Adventures in Running with Maurine


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Status Update

Still injured.  The stress fracture has been rediagnosed as severe bursitis in the knee (Duck’s foot bursitis).  Add that to the chronic bursitis in my hip and I am still out of running/walking until January.

However – I am happy it is not a stress fracture so I don’t have to worry about the bone breaking further or anything like that.

In the meantime, I am back to light cross training by recumbent biking, arc trainer, elliptical and swimming – making sure to keep my foot flat and not push too hard with my leg.  I am also doing about 25 minutes of strength training 3x per week, doing some exercises to strengthen my legs and hips and increase flexibility.

Thank heavens I got back into quilting this year.  If I didn’t have that to keep me occupied, I would have gone off the deep end before this.

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Pony Express 2015 Volunteering

I love the Pony Express Trail race put on by Davy Crockett.  Just a unique atmosphere and location.  I’ve either voluteered, crewed, paced or raced this for several years.  

When my participation went from the 100 Mile to 50 Mile to not being able to race, I was grateful when Davy offered me a volunteer position that would allow me to sit down.

I headed out Friday afternoon to drive to the Pony Express Trail. Saw a couple of large herds of wild mustangs – the first herd below was before I even got to Lookout Point.   

Drove a couple of crew members out to Blackrock while stopping to cheer and check on racers on the 50 mile drive out. 

My volunteer role this year was to announce runners as they went through Blackrock on their out and backs.  Davy had picked up a speaker and microphone and I was able to spend over 6 hours out there visiting, announcing and having fun. Below photo by Matt Van Horn – me trying to see runner numbers to prep for announcements.   


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Walking vs Running

My brain has way too much “thinking” time when I am not working out constantly.  One of the things I have been thinking about during this current period of enforced down time (curse you stress fracture!) is walking versus running.  I am considering moving away from my attempts to become a long distance runner and just settling (although settling is not the best word) for being a long distance walker. Here are some of my mental bullet points:

  • I have never been a fast runner.  Even when I ran cross country and track in Jr High School.  I am more an endurance athlete.  I have to push myself like crazy to get below 10 minute miles (mm) and don’t really enjoy it.  Case in point – I just spent April thru September running several miles a day using the Maffetone method.  After all of those months of consistent training I was still barely getting down to the 13 mm range.
  • I rarely “enjoy” running.  I feel satisfaction in accomplishing runs.  I feel a bit more acceptable when I run.  But I don’t truly enjoy it. Satisfaction is about the best I can come up with.  There are probably 2-5 runs a year that make all the other running worthwhile.
  • I like walking. It doesn’t stress me out.  It makes me happy.  It is natural for me.
  • I actually am more efficient speed walking than I am running.  Often, I can walk faster than I can run.
  • I feel more pride in walking a 13 mm than I do in running a 13 mm.

Bit of history – when I started doing marathons back in 2004, I did my first two or three almost totally walking. I basically ran 100 steps each mile to use different muscles. And I did fine.  But I felt guilty not being a runner, so started the walk/run method. Even so, after 11 years of this stuff I still tend to walk more than I run.

So – what happens if I switch away from running and become a distance walker who occasionally throws in a bit of running for grins and giggles?  I don’t think it would take much effort to get back to walking 13 mm consistently.  Would this place less stress on my body? Would I face plant less? (Probably not).  Would I be able to avoid getting injured as much?  Would I be able to enjoy training and being in the mountains and on the road more?

I am leaning more and more in this direction.  The hard part would be giving up some dreams in order to accomplish other dreams.

  • No more dreams of the Boston Marathon.  There has always been a small part of me that wants to run Boston. But I would have to work harder and suffer more than I really want to in order to accomplish that dream.  (Refer to previous mentions of my not being fast). Can I live without this dream? Yes.
  • No more worrying about PR’s in 5K and 10K races.  Gosh – giving up pushing the puke zone will be tough – but I could do that.
  • Learning to not feel bad about not being a runner in a community that calls itself “ultrarunners”.  Not sure I will ever get over that guilt – but I could live with it.
  • Will I have to rename my blog from Adventures in Running to Adventures in Walking?  Nah – I’ll live with it.

The decision is not fully made.  But I have a lot of living ahead of me and what I really want to do is some of the following:

  • Be healthy and strong for as many years as I can.
  • Enjoy life and enjoy living and training.
  • Be able to be on trails in the mountains without worrying about injury. Or without being sidelined by injuries.
  • Challenge myself with ultra distances in training and races.  There are so many things I want to accomplish and most of those involve ultramarathons.

I look at Yolanda Holder and the world records she has set all while being a distance walker.  I admire the things she has accomplished and think that by simply changing my mindset I can accomplish the goals that I want.

