Overcoming PTSD of injuries

Settle in kids. This may be a long one.

Lately, I’ve been trying really hard to come back.

In May, I found out the sharp cramp in my side was actually a torn abdominal muscle. My PCP did not do an x-ray like I suggested, and just thought it was a fluke, and it would go away with rest and muscle relaxers. It would be fine for a few weeks, then I’d push it a little harder, and would end up laid up in bed for a week or so. Of course, I still had to work, but I’d take a day off, or go to work, get the essentials done, then come home, take muscle relaxers and be in bed by 8pm.

Finally, in August; I decided there was still something wrong with me. I searched the area for an ortho- specialist who would work with abdominal (muscle) issues, and came up empty-handed. After much exasperation, I settled on going to our chiropractor (I went to him often when I was a gymnast and my mom still goes to see him. She has brought him fresh baked cookies at Christmas for the past 30 years). I trust him, which is big. But, more importantly, I thought he would be able to help.

Finally, I got the help I wanted

My first visit was a mixture of nerves and excitement. I was nervous he wouldn’t be able to help me. And I was excited that I may have finally found a solution. He met with me; we caught up about the past ten years (apparently my mom alluded to Dan and I getting married… Hopeful exaggeration I’m sure), and I jumped right in with my problem. I told him I want x-rays, I was sure I was dislocated something, or that I had a broken rib or something I hadn’t even thought of yet.

The x-rays came back as this: My left hip was all out of line, and had pulled my sacrum (your very lower spine) to the left. My upper back was being pulled right and down, pulling my shoulder out of line. The diagnosis was pretty clear- my body had been pulling itself apart, resulting in a severe ‘crunching’ of my right abdomen. I wasn’t getting full circulation to the area. Nerves and arteries were likely being pinched, causing extra pain on top of the pulled abdominal muscle(s). Basically, it would have never healed on its own.

He popped my shoulder and hip back into place, and did a little treatment on my upper spine (by your shoulder blades), and by my sacrum. He told me the plan was to see me weekly for a little while.

That night is hard to describe. I could feel my abdomen again. It felt like every breathe opened it up. I also felt a lot of pain. Your body gets used to misalignment, and being corrected hurts.

He urged me to run further and further each week. At first, I ran maybe a mile; afraid of pushing it too far.

Fear lingers, even through recovery

I am still afraid. Each time I run, I try to push it a little extra. But there is a wall I can’t push past. It keeps me from giving it my all. I am afraid that I will literally give it my all, and be left with nothing. Nothing meaning I will be laid up in bed for another week or two.

I’ve added strength training. But I can only do it once per week. I often ‘don’t have time’… The truth is I’m afraid when the strength training hurts. I really can’t feel it my body when I’ve pushed it too far. So I back off quicker. I don’t always complete a workout (which makes me feel weak- mentally and physically). I am learning to accept this, but it is a hard struggle.

This summer, I was pretty depressed about my injury. I had to choose between doing a 10-min run or hanging out with friends, because I knew a run would put me out for the day. I wouldn’t be in ‘a little pain’, but the kind of pain where sitting up hurts. Holding a conversation with people, laughing, leaning forward; all of it put in pain. So I would stay in. I lost a little bit of the vitality that makes me who I am.

I was so mad about it. I was mad that Dan was forced to be around me when I never wanted to go anywhere or do anything. Like I was a rock, weighing him down. I’d get mad at myself for getting upset about it. I’ve learned to just live the hand you are dealt.

The good news is

I’m done with all that. I have acknowledged I have been experiencing chronic pain. There are good days and bad days. My good days are getting better and better, and are more often. My bad days are fewer; and although they upset me, the pain isn’t as bad as it was over the summer. I’ve owned up to the fact that the muscle relaxers help me on the bad days. They keep me still and tire me out, which helps my body heal. I am not weak because I choose to stop a workout, or take muscle relaxers, or go to bed at 9pm to ensure extra sleep. I am healing, I am getting stronger; all of it is necessary to get there.

So the most recent update-

The most I’ve ran since April is 2.95 miles, which I did on September 19 (and celebrated with Dan and Dave, pizza and beer). It was at a 10:22 pace, which is a lot slower than my former 3-mile pace, but I was able to complete it; so it was a day of celebration.

Last week, I ran 6 miles total; broken over 3 separate runs, and I swam ~20 mins one night. For the most part, I felt okay; good even. That is very different than June/July. celebration.

My work schedule is a little chaotic (working til 7 or 8pm), so this week is less than last week.

Overall, my goal is to complete 5 miles (running without stopping), within the next month. I plan to do the Ridgewood Turkey Trot (5 miles) no matter what this year. I may have to walk some, and will probably finish a LOT slower than in years past, but I will finish it. celebration.

If by February, I can’t run a decent long run (8-10 miles), I will defer the Rock ‘n Roll Raleigh’s inaugural year. As it is, I’m not crazy; I plan to drop down to the half. I am hoping that I can slowly build over the next few months, and begin ‘training’ in the new year.

So that’s my injury story. I’ve been avoiding writing about it. Partly because it makes me sad. Partly because I’m still in the middle of it. Partly because it had consumed my life for the past six months, and I didn’t want to give it any more power over me. But I needed to write it. This is one of those ‘blogging for me’ moments.

