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Monday, January 26, 2015

Rock 'n Roll New Orleans: a miss

It's the first time I've missed this race since Competitor Group bought it 6 or 7 years ago. I can't believe it! The streak is broken!
It's also the first year they added a 10k, of which I was oblivious, much to my dismay. See, I wanted to walk out to St. Charles and catch some of the leaders before church, and I woke up late, threw on a sweatshirt, grabbed coffee, and walked as fast as I could to the turn-around. I was sure I'd missed the leaders. But nothing. Crickets. Finally, the lead car went by, sweeping the course. And more nothing. I pulled out my phone, found the website, and realized that the 10k started first, and the half and full were later by a whole half hour!
So I had some time to walk a bit further up the course. It was perfect running weather, cool and sunny, and I was happy to be out spectating. I knew I couldn't really cheer thanks to some terrible mouth sores.
I guess now is as good a time to tell you as any that I have been really struggling with awful oral ulcers due to my sulfonamide allergy. Ever since my bad reaction in the summer when I took Bactrim post-op, I've dealt with deep, painful ulcers on and under my tongue whenever I'm even slightly exposed to the drug. That's a huge problem, because at work, I'm exposed almost every day! Friday night I had to fill a prescription for Bactrim by myself, so I couldn't have one of my techs fill it - they had gone home. I gloved and wore a mask, but still, I woke up Sunday with a cut-up, bleeding mouth. Misery! I am sure I'll eventually figure this out, but for now, I could barely speak. So I was not actually able to do much cheering at all!
Finally, the men rounded the corner, and I picked out Ben Bruce, who I knew would be racing. He was neck and neck with another guy I didn't recognize; it turned out to be Mike Popejoy, who beat him by half a minute at the finish.


It wasn't long before I saw the women, and I was looking for Tia! I saw her name the week before in our paper's online article. She was listed in the elite field for the race. But first came Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, far ahead of any other women.

Then the pack started to get crowded, and before long, along came Tia, running with an incredibly smooth and long stride! I couldn't really cheer much, but I did get some terrible pictures (I didn't think to turn my auto-HD off, and the sun triggered it - it doesn't work well at all for action shots).
Tia in pink, on the sunny side of St. Charles!
I waited for a few more people I knew running, but since Louisiana Marathon was last week, not that many were racing, plus it just isn't that great to be out on course and not able to cheer or shout. I soon headed back home to get ready for church.
I really wished I was racing today! That beautiful course, the lovely weather (although I bet the full got warm in the sun as time passed), and many of my friends. Ah well, maybe another year.
I noticed that it seemed to be a slow race, despite the perfect conditions, and I think I'm blaming it on race saturation. I feel like we have so many races in our area (including, of course, one last week!) that our local competition is diluted. This year the women's race was won in 3:04, which would have barely gotten you in the top ten in other years. But another factor is the change to Competitor Group's elite program - without that, I don't think we'll a lot of women running in the 2:40's unless they are taking advantage of the course for a PR or a record.
Have you noticed your local races getting faster or slower? What's the cause? What's your theory?

Friday, January 23, 2015

I'm running!

In deep water!

But you know, it's not that terrible. I've run in the pool before, and it's dreadfully boring, but this time I did some asking and researching on making pool running workouts actually count. And it's been working. I actually feel a little sore today! Usually, pool running just feels like I'm sort of sloshing about in a bathtub.
What I've found helped:
1. Keeping my form correct. I tighten my muscles, stand up straight, and try to mimic running stride. I can't drive my leg back as far, but otherwise it's fairly accurate.
2. Increasing cadence like crazy.
With the faster turnover and better form, I actually feel like I'm getting a real workout, and the bonus is that I'm using some running muscles. Maybe I won't be as sore when I get back into running this time (my calves generally feel punished!).
The PT has a camera system set up behind and next to the treadmill, so you can watch your footstrike the entire time. I actually think my gait looks pretty good and even at this point!

Not only have I hit the pool a few times, I've been running on the Alter G at physical therapy. This is not really an area covered in any of the recovery protocols for hip labral surgery, so we are going out on a limb here, which does make me nervous. My concerns are that:
1. I'm running, albeit with reduced weight, very early in recovery; the impact is minimal, but it is repetitious.
2. Treadmills are basically banned forever following hip labral repairs.
3. I have no guidelines to refer to to determine what percent body-weight I should run at or for how long.

