I Ran Today…

…and I mean really ran!  The last time I blogged, which was not long ago, I was running a slow mile.  Today I ran five miles, without walking, at a 10:07 pace!!  I was pretty much to the point that I regretted my surgery, and felt I’d never be able to run again.  I just couldn’t accept that, so I kept plugging along.  That first week, I ran twice, a mile both times.  I was happy to do anything, but longed to run farther.

Last weekend my family was in Lake Tahoe, which just so happens to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  The lake is just incredible, and the mountains and trees make a perfect backdrop.  The homes are all made of cedar or stone, and fit right into the landscape, and the air is crisp and clear.  And the one thing I wanted to do while we were in Tahoe was run.  Whenever I travel, I love to go out for a run because it’s such a great way to experience new places.  We miss so much when we just drive through new areas.  When we get out and run, we can take time to take in our surroundings, smell the fresh air, and embrace the opportunity to just be in the moment.  Because my knee still hurt and I hadn’t done any substantial running, I was afraid I would be unable to run while we were gone, but I was certainly going to try!

Friday morning Gary and I got up well before the crack of dawn to head out on a run.  It was 21 degrees – a brisk morning to say the least.   We had packed our cold-weather running gear, so we suited up and headed out.  It was dark, but we took off toward the lake.  As we were running along the main road that runs alongside Lake Tahoe, the sun began to emerge over the mountains.  Ahhhh….those are the moments I absolutely love.  We stopped to peer out over the lake, take in the scenery, and just thank God for the chance to experience his handiwork.  That morning, with my husband nearby, I ran just over two miles for the first time in months.  I ran those miles in Lake Tahoe.

The next morning, Gary was going to play golf with his son, so I planned to run on my own.  I waited until it was light, and took off along the same route.  This time, the sun glistened on the lake, and the snow-capped mountains shone in the background.  I was in awe.  I looked at the detail in the homes I passed, enjoyed the magnificent pine trees that claim this land as their own, and breathed in the cold, clean Tahoe air.  I didn’t run fast; I was really too busy taking in the beauty.  And there is the little issue with elevation.  I didn’t notice it being too much of an issue, but when we got back to Indiana, I noticed it was easier to breathe while running.  That morning, I ran three miles.  Three beautiful miles.  My knee was pretty sore when I stopped, but I really didn’t care.  I had run in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  What’s a little pain?

When I returned to Indiana, I wanted to be sure to continue to run.  I went out alone Wednesday after school.  My knee hurt.  A lot.  And I was angry.  I cursed as I limped along, and felt that I had, once again, taken several steps back.  I am not sure how far I ran that day, but I think it was between two and three miles.  Friday I tried it again.  My sister/friend Jackie was free, and I was determined to run with her.  We went out and ran four miles, with a bit of walking in between.  I cannot begin to express how wonderful it was to be back out pounding the pavement with my friend.   As much as I’ve missed running, I’ve missed my running friends even more.  I love these ladies, and life just didn’t seem right when I didn’t see them regularly.

Today, Sunday, was a picture-perfect running day.  By afternoon, it was in the 60s, and the sun was beckoning me to get out there and soak up its rays.  I went out with no real plan.  I had hoped to be able to run at least three miles, but I really just wanted to run and enjoy the day.  I had eaten two pieces of gooey butter cake and drank two diet soft drinks, which can often be a recipe for disaster (or at least stomach issues).  I put on my favorite playlist and my new shoes (Did I mention I bought myself some gorgeous new Asics?  New shoes can be very motivating.), and took off on one of my favorite routes.  My knee didn’t feel great, but when the little voice in my phone informed me that I had hit the first mile, and I had run it in 10:03, I just knew it was going to be a good day.  I began to tire in the third mile (I found I got out of running shape really fast), but I wanted to get to at least three miles without walking.  Once I got there, I decided to try to get to four miles without walking. I hadn’t yet done that, and knew it would be another major post-surgery accomplishment.  I was just about to the turn-off for four miles, when I decided to keep going.  I knew I could always stop and walk should it be necessary, so why not?  It was such a great day, and no one was home, so I had the time.  I kept going, and when I realized I could make it to five miles, I was ecstatic – almost to the point of tears.  Today, I ran five miles without stopping.  Today, I knew I was back.  Today, I thanked God for helping me heal, and for giving me the drive and determination to keep trying.  It would have been very easy to give up.  When I have tried to run and my knee hurt like hell, I could have easily given up running.  But I can’t.  Running has become part of who I am.  I love pushing myself to run just a little farther.  I love the feeling of accomplishment I have when finishing a run.   I love the time with my friends when we can talk about absolutely anything, and know it’ll go no further.  I love the time alone to process my thoughts and to remember how very blessed I am.  I love the calorie burn running provides.

