Adventures in Running with Maurine


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End of an Era

I’ve come to the hard conclusion today that I have to give up my dreams of being an ultrarunner. Maybe someday in the future I can revisit these dreams, but for now I am tucking them away.

I’m depressed thinking about how much money I am losing on race entries over the past year or so (and in the next year) because injuries preventing me from running a race. Or, if I run a race, being hurt afterwards. Right now, I’m so tired of being in pain off and on that its not worth it.

My hip hurts – some days it doesn’t, but on the days that it does, it affects everything I do.

My back hurts – some days it doesn’t, but on the days that it does, it affects everything I do.

My foot hurts – both Plantar Fasciitis and some weird cramping in the front of my foot that no one can seem to figure out.

Now my left IT band hurts.

Unfortunately – regular doctors (that is – one’s my insurance covers) don’t seem to care enough to actually fix the issues – just deal with pain. Chiropractic helps and massage helps – but is not covered by my insurance and is getting more expensive than I care to keep paying.

So – for now, I’m going to settle back into being a normal runner and staying at half marathon distances and less. Maybe focus on weight training more and lose the remaining 10 or so pounds I need to lose. Keep eating healthy and enjoy other hobbies.

It hurts to have dreams end. However, it has been so worth it. I can’t describe the feeling of completing my first marathon, 50K, 50 mile, and getting my beloved belt buckle. I hope nobody feels the need to say I wouldn’t be injured if I wasn’t a runner, because my foot problems started long before I took up distance running and I know plenty of people with injuries that never ran.

Life is full of challenges. This is my current challenge. I am sure there are things I need to learn. I just haven’t figured them out yet. One day I’d like to be pain free. If not – I just need to learn to handle pain better and not let it play its lovely mental games that it does.

I’ll still be on trails and roads – just shorter distances. I still hope to help out at races. I enjoy the ultra community too much to stay away. Strangely enough – it “hurts” less to be out helping the community than to stay at home watching it on social media.

But for now – I’m off to find some Phish Food.


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One year later….

It was a year ago today that I was volunteering at Tushars and first felt the pain on the outside of my right hip.  Within a few weeks I started having debilitating days where I could hardly move. 

Fast forward to January when Dr. Steve Frogley figured out my sacroiliac joint was messed up and starting curing that problem.  It helped the hip – but never totally cured it. 

Since my left foot was bothering me with a lovely trio of tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitis, I switched back to Dr. Eric Brady in Provo who fixed my foot two years ago.  He put me in a boot for a month to help the foot start healing and reminded me of all the taping, stretching, strengthening stuff I had let slide once my foot quit hurting. 

Once that was on its merry way – he starting digging into the hip. Literally.  Ouch!  Each week he added new strength and stretching exercises for the hip as well as lots of rolling.  In addition he would do a lot of dry needling.  Nothing like an electric current flowing through a tight area deep inside your hip to make you want to cry.  

This last week we did a treadmill assessment.  An important discovery was made.  We don’t know why or when it started – but I point my right foot out as I walk/run and also lean on the outside of the leg, which has led me to quit utilizing the inner thigh muscles when I move.  At this point I am retraining my muscle memory to change my stance and stride. This is always a pain – but this final step should hopefully clear up the remaining back and hip issues.  In less than a week, my upper shin has quit hurting, so I have high hopes.  


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Jackpot Ultra 2016

While I very slowly walked a few hours at the New Years Revolution Run on New Year’s Day, I decided that I was ready to try “racing” (insert sarcastic snort) at Jackpot 2016.  Why not – since I had already registered for it a year before.

My biggest concern was not the race – it was would my back hold up to the long drive to and from Las Vegas.  If it did – I was going to feel capable of doing more races this year.

I went down with no expectations.  My A plan was to do a 50K over the course of 24 hours.  Even if that meant walking a lap (about 2.3 miles), resting for an hour, walking a lap, etc. But I would have even been happy with a half marathon.  The whole point was to survive the drive.

I drove down on Friday.  The plan was to stop and stretch out my back as needed – but an adjustment a couple of days before followed by cranking down on my SI belt allowed me to only stop for gas and food (and I mainly relied on a cooler I packed for that).

Once I reached Las Vegas I immediately went to the course in Henderson (at Cornerstone Park).  I was so happy to see some of my ultra friends and family.  I had a great visit with Martha Ettinghausen – who I had not seen since Jackpot 2015.  Davy Crockett wandered by as did Diane Durden and some others.  Said hi to Ed Ettinghausen and Susan S. as they lapped by several times during our visit (they were doing the 48 hour race).

