Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ice Bath

Recently I read the book Run To Overcome by marathoner and New York City Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi. In the book Meb talks often about Ice Baths and how it was a staple of is training and recovery. I have never herd of ice baths until reading this book but after reading how much it helped him I decided to do some research and even give it a try. Meb is pretty lucky because he has a natural ice bath in the form of a creek nearby. After his long runs he simply walks waist deep into the creek and stands there for 15 minutes. He says that although they are painful they are extremely effective at reducing inflammation, muscle strains and soreness.

This is what the runner’s bible aka runners world magazine says about ice baths: "Cryotherapy ("cold therapy") constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a return of faster blood flow, which helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body. "Ice baths don't only suppress inflammation, but help to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles," says David Terry, M.D., an ultra runner who has finished both the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run 10 consecutive times."

So I've decided to start doing this cold water therapy so many experts speak of. Painful-you bet. Helps recovery-yes indeed. I'm sure it would help a lot more if I could do it as cold as you’re supposed to. I'm working my way to that. I simply fill the tub on the coldest setting fill it so it will cover my legs, grab a steaming cup of tea, my Nook Color for some internet distraction and/or Nook book. I sit for at least 10 minutes but try to do 15. And it truly does help and it even does help my surgery repaired ankle. I do recommend this to anyone who is a distance runner or any kind of athlete who is feeling pain and need a little extra aid in their recovery.

So how do you properly take an ice bath? I've told you how I do it but here is the "proper" way. Anyway, do what I do, fill the tub with cold water. Slowly get in (but for me that's worse the slower the more torture so I go full on as fast as I can). Once you adjust dump in a 5lb bag of ice or a few trays of ice cubs, after you've adjusted if you can handle more, add more. Then try to stay put for 10 minutes but if you feel numbness get out. On top of the previously mentioned (tea/book) I also wear one of my long sleeves thermal on top. I've even herd of some people putting on beanie caps and mittens. To each their own! This is also to be said about the Ice Bath!

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Comback

Physical or emotional everyone has some kind of comeback. My fall, or my propeller, came on Sunday June 1, 2008. Enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon on my friend Hammertime's boat I took a dip-yeah to pee-when you gotta go ya gotta go into the river lol-on my way back into the boat I couldn't pull myself up so I kicked and I kicked the propeller (no it was not running). Now when I did it, it hurt but honestly not as bad as you would think but immediately I thought of all the horror stories of props and people mixing, I had the momentum now and jumped in. Immediately I looked down and saw this:
Except it was gushing blood. That is the top of my left foot. I look up at Hammer and said "we gotta go, I kicked your prop!" We were outta there in no time. I was taken up to East Port on a golf cart, rushed to the ER at OSF (where of course I waited HOURS) stitched up and sent home. The next day and for weeks after I looked like this:

That was after just over a week, after my 1st of many doctors appointments. They feared I had sliced through some tendons because I had zero movement but after an MRI it showed it was just broken so that meant 6 weeks in a walking boot and not surgery. You would think that was the end of story but it wasn't. When I was released I wasn't given any physical therapy and just sent back to my normal daily life but told to "take it slow". Well months later and a constant pain in my foot I went back to Midwest Orthopedic and there really is not any other way to say it but my doctor was the biggest turd burger that ever walked the planet. He told me nothing was wrong and that "these injuries take time to heal". It had been 9 months since cast off and the pain was getting worse, I was 30 years old and couldn't even spend one hour on my feet. NOT NORMAL. But "That's normal." was what they said to me. When I said I would believe that if the pain wasn't getting worse daily. He fired back that "that's the problem with people they think that they can heal right away, this could take a year to get better" so I asked "so its supposed to get worse instead of better in that year?" he said "Xrays show no broken bones." nice way to not answer the question. I say "but there is something else wrong" and this Dr. On A Power Trip fired back with this "well I can do an MRI but when it comes back showing nothing is wrong there is nothing I can do for you. I can send you to pain management so you can learn to deal with it, that's all I can do for." I swear on my life and yours that is his exact words to me. He treated me like I was a drug addict off the streets trying to get a prescription for pain killers, which I never then asked for or wanted or needed. I left in tears and feeling hopeless. I also swore I would never step foot in Midwest again, he already made up his mind there was nothing wrong. I know my body and I knew there was something wrong. I needed a 2nd opinion. The 2nd opinion decided he wouldn't look at me...why, I don't know they wouldn't tell me. So my insurance company found me Dr. Traina (who no longer practices in Illinois). It took another long, painstaking 9-6 months or more but he swore he would do what he could and find out what was wrong. Turns out there was a problem, go freaking figure. My last appointment he stuck me full of cortisone in that ankle ligament and I swear I felt cured. I was on my foot for HOURS and HOURS with out any pain. Of course cortisone is only a temporary fix. The ligament in my ankle, although not torn, was so stretched out that it was like a wet spaghetti noodle and may as well been torn because that was what it was like. Surgery was my only fix, they would take tissue from my ankle and make me a new ligament it was outpatient so I didn't need to stay in the hospital but recovery would be 6 weeks or more but the surgery was a breeze. So September 11 2009 I went under the knife. The next 3 months of my life was hell. The first 6 weeks I was in a non weight bearing cast and crutches, the next 5 weeks was a walking boot an physical therapy. I was miserable through pretty much all of it. Therapy was the one bright spot because with each session I could see progress. I still had little range of motion, an atrophied leg and I was starting to get depressed. But by Christmas that year I was finally released to get back to normal and I was an additional 10lbs heavy. I wanted to lose like 20lbs before surgery and now I had to lose 30! But at the start of 2010 I stopped making excuses I was given a new lease on life and going through a pretty rough break up. I needed a focus and that was me. I started eating right-with the help of Weight Watchers-and I read an interview from Jillian Michaels about how she hates to run but its the best way to lose weight so she forces herself to run 1 mile every day. So I started doing that, my first mile was about a 13 minute mile. Then I found the Nike+ and started to follow it's 12 week training program for a 5k to get me ready for Peoria's Race For The Cure. During the 12 weeks I lost over 15lbs! I continued running and did the Steamboat 4 mile race in 35 minutes, that's an average of 9 minute miles! In 6 months I went from 13 to 9 minute miles! Then a friend asked me to do a half marathon with her, I've always wanted to and always said "when I lose 20lbs". At that point I had lost about 25lbs and had no excuse not to, I signed up for the Mankato Marathon, my first half. I began training in August and on October 23rd 2010 I ran my first half marathon, 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 10 minutes! Today I've lost just over 30lbs, am at my goal weight, run about 30 miles a week and am 6 weeks into my training to do my 2nd half marathon. I feel the best I ever have physically, the ankle will hurt forever like anyone who's had major surgery, but I do my exercises every day and it feels nothing like what it did the years prior. I have a new found love and respect for myself and what I can do when I really try, focus and push myself. Oh and I've got a total of 3 1/2 marathons lined up this summer/fall. And once I know how the ankle holds up after them I will aim for a full marathon my first 26.2 in 2012!

This is right after surgery:
And this is a before after weight loss photo:

And this is my tattoo I got to remember what I accomplished and to never forget where I began, where I was and always aim further:

That is on my right inner wrist and yep when I do complete a full I'll get the exact same ink on my inner left wrist with a 26.2 in the foot with the date and time for it.
PS: My last run my average was 8:39!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'm Getting FASTER!!!

Wooo hooo I'm getting faster! And I may be able to obtain my goal of finishing the 1/2 in under 2 hours! Everyone says that Indy is NOT the place to go for a PR since there are so many people there. So if I don't get my goal I'm okay with that because I know there is 35 thousands others trying to run this race. However I did get seeded and am hoping that may help me somewhat. I guess as long as I come in less than 2:10 I'll be happy but I'd really love to come in under 2 hours. Today's run I had 2 miles at easy pace, then 4 at tempo and then the last mile I did slower. My legs were pretty sore today, for some reason I have been exhausted. I wonder if Sunday's 8 miler had anything to do with that? Sunday after our run we went to the Down Syndrome Spaghetti dinner (I don't think that's the real name) and after literally crashed for 2 hours. I never take naps that long and was just so worn out from that run. And then yesterdays RPM class and strength work just killed it more. But I wasn't going to 1/2 ass today, my 4 miles at tempo had to be under 9 minute miles. Here's the breakdown and the comparison from the Garmin (1st) and then the Nike+ (2nd):

7-10:24/9:17 (I walked .10 up 1/2 Park hill, legs were sore)

It's funny how different they vary, over all time on the Garmin was 1:06:03. Garmin has me at 7.12 and Nike at 7.24 miles. I averaged a 9:58 pace in my first 1/2 so I'm aiming for a 9m/m pace for the next...hopefully. I also decided to try the Ice Bath after the run because my legs were so sore, yep its as uncomfortable and painful as they say. I know most generally do these after long runs but I was really sore and wanted a little aid in my recovery. I wasn't trilled at how I felt Sunday or even today and I've got 12 miles on Saturday and I wanna kill it so if that means ice baths then so be it. I'll probably have to do another on Saturday too since that will be my first 12 mile run since Mankato.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Long Run