Another thing I love is the support of the running/fitness community.  Without all of you, I might have given up.  The running/fitness community is an amazing group that supports the very best, and encourages everyone.  We get such a natural high from our fitness endeavors, and we want to share that with anyone who will listen to us.   When Gary and I began running, I kept expecting to quit.  I always had.  I would get on an exercise kick for a few weeks, and then just quit.  The past four and a half years have changed our lives.  It isn’t an exercise kick, it’s a lifestyle change.  I cannot imagine my life without fitness.  My running has led me to become a Zumba instructor, which I love, and most recently, a Tabata Bootcamp trainer.  Through running and fitness, we have made the best friends.  I am blessed to have my incredible husband by my side through all of this, and to have such amazing friends who have never given up on me.

Did I mention I ran five miles today?

Gotta Tabata!

I have a hundred things I need to do this evening, and writing isn’t really a necessity, but sometimes I just have something to say.  Combine that with time by myself, and I am going to write.  Surprisingly, I don’t plan to whine in this blog – not one bit.

This week I embarked on yet another fitness quest:  Tabata Bootcamp.  When the Everbody’s crew went to Atlanta this past summer, Gary and I went down a day early so that he could be certified to teach Spinning, and I could become a certified Tabata Bootcamp Trainer.  It seems odd to even write that as I am basically a wimp.  Putting the word ‘bootcamp’ in the same sentence as my name is somewhat of a contradiction of terms (kind of like putting the word ‘badass’ with my name, Missy!).  I have very little upper body strength; my abs are buried somewhere; and I am wimpy.  Something about the HIIT training (high intensity interval training) appealed to me, and I decided to step out of my comfort zone, which I seem to be doing a lot lately.

Tabata Bootcamp is not like a regular class that gym members can go to when the mood strikes.  It is an eight-week program to which participants must commit.  They have to register for a website, and will have assigned home workouts on days we don’t have class.  Despite the fact that I am not a morning person, I am meeting with my group on Mondays and Thursdays at 5:30 am.  I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t mind getting up this week.  I wasn’t thrilled when the alarm went off, but once I got to the gym, I was glad to be there.  Because of the format of the bootcamp, we have to limit the number of participants, so we have 16 bootcampers.  We have a really fun group, which also makes getting up before the crack of dawn bearable.  I have even run a mile (yes, that’s right, RUN) afterward.  I still have time to shower at the gym, and am at school at 7:00.  I am thrilled with the program, and anxious to see the results in eight weeks.  You know what I like?  I like pushing people to the point that they don’t think they have anything left, and they hate the sound of my voice, and then they do it!  Then, well then they usually thank me.   They still think bad thoughts about me, but they also accomplished a huge goal.  Pretty badass, huh?

I am also stepping out of my comfort zone (pretty soon there will be no zone!) and swimming.  I stink at swimming.  I don’t breathe correctly, so I wear myself out before I get to the end of the pool, but I am learning.  Our school’s wellness program is hosting lap swimming for staff members every Thursday.  I hope if I keep it up, I will become a stronger swimmer.  Senior Olympics, maybe?  I really enjoy it, and when I get tired, I just grab a kickboard and work my legs.

Saturday is the Evansville Half Marathon.   While I am sad that I won’t be running this year (I am not whining; I am stating a fact.), I can’t wait to watch some newbies finish their first half marathon!  I know what an amazing feeling that is, and I look forward to being there to cheer them across the finish line.  A couple of ladies from our Biggest Loser team, Danielle and Michelle, will be running their first.  I think Mary might also be running, but I am not certain.  My friend Emily Miller will be running her first half marathon, and I am so excited for her!  She has lost a bunch of weight in the past year, and has become a great runner in a very short time.  I know how thrilled she is, and am blessed to be able to share her moment with her.  Our friend Scott just started running in the spring, and he is now ready for 13.1.  He started losing weight in January, and after being pretty sedentary, has become an athlete.  Wow.   I know there are several other Tell City runners who will be pounding the pavement, and we will be there to support them as they run toward that almighty finish line.