After packet pickup opened up, I grabbed my packet and headed down to the strip to the Hooters Casino.  (It was the cheapest I could find).  Not very impressed.  When I went to stretch that night it was obvious that the floor had only been vaccumed of “obvious” dirt in a while.  I ended up trying to roll out my back and hip on the bed because the floor grossed me out.

I did wander over to the Strip for a little bit and bought a crepe for dinner (Caprese Salad in a crepe form is delicious) and then went over to the Excalibur to buy my son-in-law some dragon shirts (I like to spoil him too).

Back at the hotel my insides objected to the little amounts of less healthy food I had eaten that day and the night before (I was babysitting some boys while their mom had an emergency c-section and didn’t pack food well). Made me realize eating junk food was not worth it – but also let me go into the race several pounds lighter (without going into nasty details). I was very happy at that point to be at a hotel with a toilet instead of sleeping at the race course with portapotties.

Race day….

I was so excited to get to the race that I got there a couple of hours early (and I was still on mountain time) and got my personal aid station set up and visited with more friends.

The race started at 9 a.m. Pacific Time and I set off at a very slow walk.  Rosemary Larrazabel walked with me the first few laps.  I gradually improved my pace as my body warmed up, and ended up settling in most of the day around 17 minute miles.

I really like the course at Cornerstone.  You loop around quite a bit for each 2.3 mile loop and get a variety of concrete, asphalt, dirt, gravel and rocks.  Plus you are able to see people at multiple locations and I love watching the lake and waterfowl as I pass it.

I just took it easy all day.  Probably my slowest marathon ever and I didn’t care.  About the half marathon mark I got worried because my hip started seizing up – but I rolled it and did some gentle stretches my chiropractor suggested and was able to get my SI joint to pop back in.  I did this a few times and it worked – so success!

The day was hot – but not as bad as last year.  I enjoyed meeting some new Utah runners and we were thrilled to be out of the crap/inversion that we had left behind.  Still, I was glad to have night fall.  I was hoping at this point to keep going for a few more hours, but around 8 p.m. I could tell my core muscles were tired of trying to keep my back in place and decided to call it a night.

I set my alarm for 5 a.m.   Of course, some stupid person (looking innocent) did not realize that locking the doors from the remote while inside the car and then unlocking them manually to go to the bathroom at midnight would set off the car alarm.  That woke me up completely. I was able to go back to sleep and got up in time to do a couple of laps as the sun rose and the day started. I was also happy as I went back to the race to see that Davy had just finished his 100 mile race and helped him load his vehicle.

I stopped the race at a little over 35 miles. I could have probably done one or two more laps – but was still concerned about the drive home and my back was really tight. Rolling out my back after the race was painful – but paid off as I had no issues driving home.

I can’t explain how good it felt to get back to racing and to feel like I was finally making progress after several months of being laid up.


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Reveal #1

Last summer I finally got to the point that I could mentally admit my weight was out of control and my eating habits were not making me healthy.  I was tired of feeling overweight and tired of repeated injuries.

I have been reading a lot of books.  Particularly the books by Phil Maffetone and determined that a lot of my issues were do to my addiction to sugar/junk food.  I was raised to be an emotional eater (thanks Mom!) and I was doing a good job of it.  But it wasn’t making me happy.

As I mentioned in my last post – I never thought I could break the junk food habit.  I was happy with it. Or so I thought.  I don’t think I really was happy with it – I was just comfortable with it.

Seeing my friend, Shauna Wendtlandt, lose a lot of weight and being impressed by the results my daughter, Jennifer Merkley, was showing after working on losing weight and exercising, I decided to jump on the bandwagon.

Strangely – I lost only a pound or two last summer after months of dieting and running incredible amounts.

After months of being crippled from what was diagnosed as Greater Trochanter Bursitis (see previous posts), I decided I might as well lose weight while I was recovering and not exercising a lot.

My massage therapist and friend, Jennifer Hanna, recommended Jeff Sproul – a nutritionist that specializes in athletes and I started seeing him in the beginning of November.  At that point I was 183 lbs.  By far my heaviest weight. Jeff convinced me that I had to choose to lose weight or exercise like crazy – you couldn’t do both at once in most cases.

I started weight training 3x a week (can we say 183 pound weakling) and not training more than 75 minutes a day total.  I was also put on a very restrictive diet of 1500 calories a day stretched over 6 meals.

The first week I was to eat exactly the same thing at every meal to make sure we were catching any dietary blocking points.  I was very happy to lose more than 5 pounds the first week.  (Wish that had kept up). After that I was given some variety to allow the diet some flexibility and less boredom.

