Sunday, June 26, 2011

I'm back!

Well, it's been a while!

And there are reasons.

But, let me say first that I did, in fact, run the Boston Run to Remember Half Marathon 2010. My time wasn't great. But while running it I didn't really care. 2:37 or something like that. I'd thought I'd do 2:15. But, alas, heat and bathroom breaks (more about that below) made that a non-reality. And I was more concerned with finishing and making sure my family saw me at the finish line (I actually stopped at one point and called my husband when I was a mile away just so I could make sure they saw me and he was able to take a picture!) than I was about my time. It was a good, albeit tiring, experience. I was so happy to have done it. I felt so strong afterward. And, importantly, I was ready for another one!

But, like I said above, it's been awhile!

The first reason is that after half a year of fall and winter running, it was hard to run during the summer. I had kid obligations. It was hot. We traveled. It was hot. Did I mention it was hot? I had a really, really hard time running in the heat! Then, the second reason happened: I got a nasty calf strain in the fall. That just blew everything to hell. I had signed up for a fall half marathon, but with the calf strain there was no way I could get the miles in to accomplish that. It sort of sucked. But, I got over it and maintained my base (about 10 or so miles a week) throughout the winter. I even did speed work at the track. I like running in the cold so that wasn't too bad. But I didn't have a goal, just the determination to maintain that base. And I did.

But then we come to reason three for my hiatus. I needed to have surgery. I'd been putting it off for about a year because it was the kind of surgery that disrupts your life in a fairly significant way.

And here is where I give the big warning to those who don't want to read about female problems.

So...warning! Discussion about childbirth related injuries to follow and the accompanying surgery to correct said problems below!

Have we cleared the room of children and weak-bellied folks? Yes? Good.

So, let's back up. About 10 years. It's a story that many mother runners with understand. While giving birth to my first son, Ryan, 10 years ago I suffered a fairly significant vaginal tear and damage to the sphincter which controls the bladder. I was stitched up, encouraged to do kegels and eventually "healed." But my "new normal" had issues. Leaking bladder. Swollen hoo-ha. And things that just didn't feel *right*. There was no easily-accessible literature about this type of injury at the time. Think about "googling" in 2001. Not alot of published medical journals, but lots of message boards with women asking "what the hell?!" The consumer-oriented postpartum books were shockingly unhelpful. And I say shockingly because if you can't get the straight shit from other women, who the hell can you get it from. I was at a loss. Even my OB/GYN was less than forthcoming. He only said "You might need to get that 'resurgerized' sometime later." Okay, dude. Thanks for that amazing medical advice.

So, two children later let's just say my nether-regions were in need of help. Add running as a sport into the mix and you can see why I decided surgery was a valid option.

I realized that surgery was a possibility because, thankfully, my new OB/GYN was no longer a guy, but a woman my age (in her 40s). She's the kind of person that, if she weren't charged with the care and upkeep of my vagina on a yearly basis, she'd be my friend. I told her about my issues. She knew exactly what I was talking about. She gave me names of "uro-gynecological surgeons" and sex therapists and told me that there was definitely something I could do about this.

I did my research. I interviewed two different surgeons and went through both of their battery of tests to make sure that the diagnosis was the same. Both said *exactly* the same thing to me. Stress Incontinence and Posterior Rectocele. Recommendation: surgery. And the surgery was explained to me in great detail. It's invasive, although now considered to be state-of-the-art. Because I'm a runner, both recommend what's called a TVT-Sling that's a bit sturdier and involves two incisions to the abdomen. Both said they wouldn't touch the rectocle unless they were going in to do the sling. Clearly, I was doing the right surgery. I signed on for January (post fall half marathon. BTW, one of the surgeons said to me "You can run 10 miles? At once?" That was slightly gratifying).

Although originally I thought January would be a good time to do it, family obligations got in the way. We decided to rent a ski house for the winter (first time) and that meant not only that I wouldn't be able to ski, but that I wouldn't be able to even help carry the kids' skis! The recovery for this surgery is pretty strict. For 6 weeks I was not allowed to do the following: run or lift more than 5lbs. That means, I couldn't pick up a gallon of milk, go grocery shopping, lift laundry baskets, children, cats, boiling pots of water...etc. You get the picture. I would be like an old lady for 6 weeks. It was hard. We had a messy house and I bought milk by the half gallon and not the gallon. No laundry was put away. It's been almost 3 weeks since my final "6 week check up" and I'm still trying to get this house back to where it should be. But, I have happy news to report.

