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Monday, July 30, 2012

Thank you all

Guys, I really didn't expect more than a comment or two when I was complaining about my injury a few days ago. I am so grateful for the encouraging words from many of you! One thing you have to say about the running community: it is supportive.
So. thank you for being so kind and offering so much comfort and understanding.

Thank you also for the congratulations on our anniversary! We went out to Emeril's for dinner, followed by a glass of wine at Tommy's Wine Bar across the street. I bought a dress and shoes for the occasion simply because I had two meetings in Metairie right by the mall and I had about 45 minutes to kill between meetings. But I ended up with a cute lace dress and strappy shoes with chunky heels. I'd show you the heels but we still haven't figured out our camera timer, so they didn't quite make the picture. The dress is a plain shift with black peter pan collar, and the cutest part is that it zips down the back with a panel of black fabric and a chunky gold zipper. Darling.

For dinner I had veal with succotash and we split a steamed muscles appetizer with coconut milk and ginger. Both were delicious. David had maple-lacquered duck, which I've had before at Emeril's NOLA.

This was our first time at Emeril's flagship restaurant; we usually go to Emeril's NOLA on our anniversary because we ate dinner there on our wedding day. The food is delicious at both restaurants, but I think I like the atmosphere better at NOLA. Lots of tourists end up in Emeril's, so you have a lot of in and out and people in ball caps and sweaty kids with families - and it seemed more crowded to me; there wasn't an empty table last night but I don't remember NOLA ever being completely packed.

As far as the injury goes, something interesting happened late Friday night. My doctor actually called me from his cell phone as he was waiting for a plane. He'd had a busy day trying to get all his patients out before he left for vacation, so he called to touch base after leaving. The gist of the message was to stop all PT that stretched the offending tendons or used a resistance band, no running, take NSAIDS, and "hang tight". I'm sure he meant hang LOOSE. Right?

Anyway, it was nice of him to call. He's a young doc and apparently hasn't lost his soul yet.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Five years

Five years ago today I was up early, getting ready for my 10 am wedding to my best friend! We were
casual about our wedding: morning ceremony, unmatched bridesmaid dresses, jazz brunch after.
No dancing. No bouquet toss. No garter. No traditions.

We just wanted to enjoy a celebration with our friends, and that's what we did - over lox bagels and bloody marys.
We've kept our marriage like that, too. For two type-A personalities with a little OCD and a little perfectionism, that's not easy: but we don't take things too seriously and always laugh at ourselves. It sounds unrealistic, but we've never had a major fight: we settle our little arguments quickly and don't keep hard feelings. Every day we go closer and every day we love our life more!

I can't believe it's been five years already. We still feel like newlyweds!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Injury status: It hurts and I hate the world

Way back 100 years ago I got injured. It was mild: very, very mild. It was just a sort of achy feeling in the hip and groin after a long run. I ignored it for months and ran five marathons on it. But it didn't go away, so I went to a doctor.
It was a 1 on the pain scale.
He said it was osteitis pubis, and prescribed PT.
The PT said I was strong and healthy and should be better in a matter of weeks.
I wasn't. I got worse.

It was a 2 on the pain scale.
I went to another doctor. He wanted an Xray.
He said I had amazing bones, I just needed a little steroid.
He told me after the steroid I'd be better in a matter of weeks.
I wasn't. All my hair fell out, I gained some 5 lbs, and my face broke out. Frickin' steroids.

It was a 3 on the pain scale now, with less pain in the bone and more pain in the tendons.
I called my doctor back and he said I needed another steroid shot and try running more, maybe I was just stiff and out of shape.

Now it's a 4 on the pain scale at rest, a 3 while running, and a 5 after running. My tendons are screaming. My hamstrings are tight. My quads are bearing the entire force. My bones feel better, but my tendons are yanking on them. Was I misdiagnosed? Was the problem tendons, not bone? Was the osteitis just a result of tendinopathy? If it's an inflammatory process, why does ice make it worse and meloxicam have no effect? If it's tendinosis, why are we messing with steroids anyway?