And anyone who reads down this far, run a little extra/ push a little extra for me. Because I can’t, but so badly want to. Set your goals a little higher than your comfort zone.Ā  I’ve always ran because I work with people who inspire me. Their health made it hard for them to dream of completing a marathon, so I ran with them in mind. It’s very strange for me to be on the other side now, even if its temporary…

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my apologies… and food porn! (aka Charleston)

running, beer, girly things, and food porn…

If anyone is offended by the use of the term “food porn”, please excuse me- it’s just pictures of food. No food was wasted during my weekend excursion to Charleston (though I did kill it several times…)

So in looking back, my last post was in August. I have been busy, but the truth is I also needed a break from egocentrism. In August, I was super busy with work and had just moved. We were finishing up our third round of recruitment (enrolling new participants), and ended up with 22 great new people. But, that means a lot of paperwork to finally file and preparations (including contacting each person to ensure they are ready for randomization). My work has somewhat consumed me.

And in August, when I wasn’t working, I just wanted to lay around our apartment and not do anything. When I did have energy, I squeezed in a run (or strength training). Did you notice I said our place? Dan and I moved in together in July, and have been living in sin for the past two months. It’s actually been great, aside from the sleep deprivation– he has two cats, and I have my own cat. That’s three cats in a 2-bedroom apartment, and is two too many, in my opinion… So, the first few weeks, we got very little sleep.

Then, September came. The first weekend, Dan had a triathlon out by the beach. We stayed the luxurious Langston’s Motel at White Lake, NC on Friday night. White Lake is like the rural ‘hood. No, I am not kidding. It’s all countryside, and “there’s nothing around here”, then BAM! 10 trailer parks and 10 motels, all lakeside. But, I won’t ramble about that. We later went to the beach and stayed in Wilmington. It was a great, relaxing weekend- my first one of the summer.

For everyone else, August meant the end of summer; but for me, it meant my vacations were just beginning. I have a little lull until November, then it’s rush mode again until March.

My injury update- I started seeing my Chiropractor (Dr Stephen Saleeby in Raleigh– North Hills area) Aug 20. My left hip was way out of line, and my right shoulder/upper back was out of line, causing a pinching of my right abdomen. This was the cause of the continual abdominal strains and re-injuring. He said it would have never fixed on its own, and just would have continued to get worse and worse. So he straightened me out, and I have seen him four times. I have gotten up to as many as 3 miles, with strength training of about 30 mins/week. I even did yoga this weekend. I still have “good days” and “bad days”, but my bad days aren’t as bad, and my good days are more often. It’s still very slow, because I basically had been like that for 3-4 months before treatment began. He thinks there was likely a lack of circulation and some temporary neurosis in the area (nerve damage) from the pinching. I feel like, for the first time in 6 months, my abdomen is getting oxygen again. It’s a weird feeling too. But enough on that! I want to talk about my good eats in Charleston!

Sep 12-15 we went to Charleston.

Day 1

My coworker sent me a travelzoo link before we headed out with a major discount on a hotel in downtown for Thur night. So, we headed down to Charleston around sunset Thursday.

We made our way to STARS (a rooftop bar in the Upper King St area of Charleston). It was a very relaxed environment, completely unpretentious, even though they had delicious and innovative cocktails. I got a Hibiscus Mint Shandy (my namesake hehe). A Shandy is a cocktail that mixes beer with juice and usually adds a shot of something as well. The most popular Shandy is probably a Snakebite (half spiked cider and half lager). The Hibiscus Mint Shandy was delicious- a fresh lager, with a hibiscus-pomegranate mixture with fresh mint. It was like a delicious mojito met up with a beer enthusiast and made some sweet sweet love! We then made our way to the Grocery.

Cannon St, in Upper King St district of Charleston, SC

Cannon St, in Upper King St district of Charleston, SC

We were a little tipsy, from our 2-3 drinks at STARS, and lack of food. Our reservations were a tad on the late side- 8:45pm- but ended up being perfect timing. The Grocery was a quaint little restaurant. Scratch that- it was pretty big- but somehow kept that small-restaurant feel. I started off with the Gem Lettuce salad, and Dan with a late-season tomato salad. Meh, they were good (nothing life-altering). Then our entrees came. I ordered the Roasted Amberjack, served over a bed of hominy, crowder peas, and a green tomato relish. Nothing about that sounded bad.

IT WAS HANDS-DOWN THE BEST FREAKING FISH I HAVE EVER FREAKING HAD!

Seriously. It was life-changer. I will always compare fish to this fish. It was cooked perfectly- moist, and crumbly/ flaky with the fork. It was perfectly seasoned- enough to be interesting, but not so much to distract from the flavors of the fish itself. I can’t remember (nor do I care) what Dan had. Mine was so good, I don’t think I offered him a bite.

The dessert finished off with a delicious nutella brownie a la mode, topped with coffee ice cream and hazelnuts. It was really good. Nothing too inventive- but how could you ever go wrong with nutella?! Let me clarify- more inventive than myself, but nothing that didn’t sound good on paper as well.

Day 2

We started the day by walking from our hotel to Toast! for breakfast. Toast! came highly recommended, and we thought it was nearby. A 45-minute walk later, we were finally there. Thankfully, it was September, and about 65 degrees outside, which was perfect. Dan ordered the Eggs Benedict and I ordered the Eggs Meeting Street. [side note: In WIlmington, I had the Dixie Eggs at Dixie Grill- a fried green tomato on a biscuit, with poached eggs and gravy on top. It was delicious, and I want to recreate it at home…] We skipped the bottomless Mimosas because we planned to walk around all day. The bottomless mimosas are an attraction at Toast! ($12).

I'm not good at close-ups.

I’m not good at close-ups.

I stalked some tourists to get a normal picture of us

I stalked some tourists to get a normal picture of us

We then walked through the open market, walked down the bay, then walked back to the hotel. We decided it was a gorgeous day, so we hopped in the car and went to Folly Beach. It was gorgeous. The water was perfect- just a few breakers, then enough to keep you on your toes while lounging in the water. Around 3, we decided to head back to the hotel.

