September 23, 2016

I'm on a (foam) roll

Last night's chiropractor appointment with Dr. Brad didn't come with any pictures, but my spine feels absolutely brilliant. I wish I'd been open to chiropractic treatment sooner; this year I have been having semi-regular adjustments and I feel so much better for it.

After I got home, I decided to unwrap my newest purchase - a foam roller - to start working on my IT band, and my legs in general.

Laid on the floor, and all of a sudden I had a supervisor... feline assistance was obviously required.

Foam rolling smarts like a bugger, but it will help me long term, so I am hoping to develop a positive relationship with it. Maybe positive reinforcement will help... maybe brownies and ice cream!

September 21, 2016

Hey-O Physio (my first adventure in acupuncture)

Tonight I had my first physiotherapy appointment with therapist Sally at ProTX in my community. She is a one-woman force of nature... I can't imagine not adoring her. She made me feel immediately comfortable and I trusted her instantly.

She and I discussed my concerns, evaluated my condition and she performed some tests on me. Coles Notes: I have far more weakness than I expected, and my kneecap doesn't "float" along the plane that is most natural, but since I'm seeking the help of professionals, I am on the right track!

After a bit, Sally says "okay, so we're going to try some acupuncture".

Um... needles?

Yup, needles.

In my knees.

My knees have feelers!

I told Sally I was going to blog about my treatment, and she offered to take my picture... of course I said yes! Ha ha!

If you look closely, you can see the acupuncture needles in my knees

I'm not sure what I expected from acupuncture, but it 100% did NOT hurt. In fact, I couldn't even feel the needles go into my legs.

Then, I was moved to a new treatment area where I had my left knee hooked up to an IFC (Interferential Current) machine and an ice pack was applied. Back when I last had physio in the mid-90's I used a TENS machine which seemed similar, but technology has definitely improved!

All wired up!

I took a video too, that I sent to my sister... she said she couldn't watch to the end because she doesn't like the muscle jumping. My foot was twitching pretty crazy too... I couldn't help but laugh!

Anyhow, I'm home tonight with a gel-bead cold pack perched on my knee, watching some recorded TV shows. Kevin said I was limping slightly when I got home, but I just thought my knee felt "funny". I am going back to see Sally twice next week, and I have an appointment with the chiropractor tomorrow evening.

Onward and upward!!

What the sh-IT (band)

It’s been a few days since my Maritime Race Weekend races where knee pain left me feeling sore and discouraged.

On Monday during the work day everything felt fine, so that evening I decided to ignore the fact that it was raining and take myself out for a (planned 6km) run.

During the first kilometer I had some mild discomfort. By the time I reached 2kms, the pain was getting pretty bad but I was hopeful I could run through it. No dice. By the time I decided to turn around, the rain was coming down pretty heavy so there I was… soaked and sore with a foul disposition. I texted my sister a picture of how things were going, grateful for my waterproof phone case.

Thumbs down to knee pain!

By the time I got back to my car I was one surly little thundercloud. On the short drive home, I must have shouted FU@K about a dozen times. When the heart and body want to go, just to be sidelined by pain it is so damn frustrating!

I changed into dry clothes and then prepared myself an indulgent little treat of vanilla ice cream over two 2-bite brownies (warmed in the microwave) and rainbow sprinkles… just because. I ate my dessert and scrapped my upcoming runs.

With the wisdom and suggestions of some runner friends, I started looking into IT band syndrome. The more I read, the more I felt I had a “why” for my knee soreness (yes, self diagnosing via the internet… I must be a doctor right?). The information I read helped explain why my spring/early summer runs weren’t plagued with knee pain, since I’d been cross-training regularly.

So, I booked three treatment appointments back to back: massage therapy, physiotherapy, and chiropractic. I am SO happy to have a facility like this in our little community! 

Last night was my massage appointment and the therapist I met with told me that my left IT band was wicked tight (at this point, I was not surprised) so she spent an hour working on my legs. I knew I wasn’t going to come out all relaxed and wobbly as if I’d had a relaxation massage, but I think it's worth it.

Tonight I'm headed back to the same clinic to meet with the physiotherapist, Sally. With a better idea of what I was working with (injury/soreness wise), I looked forward to the appointment. 

In the meantime, I’ve been looking up stretches and strengthening exercises to help IT band over-tightness and those, combined with the treatment from the professionals at ProTX makes me feel like I am on the right path!

