Category Archives: running

Almost Time

So everything is moving pretty quickly. All the sudden things snuck up on me and I realized that it’s almost time to move! Because it’s my life and all, nothing has gone according to plan and some pretty sharp curveballs were sent out way the past couple of weeks. But I’m ready to do whatever it takes to make this move work. Including…going on vacation next week! Hopefully we’ll do some more packing this weekend (we’re actually doing a pretty good job so far) and then I’m off to my family home in Newport. I’ll get some relaxing time to myself, see some family, and pay tribute to my Uncle Phil who will finally the East Coast remembrance he deserves.

My exercise routine has been all over the place recently. Seeing that we live in a swamp, the weather has been tortuous (hot and humid to the 100th degree). Because of the stress in my life, I’ve been itching to run a lot. But even my nighttime runs outside at 9pm are still dreadfully hot (we’re talking in the 90’s). I’m getting ridiculously bored in the gym, to the point where I’m alternating between the bike and elliptical in the same hour because I can’t stand being on either (I do enjoy the bike but with my frame – well there’s not a whole lot of cushioning and after 30 min my butt gets real sore). But I’m trying to remind myself that in a few weeks I will no longer have a full gym, downstairs. I’ll have to take a bus to get to a gym. So I might as well make good use of it now.

On one of my recent night runs I decided to stop off at a middle school I pass and see if there was a track. I don’t know why I haven’t done this sooner. There is in fact a track, a nice one too, and man, my feet were so happy to be off that hard concrete and on a rubber track. So the next night I got the “brilliant” idea to stop off there once more, run a mile, and then go barefoot. Which was pretty interesting. My feet turned black. And my toenail finally came off. But I really enjoyed myself. I’m only doing half a mile at time. I don’t want to push myself too much. But it’s interesting how much my form transforms. Mid-strike is perfect. Knees are better. Stride is shorter and much easier to contain. But most of all it was fun. And it makes me look forward to trying many more new things, fun things like exploring a new city on foot.

Below is a video Pete took of me running barefoot on the treadmill in our gym. I’m actually on the balls of my foot more than I usually am, but I think that’s because there’s a slight incline on the TM. Pete tried to coach me. I tried to resist his coaching, even though he *usually* knows what he’s talking about. So don’t mind the convo.

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G’bye Humid DC, Hello Hilly ‘burgh

It’s been a very busy few weeks, and I imagine it will only continue to become more hectic in my life. So I’ll do my best to update this blog, but it might be a bit sporadic.

Pete and I are moving to Pittsburgh in August. I think I’ve alluded to that here and there on this blog but now I’m finally allowed to come out and say it officially. I’m leaving my job that I enjoy, leaving the nation’s capital after more than 6 years (10 for Pete), and entering into years of debt. I sometimes think I’m crazy for doing this. But I’m also ready for this; ready to go back to school. Ready to change my career and probably change our lives quite a bit.

The day before my marathon in Pittsburgh we found a perfect house in Shadyside and signed a lease on the spot. The next step is to pack up our house here and find Pete a new job. I think Fox and Taz should pick up a part time job to help out, but they won’t hear any of it. The one thing that hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but I’m sure it will in no time, is that I will be running hills. A lot. Yikes.

Speaking of running, I haven’t done much in the past month. Just 2 miles here and there. Last Friday some things happened and I found myself at 8:30pm filled with anger and rage and way too much energy. So I said, “fuck it, I’m going for a run.” And I did. And it helped. I needed a release, and truth be told this is one of the reasons I began running in the first place. I know I’m not supposed to run much right now, but I felt like I had no choice. I had to run.

So how are my legs? Um, it’s hard to say. I have a lot less pain in every day life. But I don’t feel like I’m really ready to begin running again. I would like to continue with my Graston sessions but I don’t know if that will be able to happen. Why it costs so much money to stab me in the shins with metal utensils makes no sense to me.