(and Dan's hairy leg)

(and Dan’s hairy leg)

We had 9:30pm reservations of FIG. Everyone said FIG was a must, so I (begrudgingly) agreed to a past-my-typical-bedtime dinner. We thought it would be nice to hang out in Charleston until our reservations. We grabbed a cab and got to downtown around 6pm. It had poured in late afternoon (after we left the beach), and the rooftop bar we wanted to go to only had wet seats available. So, we went to a fancy pants italian place and had a couple beers and bruschetta. We decided fancy pants bar was past its expiration for us, and we headed down Meeting St, and stumbled into a wine bar. I attempted to slow down, drinking a glass of red very slowly.

It didn’t matter. By the time 830pm rolled around, Dan was hungry and I was tipsy. So we did what any good foodie does- we ordered another round, and started talking shit about everyone around us. Oh, wait. That was just me shit-talking. To be fair, if you wear a delicate ivory lace strapless dress, don’t let your black bra hang so far out someone could undo it, and expose you. Just saying. And no, it wasn’t barely hanging out. It was hanging out in the front. Home girl could have looked down, noticed it was out and pull it up. But she didn’t. I bet she thought it was cute.

Around 9:00pm, we started anxiously asking for the tab, finishing our drinks, and mapping out how far FIG was from Social (the wine bar we went to- btw I liked it).

"Food Is Good"

“Food Is Good”

And we were off! Into the dark night. Cutting down alleyways for the quickest possible way to FIG. We were hungry, and I had skipped the drunk stop, and was just in sleepy town.

We were so excited about FIG. Everyone said it was the place to GO in Charleston. We rolled up to the restaurant around 930, and were seated almost immediately. They offered us a drink, we declined, and inquired about a bed, and then decided on the tomato tatin tarte.

Best decision of my life!

Scratch that- OUR lives. Both Dan and I agreed- that was the best part of our trip- that appetizer. It was a creamy heirloom tomato mixture. I really have no idea how they made tomatoes so tasty (I love tomatoes, and this was the best tomato dish I have tasted. That’s like one of the Kardashians saying he was the most beautiful black man ever). And it came with a creamy, goat-cheesy-mozzarella-like dippy-mixture on the side. DEE-F***ing-LISH-US! It was seriously one of the best things I have ever tasted in my life. Seriously. Like, I went home and googled how to make it, and gave up, deciding I would only fail if I tried. That’s how freaking good it was. I probably could have just said to the waitress “Keep ’em coming” and filled up on tomato tatin tarte all night.

Anyway, so I ordered the fish dish- Red Puggy or something. It is cooked well, and executed well. But it sat on a salsa that was lacking flavor and complexity (in my opinion). I don’t want to make it sound bad at all. It was really good. But nothing compared the Grocery’s fish from Thursday night’s dinner.

Then, came dessert. I honestly think I was asleep with my eyes open. We got coffee, but it was too hot for me to down, and I needed more than a few sips to keep me awake at that point (it was about 1030pm, after a day of walking around, spending time in the sun, and about 4-5 drinks, and you know what, Grandma goes to sleep around 930pm. I own that!)

Dessert was amazing (or so I heard). No, seriously, I just had to look it up- because I forgot what we had. And, it was delicious. I was just that tired, and basically I fell asleep in my dessert. One dessert (which Dan said was his favorite of the weekend) the Sticky Sorghum Cake (topped with cinnamon ice cream). I vaguely remember wanting to snuggle that cake hard, but can’t really accurately remember the flavors. The other was a Torta Caprese (amaretto ice cream with caramel on top, and a cookie or something underneath).

We immediately got a cab, and were grateful to get to bed as soon as we got into the hotel room.

Day 3

By this point, we had walked around most of the North and West end of Charleston. We had walked by a place called Glazed, and made a mental note of it. Dan sprung alive in the morning, declaring we were going to Glazed. If you know anything about Dan, he doesn’t typical spring, jump, run, or anything else until afternoon, so it was pre-designed- we were going to Glazed. I bet that fatty even dreamt of it Friday night.

Glazed is ah-may-zing! (I linked to their menu because it is truly food porn). No, seriously. If you like anything sweet, go there. If you do not like anything sweet, I venture to change your mind: Go to Glazed in Charleston. We were cautious, getting two doughnuts each (caramel-covered apple and mocha for me, Apple Bacon fritter and something else– I forget– for Dan). My caramel covered apple was delicious! It was like an apple pie in the middle, doughnut around it, and a caramel-apple icing drizzled across the top. So moist and just great. The mocha was great too, but my apple was smack your mama good! And one of the best things was being able to watch them prepare the doughnuts right before your eyes. We could have killed more, but I think this was the one time I didn’t even offer any of mine to Dan, and ate it all, then asked if he wanted a bite (as I was swallowing the last of it). I inhale doughnuts like I want a bigger ass overnight.

Hungry yet?

Hungry yet?

God, thinking about Glazed, I can’t even remember what else we did on Saturday. I have a doughnut problem…

Oh! We went over to Fort Sumter, the beginning of the Civil War; where we were educated about how the South didn’t surrender to the North at Fort Sumter. They actually abandoned Fort Sumter and headed for Columbia, SC.

an old man saw me struggling for a couple-selfie, and offered to take this one for us.

a man saw me struggling for a couple-selfie, and offered to take this one for us.

because a tour of a fort wouldn't be complete unless you pretend to fire a howitzer (imho)

because a tour of a fort wouldn’t be complete unless you pretend to fire a howitzer (imho)

We then went back to the hotel, to get ready for our (first) appropriately timed dinner reservation- 6:00pm- at The Ordinary. I got all fancy. I curled my hair, wore heels, and a pretty dress my old college roommate gave to me. I’ve gained a little bit of weight since I’m not running as much, and this dress now fits PERFECTLY! I felt like the most beautiful girl in the room (in the whole wide room).

