Thursday, March 31, 2011

Moab For Wimps

There are certain moments in a lifetime that leave a mark.  Our 3 day trip mountain biking in Moab was one of them, even though mountain biking isn't exactly my forte; I tend to get a little freakish over things which can potentially land me on top of my head causing a spinal cord injury and leaving me paralyzed for life.  But maybe this heel injury for the past year made me step out of my box, my comfort zone, a little.  Runners are doers by nature and some days I feel like I have sat back and let life happen passively.  Despite my children yelling, "Mom, stop riding the brakes" constantly as we rode the infamously difficult Slickrock trails, despite my heel screaming in total agony, and despite driving home in a freak mountain snowstorm which left me over the top tense - I had a great time and learned I'm actually a little tougher than I thought - I might even now be a real mountain biker!?!?

I took about 4 million pictures of the incredible geological features found in this area of Utah - and our adventure exploring all we could cram in for our days there - but I'll just include a few of my favorites, in caption style.  Enjoy!!!:

Fisher Towers; on the scenic byway into the town of Moab

First of several dorky posed pic.  This whole landscape was
formed by that one tiny river, The Colorado River.  Amazing!

Hard to concentrate on driving with views like this surrounding you

My daredevil children

Dead Horse State Park - simply gorgeous!

Yep, it's THAT big!

I'm not sure why, but I just love this picture.  Brendan said,
"I feel so small...."

The infamous Slickrock bike trail, 11 miles of mountain
biking torture on fossilized sandstone rock.

Brave girl, that's me!  You can't get lost, exactly, as long
as you don't venture off the dashed lines.  Or fall into a crevasse,
or off the ledge into the canyon.

That's Brendan smack in the middle there.  Don't let that picture
fool you, this is a very tough ride!

Up and down and up and down up down up up up down down....

I DID IT!!  I'm alive AND I have no broken bones!

Canyonlands N.P.; Ryan and I rode our bikes from this spot
to the very bottom.  5 miles, 1500' down. 

Here we go!!

Ryan, about half way down.

This picture shows how miserable the trail was; VERY rocky and very
steep.  There is no way to navigate around the rocks so you just
go over them and your arms shake so bad.  Poor Ryan really
struggled with his arms hurting from all the rocks.  That thin line
in the background is the trail below us.

At the bottom - YAY! 

It felt so good to be off the 1500' cliff road where the protruding
rocks were aggravating my heel. 

Coming back up was challenging, to say the least.  The
park ranger at the bottom of the canyon told us it'd take us
2-3 times longer to go back up than it did to get down.  It took
us 1-hour on the dot to get down so I was hoping we could get up in
2-hours.  We had to walk a LOT because it was just SO incredibly
steep and this was causing my heel so so so much pain, but we
got to the top in 1:40!  Take THAT Mr. Park Ranger, we ROCKED IT!

Our last day we went to Arches N.P.  By this day, my heel
was absolutely killing me and my disposition was totally in
suckville.  But it was pretty, despite I could barely walk!
My running shoes badly wanted to run in this red dirt,
but alas, they could not :(
Arches N.P.

Bye, Moab - until next time!

Since my return home, I have been on a whirlwind going to appointments, and just catching up with life.  I may, or may not, have had a small melt-down with my physical therapist on Tuesday over how badly my heel behaved in Moab, and upon it's return - but I'm happy to report that it's now back to about a pain level 3 (on a 1-5 scale...about where it was when I left).  I will admit, there are many days where my disposition is just in the toilet with this whole fiasco and I wonder if I will ever run again...but I'm not giving up, I know I'll get there eventually....

....and if not, I can always go mountain biking!!!  :)

I am so behind in blogs and I apologize for that, but I will catch up - promise!

I can't close without mentioning quickly (and will touch more on this later) that my coaching website is now DONE!!  A HUGE thank you to my friend, Dave, for doing this for me.  It's been a project in thought for well over a year so it's awesome for me to see it come to life.  Please check it out and let me know what you think....I'd love the input (click on the icon/link on my sidebar).

Run strong!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Flicker of Hope

If there is a roller coaster for emotions, I have been on a ride for the past 6 days or so.

