Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tough Day and It's Only Noon

I really shouldn't complain because I know that 'things' can always be worse.  They have been worse.  But this morning was tough.  I woke up way too early when I heard the hubby's alarm go off.  I was able to doze for a bit before my alarm went off.  I ventured out for my five mile run which was going to make everything better; my run is usually one of my favorite times of the day.  I walked outside at 7:30am and the heat was sweltering. Ugh.  I typically love running in the morning because I can plan out my day.  Well, during this morning's run, I realized that I had too many things on my to-do list and they all needed to be done in a short span of time.  In any case, I decided not to cut my run short.  Of all the items on my to-do list for the day, my run was the only thing that was truly for me (unless you count a doctor's appointment but I'll get to that in a bit).  So I got through my 5 miles but they weren't leisurely and they weren't restorative.

After I cleaned up from my run, I headed to my check up with the oncologist.  For the last couple of years, I experience an overwhelming sense of survivor's guilt when I visit the office.  One of the staff members told me today that I was one of the patients that have been with the practice the longest. This is a huge practice and I know it's not because everyone has changed practices or moved :(  At this point, I visit Dr. B. every six months.  They draw blood and she does a physical check up.  That's it.  This morning the phlebotomist couldn't find a vein.  I've been through this too many times before.  So two sticks, three phlebotomists, some bandaids and lots of gauze later, they got the minimum amount of blood they needed.  Physical examination was fine - nothing unusual.  I usually get blood test results, which include tumor marker results, in a couple of days.  In the meantime, Dr. B. scheduled me for a bone density test.  I've never had one before and because I've suffered two stress fractures in a short period of time and the chemo that I had has been known to diminish bone density, we thought it would be a good idea to get a baseline at this point.

So really I shouldn't complain because I can't complain.  And vice versa.  Life is good.  Here's to a better rest of the day.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Getting Back into the Routine

What a great couple of weeks of training!  I am feeling really good about what I'm doing - mentally and physically.  Saturday's long run (a total of 9.25 miles) went very well.  I ran the first half with the DetermiNation half-marathon training team and then came home and ran/walked the rest on my own.  I've been training with the half-marathon team up until now just so I don't push myself through this recovery period.  Thankfully, I was released from physical therapy care a little over a week ago.  My plan is to train with the half-marathon group again this coming Saturday.  If all goes well, I will train with the marathon group the following week.  I am running all the marathon training miles; I'm just doing some on my own so that I don't push myself too hard by trying to keep up with the group.  I'm very nervous about getting injured again.

My hubby has been my rock - as always.  He's been running a good amount of miles with me!  Last Thursday, he and I took part in an Adventure Race at a local running store.  The DetermiNation team told me about the event, and it was great fun.  It was set up like a scavenger hunt.  You had to run to certain businesses or street corners to collect tickets that you put into a drawing for some really great prizes.  It was a blast.  We hardly noticed that we ran 4.25 miles.  Of course, we didn't win anything; we never win anything.  But it was such a super-fun experience, we already signed up for next month!

Returning to a training routine affects other aspects of my life.  I'm definitely more motivated to get house work and paid work done.  The more quickly I can get them done, the sooner I can get back to stretching, or go for a run, or ride my bike.  My diet has been better since I've been following my training calendar.  I am working hard at getting back into juicing.  I never felt better than when I was working out regularly and juicing 5-6 times per week.  My main problem has been that I'm too lazy to get up and juice each morning.  I'm working on it and I know that I'll get there.  Green juice is the best way for me to start my day and it fuels my body such that I feel like I can do anything.  It's not for everyone; I understand that.  But it works for me.  I have to remember this when I'm dragging my butt up early to peel and juice my veggies before heading off for the day with the girls.

Thank you so much to those of you who have made donations to the American Cancer Society.  I am blown away by your generosity and the supportive and inspirational notes that you shared.  I am so fortunate to be walking through this amazing life with you all.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

From Injury to Marathon? Yes!