Anyway, it was perfect weather. My dress flowed in the wind. It felt very romantical. The Ordinary was basically across the street from The Grocery (where we went on Thursday night), and in the same neighborhood as Glazed. It’s in an old bank, and we got a table upstairs, where it was a little quieter, with just a few tables- maybe 5 or 6 tables; which had a view of the downstairs. We started off with lobster ceviche (fancy pants!), and one of each of the 6 different oysters. They came with four different sauce options- horseradish, red wine vinaigrette, a watermelon blend (which was a great complement to the oysters surprisingly enough!), and something else that they traditionally serve that I didn’t try. The lobster ceviche was good too. We had beer, so I felt more at home than the fancy cocktails at other restaurants. I felt like I could order a PBR in that dress, and still be classy. I just felt in my element Saturday night. Dan and I meshed well- just laughing and enjoying ourselves.

The Ordinary is an oyster bar. They have plenty of small plates and large plates- hot or cold, oysters, seafood towers (wish we had more people to order one of those), and sides. Most of the options on the menu sounded good honestly. It was that perfect restaurant situation- there are so many good options, it takes a while for you to narrow it down. We ordered the Amberjack schnitzel (which was really just lightly breaded and pan-fried, and came with two sauces). One of the sauces was delectable; and one sauce we avoided at all costs (it was green and tasted weird). Dan and I laughed as we watched each other try to scrape it off. šŸ™‚ The fish was still amazing, and a great portion to share (about 8-10 oz of fish). We also ordered fried okra, because when in Charleston… I would certainly go there again, with more people and basically order “one of everything!”

And then, there was dessert. I thought this place had the best dessert, but I think that’s because I was awake for it. We couldn’t remember everything our waiter went over, but something chocolate and something blueberry stuck out in our minds. Turns out it was a flourless chocolate torte (with hazelnut ice cream or something… I don’t exactly remember, but I almost licked the plate to finish) and a lemon-blueberry custard/parfait. Dan stopped eating the desserts, saying he was full. So I grabbed it and was double-fisting the desserts when our waiter next dropped by the table- chocolate deliciousness a fork in my left hand, parfait cup in my right. Whatever. It was good, so I wasn’t ashamed.

[Besides, I like big butts and I cannot lie…]

It seemed far too early to head home, and the sun was just setting, so we popped over to STARS for our final sunset in Charleston. It was gorgeous. And after a great night, we went back to the hotel, to get to sleep at a normal hour. Hominy Grill was set for the morning. And we didn’t want to miss that.

Day 4 (final day)

We got up, waited until 9am, and headed over to Hominy Grill (they open at 930am, and we were hungry so we wanted to get there around opening time).

Hominy Grill has some significance… When we did the Palmetto200, our van got up and crushed an entire table at Hominy Grill. I remember it as super delicious, and can’t help but think of Bruce’s inner 40-something-year-old-fat-woman asking for dessert everywhere.

bartender: “And what will you have to drink tonight?”

Bruce: “You got a dessert menu?… Thanks!” (then to the group) “Alright, who’s ready to pound some desserts with me. They’ve only got 5! …c’mon… Chandi, you’re a tiny lil’ thing. you should really eat something…”

Hominy Grill

So, this trip, we were finishing it off with Hominy Grill. We got there in perfect timing, and were escorted to our seats immediately. Dan ordered the Big Nasty (again), and I ordered a tomato omelette, which was delicious! We restrained ourselves from ordering dessert, as we felt bloated from the weekend. We made our way down to the Battery to walk around a little, I got a Charleston mug to add to my collection, and we got in the car and headed back to Raleigh.

We rode the vacation high for a few days before reality set in.

And that’s it for this time…

welcome back Friday

Oh, hey there weekend. Its been too long since we hung out.

The past few weeks have been chaotic. This week was no exception. I worked 9-12 hours per day Mon-Thurs. And I always look forward to Friday– worst case scenario, I work a 8-hour shift; but I never stay late on Fridays. Okay, maybe “never” is harsh, but it’s like a religion, you just don’t do it.

“Welcome back” is two-parts. (1) Is because it feels like it has been far too long since I’ve seen Friday, although I know that is physically improbable, and (2) I went for a “normal run” last night. I realized on Monday night’s intervals, that I haven’t just ran 3 miles (easy pace) in the LONGEST time. Intervals/speed are rewarding for me. I love knowing that I only have to maintain a super-fast pace for 30 seconds to 2-minutes, then I get to rest (walk, jog, whatever I need to do to recover).

So, I ran. No expectations I never have “no expectations”… I was expecting to run a decent 9:30 pace, but knew I’d probably shoot for my normal 9:00, probably push it a little hard, and ruin any plans for the night by getting high on my muscle relaxers. I have a prescription. I swear it’s not a problem…

Instead, I maintained a 10:22 pace for 2 miles in 100-degree weather. Then another 0.5 to round things out on the air conditioned treadmill. Treadmill felt so much better. Outside the air was hot and sticky, and my abdomen cramped, and breathing was labored. Inside it was easy to maintain a 9:30 pace. But that’s besides the point.

I walked back to my apartment, stretching along the way, and popped open a Dos Equis (leftover from a Mexican/taco night Dan and I had a few weeks back). Drinking my beer during my shower (yes, sometimes I do that), I waited for the pain and tightening to set in. It kind of didn’t.

Dan and I went to sushi. I got four rolls for myself (see picture below). Ate all of them, and my stomach hurt from the swelling. But it was delicious.