I walked into Physical Therapy on Tuesday pretty much throwing in the towel with my treatment - my heel hurt so much that I was pretty sure I was doomed to cycling for the rest of my life.  Sorry to all you cyclist out there, but I can't seem to reach a high cycling like I can running.  And that's probably not a fair statement as I haven't given cycling enough time, but so far it's not doing it for me.

My PT's comment, when I bombarded him with a barrage of at least 13 varying heel pain plantar faciitis treatments I have researched or others have tried and told me about, "Wow, Jill, this really is consuming you...."

Um, hello...I have a running blog - like duh it consumes me!

I didn't really want him to address all the varying so-called remedies I threw at him (well, maybe secretly I did but I knew it'd be well past midnight before I left), I mostly just wanted him to be aware that yes, this stupid heel does consume me and I waste spend way too much time looking up so much crap on the Internet ... but mostly, without hope, I feel doomed.

So we started zeroing in on my calf.  Oh the calf.  The devil has taken up residency there a time or four over the past years.  That thing has crippled me with a couple pulled muscles and almost caused my Portland Marathon in '09 to never exist.  Massage torture therapy was my only saving grace at the time - and I managed to pull an incredible Portland finish time out of the hat, despite the fact I was practically crawling at the finish.

Tuesday, Nazi Physical Therapist Man planted his iron thumb into my calf and dug down deep.  And often.  Up and down the whole calf.  HOLY MOTHER OF EXCRUCIATING PAIN!!!  Who knew a calf could have so many trigger points and knots.

Then, to top off the misery, he thought he'd do a little dry needling in the already overly sensitive calf.

If anyone tells you dry needling doesn't hurt they are lying.  The needle doesn't hurt going in, as you may think it, the pain comes when a vexatious stabbing sensation hits the muscle.  And then the whole thing spazzes like it was hit with a taser gun or something.

Oh yeah, fun times.

But you know what????  Today, a mere 10 weeks after I first sought out help for this debilitating disease, I actually could put my entire foot down on the floor.  I didn't have to walk on my tippy toes on one foot.  Yeah, there's still pain there but holy Batman, Lucy - I can FREAKING WALK without cringing every time my heel hits the floor. 


Today, he did the same crucifixion but focused on the inside of my shin, another trigger point which connects to the heel (eventually).

Today I finally feel a small flicker of hope.

I have a boat load of toe flexing exercises to do and I have drastically increased the duration of these, even bringing my big, black rubber band to work and sitting at my desk with the thing wrapped around my toes (which I hook over my knee. That way I can still type at work - I'm such a creative soul!).....

Yes, this is my actual foot doing PT band stretches
on my bathroom floor.  I know, your life is now
complete having seen this picture!

....but finally, I think this thing can be turned around.  It may take awhile, but I think things are finally taking a positive turn.

"Hope is the dream of a soul awake"

So no, I am not running.  Yet.  And after 6 weeks of not, I can't believe I'm actually okay with this.  But I am.  For now.

But I have been biking - like some crazed madwoman.  Me and my bike have become pretty intimate over the past few weeks and I even knocked out a 42.5 miler last weekend and I'm entering thoughts of a century bike ride in June *gasp*!!!   My bike trainer now resides in my bedroom and I have to climb over it daily to get in and out of bed.  If that isn't commitment, I'm not sure what is.  I don't enjoy as much as I do the pounding of my legs on the road in my running shoes, but I'm determined to wake up my soul and get into some sort of semblance of fitness and if I have to bike to do it, then so be it.  I'm changing my diet, I'm getting more rest, I'm trying not to stress, I'm back to lifting weights....and I'm biking.

And my heel is starting to respond. 

My soul is starting to wake.  Today is a new day.

I have tons of biking stories to share with you in just the three weeks I've taken on this task....I promise you those A.D.D. moments I have continue to follow me on the bike.  So stay tuned. 

And get this: I'm off for a few days of REAL biking adventure as I load up mine and my boys' bikes tomorrow and head of of town to the mountain biking mecca of the US: Moab, Utah!  I can't wait!!!

