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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hey, ladies, scientists say you need to bring them their slippers

So much to mock here:
"Robotic vacuum cleaners like Roomba and other "labor-saving devices" may be a woman's worst friend.
That finding emerged from a longitudinal study that suggests 60s icons like "the Beav's mom" spent twice as much time cleaning house as their 21st century counterparts, which might explain why today's women are fatter than their moms.
Calorie-wise, women went from burning 4,663 calories per week doing chores around the house in 1965 to 2,806 per week in 2010, wrote Edward Archer, PhD, of the Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina in Columbia, and colleagues, inPLoS One.
What have women replaced all that time with? Mostly screen time, which increased from 8.3 hours per week in 1965 to 16.5 hours per week in 2010 (< 0.001), they wrote."

Monday, February 25, 2013

The verdict

It's a day and a half after Sunday's race and so far, so good. No hamstring pain! I am sore in a few places - mostly my calves and feet. My feet are out of shape! Not only did I lose a lot of my callouses (sorry, gross) and haven't built them back up yet, but the roughness of the New Orleans roads just tear my feet up. This course especially hits a lot of pot-holed, cracked, rough areas.

I took a 3 mile walk yesterday afternoon, and that was the real test of hamstring pain: whenever I've run "far", then walked later, that seems to precipitate pain. Still no pain. I'm hopeful, but still hesitant to claim full victory because I didn't run this morning. I had a PT appointment at 7:30 am which filled my day up to the point that I opted instead for core work and strength tonight after dinner. Tomorrow I'll do an easy run, although an early morning work conference (at which I am required to wear a repulsive light blue polyester polo shirt, why on earth I do not know) may push that to the afternoon.

For your viewing pleasure, here are a few more pictures David took at the finish (he is slowly adding them to Facebook and I'm slowly stealing them for my posts):
Geb Gebremariam greeting fans after a 2nd place in the half

Women's half winner Meseret Defar: watch her cute interview here

Half marathon champion Mo Farah giving high-fives. My husband got one. I want one. :(

I wanted to clear something up from Sunday's post. In all your charming comments I noticed several that mentioned that I ran a fast half for not really training. I just want to go on the record saying two things:
1. I don't recommend it. Really.
2. Running a half-marathon straight off injury with minimal/no training does not make me or anyone else bad*ss. It makes me silly. The best way to run a race is, duh, to train for it.

I've noticed that some runners do the whole, "Yeah, I PRd and I didn't even train for this race", or "It's not my fastest, but I only ran 17 miles this month" or "Yeah, I decided yesterday to run the full marathon*, whatevs, haven't trained at all" or "I only ran one long run and just ran a 2:43 marathon" thing. I think people use the not-trained excuse to make their times seem faster - and I don't want to be one of those people. It's like a warped way of bragging. And even more important, it is foolish to suggest we should all just go run races unprepared. Way to waste a race fee!

So, in the interests of transparency and honesty, let's see what kind of preparation went into this race:

Miles: In December I ran 30 miles. In January I ran 77, and this month I crept up to almost 100 before the race. November, pre-injury, I ran 181 and in October I ran 241. So not close to my old levels, but not non-existant, either.
Pain-free miles: I had two pain-free runs pre-race: a 3 miler and a 5 miler. But when you're healing up, you can tell. It gives confidence.
Distance: Since my injury I ran four 10-milers and one very slow 12 miler. All the rest were 3 to 5 with a rare 6 miler. One of those 10 milers was right after injury and was dumb and excruciating; I was trying to keep my hubby company but it was a mistake. The rest were more recent, when I was clearly on the mend.
Speed: Exactly one mile. A few weeks ago I ran a 10 mile progression run and near the end of it I ran into my running buddy Jared. He's fast. I ran with him and got in one 6:40 mile, the fastest I've gone in forever, and it thrilled me to death. But the pace for the whole run was 7:04 average, and that's what I based Sunday's pace on: I wanted to run 7:04 or 7:05 pace or faster if I felt better.

Hopefully this shows that while I did not specifically train to run a half marathon, I did keep up enough mileage and practice for it not to be a stupid decision to run the race. I think after almost a whole year of injuries I'm finished with bad decision-making when it comes to running. From Sunday on out I'm going to be a smart runner and die at 101 years old with my running shoes on!

*My little brother actually did this, but he also ran a 2:49 debut marathon when he was 19. So.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I didn't die and my leg didn't fall off.