20130720-175232.jpg

And my Saturday started. This morning began at 630am (What can I say? I get up early now). Dan and I drank our coffee. Then went for a swim. I got some great coaching- bend my arms more and keep my head low, just twisting it slightly. I completed 10x25m laps, then a few more (6?) 50m laps before someone else wanted the lane. Dan did a mile or so., in 30:00 (typical). I wanted to do more but we didn’t have time. But I felt great! I still believe I’m a natural swimmer. I just have to get it back again šŸ™‚

So happy packing Saturday to me now…

sometimes I swim…

Since my injury, I decided I need to do more cross-training. Though I said it passively, I actually mean it. Whenever you are injured, you take a long look at what you have been doing and, more specifically, what you’ve been doing wrong.

Dan goes to the pool every week or two (more often lately). And I’m a little jealous. I am a bit of natural swimmer. I learned how to swim before I learned to talk. No exaggeration! My parents had a swim instructor come to our house since we had a pool, and by the time I was 2, I could successfully tread water and knew the basics.

Growing up, I was a gymnast, but in the summer “off” season, I did swim team as well. I laugh at calling it the “off” season, because I’d spend 8am-12pm on gymnastics (sometimes more, if the coaches would put up with me, until 1pm). Then went home, ate lunch, and went to swim practice from 3pm-6pm, followed by extra swimming/diving/playing on the swingset/etc.

Though I was a decent swimmer, I lacked the serious effort to get faster. I just improved my technique to the point that I could successfully swim a straight line, which in elementary school/ middle school, meant you could place relatively easily. I always had issues with breathing, so the back stroke was my baby.

So, now that you have the picture of my fish roots [That’s just silly; fish don’t have roots! :)], onto my desire to get back into swimming.

Ladies, I think we can all admit- swimmers are hot. They have nice, sculpted shoulders/back/arms… Who doesn‘t want that?

This weekend, I was committed. I went to Omega Sports, and about 20 suits later, found one I really liked. I am not kidding- I tried on about 20 suits. Last time I was in a suit, I was a 26-28. The sizing charts suggested I’d be a 28-32, depending on the brand. Speedos were cut horrible for me (high cut in the neck, but too “skinny”, leaving more side boob action then I’d like…), and Nike’s lacked structure. I found a favorite with the TYR Durafast style. Size 34? Shit! I’ve forgotten already. [Whatever. It worked]

As soon as I got home, I tried it on and stared in the mirror, moving and flexing to make sure everything stayed in place as it should… I tried to imagine how it would move in the water, and it was official- I had to test it out!

Dan texted, saying he was headed to the pool; and I basically begged him to allow me to piggy-back. I was embarrassed to think it had been ~10 years since swimming laps. He also has an extra pair of goggles and some swim caps.
(Yes, I used a swim cap; chlorine is really bad for your hair, especially if it’s dry, long, or fine)

Basically, this is what I looked like (choking on water not shown)

Basically, this is what I looked like (choking on water not shown)

As we were parking, I got so nervous. I really was thinking OMG, what if I forget how to swim? Or I am going to push off the wall, and just when I pop up, inhale water instead of exhaling! Basically, I knew I’d look stupid.

Dan picked our lane (it was a little busy, so we shared a lane). Dan jumped straight in, put on his goggles, and dropped under the water to get wet. Meanwhile, I sat down, and then slid into the water; tried to put on my goggles while treading water (next to impossible… how did I do that as a kid?!), and decided I was annoyed that we were right in front of the lifeguards… They’d probably kick me out for being too slow.

Finally, I kicked off for my first “lap” (25m lanes). In my head, I thought I’d count laps, and then see if I got any faster next time. My goal was 30 minutes. Dan eased through the water, letting his big arms and strong shoulders do all the work. I, on the other hand, rely on good form, and fast flutter kicking to slice me through the water.

My nerves only got worse as I realized HOW THE HELL DO I BREATHE?! I gasped for breathe, forgetting if I prefer left side over right, or if I was able to alternate (breathing every third stroke). Do I breathe in when I’m in the water, or (mouth full of water) nope, that’s not right. Definitely makes more sense to breathe IN when your mouth is in the air, and out through your nose UNDERwater… Okay, now with that figured out, have I been doing this on the right side or left? Okay, left…

And wall. Yep, that was all my thoughts on the first 25 meters. It’s lucky I didn’t drown. I treaded water at the wall, waiting for Dan to come back, and thought I’d keep up 1/2 of what he swims. And I was off again… Trying to get into a rhythm of breathing.

With each 25 meters, it felt easier. But I still had to stop in every 25 or 50 meters. When I was swimming, I was keeping a good strong pace. And I felt better when I looked through the water as Dan was crossing, and noticed he doesn’t really use his legs (Or as he puts it, Yeah, I look like Joe from the Family Guy. Joe is the neighbor in a wheelchair, who is totally jacked but is paralyzed from the waist down, in case you didn’t know that. It’s funny, because that is exactly how it looks. Above the water, just fine). Anyway, don’t let that sound like he can’t swim. He went close to a mile (my guess 1500m) in about 30 minutes– that’s pretty decently fast. And I couldn’t even remember when to breathe; so he wins easily.

So I went 30 minutes, and my best estimate is about 750m.

After about 15-20 minutes, my left arm started to get a little sore. Yep, hadn’t even gone that far; or that fast, or for that long, and my arms were getting sore. That’s how weak my upper body is.

The pool in my neighborhood has a hot tub, so Dan and I are going there this weekend (hot tub after a good swim is the best!). I may try to go a different day this week as well.

I am just excited, because I’ve been steadily increasing my mileage again; running as much as 2-3 miles straight at a decent pace (as fast as 8:22/mile, as slow as 10:00), and feel stronger everyday. Still, swimming is calming, and I love trying new sports! Trying out swimming again is like returning to my childhood with a youthful spirit.

