Rewind

I watched this compelling public service announcement entitled Rewind the Future issued by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in 2013 which essentially speaks to the fact that obesity is not a condition that arises overnight.

There was quite a debate in the comments as to whether the video depicted fat shaming or served to educate the public. This morning I read Mike’s thought provoking post “One More Pet Peeve – Fat Shaming and Thin Privilege.” The comments below the post were equally compelling and brought up many of my own conflicted feelings on the subject.

I’ve been overweight for the better part of the last 30 years. From the early age of 10, I remember overhearing my grandfather saying on what a pretty face I had, if only… You can fill in the blank. In school I was ashamed of how I looked. I felt different and awkward around my peers because of my larger size. In retrospect I was not as large as I felt. I’m still not, but it’s amazing how powerful those words in our head can be. I know what it’s like to be fat shamed by others and myself. It’s never ok to shame, bully or tease someone.

As a healthcare professional I do think patients need to be receptive to hearing the truth without assuming they are being shamed by their doctor. People also need to stop seeking the quick fix when it comes to medical conditions that can be reversed by behavioral changes. Often medications and/or surgical interventions are necessary, but they don’t eliminate the need for subsequent lifestyle alterations.  The truth is losing weight is hard work. It is tedious to have to journal your food  intake and weigh your food. It stinks say no to foods you love and feel a little hungry once in a while. Weight loss tries the patience because it can take a long time. Some days you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. On the flip side losing weight feels amazing and can inspire others around you to do the same.

Oddly enough I just started reading a continuing education module for my nursing license called The Obesity Epidemic and the Nurse’s Role. In the introduction it mentions, “worldwide, the number of overweight individuals is equal to the number who are suffering from starvation.” (Buchwald, 2007) The World Health Organization has deemed obesity a global epidemic and reports that by 2015 there will be 2.3 billion overweight people and 700 million obese people worldwide.

This is concerning on many levels. Obesity is associated with other medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Obesity is expensive to treat. Obesity can impair treatment and rehabilitation of other medical issues.

As a nurse my job is to educate and support patients. I am kind, caring and compassionate. It is not my place to judge and I don’t. I’ve been there. I’m still there to some degree.

As an individual there came a time when I had to take a long hard look at my weight problem and admit to myself how I got to that point. Then I had to face the facts and the hard truth about how I was going to lose that weight. I’m still working on it. I do wish sometimes I could rewind and stop the clock at the very moment food became more than sustenance for me.

What do you think about the video? Any thoughts on this topic?

 

Australian adventure: Day 1

We finally landed in Sydney on Sunday, July 20th. As we neared the airport we were treated to a view of the famous sights of Sydney’s harbor, the Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. We got to our hotel, the Westin Sydney, in the early afternoon.

View from our hotel room in Sydney

View from our hotel room in Sydney

We were traveling with my sister who was there on business so we dropped our bags and left her to catch up on email and other important business.  It was an overcast cool day, but a great day for walking. So without a plan we just headed in the direction of the harbor. The hotel was very centrally located and only a 10 minute walk to the harbor.

My first impression of Sydney was that it was your typical big city. It was clean and I loved the look of some of the buildings. I found out later that many of the buildings are made from sand stone which was found in abundance in this area.

 

Once down at the harbor I stood for minutes just taking in the view. There were tears in my eyes as I realized that this was a 30 year old dream come true. The bridge and Opera House are more spectacular in person than I imagined. Although we would see the harbor multiple times daily during our stay the feeling I got looking at it never grew old.

Cloudy skies over the Sydney Harbor Bridge

Cloudy skies over the Sydney Harbor Bridge

 

Walking towards the Opera House

Walking towards the Opera House

Even on a cool grey overcast day the harbor was a beautiful sight to see.

The Sydney Harbor BridgeThe Sydney Harbor Bridge

The Sydney Harbor BridgeThe Sydney Harbor Bridge

We walked around for a while, watched some Aborginal street performers playing the didgeridoo, checked out the colorful boomerangs, grabbed a handful of pamphlets advertising the many tourist attractions, took tons of similar photos, booked a tour of the Opera House and stopped for a quick lunch.

 

Boomerangs

Boomerangs

Didgeridoo

Didgeridoo

After lunch we went to the Opera House for an hour long tour. The tour was $37 for adults and $20 for children. If you are traveling to Sydney it’s good to know that many attractions can be booked online and will offer a 10% discount. I had my phone with me, but could only use it on WiFi so we were unable to access the discount.