Saturday night I set my alarm for 5:30 and when it rang Sunday I tested out my neck. I could sort of turn my head, so the race was on!
David dropped me off at the start and I hit the port-a-potty and squeezed into a corral in time for the (very weird, heavy-metal, disrespectful) national anthem. I was in the first corral but I got to the back because I felt like a tool dragging my injured hamstring up there with the likes of Mo Farah and Shalane Flanagan.
Lots of the Varsity Sports people were corral one, naturally, them and their fast selves. At the gun I settled in right near Mark and Rob, both running the full, but about my safe pace. I wanted to make sure I didn't fall apart and DNF since let's be honest here - the last time I ran 13 miles was early November! I can't believe it has been that long. Injury sucks.

We hovered around 7 min pace and I let the boys do the work setting the pace. I felt good, so I just ran. Boy, did I miss the race atmosphere. The crowds, the people cheering for you by name (most of whom I knew, some who read my bib), the funny signs, the police blocking traffic, the kids waiting for their mom or dad.
Because there is a turn-around, I got to see some elite action, which was a thrill, of course.

Mo Farah won in 1:01!
Flanagan 2nd female
Goucher  5th and looking a little pained!
Shortly after that I dropped Mark and Rob: they were going for a 3:05 full and I felt like today I could go a little faster - not much faster - than their pace. I missed their company, but I concentrated on not twisting my ankle on Esplanade (Dear City of New Orleans: Please resurface. Thanks).
My friend Gary took this picture of me on St Charles  Ave
I rarely run half marathons, and there is always a sense of abruptness to the finish for me. All of the sudden the half split from the full and just like that we were at 13 miles! Because I am the world's worst sprinter, I didn't pick up a thing, just suddenly was across the finish line. 1:31:15 (unofficial).
And I felt fine. Not tired, not winded, not sunburned, and thank goodness not aching in the leg. Yet. We'll see how I feel tonight.

Then I showed my awesomeness by snatching my pathetic free food (really, Competitor Group? Green bananas and generic pretzels? I've had better airplane food), dashing to the car, driving home, showering, and making it to church EARLY.

If my hamstring doesn't flare up into insane pain later (I actually brought an ice pack to church and sat on it!) I might think about my return to running. I was pretty happy with today. I won't lie, the race was not easy for me - I am out of shape. I wasn't pushing it, but I felt more tired than I should have for the pace I ran. But I'm not complaining. That's good enough for a comeback run to me!

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Edited to Add...
My decision about whether to run the half on Sunday or not has been complicated. I have somehow developed a terrible neck muscle strain that is basically ruining my life. I can't lie down or walk normally, even with NSAIDS. Annoying.

Actually yesterday was a combination of all the things going wrong. Not only did I have a neck strain that really made standing and typing all day at work no fun at all, I also randomly developed major seasonal allergies complete with watery eyes, endless sneezing, and sinus headache (this is the first time this has happened to me with any severity, although my allergies have progressively worsened since I moved to Louisiana).
I thought you'd like a picture of my allergy eyes.  And nose.

And my boss came in to work (this is after my bigger boss came in on Wednesday, after scheduling an appointment on Thursday, then stayed the whole day when I was supposed to leave at 1 pm Wednesday. I worked 5 extra hours). So I had big meetings Wednesday and Friday.

Then I got an emergency call to please come cover another pharmacy after work. So I worked 9 am to 6 pm, then immediately drove my numb and useless right side to another pharmacy and worked until 10 pm. This is the second Friday in a row I've been asked to do this, and it's not a great way to kick off your weekend.

On the way home from second work it started to rain. I turned on to my street and there was no parking...and my nose started bleeding. So there I was, allergy-dizzy, right side practically paralyzed, getting off work hours late, trying to parallel park in an nonexistent spot in the rain while my nose gushed blood all over my white coat. Happy weekend to you, too.

It sounds absurd, but right now my neck will make the decision about tomorrow. I'm on 440mg naproxen and can barely type, so this is the biggest factor right now. Sucks getting old.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rock n Roll: Yay or nay?

Local hero, former Saint, and ALS sufferer Steve Gleason will be racing! 
Sunday is the Rock N Roll New Orleans marathon.
MY marathon.
My first half marathon (I was an occasional jogger and went from 1 to 2 runs a week to a half in 3 weeks: first week I ran a 7 mile long run, next week a 10 mile long run, next week the race!).
My first full marathon.
My first I-am-going-to-actually-train-for-a-specific-time marathon.
My current PR marathon.

And crap, I can't run it this year. That's terrible in my mind: it breaks a PR streak for me (PRing every time I run this race), I'll miss out on the only marathon in my own city, and I can't say I ran with Mo Farah, Shalane Flanagan, or Kara Goucher (to name just a few of the elite field).
Normally, I'd be spending this week checking the weather and thinking about race outfits (actually, as I recall, I usually enter this race a little unprepared, maybe because it is so late in the winter and I'm sort of "burned out" on races by then).

