Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Running Demon Alert! Kidney Stones!!!

Ok, so if you run in the desert, you have to be really careful with the hydration. Just breathing with your mouth open can dehydrate you. So on any run 6 miles or more, I always carry a Camelpak and I have been good at that. On my 5 mile and shorter runs, I drink before I go and when I get back. And I haven't been really good at that. Add to that; when I am out and about at work or whatever, I am always ordering up a Diet Coke, not a bottle of water...

So after 1 and 1/2 years of this training stuff and clocking close to say - 1200 miles - would it surprise anyone that I created a kidney stone?!

Turns out my "bladder infection" and "back spasm" self diagnosis the day of the PFChang 1/2 were just a little off... I have a great friend that is Neuro Critical Care Nurse and smarter than most people and she suggested my continued Right Back Pain Complaint was perhaps Right Kidney Pain. So some doc visits and xrays later... my bladder had about 10 specks of calcium floating around in it! The "gravel" of a broken up kidney stone.

I am lucky - I didn't experience the drop you to your knees pain. Although in hind sight, the morning of the race, I could not stand up straight I hurt so bad! Funny how the twinging pain felt similar to that awful spasm of throwing your back out. And also funny how I might "throw my back out" while doing nothing physical since I was off of running the 3 days prior to the race!

I always super-hydrate for 3 days prior to a run - one of the tips my Bicycle Racing Doctor buddy told me about. If you pound the fluids for a couple days, you can create intra-cellular hydration to help get you through the race. I had been doing that and maybe all that extra fluid passing through my kidneys and bladder helped to break up the stone.

The funny part of this entire thing was once I started running, I did not notice the pain. Again - how lucky was I?! The stone must have been breaking up that morning and the worst of it was over by the start of the race.

Wow! Sometimes it's better just not to know. And sometimes you are just lucky...could have been WAY worse.

Let's all go drink some water!

Monday, January 19, 2009

P.F. Chang Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon...

What is wrong with me???!!! Why haven't I posted ANYTHING for 23 days???!!!!

Some demons invaded my running again! Almost made me quit running. And I need to tell the story now because this is exactly the kind of thing that every one faces when they run for any extended period of time. So I want to share because someone out there is facing the same things.

So back to my post of Dec 14... that 20 mile run that I spoke of. Something weird began in my right knee on the last mile of that run. It didn't slow me to a walk, but I noticed it and put it out of mind and finished my 20 mile chore at hand.

And then... it came back on a 3 on a 4 on a 5 and forced me to walk even on short runs! I was sick about it. And then it was Christmas and off we went to Mom's house and interestingly, my short runs there had no knee pain... on pavement. Then we went to Mexico and in between extra rest days, I found 4, 5 and 6's to be pain free... on a hard packed dirt road.

Then I came home and ran a 5 with out pain and then attempted a 10 on my Mountain trail. At 3.4 the pain was back. But... I needed to get my mileage in, so I said, "ok self... we will walk/run but we WILL do 10". So I walked until the pain subsided and ran until it came back and repeated all of that many times over until mile 5.5 where I could only walk... and by mile 8 I was hobbling... all the way home.

And I was SICK! I had the PF Chang 1/2 coming up in one week! And 4 weeks later, the Lost Dutchman Full and here I am, can't even go 10! Can you feel my heartbreak???!

I rested again. Then I tried a 4 on pavement. No pain. Then a 6 on pavement, no pain. Then I quit running because the PF Chang run was in 3 days. And I concluded (with the help of my chiropractor), that running on trails was doing something to my knee. Lot's of uneven terrain, lots of changes of direction. Pavement is not forgiving, but it is steady and consistent and it was not hurting my knee.

Torment... should I drop out? I was talking this over with my sister and she said to me, "you could always just walk it". Then it dawned on me. Of course! I would not allow this setback to ruin everything I have worked for. I would attempt the PF Chang 1/2 and if I had to drop back to a walk, so be it. That is what training is all about. You DEAL with your set backs, you don't give up.