And, of course, there’s my husband.  He has run several half marathons, but I am anxious to see how he does because he has really cross-trained, and I just know he’ll have a great race.  Last time he ran a race without me, I was a baby.  We were in Norfolk on a gorgeous summer morning, and I wanted to be running so badly that I just couldn’t enjoy his race.  I wasn’t very nice.  Saturday, I am going to be nice.  Promise.  And since I am going with Caroline, it’d be hard to be in a bad mood!   Good Luck to all of the Tell City/Perry County Runners this weekend!  I know there is a bunch of you, so I won’t even attempt to name everyone.

Shout Out Time!  Kim Oliva ran a mile without stopping for the first time ever before dawn, after Bootcamp, this morning!!  She will be hooked now.  If not, I hope she knows how persuasive I can be.  I will drag her butt out after our morning kickass workout, and we will run.   Me?  I ran a mile very slowly twice this week.  It’s a start.  My IT band hurt afterward, but I can walk, so it’s all good!  It is going to take time, lots of time, to work back up to some decent mileage, but I won’t give up.

What have you done lately that you never thought you’d try?  Do something new.  Step outside that stupid box.  What’s the worst that could happen?  You’d actually like it?  Or you wouldn’t like it?  At least you’d know.   Your body can do some pretty amazing things – test it out!  Need help?  There are a whole bunch of us willing to help!

Day 3 Post-Op

On Monday, I had a long-awaited surgery on my knee.  I have had pain since before Christmas, and had tried resting, injections, and physical therapy.  Despite my efforts, I could only run a mile or two before being stopped in my tracks by knee pain.  As someone who has come to thrive on running, not running on a regular basis has been difficult.  My insurance finally approved an MRI after I did five weeks of physical therapy, and it showed arthritis behind my knee cap and IT band tendonitis, which is what the doctor had suspected all along.  Since I had already done the injections and PT, the next step was surgery.

I hesitated about a day, and still questioned my decision after a date had been set, but I knew I had to do it.  If not, I just wouldn’t be able to run, and I can’t imagine my life without running.  I felt fortunate that I was still able to complete other workouts without much pain, and I was still able to teach Zumba.  However, if I over-worked my knee, even just by walking a lot or walking down a steep hill, it became really sore.

Gary and I headed to Jasper Monday.  I wasn’t really very nervous – I rather enjoy being put under!  I was also anxious to get the surgery over and begin the healing process.  The surgery went well (I assume it did; I was asleep, afterall).  Dr. Love scraped out the arthritis, removed something that was behind my knee cap, cut a small triangle out of my IT band, and (I think) removed a small bursa that was behind the IT band.  I was still out of it when he explained all of this, but I think that’s the gist of it.  Once I awoke, I drank some Diet Coke, got dressed, and was loaded into the car.  I felt pretty woozy all the way home, but overall, it wasn’t bad at all.

This week I have to rest.  That’s hard.  I know that it sounds good that I have doctor’s orders to sit around all week, but that got old really fast.  Thankfully, my daughters are all home this week, as well as my grandson.  They have helped out a lot, and just kept me company.  Tuesday morning, I took my last Lortab.  I believe it was making me feel worse.  After I took the last one, I was nauseated, and felt drained.  I decided to stick to ibuprofen, and that has been enough.  Tuesday proved to be the longest day ever.  I literally laid on the couch all day and evening.  Bethany stuck with me, and I know she had to be bored out of her mind.  By yesterday, I was ready to get out.  I had planned to go see Addison play in the band at the Schweizer Fest, but my friend Kelly texted me in the morning to see if I could go to lunch with my new co-workers.  I decided it wouldn’t hurt to get out for an hour, and I could keep my leg propped up, so I was good to go.  It takes a lot of effort to walk any further than from the couch to the bathroom, so my outings were all I could handle.

Layne is keeping me entertained this week!

Layne is keeping me entertained this week!

