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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Running with Plantar Fasciitis & Post Tib Tendonitis

I finally feel somewhat back to normal.  Well, "normal" is relative, because I've never really been "normal".  More like that weird chick that says odd things at the wrong time.  Yeah, that's me.

But, I'm so happy to say that I've now been on SEVEN runs.  Whoaaaa.  Yes, seven.  THIS makes me feel like my normal self.  Happier.  More energetic.  Less anxious.  I'm still kinda dealing with that stubborn staph thing, and my throat is still slightly recovering, but being able to run, even just the three to four miles I've been covering, makes EVERYTHING okay.  What running does to my body and mind is truly amazing, and I'm so grateful for it.

I plan to keep my miles low and at recovery effort/pace for a while.  This is to both baby my foot/ankle in coming back and to build a strong base, as the longer amount of time spent building the foundation, the higher the peak in the long run...pun intended.

So, here's what I'm doing.  Like I mentioned, I haven't run more than four miles yet, right around 8:00 pace.  I basically run a set distance for three days straight, then take a day off, then bump up one mile the next day, then bump back down a mile the next day, before bumping back up to that one more mile for three days in a row.  Did you follow that?  Because I'm not sure I even did...    Yeah, so, basically, I'm running to a mileage threshold.  Once I'm confident my foot/ankle is ready at that mileage, I move on...

Lotssss of strengthening.  The minute I get back from running, I do calf raises on my stairwell, towel curls with my toes, dorsal and plantar flexion stretches, and then I get frozen cauliflower ice right on that sucker.  Okay, but seriously, Cooper eats a bag of frozen cauliflower every day.  Our freezer is overflowing with that mess...  weird.  Is this normal??

Mm k.  So what else.  What's been discovered is that my ankles, especially my problem foot/ankle, are extremely hyper mobile, which means, well, I'm messed up.  My ankles can stretch so far to the inside that it looks like they may snap off.  So yeah, that's not normal (I told you I wasn't normal).  This is basically a structural issue that I just need to learn to manage (baby what my mama gave me).  My hip and glut area is also very weak and tight though (yeah, yeah, tight ass...), which can also be contributing to my foot/ankle issues. So, with a PT, I'm having dry needling done on my hip/glut, trigger point therapy on my calves, and massage done to my foot with a graston-like tool that helps break up inflammation/scar tissue.  I'll also continue with ART therapy, and I have a nighttime regimen of resistance band exercises (monster walks, side steps, leg raises, squats; etc. blah blah).  

So yeah, this is all a lot, but I'm focused on getting it under control so I can really get back out there as I wish.  I'm sure all of this mess will get old after a while; it's sooooo easy to neglect stretching/strengthening; etc. post-run in favor of heading to the fridge for some chocolate and wine, BUT, it's super important.  So far all is feeling good, and it's fun being able to look forward to my next 26.2 again.

So, that's that!  I'm happy and healthy and hope you are too.  I'm very appreciative for all the support over the past weeks.  Runners ARE.  THE.  BEST!

Happy Running!

Friday, May 18, 2018

My Spring Marathon

"I think that taking some time to do what you need to do to get better will be best in the 'long run'".  Wise words from my brother-in-law (Thanks, Trevor :))...

Whelp, to say that this spring has not gone exactly as I'd imagined may even be an understatement, but that's okay.  Sometimes life throws us curveballs, and it just takes some extra patience, acceptance, and learning to finally knock it out of the park.  

My training and racing plans this spring were geared towards the Wrightsville Beach 5K, Monument Avenue 10K, and Broad Street 10-Miler.  None of them happened.  I've now been off running completely for nine weeks.  In short, here's why:

After some minor tooth pain, a root canal was recommended to avoid the potential for a bigger oral surgery.  In the meantime, my tonsils started being assholes again, resulting in four infections in six months, including one trip to the ER for oozing pus...mmm yummy (<-- sorry, TMI).  This was my last straw, so I finally decided to go for the tonsillectomy... uh, ya know, that I should have pulled the trigger on, like, 16 years ago.  So, I scheduled both procedures, only to get a culture back that week revealing a stubborn strain of staph taking up residence on my face.  Therefore, both the endodontist and surgical center wouldn't touch me with a 10-foot pole, canceling both procedures, and their concern sent me into a state of anxiety, resulting in panic attacks.  My body started aching all the time, and my blood pressure, normally very low, was stupidly high for me.  All the while, my heel was still giving me issues, so I couldn't run, and the nasty-feeling-air around the warm-nasty-feeling-pool was drying out my throat, so I couldn't swim anymore either.  I therefore had no outlet, blah-di-freaking-blah.