I talked to my PT on Wednesday, and he gave me a choice: drop down to the half, aware that I am in no shape to run fast or PR, or sit the race out and flush all my registration money down the drain.

What would you do?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Paris winter style

Since Parisian women are so stylish, I made a point to keep an eye on what they were wearing while we were visiting France this fall.
Why do French women seem so stylish? So put-together?

Here's what I observed in general:
1. The women wear little make-up and what they do wear is subdued, with the exception of an occasional bright lip.
2. Very few women "do" their hair: no curling, layering, perming, straightening. Nearly everyone had long, natural hair either straight down or in a loose top knot or a low ponytail. I didn't even see a lot of bangs.
3. While French women seem to spend less time on their appearance than, say, an American (maybe one from Texas), they pay attention to detail so they look well-groomed. Our flight to France was overnight, and as one French passenger awoke she stretched, unwrapped her blanket, and immediately applied lipstick!
4. French women are not overweight. They are generally quite slim, never obese. It was startling to return to the US and realize how very heavy our population has become.

What I noticed the women were wearing this winter:
1. Skinny pants and jeans without a single exception. I never saw another style.
2. Dark colors, almost universally, once in a while a hint of color but nothing like a bright red or chartreuse shirt.
3. Scarves, casually wrapped around and around the neck, not tied.
4. Neat little ankle boots, either flat or with a low (1 or 2") heel. Parisians walk a lot, and this is a practical, comfortable choice. I became obsessed with these little boots and now I am on a quest for the perfect version.

Obviously after all this snooping I had to buy some clothes for moi. Of course!
I got all this for 90 Euros:

Teal print scarf and dark (almost black) teal cigarette slacks.
Freaking gorgeous slinky silk blouse in cream with black trim. I love this top.

Flat ankle boots. No, these are not the perfect ankle boot. They are just a temporary solution.

These are almost the perfect ankle boot, but I got them in the US.

What are you wearing this winter?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dry needling, a week later

So, I've been needled, I recovered, I ran, and I'm here to report.

I was sore after needling - like, can't walk quite right sore in the calves. So I took off a few days. Then I ran on Saturday and felt amazing: I did a progression run and it felt pain-free and easy (except for the part where I'm fat and out of shape).

But Sunday the pain returned. It's now back to where I was before: I can run, but every time I land on my left leg and sink down on my bent knee before pushing off, I feel pain in the biceps femoris tendon behind and slightly above the knee. After I run, there is diffuse pain across the area when I foam-roll, and I can dig into the tendon and feel one sharp, painful spot about the size of a quarter. The directions from my PT are, "Run on it, but don't go crazy". So, no crazy for me.

I think that my improvements Saturday were more due to resting the injury for two days than from needling. I've noticed that rest improves pain initially, but then when I do exercise, the pain that follows is much worse: as if the area grows tight with rest. Then it seems like my pain is worse and my recovery is set-back. This is why I've opted for frequent light exercise instead of complete rest.

I am not saying that the needling didn't help at all - I think for the right kind of injury it could be invaluable. The tightness in my right hip flexor is gone, completely gone, after just one needling: and I think that problem had been there for almost a year (I am doing some strengthening and stretching to maintain now). But so far it's not helping whatever is happening in my left hamstring.

I'm not sure what to do next. I rested, iced, compressed, and followed all the rules for an acute injury. Now I'm stuck in the recovery phase. Should I just take a full month off and see what happens? Continue PT? Ignore and run through? Finally see an actual doctor? So tired of this!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Why I stopped going to the chiropractor

Back in January I was seeing a chiropractor once a week for my hamstring tear. But after several sessions, I stopped going.
Here's why:
I went to a chiropractor specifically for Graston, hoping to speed up healing by clearing out scar tissue on the muscle. And that worked wonderfully. The day after my first session I could finally walk down stairs normally. The effectiveness waned after a few sessions (Graston can't reach the damage deep in the muscle, only the surface, and it didn't help my tendons), but it was worth the money to get things jumpstarted.

The Graston isn't why I stopped, though. I stopped because I started to feel like my primary chiropractor (not his colleague, who was trained in Graston) was sort of scamming me. Clues?

- When I made my appointment I also mentioned Osteitis Pubis. My chiropractor replied that he had successfully treated several patients with the condition. However, when I was actually seeing him, he often mis-named the condition: "Pubis osteitis" or "Osteitis pubicis". He sounded....unsure and uneducated.

