Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bring it on!

As both the month and the year ends, I can't help but wonder what the new year will bring. Thinking about it, I may be a bit over committed as these are the new commitments that I'm adding to my plate for the first half of the year starting in January (keep in mind, I also work full time, and I'm not including anything for the 2nd half of the year):

  • Training for a half-marathon even though I still can't run
  • Taking not one, but two graduate level courses!  Eek, what was I thinking?!?
  • Participating in a women's Bible study
  • Participating in a 365 project, aka one photo a day for a full year
  • Fitting in visits to OH to see my mom
  • Planning a trip to CA to see Son graduate

It's going to be an interesting year! 

Here is my thinking: life is meant to be lived to the fullest. None of us really know how much more time we have on this earth. It may seem like I'm taking on a lot, but if not now, when?  It's certainly not going to get any easier as time goes on and I have no intention of living my life on the sideline. So I say, bring it on!

Best wishes to everyone in the upcoming year.  Whatever you decide to take on as a personal challenge or goal, I encourage you to give it your all.

Monday, December 30, 2013

And so it begins...

"30 min" is the first official workout on my half-marathon training plan.  It's intended to be a 30 of the min run-walk-run fashion.  I originally thought that I would substitute in a 30 minute walk, but after talking with my orthopedic last Thursday, I decided to opt for 30 min with the bike on the trainer. It's a better workout and it's what she recommended it for my knee.  And I should add, there is no way I can get my cycle shoes on quite yet (toe still swollen), otherwise I probably would have taken the bike outside.

So that's what I did. 30 long, miserable, sweaty, boring, hot minutes.

Gosh, I have no idea how any of you can stand running on a treadmill or riding on a stationary bike. So boring! I put my ipod on, but even the music didn't help the minutes tick away any faster.

It's going to be a long 4-6 weeks waiting for my knee become run-ready.  Sigh.

And, because I don't take myself too seriously, I did a silly selfy a la "Rosie We Can Do It" once I was done with my ride.  Okay, maybe it's not that similar, but if you know what I'm talking about, you'll at least see what I was attempting.  Hahahah.

If you are a treadmill or bike-trainer or similar such person, please share your best ideas on how to make it more interesting. THANKS!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

4 miles at a snail's pace

My old Garmin Forerunner 205 recently decided that holding a charge for more than 40 min or so is no longer an option. They don't make that model anymore or I'd probably replace it with the same thing, so I asked for a Garmin 310XT for Christmas.

Yes, I know they make the sleek sexy ones that are even sized nicely for women's wrists, but I've grown fond of the clunkier version and its features, and that's what I wanted, and I'm actually quite happy with it!

I got it charged up last night hoping to be able to test it out out this morning.  This morning, for the first time since I banged my toe, I put on a real pair of shoes (albeit a pair that's a bit large on me) and met a friend for a walk.

Perhaps calling it a "walk" is a bit generous. Between my knee and my toe, it was more like a hobble or shuffle.  I managed 4 miles, which is good.  But it took an hour and twenty minutes, which is not so good. That's a 20min/mi pace!

Sadly, this is probably the fastest I've actually been able to move for over a week.  It's clear that I have a *long* way to go even just to get to a respectable walking pace.  On the bright side, I know that I need to start back somewhere, and this definitely counts as a start.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fa la la la la, la la la la!

My sincere wishes for peace, love, and joy to you all!  I hope your Christmas was fabulous and that the new year will treat you well.

Enjoyed having my college aged kids home for to celebrate the holiday with us. We also had the pleasure of the company of Daughter's fiance part of the time.

Good times were had by all.

This morning I had an appointment at the medical center for my third and final injection.  Hurrah!  Now I just need to wait for it to do it's magic.

My orthopedic wants me to start exercising my knee beginning Monday.  I still can't wear regular shoes, so cycling outside it out of the question, but she doesn't see any reason why I can't cycle wearing the silly 'boot' if I'm inside with the bike on the trainer.  So I guess that's what I'll be doing.