But, worries aside, I figured I'd try it (in the interests of science, of course. Not in the interests of actually running for a few minutes). I reasoned that I could always stop if it hurt, and I could start with a short period of time just in case I discovered that it started to hurt later. So, the first day I went for ten minutes total, but only six were running - I did 2 minutes each warm-up and cool-down. It didn't hurt to run, and it didn't hurt later, so I was comfortable with repeating it next week (I'm only doing PT once a week this time). Wednesday I increased time to 15 minutes. Both days I was set at 50% weight, which seems very, very light, but I'd rather be safe than sorry!
So far, I've had no repercussions. I can't say that it was pain-free, because I have baseline low-level pain, but there was absolutely no increase in pain or change in the type, quality, or location of the pain. That's the green-light to continue. My PT and I will gradually increase the weight as time goes by.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Louisiana Marathon weekend: spectating, volunteering, and burning

I volunteered for gear check this weekend at one of my favorite races, the Louisiana marathon. As usual, race day was incredibly beautiful and perfect temperatures for running.
The state capitol from the finish area
Actually, since it's a mostly sunny course, it might have gotten a little warm for some people. Since I wasn't running, I persuaded myself that it was probably too hot for racing. Yep.
I asked around on Facebook and found a few people heading up to Baton Rouge that morning, one whom I know well (doing a long run/race) and one whom I know only vaguely (spectating). I picked them both up, and in the wee hours of the morning we made great time.
DIGRESSION: Girl who was spectating is sweet and all, but whatever happened to the lost art of conversation? She talked in a sad sort of way about her life for an hour without taking a breath. And really, it was mostly navel-gazing. Things like, "I have to prioritize me-time. I just remember that when I give, give, give, I empty out my store of life and have nothing left for me." and a ten-minute diatribe about the importance of sleep, and how she was strict about 8 hours and 40 minutes a night, no more, no less. I was like, I think I know where your me-time went. You're sleeping through it. And btw she's single, owns her home, no kids, no student loans, and a teacher, so I'm not really sure what's taking up all her time anyway. 
Anyway. So Kim was running the race (although just as a long run), so I dropped her at the start and easily found free street parking. Then I headed to gear-check. I'd volunteered to do a middle shift, between drop-off and pick-up, to organize the dropped bags in numerical order. I was working with a nice little group of volunteers, including a large group of women from Black Girls Run, who combined cheering their friends on with volunteering. I think it's pretty neat for a running club to volunteer at an event as a group!
Once I was done organizing, the half-marathon was starting to finish. I walked to the finish just in time to see the women; second and fourth place were girls I know (one of whom moved away last year, so it was fun to catch up!). I stayed around the finish area until the men started coming in from the marathon - 2:27 something, NICE - then headed to mile 25 to spectate. Mile 25 is actually at the very top of a "hill" (ok, overpass. There aren't any hills), so I went to the bottom - maybe 24.7? to cheer. It was kind of funny to hear what people said as they rounded the corner and saw the looming overpass. Not very many were happy about it.
We'd agreed to leave by 12, so I didn't do much hanging around at the finish fest (even though I'm sure it was as good as it usually is). But I was out long enough to burn my lips to a crisp - the only place I forgot to use sunscreen.
It was fun to see my friends and celebrate their successes (one friend ran his second marathon after bone marrow transplant, and is mailing his doctor his medal; another ran a 3:20 - a huge PR for her - and was tenth female). And it was fun to volunteer: I need to give back to the running community more. But next year, I want to be running this one! 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I should be running

After a few days of cold rain and drizzle, this morning was bright and cold. I stood in the kitchen with my coffee and watched the sunrise through my back door, and all I could think was, "I should be watching this from the levee track."
Of course we have iron bars. Where do you think we live, small-town Iowa?!

At four+ weeks post-op, I'm getting to the point where I'm starting to miss running. For the first couple of weeks, I was just in survival mode - get through the holidays with incisions still closed and no major damage to the hip. It was more about figuring out the best way to incorporate the exercise bike and PT into my days, managing work on crutches, and being a good party guest while in a brace and immobile. Now I'm off crutches, I feel pretty good, and I do wish I could get out there and run on a clear, cold morning like this!

I will definitely have race-envy tomorrow, too, because I'm volunteering at a race - The Louisiana Marathon. It's always a fabulous event, and I'm excited to contribute, but I'm sure I'll feel some pangs of jealousy, too.

I'm reminding myself, though, that I need two more months of healing. Last hip (haha, how pathetic that I can say that) felt great right about weeks 4 - 5. Weeks 6 and 7? Everything started to hurt. I'm expecting a big increase in pain when I discontinue my preventative naproxen (to avoid heterotopic ossificantion) next week, and I'm sure the aching will remind me that my hip still has a lot of healing to do.