Fast forward to today, and I'm relieved to say that I'm on day 16 of my tonsillectomy recovery.  Tonsillectomies for kids are no biggie, but the older you are, the tougher they get (and since I'm an old hag in the tonsillectomy world, that shit was NO JOKE).  I wasn't allowed to work or take care of my boys for 10 days, was told to expect to lose at least 10 pounds (I only lost four, yay!), and I hemorrhaged on day six.  Not cool, peeps, not cool.  BUT...it's over now, yay!  Although much improved, I'm still treating the staph, and I'll worry about the root canal a little later.  I had an MRI on my foot, which revealed plantar fasciitis, post tib tendonitis, and an ankle sprain (um, what?).  No bone issues thankfully, so as long as I can handle the pain (and I'll do some PT), I'm cleared to run.  Music to my big ears!  So, once the scabs completely fall off my throat (I gotta work on my TMI eh?), I'll see ya on the roads (err sidewalks), peeps!  My anxiety has calmed down thankfully, but it taught me a lot.  Anxiety was something I previously didn't understand, but I can now say that I wouldn't wish that shit storm on my worst enemy.


I'm not sure if a marathon will or will not happen this fall yet, but I'm okay with that.  It will happen when my body is ready.  In the meantime, I LOVE the fact that Atlanta was awarded as the Olympic Trials host.  Ya know, because I don't need to fly anywhere (<-- another anxiety.  Seriously, WTF is wrong with me??).  I often find myself daydreaming about being in the race, and it gives me chills, but for now, like Trevor said, taking this time to get better will only better me in my "long run".

I owe a lot of thanks to some awesome people in my life.  My husband for putting up with my shit, my parents and in-laws for uprooting their lives to come and take care of me and my boys, a friend that knew exactly how to handle a panic-attacking wacko, another friend with a sixth sense that drove to my house unannounced at just the right time to let me cry, an understanding boss, and so many others.  It can be easy to take for granted all the love and beauty around when we're constantly hearing and focusing on the crap and evil in the world, but throughout this spring, I learned how much good truly exists.  

So, I'll get there; the road just got a little longer!  And in the grand scheme of life, this is no big deal.  I'm a fortunate gal ... one that looks forward to seeing you out there on those sidewalks hopefully next week!  :)

HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY RUNNING!!! 


  
My nuggets!  <3

Monday, March 19, 2018

Springing Ahead to April

I'm finding this blank page somewhat frustrating after not writing for a few months, so instead of staring at it any longer wondering where to start, I'm just gonna GO...

So during my Indy training, I had the beginning of what was plantar fasciitis ...the classic morning heel pain, but no discomfort while running.  After Indy, it started to flare while running, but nothing bad.  After a week off with the flu, my first run back was a three-miler, done in the snow while test running a no-bueno-for-me pair of sneakers that I now slam against a wall six times a day was given for free.  That's when shit suddenly got BAD.  From that day forward, a very specific spot on my heel started talking to me on every run.  Fast forward to now, and I have two possible diagnoses... a stress fracture of the calcaneus or a partial tear of the plantar fascia.  Regardless, I'm choosing to treat it as the worst case possible scenario to ensure full recovery, landing me in a boot for at least the next four weeks.  In the meantime, I can swim to maintain fitness (which I'm really enjoying actually!), but there isn't much else that keeps pressure off the area.  Fortunately, weekly ART therapy at EPC is helping my physical recovery, and weekly 750ml wine curls are aiding in my mental recovery...

When I think back to the summer & fall and my training before Indy, I remember having my shit fully together.  Okay, I don't know, maybe I didn't, but I know that right now, I feel like a burning-hot-all-over-the-place mess.  If you talk to me on Monday, I might tell you that I want a third baby, I'm going to stop working full-time, and that we're moving closer to family for help.  If you talk to me on Tuesday, I might tell you that wtf heck no I don't want another baby, and I can't wait for a week in wine country after I race the California International Marathon this fall.  On Wednesday, I might tell you a story about rummaging through my closet, feeling nostalgic over my old business attire, and thus prioritizing time to actually start marketing myself and my coaching more.  On Thursday, I'll probably feel reallllly mom-guilty about my thoughts on Tuesday and Wednesday, so you won't even be able to get a hold of me, because I'll be picking up my boys early from school/daycare to take them to the Science Center.  On Friday, just come and talk to me over wine, because, well, I know nothing.  CRAP!