In the first month – I took a vacation (I missed Starbucks at the airports) and celebrated my birthday and Thanksgiving with my daughter and son-in-law.  We only ate out one time on my birthday (I did a little cheating) and were very conservative for Thanksgiving.  I was really grateful that they supported me in my dietary changes. It was really hard when my supervisor brought donuts for my birthday at work.  I ate half of a donut and hid the rest in a bathroom garbage can.

Of course, that was followed by December. I did a little more cheating – but really tried to eat well even with parties, our son’s birthday dinner and Christmas and New Years.  Let me tell you – the steaks and baked potatoes Kevin and I ate on Christmas Eve were like manna.  Losing the junk food habit makes me appreciate good food more.

After the first week, things leveled off on the weight loss side.  I was losing slow and steady.  It even got slower – but still steady.

I have learned to make healthy chicken soup when sick instead of junk food.  I even craved vegetables at a race the other week (so weird).

I did my first reveal on Facebook the other week.  I had been avoiding pictures of myself (other than a few selfies) until I felt like I was able to show myself making progress.  I was actually shocked to see the changes – and very happy with them.

Reveal1

This morning I was even shocked a bit to step on the scale and see 159.8!  Goodbye 160’s. 170’s and 180’s.  I hope that I will never see you again. In fact – I insist that I will never see you again.

So – for those who were wondering how I do it – that gives you a general idea.  My daily diet is roughly as follows:

  1. Protein shake with almond milk, 1/2 cup of fruit and spinach at waking
  2. Apple with 7 almonds and 2 oz of lean meat mid morning
  3. 2 slices Ezekial bread, 1 tbsp olive oil mayonnaise, 80 calories cheese, tomato, spinach/kale, 3 oz lean meat for a sandwich. 1 clementine. This is lunch
  4. Quest bar as mid afternoon snack
  5. 1/3 C brown rice (or equivalent), 4-5 oz lean meat, 1.5 C or more of a dark green vegetable for dinner
  6. Protein shake with almond milk at bedtime

I am taking this slow and steady.  My goal is to get healthy for life and for the first time I think I might be able to do this.  It has been such a struggle to lose weight at age 55 that I don’t ever want to have to go through this again.

As my online guru “The Nutrition Diva” always says – “Eat something good for me.”


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Changing Habits

You know that one thing you love and you swear you will never give it up?  You know that habit you say you can never break or never make?  Well – if I can do this, anyone can.

Last fall I made a decision that I needed to eat healthier and lose some weight.  A lot of this was in the hopes of curing my injury cycle. With that in mind, I met with a Registered Dietician (Jeff Sproul) who was recommended to me by my massage therapist, Jennifer Hanna.  Jeff specializes in endurance athletes. 

I have to admit that I didn’t expect him to want to make over my whole diet.  I thought he might give me a calorie count is all.  No such luck.  Not only did he put me on six strict meals each day, but he restricted my workouts to allow me to not go too far into calorie deprivation. 

I have a life long love affair with junk food.  And chocolate. And sugar. And hot chocolate. And easy meals. And anything chocolate.  And eating out.  And more chocolate. 

After nearly three months – several surprising things have occurred:

  • I rarely eat out.  Like once every 10 days – and I am fussy about where I go and usually make that meal cover two meals. 
  • I prepare my food.  I cook up my brown rice and separate it into 1/3 cup servings. I cook lean chicken and turkey and pork and cut them up into 2 ounce baggies for my morning snack, 3 ounce portions for my lunch, 4 ounce portions for dinner. I pack my lunch the night before. 
  • I eat a lot of vegetables.  
  • I don’t eat a lot of dairy or excess fat.  I mean we are talking 7 almonds as a fat source.  Such gluttony. 
  • I rarely eat sugar.  Including chocolate.  I broke a huge addiction.  I can be happy occasionally eating 1-2 pieces of dark chocolate a week. (If even that often). Imagine my shock of having two large boxes of frango mints in my freezer since November that I have not even opened. I treated myself to a hot chocolate one day last week and insisted Canice make it a small one made out of Almond Milk and sugar free chocolate syrup. 

So – to get to the moral of the story.  If you are one of those people who swear they cannot break an addiction to junk food – you are wrong.  You just have to want it bad enough. 

Will I still eat sugar laden products when I get back into training?  Sure – but it will be controlled and limited to actual long runs or races.  

Do I miss my junk food?  Not as much as I expected I would.  I did a treat meal at Waffle Love on Saturday.  I have not craved them for so long I had not even noticed they opened a store within 2 miles of my office and home.  The worst thing is my coworkers love the fresh donuts from Maceys and I actually start drooling when I smell the grease off of them.  Luckily they eat them pretty quickly. 