Also, my half-marathon training starts next Monday (walking only, but I am counting it!)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Planning the Miles

Not letting my current status as an injured runner stop me from a) making plans or b) setting goals. One of the things that I've decided to do is join the Winter Miles Challenge hosted by Jess.  I decided to choose the beginner mileage of 10 miles per week because I am currently on running hiatus while waiting for both my knee and toe to get back to a healthy status and will have to get my miles in by walking the first several weeks of the challenge, but I need to do that to stay active and healthy, so I think from that perspective the challenge will still hold me accountable to get moving and not spend too much time sitting around. She's designed cute shirts for the challenge and cute bling for a virtual race to be held during the challenge.  Head over and check it out if you haven't already.

The other thing that I've decided to do is work up my Half Marathon Training plan.  I started with a Galloway plan from his website, and modified it based on my current situation and to make it work better for me.

There are two things that I feel I should point out.  The first is that I cannot actually run until week 6 of the plan, so it will be all walking up to that point.  The second is that the original plan had a 14 mile run two weeks before the half marathon. I had to modify the beginning to accommodate walking-only and there wasn't enough time for that 14 week run, so I removed it.  My personal plan tops out at 12.5 before the race.

The important thing is that I actually have a plan!  It starts with walking the week of Dec29.  Hopefully my toe will be better by then. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Light at the end of the tunnel

Today is Winter Solstice, which means we are experiencing the shortest amount of daylight for the year. It's all uphill from here until Summer Solstice; each day will have slightly more daylight. HURRAY! I know I'm not alone in being ready for more daylight/sunshine. And for those of you in the southern hemisphere, sorry to say, your days will start getting shorter.

Yesterday I finally decided which laptop that I wanted.  Since the 'perfect' laptop doesn't seem to be out there for me, I decided that cheaper, lighter, and Win7 were the winning features.  I'll be getting an Acer Inspire S3-6497.  It's not the most recent machine with all the bells and whistles, but it has what I think I need and the price is more palatable.

Son is coming home tonight.  He'll be here for a whole month. Yay! It can't go without saying that both kids are doing really well in college. Son will be graduating this May and already has a full-time job lined up. Daughter is working hard to graduate a year early (aiming for May 2015) and is seriously thinking about pursuing a master degree.  She just completed her 'best ever' semester from a grades perspective. I'm incredibly proud of both of them; their hard work is reaping rewards.

My injured toe is no longer throbbing (that's progress!), but it's still badly swollen and I can't put weight on it. I'm walking in a way that puts extra strain on my calf and woke up at 445 a few nights ago with a horrible calf cramp. Ouch, ouch, ouch! I probably need to be more serious about staying off my feet for a few more days.  I really don't want to experience more calf cramps!

My Galloway timer is sitting on a shelf patiently waiting for the day when I can use it again. Even with the knee and toe issues, I'm still on track to be running again by early Feb. I'm anxious for that day to arrive, but will try to enjoy this downtime as much as I can in the interim.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

In which I prove to be a klutz

Yesterday afternoon I had a close encounter of the unintentional kind with a door opening in my general direction.  The results was a bruised, swollen, and extremely sore toe.  You can't tell from this angle, but the injured toe was swollen twice the size (top to bottom, not side to side) and the same toe on opposite foot. And I must add, it is amazing how much pain can emanate from such a small part of the body.

Owie, my toe!
I tried the standard home remedy for these sorts of ailments: ice, ibuprofen, elevation & rest, but it still hurt like the dickens in the morning and the swelling hadn't gone down at all.  I decided to go to urgent care when they opened. An hour and a half, four x-rays, and I don't remember how much $$ later, it was determined that my toe is NOT fractured (yay!), but badly contused. The Urgent care doctor sent me off with a prescription for a stronger anti-inflammatory and told me to keep up with the ice/elevation/etc.

Checked the time and realized that I had just enough time to drop off the script at the pharmacy and get lunch before heading to my orthopedic appointment for injection #2.  Nothing better for back-to-back doctor visits as a way to spend the day (note sarcasm).