Some of the things I have learned this year are that I really don’t want to be a peak bagger, or even a scrambler.  I admire people who finish races like the Wasatch 100, but I don’t have this deep desire (or really enjoy) doing constant vertical in races.  I like going long distances.  There are plenty of races in the US and around the world where I can go long without having to kill myself by constantly climbing and descending.  It is just a matter of focusing on what works for me and enjoy seeing others accomplish their goals without feeling guilty that I don’t have those same goals as them.

Isn’t that a big part of what the ultra community is all about?


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As Daylight Time Wanes….

Without going into all the fascinating (insert sarcasm) studies on depression, it is often a given that as there is less and less daylight available around us (including the fun of going to work in the dark AND coming home from work in the dark in winter) that depression increases.

Most years I stay on my anti depressant medications year round.  Every few years I successfully wean myself off them, only to go back on them in the winter.

This year I was doing really good.  I was out of a toxic and stressful work environment. I was exercising consistently. I was eating fairly decently.  I have been off all of my medications since last March (with the rare exceptions of asthma medications when I get sick). I had hopes to be able to stay off of anti depressants again.  But I now know I will need them for a while.

Note:  The following thoughts relate to depression when it is not crippling your life.  There are different degrees of depression. For all I know, there are different types.

The depression I suffer from is fairly low level.  If life gets too stressful I occasionally spend a day or two hiding in bed.  But for the most part I can function around it.

About six weeks ago the injuries started.  First the bursitis in my hip started crippling me.  Leaving me in bed for a couple of days at a time when it flared struggling to find ANY position at all that would not cause the pain to flare.  Or to even get the aching to a level that would allow me to sleep.

Then I had the surgery on my face.  Not a lot of pain, but aching and discomfort.

Sometime in that period of time I realized my right lower leg was aching constantly.

Oh – and then I fell on the road one day and twice on the trails in a few minutes the same week.  My ribs and sternum weren’t too happy.

Two weeks ago the ache in my leg was diagnosed as a stress fracture.  No running or walking or weight bearing exercise for 6-8 weeks.  End of season. What fun.

I’ve been letting my body heal. A lot of my spare time is just spent laying in bed reading.  I am finally to the point where I can go and lift weights and swim. That will start tonight.  YAY!

Anyway – this has led to the grey monster coming back into my life. Little flits in and out this time.  I don’t know that I have realized it as subtly in the past – probably because life was overwhelming me at the time. I wanted to put it into writing so that I might recognize it more in the future and in hopes that it might help someone else that is not aware that they might be suffering from depression.  Here are some of the flits – in thought format.  It is kind of like a golden snitch from a game of Quidditch.

  • I should go work out.  Nah – too much effort.  I’ll lay here instead.
  • I really need to clean the house.  Why?  Who else will ever see it.  Its not that dirty anyway.
  • Time for prayers.  But will it really matter if I skip it this time?  And I don’t feel like praying right now.
  • Not training constantly is a great time to lose weight.  But self medicating with junk food sounds a whole lot easier.  I’ll start this tomorrow. (repeat ad nauseum)
  • I should give up all social media.  Seeing posts of people running in the mountains is just depressing me.
  • I need some friends.  Other people have friends who help them when they are injured.  (Note:  I am really not a social animal).
  • I could get in an hour or two of quilting before work.  Nope. Instead I will just hide under the covers until the very last minute and then rush to work.
  • Yikes – even junk food is not making me happy.

It is interesting to see the little things add up.  It is very similar to the inversions in Utah in winter.  They slowly build up until you realize you have actually not seen blue sky or the sun in days.

I really wish I could go and run for a few hours to shake off the fog.  Instead, I guess it is time to schedule a physical and get to work dieting and back on medication until I can train again.

If you are physically able, I strongly recommend walking 30 minutes a day.  It doesn’t have to be all at once. It doesn’t have to be hard or fast.  But physical exercise does incredible things in helping your brain and body battle depression.

Carry on!


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This has not been my running year…

I had lots of great plans for 2015 – first year after getting my Plantar Fasciitis cured.  Unfortunately, things have not gone as planned. 

In early August I started to have some hip pain when on trails.  And it would later ache at home.  This pain flared in late August and was diagnosed as Bursitis in the greater trochanter (sorry if I murdered that spelling) as well as irritation in the IT Band in the right hip. Great combination.  When it gets bad, nothing relieves the pain.  I usually lay in bed for most of two days unable to sleep or get comfortable until the worst of the inflammation passes.  

