Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sometimes, things just work out...

"So bend to your trouble and meet your care,
For the clouds must break, and the sky grow fair.
Let the rain come down, as it must and will,
But keep on working and hoping still.
For in spite of the grumblers who stand about,
Somehow, it seems, all things work out."

From the poem: Things Work Out
By: Edgar A. Guest

Yesterday, I ran a 10K non-stop...I wanted to see how my knee would hold up. It got pretty hot as I was running and that wasn't easy, but the knee? No problem! It did good and I am thrilled (even my pace was back to pre-injury). When I got home, I decided I would try and go for a massage. I had the day off and the new running shoes and form is finding new calf muscles to torture, so why not take advantage. The first place I called, no answer (oh well, I wasn't crazy about her massage last time, so okay)...the second place I thought of, not opened on Mondays (hmmmm). Oh well, perhaps another day. Then as I was working on reports, my phone rang and it was one of my sister's-in-law, the one who is a massage therapist and who used to work with figure skaters and football players. Duh! I had not thought of her, probably because I rarely get massages and they're often at spas and the like. Well, YES, she had a free spot for me that afternoon at 4:30! When I got there, she asked me to lay on my back to begin because she always does "pressure therapy" on the legs while she works the neck and shoulders...YES, compression on my whole legs for at least 20 minutes...perfect! Then, she worked those leg muscles like they were playdoh and believe me, it felt great (after...not during...ouch). I can't believe I had this ressource right there in my figurative back yard and I never used it before. You can be sure I'll be going back...I mean, pressure therapy...wow! For those of you who don't know what that is, she puts these long boots on my legs, these cover the whole legs, and then air blows into the boot, squeezing my leg, alternating from one leg to the other. Like compression socks, but for the whole leg and warm. Loved it :)

So, sometimes, things just work out don't they...

Last, but certainly not least, today I graduated from physiotherapy. Joseph gave me my walking papers after testing my ability to adapt. That is, maintaining my 180 steps per minute, with varying speed and incline changes (not bad...definitely not perfect). He's happy with my knee and with my transition into the new minimalist shoes...and if he's happy, I'm thrilled! So, although he's reminded me that 42.2K is not like 21.1K...he's given me the go-ahead to keep training for my marathon. I promised to remain cautious and listen to my body...but Yay!! (remaining a little cautious)


Sunday, August 29, 2010


"It is not enough to take steps which may some day lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal and a step likewise."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thursday, I successfully completed my 12K run and for the first time since my knee injury, I was under 11 minutes per mile (10:56 to be exact)...my lungs were a little ticked off by the end, but my knee was definitely much better. Yesterday, I had 18K planned and considering I had felt some pain around the last 1.5K of a 15K run recently, I knew this was a good test for the knee. Before going on, I'd like to take a minute to thank Joseph, my PT, for his amazing support and advice...because, I ended up running 18.8K with no knee pain. YAY!! My calves are definitely tight due to the new running shoes and form, but they did good! The lungs are starting to do better and didn't give me a hard time either. Overall, an excellent and very encouraging run. My new running form is really starting to come together and feels more natural with each run. I'm able to maintain a 180 steps/minute cadence without thinking about it too much anymore and my foot strike is automatically mid-foot with my new shoes. This improved running form and cadence are what I gained from this injury...hopefully, these changes will help me avoid further and/or more serious injuries. I've also learned to respect the healing process and not try and push myself too much, too soon. Plus, I learned that cross-training needs to be balanced with the running and that overtraining is not the best way to get back from an injury.

Next weekend is the Montreal half-marathon and I am really looking forward to it! My brother and super sister-in-law are both running their first marathon and I am soooo excited for them! :)

Following that, the next few weekends will include longer runs than I've ever done before and will be the deciding factor in my decision to either go ahead with the marathon or scale down to the half for Niagara Falls...but, I'm feeling more and more confident ;)

I hope you're all having a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Asthma update: Sigh...

“Life is full of obstacle illusions.”
Grant Frazier

First, the knee is doing better and better despite increased mileage on my runs...although I remain cautious, I feel that I really am on the mend . YAY!!!
Not so fast lady!

Maybe it's because of hay fever season, who knows...but, the lungs are acting up these days. The good thing is that I've gone 140 days without prednisone and that's the longest I've ever gone since I first had to take it. The not so good thing is that tomorrow, we're back to square one as I must go on prednisone (hopefully, just for one week). It's a bit frustrating, but even when my lungs act up and I have to take this oral steroid I don't feel anywhere near as sick as I used to. Running has significantly improved my lung capacity, and consequently, my quality of life. SO, although tomorrow will be -7 days off prednisone...I have a 12K planned...now put that hand down and let me through...you can't stop me from trying! ;)

Monday, August 23, 2010

15K - Done!

"There is no one giant step that does it. It's a lot of little steps."
Peter A. Cohen

Just wanted to let you know that your happy vibes did the job and the next step has been taken. My 15K was a relative success. Yay! Relative as in I did it all, but the last 1.5K there was some knee pain. Not unbearable, but it was a good thing that I was almost done. I seem to be able to push just a bit more every week...we'll hope the trend is maintained. It's already been a little over 6 weeks that I first felt pain in my knee and it's been a rollercoaster of emotions.