Friday, January 16, 2015

It's for a good cause

I suppose my husband isn't too thrilled about the calendar I purchased for charity.

But with hot pictures like this in it, how could I say no?
Actually one of good friends at Tulane - he's a great doc and one of the funniest people I know. And he doesn't mind wearing a skirt for laughs. 

(The funniest part about this calendar is that one of the doctors - who's a little full of himself - totally missed the point of the self-deprecating humor of the poses, and in his picture he's totally into it: riding horseback with his shirt unbuttoned! I died laughing).

Work has been - kind of a roller coaster, I guess? After my visit with the vice presidents the week of my surgery, things calmed down for the holidays. Unfortunately, right around that time, I learned some news about contracting that will negatively affect my business. Part of that meant referrals were down, especially for the high-dollar drugs I've based my business model on. So I did some projections, and I decided to cut payroll hours at my store. It was a tough decision - I do need the help, but I can''t really pay a second full-time pharmacist and still turn the kind of profits I want. I reduced her hours to two days a week in anticipation of decreased volume/profits. I felt terrible doing it - I hired her, she's new, and she's good, but at least she'll still get full-time hours at a combination of stores. Meanwhile, I didn't reduce my hours budget, so I can add her back in if business picks up.


And of course, as soon as I talked to her about the hours reduction, I got three referrals for a pricey hepatitis C drug. The price of these three prescriptions would pay salaries for my entire store for over three months!
And then the company revealed that some errors had been made on the November profit and loss sheets released to stores. So all my decision-making had been based partially on erroneous data (prescription volume and expenses). My projections were off because I thought I saw a trend, but it didn't actually exist. At this point, I'm probably going to just play February by ear, and see how things go. I just hate the upheaval when it might have been for no reason.
And since I get boss-guilt, I guess I will buy them a king cake next week!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Right hip surgery vs left hip surgery

It sure seems like this surgery/recovery is easier than the first one. I know what to expect, I know what to avoid, and I was in better shape physically prior to surgery. Though similar in many ways, the surgery actually was a different procedure, so that is contributing to differences as well.

What's better:
- Hip labral repair has better outcomes than debridement
- I scheduled my post-op ten days out rather than 6 days out: I think they removed my stitches too early last time and the wounds didn't stay closed.
- No drainage drama this time (last time I dealt with copious drainage for over a week)
- And hence, no antibiotic drama (last time I had a severe reaction to the antibiotic I started to prevent infection when the wound was open).
- The surgery was shorter, so my hip wasn't in traction for as long. That means my whole leg feels better.
- And my hip flexor, especially, feels pretty healthy and strong. It was really weak and irritated for months last time (I couldn't live my leg without using my hands for several weeks post-op).
- Crutch pads...I don't know how I did it without them last time.

What's worse:
- Repairs are more delicate, so I had to use crutches for four weeks. Brutal!
- There is more pain in the joint this time, which is normal since it was stitched.
- Honestly, the timing was terrible with all the stuff I had going on at work plus holiday events, and I was exhausted for most of the first four weeks.
- Post-op anesthesia-related nausea, although better at first, hit me hard the next day and I was miserably ill for the whole weekend.
- Not using a continuous passive motion machine means I have to use the exercise bike every day, and that plus PT plus the incredibly time-consuming act of doing anything means that my days are packed. I actually have to get up earlier now to fit it all in, and walking on crutches to the gym took like 10 minutes from the parking lot!
- My scars are larger this time because a repair necessitates a larger opening than a debridement.
Top: Right hip (for modesty could only show the two large scars; there is a third portal as well).
Bottom: Left hip, so faded that you can only barely see the three scars.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Autism: the gift with no return

I just wanted to share this article written by one of my running group buddies:
Autism: the gift with no return.
Ben, and his dad Sam, run with the Varsity Sports track group. It's probably hard for ben - his seizure disorder leads to uncontrolled hand movements, and his running can be awkwardly difficult. But I loved that he was always out there, difficult or not, completing the workout while holding his dad's hand for assistance. I don't know Ben well, because he cannot speak - only type. It's hard to get to know someone on the track when you can't speak to them. But we're facebook friends, and I've gotten to know him some more that way. Wow, how much this man has overcome! Despite his physical limitations and his barriers to communication, he's succeeding. Ben started college at Tulane last year on scholarship and is a guest blogger for Nolavie. His article above is an excellent glimpse into his life with autism.