So I may be blog MIA a few days as I'm not sure I'll have Internet access but I promise I'll have pictures and stories galore to share when I get back.  I'm on Spring Break next week so when I return I will have lots of blog reading time :).  I thank all you bloggers out there who have been nothing but supportive and encouraging even though I have been nothing but down and whiny these past few months...and even the few who have emailed me just because you knew it'd make a difference (you know who you are :)) - it has all meant a lot. I was even lucky enough to spend a couple fantastic hours with the ever so cool blogger Tiina last week when we got to meet in person downtown for some frozen yogurt and a great heel whining session on my part.  She's super sweet and I can't wait until she's in town again this summer - I think we're even going to get a short run in together!  I KNOW we will!

Run strong, friends!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Top O' The Afternoon To Ya

I'm sitting at my desk at work, eating what else on this special green day???  Yep, my Green Beans!!  Yummy!  Just wish I had some green sticky notes to go with them.

I LOVE St. Patrick's Day and all it stands for:
Saint Patrick's Day has come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green and gold, shamrocks and luck. Most importantly, to those who celebrate its intended meaning, St. Patrick's Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. 

I have always made a big deal of this day with my kiddos when they were little.  I turned the toilet water green and made the milk green and added a little creme de mint so it tasted a little like Shamrock Shakes :).  We made Leprechaun traps to catch the slippery dude,  but we never did.  He always left each of the kids a gold glittery trail to a hidden gold coin (Sacagawea Dollar).  We made french toast for dinner and sprinkled it with green powdered sugar.  Green dominated our house on this 17th day of March!

I don't do as much now that the kids are older - no Leprechaun traps nor green mint flavored milk....(but I did turn the toilet water green, just cuz :)) but traditions stick and my kiddos still talk about those "old" green days and dressed the part, as much as they could (boys, I found, don't own a lot of green attire).

It was really hard for me to pass on the St. Patrick's 7K race last weekend, a tradition I've run for the past 10 years here in Denver.  It's a huge race, drawing about 5000 runners and you finish with one large green party after, with lots of green beer :).  Last year I ran a 32:28 (7:28 pace) and had such a blast after, and so looked forward to beating that time this year....but the heel had other plans.  
It's been a crazy week of ups and downs with the heel where one day I feel zero progress, yet the next day a little hope.  Call is the Luck of the Irish, or my green beads around my neck, but I think next year I will be honoring my favorite traditional 7K race....

Spiritual Renewal!  The wee-bit o' Irish I have in me is ready for the renewal phase to begin!

A few parting shots from the St. Patrick's 7K race 2-years ago:

Me and me boys. 

Even the hair gets into the green action!

My Neighbor, Jim whom I used to run a lot with, and his daughter.

My "old" running partner, Dennis (hopefully soon I can run with him again!!)
Happy St. Patrick's Day to all you Irish, and non-Irish alike, may you find much spiritual growth today.  And may you have many, fun, traditions in your house on this fun, green day....let me know what they are, maybe I'll have to incorporate a few new ones of my own.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Needles and Ultrasound and Sever's Disease - Oh My!

I know I haven't written in awhile - sorry, been busy trying to figuring out how to cut off my foot and grow a new one. 

Here's the latest since I wrote early last week:
  • I'm actually becoming sort of attached to my friend, Boot - sort of like a barnacle on a whale; an attachment I can't get rid of (like when my son Ryan was two and was a permanent fixture to my left leg - try to shake him off for a microsecond to take a shower and the universe practically exploded).  Boot's a major pain in the ass to drag around all day but when I take her off, I feel sort of ...naked!
  • Diagnostic testing last Tuesday (really, only a week and a half ago?  Could have sworn it's been months) showed no rupture of the facia.  I was shocked, actually.
  • Diagnostic tests showed an insane amount of swelling prompting Dr. Dreamy podiatrist to believe I have a "severe acute case of plantar faciitis with a possibly a heel contusion (heel bruise)."
  • I GET to go to physical therapy now. For how long?   Who knows.  Mr. PT-man initially thought he could "cure" me in 5-8 visits.
  • 5-8 visits has now been extended to maybe 10... or hell, "let's not focus on a number right now, Jill...."
  • Ever hear of Sever's disease?  No?  Me either - and trust me when I say I've I've spent hundreds of hours researching this dang heel, I thought I knew every possible heel pain ailments known to mankind.  But this Sever's disease is what PT-man thinks I also have a case of, despite it being more predominate in growing children.  Ok, sure, why not - I'll add it to the growing list!  In the course of 2 months, I've been diagnosed with: Plantar Faciitis, Achilles Tendinitis, a heel contusion, a heel periosteum, bursitis, and probably an ingrown toenail for all I know.  We may as well add Sever's disease (click on link if this is something you absolutely cannot sleep tonight without knowing more about it).
In my opinion, and let's face it, I'm really the only one who is fully aware of the split personalities this crabby heel has had in the past 18 months, I think I have a very bad case of Plantar Faciitis with a whole bunch of other garbage thrown in there.  How's that for a diagnosis?!?  I wonder if I'm adapting to this heel fiasco, though - when I am now asked why I'm sporting a beautiful boot on my foot as I hobble down the school hallways, I simply state, "My heel is sick" and leave it at that.  At one time, that sentence contained a lot of expletives.