So I made my mind up. I would run the PF Chang 1/2 on Sunday for as long as I could and then I would walk. Done deal.

Then on Friday... I felt weird. Some nervy feeling in my gut. Race jitters? Maybe. But no, by afternoon, I knew exactly what it was. This may be too much info for some, but I am an honest chick, so I will just tell you. I realized I had a bladder infection. Haven't had one in many years, but no mistaking the discomfort and urgency to use the bathroom. Now not only was I mentally sick, but I was physically sick!

I got started on Macrodantin that afternoon and by Saturday evening, the pain and discomfort were gone. Still taking the antibiotic (not wishing it to come back), I went to sleep Saturday ready to go run a 1/2 Marathon - for as far as my knee would let me!

Sunday - 4:45 am. Race day. I have my routine laid out. I get out of bed and SURPRISE! I must have slept wrong! My lower back was twinging like it was about to go out! Another ailment I have not had affect me in many years! I could barely hobble to the bathroom from the bed! This was crazy! Affliction number 3!!! Was something telling me not to run this race?

Race Morning Glamor shot with many reflectors.

My husband said, "Come back to bed. forget this race, you are not in any condition to run". I said, "Well, I am going to try. I will stretch when I get there." Packed my gear, got dressed, ate my bagel and peanut butter and out the door I went.

I am not a fan of giant crowds and this PF Chang run is one GIANT crowd. I got to the start line early but had to use the porta potty due to coffee and gatorade. I am not lying, I stood in line for FORTY MINUTES to get my turn! This was almost not acceptable. I was sweating and doubled over by the time my turn came and that was even after 3 nice ladies looked at me and gave me there position in line because it was apparent, I was in a very uncomfortable position. Let me just say this... for a $100 entry fee, these promoters could have had a few more porta-potties!

I pee'd, I went to get in my corral for the start and there was no way! The crowds were too big for me to make my way up! I was scheduled for corral 12 and ended up in corral 15. What the hell, I figured, it's a timing chip race, so who cares where I start. Plus... in the back of my mind I knew I would probably have to walk... and all of the sudden I am starting the race without any stretching except what I could do right there in the middle of the crowd. I was doomed...

Zoom forward to the rest of the story...

I ran the fastest 1/2 Marathon of my running career to date. I had a nice day, no knee pain, the back never bothered me once I started running and I averaged 11 minute miles! Yea for me! 2:28! Ran the entire race and enjoyed it.

Moral of the story: Demons will always be there in some form or another. Some will absolutely make you stop in your tracks, but some... some can be beat down. I beat back three demons - any one could have made me drop out of that run. But I told myself I would do what I could - I have been training for 6 months - let's see what we can do.

And I had a surprise ending.

This running thing is crazy. It pushes you out of your comfort zone. It makes you do things you know better than to do. And no matter what the ending is... you are proud. Because you go further than you have ever gone before.

Thanks for waiting on me to come back to my senses. I'm back. Now... I just have to decide if I have enough miles under me to do the Lost Dutchman Full on Feb 15. It might make sense to drop back to the 1/2... but I have 4 weeks to figure it out. This weekend will be the decider. If I can run a long run this weekend, I just may be able to do the full marathon... we shall see!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas and why does my knee ache?

...and why haven't I posted anything in the last, almost 2 weeks?!

Well, aside from all the driving around, and a visit with Mom, we are finally back in Mexico at the little beach casita where I always have time. Funny - with all the effort it takes to get here - it is the one place where I have time for things.

Merry Christmas everybody! I hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating this very special time of year. I just want to put up a few pics to share some of my Merry Christmas with you...