...It's funny how not being able to run right now opens up more head space to focus on everything else, yet the reality is that I'm having a hard time focusing/prioritizing/balancing at all.  I've been very fortunate in my marathon career in regards to injuries, so I'm going on the positive here, knowing that I should be back at it by the end of April.  This gives me plenty of time to still target an OTQ this fall (I mean hey, if I can PR after taking 19 weeks off and gaining over 30 pounds, then this should be easy, right?! ;)), but above all, I'm looking forward to my CLARITY being restored.  So yeah, herein lies yet another perk of running ... it instills so much clarity and purpose and perspective in all aspects of life, not just running itself.

So come the end of April, I suppose I'll be looking at another blank page of sorts.  And while getting started again might at first be frustrating, at this point, I honestly just can't wait to GO.

Happy Swimming!  ;)

Who needs clarity when there's Doritos (definitely my kid)?  :)


Saturday, November 11, 2017

CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

It's Saturday morning at Starbucks, and even though it's 30 degrees outside, there's a warmth inside making me so happy.  Maybe it's the white mocha.  Maybe it's that I'm writing again; on weekends, Mike and I typically take turns running & biking, but since I'm resting this week, I'm writing instead.  Maybe it's my runners kicking ass combined with a first feel of the holidays; my phone is "dinging" incessantly as 33 of my runners cross race checkpoints this morning, and a fellow white mocha-er therefore just nicknamed me "Jingle Bells" (I actually think I'm pissing her off, but meh, whatever, lady.).  Or maybe it's the fire that ignited in me last weekend, having surpassed my goal of getting back into the shape I was in before getting pregnant with Cooper...

Last Saturday, I ran the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  I finished in 2:51:04, a nearly four minute PR only 11 months after bringing Cooper into our family.  To say that I'm hopeful and confident at what's to come is an understatement.  I tear up thinking about it, in part from sheer excitement and pride, and in part because I can't control the f*cking hormones still residing in my body.

Training went well.  After 19 long-ass-fucking weeks of not being able to run during and after pregnancy, every step ...every "how-the-hell-will-I-ever-get-it-back" step... felt like a gift.  Coach hubby Mike took a conservative approach to my training, knowing that coming back from pregnancy involves risks, mainly injury and sickness from body changes, a lack of sleep, and oh yeah, being responsible for two totally awesome and beautiful but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't really fucking hard mini people.  Even so, as my body continued to figure out its new normal, I managed through misplaced ankle tendons, plantar fasciitis, and ass muscles tighter than how my regular sized jeans not even close fit when I was 35 weeks pregnant.  Therefore, other than the "comeback" five-miler in July, we decided not to run any other races before the marathon and to keep my weekly miles maxed around 70, which is low compared to many others going for the OTQ standard.  I also owe some serious thanks to Elite Performance Chiropractic for keeping all these weaknesses under control and for giving me the confidence to push through them.

I chose Indianapolis mainly for the competition.  It's one of the top 15 largest marathons in the country, and many guys and gals chasing down big dreams descend upon the city.  The irony in this is that I ended up running by myself most of the way.  That's okay though; it's a phenomenal race, and after a week of taper crazies brought on by a doubt-inducing cold (thanks for putting up with my lame ass, Coach hubby Mike), once the gun went off, I was f*cking PUMPED.  I went out conservatively to get warmed up, passing mile one in 6:49, then settled into a 6:20-6:30 pace through mile 22.  The final four miles proved more challenging, passing in the 6:40-6:50 range.  I crossed the line as sixth female, unable to control my tears of relief, joy, and yep, hormones.  

Forward progress is a process that requires passion, will, and patience.  Like I told one of my runners over lunch the other day, there's no point in trying to go from point A to Z overnight, as this will only result in frustration.  Since 2013, I've been consistently taking about four minutes off my marathon time (3:02, 2:58, 2:54, 2:51), and I now have six more to go to attain the trials standard.  I'll most likely focus on speed/shorter distance races this spring, as I need to add strength back to the endurance now, and the mental shift away from the marathon is important too.  We've already identified many areas for improvement, and fall 2018 will be my next marathon target.  I can't f*cking wait.

