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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Gave it another try

This week I actually wore shoes to work as opposed to wearing my boot. I have to say that shoes aren't my friend right now, as the area affected in my achilles is at the back of my heel. You can imagine what shoes feel like in that area.  Normally you would not see me wearing my good running shoes to work. I usually wear the ones that are worn out or not used for training anymore. But lately, I've had to resort to all of my Skechers shoes because they are soft in the heel counter. They are not rigid like most shoes, and are extremely flexible. Love my Skechers Performance!

I went for a visit to a friend of mine who is also a chiropractor in the area. I told him about the issues that I am having and that I was looking for any type of alternative/holistic treatments he might be able to offer me. My one hour appointment ended up being two hours, and it was worth it! We discussed my health history, and my running history also. I told him what my long term goals are for my running and asked him to help me achieve them with his expertise. We decided to first go with some manual massage to my calf muscles. The Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles were extremely tight and full of knots. This places a lot more pull on the achilles, and thus attributed to my injury. This picture shows the anatomy very well.

This is what happened to my achilles, it started to form calcifications which are extremely painful. If I understand correctly, these are embedded in the tendon, and not just attached to the heel bone as you would imagine. (I'm sure my dr will correct me if I'm not explaining it right!)

So basically with each step, the calcium moves a little and it makes the back of my heel hurt and burn. I've tried ice, heat, wrapping, you name it. No matter what, this just doesnt seem to want to go away. The massage therapist at the chiropractors, worked extensively on my gastroc and soleus and I won't lie, it hurt like hell. After he was finished though, it felt much better. I also had some laser treatments and went back in with the doctor, who did some manual manipulation on my ankle. I left there feeling pretty good.

I'm sure most of you runners know about DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness. For the non-runners, it's the thing where after a hard workout, your soreness gets progressively worse for about 3 days. I had my treatments on Wednesday, and was feeling pretty good. Thursday evening, after consulting with my running coach, Caleb Masland, we decided it would be safe for me to try riding the stationary bike for only 10 mins. (Right now, I am banned from running per doctor's orders. We are going to re-assess this in February.) The idea is no running so as to get the achilles to heal and be pain free. I figured 10 mins on the bike wasn't going to do any damage and I was feeling great anyway. Had a nice, pain-free ride!

Friday morning I had just a little bit of pain, but it got worse as the day went on. Last night I did nothing but sit and knit, hoping that it was going to be gone by morning. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. This morning was a lot worse. The pain was back full force, along with the burning and stinging sensations. So much for my 10min bike ride. 

I am beginning to get sick of not running. I can go out and run if I want to, but I'm not going to get any better if I do. The non-runners don't understand. I HAVE to run. As far as I'm concerned, it's not an option. I worked so hard to get back to it after being too obese to even walk outside in the summer. I am not going to give that up now. I've come too far. I completed my first marathon.. do you really think I want to stop now???????

Depressed I am, and hoping that with more treatments and tons of foam rolling, it will come around.  I'm still keeping at my core workouts, but they certainly are not as fun as hitting the road. Even in the winter, as cold as it gets, I would give anything for a 5 miler right now

And so I guess for now, you may see me walking around in this.  :(  Oh well...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

New Winter Running Gear

One of my most favorite companies is 180s. They are a small company, but have fantastic products and I have been fortunate to be one of their ambassadors. Every now and then they come out with some new products that I get to test, review and share with you. These are what I have obtained from them thus far this winter.

I could hardly contain my excitement when the box arrived with these goodies in it! Gotta love presents in the mail! ;)   

First lets talk about the  STROBEANIE

This is a wicking running hat with LED lights and reflectivity built in. It's warm and fits snugly, but not too tight. Just right for running in the cold. As of right now, this item comes only in black and unisex sizing. If you have a huge head, it might run small on you, but average sized people won't have any issues. 

Here are a couple of pictures:

As you can see there is plenty of reflective material on this hat. 
It also has a great shape and looks good also.

Next, here is the LED section in the back. As with most LED lighting, you have a constant lightsource vs a flashing one to get attention. The color is red.

If you are wondering about the battery pack it's very small and well tucked into 
the brim of the hat. The source is Replaceable CR2016 batteries.  I pulled the wiring out just a little to demonstrate how it fits in there. Very small, and you don't feel it when you are wearing the hat. You just hit the button on the battery pack and it activates the light. The button sits pretty close to the emblem on the right side of the picture above.

Will I wear this hat? You bet! I run at night, on very busy roads that have no sidewalks. I worry about people who don't pay attention to runners and walkers on the sides of the road. This hat will definitely help to make me more visible to those drivers.