So, thanks to my appalling work schedule (don't even ask, I've been on so many business trips lately I forgot I was a pharmacist), I can't even go in for follow up for another two weeks. I've run a little, but the pain is clearly worse than before I got the steroid injection and took another break from running! Insane!

The inability to run coupled with the psychosis* that accompanies steroids has made me a mean and horrible angry person, which coincides with my teaching several classes. I actually told a medical resident to shut up and get over himself if he wanted to learn anything. Not exactly making friends here. I can't wait to get over this injury and remember what it feels like to run without pain!

Until then I might be kind of quiet over here. No one wants to read a blog about a slow runner whining about an injury. So until I have something nice to say it might just be the occasional post about the banana jam I made (I did) or the art opening I attended. Sorry folks.

*Psychosis is a real side effect of steroids but I'm just being dramatic here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The funniest thing I've ever seen while running.

I was running in the park when I saw the funniest thing I've ever seen on a run.
From here

Two girls were running toward me when, out of the blue, a squirrel fell out of the tall oak tree above our heads and slammed into the ground just inches from the runners.
BAM! It made a sickening thudding sound! Yet it rolled right over and scampered right at the girls, who were screaming their fool heads off.
I just about died laughing. I've never seen a squirrel fall out of a tree before, let alone from a great height and onto a paved path. It was so unexpected.
What's the funniest thing you've ever seen running?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Paint Party!

Have you ever been to one of those places where you're walked though a painting? You bring your own wine and food and the artists guide you through painting a pre-determined piece of art. Like Corks 'n Canvas, our local place.
I love the idea, except for the step by step instruction. That's kind of a cop-out. But I guess it's necessary given the many different levels of ability who may walk through the door. I, however, used a different strategy for this weekend's paint party: you mimic my painting, I occasionally yell at you and paint over your work.
The night before the party I painted a pretty easy painting and took pictures step by step.
1. First, sketch in pencil.
 2. Then I made a painting guide, illustrating positioning and shapes.

 3. I started with the pelican, painting a simple black oval with a gray diamond for a wing. I highlighted the feathers with white, added legs, and painted in the neck and head. I left the beak sketchy.
I know this is a very over-simplified bird, but I wanted everyone to be able to paint it, and wildlife can be daunting. 

 4. The posts are simply strips of gray-brown, going from very dark shadow on the left to almost white on the right. I squiggled a dark, messy shoreline.

 5. The marsh is varying colors of green in short, downward brush strokes. No mixing.

6. I left some areas a very light white-blue, like water peeking through the grasses.

7. You can use the same color for the water in front and in back, but up close you should just use wide side-to-side strokes without mixing the color much. It should be smoother where it is farther away. Notice that the water is slightly darker the further you go. 

8. The sky is the same tint but a lighter shade and is smooth strokes. The marshy area is finished with brown brush and grass created by using an almost dry brush with some brown paint. I used the same technique to paint the reflection of the shoreline.

9. The last detail is the pelican's beak: if the orange-brown paint is too translucent, paint the beak white first, then orange over that. Add a touch of yellow to his head and add shading or outlining as needed to make him stand out.

Everyone added her own style!

Miriam's sea was stormy
Most of us...three of the group had already left when we took this shot
And of course, all that painting was accompanied by good food and wine! We had so much fun I'll definitely be repeating this party!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Picking that goal race