The highlight of my day is my daily snack of a Quest Bar at 3:30 each afternoon.  They actually taste sweet to me now and I have become quite a connoisseur.  

For years I put off the steps needed to improve my eating.  I thought it would be a lot of work and I would miss my old favorites.  Now I am fussier about what I am willing to put into my body.  I appreciate cheat/treat meals.  I don’t feel guilty if I want to eat a piece of chocolate.  I can cope with a crisis without buying and eating a ton of chocolate.  

With that being said – I’m not going to try to make others feel guilty for their own food choices.  We all have to choose what we want to do.  And I know from experience that there are a lot of events from our childhoods and lives that impact how, when and what we eat.  I just wanted to share that it is possible to change and do things that we swear will never happen. 


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Injury Update

Some good news on the injury front.  I posted a message in the Trail and Ultra Running (TAUR) group on Facebook a couple of weeks back regarding my bursitis issues – hoping someone might have a brilliant suggestion.  Steve Frogley, an ultrarunner from Heber, Utah (who also dabbles with being a chiropractor to pay for his fishing and running habits) said he thought I might have been misdiagnosed and that the cause might be my sacroiliac joint.  

After some car problems one day, I finally made it to Heber the next day to meet with Steve at Wasatch Chiropractic.  (Sorry about all the snow I seem to bring to Park City and Heber each trip).  We talked a bit and then he did some X-rays.  They have a cool digital X-ray machine and it was neat to see my bones.  Not so neat to see the lovely S curve my lower back was attempting to achieve.  Made it pretty obvious that the SI Joint was not following its intended plan.  

They did some trigger point therapy to loosen up my glutes and Steve did some aligning and it was pretty obvious to see the strength in my right leg increase once he got everything back in place.  

I had 1.5 days pretty pain free.  I can’t describe how wonderful that felt.  Only something that people who have experienced chronic pain will understand. 

Last week I did another snowy adventure up to Heber and got the SI Joint back in place again.  Now I am wearing an SI belt to keep things in place while I work on healing and strengthening muscles in the support areas.  As long as I wear the belt I am pain free about 99% of the time – I can live with that.  It has given me a lovely rash in the hip creases, so I have to wear it outside my clothes – but well worth the pain free living. 

Once again I learned the hard way that while doctors usually mean to treat you correctly, they often look only at the obvious issue (point of pain) and not at the root cause.  Learning this the hard way seems to be my favorite method, but I have also learned a lot about my body in the meantime and made some good doctor/chiropractor acquaintances along the way. 


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2016 – Resolutions and Revolutions

2015 sure didn’t go as planned.  I guess that is life – and sometimes life sucks.  I started off the year finishing Across the Years with 104 miles for my longest race ever and then got the awesome news on my drive home on New Year’s Day that I was an Ambassador for Solemates Running.  So many plans stemmed from that.  

Fast forward a month or more.  Solemates decided to liquidate their races for the near future.  While I was bummed about that part, I was so thrilled for the reason.  My friends, Mark and Sharill Hellenthal received two beautiful foster children on Christmas Eve and between the boys and other changes in their lives, they were overwhelmed.  Talk about a family undergoing major changes in 2015 (the boys are now officially Hellenthals!). 

I then changed my plans and just focused on rebuilding and running in 2015.  I got involved for a while with plans to run 100 miles on October, but the body did not cooperate and injuries started to occur just when my training was going well. 

The job I loved for so many years started going downhill and the company that purchased my company started treating me like the dirt I love to run on.  Add on the stress from that, job hunting, finding a new job, etc. and, as you can guess, that made the year a challenge.  Overall though, no regrets.  The job situation in 2014 enabled me to be available for my father and aunt when they were undergoing some medical and personal challenges and that was awesome. 

Back to those injuries – I can’t recall exactly when the first injury started.  Sometime in the summer I started feeling an ache in my right shin.  At first I thought it was shin splints, but that was not the case.  After a while, it got so that my leg ached around the clock – even waking me up and causing discomfort when trying to go to sleep. The next diagnosis was a stress fracture, so I stayed off the leg as much as I could.  It was later rediagnosed as bursitis.  I’m still not sure that is 100% correct.  The leg only aches some of the time now and I have had some success with deep massage of the lower leg to reduce the pain. 

The second injury started on August 1st.  I felt my hip starting to ache while hiking in the Tushars the day I was volunteering at a race.  I thought it might be from some stretching exercises I had started – but I really think it is from the unevenness of trails – I had not done much trail running yet that year due to focusing on heart rate training on roads. The ache started occurring more and more. The first horrible flare up was on the treadmill one night.  I felt a deep twinge, so eased up my speed until it did not hurt and finished my workout pain free.  I got off the treadmill (in my garage) and went to walk up the stairs in my condo and the pain was incredible.  I couldn’t even lift my right leg as I walked up. 