It's been a great couple of weeks training-wise and personal-wise in our household.  Life IS good!

I've been released from the care of the orthopedist.  I'm still working through physical therapy including a run-walk program which has all been going fabulously.  All this positive energy makes me more confident to share my most exciting news.  I am going to train for and run my first marathon!!  I signed up for the marathon prior to this injury but then got nervous that I wouldn't be able to get to race day.  However, now I am on track to get to race day according to a very detailed training schedule that I officially began yesterday.  I'm not quite at the point that I can run all of my training sessions, but I can run/walk them which is terrific.

This October I will celebrate a major milestone:  I will be cancer-free for five years!  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate it than in Washington, D.C. with my friends and family upon completion of my first marathon, the Marine Corp Marathon.  To maximize the experience, I have decided to train for my race with the American Cancer Society DetermiNation team.  I've started an 16 week training program with a great group of folks who will help me get to race day.  For the last four years, I have raised money for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer branch of the American Cancer Society.  My family will complete the MSABC walk this October as we have done for the past few years; however, our fundraising efforts will be toward the DetermiNation branch of ACS.   I  have had so many generous supporters since I've taken up this cause; I hope some, if not all, will continue to help me in my quest to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  You can support my efforts by visiting my personal page and making a donation of whatever amount you can.  (Please copy and paste the following link into your browser.)

My goal is to raise $2,800 for DetermiNation and the American Cancer Society, as well as to finish the race.  Over 75% of every dollar I raise will directly fund the mission of ACS, eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service.  Donations are tax deductible, and if you donate $100 or more I’ll dedicate a mile in Washington D.C. to you!   Please make donations by October 1st, my personal fundraising deadline.  Thank you for your generosity and support!

**You can follow my training here on my blog by becoming a 'follower' of my blog and/or a friend of "Quest 4 Good Health" on Facebook.**

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Feeling a Little Discouraged but Mostly Confident... about Running anyway.

I had a great week of getting back into the swing of things regarding exercising.  I completed two walks in an allotted time thereby completing phase 2 of the walk-to-run program given to me by the physical therapist.  I also spent some time on my bike in the trainer catching up on the seasons of Law & Order and 30 Rock that were on the DVR.  It felt great to log some 'miles' on my two-wheeled baby.

I went back to PT on Friday.  I'm making good progress according to her though I am feeling a little discouraged at times.  One of the exercises that I do at PT is one-legged heel lifts on the "shuttle" machine. These were very painful last week so this week I only had to do 20 versus the 30 I did last week.  It was still painful but more manageable.  I thought that maybe this was just a tough exercise.  So, I tried the same exercise with my right leg (the one that wasn't in the boot) and I had no problem at all; it didn't even feel like I was exercising.  Lisa says this is totally normal considering my foot was locked in the one position in the boot for 6 weeks.  Because of my great progress, Lisa said that I could move on to Phase 3 on the walk-to-run program:  walk 1/4 mile, run 1/4 mile, walk 1/4 mile, run 1/4 mile.  I tried that out yesterday and it felt great (& terrible) to run again.  Feet and legs felt great.  The huffing and puffing I was doing while running felt terrible.  That's ok: this is the 'terrible' that I prefer :)

Because of the physical advancements that I have been making, I was able to make some major mental advancements regarding future running events.  Yesterday was our Napa Ragnar Team's first training run.  Although I couldn't take part in the first run, I was happy to be there with my mind focused on taking part in the event, not wondering *if* I could.  The Napa Ragnar is September 14-15.  Our 12-person team will run from San Francisco to Calistoga.  Calistoga/Napa Valley is one of Steve and I's favorite places in the world.  I'm so looking forward to experiencing that part of the country in this runcation.  We'll spend a couple of days in wine country after the race as a reward.