Here's my Mom! She was so happy to have some of her clan around. I hope I look as good and am as happy as she is when I am 86. My oldest sister Lee, her daughters Kristen and Diana and Diana's young son Trent (almost 2) came up from San Diego. Brother John, myself, Loving Man and the Cha (also the dang dogs) rounded out for a semi-full house at Mom's for Christmas. Sister Jo-Ann and hubby are in Santa Fe NM where they just purchased a new house, their son Jack and his wife are in St Kitts where he is attending Nursing School. Brother Jim and his wife were obligated to visit her mom on Christmas Eve so the full house was in fact, less than half full. But we had great fun.

The canine version of Santa and an elf. The happy creatures had already snooped the presents and pulled one out from under the tree. Somehow they just knew the gift wrap hid a stuffed snake. It was unwrapped and became center to a tug of war for the two loving creatures. The nice pink snake was eviscerated and lots of stuffing had to be gathered and tossed. The good news is these two odd dogs are the best of friends. They would rather share a toy and destroy it then keep it to themselves. Piggry - the big one, typically holds one end of the toy with just one fang and stands there quietly, while Fishy - the tiny one, gets to hold the other end and tug away. Fishy seems to get more fun out of the deal, but Piggry is happy in her place as the enabler. Odd pair, but we love them.

Here is the delightful Cha with a Christmas Smile! She is wearing a Christmas Present Sweater and too bad you can't see the matching green knitted ugg boots Auntie Lee gave her. I find such delight in the warmth of the Cha's authentic smiles. Nothing better than a happy teenager in the house...! And look at those green eyes - she has her father's eyes, that is for sure.

Mom lives in Costa Mesa, CA. I have done some looking and the OC Marathon in May runs right by her house. Funny - weird coincidence, the Lost Dutchman Marathon runs right by my house. I am thinking it might be a fun run to do in May - depending on how the Lost Dutchman goes for me in February. The OC is pretty flat and the weather should be good. Nothing like having Mom around to cheer you on! Just like the old days.

So there has been a little problem since my 20 mile run. I had a little ache in my right knee in the last mile of that 20. After a rest day, I tried a 5 and at mile 4 the ache returned - I had to walk. The next day I tried a 4 and at the beginning of mile 4 - ache again. Had to walk. I rested a day, then attempted my 8 as scheduled. At mile 4 I had to walk and cut it short to a 6. Then I had big concerns that maybe I might have injured something in that dang knee.

Then we made the trek to So Cal. Loving Man, the Cha and I hit the Santa Ana Riverbed Trail for a nice 3 mile Family Run - no pain. The next day we did another 3 - no pain. Then a rest day. Then we had to head to Mexico. (The adventure to Mexico is a separate post just in itself!) Now I am facing my fears - do I try to run more than 3 and see what happens? I am so nervous about all of this. Half me says stop running altogether and let this "thing" heal. Less than 4 weeks to the PFChang 1/2 and less than 8 to the Lost Dutchman Full. If I were on schedule, I would be running another 20 today. But I am too scared. I am stuck in these 3 mile runs because of hurting at 4. I have rested way too much to jump back into a 20. I am now probably a full 2 weeks set back from my training. This isn't quite a crisis yet - I have several extra weeks built in just in case of something like this. But I am nervous and I wish I knew if I should get back on track and try the higher miles or just sit here with 3's and 4's until it doesn't hurt anymore.... Does anyone have any ideas?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Oh the sweet completion of a 20...

Have I said lately HOW MUCH I LOVE MY ORTHOTICS????!!!!!

My running life has completely changed. How about 20 MILES WITH NO TOE PAIN???!!!! So sweet! Oh, and have I said this lately; I WILL NEVER RUN WITHOUT MY ORTHOTICS EVER AGAIN!

oh how i love them!

Ok, so I received several comments about the comment I made when I was approaching mile 13 in Memphis...that little lightbulb that went off in my mind that told me that maybe I am a half-a-thoner, not really a marathoner. So today was a big day for me because it was going to help me to understand the truth.