Sorta random, but I also wrote a book review for Jon Krakauer’s “Where Men Win Glory”. You can read it here on my mother’s website.

Lastly, I won my first contest (ever!) a few weeks ago. I’ve literally never won anything. Of course I was upstaged later that week by Kate won multiple things throughout the week, the sweetest being front row VIP seats to Bethesda’s Front Row runway show, plus tons of swag (including autographed books, and a gym membership I think). I was lucky to be her guest but I wouldn’t let her forget that I won a $25 gift certificate from Swanson Vitamins thanks to Lauren!

So what did I get with my $25 gift certificate? Quite a lot actually. Their prices were extremely reasonable, and their selection online was vast. I didn’t know where to begin. After much thought (I’m not being sarcastic, I really spent a lot of time strategizing about how to use my big prize), I settled on 3 bottles of vitamins (calcium for my bones; B-12, and D), foot cream, and an all natural bone for Fox.

My Swanson Vitamins Prize

The vitamins I needed. I used to take a multivitamin but I’ll be honest, I haven’t kept up with that habit. So it’s time to go back and help my body out.

The foot cream, well if you’ve seen my feet then you understand. I have two black toes, one worse than the other but both are pretty bad. And wheras some people get black tonenails that then fall off after a few days, mine have been known to stay on for months. Just to add to my grossness, the soles of my feet are cracked, and in some places there’s blood a bunch of layers down that just hasn’t left since a blister first brought it out. Lovely, I know. So I finally figured that maybe it’s time. And you know what? I think it’s working a little. Every night I’ve been scrubbing my feet and putting on the lotion. It smells pretty funky (peppermint-ish) but I’ve noticed a difference. The cracks are beginning to close. 

And the bone? Well, when Fox remembers he’s a dog and that dogs play with bones he loves his new one. But sometimes he just doesn’t know what to do with it. Silly dog. Overall, I’m very impressed with Swanson Vitamins and encourage you all to check them out.

http://www.swansonvitamins.com/
Twitter @SwansonVitamins

Fox and his new bone

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Healing My Legs Through Torture: The Graston Technique

So I’ve been reluctant to share what I’m going through lately, simply out of fear that it won’t work. I’m still reluctant, and I truly hope I don’t jinx anything. But I figured that it’s time to talk about this procedure.

If you’ve read my blog before you’re fully aware of my persistent battle with shin pain. Stress fractures last summer. And then the fact that I’ve been plagued by shin splints for the past year. You’re probably thinking, “shin splints for a year?” I usually get a few responses when I tell people this, even though they don’t say it aloud I can tell what they’re thinking. 1)Shin splints don’t last a year. At worst maybe like 3 weeks. 2)They’ve had shin splints and yes they’ve been annoying but c’mon, they’re just shin splints. They’re not THAT bad. People usually nod, or say “that sucks” and move on, and I know they’re probably thinking I just have a really low threshold to pain. It’s because of these reactions that I’ve chosen to try and ignore the pain. But lets face it, I’m only running twice a week and am in pain constantly, even sitting at my desk. There may have been a day or two here and there that I’ve felt totally fine, but for the past year I have had this nagging pain in my lower legs.

When I met my current doctor at a open consultation seminar at my running store he told me to come in and he’d break up whatever was in my leg. I put it off for a few weeks, but went in last week for my first session. During my consultation he had concluded that there was an immense amount of scar tissue built up on my bone and that this needed to be pulled away and broken up. He also warned me, multiple times, that this was going to hurt…a lot. I told him “ok, fine”. But I don’t think he pegged me as someone who could handle the pain. Like most people, I think he doubted, ever so slightly, the level of my condition. He told me he would be using Active Release Technique (A.R.T.) and the Graston Technique.

A.R.T. is a “state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves.” http://www.activerelease.com/# I’m familiar with the technique. I’ve heard good things. And I’ve heard it hurts. But let me tell you, it has nothing on the Graston Technique. And lucky me, we’ve been primarily using the Graston Technique in all my sessions. This technique uses what I like to refer to as medieval torture instruments to break up the scar tissue.