This week I also got an email containing my Peachtree Road Race number.  "The Peachtree" is basically a 6.2 mile block party in Atlanta that takes place on July 4th.  Most people run it but you enter it for the experience.  Last year was my first time and I had a blast.  I was also coming off an injury last year but that didn't matter for this race.  People of all walks of life enter this race.  Live bands play along the route.  Restaurants toss out t-shirts and coupons.  "Runners" cart wagons full of beers behind them.  Private citizens set up bloody mary bars.  Folks dress up in costumes and dance for the runners. Runners dress in costumes and entertain the spectators.  The Catholic church along the route sprays holy water on the passing runners.  And then you get to "Heart Attack Hill"which is right in front of Piedmont Hospital and the Shepherd Center.  The Shepherd Center is one of the top rehabilitation hospitals in the nation for the treatment, research, and rehabilitation of spinal cord injuries.  The Shepherd Center patients line the "Hearth Attack Hill" portion of the route.  Just when you think that you can't run and/or walk any more, you are being cheered on by these brave folks.  It is such an inspiring moment and the best kick-in-the-pants to get up the hill and finish this race.  I'll have to walk the majority of the Peachtree this year but I can't think of a better way to start out Independence Day.

I hope you all have a great week!  What are you going to do to "get moving" this week?

Friday, June 15, 2012

These Shoes Are Made for Running... Without Injury!

My High-Heeled Orthotics
Tuesday I picked up my new orthotics!  I never dreamed I would say those words at 44 and never, ever thought that I would be excited to say them!  But, picking up the orthotics signifies another step that gets me closer to pounding the pavement again.  So it's all good!

I had no idea what to expect regarding the orthotics: what they would look like, what they would feel like, or what they would sound like (yes, there's a definitely squeak when I walk - anyone who has any fixes for this, please share.  It's not often that I need to walk through my house in stealth mode but it does happen. 'Nuf said!).  My orthotics are considered the 'soft' kind although parts of them don't feel so soft.  At least, not during this break-in period.

Immediately after picking up the orthotics from my doc's office, I rushed to my favorite local running store, The Big Peach.  Upon arriving, I sat myself down and eagerly waited for them to open.  Not everyone is on the early bird schedule that us moms are on.  The good folks at The Big Peach found me a new shoe that is similar and as comfortable as my running shoes but in a neutral style.  They even slipped my new orthotics in and checked the shoe for fit.  My orthotics have a 'high heel' and because of that I feel like I'm stepping out of my running shoes.  So, my peachy friend taught me all about the 'runner's lock' style of tying my shoes.  This alternative method allows me to tighten the top of my shoe without tightening the laces all the way down the front of my foot.  Does that make sense?  When the shoes are tied this way, I feel like the running shoes are more secure on my foot.  I'm not sure how it will feel to run with the shoes tied this way; however, my peachy friend said that he prefers this method of tying his shoes because the back of his foot is very thin.  I wore my new kicks with the orthotic inserts home and for 2 hours as the schedule for the first day of break-in recommends.  The inserts felt very hard and odd around the arch area of both feet.

Wednesday was day 2 of breaking in the orthotics.  I wore them for 4 hours.  The inserts felt less weird on my foot than the day before.  What felt strange was wearing my running shoes to run errands and during my other daily activities.  Since taking up running a little over 2 years ago, I have worn my running shoes for just that: running.  Nothing else.  Running shoes that have lots of mileage on them and therefore 'ran out' are what I'd use for errands if I were up for wearing a sneaker-type shoe.  I had to keep reminding myself that these new Brooks will be road-ready when the time comes.  I just have to get to there.

On day 3, I wore the orthotics for 6 hours.  They felt so fine that I forgot about watching the clock to time when to change shoes.  During all of my 'break in' days, I continued to do all of the stretches that my physical therapist laid out for me.  Some of the stretches are definitely more difficult than others:  the achilles/calf stretches are more of a challenge than the toe stretches and exercises.