With high hopes for eventual healing, I'm tentatively planning my fall and winter racing. I'm picking out my goal race for this year. Like last year, I'm thinking it might end up being The Louisiana Marathon. I'm registered for the race already, but it might end up being more a training run if I take too long to heal. So I have to consider selecting back up goal races, too.
When picking a goal race there are a few things that I prioritize:
1. Time of year. This is crucial to me in my climate: an early fall race will never be successful for me, because the summer heat will prevent any effective speedwork. Likewise, a cold-weather runner might have trouble training through the winter.
2. Location. For me, a goal race should be in my area. I don't want to add the stress of travel to a race situation. Don't get me wrong, I love destination races: I just don't want a flight debacle ending in a hungry, dehydrated late night the evening before. I also like the conveniences of home: picking out your gels race morning or throwing your favorite shorts in the wash if you realize the night before that they're not clean.
3. Race history. How have past years gone? Was there some kind of RnR Vegas night marathon disaster? Was it a small, slow field? Did they run out of water? Did a train cross in the middle of the race? Inaugural events are always a big risk: I don't like to run them, but I did last January at the Louisiana Marathon; other factors plus knowledge of the race director's résumé made me choose the race anyway.
4. Course. I like interesting courses, but of course I also take into account terrain. Since I train in a totally flat area, running a hilly race is setting myself up for failure (although I did ok in both Boston and Publix - hilly and hot courses both times. No PRs, but I did better than I thought I would). I just think you should run a race on a terrain you train on: so if you live in a hilly area, don't do a totally flat race. Stick with what you have practiced. For me, that's pretty flat courses: no rollers, no dramatic downhills, not Big Sur climbs.
5. Runners' reviews. I check out; I don't know if similar resources exist for other distances. I do take these reviews with a grain of salt, however, as it seems like people who had a good race give rave reviews and people who didn't do well complain about choice of electrolyte drink, host hotel, and size of the medal. But reviews are a good source for comments like, "Course was poorly marked," "Not enough port-o-potties", or "Whole city comes out to spectate". You won't get that from the race website.

These are the top criteria to me, but you might have other criteria you use: like, will my training partners be running this race? How much does it cost? Is there a back-up race in one or two weeks? Is this a bad time of year for my job/kids school/husband's band? Will I be able to get off work? How much will airfare cost at the time? Do they serve gatorade or powerade? etc.

What's on your race criteria list?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The jewelry and clothing of the season

Sometimes I get a few pieces of clothing or jewelry that I find myself reaching for over and over again. Then I rotate my closet and that solves that problem. No, I'm kidding - these are actually just really great pieces for the summer.

First off I have these amazing wedges. The pewter snakeskin is basically a neutral and so much more unique than silver or gold, and the thick straps provide a comfortable fit that doesn't cut or blister. And the hot pink lining that peeps out is just enough color! I wore these with white cigarette slacks and a deep indigo top for a gallery opening.

Next up are these lightweight enamel earrings in a summery sunburst pattern and warm colors. These are the posts I bought with my sister, and I've been loving them with a plain white T-shirt and scarf, a casual black dress, and a crisp brown blazer with rolled up sleeves.
When I wear post earrings at work, they have to be very light (these are, thanks to a thin hammered back) and can't have long posts in the back - otherwise I'd stab myself every time I pick up the phone. This pair fits the bill.

I had to replace my standard maxi-dress this summer. I think a maxi dress is a summer staple, especially a knit dress in a solid color. It's great to throw on in hot weather and if you forgot to shave, no biggie. I wore my old dress to death, plus it was a little low cut for me.
My new dress is actually from Kmart and was a $14 sale. Good thing, because it was a good 6 inches too short. I added 7 inches for good measure by cutting off the hem of my old dress and adding it on. So now I have a deep navy dress with a purple-navy stripe...but at least it's long enough! I love the crocheted lace back and the covered-up top.

Actually this dress required so much altering I might as well have sewn the whole thing: I had to alter the armholes, the neckline, and the straps in addition to adding the bottom flounce. I actually thought about sewing a dress, but I wanted a knit dress and I don't have the necessary serger.

I felt so bad about buying this hammered metal bracelet - not because it was expensive (it was a trade item from Buffalo Clothing Exchange, so it was actually free!) but because I didn't know David had just ordered me another silver cuff bracelet as a surprise gift! But the two styles are totally different, and I've been wearing both a lot. David's gift is a lot dressier, but I've worn both with casual outfits, too.