Next up is the STROBE LED Ear Warmer

For those of you who don't like to wear hats all the time, this is for you! You can actually wear this and it won't mess up your hair, which I really like.  It is comfortable, and compact, and sleek looking.
The LED'S light up much like in the STROBEANIE above. Same type of concept, same batteries. The ear warmers offer reflectivity on each ear, and they are generously padded on each side.

The only comments I have about this, is that it just doesn't seem to fit my head well. I find that it slips down and doesn't stay on my ears like it should. It may be just me, but if I was to wear it running, I don't think it would stay in place. However, I do often walk at night, and don't care to wear a hat. This will be my go-to device for those times!


These are the super-cool FOUNDATION LED Gloves  What I love about these gloves is that the placement of the LED lights, allows me to run without having to hold flashlights, like I normally do. The placement of the LED's is perfect for running at night. Again, you get the same compact battery pack hidden in the glove, and have the option of constant vs flashing lights. The battery sits in the wristband and won't fall out. I ordered the size Large, and I have large hands for a woman. They are definitely snug. I could easily have ordered an XL and put a thin pair of stretchy knit gloves inside.

These gloves are Touch Screen friendly, though I have not tried that out yet. 


One thing that I do think is important when running in the winter is to have your neck covered. Even if I have my jacket open in the front for ventilation, I find that my face, especially my chin, is always cold. I can't stand when my chin gets really cold, so I like to have something that I can tuck it into now and then to warm it up. The SHIVER totally fits the bill. I ordered the pink as that is one color I go to often. I don't always want to run in the traditional black and red of my team colors... I am too much of a girlie-girl at times.  I wish they had one in white, as I think it would be a fantastic add to my collection!  This neck gaiter is extremely soft, and is anatomically shaped to fit the back of the neck and drop down a little in the front.  Below are pictures of some of the different ways you can wear this. I think this is the most versatile gaiter I have yet! It will be a staple for my winter running. 

(gotta love photoshop for trying out new haircolor) ;)


Last I have to mention my favorite winter jacket. I was sent this last winter, and I have worn it many, many times, both running and casually. It is warm, without being too hot. Even on some of the coldest Maine winter days, I can wear a long sleeve tech shirt underneath and be plenty warm without overheating. A good friend of mine has this jacket also, and she wears here most of the time also. I can't say enough about the QUANTUM HEAT EQUALIZE Training Jacket.  I reviewed this jacket last winter, and my review is HERE.

If you have any questions regarding any of these products, feel free to contact me!

Monday, November 17, 2014

What do I do now

I guess it's no secret that my blog has not been very active lately and I apologize. I havent had the energy to put the time into putting my thoughts down on the screen. I realize that now is the chance to change that, and so I will do my best to do so.

My last post was all about my first marathon. I still am in awe that I ran/walked a 26.2 mile distance. I want so badly to sign up for another race and to pull off an awesome PR, but alas, it isnt going to happen for a while.

When I started doing my long distance runs on the weekends, as I was training for my race, I began to have pain in my right achilles, where it attaches to my heel. As I increased my mileage, it got worse. I took time off from running just before the race so that I would be able to compete as planned. I wasn't able to run as much as I would have liked to during the race, but I did finish and that was what I set out to do.  As the days went by after the race, the achilles pain began to increase to the point that it was extremely painful to walk. I tried every style of shoes that I could think of, and had many conversations with a friend who is also a podiatrist and ultra runner. He advised me to stop running and let it heal or I would be chancing ending up having surgery or worse, a ruptured achilles. 

So I tried, to stop running. I went a week, here and there, but then I would get so depressed that my running wasnt happening, that I would get right back out on the road, and the whole pain cycle and inflammation would start up again.  Again and again I was told "no running for awhile". So, I would wear my air-boot for a couple of days and it would settle down enough that I could walk comfortably. But, as soon as I even tried to return to running the pain and inflammation reared it's ugly head and came back full force. The thought of not running for 3-6 months was making me sick to my stomach to even think about it. 

Fast forward to yesterday. I was finally given the option to walk,  and also ride my bike on the trainer. I set out on the roads and happily trotted along here and there. Not full running by any means, just a little here and there. I was only allowed 20 mins, but I ended up being out there 25. I was due to do 20 mins on the bike, so I took off 5 to allow for the extra 5 on the walk.  The day was cold, and brisk, but it felt F A N T A S T I C to be out there again. Mentally I needed that ittybitty walk/run. It helped immensely to lighten the fog my brain has been in since the marathon. 

I made sure to put on my favorite jacket from 180S, and my new shoes from Skechers Performance, the Go dri Ride3 Extreme. Totally made for winter/wet running. Great shoes for this time of year. Ankle/Achilles felt ok afterwards, a bit sore but nothing major. I knew that the test would be this morning when I got up.