I was glad I went to the Fest last night, but also glad I didn’t stay long.  Bethany dropped me off as close to the stage as possible, but I still had to hobble down the sidewalk through the flea market.  As I was heading toward the stage area, there was a young couple coming toward me.  Now, my knee was all wrapped up, I was clearly struggling to walk, and yet, they made no effort to let me pass!  Seriously,  I had to turn sideways and stop so they could continue on hand-in-hand.  What brats!

Last night I was finally able to take the wrap and bandages off.  I waited until Gary was home because I don’t handle seeing stitches very well at all.  I was also able to shower for the first time, and wanted him to be around in case I lost my balance.  Let me tell you, my husband is an amazing caregiver!  He unwrapped my leg and took off the gauze, which terrified me.  He explained what it looked like before I looked.  He stuck around while I showered (I didn’t hear him complain!), and then bandaged my knee back up.  My knee really doesn’t look that bad (see below).  I have three incisions:  two from the scope, and one larger one from where the doctor made an incision to get to the IT band.  The larger one has four stitches, and is pretty sore.  My knee isn’t too swollen, which is great.

Today is my third day at home.  The kids have all gone to Holiday World.  They tried to convince me to go, saying they’d haul me around in a wagon or wheelchair.  There is nothing appealing about that offer.  I am going to stick to the couch today.  I am going to school Monday, so I want to make sure I am ready to tackle the first week.  I plan (today, at least) to not exercise at all for four weeks.  It’s easy to say that now, when I can hardly walk.  The doctor said it will be four to six weeks before I can teach Zumba or run, and he doesn’t even want me walking for exercise for several weeks.  He said I could do yoga and pilates after a couple weeks, but really didn’t encourage it, so I think it might be best to just avoid anything that could cause problems.  I don’t know what I am going to do with myself because basically all of our free time is spent working out.  Getting the school year off to a great start will be my priority, especially since I am starting a new job (that I am super-excited about!).  I will have lots of time to blog, so I will keep everyone updated on my journey back to running.  It is going to completely suck to have to start back at the beginning.  But I will do it.  And I have so many terrific friends whom I know will encourage and support me.    How blessed I am!

This is the largest incision where the doctor went in to repair my IT band.  Ewww!!!!

This is the largest incision where the doctor went in to repair my IT band. Ewww!!!!

 

This is the top view.  If you notice writing on my knee cap, it says YES, meaning that is the correct knee on which to operate!

This is the top view. If you notice writing on my knee cap, it says YES, meaning that is the correct knee on which to operate!

Just Passing the Time…

…until my knee surgery, which is August 2.  The doctor plans to scrape behind my knee cap to clean up the arthritis, and repair my IT band.  It is by no means major surgery, and the nurse said I will be able to walk normally after about a week.  It is really more of an inconvenience than anything.  I wanted to go with my daughters to take my grandson to Holiday World, but I won’t be able to walk around, and I won’t be able to drive for several days.  I won’t be able to teach my Zumba classes for a month; I will miss my classes terribly.  My new eighth grade classroom is on the third floor of the junior/senior high, so the steps will be tricky.  That being said (written?), it’s a small price to pay to be able to run again.

Gary and I, along with other instructors from Everbody’s Fitness, are going to Atlanta the last weekend of July, and since we will be working out all day for four days in a row – yes, WORKING OUT FOR FOUR STRAIGHT DAYS – I had to schedule my surgery for after that, but before the start of school.  So, for the next three weeks, I will continue to teach Zumba, attend some classes at the gym, and attempt short runs.  I probably shouldn’t bother to try to run, but on beautiful summer days, it is what I want to do, whether it is wise or not.

Today was one of those days.  I hadn’t exercised for the last two days, and I had eaten more than my fair share of crap:  doughnuts (What else is one to eat at 6:00 a.m. during a yard sale?), Wendy’s (We were hungry again by 11:00, and Wendy’s is quick and cheap), pizza (dinner after getting ready for yard sale), fried fish, and a couple desserts after church today.  All of that was consumed in less than 48 hours!  After church, we attended a brunch for our new minister, and then I crashed on the couch for an hour.  I had been attempting to take a nap for the past two days, and it just never worked out.  Today, I was taking a nap.  Afterward, I felt like a toad.  A giganto, green, puffed-up toad.  All of the junk food weighed heavily on my belly, and as I was painting our French doors, I was contemplating exercise.  The only thing that sounded appealing was going for a run.  It was 90+ degrees, but running outside was what this bloated body needed.  Gary had a workout at the gym, so I rode in with him, turned on my favorite playlist, and took off toward the river.