As she was preparing for the injection I told her about my toe, mostly because I wasn't wearing a shoe and didn't want her to bump it.  She asked to take a look at it and recommended that I get fitted for a 'post op shoe' to wear while it is healing. So I left her office injected and sporting a post op shoe on one foot and a regular shoe on the other.  I'm actually quite pleased about this, there is currently no way for me to wear a shoe comfortably on my left foot; this 'post op' shoe is easy to get on and off, is much more comfortable than a regular shoe, and provides support (vs. wearing no shoe).

quite the fashion statement
Orthopedic instructed me to go home and put heat on my knee.  Both she and the urgent care doc also wanted me to ice my toe.  I was happy to oblige.  Except for the small detail that I have a bunch of work to do before going on vacation next week, but I guess I can work on that tomorrow.  At this point, my day is pretty much shot anyway.

fire and ice: heat on knee, ice on toe
So yeah, I won't be logging much in the way of activity this weekend.  One the bright side, concurrent injuries means less overall down time, right?  And both problems are on the same leg, so at least I have one good leg!

Now would be great time to share your own personal klutz stories so I know this doesn't only happen to me. Please and thank you!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mid-week Miscellany

The painted sky at sunset yesterday evening really made me miss my BRF (best running friend) who moved away at the end of November.  Our mid-week runs would frequently end as the sun was setting.  On the occasion when there were clouds in the sky, we would stare at the sky and just take it all in.  I enjoyed the sky last night, but it wasn't the same.

I'm making progress on my laptop hunt.  I've narrowed it down to two possibilities.  One is a reasonably priced lightweight Win7 machine.  The other is a more expensive Win8.1 machine with longer battery life, better keyboard, and an extra USB port.  Right now I'm trying to decide which of those features are more important to me (Win7 and lower cost vs better battery/keyboard and extra USB port).

My step count for yesterday was 9942.  If I had looked at my pedometer before taking it off when I went to bed, I might have walked to the kitchen one more time to get to 10K steps.  D'oh!

Spent more time reviewing my Galloway half-marathon training plan.  There are many of aspects of this that get me excited.  Will have a long post about it when I am able to get started.

One final note.  Daughter and puppy have been staying with us most of the time from right before Thanksgiving.  Today she moves into a new place.  This morning I took a parting shot of puppy's adorable one ear up, one ear down face.  This is probably just a phase; at some point both ears should go up.  But for now it's pretty darn cute.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Running/Cycling Year in Review

Summary of Races/Events:  Completed 3 bike events, 1 sprint tri, and 6 running races from Feb-Oct. My primary objective was to have fun and remain pain-free, but active.  Since my knee didn't bother me until November, I believe that I met that goal.
  • Oct: Day of Tread 100K Bike Ride - (73K completed)   
  • Sep: RailRunner 35mi Bike Tour - finisher
  •  Aug: Live.Love.Tri Sprint - 1:31:4
  •  Aug: Rio Grande Half Marathon 5K - 28:40, 1st F45-49
  •  Jul: Women's Distance Festival 5K - 28:30
  • Jun: Run with Kenyans 8K - 51:04
  •  Jun: Tour de Cure Quarter-Century - finisher
  •  May: Run for the Zoo 10K - 01:03:02
  • Apr: Albuquerque Half Marathon 10K - 1:02:17
  •  Feb: NM Sweetheart Run 5K - 29:51
One of the rest stops at Tour de Cure
Favorite race experience: I think my favorite experience was the back-to-back weekend with the Tour de Cure quarter-century one day and the Run with the Kenyans the next day.  Neither was particularly tough, but the combination made for a tough, but rewarding weekend for a few good causes. Tour de Cure raises money for diabetes and the Run with the Kenyans proceeds went toward medical supplies in remote areas of Kenya.

Honorable Mention: Another one of my favorites is Live.Love.Tri - New Mexico's only all-women sprint triathlon.  It was my third year completing it.  Didn't end up my favorite this year mostly because I suffered a calf cramp during the bike portion.  That kind of zapped the fun right out of it for me.
Cute give-away from Kenyan Run

Favorite SWAG item: The hand-carved giraffes made in Kenya. What a unique give-away!  This was another way that they enticed runners to join this event.  I mentioned it in my post, but the event gave us a chance to run with Olympic runners from Kenya (okay...maybe "with" is a stretch since they run so fast...but they were at least on the same course!)

Best new piece of gear: It's a tie between the Nike Mix All-Time Jacket – windproof and waterproof - and my Galloway timer.

Most frustrating experience: Husband getting 3 flats over 35 miles during the Railrunner ride.  Ugggh.

