th half mile was uphill into the wind paints a different story. I'm actually quite pleased with how this run turned out.

So there you have it. A successful run (on many fronts) last night and a decent redemption run this morning. I'm ready for the weekend!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday Thoughts

Had a good run on a dirt trail on Tuesday. What defines a good run? Minimal knee pain is a big factor. Really only bothered me on a few short uphills (I walked those segments). I was surprised when I looked at my splits. I don't remember trying to pick up the pace except at the very end, but apparently I did. This was very encouraging, especially after the long run failure this past weekend.

What I've learned so far about running and my current knee pain:
  • dirt is good
  • hills are bad
  • hard surfaces are not good
  • easy is okay
  • long is not good
Taking these things into consideration, My half-marathon training plan has been modified. Cutting back on distance for my long runs, at least for the next few weeks. I will add some extra short runs though for time on my legs. I still need to figure out what I'm going to do about cross-training to keep my fitness level up.

Today I'm planning on another easy 4 after work. I hope it goes as well as it did on Tuesday!