We are so blessed to have such a beautiful river walk in our small town.  It is one of my favorite places to run or walk.  I had no idea how far I could run before the pain set in, so I went with no goal in mind.  I knew I had about an hour to run/walk, so I cranked up the music and ran.  When I had gotten to one mile, my knee still felt pretty good.  The problem is that even though my knee was okay, my endurance was not.  After working for four years to build up my running endurance, it is so disappointing to know that once I get the go-ahead to jump back into running after surgery, I will be starting all over.  When I had a hysterectomy two years ago, I only had to go six weeks without running, which was hard enough.  I have hardly run for the past three months, and it will be another six weeks before I can really get back into running, and that’s assuming surgery goes well.  I can say without a doubt that I will put in the time to build my strength back up.  I love running enough that even though it will be very difficult, I know the time and effort will be worth it.  I need running to relieve stress, to spend time with my best friends, and to get in the workout that best suits me.  I need running to feel strong, confident, and accomplished.  It is such a part of who I am, and I can’t imagine giving it up.

Once I reached the one mile mark, I continued on since I was still pain-free.  My knee became a bit achy after that point, but I was able to make it to about 1.6 miles before it became unbearable. I walked a couple blocks (walking doesn’t hurt at all), and then proceeded to run again.  I then set a goal of running two miles.  I ran to about 2.15 miles, and then had to stop again.  I went to 2.15 because there were several people sitting outside at Frostop, and I didn’t want to stop and walk in front of them.  If you are a non-runner, you likely think that sounds really crazy.  If you are a runner, I would bet you’ve done it before!  I planned to walk the rest of my time out, but after a little more than a half mile of walking, I wanted to run again.  I ended up running 3 miles, and even though there were walking breaks interspersed, I was thrilled to get some running in.  When Gary and I got back in the car, my temperature gauge read 93 degrees!  No wonder it was so hard!  It probably wasn’t very intelligent to run during the hottest part of the day, but that’s what runners do.  We push the limits because we can.  Or we think we can.

I will continue to try short runs just to try to stay in some type of running shape.  I am praying that this surgery does the trick, and I can spend fall and winter gaining back what I have lost.  I miss participating in races, and though I have thought about future racing opportunities, I won’t make plans for a race because that would just make it more disappointing if I am unable to run.

So, I will continue to wait, and you can bet that I will keep you posted on the progress.  The last time I had surgery and made a comeback to running (that makes it sound like I am a pro athlete), I wrote my ebook Grandma Wears a Running Skirt.  Who knows?  Perhaps if I have a lot to say, and an interesting experience, I will write another one.  Grandma Wears a Knee Brace?

This Damn Knee

I haven’t whined about my knee injury for some time, so it’s time.  Before I begin complaining, I will find the positive.  I am so very thankful that I can do everything but run.  I am still able to teach my Zumba classes, participate in Pilates and yoga, and remain pain-free most of the time.  I can go up and down my steps, walk without a limp, and rock the Spartacus Workout (I don’t really rock it, but it sounds good).  I can exercise, which is certainly something for which I am very grateful.

But I can’t run.  Running has become a part of who I am.  It is how I relieve stress; it is my time with friends; it is my time by myself to process my day.  Running makes me feel strong.  Running exhausts me and invigorates me.  It makes me proud and it makes me frustrated.  I miss it.  I have been in physical therapy for four weeks, and have made no progress.  I have had numerous Astym treatments, and though the treatments feel great, when I attempt to run, nothing has changed.  Gary, Addison, and I went to the track the other night.  I hadn’t tried to run in almost a week, so I wanted to see if I could go a little further.  I was determined to run a mile without stopping.  I did it, but the second half hurt.  By the end of the mile, I knew it was time to stop.  I walked a lap, and then tried to run again.  It hurt.  I can’t begin to tell you how angry it makes me.  In the depths of my soul, I just want to take off.  Because I have no pain in my knee when I arrive at the track, I feel as if I will be able to run.  Once I get beyond a lap or two, I can feel the discomfort; as I run a bit further, the discomfort becomes an ache, and further along, a pain.  Once the pain is more intense, I can feel myself limping along.  And I am so frustrated.  Considering that not so long ago, I considered a three-mile run a short run, knowing it’s now a lofty goal is irritating.  