During my first session, the doctor began working on my right leg first (my better side). He got about a minute into it and stopped and looked at me. “Wow. You’ve got a lot clumped in there. This must be really painful.” “Yes,” I replied. “And that’s my good leg.” When he began working the left one we started to hear a really weird noise. He once again stopped and looked at me, “you realize you have a lot of fluid in there? That’s not good. Can you hear it?” I said I had no idea it was there, and frankly didn’t understand why or how fluid could be there. He gave me a look, which I appreciate more than anything, that said, “I get it now. You really are in pain. This is real.” The danger with the fluid where it is, as most runners know, is compartment syndrome. I don’t want to get to that stage. And where on the right leg we’ll be able to make progress right away with ridding the scar tissue and fascia, I need to get this fluid out of my left leg.

Second session: When I get these procedures done I sit on the table, legs out in front, sitting up but leaning back on my wrists. And I’ll be honest: This Graston technique business hurts like hell. But I stay still. The doctor stops at one point and says, “you’re allowed to scream if you want. You can yell, scream, do whatever. I know this must hurt.” I said thanks but this actually works for me. We talked about it more today. I was telling him that I know it sounds weird but I actually need to meditate on the pain. I need to focus on it so strongly. That’s how I can get through it. Weird, I know. He said that that’s actually a response you see in a lot of endurance athletes. Which I guess makes sense. I’m actually proud of myself that I can hold it together like that. I mean, don’t get me wrong, if I stub my toe I scream and yell and curse the corner that jumped out at me. But unbearable pain like this? I’m stoic. When I told my mother about this she said that she’s the same way. I think we’re wired to remain strong and concentrated under immense pain and pressure. In fact, it never occurred to me that I could scream until he brought it up.

So I guess you’re wondering how this all happened and what do we do now. That’s what I was wondering at least. Yes, shin splints were probably the root of the problem. But this was injury on top of injury on top of injury that contributed to this amount of scar tissue. And it has to get broken up if I ever want to run, or even be pain free. This isn’t stuff that just goes away with time. As I’ve discussed before, I fit none of the characteristics of someone who is chronically affected by shin splints. My pronation is fine, everything is neutral. My arches are normal. My strike is fine. So what on earth is wrong with me? Well this doctor offered a suggestion that I hadn’t ever considered before, but makes perfect sense: I’m running with my lower leg. My power is coming from my calf and knee. My inability to do a proper squat began to confirm this theory. On Monday we’ll be working on my stride and re-learning how to run. In the meantime I’ve been working on my squats at home, icing like it’s my job, taking soothing baths in epsom salt, and I just purchased some compression socks that will hopefully help work this fluid up towards my heart and away from my foot.

I’m reluctant to share all of this simply because I’m afraid it won’t work. This is not a cheap process, and I would like to just quickly say that our health care system is extremely flawed. I’m extremely grateful to my mother who is helping me with this, and I can only hope that this is worth it. I hope it is, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help ensure that this process works. This past Monday left me in excruciating pain. The bruises on my leg back this up. But today wasn’t so bad. It still hurt while he was jabbing metal utensils into my flesh and scraping my bone, but I’m doing pretty well a few hours later. He said I should begin to notice a difference next week. Check back later, and hopefully it’ll be true.