My third episode of this flaring occurred last weekend after sweeping 11 miles of races in Park City.  Too many hills on top of too many hours of standing.  Within a day or two I did an assessment and realized that the hills at the St George Marathon on top of the long drive to and from the race would cripple me even more and made the decision that my racing for the year was over. I knew I needed to stay on flats until I get this hip cured. And – racing in Utah = hills. 

I have also had an ache in the upper tibia of my right leg.  Surprise – all my injuries this year are on the right side.  Usually it is my left leg that is messed up.  At first I thought it was shin splints, but the behavior was different and then I finally started thinking that perhaps it was a stress fracture.  It aches all the time – I notice it most when I am not moving, like at work, driving, or laying in bed.  

Today I saw a new sports chiropractor to see what I can do to get healed up. There is a ton of inflammation in my entire lower leg and everywhere he pushed on the tibia was sore, especially at the head of the bone.  Using a tuning fork also hurt – so we are going with the diagnosis of stress fracture.  I had one 20 years ago that never showed up on x-rays, so at this point am not going to go for an MRI, etc. Of course, this diagnosis comes with the suspected cure. No walking or running except what is needed for daily life. 

I am on some herbs, minerals, vitamins, etc. to help with inflammation and bone growth.  Massage and some stretching as well as icing to help the tissues heal.  

I’m trying to stay positive, but I am really tired of being injured.  I guess at this point I’ll do some drives into the mountains so I won’t miss them too much and work on getting off the excess weight I put on during the 3 years of Plantar Fasciitis + stress at work fun.  Probably also a good time to start back into some weight training – at least upper body to start. 

If you see me getting too down and depressed – feel free to inundate me with some pictures of trail porn. This too shall pass. 


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Volunteering at The North Face Park City

Last Saturday I volunteered all day at The North Face series in Park City.  It was a long day and I am still debating how much worth it was for me, but I do love contributing to races if I don’t participate in them. 

After signing in at the volunteer booth and getting my radio gear and food and drink, I was dropped off at the top of Guardsman Pass for volunteer portion 1.  I stood in a relatively small area for most of 7.5 hours cheering on runners, directing them where to turn, trying to get them to avoid some big ruts that were tripping them up, asking bicyclists to be aware of the runners and to give them right of way, etc. There was really nowhere to sit so I stood except for 15 or so minutes.  The nice thing was – I saw every single runner that passed my position  as Course Marshal so I got to see runners in the 50 mile, 50K, and Marathon.  Even got to say hi to some friends and get a hug from Adriana Vars.  Some other notable names were Phil Lowry and Mark Kruezer.  

One of the negatives of this location was it was cool and windy. For hours.  It was nearly 11 before I finally got some sun at my location and I was still cold even then.  Spent a lot of time shaking and trying to stay warm.  Didn’t think I would be out of the sun for that many hours. I did get some beautiful views of the fall colors and saw about a bazillion cars and bikes going over the pass. There was even a collection of luxury cars being filmed and driving to Midway (probably more than 100 cars). 

  
Once Ryan – the marathon sweep came by, I was to join him and help sweep the course until the 5 way Aid Station.  I was told that I could easily walk it out – but actually had to keep pace with Ryan or I would lose the advantage of the course markings.  Of course, less than a mile into the sweeping portion I started to feel some chafing.  Took a quick glance under my kilt and my compression shorts had suddenly decided to no longer have one of its seams.  Luckily I had some anti-chafing solutions I could apply and by folding up the leg of the blown side I was able to avoid a lot of the chafing fun. 

The 11 miles I helped sweep had some tough sections. Top of Jupiter Peak was challenging.  I was glad when we finally got through the really rocky portions where we didn’t dare move fast. There were some pretty views, but I only really enjoyed about 6 miles of the section we swept.  Glad I did it because I now have no urge to run these races.  

  

I did love the color gradiants between the changing leaves and the darker evergreens. Does anyone know what lake is in this picture?

  
Got to see Britta and Sawyer Tripp at one aid station. I think it was Sawyer’s first experience at volunteering.  Last I saw of him, he was sleeping on the job. 

As we got close to the 5 Way Aid Station, I did a graceful fall to the side of the trail.  My arms were full of signs, luckily I fell into some grass.  Brushed off my pride and less than 50 steps later I did a full on face plant onto the trail.  I can now tell exactly where the radio was because I have its bruise on my chest.  The wind was knocked out of me and my confidence was shaken, so I told Ryan to move on and let me walk into the aid station and pick up the remaining markings since he still had more miles to sweep.

I was really glad to get to the 5 Way.  Not only did I get some hellos from friends and a great hug from Jo Agnew, but I knew by now I was going to feel the pain in my hip again that had already crippled me twice this month. I made the decision to ride the tram down and head home to nurse my leg.  