Today is day 4, the last day of the orthotic break-in period.  Today I am to wear my inserts all day long.  I attended physical therapy this morning to check in and get some new exercises.  Today we talked about strength-building exercises opposed to stretches.  I'll continue to do the stretches but need to add the strength-building exercises to my daily routine.  I did some heel lifts and drops on one of the machines at the office that produced an unbelievable burn in my achilles area.  Lisa said that she wasn't too worried about pain in that area but recommended a different type of heel lift/drop with resistance for me to do at home.  We don't want pain in that area but we do need to isolate it to work on strengthening that area back up.  Lisa did ultrasound and massage again on the plantar fascia area to continue to break up the scar tissue build up.  I even got to ride the stationary bike today.  It was only 10 minutes but I was thrilled.  One of the other patients commented that I needed to take it easy on the bike.  I just smiled and said that I was too excited to take it easy.  It felt great to be back in the saddle.  Even if I did only have a parking lot as my landscape.  Lisa said that I can ride to my heart's desire this week as long as I'm in the trainer and I'm clipped in.  I can hardly wait to start building up my cardio again.  Speaking of building up cardio, I also get to start my walk program this week.  I can walk up to 3 miles at a time at a comfortable pace and I need to avoid inclines and declines which is pretty impossible in Atlanta but I'm willing to give it a try.  I report back to physical therapy next Friday.

This all sounds good and is good.  I know that I'm on the right path to getting back to what I have learned to love to do, but at the same time, I still have my moments of frustration.  At times, I feel like a horse at the starting gate chomping at the bit to race.  I have great run racing plans coming up that are paid for and that I need to train for.  At this point, I'm afraid to even talk about them for fear of jinxing myself.  I think I'll feel better about all of it - about everything - once I can run again.  Then I'll be sure to share my upcoming runcation plans!

Have a great week!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Small Step Backwards

I started physical therapy on Friday.  I returned to PT extraordinaire, Lisa, who helped in my healing from the tibia stress fracture last year.  Lisa pulled the rug out from under me, so to speak, when she told me that I need to hold off on the walking program for now.  She said that once my orthotics come in (which could be any day now), I get new running shoes, and I break the orthotics in, THEN I can start a walking program.  The good news is that we briefly discussed the walking program and where I would have to be in order to start to run again and I believe I'm in pretty good shape.  I'm hoping my first run is a couple of weeks away.  In the meantime, Lisa gave me some new stretches and reviewed some old stretches with me.  She did some ultrasound and massage on the plantar fascia of the injured foot to break up some of the scar tissue that has formed from being immobile for the last few weeks.  I return to PT on Friday hopefully with my orthotics and new running shoes!  I'm chomping at the bit to get at it again!  Hope you have a fantastic week.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Bootless in Atlanta!

I visited Dr. C. on Wednesday - 6 weeks to the day since he put me in "the boot".  Since my heel is looking good and feeling good, I no longer need to wear the boot!  I was confident and came to the appointment prepared with my other sneaker :)  My custom orthotics should be in next week.  I will have to break them in before I workout or run in them.  I misunderstood what Dr. C. had told me at an earlier appointment.  I will need to be fitted for Neutral running shoes (not minimalist) with the orthotics placed inside of them.  I plan to go over to Big Peach, our local running store, as soon as I pick up my orthotics.  I start physical therapy next Friday.  After that evaluation appointment, I hope to have a better idea of when I can start running again.  I'm itching to put together a new training calendar; I've got big running plans!  In the meantime, the doc gave me the ok to walk and exercise which I did today; it felt great!

Today, I visited my dermatologist for a full body scan.  I have been going annually for the last four years. All spots look normal according to her so she recommended I return in 18 months for the next scan.  She also recommended that I return in the fall for another laser treatment.  I had a couple of treatments done on some scarring that I have from radiation.  She would like to try a different type of treatment to fade the area.  Have you gone for a full body scan?  It doesn't take long and it could save your precious life!

Life is good!