So here's what Mr. PT-man is doing for me:
  • Dry Needling the heel.  This is a hypodermic needle stuck in a few places in my heel and ankle to get a muscle or tendon to react and reduce the swelling.  If you google this procedure (more reading material for you sleepless souls), all will state it does not hurt.  They LIE!  OMfreakingG that HURT!  Tara told me her Chiro told her if the needle doesn't hurt, it's not working.  If this is true, then I should be cured by tomorrow!
  • Ultrasound shockwave therapy.  Ultrasonic waves are emitted into my heel through these metal probes.  10 minutes of this.  It doesn't really hurt at first, but it sure as heck isn't pleasant, and then it turns painful the last minute.  My foot actually starts spazzing badly and I almost kicked the PT guy in the face.
  • Massage.  The only non-torture treatment.  Ahhh, feels so good!
  • Lots of eye-rolling at my incessant questioning.

And this is what I get to do everyday:
  • Do not run.
  • Continue to wear the Boot.
  • Eat heavy amounts of chocolate all day!
  • Large band exercises a few times per day.
  • Direct ice 3 times per day for about 3 minutes.
  • Whine as much as I want!  But mostly to myself.  And anyone who sends me an email and asks me how it's going.
So that's been my week.  Jealous, I'm certain!

A few running questions I had for Mr. PT-man yesterday:
Me: I'm suppose to run this little race in a tad over 4 weeks.
PT-man: How little? (I'm stunned he forgot this, I only mentioned it 30 times on our first visit).
Me: Um, only 26 miles.  Maybe add .2 miles on to that, but sometimes those courses aren't exact...and you do know that Garmin's are not 100% accurate, right?
PT-man: (eye roll.  See above).  I really don't think it's a wise decision to run (lots of questions about marathon inserted here).
Me: (Sad face).  Ok...blah, blah, blah ...I'm so out of shape anyway, but I was suppose to meet friends, blah blah blah....but ok, that's that.  btw, next week is registration for the Pikes Peak Marathon.  It's in August.  Can I sign up?  It will sell out within an hour, I need to be certain ... not running Skyline next month is race #4 now where I have had to eat the cost of a race entry fee.
PT-man: August?  (pause)  (more pausing)  August is doable.
Me: (smiling)  I need to train over the summer, you know?!
PT-man: Training is over-rated (smiles).

So, Skyline is out *sigh*. 

But it appears I may have a future which includes my running shoes.  Positive potential on the path in front of me is good news!

My heel has been so moody the past week that honestly I really don't even want to do Skyline for fear that any tiny amount of progress I may be making could potentially set me back.  The thought scares me to death.  This has not been easy.  I've been running for a bit over 35 years now, how do you take something that's been such an important part my life and suddenly come to a screeching halt?  You adapt, that's what you do - and I'm doing the best I can do.

So I'm not going to post anymore exclusive heel posts, unless something drastic warrants it, but I will keep you briefly updated.  No, no more down-ness!!!! 

Instead, I'll fill this blog with all the biking (oh baby have I been biking - lots to share there, and lots of questions for you!!), swimming, website developing, coaching, and my massive Tempo short collection - a sight you truly do not want to miss.

Here's a parting shot of Tara and I at the gym yesterday - two peas in a pod (yes she does still exist, in fact she even posted yesterday - go check out her progress)!
Have a great weekend, friends.  It was 73 degrees here in Denver yesterday....kills me not to be out in this gorgeous weather running, but it's ok, I got a bike and I got PT-man fixing me up, and I am healing (fingers crossed).