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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What a bad idea.

Being on crutches while my street undergoes FIVE MONTHS of closures, requiring me to park blocks and blocks away, sounds like the worst idea I've ever had.

My house is behind those huge bushes on the left. There's a backhoe in my parking spot :(

Catching a labral tear early and getting it repaired by a surgeon I trust for free after I've met my insurance max, however, sounds like a pretty sound idea.

So, I am scheduled for right hip labral repair December 18th. I have very mixed feelings about this! Part of me is glad to solve the problem, happy about the insurance and cost situation, and relieved that I know there is a fix. The other part of me really doesn't want to undergo the ordeal I just completed with my other hip, and wonders if I'm jumping the gun.

With my left hip, I was in excruciating pain before surgery: at first, I couldn't walk without crutches; even touching my toe to the ground sent pain shooting through my leg. But now? I'm still running. But then, it is better to catch a tear early before it can lead to cartilage damage, so maybe that's a good sign.

When I went to my doctor's appointment to follow up on my (useless) steroid shot, he almost immediately asked about scheduling surgery. That took me aback - I hadn't even had an MRI done! But he told me he'd like to schedule me first, to make sure we got it in on my insurance before January, then do the MRI in the meantime. "You sound pretty confident you know what's going on," he told me, "And actually, I think I already saw a tear in your right hip from your MRI last summer." I'd had my first MRI done at an outside source, and the report listed nothing wrong with my right hip. But Dr. Van Sice pulled up the film, and pointed out a tiny tear on the right. He'd noticed it before, but back then my right hip was asymptomatic, so he didn't bother with it (obviously, you do not treat asymptomatic labral tears). He remembered it after my last visit, though, and when we looked it up, sure enough - a little tear. So we aren't doing unnecessary surgery, but I still feel a little unease thinking about it.

The truth is, recovery from this procedure is miserable! Totally miserable! Crutches at work are hard, wearing a brace for 4 to 6 weeks is hard, pushing through the inevitable pain later in PT is hard. I do NOT want to do it again. But then I compare my weak, wobbly, throbbing right joint to my strong, pain-free left joint and I know it's a smart decision - unless I want to give up running. I don't want to, so I've committed to having surgery done.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Passed by a taco

After I wrote my last post, my doctor squeezed me in for an appointment. The good news is that he thinks I might just have some inflammation from overusing the right side initially, and perhaps even bursitis since the pain seems to be less groin-related than the last time. The bad news is that my insurance has rigid rules, so even to just do an exploratory MRI to see what's up, I have to fail a steroid injection first.
Steroids to the hip are risky! But I got one anyway, and am now stiff and swollen. The plan is to run when the swelling goes down, assess pain, and make an appointment for an MRI. Unless, of course, I miraculously feel amazing and we decide that the right hip was just being cranky in the suddenly cold weather (I doubt this).
City Park is lovely, even if it stymies my Garmin every time. 
Meanwhile, I thought I didn't have any race photos from the CCC 5k, but it turns out that the professional shots hadn't been loaded yet. So now I have my free race photos (almost makes a $30 5k worth it, but not quite), and you can see me being passed by a taco, caught on film. Figures. No pictures of me passing young, fit, fast-looking men. Just a picture of a #3 with fries passing me.
Not fair. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Making progress, making choices

The last three weeks have been really encouraging to me. Since being allowed to return to activity, I felt like my hip was stuck in a pattern - wake up stiff, feel ok with movement, but then start aching in the afternoon or evening. I was worried that this was as good as it was going to get, and I actually considered making an appointment with my doctor. I didn't, though, because ....

I started to feel better. I started having days when I almost didn't notice my hip. I had a few runs that felt good - really good. I'm so used to nagging pain and aching that it wasn't until after a run a few Sundays ago (five miles on the soft dirt loop around Audubon Park) that I realized I hadn't felt any pain. I couldn't even remember the last time that happened - I always have some kind of hip, groin, thigh, or osteitis pubis pain. Later in the week, when I kicked a root and hurt my hip (this is still the most painful thing for me - kicking an obstruction or a stair step and knocking my leg back in my socket. Ouch), it definitely hurt. But then it felt better, and quickly. It's starting to feel better all the time, and when it does hurt, I recover quickly.

I think I turned another corner, and I'm really excited about that.