Favorite Race shirt:  The Day of the Tread cycling jersey that I'm wearing in my profile pic.  Love it!

Plan to Galloway my way to 13.1
Best running advice: The suggestion to switch to the Galloway method was probably the best advice for me for where I’m at right now with my knee.  That along with sticking to running on dirt and avoiding hills.  I'm trying to find the sweet spot that is gentle for my knee, but still allows me to stay active!

Six word summary: Mixed things up and had fun!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Daydream Believer

Now that I know that a half-marathon is a possibility, I'm starting to do some planning. I'm going to approach this with a 'just finish' mentality. Having said that, I'd really like it if I could do with without it being a PW which means I need to pace myself at roughly a 12 min mi. Can I do that with a run-walk-run approach? Only time will tell. But if it is a PW, but I can complete the distance and finish without pain, that really will be something to celebrate, right?  RIGHT?

So now I'm staring at the calendar trying to figure out how to make this happen. I'd really like to aim for a late April half-marathon.  The two that I am eyeing are Glass City in Toledo which I could combine with a visit with my mother and the local Albuquerque Half Marathon.  They are a week apart, so either one will work with a single training plan.

However, If I am not able to run until early Feb, I'll only have about 10 weeks to train, which may not be enough time.  I may need to start earlier, but replace the early long run-walk-runs with pure walking.

All I can do is daydream about it right now.  But I think it's good for me work it out ahead of time and have a plan ready to put in place.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Injection #1

Yesterday afternoon was my appointment at Orthopedics for my first of three Euflexxa injections.  While it's true that I've had these before, but this is my first time with my new orthopedic (required due to a change in insurance).   For some reason, I got very nervous while I was sitting in the waiting room.

The assistant called me back, checked my blood pressure, and had me sign a consent form for treatment.  Then she laid out the supplies for the orthopedic and had me sit on the table.  All of my nervousness subsided when the Orthopedic came in.  She somehow has a very calming presence about her.  She did a great job, and the injection went about as well as I think it could have.

She suggested that I put heat on it later to help the gel better dissipate within my knee.  And she stayed in the room with my until I could stand with my full weight on my knee and hobble on out.

I did have a chance to ask what she thought about me possibly doing a half marathon in 2014, using the Galloway method.  She said she was a fan of 'keeping moving' and as long at my knee can tolerate it, that sounds like a fine idea (that was music to my ears).  But if the longer distances cause pain, I should stop. And I should be aiming for a finish, not a specific finish time. And she reminded me that it takes at least 6 weeks after the final injection before the treatment takes 'full effect' and that I should refrain from excess activity until that point.  I already knew this, and have no plans to return to running until Feb.

All in all, I feel that injection #1 was a success.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Day Dreaming vs. Reality

Day Dreaming  

Half Marathon Goals  - Right now I'm really just day-dreaming about being able to attempt a half in 2014. If I actually am able to do it, I think I'd like to see my comeback fall somewhere between my PW and PB. So I dug up my results to see what they were.  I'm by no means a speedy runner, but I'm happy to see that when I actually was focusing on halves, they were showing progressive improvement:

  • 2007 C&S 2:38:08 
  • 2007 Duke 2:36:58 
  • 2008 C&S DNF* 
  • 2008 Duke 2:29:07 
  • 2009 Duke 2:25:14 
  • 2010 AHM 2:21:31 

* walked off the course due to severe knee pain, went to urgent care and eventually saw an orthopedic. Really should have stopped running then, but I was stubborn and ran another HM about 6 weeks later! Also worth noting that in spring 2008, I ran a 20K (12.4miles) in 2:21:35 which roughly translates to a 2:29:45 if I maintained that pace for the full half-marathon distance.


Gone are the days of high numbers
Step Count - After having a fairly good week last week, I'm a bit disappointed to see that my step count for the past few days has been under 6000. I'm trying to stay close to 10,000 steps per day, on average, which is not going to happen if I keep having days so far off my target. These short days really make it difficult. But I must say, I truly enjoy keeping track. At least I know that I need to step it up (pun intended), if I wasn't keeping track I wouldn't know how far off target I was with my activity level.