I'm pretty sure you get it. Everytime I thought I was better, I'd have a mini-celebration in my mind. Of course, this made the return of the pain much more disappointing. So now, although I feel less pain and I can run longer, I am happy, but I am not jumping for joy and I remain cautious. Hopefully, it'll just keep getting better. I'm taking this one day at a time. Next week, I'm planning a 10K, a 12K and an 18K long run...and I'm feeling confident

In two weeks is the Montreal Half-Marathon for which I am registered. The plan is to run it as a training run. Not aiming for a PR, just a PA (personal accomplishment) :)


Friday, August 20, 2010

A few bits and pieces.

"Fail to prepare. Prepare to fail."
Roy Keane

My gym membership ends soon and, after three years, I have decided not to renew it. Most of the exercises I do, I could do at home. Also, my personnal trainer, Marjorie, has agreed to continue putting together my strength and core training programs for me. There is a spare room downstairs that has a partly mirrored wall and this will become our gym. We are also buying a treadmill soon, a must when you live in my part of the northern hemisphere. Yay!

This means we have to start getting a few pieces of fitness gear. Finally, here are the pieced of equipment that I chose:
We have the resistance tube and the ankle/wrist weights.

Lifting 8lbs and working my abductor.

The adductor now.
Please, do not look at my form for guidance, I was trying to look at the camera and so I got a little twisted :)

The resistance tube is great for stretching. I got the medium resistance tube, but I would suggest the heavy resistance.

I'm really excited to add these two pieces of fitness gear to my new home gym. 

Running update: I ran 10K yesterday and the knee and ankle did good. No ankle pain at all and only very mild and fleeting knee pain. I'm going to attempt a 15K long run on Sunday. Send happy knee vibes my way!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The journey continues...and good news.

"To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping." Chinese Proverb

Sunday, I decided to run the 12K suggested for the half-marathon training program. Worst case scenario, I would walk the remaining Ks if I started to feel pain. Mostly, I ran a 5/1 schedule and it went great. You have no idea how thrilled I was to run 12K.

Monday, I did my Tuesday workout...a 4K tempo run on the treadmill at the gym, and I had a great run. Songs that made me smile: "California Dreamin'" by the Mamas and the Papas...and "Sweet Madam Blue" by Styx :) ...I also realized that "Twist and Shout" by the Mamas and Papas is 180 beats per minute...I loved following the rythm.

This morning, I had a phone conversation with Melinda Hinson Neely, the author of Finding Life's Secret Sauce. Why did she call you wonder. You see, she's writing a book about first time marathoners and I have actually been selected as one of the runners she will be profiling in depth. I'm very excited to be part of this amazing book project! So, as I said, I was speaking with Melinda this morning and when I mentioned that my training program had five scheduled run days per week, she was surprised. Especially considering I also cross-train three to four times a week. "Hmmmmm maybe that's too much?" I thought. She suggested I speak with my PT about it.

So this afternoon, I had an appointment with my PT. First of all, my knee is doing better apparently...Yay! But, my left soleus (that would be a muscle on each side of the calf that hooks up to the heel)...is mildly inflammed. My ambitious transition to the new shoes was a little too quick and wasn't helped by my barefoot running on the beach. Oops. Joseph had warned me to be careful, but did I listen? Yes, I swear I was listening when he spoke! Was I careful enough? I guess not. I then asked his opinion regarding my training schedule. His reaction, "That's too much!" Note that we're talking about me here and that for some people, this would be fine. My brother, my sister-in-law and Uber H are all doing the same 5-day training program, but that's all they do, no specific cross-training...and they're all doing great! However, for me, all that is too much and not absolutely necessary. The plan is to take more rest-from-running days, but continue the cross-training. Basically, run at least three days a week, but make the weekday runs a bit longer. Also, because I plan on run/walking my marathon, he suggested that I run/walk all my training runs, not just my long runs (which is an option that is discussed in my program, but that I had never thought of actually doing).

Then I asked him THE question and this is what he said, "If you asked me whether you could run a half-marathon in October, I'd say absolutely no problem. But, you want to know if I think you can run a marathon in October and I say, it's doable for sure." Now THAT is the what I wanted to hear!!! :) So we'll see how things go. The possibility of doing a half and registering for a full later is not completely off the table, but I'm going to train smartly (I swear!) and hopefully...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ahhhhhhhh! and Ohhhhhhh!

"Find what brings you joy and go there."
Jan Phillips

First, the ahhhhhh. Spending a week by the beach was amazing. Some of you will have noticed that I even got a new header picture out of it. Here is a picture of our setup...
Our uber cool 1978 Westfalia :)

Perfect vacation reading!

Look at that beautiful beach...some areas were pretty much deserted...perfect.

Low tide...we can go right to the rock on the right.