My therapists also seem frustrated because nothing makes sense to them.  They don’t understand why I can do so many physical activities, but I can’t run to save my life.  They have been wonderful, but they can’t very well fix what no one can figure out.  I have even wondered if I am imagining the pain.  And then I try to run, and realize that nope, that is not my imagination.  Next week I will have an MRI – finally.  I hope it gives the doctor some answers.  If I need surgery, sign me up.  If I am never going to run again, lock me up.  Just tell me what’s wrong.  This pain began back around Christmas, so my patience has long since run low.  

My next race was to be the St. Louis Rock n Roll Half Marathon at the end of October.  When I had to drop out of the Derby Mini in April, I immediately set St. Louis as my goal.  I thought that since I had six months, it would be no problem.  Wrong.  I just don’t feel that I am going to be able to run over 13 miles by then.  I can already tell my endurance is waning.  To build it back up will take time.  I actually have moments when I want to say screw it.  I will just give up running and stick with other forms of exercise.  And then I drive down the streets and see my friends out running, and I want more than anything to be out there sweating beside them.  I miss running.  

So, my knee sucks.  But in the whole of life, I am still blessed.  I am healthy; I can exercise; my family is healthy; I have a fantastic new job awaiting me; and I have lots of family and friends who love me.  When I get frustrated because I cannot run, I need to remember those who can’t see, those who can’t hear, those battling disease, those who can’t walk, and all the others who have much larger struggles than not being able to run.  I am very blessed.  Are you?  

 

Snow Day!

winter running A few short years ago when I began running, I was not fond of winter at all.  I found January and February to be very dreary, and anxiously awaited spring.  My friend Jackie and I had really gotten into running in the summer of 2009, and I had told her that I would NOT be running in the winter.  I would retreat to the treadmill and emerge when the daffodils began to pop through the thawing ground.  Why would I want to freeze my butt off outside?

As the temperature gradually began to go down, we just kept running.  And I kind of liked it.  I learned how to dress appropriately; I even started wearing running tights, which, by the way, are quite warm and comfy.  As winter settled in, we also settled in to our running routine.  Running in brutal temps and less-than-ideal conditions made us feel like true athletes.  We felt like beasts in the running world.  Granted, we are just a couple of middle-aged friends who happen to enjoy running, but on those particular runs, we were elite athletes training for our next race, and a little snow and potential frost bite would not keep us indoors!

We have just begun to see signs of true winter recently.  Of course, only in Southern Indiana can we run in shorts on Tuesday and leggings and multiple layers Wednesday.  And that’s no exageration  – Gary, my sister, and I went for a quick run before heading to the gym Tuesday evening, and Gary and I had on shorts (and I was hot), and by Wednesday night when Jackie, Kassi, and I ventured out, it was blustery and freezing.  I attempted to get out of that run because it was also sprinkling, but we decided (actually, Jackie decided) that we would run.  The first four miles were chilly, but once our bodies adapted, it felt great.  The last mile we turned and headed west toward the river.  And the wind was wicked!  We had to work extremely hard to push against the wind’s mighty resistance.  In our elite-athlete minds, that was good for counting an extra mile in our run!

Last night my sister and I went to Jasper (about an hour away) to watch my daughter swim.  It had begun to snow on the way there, and I wondered what we would find when we left the meet.  We stayed less than an hour because Addison swam early, and when we walked out, it was into blowing wind and icy temps.  We ran to the car, and as we were running, I told my sister that I would love to be out running.  She thought I was weird.  I told her that the snow falling made it so peaceful, and that when I finish a run like that, I feel like I can do anything.  She was not convinced.  At all.  And this from a woman who lived many years in Minnesota.

(What I don’t like to do in the snow is drive, and the conditions driving home from that swim meet were terrible.  I white-knuckled it all the way home.  We made it in about an hour and 15 minutes, which wasn’t bad.  The team?  It took the bus 2 hours and 40 minutes.  There was a whole lot of anxious parents.  Kudos to the bus driver, John.  What an incredible responsibility he had.)