The Sydney Opera House was built from 1957 to 1973. This architectural masterpiece was the brainchild of Jorn Utzon from Denmark though he resigned from the project in 1966 and was replaced by Peter Hall. The distinctive roof of the Opera House is said to resemble the sails of a sail boat. Life certainly does revolve around the water there so it is fitting that the architecture would somehow be tied to the sea. The Opera House has various spaces including the Concert Hall, the Joan Sutherland Theatre, the Drama Theatre, the Playhouse, the Studio, the Utzon Room and the Recording Studio.

My photos don’t do the building justice. You are not able to take photos in the concert halls. We saw the hall where Don Giovanni would be playing later that night. We also saw another hall that was set up and just getting ready for rehearsal.

After our tour of the Opera House we made our way back to the hotel, did some exploring around the hotel, went for a swim in the cold “heated” hotel pool and then decided to pass on dinner because we were both exhausted. Not bad for our first day down under!!

Fiji

Bula bula!

That’s Fijian for hello.

I returned yesterday from down under. There is so much to write about, but quite possibly one of the best parts of the trip was the first part of our trip, our layover in Fiji. After a 5 hour flight from Boston to LA and an 11.5 hour flight from LA to Fiji we had the great fortune to be able to spend a full day and night on Fiji’s Denarau Island.

I was immediately enamored by the friendly faces and warm bula bula greetings from everyone from the moment we landed in Fiji. We arrived at The Westin Denarau Island Resort in the early morning hours on Saturday, July 21st. We essentially lost a day having crossed the International Date Line hours earlier. Since it was so early our room was not ready yet, but while it was being prepared we explored the property, took a walk on the beach and enjoyed the breakfast buffet. Before we even got to our room Carlos was already known by the exceptionally kind staff who shook his hand, hugged him and gave him high fives.

The sun was heating up the day and Carlos was itching to go swimming so as soon as our bags were brought up to our room we all changed into our bathing suits and headed back to the pool and the beach. We lounged, walked along the beach and swam. It was a such a relaxing day.

A room with a view

A room with a view

 

One of many swimming pools

One of many swimming pools

 

Sparkling swimming pools

Sparkling swimming pools

 

Beach boy

Beach boy

 

Carlos and my sister happened to find a kids club at the neighboring Sheraton Resort just down the path and he begged to spend the afternoon there. He did something similar in the Bahamas so I think he knew what to expect. Sure enough he had a fabulous time and made new friends while my sister and I chilled out with some tropical fruit and chatted.

By the time we returned to the room to prepare for dinner the sun was beginning to set. My photos do not do justice to the spectacular sight of a Fijian sunset.

Start of a Fijian sunset

Start of a Fijian sunset

Sunset in action

Sunset in action

For dinner we attended a luau type show and buffet at our hotel. It was touristy, but given our short time there it was perfect. The show told tales of the Fijian culture, performers demonstrated fire walking and we enjoyed a Meke Lovo Fijian feast. The food was delicious and there were so many vegetable, fruit and salad options.

Carlos and one of the performers IMG_3605 IMG_3606

Carlos was practically falling asleep at the dinner table he was so tired from the busy day so we left a bit early to get to bed before our early 4:30am wake up call. Our flight to Sydney was scheduled to depart at 7am so we were instructed to take a taxi from the hotel at 5am. We arrived to the airport with plenty of time to check in for our last leg of the journey.

Fiji airport at sunrise

Fiji airport at sunrise

A quick pic before boarding

A quick pic before boarding

I can’t wait to return to Fiji someday to explore more of the over 300 islands that make up the island nation. I would love to go snorkeling, take a cruise out to other islands, go kayaking, learn more about Fijian culture and mostly just relax on the beach with a coconut drink in my hand while the sun sets. My husband would absolutely love Fiji. The people reminded me a lot of the Mozambican people, happy, smiling and genuinely nice.

Vinaka (thank you) Fiji, until next time.

In Flight

I’m on a plane right now flying home from Fort Lauderdale.

I love to travel. I actually love flying and would probably go anywhere if given the opportunity. This past year has been full of road trips mostly for races aside from our trip to Arizona in February. We had planned to return to Mozambique for the 2013 holidays, but after a rash of kidnappings in and around the Capitol of Maputo, including that of a young boy who was subsequently murdered and a former Peace Corps staff person’s wife who thankfully was returned unharmed, we decided to postpone our trip. We were also keeping watch on the increasingly unstable political situation in Mozambique.