Maybe NEXT year
How's this for Irony? - I'm going to miss the local Jingle Bell run for arthritis this year which will be held Friday evening because I'm getting my first round of injections Thursday afternoon for knee arthritis! I would walk it, but I'm supposed to take it easy the first 48 hours after each injection and the race will be within 30 hours of the first one.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Seven

1) FEELING BETTER: I'm back among the living! I felt pretty miserable for 48 hours and then started getting better. I even went for a short run yesterday. It was a chilly 21 with a "feels like 13" with wind. I only have 5 more potential run opportunities until I begin the Euflexxa injections, so I was anxious to get out for the run. None of my run buddies wanted to brave the weather (weather wimps!), so I was resigned to run solo.

2) DASUQUIN FOR DOGS:  Our oldest dog, Bandit, has acquired a bit of a limp. It seems to be worse in the morning.  I suspect he is suffering from arthritis, so I went ahead and ordered Dasuquin chews with MSM for large dogs. It's essentially a glucosamine supplement for dogs. We give the cat version to our older cat and it really puts a bit of spring in his step. The dog version came in tablets or chews.  I figured the chews would be less of a struggle, and they are.  He loves them.  I'm hoping to see an improvement in a few weeks. Fingers crossed!

3) PHOTO A DAY:  I'll be joining a 365 project again at the beginning of January. It requires taking a photo a day and posting to a group site on flickr.  Part of the fun is seeing what others have photographed and shared.  I found it to be a great way to chronicle my year last that I did it.  If any of you want to join along, let me know!!

4) NEW STUFF:  My llbean order using the funds from my shoe return arrived last week.  I wore the Sugoi Sub-zero tights when I ran yesterday, and they kept my legs toasty. I had to send the Sporthill top back to exchange for a different size, though.

5) LAPTOP WOES:  I'm in the market for a new laptop.  My current laptop screen is broken. I can only use it when attached to an external monitor.  That's been working out okay for me for the most part, I usually use a tablet for most things and don't mind sitting at the desk when I use the laptop. However, with school starting for me next month, it seems I need a replacement.  There are so many choices right now that it seems overwhelming.

6) BRRR!: It's blustery and cold outside this morning and it looks like the cold weather is affecting almost everyone. Stay warm!

7) WINTER SMOOTHIES:  I've gotten into the habit of making protein and frozen fruit smoothies on an almost daily basis.  My favorite has a bit of a tropical flair.  Does anyone have any ideas for something a bit more seasonal?  I'd like to change things up, but I haven't come up with any good ideas.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Symptom Checker Challenged

I woke up feeling pretty lousy this morning and decided to stay home from work. I've been drinking tea, loading up on vitamin C, and resting to try to fight it off.  Actually, I knew something was wrong when I found myself tossing and turning at 1 am unable to sleep due to sore throat and congestion.
This is how I'm spending the day, but I look like death warmed over and this person looks pretty good. So not fair!
I'm trying to figure out if it's just a cold or something worse. As I'm working through it I realized that I'm a little unclear about my symptoms.  Does this happen to anyone else or am I the only one who is symptom checker challenged?
  • Sore Throat - This one is easy, I'm pretty sure it's caused by whatever lurgy has decided to infect my body. 
  • Congestion - Also easy, definitely a symptom.  
  • Chills - The first one that has me confused. Yes, I have experienced chills. But I'm not sure if it caused by this cold or whatever or is it caused by the fact that it's overcast & snowing and I'm still wearing pajamas rather than warm clothes. The house always feels colder when the sun isn't shining. I was thinking that maybe I might have a fever, but I can't find the thermometer to check it out.  Gah! 
  • Headache - Another confusing one. I didn't have a headache when I woke up, but I do now. But, I also decided to make white tea instead of coffee this morning because of the sore throat. And white tea has a lot less caffeine than coffee. Is it simply a caffeine withdrawal thing or a symptom? I'm honestly not sure...
  • Body Ache - Yes, I'm experiencing body ache. Yes, this is common with flu-type things. However, I was also tossing and turning last night. Could it just be from that? Ugh. Why is this so hard to figure out?!?!
So there you have it.  I am out sick with sore throat and congestion and may or may not be experiencing associated headache, body ache, and/or chills.  Seriously, I think sometimes these things only happen to me...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Q&A about the upcoming treatment for my knee

Im still waiting to hear that my Euflexxa order is in so that they can schedule my injections. Hopefully they will call in the next few days and get this started no later than sometime next week. I get similar questions about it when I'm going through the treatment, so I figured some Q&A in advance might be interesting.