September 20, 2016

Maritime Race Weekend 2016 - Ups, Downs and Wicked Race Bling

This past weekend I took part in the Maritime Race Weekend events in Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. It is arguably one of the most popular events on the Atlantic Canadian running calendar, as the registration sells out each year. 

I have friends who have run in the events for MRW in years past, and since I’ve taken up running it had been an event I wanted to participate in and be a part of but my first year running I didn't feel prepared and last year I was away. I have a friend who shared with me the advanced registration last September, so I signed up for 2016 as soon as it was available to do so. 

On the Friday of the Maritime Race Weekend, there is a Sunset 5km event where upon finishing, you are given a pretty sweet looking medal after finishing a course where you get to witness the sun setting on the Atlantic Ocean horizon.

Yes, I paused mid-race to take a picture...

On Saturday morning, there are 4 different distance events you can register for: the Sunrise 5k, the Coastal 10k, the Scenic Half-Marathon (21.1km) and the Classic Marathon (42.2km) where you’re given another medal for completing your distance. If you elect to run on both Friday & Saturday, you are awarded with a third medal as you completed what is called the “Tartan Twosome”.

Throughout the spring and early summer, I trained regularly. I ran, did ballet barre classes, practiced yoga. As the summer went on, there were camping trips and other adventures to occupy my time. My training took a back seat, though I was keeping active with lots of walking/hiking, biking, paddling. I was not concerned.

At the “festival grounds” area of MRW, they have set up a ship's bell, with a sign encouraging runners who’ve attained a personal best (PB in runner lingo), to ring the bell to announce their achievement. My plan was to have a nice easy run on Friday evening (the Sunset 5k) and then go flat-out on Saturday morning (the Sunrise 5k) and ring that bell!

Fast forward to the Friday night of Maritime Race Weekend. I’d arranged to stay with a friend who lives just off the race route in the beautiful coastal community of Eastern Passage. They encourage everyone to dress as a pirate for any events they are running, and BOY were there some fantastic pirates on the race routes! I decided to wear my pirate getup for the Friday night race, and I ended up chatting to a number of people (and overhearing others) who liked my costume. The afternoon leading up to the race I felt reluctant to dress up, but I am SO glad I did; it added such a fun element of whimsy to the night! 

Pre-race pirate runner

The race start was PACKED tight, and in the starting chute you were shoulder to shoulder with lots of other runners and walkers but I was fortunate to connect with two friends who I know through running. The cannon (!!) went off and the runners crossed the start line. My body felt relaxed, my legs felt great, and there was just a hint of warm ocean breeze. At the 2.5km turnaround, my mom was there with noisemakers and bells to cheer on the runners (but most of all me, because I’m hers!) and it was so great to have her there.

Then, around the 3.5km mark… pain. Sharp pain on the lateral side of my left knee. Not an altogether new pain, as I’d felt the same thing last fall in another event I had done. My chiropractor had advised that I work on strengthening my hips, and back in the winter/spring I had been, but the summer held little useful cross training. So here I was, with sharp knee pain. I gritted my teeth and forged ahead, so much for a nice easy run. I crossed the finish line with a grimace but earned a pretty awesome medal.

After some water and a banana from the aid stations, and chatting with some friends in the festival area, I walked back to my friend’s house… mildly limping and cursing my sore knee. Once changed and settled, I propped my feet up and rested while my friend and I got caught up and I got to snuggle her new kitten.

Me and Oswin <3 

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear; it was an absolutely ideal day for a run. When I went to walk down the stairs at my friend’s house, the realization that my knee pain was still with me knocked most of the wind out of my sails. Still, I nibbled at my pre-race breakfast and got ready to roll. During the walk to the race-start, I was frowning with every step. That left knee was sore! But damn if the scenery of a calm ocean vista wasn’t just so incredibly beautiful. 

As I approached the starting area my positivity was low, but then I heard my name being called... and spotted one of my best friends and her puppy! They had come down with her dad to cheer on her stepmom, who was running the 10k event (she absolutely rocked it, and got a PB!). Having my friend's love and hugs before my run was a huge bolster of energy.