Briefly, Mozambique is set to have its third presidential election this year. All eyes are on the current president, Armando Guebuza, from the Frelimo party who will finish his second and last term as president. Some are worried that he will try to find a way to stay in power thereby defeating the democratic process and creating the pathway to dictatorship like its neighbor Zimbabwe. The opposing political party, Renamo, has been stirring up old wounds since the fall. There have been some fatalities as a result of Renamo led uprisings in the north. It’s very sad and frightening to watch from afar, hoping and praying for some resolve, but as of yet nothing has been done to stop Renamo’s actions. So for now our plans to return to Mozambique are pushed back to possibly February 2015.

In the meantime I’m just dying to get the heck out of dodge. I miss international travel, but like I said, I’ll go just about anywhere especially if air travel is involved. This little trip to Florida was spontaneously schemed up by yours truly on a hot, humid run last Friday. Carlos hasn’t seen his grandpa in a while. I had this Tuesday and Wednesday night off. My mom was also vacationing in Fort Lauderdale with her husband and my aunt and uncle. So Carlos will fly back with them on Saturday since I have to work all weekend. Hmmm how could I possibly coordinate this trip on such short notice?!  Within two hours after my run we were booked! I left work at 6a.m. Tuesday morning, took a quick shower, got dressed, threw a carry on in the car, and Carlos and I were at the airport by 7:15 a.m. Carlos is an awesome traveler and that’s how we roll!

Ok I don’t love Florida, never have, but this trip was about family and I at least got two plane rides out of it! I enjoyed a day at the beach with my dad and Carlos. I finally met my cousin’s baby. I stumbled upon an amazing organic farmers market with so many wonderful vegan treats. I convinced my dad to try a gluten free, mostly vegan organic restaurant for lunch yesterday. The Coke guzzling, meat eater actually seemed to enjoy it. I loved it!! So for such a quick trip it was quite enjoyable, but I still daydream of travels to faraway places.

My sister is a jet setting executive for a tech company. She just started this job last year late fall and she’s been traveling nonstop. I’m less jealous now than I would have been pre-Carlos because as much as I yearn to travel I don’t wish to be away from my family for more than a day or two every now and then. My sister mentioned recently that she would be going to Australia in July for work. Cue the seething green eyed monster!!

Visiting Australia has been a dream since I was 10. I had a soft fuzzy stuffed koala pencil hugger and that song Down Under by Men at Work was popular. Suddenly Australia was on my radar. I looked at world maps, dreamed about what it would be like to visit and read everything I could about the faraway nation. There was something so exotic about a place that distant.  A couple of years later, INXS became my favorite band and the fascination with the land down under intensified. It was the distance, the accent, the beaches and the mystique of the outback that sparked my interest. Oh right and I was also hopelessly infatuated with Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of INXS (don’t judge!).

My junior year of college I walked into the study abroad office at UMass Amherst hell bent on finally getting to Australia via their study abroad program. However, somehow I ended up in a short Spanish immersion program in Cuernavaca, Mexico which led to a full semester in Taxco, Mexico a year later. No regrets though. I developed a passion for Mexican culture, history and art and because it was relatively inexpensive to study and live in Mexico I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel around almost all of central and southern Mexico. I loved my experience there and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Fast forward to today…I have yet to travel to Australia, but I still dream of it. Later this month my dream will finally become a reality. Carlos and I will accompany my sister on her trip down under. I am still in disbelief that this is happening. The whole thing transpired very quickly. If it wasn’t amazing enough to be going to Australia, we will also be spending a full day and night in Fiji!!

When my sister casually mentioned that we should come along the old Aimee would have let jealousy consume her. In the past my side of the conversation would have sounded a lot like this:

“That’s ridiculous. I have to work. Not everyone can just take off for two weeks. Lucky you.”

Instead of playing the martyr like I used to do so often I found a way to make it happen. I never take time off from work. I fill in whenever I can for my coworkers when they need time off. I always find coverage for my shifts. So I decided to just ask for the time off and despite the short notice my boss was supportive and is really excited for me. I don’t spend my money irresponsibly. I’m a great saver. I always pick up extra shifts if I can to make up for time I miss. Sure I’m working the next 12 out of 14 nights, but at the end of 2 weeks I will live out a long time dream. This quick trip to Florida helped me to set a plan of action down on paper to organize life for the next couple of weeks. I am looking forward to sharing this experience with two very special people, my son and my sister. My sister and I have her wedding plans to discuss and I am thrilled to be able to spend quality time with Carlos on a new adventure.