[update:  got the call and got them scheduled for Dec 12, 19, & 26]

What is Euflexxa?  Is it cortisone?  Euflexxa is a particular brand of hyaluronic acid, or joint fluid. It is not cortisone.  HA is what naturally occurs in your joints as a lubricant.  I will receive a series of three injections, a week apart, into the joint space of my left knee.  It's not a fun procedure, but it beats a knee replacement!

What is wrong with your knee?  I have osteoarthritis in my both knees. The cartilage is breaking down and I have a small bone spur in my left knee.  The right knee has similar cartilage break down, but no bone spur. My left leg turns inward and my left knee is the one that bothers me at this point, probably because of extra force on the knee due to the biomechanical issue.

Is arthritis caused by running?  Arthritis is a disease.  Not everyone gets it.  It's most common after age 45, which is roughly when it started causing problems for me. Exercise helps lubricate and strengthen the joint, but too much use can make worse.  It's a fine line. It is doubtful that running is a much of a contributing factor in my case, I didn't start running until I was 40.  My orthopedic encourages me to continue running, just short distances on soft surfaces and no hills.  She also encourages cycling.

How long do you need to take a break from running once the injections start? Once the injections start, I need to take a break for about 2 months all together: the three weeks that I'm getting injections and the following 6 weeks while I wait for the medication to do it's magic. The break is not just from running, it's from anything strenuous involving my knee.

Do the injections work? I can't vouch for anyone else, but so far Euflexxa has proven to be an effective treatment for my particular left knee OA, and I have high hopes that it will work well once again.  It's unfortunate that the effects wear off after a while, but I'm actually quite pleased that it worked for a full year this last time.

How do you know when it's time to request injections?  The first sign seems to be that my knee feels like it needs to be oiled.  It makes me think of the Tin Man from Wiz of Oz.  If I ignore that for too long, my knee will begin to ache while walking/running, especially hills or stairs.  After that, it just flat out hurts.

Is it wise for to even be considering a half marathon next year?  I honestly don't know. When I talked with my orthopedic doc earlier in the year, she told me that my half marathon days were behind me.  But I wasn't dabbling with the Galloway method at that time, so I plan to discuss this with her.  She is a fan of easy/short running for my knee issue, but not long distance running.  I'll have to clarify whether that includes long distance run/walking as well. My husband is not too please to hear that I'm even considering it. I have promised him that I won't pursue it if she says no or if I have any knee issues on long training runs. In the grand scheme of things, I know that it's not worth it if it causes further problems with my knee.

I think that about covers it.  Do you have any questions that I have missed? Do you have any experiences of your own with HA injections or OA of the knee?

Monday, December 2, 2013

November Tally

  • 34.1 miles fitness walking
  • 50.3 miles running
  • Consistently achieved over 10,000 steps per day on average.
  • Weight increase of  ~2.5 lbs
  • Daughter (and puppy) home for ~5.5 days.  
  • Son home for ~3.5 days.
  • Applied for, was accepted into, and registered for classes for a professional certificate program at UNM.  
  • November had pluses and minuses. The biggest pluses were me getting out to run before work regularly, dabbling in the Galloway method, and having both kids home for a long weekend.  The biggest minuses were my BRF (best running friend) moving away, my knee beginning to act up again, and my mother's health taking another turn for the worst.  
  • I hit my largest pure step count day in November (over 17K steps) which surprised me!
  • I was afraid to weigh myself this morning after the excessive eating over the past week.  I'm up about 2.5 lbs over end of October. That's not TOO bad, but I'm going to have to exercise some control if I don't want to keep gaining over the holidays. especially if I can't run.
  • Keep running until I start the Euflexxa injections.  Then switch to fitness walking.  I cancelled my gym membership, so swimming isn't an option right now.
  • Get mentally prepared to take graduate classes next Semester. This is probably going to be one of those things that sounded good on paper but will have me second guessing my decision-making ability by February.