I can sneeze and laugh without wetting my pants. And, most importantly, I can run. I can run without wearing a freaking Depends in my compression shorts. Holy moly. It's true. I might *feel* like I have to pee. But I DON'T WET MY FREAKING SHORTS. It's amazing. And so worth it. My very first run was at the gym on a treadmill. I did a slow mile. 10 minutes later I stopped and went to the bathroom. Dry as a freaking bone! Can you believe it??

And it continues like that. Like I said, it's been almost 3 weeks since my final check up and since I've been given the "all clear" with activities. I no longer leak. My new normal is NORMAL. And I'm so ready to get back to where I was a year ago.

Of course, when one takes time off, there are limitations. And unfortunately, I found a limitation yesterday. I've been slowly introducing hill work into my routine these past three weeks. Yesterday I did a fairly steep incline after a 2 mile run and did it for probably about a mile. I came home and within the hour realized that I had another calf strain--same leg that had it last fall. Ugh.

But it's always something and I just need to accept it, incorporate it into my training and move on. I may even get a coach this time around. I'm determined to find a way to make this part of my life and not just "wing it" anymore.

So, I'm here! I'm ready....but, like everyone, there are always issues.

I've signed up for and am excited to do the Chilly Half Marathon in Newton, MA this November 13th. Lots of big hills around miles 8, 9 and 10. So I'll need to figure out how to train for them without hurting my freaking calves again.

Wish me luck. I'm back!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Where I Sit On The Couch And Have A Glass Of Wine

Ahhhhhhh. THAT'S better! I'm sitting on the couch having a glass of chardonnay. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a boring drinker. I pretty much drink chardonnay or maybe a specialty beer. But I'm sitting here enjoying this buttery vacation in a glass because I finally finished my inventory. Woot! I was done already, really. I just had a page left to do out of my 600 unique skus. But I put it off because it's no fun to work on taxes. And inventory is a first step toward getting to work on your taxes.

So, here I sit. Today was a good day for my work (online toy retailer) and for working out :) I went to the gym this morning and did my typical 1 mile run to warm up. The added bonus to today's warm up was that my sister-in-law Amanda was also there running on the treadmill...on MY treadmill, might I add. I always use treadmill number 8. But, I moved on over to treadmill number 9 instead. ;)

My actual workout was good today. We laid off my legs and focused on my arms because I have a 5 Mile Run/Race on Saturday (with Amanda...which is why she was on Treadmill Number 8). Anyway, as usual, I worked out for an hour and then got some good stretching in afterward. I'm not used to doing heavy arm work because I have a left shoulder impingement, with a possible small tear in there. Not sure. Anyway, it was good to get a little extra work on my upper body.

Tomorrow I may get in a 2.5 mile run. We'll see. I want to keep the momentum up. But I don't want to feel uninspired on Saturday.

But, now, here I sit. Drinking that glass.

I've already read my political blogs for the day. Usual roundup includes Politico, Slate, Salon, Huffington Post (because it's like the National Enquirer), Five Thirty Eight, The and Little Green Footballs. I've skimmed the newspapers (Boston Globe, NYT, WSJ). And now? What's on the tee vee!

Thanks for reading. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Preparing For This Weekend's Race

Preparing for this weekend's race might be a little tricky. I did 5 on Saturday, which is good. Yesterday I did a mile on the treadmill and weight/core fitness. Today I won't be able to do anything because I am volunteering at the school this morning, and the kids will be released early because of an impending snow storm. Thursday I'm doing weight/core fitness again. So that leaves Friday. I'm thinking I'll do a simple 2.5 mile run--and that's it. Not sure what else to do, really.

Yesterday's workout was a good one. I'm really liking this new trainer. She really pushes me, which is great. And she listens when I say that a weight is too heavy or something doesn't feel right. Seems like a no brainer, but it's a hard balance between being pushed beyond your comfort zone and not hurting yourself. :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Weekend Roundup

What a great weekend! My sister and her family came up from Connecticut to visit. Six kids and 4 adults in the house, and yet mayhem was not part of the equation. Lots of Lego building, Star Wars watching and general silliness abounded. And who knows what the kids were doing :) Seriously though, it was a good weekend and really wonderful to get to spend some time with that part of our family. We don't see them enough.

I ended up doing my 5 mile run on Saturday morning instead of Friday. It was a good run. I lost some time on my watch, however, because the battery was getting low and I stopped the timer for perhaps a 1/2 mile inadvertently. Regardless, I did the Neighborhood Run with Pleasant Street extension (5.04 miles) in approximately 55 minutes. It was cold out there--about 27 degrees F. But it felt good.