I spotted my pace bunny (a friend of mine) in the crowd in the starting area, but after I got myself where I’d seen him, he had moved. At that point, there were so many people crammed together that I wasn’t keen on trying to re-locate him so I crossed my fingers for a good run and trust I’d find him later. When the cannon went off, the crowd surged and there were friends, family and volunteers lining starting area, cheering on all who passed. It was wonderful!

When we were a couple hundred feet outside the start line, I had the first sharp pain in my knee. I hobbled along for a few awkward running steps, then I had to walk. The pain was so intense and so bright that I knew there was no way to ignore it. The following moments in my brain were rapid-fire snippets of self-doubt, sadness and grief in an angry cycle:
- how on earth can I continue to run?
- maybe I can walk it, there’s no shame in walking
- let’s try running again, maybe it was a fluke
- nope, that hurts a f@%ing lot
- well, there goes your personal best (cue tears in my eyes)
- you need to get through this!
- holy crap, can you do 5 kilometers of this?

The pain was enough to take my breath away. If anyone happened to look over at me, they’d see my face contorted with anguish and lots of nostril flaring and lip puckering. But I kept going.

Somewhere around the 1km mark, something happened. I stopped minding the pain. It didn’t go away (there’s no way I’m that lucky) but I stopped noticing it so much. At the 2.5km turnaround my mom was there again. At this point I knew my time was not going to be something I would be feeling pride about, so I slowed up and dashed over to her for a tearful hug (“running injured was not part of the plan” I sobbed to her) but she kissed my cheek and cheered me as I ran away.

For the rest of the run I tested my body to see how much pain it would allow me to endure. I could run, but all attempts at extending my stride were met with a sharp pain/wave of nausea. I wasn’t going to get my PB, but I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to give this run everything I could.

Once I turned the last corner and had the finish line in my sights, it was like a switch flicked on in my brain and I flat-out sprinted for the finish line. I didn’t feel anything but euphoria… I made it! As soon as I crossed, I spotted my friend from before the race and her dad at the fence and went to collect some hugs before I picked up my medals (!!).

Love my race bling!

The rest of the morning was spent enjoying the post-race refreshments (thank you to whomever decided to get the mandarins!) and chatting with friends – some whom I’ve known for years, others whom I’ve met as a result of running – and cheering on other runners. If you’ve never stayed behind after your event was over to cheer on other runners, you’re missing out. It is a wonderful glimpse into being a runner… there is joy, there is desperation, every conceivable age, ability and body type you can imagine. All with the same singular goal: cross that finish line.

Then on Sunday, I was consumed by an unyielding feeling of despair that I can’t quite pinpoint. The post-race blues combined with my own self-loathing over my performance combined with a few other petty things that were mildly upsetting bubbled over and I found myself laying on the couch with my dog, having a crying fit. I texted my sister (a fellow runner on the other side of the country) for comfort and advice and made a Facebook post that – in hindsight – was a beacon for reassurance that all really was well.

I was reminded that setbacks are part of progress and that I truly am fortunate to have a network of friends, some who run & could offer suggestions, others who helped me smile and see the bright side of things. I had a massage appointment tonight (hurt, but helped!), a physiotherapy appointment tomorrow, and a chiropractor appointment booked for the day after. I am looking after myself and resting too.

I also have a pretty awesome take-away from the weekend that I’m choosing to focus on… I have completed a number of running events over the last few years, but this weekend I experienced my first real sense of community with being a runner. I’m a fairly friendly and chatty gal, both pre and post race (sometimes during if I encounter a fellow chatty runner) but it’s been mostly fleeting. I don’t belong to any running groups, and while I usually see familiar faces, I have very few running friendships (if you’ve read this far, and you’re one of those friends, you know who you are!). After Friday’s event, I had a fellow runner who I met at an event in July stop me to chat because she recognized me and we discussed running, injuries, and the weekend festivities. On Saturday I got to cheer on and share victory embraces with many people; some of whom I count among my friends, and others who I don’t know well, but I recently met and was grateful for them.

I look forward to future events where I get to meet new friends, embrace old ones and form bonds over both disappointments and triumphs.

Medals: Sunset 5k, Tartan Twosome, Sunrise 5k
Race bib to proudly display

May 31, 2015

Two-fer Weekend: 5k on Saturday & 5k on Sunday

This was a busy weekend!

Saturday morning I ran a 5km race with 4 of my best girlfriends (wish you were there with us Angie!)

Karen & Cindy (first 5km race for both of them!), Corinne, Shauna and me!