So there's my summer wardrobe, more or less. What have you been wearing this summer?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Strength and fitness

During this extended off period from running (even my weeks back on were really off, as I was limited in speed and distance), I've been thinking about how I developed this injury.
- It wasn't too many miles. I only do about 45 a week.
- It wasn't gait or stride, according to my PT; they detected some muscle weakness, but gait changes didn't alleviate the pain or change the stress to the area (and overall I have an efficient, although strange, running stride).
- It wasn't my shoes or equipment, and it wasn't an acute injury.

I think it was too much of one thing. Not enough balance. Not enough strength. Not enough fitness.
Yeah, that's right, I spent this winter lacking fitness and strength. And running a 3:06 marathon. And five other marathons, not as fast. Oops.

I don't completely understand my case of osteitis pubis, but I know it developed when my work schedule got hectic and I started skipping the gym. To save time, I'd skip the gym and run seven days a week. Around the park the same direction, on a totally flat path, over and over for miles and miles. It was too much of one speed, one place, one stride. I didn't have the variety needed to strengthen my muscles and allow them to support my bones and joints.
I didn't strengthen my core. I didn't work my upper body. As my muscles weakened, I transferred the bulk of effort to my thighs, relying on my adductors, quads, and hamstrings to not only propel me forward, but to also balance myself and stay upright. Big muscles took over for small muscles, and before long my body was really out of balance and muscles yanked on bone. I wasn't strong enough or fit enough to protect my own skeleton.

I'll need to make changes when I return to running. I will attempt to stretch once in awhile (yeah, right), I will keep my weekly gym dates, and I'll vary my running routine. I need uphills, downhills, sprints, track work, slow miles, and clock-wise turns. I'll focus on my core, and I'll keep my weight in check to decrease stress to my joints. I'll remember my Yoga for Runners to stay limber. And I'll run more and race less to build a better base, train harder, and lessen the contant increase and decrease in mileage that taper and recovery necessitates.
Racing for fun, before I ever ran regularly: The Spillway Classic, a muddy trail 5k that I caught on a dry year. (This year's race was yesterday and it featured hip-high mud lakes!) This was one of my very first races.
I used to shrug these things off. I ran to exercise; I ran to enjoy it. I ran to make a time goal or even to place in a race. But I didn't want to spend too much time and attention on it. Now I realize that I'm getting nearer and nearer to my body's limit, and as I approach that limit, my body takes more and more stress. To stay healthy, I will have to take some extra steps. For some people, a 2:50 marathon might be achievable without making any lifestyle or training changes at all. These are the people who could work a little harder and qualify for the Olympic trials! But that's not me. I'm not that strong of a runner. If I'm going to run marathons in the 3:0X range, it will tax me. I need make adjustments to make it work.

Hold me to it, peeps.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I love this: coffee mug

How nerdy: a coffee cup with the caffeine molecule on it!

Since I'm a pharmacist, I like the chemistry reference, and I've always been partial to glass coffee cups. They're not that easy to find, but they remind me of the glass teacups we owned growing up. I used to feel very grown-up when I'd make myself a cup of tea in a glass mug: not only was I handling boiling water, I was pouring it into glass!

What's your favorite coffee cup? C'mon, I know you have one, we all do!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My husband made me lunch

- My husband made me lunch. This little guy was rock hard but light as a feather - all the water had burned out and I basically have a desiccated potato. Aw. It was cute that he tried.

- I went to the doctor yesterday. He insisted on an x-ray, and then he spent 15 minutes admiring my bones. Yes, doc, I know, I have incredibly strong, dense bones. This thrilled him so much he told me that I had "the bones of a water buffalo" which I chose to take as a compliment.
- We discussed a few treatment options for my osteitis, but since I only had signs of inflammation and no degeneration at all, we went the anti-inflammatory route: I got oral NSAIDS and an intra-articular steroid injection. 
- A steroid injection in the pubic symphysis is distinctly not fun.
- I'm now off running for a week and a half, then I will go for a short jog and call my doctor to report. We shall see!
- Another house in our neighborhood went up for sale. It went on the broker's listing last night and David wanted to check it out. No go. It sold sight unseen for over the asking price before it was ever listed for sale: less than 12 hours after it went on the MLS! To make these even less believable, the listing stated that the house needed repairs - still purchased sight unseen. Crazy.
- David said when he dies he wants to be reincarnated as an Uptown housing market. 
- My little brother is still living on my sofa. He is paying rent in free coffee (he works at a coffee shop). It works well for us. 
- Since I have another week and a half of no running - and this time no lunging or jumping, either - any more interesting workouts I should try? 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


My sister came to visit for two days last month.