I also noticed that my left leg felt a lot stronger on the hills. I'd pulled my hamstring about 25 years ago stretching after a run and it's always been a little wonky. But last week my new trainer really pushed my leg workout to the point where my left leg was trembling quite a bit. She paid attention to that though and stopped the workout to stretch the leg. We went back to work on it and really it was fine. I was super sore the next day (Wednesday) but did a 3 mile run that day. Later that night--ouch! I was sore. The next day, Thursday, my workout with Matt was great--I was still pretty stiff but we worked through it. The payoff was on Saturday where I felt a little bit of extra strength in that left leg. Hopefully I'm on the road to building up that leg again. It's always been noticeably weaker and I never really thought that was a fixable thing. We'll see!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sore, Sore and Maybe Even Sore-er

Yesterday was a good run, but yikes was I sore last night. It was a combination of a tough workout with my trainer Laura on Tuesday and then a good 3 mile run the next day on sore legs. Ouch. By the time bedtime rolled around last night, I felt as if someone had beaten me with a stick from the waist down. But, no injuries. I'm in good shape. I just was feelin' the burn, as they say.

Today I worked out with Matt. I walked into the gym feeling sore, of course, I stretched before hand and did a very, very short walk/run on the treadmill to loosen myself up even more. I had a good hour long workout with Matt and still feel good now. Less stiff than yesterday and even this morning.

So, tomorrow I'm going to shoot for a 4 to 5 mile run that I've done many times, but haven't done in a few weeks. So, we'll see how it goes. I'm looking forward to it.

I feel like I'm back in the groove again. The weather has been better lately (read that as warmer) and I don't dread the ice as much.

Updated: Removed Route Map

My friend Andra pointed out to me that posting my route (an actual map) that spells out exactly where and when I'll be running is a tad stupid. I tend to agree. I keep thinking that no one is actually reading this blog. But on the off chance that some creep from my past thinks it would be a good idea to look me up and "surprise" me--with a stick in hand--I thought I'd just do what I could to avoid a disastrous scenario. Andra, Chris and my children thank you. :)


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Let's Go!

It's a half day for my kids today--they'll be home by 12:15. After that, I take them skiing for their weekly lesson. Today is the last lesson. Can't say I'm sad about that. Driving up to the mountain has been a pain for all of us.

Pre Run

It's about 27 degrees F outside and it snowed last night. So, it's chilly, icy and slick! I'm aiming for 3.5 miles today :)

It's hard to get psyched up to run in the cold. I've got all the right gear, but, like I've said before, that first .25 to .50 miles just suuuucks. It takes me that long to warm up generally, but--when it comes to the winter--it takes me that long to warm up literally too. I'll be back with an update later.

Post Run

I completely over dressed again. I need to figure this out. I wore my thermal running tights, thermal shirt, a very light tech shirt over it and my windbreaker, gloves and hat. Gloves came off first. Then the tech shirt, all within the first mile. Then the windbreaker about a 1/2 mile later. I was most comfortable the day I went out with just regular yoga pants, thermal shirt, tech shirt and a bandanna. No gloves. It was probably slightly warmer that day, but not by much.

Total run mileage was 3.16 miles and about 31:57 overall. Since I stopped twice to take off my layers, technically I was a little slower than that, but overall I averaged about a 10:06 mile. I would have gone for a longer run, but I needed to pick up Jamie. I didn't get out the door quite when I wanted too ;)

So far so good, though. I seem to be getting consistent again. :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gym Workout and Thoughts About Speed V. Distance

This morning I did a veeery short treadmill warm up (about .50 miles) before gym a workout with Laura, my new trainer. Holy crap, she kicked my butt today. Lots of leg work and some upper body work to address my shoulder issue. Split squats with a medicine ball, squats and rows, Ys & Ts, tons of abs, etc, etc. I'm glad I didn't do another 4 mile run before working out with her. Oy vey!

I went through the calendar yesterday to figure out when I need to start a regimented training schedule for the May 29th half marathon. Looks like I have until the end of this month before I need to really put my nose to the grindstone, as they say. Maybe a better cliche would be "before the rubber meets the road." :) I'm looking forward to pushing past the 5 mile mark. I have a 5 mile race on the 13th. That should help me get psyched up for going further. I'm getting a little bored with my routes, however. I'll think about changing that up soon.

I'm a little worried that all this winter running and longer distance-push has slowed my speed down a bit. I know I intentionally slowed down so that I could push past the 5K mark more comfortably, but I seem to be way slower than I'd like to be. Of course, running on ice--even with Yak Trax--is no picnic. Let's hope that when the streets are a little clearer and I'm more regular with my runs I'll pick up the speed again.

Cheers! Happy running!