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Shoes. OMG. Shoes

Got my race photos back! I’m beet red in them, but for the most part I don’t think I look as bad as I know I felt. Pete took a video of me finishing, and even in that I look like I’m a little tired but nothing out of the norm for someone who’s just run 13.1 miles. Except that I know I was in complete agony. Maybe my body knew I was being videotaped/photographed and instinctively pulled it together. If I figure out how to get the video posted here I will. I might have to ask Pete, which is ironic considering he’s totally not a tech person but I know he’s done it before for his blog, AStonesThrow09

Around mile 7 I think


Finish Line

I bought new shoes this weekend. Brooks Ghost 2. I had about 400 miles on my Asics Gel Nimbus 11’s, which I loved, but I decided after my race that it was time. I probably can still get a few more miles out of them – and I probably will. But after carrying around that extra weight in my feet from all the rain and puddles the week before, all I’ve been thinking about is getting my feet into something lighter. So I went to my running store, Georgetown Running Company in Chevy Chase and picked up these:

Brooks Ghost 2


I did a six-miler in them yesterday at Great Falls (C&O). I like the shoe. It’s a little different but not too much. I’m still using my Superfeet inserts. But my shins hurt. Both of them. Adding to my frustration was the general consensus at my running store that I do indeed have a neutral foot – no over or under pronation, and my arch is just fine. Which means that whatever is wrong with my shins can’t be easily blamed on the biomechanics of my feet and therefore can’t be that easily corrected. Ugh. I’m sure that part of it is because I’m in a different shoe so my feet have to get used to them. But that’s not enough of an excuse for me so I’ve decided it’s time to take a stronger course of action. On Wednesday I’m going in for a consultation to have Active Release Technique (A.R.T) used on my legs (is A.R.T. a verb or a noun? Can’t figure out how to use it exactly). I’ve done my research. I’ve already met the doctor. He’s already informed me it’ll be painful. I’ve already said, “fine, whatever. Just make the long-term pain stop”. I feel like I’ve been putting this off because I feel like it’s really my last stop. I don’t know how else to deal with my shin pain. Everyone seems stumped as to why it’s so bad with me and why it’s constant. I’m just hoping it really is just a ton of scar tissue that can be moved around. I’m ready. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive. Hopefully it’s worth it.

Oh, and if you haven’t seen Liam Kyle Sullivan’s video, Shoes, please do. It’s one of our favorites.

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Smiley Cookie

So the Pittsburgh Marathon is a week from today, and there are a lot of reasons why I’m running: to compete with myself, body and mind; seek accomplishment for all of my mishaps – my sense of purging. It’ll also be a welcome for me to my new city (yes I finally said it. We’re moving to the ‘burgh!). But there’s another big reason: to get my Smiley cookie.

“Huh?” You must be thinking. Let me back up to last year when I ran the half in Pittsburgh. After a hard run I sometimes go into a runners daze. It’s almost as if I’m a little drunk. My mind gets cloudy and I don’t always think straight. Well last year, right after I came over the finish line I was handed the tinfoil-like wrap, water (I grabbed 2 cups – I was thirsty), then a banana, and then a Smiley cookie. If you’re familiar with Pittsburgh then I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the Smiley cookie. If you aren’t, well it’s really just a simple sugar cookie with a smiley face on it. But Pittsburgh takes their cookies seriously (just go to a Pittsburgh wedding and take a look at the cookie table).

Well as I’m walking along, with my hands and arms piling up with all these goodies, I’m beginning to realize that Pete and I planned so much about how to get to the race that we totally neglected coming up with a plan of where to meet up afterwards. My mind was trying to think of what to do, how to find him, what he was wearing, but the runner’s fog was taking over. Next thing I know I’ve come to the end of the line. I was met by a “green” booth operated by a very nice woman who said “Paper,” “Banana peels,” and “Trash” as she pointed to each garbage can designated to those items. I looked at her blankly. I was trying to keep the wrap over my shoulders while holding all of my items. I just stood there, trying to figure out my next move. She repeated herself, “Paper, bananas and trash go right here sweetie.” I can’t explain why I did what I did next. I truly can’t. I walked in front of the can designated for banana waste, leaned over, dropped my Smiley cookie in the bin and mumbled, “This is for the food”. Before she could give me a weird look (which I’m sure she did) I quickly walked off.