I ran 200s last night, outside. Every time I lace up my shoes to go outside, I get scared. I definitely am suffering from some post-traumatic-injury-stress. It keeps me from going too hard/ too far. I am hoping by the end of August, I’ll be able to run 6 miles on my “long” days, plus swimming, and yoga. This girl is cross-training! It’s much needed, and helps keep things new and interesting šŸ™‚

Happy Tuesday thoughts!!!

Sign up for motivation

I ran a mile Saturday. 8:53.

I ran a mile tonight. 9:12.

That’s more than I ran in May. And it made me think- there are a few things that push my recovery…

1. Writing about them. Knowing I have to ‘report in’ about my running progress makes me stick to it. So thanks to all my followers. And to all my friends, who have asked (with sincere hesitation and grimacing) if I’m running again. Both my running and non-running friends have asked how things are going. The first month was tough, and, honestly, some of the times I was brought to tears in thinking of my response. But they stuck with me, and continued to ask; because they had faith I’d declare ‘I ran 5 miles last week!’ (Still not there yet)

2. My Tuna team Knowing that I have a relay race in October keeps me motivated. It’s a relay, so my teammates are relying on me, and I don’t want to let them down. I am sure they would do just fine without my speed or distance (haha! As if I’ve ever been speedy), but I want to feel like I’m pulling my weight.

So moral of the day? If you lack motivation, sign up for something. Maybe a 5K. Maybe 5 months away. And slowly work up to it.

Happy Wednesday/ pre-fourth-of-July-four-day-weekend — Woo!

my review of run/walking

Here’s a hint: it sucks

I took Friday afternoon off. It was beautiful weather- 75 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze, so I took a ‘hike’ with running intervals. I want to keep up my endurance while I’m injured. I ended up using my iPhone, setting ‘slow’ intervals of 12-minutes, ‘fast’ intervals of 4-minutes.

Once I started, I decided 12-minutes slow was too long, so generally walked 10, ran 6. Which I was proud of šŸ™‚

My goal was to keep around a 12:30 pace. I chose Umstead for my hike, but didn’t think about all the hills.

My first ‘run’ intervals started a little way before a massive 400ft elevation gain over 0.5 miles. I dread that hill. It’s always brutal. But I managed to keep a 10:08 pace. And dropped to a walk at the top.

It was a great warm-up, and being able to run up that hill was a confidence booster. I hit that same hill (downward) at the end of a run interval. So I coasted, running the hill and finished the mile in a 9:11 (Woo! Likely with some walking)

Even walking was nice. It was pretty out there. And the biggest struggle I’ve had with my injury is learning to breathe normally again. I used my hand over my abdomen to ‘coach’ my body some. The last mile of this route is uphill as well, about a 200-300ft gain. I walked as fast I could, and finally had to run, and struggled to keep a 11:00 pace while running. But my body was tired. When I dropped to a walk, it was a 15:00 pace.

I totaled 6.12 or 10K in 1:15. Not too bad. I was really tired after. No, that’s fucking awesome! It’s the most I’ve ran/moved in more than 2 months! And my legs and lungs still work well!

On another note, my hair is getting light highlights from all my time outdoors, and my shoulders are getting nice and tan.

I’m tired today. I’ve also decided to call my hurt abdomen ‘Bob’. Bob woke me up around 530 this morning, very angry. But I took a muscle relaxer and wanting Bob to Pipe the FUCK down! (Jenna Marbles shout out)

Today is a drag queen derby race in Raleigh, with an Alice in Wonderland theme. I am excited for it. And hoping I can drown Bob before he butts in with his rudeness to ruin the day.

Happy weekend everyone (and Good morning)

getting it back! (plus a tribute to dad)

This weekend was awesome! Friday ended up being a spontaneous date night. Saturday was fun with friends, and we managed to fit in a lot of stuff in the day. And Sunday was a great, family-fun-filled-with-the-Quigleys Fathers Day.

I was coordinating everything. My sister-in-law and I planned to do a grilling party for my dad.I started it off with an early trip to the Farmer’s Market (9:30 is apparently the time to go– it’s not hot yet, and no one is really there). They were just setting up, but I managed to get a squash and zucchini from a lady who apparently had a long Saturday night out; and saw eggplant that caught my eye. I talked to the farmer a bit, and decided on a Ghostbuster eggplant (it’s white, and apparently sweeter. We decided it tasted like a cross between a portabello mushroom and squash). The same farmer also had nice looking tomatoes and onions (fixins’ for the burgers). I walked out the door, spending $6. Then, I headed to target for last minute items, and decided I needed another onion, lettuce, and peppers. $6 at Target.

no filter used

I felt so great, I decided to go for a real run. First one since my injury in April. As in, outside! I was scared, to say the least, but didn’t tell anyone; as I might have to turn back after 0.5mi, and I didn’t want to injure my pride as well.

I went as slow as I humanly could, to allow my stomach to ease into it. I figured a mile out-and-back would be perfect. And ran 1.0mi in 10:30something; turned around, ran another minute or so, then had to drop to a walk, as I could feel my abdomen tightening up (precursor to injury/pain). I walked a couple minutes, then ran a few minutes. My legs were fine, my lungs were fine. I just never realized how hard it is to breathe when your abdomen is injured. I got my breathing back to easy again in my abdomen, and ran for about 5 minutes, before dropping to a walk, with a final a sprint, then walked a bit more. My second mile was 12:00 or so. Which I will take. Hey, it’s the most I’ve ran in two months, If I increase a mile or so each run, I’ll be back to normal by August/September.