It was a wonderful vacation with friends.

The best-laid schemes o’mice an’ men gang aft agley.’
Robert Burns

Now, on to the ohhhhh. My knee had been doing well, but then once again, as soon as I felt better, I pushed it too much. Running on a beach, when your knee is a little sensitive is not a good idea...just so you know! So, by yesterday, when I wanted to run my 10K...I couldn't do it. I had to stop at 7.3K and the pain was back. Week nine of marathon training starts this Sunday...that leaves nine weeks to train for a marathon. A first marathon at that. I'll be speaking with my PT on Tuesday and will see what he thinks, but I'm leaning towards doing a half in Niagara and registering for a full a few months later. Giving myself a little leaway. This is not a serious injury...there is no lingering pain and no swelling. So, I remain extremely confident that I will be able to run my first marathon some time over the next six months or so...I just have to figure out where exactly (maybe I can make it a winter vacation destination :)). I'm checking things out and if you have any ideas, feel free to share.

My goal!

Looking forward to checking out what everyone's been up to over the last week.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Vacation time again!

"A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in."
Robert Orben

And we're off! Camping all week by Popham beach in Maine...which means no computer. Note that, including tomorrow, I have reached 122 days without prednisone, which was my maximum number of days prednisone-free to date. I will be breaking that record, as my lungs are continuing to do great! YAY!!!

I will continue working on my knee (btw no pain today) and the transition to the new shoes will be complete in 5 days. I'll get some barefoot running on the beach in...plus, lots and lots of reading. Have a great week!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

PT - Next step!

"The elevator to success is out of order. You'll have to use the stairs... one step at a time."
Joe Girard

Love that quotation! Some of you may have noticed that I deleted my last post. When I reread it the next day I thought, "Who wrote this...and why?" It sounded like a neurotic attempt to maintain control over my marathon training. You see, I've spent many years of my life trying to remain "in control" and it is only when I got sick with asthma that I finally accepted that there are some things I can't control. I deal with adversity in the best way I can, but I can't control everything! I've learned to let go of those things I can't control, while taking charge of those things I can. Which brings me back to my last post (the one I deleted). Reading it reminded me of the "old" me, the one who tried so hard to maintain an illusion of control when faced with uncontrollable circumstances. I'm glad I wrote it, as rereading it gave me the kick in the butt I needed. So...here's the deal...I have an injury and it needs time to heal...TIME! Of course, there are things I can do, but I can not make time go faster...no, I can not control the passing of time. :)

My PT appointment was this afternoon and there's some interesting stuff to share about that. However, first I'd like to tell you about my morning run. This morning, I ran at the gym on the treadmill. I had my new shoes on. It was such a nice run, I was comfortable and I was totally enjoying myself...and when Celine Dion came on my ipod with "I Surrender" I did just that...and almost burst into song (almost :)). That's when I had this soothing thought, "I love running...even if it's only for 5K...if for some reason I can't run my marathon...I can still run and I can still love running!"

Then I had my PT appointment. I told him I thought I may have overdone it again last Sunday...he smiled knowingly "Let's check your knee then". He did his thing and it seems that of the three minor injuries, two are pretty much healed and only one is left (goosefoot tendon). He was very pleased with my new running shoes..."Perfect", he said. He then had me run on the treadmill with my new shoes. He liked. Then, again barefoot to compare. Once again, he liked, "I'm always impressed with how softly you run barefoot!" I'm pretty surprised everytime myself. However, although the new shoes are perfect for me and he's pleased with my running form in general, there is one thing that is not improving and that happens even when I'm barefoot sometimes.

See for yourself:


    On the left, bending my knees naturally, my right knee goes inward (photo taken in mirror, so knee on right side). On the right, me consciously placing my right knee straight. If you follow the line inside my leg, you can see how much straighter it is on the right.

Joseph explained to me that I need to make sure my knee is always straight if I want to avoid further injury, so I now have exercises to do (three times a day). First, is the regular knee bend, while looking in the mirror to be sure I am straight. Second, I need to balance on a block while raising my left leg, going through the running motion and making sure my right knee is straight (I can look in a mirror).

Back and forth 20 times!

Third, I am to do the same as above, but when my foot is in front, I don't touch down, but I jump off the block onto my right foot (landing first on the forefoot, then heel) and bending the knee, making sure it remains straight (20 times). Sometimes I fall off, but I'm getting better. Finally, the last thing is to go on a mini trampoline and do knee bends, initially I can stay in the bend for up to a minute. I must have my eyes closed and need to "feel" that my knee is straight. Once I've been in my knee bend for a few seconds, I am allowed to take a peek to make sure I am straight, but the point is to get me to feel it without looking.

According to Joseph, once I've corrected that and with my new cadence, running technique and shoes...I'll be able to run as many marathons as I want! I like Joseph a lot :) :)

So I'm just going to follow my schedule, not overdo it and not try to make time speed up. In a couple of weeks I should be pretty much on track and if that's the case...once again, who knows what my limit will be...perhaps the sky!