This started a couple of months of episodes of being crippled.  At first I thought it was my lower back.  I had to lay flat in bed with my lower leg propped at a certain angle to even be out of any pain and be able to rest/sleep.  This was finally diagnosed at Greater Trochanter Bursitis in the hip the day after my skin cancer surgery in early September. After another crippling bout of pain after sweeping The North Face course in Park City in October, I gave up on running and walking. 

The hip is slowly recovering. I am working on strengthening it carefully as well as all the support muscles.  I started walking 1-2 times a week only a couple of weeks ago.  I am walking very slowly and as soon as any hip discomfort occurs I pull the plug on the workout. We are talking 20 minute miles most of the time. I have to be careful about turning and stretching because the second I feel a twinge in the hip I have to stop for fear of another bout in bed. Even crossing my ankles or resting with my knees up can sometimes start the pain coming back. It is a work in progress. 

Fast forward to the holiday season….

This holiday season has been very depressing for me because of my injuries.  Seeing pictures of my friends in the mountains is painful. Not participating in the Wasatch Wranglers gift exchange in the mountains is painful.  They offered to hide and find my gift exchange contributions – but if I can’t do at least part of it, it wasn’t worth it to me. 

Watching Across the Years in Arizona (ok – stalking) has been both inspiring and depressing.  One year ago I earned my coveted 100 mile belt buckle.  A dream for many years.  I always said earning one belt buckle before I gave up on ultras would be enough for me.  I lied. I want more. This last week I have questioned if I will ever be an endurance athlete again. 

Note: In no way do I consider my injuries and pain to be as awful as what some of my friends battling cancer or constant struggles like fibromyalgia are experiencing.  But anyone who has ever dealt with constant pain can understand that it eats away at your morale and makes you afraid to do anything that might make the pain worse. 

On to 2016….

I did sign up for The New Years Revolution Run at the Olympic Ice Oval in November.  I thought it might help with not being at ATY.  However, as the week’s dragged on with no spectacular improvement with my injuries, I wondered if I should even try. On New Years Eve I pretty well said I didn’t think I would risk it.  The next morning I decided to give it a try. My goal was 10 miles maximum or less if the hip started hurting at all. 

I started the race about 8:30.  I hung in the outside lane and planned to do a slow walk for about 2.5-3 hours. After a couple of miles, I decided to run 25 steps at the start of a lap, then 50, 75, 100.  It felt mentally good to be running. I hadn’t realized I missed it.  To be safe, I eventually ran 100 steps at the start of every other lap. I kept my walking pace turtle speed, but was able to speed up or jog to get around the slow groups that accumulated of chatters not listening to the rules about blocking lanes. 

I had taken the insoles out of my Altra Olympus shoes at home and forgot my feet were no longer hardened from running, and the shoes started rubbing my left heel after 5 miles.  Since I had been doing a lot of barefoot work the last months, I solved this by taking off my shoes and doing the second 5 miles in my socks. 

The calf started aching around mile 8. The hip never hurt during the 10 miles.  Once my phone said I had achieved 10 miles of walking, I called it a day. It was nice to see friends at the race and talk to many of them for short periods of time. Their encouragement helped.  The Oval may be my go to location for long walks this winter until the ice and cold ease up. Not worrying about keeping the injuries warm and uneven ground or slipping was a big relief and gives me a ray of sunshine/hope when I was ready to give up for good. 

My word….

My daughter wrote a blog post yesterday about her word to focus on for 2016.  I liked this idea.  I do have some “resolutions” that I want to focus on this year, but am not ready to share them. 

But I did come up with a word I want to focus on in 2016 – and that word is….(drumroll, please)

FOCUS

As I work on things this year, I want to focus on what is important.  As an example, while circling the track yesterday, I kept trying to focus on good posture, engaging my core and glutes.  (I am horrible at all of these). 

Some other areas I want to focus on are:

  • Focus on disengaging from electronics for a portion of each day (other than work specific)
  • Focus on studying the scriptures instead of just reading them
  • Focus on eating healthy and learning to enjoy nutritional food
  • Focus on being in the moment completely
  • Focus on serving others regularly and willingly
  • Focus on positive moments and not dwell on negative moments

I may have to throw out all my planned races for 2016.  It won’t make me happy if that occurs, but if I focus on life, I will continue to improve in many aspects. 
Have a wonderful year and keep putting one foot in front of the other.