But. It's time to make a tough choice. I've mentioned before that my RIGHT hip has felt mildly off ever since I returned to running. I saw my doctor at the hospital the other day, and he asked if I ever felt that my right hip was symptomatic, since it has the same impingement pattern as the left. Well, I said sort of. And he recommended that I follow up on that NOW, for two important reasons: for one, I've maxed out on my insurance, so everything here on out is free of charge until the end of the year. For another, he's strongly considering entering into his own practice out of state. He wants to make sure he takes care of everyone before he goes.

So I actually made an appointment for this week - after all! One one hand, I know that everything he says makes sense. At least I should get an MRI before my new deductible takes effect! But on the other hand, I JUST went through all this, and it wasn't fun. And I was enjoying running again!

I'm going to see where this appointment takes me. I've been off running a few days (post-race, plus we were traveling to see friends this weekend), so it's hard to assess how I feel, but a thorough exam and some imaging might guide me. I guess the choice I might have to make is - do I have surgery if my right labrum is torn, even if it is mild or close to asymptomatic? Or do I wait it out until I have severe pain? I'll know more in a few days, so I will keep you posted.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Irish Network gala

Since we're still pretending to be Irish, we're still members of the Irish Network New Orleans. We originally joined because one of David's friends started the organization and we felt that they could use the support. But now it's grown to a huge, successful group, so maybe we should quite lying about our heritage and get out of there.*
For now, we're still hanging out with the Irish, and they certainly can put on a ball. They always have Irish dancing, several bands, open bar, and delicious food, this time catered by several of the Dicky Brennan restaurants.

And of course, this was a chance for me to make a dress. I designed this one months ago, but I really wanted a bright, vibrant yellow fabric. I never could find the right color, but I settled on this yellow shantung silk. It washed out some in the photos; it's slightly brighter than it looks but not as saturated as I would have liked.

The back is all lace.
For those who care, the bodice is constructed with a built-in bra so that I didn't have to deal with a backless bra, because those are the worst.
I ended up finishing the hem right before we left, because I was kind of last-minute with this one, and I measured it an inch too long, meaning I had to wear painfully high heels all night (with no place to sit down), but other than that the evening was fun and my dress a success!

*Actually, David is some minuscule shred Irish. I am not at all; in fact, my father's side has some Scotch blood, but I would never breath a word about it at these events.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Spectating: Jazz half

I actually meant to volunteer at the Jazz half marathon, one of my favorite races, but I waited too long and the only openings were on Friday, when we already had plans. Instead I ended up running on and near the course and spectating!
It was freezing and windy on Saturday morning, and I was kind of reluctant to leave the warm house. I put on leggings, a long sleeved shirt, and gloves. I ran to Audubon Park first. The race started at 7am - the same time I left the house - but wouldn't reach mile 7 in the park for awhile. I thought I'd run in the park before the race reached it. As I headed toward the end of the loop, I ran into a group of Varsity runners! They'd planned their long run for prime spectating, and were about to head down St. Charles ave, so I joined them. It's my first group run back since surgery (well, I walked with another injured runner once. But I hadn't run with them.)
Here's the overall winner. Credit LRC. 
The race starts downtown, heads down (divided) St. Charles Ave to Audubon park, around the park, then back up St. Charles Ave. We were running up St. Charles, so opposite the race. It gave us a chance to clearly see the leaders and cheer on our friends without getting in the way or actually being on the active course.
I was surprised that not too many people I knew were running. My friend Melissa was, though, and in fact she was in second place when she passed! Once we reached Lee's Circle, the race was in full swing. My friends continued their run, but I turned around and headed back. I got on the sidewalk, since in a few minutes the leaders would be coming back up St. Charles. Sure enough, I got another chance to see everybody, and Melissa was now caught up to the first place girl, just breathing down her neck at mile 11. Exciting!
I went back to the park, and even though there were still runners racing, they were far apart and some of the last runners, so I could easily make a loop without getting in their way. I got some cheering and encouragement in before heading home to complete a slow and easy 14 miles. It's a post-surgery distance record!
And Melissa did end up placing second - I thought she might sneak into first, but still an awesome job by her. Wish I'd seen her finish!
My favorite parts of spectating:
- Seeing the leaders speed up the avenue behind the pace car
- Seeking out familiar faces and cheering them by name. I know from experience that that's a pick-me-up!
- Helping runners out: Sometimes the fast ones want to know how far back the competition is or who is behind them.
- Cheering on kids on the course! We have a couple of local kids who run long distances, including half-marathons, and I love getting to cheer them on. They are super determined.
- Goofing around at the aid stations. I usually know half the people at the aid stations, too, and don't mind popping in to help when they have a crowd.