My hope is if the snow hangs around a couple of days, I will get to run in the white stuff.  There isn’t much, but it will still offer a serene and challenging course.  Today – on our snow day – I have to go have some gross growth on my leg removed.  I hope that I will be able to get a run in since this nasty little growth happens to be right by the bend of my knee.  Let me digress for a moment…a friend, who happens to be a nurse, was at the gym the other night.  She gave me some rather strange advice.  She said to sleep with bacon – yes, bacon – wrapped on my leg.  I should put the fatty part over said growth.  Of course, I was apprehensive, but she said it would me the little procedure less painful because it would draw the nastiness to the surface.  Bacon it was.  So, the past two nights, I slept with bacon attached to my leg.  And I am admitting that on a public forum.  Sorry if you are grossed out.

If you run at all, particularly if you are new to the sport, don’t let winter drive you to the treadmill.  Get out and experience winter as a runner.  Put on some tights (they are much warmer than sweatpants because wind can’t go up them), layer up your shirts, get some cheap gloves with which to wipe snot, and a hat or earband.  Venture out and enjoy your beastliness!  When mortals drive by, they will envy your toughness (or just think you’re nuts).  You will be that elite runner, and probably start receiving requests to appear on the cover of fitness magazines.  Or maybe just the local newspaper.  Or maybe your friend can post your elite-athlete photo on Facebook.  Either way, you will have done what few would even attempt.

A Young Woman Running During Winter.

Random Fitness Thoughts

Once again, I have waited much too long between blogs.  Life gets hectic; the holidays take over; and that which isn’t completely necessary gets left undone.  What that typically means for this blog is that I have much to say.  All those crazy thoughts and opinions have been piling up, and once I begin writing, they will just keep gushing out like foam out of a shaken can of Coke.  I will try to somewhat organize these random thoughts so that you can just skip over that which doesn’t appeal to you.

Running really is mind over body.  As much as I hate to admit, I think my age might just be affecting my running.  This fact pisses me off.  I will turn 46 later this month, and with each year comes new pains.  As of late, my knees have been my most pressing problem.  My left knee began to hurt during the October Evansville Half Marathon, right about at mile 8.  I was running very well that day, and decided I was going to continue to run hard, at least until my knee just finally blew out (I really kept picturing my knee just blowing up).  It hurt, but I ran until the end, and once I began walking, the pain just went away.  It wasn’t a problem on any runs after that, so I just forgot about it.  Before Christmas, my right knee began to hurt.  I could make it about 2 miles, but after that I would just end up hobbling and cutting my runs short.  I decided to take a couple weeks off to let my knee heal, rather than just a couple of days here and there, and never really resting.  I continued to work out and teach Zumba, and my knee didn’t hurt.  I only felt pain while running.  This past Friday the weather was beautiful, especially for January, so my friend Kathy and I ran 3 miles.  At 2.5 miles, the pain returned.  UGH!

finish line

Not one to give up, I decided to run again Saturday morning.  I missed my running friends, and needed that time with them.  I went out with absolutely no plan.  I didn’t know if I would run 3 miles, or 6 miles.  I told the girls that I would just take it slow, and go as far as my body would allow.  As expected, at about 2.5 miles, the pain returned, but then a little later, I also had pain in my left knee.  Crap.  I remembered my husband telling me that he had just accepted that running was going to hurt, and if he wanted to continue to run, he would have to deal with it.  And so I continued.  Kassi, Jackie, and Tracey all had children to transport, so they headed back after 4-5 miles.  Kathy and I ventured on, and then she had to stop.  I told her that I just needed to see how far I could go.  I ate a lot at Capers the night before, so I also had an abundance of calories to torch.

