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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sara vs. Railroad Tracks

What Happened?
Three weeks ago today, I was out for a leisurely roadbike ride with some friends who were tapering for Ironman Boulder... about 30 friends to be more specific. We regrouped at a Starbucks about 11 miles into the ride. People were chatting and having a snack. Someone announced that there were some railroad tracks coming up. He said to be careful because they cut across the road at an angle; he said he's seen people wipeout there all the time. In my head I started thinking "be careful, don't wipeout, go straight across, be careful, don't fall... " WHAM! I hit the ground... hard. Really. Hard. I sat up with 3o people staring at me. I knew I hit my head which was my first concern. My right hip was incredibly sore too. I encouraged everyone to continue on their ride and I was going to head home. Tyler and I rode back to his truck and I pouted all the way home. I couldn't believe it. After the warning about the tracks, I still managed to wreck myself, again. After I cleaned myself up, I realized that every single inch of my pelvis hurt. It felt like I pulled every muscle from my groin to my knees. I decide to go to the After Hours Clinic for an xRay. The PA said she would only xRay my right hip since that's where I hit the ground. It appeared ok and she sent my on my way. I KNEW something was wrong though. 

Week 1
I woke up the next morning with excruciating pain. My neck had some nasty whiplash; I could barely move it side to side. But what was worse was my thighs and groin. I could barely walk. I had to support myself on the railing to walk down stairs. I could barely get dressed. Back in 2011, I had a stress fracture in my left pubic ramus... this felt exactly like that (but worse). I called my GP doc to explain my bike accident and tell her that I thought something was broken. She agreed that it was very likely that something was broken given the impact, my bone density issues, and how I described the pain. She order an MRI. YAY! I called Radiology and the soonest available time was in 2 weeks at 11pm in Lafayette! Seriously!? I emailed my doc a few days later to explain I was in extreme pain and I would do anything to get an MRI earlier... no go.  I went on with my week waddling around, unpacking my classroom and moving furniture, painting hallways, waking up every day hoping for improvement. My brother and his fiance would be in town soon, and I was going to have to spend a week with them whining about my unidentified injury, unable to do the activities we had planned.

Week 2
I felt exactly the same. Every morning I would wake up with the hope that I would step out of bed and there wouldn't be lightning bolts of pain shooting up my groin. Some dry needling in the adductors took the edge off. But what really helped me turn the corner was a nice long massage. I woke up the next day with significant relief. Walking was much better which is really all I wanted. Occasionally, if I were to step the wrong way, the extreme-kick-in-the-crotch pain would return. I still had lay on my bed to get dressed. I still have to used the sneeze-be-gone trick, even today. I was counting down the days until I could get that MRI and say "I told ya so." 

Week 3
I TOLD YA SO! I got that stupid MRI on Monday, and by Tuesday I was on the phone with the nurse telling me I had blah-buh-dee-blah-blah. "Can you repeat that? Does that mean both sides?" I ask the nurse. "I don't know, I'm just reading the note from the doctor," she said. Awesome. I decided I would just go into the office and ask for a copy of the MRI on a disk to see for myself. I scroll to the report at the end and there's a nice little list of findings:

  • recent nondisplaced bilateral superior pubic rami fractures
  • recent nondisplaced left inferior pubic ramus fracture
  • edema and fluid right greater trochanter 
  • mild contusion
actual image from my MRI
Another nurse calls me to make an appointment with orthopedics on Friday, which I do...

The doc goes over the images with me and long story short... there's nothing I can do about this except wait. The doc said, "when did you get off crutches?" I WAS NEVER ON CRUTCHES. WAS I SUPPOSED TO BE? I guess that's what happens when you can't get any answers for almost 3 weeks. Nothing I can do about that now... moving on. So, I can swim and easy-spin on the bike as long as it's painfree. I can't even pretend to think about running for another 5+ weeks. 

This past week has been a million times better than the last 2. There are even times I forget that my pelvis is in multiple pieces! I went for a short swim yesterday and it wasn't a total disaster. I rode the trainer this morning and watch the Kardashians and it was fantastic. 