I took her shopping and we bought matching earrings. How cute are we? I feel like that was a very friendship-bracelet sort of thing to do.

Monday, July 9, 2012


I've been pretty much out of commission for three months. Following the Boston Marathon (April 16th) I admitted I was injured - I think admitting is the first step to recovery, right? Or is that AA? I get my addictions confused sometimes. 
Truth be told, I was injured since December, but it was just so mild, how was I to know it was osteitis pubis?
Anyhow, I've taken 4 weeks off running and about 8 weeks of very light running. I will see another specialist Wednesday, but in the meantime I have been religiously doing my physical therapy. At my second PT appointment the therapists stepped it up a little, since my healing had not progressed nearly as quickly as they initially predicted. And now? I am starting to feel mildly better. I can run with only mild pain (still not pain free) and after a run I am not completely lamed like a few months ago. I've missed a lot of running, though, and that means a lot of fitness.
Um, ouch. I pretty much lost April, May, June, and July. 

I'm hopefully heading into the rebuilding stage: rebuilding my body and rebuilding my fitness. I'm sketching out a come-back plan, and I'm taking it very easy.
Edging up to a whopping 40 miles next week if all goes well...
I'm creeping back up in miles slowly, and I'm building in days off (running replaced by weights and yoga for runners). For now, I won't do double digit miles two days in a row, and I'll play it safe with speed. I have observed that speed increases pain. Oddly, short, fast sprints (100 or 200 meters) feels fine, but 800 meters at 5k pace is agony. Last week I dropped out on the 1000 meters repeats our group did at the track. 
I might have to readjust this plan after Wednesday (the new doctor might have me take more time off, hopefully accompanied by a miracle drug), but for now I'm creating plans that build strength and reduce stress. Once I have a base back, I'll work on reclaiming speed and endurance.
Have you ever been injured and out for more than a month? What are your come-back tips?

Friday, July 6, 2012

4 on the 4th and the bikini beer mile

On 4th of July morning David and I carpooled with the running group to the northshore for a hilariously fun morning of racing. We started with a hot and humid 4 miler, which I sucked at as predicted, but enjoyed nonetheless. I ran a 27:10, but I actually did not feel much pain, so I got all runner's high without even going fast. Awesome.
Love the tank top for this race. 

Following the 4 miler was the inaugural bikini beer mile. My group does bikinis right. I'm disgusted that the guys look hotter in a suit than I do.

There was running and puking.

Some of it was by the best runners in the state. This race was a state championship for the 4-mile distance, so some talent came out!
I adore the reactions in this photo! 

After the bikini beer mile they held an "amateur" mile - no bikinis needed, and beers were in cups instead of cans. To my surprise, David volunteered!
Fourth beer goes down a little rough

And the man has found his event.
He ran a sub-10 min beer mile (4 beers, 4 laps) - and this is the man that barely cracks ten minute pace in a 5k. Hidden talent, my friends.
I didn't do the beer mile because someone had to drive, but next year I think I'll try it. Ever done a beer mile or beer race?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

First run back...

...From Denmark.
Abe in Copenhagen...which is flat. Alsborg, where he was studying, is hilly.

My little brother Abe's back in town after a semester in Denmark, and we went for a 3:00 pm run the day after he returned. He thought he would be in pretty good shape after running hills for 6 months, but he was not acclimated to the brutal heat. Not at all!
In fact, our short 4.5 miler had him winded and nauseated (and we were running at my pace - much slower than his on a good day; pathetic while injured).
I often forget how tough the heat here really is. I don't do a lot of strenuous running in the summer, so I don't suffer too much; plus, I generally acclimate slowly as the seasons progress. This year was harder, since I took a break right when temperatures were really warming up. I got back running and the humidity was way, way more oppressive.
I hope summer running builds toughness and endurance, but for some reason I think all it does is get my body accustomed to slower speeds.