I was scheduled to go 20 today. I don't know why but 20 just seems so much bigger than 18. 20 is one of those milestones that makes you believe you are a long distance runner. So I checked out the canal systems around the Phoenix Valley and found one not too far from home. I set out to see about a 20... an easy 20.

The great thing about running on these canals is they are very flat. No hills and hard packed dirt. Easy on the joints. The only bummer is having to cross busy streets every once in awhile and the canal I ran on, doesn't cross streets at the intersections with lights. So there was a bit of waiting and dashing across 2 or 4 lanes of traffic. Not as bad as it sounds, but... it did mess with my tempo some. (read: gave me a reason to walk, stop, stretch a bit)

Here is pretty Great Blue Heron who was fishing as I trotted by. I saw only 3 other people during my 4 hour canal experience today, but did connect with some interesting wildlife. I went past some magnificent peacocks in a big orchard and wanted to take their picture on my way back... only problem was they were gone on the return pass.

Here are some magnificent Koi or Goldfish... you can't tell by the picture but they were easily a foot long. Big guys! Someone was no doubt done with their fish tank and tossed them in the canal. Clearly they were thriving.

Well the good news is I ran right through 13.1, 18 and all the way to 20 today. Just like I told myself I was gonna do. Back to that brain-thing - I swear your body will only go as far as you have decided to go that day and not a step more! I was tired at 20 and my knee was starting to ache a little, BUT NO FOOT PAIN!!!! : )

After my ritual of ice packs, I feel really good. Wait, let me be a little more clear - I feel really good compared to other times I have finished long runs! I may be a bit limpy tomorrow, but that is expected. But the thing I wanted to report is, yeah... I think I can run another marathon. I am going to do another 20, then a 22 and repeat and then I will be ready for the Lost Dutchman... right on track. I am going to throw the PFChang 1/2 in during January just to do a get some miles in for the week, but my heart is aimed at February 15th... and I want to see if I can do a sub-5 hour marathon - with my ORTHOTICS!!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Have you been to a Cardiologist?

Speed back in time to 1973. I was 12 going on 13. Those of us old enough will remember the Energy Crisis. Gasoline for sale on odd days only, lines around gas stations. It was a time where the American Public began an awareness of fuel consumption. My father decided to start riding a bicycle to work.

Then he bought a really good bike and began big rides. I can remember riding behind him on my own Schwinn 10-speed, up and back the long Santa Ana Riverbed bike trail - the same one I run on now when I go home to visit. Then he became interested in more challenging rides. One Sunday he and few biking buddys rode up and over Saddleback Mountain - a coastal mountain not far from our home. A long ride and a tough ride. He never came home.

A policeman rang the doorbell and informed my mother and me that he was in a local hospital, his condition unknown. Later we found that it was very known, but I can see how that policeman just couldn't bring the news he was tasked. My father had suffered a massive heart attack while biking on Santiago Canyon Road. He was found on the side of the road by his biking buddy, who tried to revive him. He was dead on arrival.

That day 5 young people lost their father. A stay-at-home mom lost her husband and her partner. A mother and father lost their son. A brother lost his brother. Three young people lost their uncle. An aunt lost her nephew. Many people lost a friend and America lost a World War 2 Veteran. He was just 47 years old.

My Mom & Dad in the 1960's~

An autopsy showed he had diffuse Left Main Coronary Artery Disease. Something that is fixed today by bypass surgery or coronary stents made by the very company I work for. A disease process that hailed the Cholesterol Testing that became popular in years to come.

And the thing that drives me to the Cardiologist for an annual work up because, I have family history.

Now you know why I am so attached to my heart rate watch! And why I always refer to the fact that I am trying to avoid "dropping dead out in the desert"! All of my siblings have inherited the bad cholesterol gene from our father and we all get our cardiology work ups as we passed the age that our father lost his life.