What's Next?
Well I'm gonna need a new helmet. The thought of riding outside really freaks me out right now; but I'll get over it eventually. I'm not going to not ride outside. I'm just laying low right now and waiting for a day when I can go the entire day without pain. 

To be honest, I am actually relieved that it's a bone fracture. Bone injuries are cut and dry: it's broken, you wait, it heals, all done. Tendons and ligaments are way more finicky and you can get tempted to try to return to activities too early. With bones, there's no chance that maybe it'll be ok today... cuz it's not.  

I was on the beer-chocolate-sleep recovery plan. But I think I'm gonna phase in some swimming and spinning now that those 3 weeks are past me... and my pants are getting tight. I've added a few things to my medicine cabinet to hopefully give my bones a boost.

I'm bummed that I'm missing the best time of year to be outside :(. But it won't last forever...

go run some 
and wear a helmet! (on your bike... not running)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Back to Basics... Having Fun

As many of you know, those of you who have had to take some significant time off from running due to injuries... Sometimes, you just wanna go run and have fun and it's the best kind of run. Right now, my goal is to be able to run with my Girls on the Run team which starts September 8th. Yep, all I want to do is run with 9-year-olds right now. I won't care about pace, time, or distance. I just a pain-free fun-run.

Some of my teacher friends ran the Color Run last weekend and I wished I could be a part of a non-competitive fun-loving event like that. Normally, those kinda things are my not style, but more and more, these events are catching my attention. There are so many events out there that just celebrate being able to move and be active and have fun! There are Color Runs, Zombie Runs, Rave Runs, Mud Runs, other scavenger hunts, Hot Chocolate Runs, turkey trots, etc.

Last month, I received an email about the Hit and Run 5k in Denver. And OMG this thing looks like so much fun. Check out this video:
Hit and Run 5K, a unique 5K experience filled with mechanical obstacles, giant inflatables, dodge balls, foam craziness, water and much more! The race will be held at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. And lucky for you, I have a sweet discount code for 20% off!: 

Packet pickup will be next Friday at Runners Roost on Colorado Blvd. where you can pick up every thing you need for this obstacle course... Like goggles? Or maybe a cute new outfit? 

But I do encourage you to try something silly sometimes; maybe it's time to take things a little less seriously, turn the GPS watch off, and just have fun.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

How'd You Break Your Leg... And Other Comments

I'm wrapping up week 3 of booting it up. I thought I was looking at one more week; but after my last doc visits I think this might be it! I can definitely tell this left ankle is getting weaker so I'm excited to give it a little more action. After all, "motion is lotion"!

What I am MOST excited about is that I'll go back to being a regular invisible person in public. Apparently, wearing this boot is an open invitation for people to come tell me about their boot stories, or their friend's boot stories, or just to ask me all about my boot. I've been approached at Walgreens, at the grocery story, in an elevator, and many other places. I've chatted with young people, old people, guys, and gals. "What did you do?" is the most common question. I just answer, "I ran too much." Here are some other enthralling comments I've had the pleasure of listening too...

"Nice boot! I'm supposed to be in a boot too! But I didn't feel like wearing it."-- guy in line at at King Soopers

"Oh I feel sorry for you. I had to wear a boot for months. I broke my foot dancing too much at a wedding"-- lady in the dairy isle at Whole Foods.

"Too bad you have to wear that thing in the middle of the summer. I dropped a shampoo bottle on my foot and had to wear a boot for almost 6 months. The x-ray did show it was broken. I don't know what I did!" -- another lady at Whole Foods... a few minutes after chatting with the previous lady.

"How did you break your leg?" -- lady in the elevator at doc's office. Seriously?! I think I LOLed. I'm wearing a boot on my foot. broken leg!? It took everything in me to not say, "I was climbing Mt. Everest and had to battle zombies." I'm fairly positive that a broken leg would require a little more than a Velcro boot. I guess she was just trying to be friendly. 

The majority of people just say, "what did you do?" and I just say, "I ran too much." Then they say, "I hope you feel better." and I just say, "Thanks." Easy enough.