Your take on summer runs:
- Use them to build endurance?
- Take them easy?
- Take them inside to the treadmill?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I'm racing because I'm dumb

After a track workout in which I could not complete my 1000 meter portions thanks to cranky crotch (or so my running partner so kindly termed my osteitis pubis injury), I knew just what to do to improve my mood: sign up for a race!
Yeah, not that smart. This morning I'm running the "Four on the Fourth" race in Covington. It's a small race known for a hot, shadeless, breezeless course. Combine that with my injury and completely lost endurance and I should be chalking up some amazing times. Amazingly slow.
My running group obviously enjoyed it last year, though.
The body suit is insane! It's July in Louisiana! 

A certain speed demon I know read my post yesterday and recommended the Mizuno Musha as my free pair.

I like what I've read about them: wider and more cushioned than the Ronin. I don't like that they're billed as stability shoes, although there are plenty of reviews out there that lean toward neutral. Wearing stability shoes hurt my knees. Any thoughts? Any Musha runners out there?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Help me pick a shoe

I got called to jump on the Mezamashii band wagon, and now Mizuno wants me to pick a new shoe. Yay!
I've never worn Mizuno before, but given their narrow last and my ginormous feet, I know it has to be a mens' shoe. It also needs to be neutral. I've got it down to two options:
1. The Ronin. A 7-oz shoe that seems a little less cushioned than my Kinvaras with a lot more heel-to-toe drop. Afraid the 10mm drop (compared to Kinvara's 4mm) might mess with my already disastrous gait.

2. The Universe, a crazy under-4-oz racing flat. This shoe looks awesome, and I might need some racing flats, but it also looks like a ticket to injury city. That's a skinny sole.

Also to consider: I just bought the Asics Speedstar, which is probably similar to the Ronin: lightweight, a little stiffer than the Kinvara, less cushion. I don't own any racing flats - although I feel like the Kinvaras do the trick. And I don't exactly tear up the track, so no big deal.

Help a girl out here. What should I pick?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Busy summer days

Time to play a little catch-up. In the past two weeks we've been busy! First my god-children have come to visit, and we had fun at the beach and the most amazing princess tea ever. I think I look good in a crown. We were trying to pose like a royal portrait here but Tillie kept getting distracted by the finery around here.

Then my friends Vanessa and Felix and their adorable two year old Bella came over the next weekend. beach weekend #2!
Yes, Vanessa should be a model. But actually she teaches advanced art. She is the only friend I went to art school with who stuck with art!

It was in the middle of this weekend that David got his job offer, which kind of ruined the relaxation part of the beach. We discussed the situation and prayed about it and decided to ask the opinion of David's current boss. That was a great idea! She immediately emailed him back, a detailed email telling him how much they like his work and exactly what steps they would take to ensure that he could stay on with them after his temporary position was over. It wasn't a promise, but it was very positive, and it was the extra information he needed to choose to stay at his current job.

Then my sister came to visit for a short two day trip, just two days after Vanessa's visit. We rarely see each other, so it was a visit with lots of talking and lots of eating!
Twenty-five cent martinis at Commander's Palace

No sooner was she back on the plane than we were picking little brother Abe up from the airport, back from a semester in Denmark. We were happy to do airport duty since it got us out early from a horrific child's birthday party at Chuck E Cheese. Whoever invented that place should devise torture techniques for the NSA.
With Abe safely home I had to invite the rest of the (local) family to dinner to see him, and only after I cooked a pork roast as big as a baby did I remember that my dad is vegetarian and one of my brothers is vegan. They got white bean-walnut hummus with roasted garlic and fresh herbs (I haven't killed my basil or thyme yet!).

Now we're back to work with Abe sleeping on the couch. I need a break!