So here is the good news. My recent Cardiology Visit was very positive. My doc told me that I remain free of lipid problems as of this visit, (but assured me that I remain at a high probability of need of cholesterol medications in years to come). He was quite pleased with my perfusion tests. My blood pressure of 112/60 and resting heart rate of 49 were a clear indication my running was doing good things for my heart. Here is another interesting thing we spoke of. I told him I ran my marathon with an average heart rate of 155 and that although that is high by the standards for my age, I felt fine at that rate. He gave me the blessing to run at 155 and even said I would be fine running in the low 160's.

So! I have another year of good health and have pushed the medications off into the future. Because I am running? I can't help but think all of these regular workouts are helping my heart to keep fit. But my real reason for writing this post is that it occurred to me that there might be some of you "oldsters" out there (like me!), that maybe haven't had a good work up to make sure you are heart healthy. Do it now, even if you feel fine. My father felt fine. And he was just 47 years old. Issues with your heart and arteries are so much easier to manage if they are caught early rather than late. Do it for yourself. Do it for your family. Take it from me, the reassurance from the heart doc makes it so much easier to think about a 20 mile run this weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Training Stats and Orthotics

Training Update:

Since the end of July:

I have run 82 times, 107 hours, burned 58,546 calories and gone 455 miles! Nice to know I could run to my mom's house in California for a visit should I ever need to! It would take 4 months, but I could get there!

Orthotic Update:

After my first horrible experience with the Foot Surgeon's Orthotics, I was very scared about trying them again. I had gone to the Chiropractor as I was harboring this weird pain in the top of my right hip. Long story short - I have been favoring my left foot enough that it transferred to my right hip. He suggested orthotics to cushion and support my fused toes (#4 & #5 on each foot). I was born with toes that curved under and had a fusion to straighten them out. Only problem is now they don't bend and take a lot of force each time they hit the ground. My #4 Left toe is actually fused incorrectly, pointing slightly downward so it takes a further beating than the rest.

I have had a purple #4 Right toe since I started running. Of course I must favor it somehow in my stride.

Well, we talked extensively about my first experience and he showed me the kind of orthotics he prescribes. They were significantly better built. Completely flexible. And the interesting thing is they laser scan your feet while you are standing on an image collector. I found this fascinating because the Foot Surgeon just made a plaster cast of my feet while I was laying on a table, feet dangling in air. The Chiro's scan of my feet showed the pressures of my feet on the ground and in turn, creates an orthotic to assist with the way your foot actually connects with the ground. So... I went for it and had them made. When I got them and started wearing them, it was clear they were of much different quality than the other pair. I then had to go get fit for a new pair of neutral running shoes as the orthotics take care of all the correction I need. They put me in a 1/2 size larger Nike Zoom Vomero 3. It was like walking on a gel cushion! I wore them everyday for 3 weeks while working and finally tried a little two mile run in them. I was terrified after my first experience with orthotics ripping holes in the bottom of my feet - however! At the end of my 2 mile run, there was no pain in Left #4. There were no holes or blisters forming anywhere on my feet. I wore them again around town the following week as I was resting up for the Memphis trip. So no additional runs in them.

On race day I had to make a decision. Do I run in my old shoes or do I chance it and try 13.1 in the new shoes with the Orthotics? I had a pit in my stomach, knowing such a decision could leave me on the side of the road at about mile 5 with bleeding feet and needing a lift back to the finish line!

Well - I threw the dice. I ran in the Nikes and Orthotics and folks, let me tell you something right here and now - I WILL NEVER RUN AGAIN WITHOUT MY ORTHOTICS!!!!! I never felt any of my typical pain. Three times during the run my mind drifted to my feet and I was amazed to realize I was feeling no pain in my toe. It occurred to me that maybe they were just frozen and I would have a different experience when they thawed out! But no... there was none of the typical ache that I have grown accustomed to!!!

After the race, I examined my feet - no hotspots - no blisters - AND MY TOE WAS NO LONGER PURPLE!

If you have any foot issues, I strongly recommend you look into a doc or chiro that can help you get a pair of these things made.