Wait, what about my husband? Unfortunately he won’t be joining us. Orlando is a mason and this past winter he was laid off for months. He’s back to work and fortunately he’s incredibly busy. He can’t take time off when the work is abundant because you never know what the winter will bring. We will miss him, but he understands and fully supports our travels. He is a little envious of our trip to Australia though!

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” Napoleon Hill

TMI Survey

I recently saw this survey floating around and decided to answer the questions. In other news I have big travel plans for July and a big race to train for. My Achilles is on the mend and I’m running comfortably for about 45-60 minutes. I’m taking it very slowly and listening to my body. Summer vacation is in full swing and we have already put our Six Flags season’s passes to good use. Carlos got his report card in the mail yesterday and I’m very proud of his straight A+s. He is on his way to 2nd grade in the fall!

Here’s a little TMI about me:

1. What are you wearing?

Black scrub pants, a navy blue long sleeved tee and sneakers aka my work uniform.

2. Ever been in love?

Yes.

3. Ever had a terrible breakup?

Yes. My first real boyfriend cheated on me. I was 16 years old and madly in love for all the wrong reasons. This broke my heart at the time. We lost touch not long after and years later after returning home from the Peace Corps I found out from a run in with an old friend of his that he had been involved in a serious single car crash and was paralyzed from the waist down. He was a bit of a “bad boy” when we dated as teens so I wasn’t surprised to learn that he had been driving over 90mph in an attempt to get away from a police car that was chasing him. Ironically last year on Easter he found me on Facebook and tried to friend me. He sent me a message detailing what he’s been up to for the last 25 years. He was remorseful for the way he treated me and stated that he wouldn’t be surprised if I hated him. I was surprised by this because he never struck me as the “feeling” type. After sharing the message with my husband I sent a brief message back to let him know that I certainly didn’t harbor any resentment. Deep in my teen aged heart I knew it wouldn’t have worked out anyway. I never accepted his friend request and haven’t heard from him since.

4. How tall are you?

5’3″

5. How much do you weigh?

Seriously?!! OK fine. This has been a huge point of stress, depression, contention and frustration for me since last fall. My goal weight is somewhere in the 130s. For the better part of the first 8 months of last year I stayed consistently in the 145-149 range. Then after the Montreal Marathon I endured the post marathon weight gain and went up to about 154. I stabilized and have been happily and unhappily maintaining at 150 ever since the fall. Last time I weighed myself I was 150.8.

Maintenance is a challenge in and of itself. I continue to journal my food, workout and eat healthy, however, I have struggled with emotional eating and body image issues over the last 10 months. Despite my weight I can clearly see positive changes in the shape of my body. I am not giving up the fight. It’s not the number I am necessarily striving for, it’s a feeling in my clothing, a sense of lightness and an overall contentment with my body.

6. Any tattoos?

Yes, one tattoo on the right side of my waist. It’s a lizard with an Egyptian ankh (key of life) symbol down it’s back. Don’t ask. I’m pretty sure it had some deep significance back in 1997 or 98 (can’t remember) when I got it. I was young and foolish, but at least had sense enough to locate the tattoo in a place that is never revealed to the public. I actually don’t really think about it. Of course I regret it, but not enough to dwell on it or spend the money to have it removed.

7. Any piercings?

I have four piercings in my left ear, one of which is in the top cartilage, a helix piercing I believe, and two in my right ear. However, I wear the same faux diamond studs, one in each ear, every single day.

8. Favorite song?

The Monster by Eminem featuring Rihanna. It’s a little edgy and great to run to.

9. Quality you look for in a partner?

Kindess

10. Favorite quote?

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” Henry Ford

I spent the better part of the last 35+ years being a very negative person. Changing my attitude hasn’t always been easy, but the outcomes of a positive attitude are worth their weight in gold.

11. Favorite actor?

I don’t really have a favorite actor or actress, but right now I think Kerry Washington in Scandal is fantastic.

12. Loud music or soft?

Loud while driving alone and sometimes when running off road or working out at the gym. Soft when running on the road.

13. Where do you go when you’re sad?

I go for a run at the reservoir.

14. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?

Last night I woke up for work late. I took a shower and made myself presentable in about 15 minutes flat. If I have to wash my hair, which I can’t do everyday unless it gets sweaty because it becomes too dry, then it takes me about 35 minutes. I’m fairly low maintenance. If it takes me a while to get ready it’s because I’m multi-tasking.