I started thinking about how my pregnant pals complain about strangers approaching them to touch their baby bellies and quiz them about "when are you due?", "is it a boy or a girl", or "you're about to pop." At least with a boot, no one feels the need to rub my foot and baby-talk to it. 
I think I'm looking at less than a week left with this thing. I'm gonna attempt a little elliptical action sometime next week. But I really do feel a lot better! 

go run some!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sh!t Happens

"There is scarcely any passion without struggle" - Albert Camus

This hasn't exactly been my best few weeks ever. I'm trying to "look at the big picture"... "see the forest through the trees"... "stop and smell the roses"... "keep my chin up"... blah blah blah. Seriously though, sometimes things don't go your way. And that's life. And life keeps moving with or without you.

It had been over 2 years since my last bone density-related injury. After a bone scan this past winter, I knew I had made some improvements, but it was still quite low. I had a pretty sweet showing at the Greenland 25k in May. I guess I got a little greedy, a little over-confident, and kept pushing the mileage and speedwork. I was invincible! I decided to do a more run-focused Ironman training this time around. I thought I'd play to my strengths. It's no secret I get my butt kicked on the bike and then pass 'em back on the run. I figured I'd take that and "run with it" (get it?). 

"Hindsight is 20/20", my dad would always say. And it's still true. What was I thinking? I knew better than to run that much. It's hard when you feel good though. And it summer... Didn't need to run that extra mile "just because"... just because I felt like it... just because I had time. I got into a "more is more" frame of mind. Oops. Nothing I can do now. I'm in the boot for a little while longer. Swimming and cycling are going ok. I even tried pool-running which is exactly as exciting as it sounds. I may give it another try? But I'm going to be the best damn cheerleader at IM Boulder you can imagine... I have a sweet new Bluetooth speaker and cowbells ready to go. I might wear my yellow bikini and get all Le Tour crazy!

I got a speeding ticket! No denying that's me!

ALSO... My car needed a quick fix earlier this week. I rode my bike to pick up my car from the autoshop. I hooked my bike up to my roof rack on top of my car. I proceeded to drive my newly fixed car home... into the garage... with my bike on top. CRASH! right into the garage. I. was. hysterical. What else can I break?! I hear stuff crunching and shattering above me. I back out of the garage and look up (while continuing to scream and cry as if I was being attacked by a coyote or murderer or something). My bike kinda looked ok. The roof rack was hanging on by 1 outta 4 mounts. I unhook my bike and immediately notice the shifter/breaks are definitely perpendicular to how they should be. I go over the frame and don't notice anything different. I call Tyler in tears (because it was originally his bike rack) and explain how I destroyed his very nice bike rack. He seemed more concerned about my bike which was great because I was also more concerned about my bike. I took it into my trusty LBS (Tribella... wonderful people. I highly recommend them). They fixed up my shifters and gave my frame a once over and I think it came out ok? Fingers crossed. NO MORE ROOF RACKS FOR ME, EVER. 

Once I get this ankle healed up, I wanna do some things I haven't done in a while; I wanna climb a mountain with my dog, ride my bike up a mountain pass and take pictures, maybe even go camping, sleep late. My brother and his fiance are coming to visit in August and I'm excited to spend some time with them. I've got an appointment for LASIK next week which is really scary and exciting. And then... school starts up again :(.

As for racing... I have no official plans yet. I'm still itching to do something big again. I feel like I have some unfinished business. I have a few ideas. And a few ideas on how to be a little nicer to my bones too. I hope I can get in something by the end of this season; maybe aquabike or a sprint tri. Who knows. I just wanna ride my bike.

But for now... I'm feeling a little existential. Stuff happens, it's not really "good" or "bad"... and more stuff will happen. And that's that.

go run some

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Another Summer... Another Bone Injury

Summertime bone injuries
August 2011: right pubic ramus stress fracture
June 2012: left pubic ramus stress fracture
June 2013: fractured left scapula and 6th rib
June 2014: left medial malleolus stress reaction