I wandered around for a little while before a very nice police officer approached me and asked if I wanted to use her cell phone to call my family. Thankfully Pete answered, and we were finally able to rendezvous. Pete gave me a big hug and a big “Congratulations”. I mumbled that I threw away my Smiley cookie. “Huh?” he said. I had to repeat myself a few times before he recognized the funk I was in. And then he laughed. Of course. We went to Eat ‘N Park up in North Park after the race, and Pete offered to buy me a Smiley cookie. But I felt like I couldn’t accept. Like I really needed to earn another one.

Pete said to me a few weeks ago, “You know, if someone in Pittsburgh wants a Smiley cookie they can usually just go down the street and get one for $1.25. Only you would pay a $65 entry fee to a race, spend six months of your life training in the rain and snow, and then wake up at 5am to run a crazy distance just to get a cookie. You’re really special, Ror.” That I am!

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Race Photos and Sunday Dinner

Race photos are never the best, but they’re fun nonetheless.  Runners World had a funny blog post about them a few months ago.  I’ll have to go back and try to find it.  Well Cherry Blossom photos are available, but it looks like they only captured one of me.  I could have sworn I saw that camera multiple times, especially at the end, but oh well.

I ran 12 miles yesterday.  That went well.  And directly before I went to an “Injury Prevention Clinic” which was really more like a free 5 min consultation/advertisment for a particular sports doctor/facility.  After going through everything that I do to control my shin pain, he told me “well it looks like you’re doing everything already.” Duh.  He did suggest Active Release Techniques (ART) which is something that I would possibly be interested in if I could pull together the money.  And I need to do more research first.  He was trying to tell me to start therapy now before Pittsburgh half in two weeks.  Yeah, probably not. 

I know this isn’t a foodie blog…trust me, it would be pretty boring if it was.  But I thought I’d share my dinner tonight because I was quite proud.  Fresh veggies + steak = kabobs! I was going to broil it but didn’t trust myself so I just stuck it in a pan instead.  It worked just fine.

Last thing: Good luck to everyone running in Boston tomorrow!!!

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Cherry Blossom 10 Miler- Part 1

I ran the Cherry Blssom 10 miler this past Sunday.  And it was amazing! I finished in 1:24:18 and am more than thrilled.  But first, a GIANT thank you to Lauren who transfered her bib to me.  I’m so hapy I was able to run and hopefully next year we’ll be able to race together.

I’ve had a pretty hectic week – lots of travel.  Since I was in Pittsburgh, I had planned on driving my mother to the airport so she could fly home to NY on Saturday morning and then I would head back to DC.  But breakfast went longer than planned and I started to worry that I wouldn’t make it back in time for the expo so Pete was nice enough to take my mother to the airport so that I could drive straight home.  Which worked out really well since Pete got home to Bethesda around 5pm, and I was able to go pick up my bib and t-shirt.

Saturday night I packed on the carbs.  I love eating the night before the race.  We made angel hair pasta with tomato sauce, garlic bread, and green beans.

I tried to go to bed early that night, but if anyone knows me they know I’ve got my sleep issues.  I went to sleep around 12:30, and woke up every hour on the hour.  It didn’t help that Pete was up until 4 am.  Which means Fox was up too.  We’re such night owls here.  Well I was out of bed at 5:20am, and since I laid out everything I needed the night before I got ready quickly.  Since Pete’s coming to the Pittsburgh Marathon in a few weeks he was off the hook for Cherry Blossom.  His sole responsibility was taking my picture (while he was half asleep in bed) before I left the house.

5:55 a.m. pre-race

I had planned on meeting up with my running group beforehand, but it was a bit chaotic once I stepped off the metro and I had a hard enough time finding the baggage check tent so it was pretty much out of the question to find my group.  Instead I settled into my Orange sectioned area and went into total focus mode.  I’ve competed in sporting events enough in my life to know how to go into a zone where you feel like you are the only person around.  So imagine my surprise when, in the middle of my meditation, I hear “Rory?” and turn to my left to see my childhood best friend – a girl who I haven’t seen in years!

To be continued….

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