As always, the morning is the hardest time to walk. When I sleep the tendon retracts and so when I get up and step down it pulls where it inserts into my heel and is extremely painful. This morning was awful, and I ended up making a very hard decision. I have many times gone to work and limped around all day not wanting to deal with wearing that stupid looking boot at work. But, today I realized that if I don't start listening to my doctor and my coach, I may injure myself enough that it wont get better without surgery.  This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. My life revolves around running and everything associated with it. The thought of not being able to run just tears a big whole in my heart as well as my psyche. 

So the morale of this story is.. do what your doctor tells you. Runners, I can totally sympathize with any of you dealing with injuries.. the hardest thing is to not run, and to explain to a non runner that it hurts the soul to NOT run. I know it doesnt make sense to them. I will include my family in that one.

So, I will from this point on try my hardest to be a compliant patient and do what I am told. Many thanks to Caleb, Dennis, and Isaac, who have been very, very encouraging, yet stern enough to tell me when I'm out of line. I value their input greatly.

So when you see me waddling around town or at work, you'll know the story and won't have to ask! Hopefully by putting this out there, I will keep myself on track a little bit better. 

Yesterday's run. I guess it'll be my last one for a couple of months. I will have plenty of time to do gear reviews and such, and get caught up on some design changes that need to be done on here! 

Need a running coach?   Caleb Masland 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Road to my First Marathon

PART 1:  The beginning

Before I go into the details of the race, let me bring you up to speed first. I began running again in 2011. I had gone from 285lbs down to 210, and was ready to try it again, after being too obese for 25+ years. In my mind, I had always stayed the slim runner that I was in my high school days. However, we all know that age happens, and sometimes life just gets away from us. Unfortunately that happened to me before I realized it. 

I started running by using a Couch to 5K program, and it wasn't working for me. I just couldn't get past the fact that I used to run long distances and now I was struggling just to run for one minute without stopping. Try as I did, I just couldn't make the kind of progress that I longed to do. Still struggling with being over 200lbs, I was finding it hard to actually keep the endurance to run for a length of time. I remember the first time I ran a whole minute without stopping.. I was really excited!

Eventually I reached a fitness level high enough  that I wanted to try a Virtual 5K before jumping into the racing world. Here's a picture of me. My husband drove along and stopped every half mile with me, as I wasn't sure if I could complete a whole 3 miles or not. I got it done, by running and walking, but I finished it. That was a turning point for me, mentally and physically. That was the summer of 2012.

Fast forward to March of 2013. I noticed an online friend had gotten a running coach, and was talking about how his training was going. After mulling it over, I sent an email to the coach, asking if he would be willing to help me train, with my goal for 2013 being my first half marathon. At this point, I had done a few races, but was still embarrassed by my size, so I was pretty much just doing virtual ones. I contacted Coach Caleb Masland and asked if he would be willing to work with me. I wasn't sure if he would want to spend his time working with an overweight 51 yr old mother of two. Fortunately he said yes, and I then became a member of Coach Caleb's "Team Wicked Bonkproof". With Caleb's help I successfully ran 5K, 10K and 15K races, and eventually ran the Maine Half Marathon as my first Half, in October 2013. It was quite a feeling to cross that finish line! At that point, on that day, I decided that just maybe, a full marathon would be within my reach.  :)

Now my reason for writing all of this, is because I know there are many, many others out there that are either overweight or obese and would love to be out there running or walking, but physically aren't able to. I can say first hand that it wasn't easy. I wanted to quit every time I went out to try to run. I would end up getting so frustrated with myself that I would go home and vow to never try again. But.. the next day I would be back out there giving it another shot. It hurt. It sucked. I can think of many negative words to describe what I went through! But.. was it worth it??? YES!! ABSOLUTELY!!

Don't ever let anyone talk you out of your goals and/or dreams. Since I was 16, I dreamt of running a marathon. All those years went by, and I had pretty much given up my dream because I was morbidly obese and figured I was too far gone at that point. But still, deep down inside, it was still a thought that hung in the back of my mind. With a lot of hard work, and perseverance, when the time was right, I took my chance and went for it.

And so we move onto PART 2: The Training

Back in the spring of 2014 I asked Coach Caleb to draft up a marathon training plan for me, that I could look at and digest slowly. Seriously.. I hung it up at work and would look at it almost every day. The thought of running more than 13 miles scared me to death, and really seemed like it would be an impossible task. This is where you learn to trust your training. Many times the self doubt would set in, and I would think that I wouldn't ever be able to run 26.2 miles in a race, but I trusted my coach, and my training and never looked too far ahead. Caleb's motto is "getting after it, one mile at a time". That's how I approached my training come June, when it was time to start adding the mileage. I tried to not look too far ahead, and to only focus on the run for that day. Looking too far ahead was too scary, and I wasn't ready to do that, just yet. 