So, shower, and back to putting together all the plans for Dad (btw, he’s the best dad if you haven’t gotten that. He is so much a part of me I think I know what he is thinking or feeling). So, we put together a beer/ice bucket of items for Father’s Day. I figured this was the best way for everyone to contribute as much or as little as they wanted. Here’s my first day of finds… (I didn’t get a final picture, but my brother and I had to wrap the apron and tie it up to keep everything from falling out)

The first day of finds... (I didn't get a final picture, but my brother and I had to wrap the apron and tie it up to keep everything from falling out)

We added and added– marinades, rubs, even a pepper and onion, a skewer holder (see picture below), LED thermometer (a “pager” goes off when your meat is at the desired temperature), cedar planks, pork chops, chicken and beef for kebobs, PLUS we brought the food and prepared all the food for the day. And, Dan wanted to contribute, so we grabbed a 6-pack of Mother’s Weeping Willow Wit (which was a crowd pleaser) and his Bocce ball set.

Dan and I got there about 4pm, and my dad proudly showed off their new patio area, including a fire pit (they recently landscaped/renovated their back yard. It was a three-month project of chaos and mayhem. It prompted my Let’s plan something outside, as it was completed about 2 weeks ago). My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew showed up a little later, around 5pm. Mason had a little crying fit when he first got there, but once we took off his onesie, he was much more happy and comfortable.Ā Aren’t we all happy when we’re naked? Everyone joked, telling Dan he needed to keep his shirt on… Not sure where that joke started, but it hasn’t ended yet šŸ™‚

We presented our gift, and quickly lit up the grill, and Dan and I got things kicked off. My dad didn’t want to do a thing for the day (despite the awesome BBQ apron which declared he was “Just Chillin & BBQ Grillin”).

zucchini and squash (marinated in a basil vinegarette), onion, and peppers.

zucchini and squash (marinated in a basil vinegarette), onion, and peppers.

Dan and I put the veggies on skewers inside with my brother. We didn’t realize how sharp the skewers were, and decided this was not kid friendly. Notice the black “box” the skewers are on? It holds the skewers so they don’t get stuck to the grill, and burnt on one side/ raw on the other. You just slowly turn them, above the flame (we set the grill on low and it took about 20 minutes). Best under $10 gift I’ve gotten!

we're so cute ;)

we’re so cute šŸ˜‰ Grilled ghostbusters for appetizer!

Dan has been deemed “Grill King”, and will have to grill every time he is over now šŸ™‚ Burgers were Perfect! And this is coming from a girl who doesn’t eat burgers.

fathersdayspread

The Quigley spread, complete with a half naked Quigley because that’s just how we roll…

I guess we were all starving. We started eating the burgers before even getting to our chairs… Again, it’s just the way my family is. After dinner, we played with Mason. He’s only 4 months old, but is basically the size of a 9-month-old (no exaggeration; he’s 29″ in length, and almost 19 lbs). He wants so badly to run. Every time you hold him, he kicks his legs, like hey! let me loose! We finally managed to get a (grainy) picture of me and the little guy.

love this little guy

love this little guy

finally functioning!

It has been a long time. And as much as a lot has happened. Most of this was me like this–

sleep

And heavily medicated on muscle relaxers. I essentially pulled (possible tore?) my abdominal muscle, which put me out for like 3 weeks, where I basically was lying down as often as possible. And working a 8-hour day was difficult. For 2-3 weeks, I was either in pain or medicated and in a daze.

I didn’t see friends. I don’t remember much of the first couple of weeks of my injury. It’s kind of all a blur.

My doctor cleared me to run, and I wasn’t sure about it, but I wanted to run. So I ran. The first time was successful. I took more muscle relaxers (in case my body spasmed again) for the next couple days and tried again. Try #2 was painful. In fact, I think I re-injured myself and had to start from scratch.

So, I just stopped moving all together. I told myself I’d wait until I had no pain for a week or two before trying again.

And this month has been busy. When I haven’t been working, I’ve been sleeping. Pretty much.

Saturday, I went father’s day shopping. And was just feeling great. My apartment complex got new gym equipment (3 new ellipticals, that looked nice and a new treadmill that I tested out and I like). So, I decided to go elliptical style at the gym; 20 minutes. If I felt good, I’d jump on the treadmill. So I did 20 minutes on the elliptical with 50% workload, then feeling great, hopped on the treadmill.

I did 0.5 miles in about 4:00 (starting at a 8:30 pace, and knocking down to a 7:00 pace), all feeling like I could do for another 3-4 miles. But, I didn’t. I know I will be coming back slow. No worries šŸ™‚

And I may try it again tonight (or maybe tomorrow, since I work til 8 tonight).

But, still alive. Kicking. Literally, and metaphorically; and making my comeback (though a marathon may be out of reach in 5 months…)

road to recovery, paved with doubt and detours

Thursday was rough.

[I have a muscle spasm in my abdomen- on my stabilizing ab muscle (transverse abdominus)- which doing anything but lying down aggravates the muscle]

So, Thursday- I started writing this long woe is me, my life sucks, I’m in pain, etc. post. But, I figured I’d wait til I saw the doctor Friday to post anything…

Flash forward to the doctor visit– She consulted with the head doctor regarding my injury. I always get these rare injuries, which are hard to diagnose. Like my hip- in 2011- it wasn’t a muscle tear, or a fractured femoral neck, or even ITBS (IlioTibial Band Syndrome). Nope, my hip was tilted out of line. Who gets that? I do!

So my doctor consulted with the head physician, who advised her to think of horses, not zebras. Any time you have abdominal pain, they have to check for everything… Like EVERY-FREAKING-thing. She decided it was likely musculoskeletal, since the muscle relaxers seem to be helping. But she also mentioned that if it didn’t go away, to call her; they would test my liver function and my spleen, as those organs are in the area which I describe the pain.