15. Ever been in a physical fight?

Not really, just wrestling with my sister as kids.

16. Turn on?

A nice smile complete with great teeth

17. Turn off?

Big egos, know-it-alls, loud chewing/crunching, basic grammar and spelling errors

18. Fears?

Dying, not seeing Carlos grow up, the state of the world most days

19. Last thing that made you cry?

Active release therapy on my Achilles

20. Last time you said you loved someone?

Last night I said I love you to Orlando before I left for work.

21. Meaning behind your YouTube name?

It’s my gmail account.

22. The relationship between you and the last person you texted?

Husband

23. Favorite food?

Mexican, particularly guacamole

24. Place you want to visit?

Anywhere I have never visited. Honestly I would go anywhere.

25. Do you have a crush?

Yes on my husband (shhh!)

26. Last time you kissed someone?

I kissed my husband good night before I left for work.

27. Last time you were insulted?

I am going through a strange situation with a “friend” who has been on my case for a couple of months. She often makes rude, insulting comments to me. She talks about me behind my back. It’s all very high school. I keep trying to back away from the relationship quietly without any drama, but she is relentless at times with texts and phone calls.

28. Favorite piece of jewelry?

My “engagement” ring. It’s a small round single diamond on a very thin, simple white gold band. My husband actually gave it to me after I gave birth to Carlos. We got married in 2001 in Mozambique. We were saving our pennies to relocate to the United States and had very little money. An engagement ring was out of the question. I was fine with it and never expected it from Orlando anyway. Receiving the diamond ring so many years later actually meant more to me. It is exactly as I would have wanted, unassuming and modest. I really love this ring.

Redefined

My relationship with food has been dysfunctional for as long as I can remember. This injury has forced me to realize that my relationship with running borders on disordered behavior too. I believe things happen for a reason and if anything good came from this experience it is that my relationship with fitness and food has been positively redefined by this injury.

Initially I took up running to help me lose weight after having my son in December 2006. The weight didn’t fall off like I’ve heard from others, but gradually over the course of the next 6 years I lost about 75 pounds. For the past 2 years I’ve bounced up and down about 5 pounds depending on where I’m at in my race training. Sadly endurance training does not translate into weight loss for me. It actually causes weight gain usually near the end. The truth is, running a lot makes me hungry!

I have found that over the last couple of years training for long races has essentially helped me to maintain my weight. Though the food I was eating got healthier and less processed, my eating behaviors hadn’t drastically changed. You can overeat on fruit, vegetables and nut butters! There really is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

In the back of my head has been a nagging fear. I worried that if I couldn’t run the weight would come pouring back on me. When I stopped running in late April I knew I would have to pay close attention to what I was eating. The injury has consumed my life and most of my time was spent tending to my foot. If I wasn’t cautious I knew I would start gaining weight quickly.

Almost immediately the scale jumped up a couple of pounds and within a couple of weeks my weight reached a number that was simply unacceptable. When I tell you I gain weight by looking at food it’s no joke. Weight loss for me is a very slow and challenging process, but weight gain is effortless and instantaneous. I began weighing myself every few days to keep things in check. I jumped back into diligent food tracking either on my fitness pal or in a paper journal. I began weighing and measuring my food more consistently.

My weight reached its highest in over two years, but then it came back down to the weight I’ve been at since last fall. It’s not my ideal weight, but I’m healthy and energetic. I have about 15 pounds to lose to be within my “goal” weight range.

Years ago a setback like this would have definitely resulted in a massive weight gain. This injury taught me a very valuable lesson. I don’t need running to maintain my weight. The cat is out of the bag…it is not really the running that’s been keeping my weight in check, it’s the habit I’ve created to move my body everyday. Just because I couldn’t run didn’t mean I couldn’t move. I swam, water jogged, did yoga and lots of strength training. Instead of wasting more of my precious time going to and from the gym I learned how to strength train at home using little more than my 5 pound dumbbells, a 20 pound Kettlebell, a yoga mat and an exercise band. For the first time in my life I’m doing real push-ups! I can hold planks longer each time and my yoga balancing poses are getting stronger. I am excited to start running again. I’ve missed it so much, but I’m also really motivated to keep up with the new workouts.

I have issues with food and running from them isn’t going to resolve them. I’ve made great progress in overcoming the issues that kept me obese for so long. Being injured forced me to face the food demons head on. Each time I confront my relationship with food it loses some power over me. I hope to someday be in complete control of food. I am a work in progress.