My life has changed. I know I can now run long distances without toe pain. Maybe even all the way to Mom's house! : )

Memphis St Jude Marathon Update!


We had a great time!

Loving Man, Cha and I packed up and flew to Memphis last weekend. Did a little site seeing, had dinner with Tony (my boss), Pam, (his wife), Katie (their teenager), iKen (a sales guy like me in Memphis - we call him iKen cause he is crazy about Mac stuff), and Jen (his wife). Great Italian restaurant. Did I mention how COLD it is in Memphis????!!!!

We Arizonan's are not cut out for freezing temperatures! Wow! We had to make a quick trip to Target to buy stocking caps and mittens!

Anyway - Race Day was so much fun. I think it was MAYBE 20 degrees when the races started. Loving Man, Cha, Pam and Jen all ran the 5k race. We were all amazed at how Loving Man found an incredible drive and ran his 5K in 29:16! The Cha was not far behind at 31:49. Jen and Pam were right behind her.

I was looking forward to what I figured would be an easy 1/2 Marathon as I am into higher mileage runs in my training. It was really cool to run through the historic places in Memphis. The race was really well organized. We had timing chips and started in waves - 15 groups were corralled prior to the race according to your anticipated pace. I was in a group looking for 11 minute miles and that is exactly what I ran. I finished at 2hrs 26 minutes which by the way, was 4,279th out of 6,663 1/2-a-thoners! I can also claim the 176th spot out of 369 old ladies in my age group!

There were bands along the route that made you want to sing out loud as you ran by. The was a tour along the mighty Mississippi River that was delightful. Victorian houses and giant trees (no leaves!) that are just so different than our Arizona vistas. I even got my picture taken with Elvis at the finish line!!! (To be posted as soon as I get a copy!) The finish was awesome as you ran into the AutoZone BallPark Infield. Big infield area to spread out in with the thousands of other finishers. The grandstands held families and earlier finishers all with a view of the finish line and good seating.

Funny thing happened as I was approaching the 13 mile mark, I had some serious thoughts about full Marathoning. It occurred to me that there was no way in hell I could have continued that day for 13 more miles. I was thinking that maybe I am really a 1/2 Marathoner. This was sort of a sad note to a great day, but I just wonder if it is true or if it was one of those weird things about running that I have come to observe.

My mind will only let my body run as far as it was told it would run.

For example - 13.1 on Saturday and not a step further. 3 miles yesterday - absolutely done when the 3.00 ticked on the watch. I seriously believe there is something mental about how much energy your body packages for a run. I have read some things on that subject and they may be on to something...

But - that doesn't take away from the fact I am supposed to run 20 on Saturday! I guess I will see on Saturday if there is a chance that I can run another Marathon.

Did I tell you how much fun it was to have my little family all running together? It was such a joy to have company all getting ready together and excited.

Loving Man and the Cha ready to head out to the Race!
Doe the Cha look like she really wants to do this???

Here I am after the finish looking for my Loved Ones in the Crowd! Does it look a little cold???

My hair was wet under that cap, but I was afraid to take it off figuring my hair would freeze!

There was a total of almost 14,000 runners in all the races. $1.2 Million Bucks were raised for St Jude's Children's Hospital Cancer Research. Wow.

We finished off the night with a great little party at my boss's house. He had all kinds of Memphis BBQ for us, iKen brought his home-brewed Honey Bourbon and we utilized the hot tub! I swear it was the first really warm moment I had in 3 days! Not sure if that was due to the Honey Bourbon or the 103 degree spa or maybe both!!!! My boss's boss Jamie (and once upon a time, my boss!) and his lovely wife Sharlyce showed up with a couple of their DARLING daughters. We all had a super fun time and decided right there that we would do it again next year and recruit the other members of our "Central Region" and make a big showing. We could also put a little effort into fund raising and add to the good things this run does for sick kids. That makes it really worthwhile.