Onward!

Heading to the start line

Lonely but strong at mile 10


Aunt Cici and Cooper loving on some marathon runners from our VRBO

And this is really what it's all about.  Logan, inspired by the morning, wanted to have running races the rest of the day.  
<3    


Happy Running!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Why I Run

I was eight miles into a 13-mile run last Sunday, and I literally felt like I had peed my pants 16 times already.  It was that humid, and I normally don't sweat a ton when I run.  However, that day was a dreaming-of-ice cream-and-ice cold-coke suffer fest.  Nothing about it felt awesome, and it was a day that makes you ask, "Why am I doing this?"  Then I was reminded...

At the end of the greenway, I saw a mini-dude riding his Strider bike.  My immediate thought was, "Who is that?!  No one that little rides a bike as well as my Logan!" <-- I'm definitely NOT competitive.  That's when I realized it WAS my Logan (duh!).  My hubby and boys surprised me and met me out on my run, and my entire mindset immediately changed.  When I saw Logan's ear-to-ear smile and heard him say, "Mommy!  You're running!  You're fast, but I'm faster!", it filled me with so much energy and pride.  We took a quick goldfish-snack break before then riding and running alongside each other.  What began as a less-than-stellar run turned into one heckuva great one thanks to my boys.


"Butterfly on my bike!"

After my race last month, all Logan wanted to do the rest of the day was "race".  He stripped down to just his underwear (because he apparently thinks my spandex shorts are underwear?) and ran sprints back and forth across my brother's cool Connecticut front lawn, proclaiming over and over again, "Mommy, I'm fast!  Mommy, I'm sweating!"  ...and just like he was my biggest, curious fan that morning, I was now his, cheering him on all the way.

This past weekend, Mike and Logan went on a camping adventure, so Cooper and I held down the fort.  We went to the park on Sunday morning and ran for an hour together.  About halfway through, Cooper farted.  LOUD.  We were smack in the middle of a crowded Country Park, and I'm sure many passersby thought it was me (who was of course immediately embarrassed).  Even Cooper himself was laughing (<-- lil' booger!).  Then in that moment, I thought to myself, "That's right, Cooper, who gives a shit what anyone thinks!?"  When finally done and stretching back in the parking lot, I looked over to see if Cooper had fallen asleep.  Instead, I was proud to see my smiling, eight-month-old boy mimicking me with his legs stretched straight up into the air.  On that morning, we both taught each other something.


I have moments of guilt in my running, just as I'm sure all parents with individual passions and goals do.  It's typically a fleeting thought though, because then I remember the competitive look in Logan's eyes and the happy smile on Cooper's face when they watch me.  We're hopefully raising our boys to be strong, confident, independent men through our athletics.  The bond I share with them is simply stronger because of my running; not only are they learning from me, but they're teaching and reminding me of so much in the process.  So sure, I have goals, and I train hard to reach them, but my running now has a bigger purpose.  I run for my boys.

 Happy Cooper

Happy Mom

HAPPY RUNNING!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

First Race Back

A blank screen.  That's what I'm looking at right now after almost five months of not writing, and I have no clue where to start because so much has happened.  ...so much has changed.  Actually, I remember this same "lost" feeling on day one back to running after five months off, but hey, look at me now.  Sometimes, a clean slate is just what we need to get us where we want to go...

For the most part, I feel back to myself again, but I believe this to be true:  for every day you're pregnant, you need a day to recover.  It's kind of like Deena Kastor's marathon recovery advice:  for every mile you race, you need a day to recover.  For the first four five six months of Cooper's life, I was basically, well, batshit crazy.  I experienced a lot of physical symptoms (impetigo, wet skin sensations, random sweating, heart palpitations, digestion issues) that ultimately led me into some deep "what if I'm dying and can't take care of my children" anxiety.  After visiting six doctors, ruling out any auto-immune disorders, and adjusting to some new dietary restrictions, I'm finally at a place where I'm enjoying and appreciating the present instead of worrying about the future.  Cooper is now 7.5 months old, and I've officially upgraded myself to just, well, crazy.  One thing is for sure - anxiety is batshit ugly, and I don't wish it on anyone.      