When I started running the longer distances, I would say, just about anything over 8miles or so, I began to have GI tract issues. Those of you that run, know exactly what I'm talking about. Those of you that don't.. well, when you run, it can get the colon moving a lot faster than you want it to. Not a good thing. I starting having to go to the bathroom every time I ran. The hard part was running in town, where there was no place to stop, I would have to run home, holding it in all the way. Again, not the best situation for my health, nor my running. To be honest, sometimes I made it home in time, and other times I didn't. I cried many times when I had to cut a run short because of it. I was putting in all this effort, and my body would just not co-operate.  I tried two different doctors, tons of medications, and changing my eating habits, but to no avail. Nothing helped. I pretty much ended up going without eating the day before a long run, just so that there wouldn't be much inside me that could cause problems. That was an issue in itself, because I couldn't properly fuel for these long runs.

The next issue that cropped up as my mileage increased was a pain in my right achilles tendon where it starts to attach to the back of the heel. I had previous surgery in that ankle, and developed really tight calf muscles in that leg. All that tension caused some calcium to start building up within the tendon itself, which was extremely painful. I would go days sometimes without running just so I could go on my long run on the weekend.  The months ticked by, and I was fortunate to have a friend who wanted to run my first marathon with me. I met Isaac back in 2013 when I was training for my half marathon. We met on Daily Mile and became friends, then met in person at the Half Marathon Expo. Little did I know on that day, what a part Isaac would play in my first full 26.2.

Isaac drove up from coastal Maine many weekends at the crack of dawn, to help me get the 18-20 mile runs done. We would try to be out the door by 5-5:30am, because it would get too hot if we waited any later. Being a slower runner, and still having to do walk segments, I needed to leave much earlier than most people. It was fun though.. I learned how to run with someone, as opposed to having to run alone all the time, AND... I learned to talk and run! That's right.. prior to that I had tried a couple of times to carry on a conversation while running but all I could spit out were a few words here and there. Isaac and I chatted away many times before I even realized I was doing it! 

And now, PART 3, THE RACE:  Fast forward now to the race. The two weeks before the race, I was working down in Portland and living in a hotel. I was scared to death about what I was going to eat before the race, since I had no access to a stove or microwave and had been eating out. Needless to say, I gained some weight from that also, which compounded the stress levels. I ate a lot of rice that week, and tried to stay away from greasy stuff as much as I could. I cut down on coffee and chai and hoped for the best. 

Race weekend came, and my husband came down the day before. I had gotten my race swag at the expo and was ready to rock. Up until that morning of the race, I was still debating over what to wear. 

The weather said (maybe) rain, but was supposed to heat up by noon. Isaac and I had talked it over and decided that my best bet was to take the early start option that began at 6am instead of 7:45 with all the other racers. The race director allows the walkers and slow runners to leave early as long as they don't finish before 5.5 hours. I was hoping to run less than a 6 hour race. But, the elephant in the room was how many port-a-potty stops I was going to have to make, plus the fact that my achilles was still acting up. We decided the early start was a safer bet and Coach Caleb agreed also.

So 6am Isaac and I were at the start line and ready to go. He brought along a video camera so we could record the event, and I am so glad that we did. The video is at the end of this post, and it's not very long, so watch and enjoy!  I'm happy to say that I went the whole race with no bowel issues, and my achilles didn't really act up until mile 8 and was on and off but not constantly bothering me. The weather was perfect, and the spectators, bands and other runners were fantastic. We high-fived the kids, thanked the volunteers, helped out a fellow runner in distress and basically had a blast. Leaving early gave me the chance to enjoy the race and not stress out about having the "sag wagon" right behind me the whole time. It was a fantastic experience, one that I will never ever forget. I cherish that race medal and it will permanently be displayed along with my bib from the race. Will I run another marathon? Absolutely!

Before I close, I need to thank a few people. My family, for putting up with my need to run when it got in the way of family life. Coach Caleb, for being patient with my questions and freak out sessions as the race got near. Isaac, for being the best running buddy there is and for taking time out of his busy life to share this experience with me. Skechers Performance for allowing me to run in their amazing running shoes and to Barb Powell for believing me in me. Your friendship will always be close to my heart. :)  

Me and Isaac at Mile 20

Heading close to the finish line

Crossing the finish line, Isaac still taping our video

Finished! One of the happiest moments in my life.. a longtime dream achieved!

Here's the Video.. I still watch this and can't believe I that's me! Woohooo!!

And the all important car window sticker! ;)