Once I got my volunteer supplies and a quick dinner, I visited with Phil Lowry for a few minutes and heard about his race and then headed home.  Sure enough – within about 5 miles I could feel my hip flaring up. 

It was a nice day to be outdoors.  You can’t beat that.  I got to see a new course and had some new adventures.  All in all – not a bad day. 


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Skin Cancer Surgery

This post is not running related – but I thought I would write down my experience with Mohs surgery to remove Basal Cell Carcinoma in case anyone else that follows me has to have surgery and wonders what to experience. 

I don’t know when I noticed I had a growth under my right nostril.  Probably somewhere between 1-2 years ago.  It started pretty small and I thought at first it was a pimple, then a mole, then a wart.  Somewhere in there I probably figured it might be something I needed to have looked at, but between job travelling, job stress, and then switching insurance countless times earlier this year, I put it off. 

Back in August I finally went in to see my primary care physician. She took one look at it and brought in a book and showed me sample of basal cell carcinoma and said I needed to see a dermatologist. The clue – in case you need to know – was a cratered appearance where the center portion occasionally breaks off and bleeds. 

This first image shows the growth.  Many people never even noticed it. 

   
One week later I had my first visit to a dermatologist.  She also agreed, but the pumped me full of lidocaine and did a biopsy.  While she was at it, she burned off two small precancerous growths on my nose with liquid nitrogen and a scaly patch that I asked her about near my left ear that was also precancerous.  After about a week those scabbed over and then cleared up. 

That afternoon she called to verify the diagnosis of basal cell carconima and then I was contacted by the surgeon’s office to schedule the surgery. 

Mohs surgery is done in a doctor’s office.  It is all local anesthetic.  They warned me to allow 1-5 hours for the process.  But I was allowed to eat before the appointment and drive myself home. 

Day of surgery – the doctor came in and explained the process.  They would numb my face and remove as much visible cancer tissue as needed. Then I would be left alone while they biopsied the tissue. If any edges were not clean, they would repeat as many times as needed until all edges were cancer free.  He did warn me that because there is no spare tissue under the nose that I would be thinking for several weeks and months that he didn’t know what he was doing – but he does. 

Draw a circle around the edges.  Take a photo.  Pump me full of lidocaine and start the cutting process.  Since I could see a lot of what was going on with my peripheral vision I don’t know if that was good or bad. 

First cuts were done.  Crater at that point was 10mm x 10mm. 45 minutes later they come in to tell my the upper left edge needed to be cut more.  Crater after that was 13mm x 10mm and I told him I was starting to feel things so he poked me about 20 times since he knew he would be either removing more or repairing. 

Another hour passed by and this time I got a clean bill.  More pictures (I am not posting that one since it is not very pretty). More lidocaine.  

The repair work took a while. He had to make some good incisions and then cut the upper skin away from the lower skin so he could make a flap.  It felt like the stitching went on forever.  When I asked him how many stitches he said he lost track but between 30-40. 

More pictures (I didn’t take a copy of this one) and then they put on a heavy pressure dressing to keep bleeding and swelling down as much as they could. Off I trundled to Target to get my antibiotics and another ice pack and headed home. 

The next day I took off the pressure bandage.  Not a pretty sight.  The face was really swollen and my lip was huge with pooled blood. But – you can see that the outer incision is along the crease in the cheek and should fade into that crease.  The inner incision should look similar to repair for cleft lip.  I’ve seen how fantastic those look post surgery – so am not worried. 

I’m really glad I am not self conscious about how I look most the time – because it is not great yet. And my daughter says the wild hair makes this picture all the better. 

 Today is 15 days post surgery.  As you can see in the final picture, there is still some swelling and inflammation – but it is down a lot.  The lip is normal sized, just still black.  There is a good portion of my face and mouth that is numb.  Feels like novocaine that won’t go away.  If I talk too much or try to smile I can feel the incision pull – but considering a week ago it was uncomfortable to talk for more than a few minutes, things have improved a lot in a short period of time. I love the bruising that goes down to my neck.  It makes my old lady jowls stand out.  
At this point I keep  Vaseline on the incisions at all times for another week.  I need to be careful about sunburn on the scars for a year.  Of course – it was probably sunburns back in my teenage years that contributed to this. 

There hasn’t been a lot of pain and the discomfort has been either from swelling or from the incision being stretched. I guess that is the good thing about a quarter numb face. 

I hope this helps anyone that has to consider Mohs surgery. I’ve seen other Mohs patients where they were able to close the edges and had smaller scars.  This one is larger because of being under the nose and the size of the growth.