In the midst of all of this I’ve had some interesting conversations with Carlos lately about nutrition. A couple of weeks ago at his school carnival kids could win a large bag of chips or 2 liter of soda. I just gagged a little writing that and I’m furious about it, but I’m told this is tradition and the kids love it?! I could write an entire post about this, but my point in mentioning it here is that I made the analogy that our body is like a castle and we are the king or queen of the castle. Do we really want to let harmful things inside our castle? If I’m advocating for Carlos to give his body the royal treatment then why shouldn’t I do the same?

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rohn

Happy National Running Day

There’s a National day for just about everything so why not running! It’s certainly bittersweet this year for me. It’s been 41 days since I last run. I am feeling much better finally. I’m pain free and walking normally so I decided that in honor of National Running Day I would make today my return to running. I stretched, foam rolled, did some high knees and lunges and out the door I went. I walked for a few minutes to warm up and then I began to jog slowly. I made it about 7 minutes down the road before I noticed some pressure in my heel. It didn’t hurt, but I’m not going to risk re-insuring myself so I turned around and walked home. That’s it for today. Maybe in a couple of days I’ll try again and make it 10 minutes. Maybe not. I am determined to listen to my body. I will continue to take care of myself and treat my injury to heal properly. My post run care includes ice, Motrin, more stretching and rolling.

I forced a smile on the way home, but honestly the conversation inside my head went a little something like this:

Can you believe 6 weeks ago you were running 50+ miles a week? You were training for your 4th marathon. I’m basically starting over again. How will I ever build up the endurance? How long will it take to run without any twinges of injury? When will this end?

It will be an interesting transition from being injured to training again and after today I’m prepared for a long process. The theme of my life right now and my meditation mantra is simply patience.

So Happy National Running Day! Get out there and go for a RUN!!

 

Vermont City Marathon Weekend Update

Saturday, May 24, 2014

We are en route to Burlington, VT. It is down pouring as we stop for lunch in the quaint state capitol of Montpelier. The sky looks clear in the distance though and race day weather looks optimal. Vermont is one of my favorite places. Life moves at a slower pace. The air is clean, the people are friendly and the scenery is spectacular any time of the year.

I really hadn’t considered running a late spring marathon, but when I discovered the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington over Memorial Day weekend it was an easy decision. Despite the miserable winter training conditions as the weather cleared and spring emerged I grew more excited for the race.

When my training came to a screeching halt on April 23rd because of an injury to my Achilles I honestly never imagined I would be on my way to Burlington to spectate the marathon rather than run it. The definitive decision was made yesterday although I knew on Tuesday that barring a miracle it would not be possible to run.

Thursday, May 8th – Saturday, May 24th

My recovery efforts have been time consuming and costly. An acquaintance who happens to be a runner referred me to her sports medicine chiropractor. She claimed he was incredible and would have me running again in no time. The chiropractor, himself, is quite an accomplished athlete. In his early 60s he continues to participate in triathlons including Iron Man competitions. In his younger years he was a member of the U.S. Olympic pentathlon team in the XXI Olympics in Montreal in 1976. I saw him on 5/8. He sent me for an X-ray, worked on my calf and heel and put some standard (not custom made) orthotics in my shoes. He was very encouraging and seemed to believe that I would be ok in time for the marathon. Per his recommendation I made an appointment the following week for a follow up.

In the meantime hard core running friends of mine suggested I go to see their physical therapist, Sophia, calling her a miracle worker. I was able to get an appointment on 5/14. By the time I arrived in the office my heel was visibly swollen and I was still noticeably limping. After a number of stretching exercises Sophia performed active release therapy (ART) on my heel. With my eyes squeezed shut I gripped the sides of the table as I forced yogic breathing in and out to fight back the tears. ART is incredibly painful, but very effective. I left the office feeling sore, but walking with a steadier gait. I went to PT on 5/15 and 5/16 as well.

I returned to the chiropractor about an hour after my first PT appointment on 5/14. The chiropractor merely watched me ambulate, checked the calf, did a brief massage and sent me off with his expert advice that I would probably be able to run the marathon if I was feeling better by then. I paid my co-pay, thanked him (for nothing) and limped back to my car. I immediately removed the painful orthotics he insisted would help my injury and cried. I had worked the night before, went to the YMCA for water jogging and swimming, tended to house work, went to PT and then drove about 45 minutes to the chiropractor for a 10 minute appointment. I returned home exhausted and feeling defeated. I had even less hours than normal to sleep before going to work again.