This was the very first race I ran last year. This year was no personal best time, but I had fun (and I was faster than my time last year, so that kinda counts).

I kinda love the day-glo yellow shirts... they were ideal on an overcast morning!

Some of the girls from my Crossfit boot camp did the run as well! (for info on Crossfit training in East Hants, NS check out Core to Extremity Fitness!)

Me, Emily (it was her first 5km race!), Kristi and Jennifer

I'm so proud of all of us! We train and complain (okay, *I* complain) together but we are all working on bettering ourselves and our health so every achievement should be celebrated!

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

Then Sunday morning I participated in an event called the IWK 5km Run in Memory of Jessica which is a fundraiser event where the monies raised goes toward the local children's hospital and helps babies and children in critical care.

This weekend, the annual fundraising telethon for the hospital took place and it was a banner year! I'm so glad I got to be a part of it! This year, the run raised $38,675 which formed part of the $6,270,346.07 total raised for 2015!!!

My cheering section was there to support me this morning... best mom ever!

The start of the race! I actually had a new personal achievement this morning even if it wasn't a personal best time overall. This morning I ran consistently without walking for a full half hour, one of these days I will finish the full 5k race in that half hour!

Seeing that finish line is such a motivator! I ended up running with a former coworker for a while near the end and when I said I saw my mom at the finish line she said "sprint for the finish!" and I took off! I'm so glad she was there to give me that final push. The picture my mom got of me in a sprint is one of my favourites...

Fully airborne!
Two weekends ago, I managed to give both ankles a lateral sprain and the left one is recovering quicker but both are pretty sore. When I finished running this morning I sat down and took my right shoe and sock off to asses the soreness... at which point a St. John Ambulance volunteer came over to check on me. She kindly scolded me for running and told me to go home and ice my ankles... I've been re-freezing some peas this afternoon :P

Mmmm peas...
I don't have a lot on the go this week, so I plan to rest the ankles as much as possible!

No pain, no gain right?!


May 28, 2015

Dear Cancer: EFF YOU

I have been looking forward to making this post...

A month ago today, my mother underwent surgery to have invasive ductal carcinoma (breast cancer) removed.

From the moment she found out a breast biopsy came back positive for cancer, we met an incredible collection of doctors, nurses and other professionals who are incredibly supportive and wonderful in dealing with the care and treatment of a breast cancer patient.

A mere week after meeting her surgeon at the incredible IWK Health Centre, mom had surgery to remove a tumour and some lymph nodes.Today we went back for the follow-up. I was there as her support system just in case (God forbid) the news wasn't what we were hoping for. But today we received good GREAT news... the surgery removed all the cancer. WOO-FREAKING-HOO!!!!

My family is blessed to have such a genuine, caring, compassionate group of people in our lives. My own circle of friends have been such a bolster when I needed to share, and I am grateful for each and every kind word and hug that has been offered. Thank you.

And the friends in my mother's life are bar-none the best, and I am personally thankful for each and every one of them. From calling or dropping by to sit with her and talking about her current situation, to bringing her flowers/food/visits after her surgery, she has been surrounded by such love. The heartfelt outpouring of goodwill makes my heart swell. Thank you so, so much.

My mom's road to recovery is ongoing, and an upcoming appointment with a radiation oncologist will determine her future treatments, but I have two cousins who work as radiation therapists in the hospital where mom will be receiving treatment and I am confident she will be in incredibly good hands.

Me and my mom Valerie - Mother's Day 2015

Nine days from now, my mom and I are participating in the Sole Sisters Women's Race, and this year we will have such reason to celebrate!

And as always... make sure you take the time to check your own breasts for any changes or abnormalities and if you should find something concerning, talk to your doctor!

May 2, 2015

One foot in front of another

This morning I ran my first timed race of the year. It was the Benny Bulldog 5k that supports a racing group called Girls Gone Gazelle. The race took place at a park in my hometown, and while the trails were mostly in good shape, they had to re-route to avoid some snow on the trail. Snow. It's May 2nd. Snow on the trail at this point in the spring makes me want to weep.

But back to today's run. It was not my best. It was not my worst, but it was dang close. My feet hurt and my calves hurt. Basically my body reminded me that I need to dedicate more time to training! BUT, I earned my medal and it now hangs with all my others.

At the end of it all, I had fun... and isn't that really what matters?