She told me to continue to take my muscle relaxers as I have been, and to take the ibuprofen (I stopped taking it on Monday- it messes up your stomach lining unless you take it DURING a meal, and I kept forgetting while I was eating). She also told me to run.

Say what, miss thang?!

I know, that was my reaction too!

You want me to do the one thing guaranteed to make it hurt? I don’t know…

She must have picked up on my hesitation, because she then went from “Maybe a long run?” to “a long walk with some running as a test”… I could agree to that, knowing I had plenty of the trusty muscle relaxers if that sharp, shooting pain came back

So, yesterday I ran. I won’t lie. I was not looking forward to it. I was really afraid my muscle will act up, and I would end up doubled over in pain all weekend long. But, I think her logic is that I’m not going to stop running completely. If we believe it happens during a run, then I need to test that hypothesis.

So I walked 0.5 miles to my gym, and then ran a mile on the treadmill. I started out slow- 9:41 pace, as I was nervous. I got settled into that pace and started hitting the front of the treadmill, so I kicked it up a little. Until I was at 8:49, which felt comfortable. With 0.3 miles left, I wanted to push it and see how it felt. I got up to a 7:00 pace (8.5 mph). And then dropped to a walk. That mile was 9:17 which is my steady easy pace, so that was encouraging.

After walking for 5 minutes, I decide to run an additional 0.5 miles (at a 8:00 pace). I started to feel sore in my stomach, so I hopped off, calling it successful and walked back to my apartment.

My stomach was a little sore when I woke up this morning, but my doctor encouraged me to keep ‘moving’ when I could. So I went for a 2 mile walk. And am now laid up on my couch again.

It may take a while to get back up in the mileage, but I can run again (a mile is better than 0), which means I’m officially on my road to recovery.

Yay! Tiny celebration for a tiny step šŸ™‚

rest period. (or rest, period)

There are so many great reasons to keep a running log. Injuries are easy to track with a log. Miles on shoes are also easy to track. You are also able to reward yourself, by comparing month-month analyses of mileage/speed, etc.

I have kept a running log since 2008.

Yes that is a little obsessive. Yes, I am aware of the CRAZY factor. However, when I was injured in 2011, it was a lifesaver- I could say exactly when the problem occurred and what I had been doing the weeks before that lead up to it (a hilly 16-miler, two 10-milers back to back, hill repeats (4-5 miles), and trail running). I actually had kept a running log from 2007-2009, but when I switched computers, I forgot to transfer the file before my ex, who took my old computer, wiped it clean. I am not a hoarder of real things, but I am a digital hoarder. At work, I keep old versions of things and put them in a folder marked “old ____” because I am afraid I might decide I need the older version. Crazy? Yes, I know. But I digress…

My excel file tracks:

Daily Tab- date, miles ran, total time, average split time
Weekly Tab- week dates, miles per week, average split times of runs
Monthly Tab- last date ran, total number of runs, total miles per month, and any goals. This tab also includes a chart of month-to-month progress (miles per month)
The weekly tab has room for “notes” about each run. Generally this is blank, but if I was dehydrated (and could feel it), if I experienced any pain, went particularly fast, had a race, etc, I note it.

In looking back over my log, I noticed my abdominal “cramp” started in early March. Approximately a week after being sick (and still running, while sick. Remember this? Well, the verdict is in: it’sĀ  stupid).

So it took 6 weeks of a progressively more and more painful feeling to decide there was something wrong with me. I’d like to add the pain would only happen occasionally at first; then it was every run between mile 2-3 and would go away during the run; then it was every 1-2 miles during every run.

Last Tuesday was the worst pain yet. I was running with Dave and Sarah, and I was trying to fight through the pain to finish our simple 4 miles. We were probably 2.5-3 miles into the run, so I kept thinking I can make it to 4 miles. Sarah finally told me to stop running, as she could see the pain on my face. I stopped, defeated, and keeled over, grabbing my stomach in pain. We walked a bit, then I convinced myself the pain had subsided and I picked up to an easy jog. The pain was still there, but I wanted to get back to our end quicker.

This time, when I stopped running, the pain didn’t go away. It was a dull pain, but still a 5-6 on the pain scale (1-10). I went back home, showered, and it still hurt. I could barely get through two slices of pizza. I hardly slept because every position was slightly painful. I rolled onto my stomach at one point and it hurt a lot. I thought it felt swollen, but also thought that might have been just my hypochondria kicking in… šŸ™‚ I made an appointment for the first available time- Saturday morning. It still hurt Saturday morning, though the pain was getting more and more dull.

And the diagnosis was pretty simple- that pain is an abdominal spasm, most likely due to a pulled/strained tranverse abdominus muscle (it’s a muscle below your “6-pack” abs that kind of cushions your organs) or part of my diaphragm, such that heavy breathing causes the muscle to spasm (as I would experience when running). It is more common for people get these in their back than their abdomen.

The doctor sent me on my way, with a prescription for muscle relaxants and 800mg ibuprofen. Exciting right? I scheduled to follow up with her this Friday, and she will do an ultrasound, xray, and general follow-up to ensure there is no hernia or anything internally wrong with my stomach/diaphragm/ribs that could be restricting my airways.

I decided for myself that I am not doing any physical activity for 2 weeks after the pain is gone. The doctor agreed that is a good idea. So, for the first time in 5 years, I am going to take 2+ weeks off. It might put me behind in my training for Richmond, but I am waiting til July to see how off I am from where I’d like to be.

My body wants rest. It needs rest. So, I am taking a rest, period.