- I told my chiropractor that I'd never had pain in my back at all. This is true. Nonetheless he kept focusing on my back, not even implying that back problems could be influencing other parts of my body, but repeatedly trying to get me to confess to secret lower back problems.

- My chiropractor would tell me he was going to treat the osteitis pubis (if he could remember what it was called) but frankly he lacked basic understanding of anatomy. He insisted that the pubic joint needed to be mobile and my problem was lack of mobility in the joint: but in reality the condition is exactly the opposite. But he kept manipulating my already hypermobile joint to increase mobility, which was painful and worsened the condition. Before treatment, I never had discrepancy in the joint (ie, one side higher than the other). But after treatment, the joint would shift upward on one side. Ouch!

- I would often go in to an appointment and be told, "Today you will have x done", but then x would get pushed back the next appointment. Or I would show up for Graston, and the Graston-certified chiropractor would not even be at work that day. And so I had to keep returning...and wasting appointments getting almost nothing done.

Basically, I felt like my chiropractor didn't really know what he was doing. He was treating a condition he was not familiar with, and probably caused a little damage with the constant joint-cracking in a joint that was already inflamed. Plus I was getting tricked into multiple extra appointments, Pricey. So I said 'bye to the chiro!
Thoughts on chiropractors? Visit experiences? Did I just get a bad one?

Friday, February 8, 2013

One-sided workout

While I've been trying to heal, I've spent some time doing exercises that force both sides of my body to work. This will help distribute work across my pelvis, helping osteitis pubis, and prevent disproportionate muscle growth. Unfortunately I can still feel left sided weakness, but I'm working on it.

Some of the exercises I like are:

- plank with leg lifts
- bridges with leg lift
- bridges with leg to chest (prevents use of the spine so you have to use the glutes to lift body)
- slow bicycle (keep your spine pressed to the ground and lift bent leg to 90 degrees)
- one-legged squats
- one-legged dead lifts
- pilates crunches
- side plank with weights; reach under body with weight then back to the ceiling
- skaters

I don't know if you've noticed this, but it seems like on me certain muscles are always larger on one side: for example, my left calf is bulkier than my right. A training and balance problem or just a quirk of anatomy??? Am I the only one like that or are you more muscular on one side??

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dry needling, take one

This morning I headed into Magnolia Physical Therapy* for my first dry needling. My PT pointed out several areas that need work, including the left gastroc (which is contributing to the pulling on my hamstring tendons) and of course my adductors and hip flexors. Ever since the diagnosis of Osteitis Pubis I've been painfully aware of my adductors, and my right hip flexor is so tight that when I do the Thomas Test my left foot dangles a full six inches lower than my right. In fact my right upper thigh doesn't even come in contact with the table, the flexors are so tight.

Nobody told me that dry needling hurt like the dickens.
The process doesn't take long: the PT locates an area that responds to stimulation with twitch, then uses a long thin needle to probe the deep muscles to reproduce the twitch. It hurts. The needle passing into the muscle is painless (it is a fine needle), but the probing and subsequent deep twitching is pretty rough. I take back everything I ever said about being able to tolerate pain: I was biting my lip and gasping for breath.

And then the pain goes away, except in your calves. My PT warned me that the calves would stay painful all day, and so far he's right; I'm limping a little!

I have so much ropey tightness in my adductors that this process will take a few visits, but already after today I had astonishing results. Part of my workup was the Thomas Test, and after needling I repeated it. To my amazement, my right leg relaxed easily downward, hanging identically to the left side. I couldn't believe it! I had heard that results from dry needling were often instantaneous, but it was still a surprise to observe! So witch-doctory!

I'm back off running again during treatment. I definitely need to get this pesky hamstring taken care of, and to do so I need the rest of my muscles doing their jobs. Hopefully dry needling will help me get some muscles back to normal function. In the meantime, thanks for still reading even though I have NOTHING to say and NO PRs and NO RACES - basically nothing fun to talk about. If all goes well in the next few weeks I might still run RnR New Orleans, but drop down to the half. But that will be a fun run only - no racing. Which sucks. And I won't do it if it's risky, so we'll see.

* this post is sponsored by Magnolia PT, which has agreed to offer all treatments free of charge as long as I only say nice things about them. HA. In reality I have a $2500 deductible and they're out of network, so blargh. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Varsity sports does the Super Bowl

How? A 12-mile group run in the French Quarter and on the river.

Following this comfortable run by walking another 12 miles in the afternoon = achy knee and tendon today. So it's a day off for me. Time to celebrate football and David's birhday in our beautiful city!