My injury became a part time job. I was icing, stretching and foam rolling it at home. I swam and water jogged for an hour in the morning after work before zipping off to PT. From PT it was off to run errands or home for more attention to the the injured foot. By last weekend I finally began to feel some real relief. My discomfort was down to a 1 by Sunday and virtually nothing by Monday. I was excited to share this with the physical therapist. I felt a surge of energy and a spark of hope. I thought maybe, just maybe, if I could comfortably accomplish a few runs by the weekend then perhaps I could attempt the marathon.

I worked Monday night and by Tuesday I was limping again. My pain was up to a 4, bearable, but I couldn’t even contemplate running. I spent much of Tuesday tending to my foot at home and returned to PT on Wednesday feeling a bit better, but more frustrated. I have a high tolerance to pain. I don’t hang onto pain nor do I exaggerate pain. I don’t complain. My life doesn’t accommodate slowing down very easily. I have to work. I have a child who needs me. I was doing everything in my power to heal this damn injury and though diminished it wasn’t going away.

So Wednesday, 5/21 was more PT and Thursday I rested again. Friday, 5/23 I returned to PT feeling great with the most minute awareness that something was wrong in my left foot. Even the ART didn’t make tears well up in my eyes this time. Sophia gave me the green light to start running over the weekend, slow and short. “So not a marathon?” I replied. “No definitely not!” Sophia answered seriously.

Of course I knew I wouldn’t run the marathon. It’s one race, one day. Even if I felt physically capable of running the race I would be risking re-injury and a longer recovery process which would inhibit my running plans for the rest of the summer.

Although I had the ok to begin running I chose not to bring any running clothes with me to Vermont for fear that I might get caught up in the moment and try to run the marathon. Unfortunately even if had wanted to run I couldn’t because of increased discomfort in my heel. I worked Friday night and then spent a great deal of time in the car on Saturday driving to Burlington. I was unable to exercise my calf and foot or ice it, but regardless I was really hoping that wouldn’t be necessary anymore.  The good news right now is that I have an appointment with a Sports Medicine doctor on Tuesday morning. I made it the day after the injury and wisely decided not to cancel it just in case. Was it foresight, a jinx or a coincidence? I’m superstitious so I’m going with jinx!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

On race day we went out bright and early to cheer on the runners. Our first stop was mile 9 on Church Street where we had fun hollering people’s names as we quickly read them off their bibs. This delighted some and confused others who either forgot or weren’t aware their names were visible. Calling out the names of the runners lifted my spirit. I was so glad we came out to spectate the race.

If I can't join them I'll cheer for them

If I can’t join them I’ll cheer for them

 

Spectating on Church Street

Spectating on Church Street

Then we walked down the hill just before mile 15 on Battery Street to cheer some more and to listen to the Taiko drummers. The infectious rhythm would have definitely pushed me up the hill towards mile 15.

Taiko Drummers as runners undertake the "assault on Battery Hill"

Taiko Drummers as runners undertake the “assault on Battery Hill”

After that it was on to Waterfront Park to see the first female cyclist and the lead runner cross the finish line. It was a gorgeous location for a finish line and the day could not have been more perfect for a marathon.

Breathtaking views at the finish line

Breathtaking views at the finish line

Not the picture I envisioned of me at the finish line of the Vermont City Marathon

Not the picture I envisioned of me at the finish line of the Vermont City Marathon

The excitement rising from the crowd was intense as the lead runner rounded the corner toward the finish chute. My heart swelled with a longing to be out there running. I turned to my husband with tears in my eyes and he said, “next year.”

 

 

Why Me?

If you had known me back in my younger years this whole running thing would come as a surprise to you. It still surprises me. I believed that I was not, nor was I capable of becoming athletic. I sat on the bleachers during high school gym class because I refused to play football. I nearly failed my junior year for lack of gym participation. I managed to slide under the radar somehow and passed by the skin of my teeth because I told the male gym teacher I had really bad PMS cramps!

This injury is a real bummer, but don’t think for one minute I’m sitting here with a box a tissues whimpering Why Me when I have a marathon coming up in a couple of weeks. Running has taught me so many things and I’m not about to let those lessons fly right out the window because of an injury. Running has made me a stronger, more adaptable person. I will run again and there will be other marathons.