Photo from
 "I'm telling my story so others may see what the body is capable of when you have the will to live"- Matt Long

So I just finished reading The Long Run, by Matt Long with Charles Butler. Matt is a New York City Firefighter, Ironman Athlete, A Marathon runner, a New York Bar owner, a hero, an inspiration but most of a survivor. Remember years back when the New York transit workers went on strike? Matt was a victim of that strike but not because he couldn't get to work but because on his way to work in the mess that NYC was during this time he was hit by a 20-ton bus-while riding his bike, mangling his body and given just a 5% chance to live. The book begins with the famous ING New York Marathon and Matt and his fellow firefighters running the race. Matt finishes in an impressive time, just over 3 hours and at the top of his game and he earned a spot at the most prestigious marathon race...Boston. But just before Christmas his life was more than turned upside down, in fact after reading this book I can't even come up with a term that describes what it did to his life. I could tell you to imagine your worst injury and your recovery and all that you went through waiting until you can run again (for me it would have been my ligament replacement surgery) and then you times that by a gazillion and then just maybe, maybe you would have an idea of what this man went through. I grimaced and my stomach turned as I read the explicit details of his mangled body. I wanted to reach out and hug this man during his depression and realization that he would never be the man he once was, the athlete he once was or even the firefighter he had been. I cheered him on as he decided to no longer be a victim and to go through the pain of rehabilitation and acceptance and move ahead. And finally by the end being inspired by what he has accomplished and what he lived through and in the words of Matty Long know that your body can and will do whatever you want it to. Like I said in my last blog you never know what you can do until you push yourself past your zone of comfort.

I will not tell you much about the book, other than it was fantastically written. And honestly I was surprised because most ordinary people who write books well to put it frankly they suck.(Proof: A Million Little Pieces, Twilight) But this was wonderfully written. I love how he tells his story and then reflects back to other times in his life going back to valuable lessons he's learned or other struggles he had. This book was also written with a writer from Runners World Magazine, Charles Butler, and wow these two men together offered one fantastic story. This is not a story just for runners or athletes. It's a story for anyone who needs inspiration and anyone who likes to get lost in a great book. And this story happens to be true.

Everyone has a Long Run in them whether it's studying for mid-terms, applying for a new job, or just trying to make it through a day as a wife, mother, husband, boyfriend. For me my long run is Saturday...12 miles.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pushed Beyond My Limits

What a wacky week this is for 1/2 Marathon training! For the 2nd week in a row I had to alter my training; switching my long run day (Saturday) to my short run day (Thursday). Last week it was so I could avoid the snow/cold and keep it outdoors, this week its because I'm subbing for a gal at the gym and teaching her 60 minute RPM class. I'm 4 weeks into my training and I'm loving the flexibility of my training schedule so I was ready to take on my 10 mile run today. And then it happened...the phone rang, today's RPM instructor had a sick child and needed me to help her out. I wanted to say no because RPM is pretty intense to begin with and doing that after a 10 mile run, I just didn't know if I could do it. But you never know your limits until you push them. Last year during training I didn't think I would be able to teach RPM the DAY AFTER my long runs but for 12 weeks I stood strong and didn't miss one single class. So I said I would help!

The long run today was pretty good, I had a great little route (see picture) with some minor hills, I decided to keep my pace a little slower than normal because I knew I had to teach after. About 1/2 my run was into the wind, which sucked big time but also at the same time the breeze kept me from over heating I think I may have dressed a little too warm today. With each run I learn a few new things, I'm still trying to tweak the clothing. Today I learned I need to stash a water bottle somewhere after mile 7. I completed 10 miles in 1:35:47 with an average pace of 9:33. I need to shed 30 seconds off my mile but I got time and I did go slower intentionally today. After the run it was a quick change into something dry, water, Gatorade and off the the Riverplex. Also for RPM I had to tone it down, but not much. I think riding after the run actually helped me some by flushing out my legs. I feel great, a little tired but mostly I'm just glad that I tested the water because now I know I can long run and rpm back to back and not dog it too much. After class, more water, power bar, banana and a large dunkin donuts coffee and I'm ready to play radio.

Quote of the run: "God I ****ing hate the wind!" which was shouted a time or two or five
Lesson learned: You never know your limits until you push beyond them!

PS: I'm so in love with the new Garmin Forerunner 110 way better than the Nike+ however I still cant figure out how to get my calories burnt correct because today it said I only burnt 139....for a 10 mile run...whateve more like 1039!