Throughout these months though, being able to run again lifted these thoughts way more than any doctor could.  Once through that first eight week "sluggish-I'm slow as shit-why don't my shorts fit yet-am I sweating or was that pee?-I'm pretty sure I just farted, but yeah, I can't feel it" post-preggo phase, Coach Hubby Mike and I set up a 12-week plan to get me back to my first race, a five-miler in my hometown in CT.  Training consisted of gradually building miles, a bunch of tempo and fartlek runs, one solid speed workout, and leg strengthening work.  I hit one 60-mile week but had to be careful in dealing with some ankle pain, which was apparently caused by a slightly fallen arch and stretched retinaculum (no idea if I spelled that right) ligament during pregnancy.

Race day.  Since the race distance was not exact (slightly long), my goal was just to get back in the race mindset and do just that - race people.  At the start line, I saw a Kenyan woman and another woman in butt huggers, and I mentally weakened, saying to myself, "well, just go for third place."  Then I remembered what a college coach once said to me on a recruiting trip:  "If you treat yourself like a second-rate runner, that's always what you'll be."  Time to race, Jen.  I passed the woman in butt huggers at mile one, the Kenyan just after mile two, and won the race, averaging somewhere between 6:00-6:10 pace.  I felt strong, am incredibly appreciative for such a strong comeback, and left feeling confident as hell.

Okay, I digress.  ...I've thought a lot about that mental breakdown on the start line.  It brings me back to the day I delivered Cooper, when I took an epidural at 6cm dilated.  Was I in pain?  Of course...  every woman in delivery experiences pain.  Was it excruciating at that point?  No.  Cooper was born less than an hour after that epidural.  Perhaps I could have toughed it out?  Point being, here's what I learned about myself that day that I will carry forward into my races:  I fear the unknown/pain more than I allow myself to experience it.  Don't ever assume someone is better than you, and don't ever assume how bad something will hurt, as both will hold you back from reaching your potential.

Digression over.  So, what's next...  I'm currently nursing that same ankle after stepping on a cobblestone awkwardly last week (a scan luckily showed no bone stress), but other than that, it's time to focus on a fall marathon with either a 10K or half marathon tuneup en route.  We're still trying to navigate some sleep deprivation and general family-work-training balance, but all should only improve moving forward.  I'm excited to get my miles up to an all-time high and focus on some additional strength work too.  Plus, according to the Deena rule, I still have 1.5 months left until I'm completely myself again.  ...maybe then I'll get upgraded to no longer even being crazy, but yeah, probably not. :)

Happy Running!





Coop meeting some good college friends
Trail biker extraordinaire

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Never Give Up

Every day, at some point, I want to give up.

I oftentimes say to myself, "I want to feel normal again."  ...but then I realize, this is my new normal.  For every woman that wants a family, career, and to still fulfill their own individual goals/dreams, this crazy-ass life is normal.  I just haven't found a comfortable routine yet.

Some days, I question why we decided to have a second child.  And yes, I then feel guilty for questioning that.  Then I take one look at Cooper ... beautiful, happy Cooper ... and I can't even imagine or remember life before him.

Some days, I question why I still work.  Then I see one of my athletes conquer a goal they never thought was possible, and I'm so happy.  And they're so happy.  And then I realize - when they reach their goals, I'm happier than when I reach my own.  

Some days, I question why I give a shit about qualifying for the Olympic Trials.  Someone, another coach actually, once said to me, "Why do you care?  It's not like you'll actually go to the Olympics."  He sucks for saying that ...or maybe he doesn't suck, because he certainly fueled my fire.  And then I go for a run, and I feel free.  Happy.  I feel that fire and my deep-rooted desire, and I know that not going for this goal is not an option.

I may not be my happiest-go-luckiest self as of late, but I'll get back there.  Because after all, I'm choosing all of this.  Individually, everything makes me happy; all of it together is just a bit overwhelming right now.  It's kind of like opening a puzzle for the first time, dumping out all of its beautiful, colorful pieces, yet still saying to yourself, "How the fuck will I ever put this all together?"  ...But then eventually, even if it takes a little time, you do.

And that's why, every day, at some point, I know... I'll never give up.

Happy Running.  :)


 My beautiful boys (Logan, age three, and Cooper, age three months (as of tomorrow!)

I'm excited to finally launch my new coaching website:  
www.runjen.com