I think the most important thing you can do when you are injured is try to understand how the injury happened so you can avoid re-injury in the future. So how did this happen to my foot? Even without a definitive diagnosis I have reflected on my training this winter and the activities during the week of injury. I did a lot of my training indoors this winter. I have never trained for a late spring marathon and training outdoors in the frigid temperatures with ice and snow on the ground wasn’t possible. I ran a lot of my speed work and tempo runs on the treadmill. I also ran in the same running shoes I’ve had since before the Montreal Marathon in September. I bought a new pair, but stupidly only wore them a few times in the two weeks before the injury because I kept telling myself I would wait until I was outdoors more often. How silly! Three days before the injury I did P90X Plyometrics. I used to do this workout a lot, but hadn’t done it quite sometime. It involves a lot of jumping and dynamic moves. I can’t be sure, but it’s possible that a combination of overuse, speedy treadmill workouts, maybe landing the wrong way during Plyometrics and old shoes are what caused this foot injury.

I continue to do whatever I can to stay active without the risk of worsening my foot. Yesterday I joined the YMCA for a month mainly so I can use the pool to swim laps. I love swimming, always have. In fact I was actually a pretty decent swimmer back in the day. We used to spend summers at a local lake and I would be in the water from early morning to dusk. My mom was constantly yelling for me to swim closer to the dock, but I always managed to swim my way out towards the middle of the lake. Water has always been a source of peace for me. It was so refreshing and soothing to swim quietly for 45 minutes this morning after an extremely hectic night at work.

I will undoubtedly learn from this experience and take those lessons on the road with me when I start running again. Absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder. A break from running always reminds me how much I love to run simply for the sake of running and not just a race. Although this swimming thing did get me thinking about what a triathlon might be like. I am a good swimmer and I know I can handle the running. Now I just have to get a bike. Orlando if you’re reading this Mother’s Day is on Sunday and there is still plenty of time to go to the bike shop!

 

 

Injured

I’m inured. It’s my Achilles. It happened last week. I felt a little discomfort after my run on Tuesday, but it went away so I ran again on Wednesday. Both of those were treadmill runs because Carlos was on school vacation and I had to run late in the evening. It also happened to be raining both nights making outdoor runs even less. My schedule was upside down due to the school vacation and it just so happened to be my biggest mileage week for marathon training. My sister said she could watch Carlos on Thursday so I could attempt my 22 mile run. I was psyched to have the opportunity to do such a long run on an entirely new to me trail. I really welcomed the change of scenery.

About a mile in the discomfort crept up and I slowed down a bit contemplating what I should do. It didn’t hurt at that point, it was simply a nuisance. By mile 4 I stopped at a dock overlooking the Charles River. I burst into tears before turning back. I was in pain. I hobbled and limped back to my sister’s place. I was frustrated, angry and worried.

Cut to today. It’s not much better despite all of the interventions I have tried. Here is the list:

RICE (minus the R)

  • icing
  • compression
  • elevating

Medicine

  • Ibuprofen (not helpful)
  • Aleve (just started taking yesterday and I do feel some relief with it)
  • Homeopathic herbal supplements like Arnica, MSM, Magnesium and Bone & Tissue Support (I would like to believe that the injury would be much more painful still without these supplements, but there’s no way to know.

Other therapies

  • Icy hot (just because I had it in the medicine cabinet)
  • Epsom salt soaks
  • Shoe inserts made to relieve heel pain (I’m returning them! Horrible, no relief what so ever)
  • A slip on ankle sleeve (soothing, but not life changing)
  • Sports massage (I just had it done today. No immediate relief, but perhaps I will notice a difference in the morning.)
  • Stretching (I’m reading conflicting viewpoints on stretching with an Achilles injury. Some doctors I’ve read online say stretching is key, other

I have an appointment next Thursday with a Sports Medicine doctor. He was a Pentathlon athlete in the XXI Olympics and continues to compete in triathlons. I was told he will be empathetic to my situation.

The massage therapist I went to is a runner and used to do triathlons. She was not very optimistic about my plan to run the Vermont City Marathon in 3 weeks. She asked me if I had resolved myself to the fact that I may not be able to run. I lied and said yes. Truthfully I haven’t given up hope. The only intervention that isn’t on the bullet list is rest. Life goes on and my life is active with or without the training. Since the injury occurred I also worked almost every night except for Sunday and last night. I’m off again tonight and tomorrow night. My plan is to take the next two nights to actually rest as much as humanly possibly. Carlos is sleeping at my mom’s tonight. Orlando just ran out to pick up dinner. I’m lying on the sofa with my left leg elevated on a bag of ice. Friday nights sure have changed!!

I welcome any advice, words of wisdom or stories to commiserate with me.

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