So, at mile 6 I was on my own.  I turned up my running music, and kept running, trying to ignore the discomfort.  As I was running along the greenway, I happened upon a friend named Bert.  This lady is simple amazing.  She has lost a ton of weight, and has begun running.  Last year she finished several races with a combination of walking and running.  As I saw her, and admired how wonderful she looked, I knew that I could keep going.  Without even knowing it, Bert inspired me to press on.  I thought about the women in my Zumba classes who have stepped way out of their comfort zones, and have become regulars in my classes.  They, too, inspire me to work hard and to be a better version of myself.  Then my mind wandered to my husband.  He is 62, and has an artificial knee.  He has worked so hard at running, and has now decided to run the Derby Marathon this year.  How could I stop?  I thought that running 8 miles would be great, so I ran toward that goal.  And then I began to think about how proud I would be to run 10 miles after not running for a couple of weeks.  I assessed my pain, and though both knees hurt, they weren’t any worse.  I was just about to 10 miles, when I realized I needed water, so I stopped in the gym to get a drink.  It was just what I needed to continue with my quest.  I exited the gym, but rather than head back to my car, I decided to run a few extra blocks and try to get 11 miles.  I still had energy.  Actually, other than my knees, I felt terrific.  My breathing was good; my legs weren’t tired; and my belly wasn’t churning.  So I decided to run 12 miles.  And I did.  I could have gone further, but I figured my husband probably thought I was in a ditch somewhere because my run with the girls had begun 2 1/2 hours earlier.  Yesterday my run sucked.  My knees ached for 10 out of 12 miles, but I didn’t give up.  The people I surround myself with kept me going, and most of them didn’t even know I was running!  I could have chosen to focus on the pain, but I chose to focus on what felt good, and to think abou what a blessing it was just to be out there in warm January (that’s an oxymoron!) weather running.  Many people never get that opportunity.  My mind carried my through, when my body – my knees – just wanted to go home.

Why do I love Zumba?  I began teaching Zumba in August.  I had taken classes in Hawesville for over a year, and really loved it.  It was great cross-training, and just plain fun.  I decided to get my instructor certification, so my husband took me to Tennessee for training last April.  It took me all summer to put my choreography together, but I wanted to have it down and be confident before I began teaching.  That was a smart decision!  I now teach 4 classes a week, and completely enjoy each one.  If you don’t know, Zumba is a Latin-dance type of workout.  each instructor is a little different, so each class is different, which is the way the program is meant to be.  We are given choreography ideas, but basically, instructors choreograph their own music.

I try to make sure we work every area in my classes.  I use ab work, arm work, lunges, squats, and other exercises with the dance moves to create a fun, yet very effective workout.  The great thing about Zumba is that it truly is for all ages and abilities.  I have ages 7-75 in my classes.  Really.  I encourage participants to do what they can.  I don’t expect anyone to do anything that hurts, or to get the moves down perfectly.  If one is too focused on getting the moves right, she won’t have any fun, and Zumba should be fun.  Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy, and you will sweat, but hopefully you will have enough fun that you won’t mind the achy muscles that follow.  I have had so many women approach me and say that they are afraid to try Zumba because they don’t feel they have the rhythm or coordination necessary.  It makes no difference!  If you are moving and having fun, you are making the most of Zumba.  And no one else cares if you are doing it right.  Each person is concerned with what she is doing.  We are all supportive and just want to get together and burn some calories.  If you have never tried it, find a class!  It is a blast!

Let the games begin!  This week marks the beginning of the third season of Everbody’s Biggest Loser, and my first season as a coach.  I am so excited to work with the orange team!  My husband and I will be coaching together, and we are blessed with a fun and motivated team.  I also have my own goals to work on.  I am trying to cut back on diet soft drinks.  I was up to 4-6 per day, which I know is not healthy.  I am down to 1 or 2, and I don’t really plan to cut it out completely.  I really like the taste of Diet Mt. Dew and Diet Pepsi.  Water is okay, and I use the little packets of Crytal Light, but, gosh, there are times when a Diet Pepsi just sounds amazing.  I am also trying to make better eating choices.  I really don’t eat well.  I don’t eat a lot, but most of the time what I do eat is not really good for me.  I love desserts, red meat, potatoes, salty snacks, and generally anything that is unhealthy.  I am not a fan of vegetables.  At all.  Ever.  I am trying, but I will never, and I mean never, like green beans or broccoli.  Or cauliflower.  Or asparagus.  I do like spinach and raw carrots.  That’s about it.  So along with our team, I will be trying to make some positive changes.  I, just like those working to lose weight, will struggle along the way.  But each little change I can make will lead to better health, and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Biggest Loser

 

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