What's the last race you spectated? Do you ever run-spectate near the course? What's your favorite part of spectating?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Crescent City Fall Classic 5k race report

Saturday morning I ran the Crescent City Classic's fall 5k, the only allowable 5k qualifier for the 10k in the Spring. You can also qualify with a 10k time for a seeded corral, but I registered for this race because 10ks are few and far between.
My goal going in was to break 21 minutes. I ran the Oktoberfest 5k in 21:31 a few weeks ago, but I ran with reserve. Plus, it was a hot evening race, so I assumed I would do better at an 8:30 am November race. The course has lots of turns, but like all of NOLA, it's flat, so as long as we had good weather I guessed that I could knock 30+ seconds off my last time.
I woke up Saturday and just had coffee, although the late race start time had me wondering if I'd start feeling hungry during the race. I left the house to overcast, damp weather in the high 50's, but by the time I drove to City Park, the sun was showing occasionally and temps were up in the 60's. The threatening storm never materialized, despite fitful gusts.
I arrived early and parked far away, building a warm-up in, and did a last-minute check of the race website for starting location, T-shirt pick-up, and other details. I clicked through and realized that qualifying times for the 10k seeded corrals were 17:30 for A corral, 20:00 for B corral, and 22:00 for C corral.
I just ran 21:30 and now was shooting for 21:00. I mean, who cares about that improvement? Either way, it's a "C" time. To move up a corral, I'd need a sub-20:00.
I jogged to the start, picked up my shirt, jogged back to put it in my car, then hit the bathroom line. The whole time I was tossing pace ideas around in my head. I got in close to 3 miles warm-up, then did three 100m strides in the grass near the start. I squeezed about ten rows back as the national anthem started, and finally made up my mind - I'd go for 20. The worst that could happen is that I'd blow up, slow down, and run close to 22:00 - still a "C" corral qualifying time!
The gun went off and I surged with the pack. I had my Garmin screen showing lap pace and average pace, but it was having trouble generating data (for some reason, always a problem in crowded race starts) and the numbers were bouncing or just blank for much of the first half-mile. Up ahead I saw my friend Melissa, and tried to just keep her in view. I felt like I was running about the right pace, doing quick math, and resolved to keep the average pace at 6:24. I was too fast at the start: mile 1 was 6:19.
I did not see any pictures of myself on the website, so instead you can look at this fast food. Har, har, fast food, get it? They passed me in mile 2. Nothing like getting passed by a taco mid-race.
For the second mile, I wanted to slow enough to prevent a blow-up in the last mile. I overdid it, and ran 6:29. The course was opening up a bit finally, and I ran tangents as best as I could. I definitely felt the pace by now! And I began to question whether I could hold on to break 20.
Yet at the start of mile three, I wasn't dying. I actually felt kind of good. I was scared to speed up, but in retrospect I don't think it would have killed me. What DID kill me was my usual finish-line nausea, this silly stomach issue I get as I near the end. We turned to finish on the track, and I was so nauseated that I couldn't pick it up for the last quarter mile. In fact, I slowed. I hit mile 3 in 6:27 and realized that I might not make 20! But I could NOT sprint without barfing, and crossed the line in - seriously - 19:59 chip time.
Holy moly, did I cut it close. Luckily, the CCC uses chip time for qualifying, and I'm in! Corral "B", here I come!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

WWII Airpower expo

We had beautiful, clear, fall weather a few weeks ago, perfect for an air show!

(As opposed to all the other air shows I've attended, each of which took place in 100+ degree weather and ended up with one or several children throwing up with or without heat stroke. Ah, childhood memories.)

The Airpower expo featured aircraft used in WWII. We didn't have the $995 we'd need (per person) to ride in one, but we watched them taking off and landing, making comtrails in the sky, and giving rides to rich people. While they were on the ground, we checked them out up close, including getting to go inside a B-17.
My husband is cute.
I'm so glad the Commemorative Airforce is preserving these planes and maintaining them in flying condition.