I had an amazing Boulder 70.3. I felt great and I finished a lot faster than I hoped and everything was perfect in the world. The next morning I woke up with a really sore and swollen left ankle. I thought, "well I pushed it pretty hard yesterday, looks like some inflammation, no biggie." I spent the next three days at the Denver Public Schools Summer Institute for Physical Education (which was SO MUCH FUN!) babying my left ankle. We did a lot of running and jumping and dancing and I could tell something wasn't right with this ankle. I started icing and wrapping it up. Of course I kept running on it! But honestly, it just really didn't hurt that bad. It was achy and annoying and uncomfortable. I even did a birthday 20mile run! Then 3 days after that I did a 10mile track workout. Finally, after no relief, I saw my trusty chiropractor at Action Spine last Friday. I looked at him and said, "ohmigod, I bet it's a stress fracture." He looked at me and said, "you're probably right". Within an hour, I was in an MRI machine listening to Slacker and Steve on headphones choking back tears. And within an hour after that, I was on the phone with my doc explaining that I have a "medial malleolar stress reaction" and "prominent tenosynovitis" and I should "put a boot on immediately" and see my doc on Monday. 

That escalated quickly.

Yesterday, I figured I should let my wonderful insurance provider doctor people know about this... just in case this snowballs even bigger into something surgical or whatever. Of course they can't see me for over 3 weeks! After making some annoying phone calls and sending some desperate emails, the ortho doc calls and says, "we have cancellation, can you get up here in an hour?" "YEP!" When he opens the door, we both have a little chuckle... I'm here for my summertime broken bone visit! He goes over the MRI and Xrays with me. Xrays looks good... MRI not so much.

So what do I do now? Well I have been told a lot of things from a lot of people with a lot of opinions... which is fine because I ask for a lot of opinions and I listen to 50% of them. I've been told everything from "cast her up, she's done", to "oh you're still racing Ironman Boulder", to "it's not meant to be, this isn't your race", to "you should just aquabike it", to "don't even start if you know you can't finish"...

And the way I feel seems to change every hour too. One second my ankle is throbbing and I just wanna throw in the towel. Then I think, "well if lay off the impact activities for 4 weeks, then I'll be fine for Ironman." Then I think that is stupid and I shouldn't put myself through that. Then I think, "I've been training for this for 8 months, why stop now?"

But the truth is... I just really like to swim and bike and run, and I don't feel like I wasted the last 8 months at all. I kind of like waking up at 5am and getting in a workout before the rest of the world rolls out of bed. I like that 75% of my laundry is workout clothes. I like that, for my 30th birthday, Tyler gave me a new cassette and chain for my bike. 
happy birthday to me!
Of course I'm bummed the race won't go as planned... but this isn't the first time, and I'm sure not the last time, that injuries interrupt race goals. And dad always said, "hindsight is 20/20". Looking back, I know I was running too much... I was about to have my first 50mile week in a loooong time. I should have known better. 

What am I doing now? Everything I can get my hands on! 
  • Ice
  • Boot (most of the time, but I'm becoming convinced that it is causing more pain than helping)
  • Now Bone Strength
  • MBP Bone Renew
  • E-stimulation massager
  • Bone growth stimulator
  • Cold lasers
  • Dry needling
  • beer
  • crying
What I bought after I got of the phone with the doc...
I'm not officially 100% sure what my game plan is. But I'm pretty confident IM Boulder is not in the cards for me. I don't wanna risk making things any worse. I have my eye on the Harvest Moon Aquabike? And maybe a redemption IM next year. 'Cuz I don't quit stuff! I'm trying to "sleep on it" but that's not really my style.

go run some... I'll be out there in a few more weeks...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Boulder 70.3 Race Report

In a nutshell, the Ironman Boulder 70.3 went really well... much better than I expected! I met all 3 of my goals! I stayed on my bike with my feet clipped in and my helmet on my head and my bones in tact. I only let Tyler gain 6 minutes on me! And I had a pretty solid run to top it off. 


I'm not sure how I ended up with bib #83, but it got me a sweet position in the transition area right next to a port-o-potty! I could rack my bike and sneak in without having to run across the lot and back. Sweet! 

Ya know, I know I'll be WISHING for cold during the full Ironman in August... but it was definitely chilly race morning. My toes were purple and I could see my breath. I was starting to wish I had brought some cheap little gloves so my hands wouldn't go numb on the bike. Most of us were complaining about being cold but we knew it would warm up fast. Spraying sunscreen made me even colder. I decided to leave my tri top in transition so it would be dry instead of swimming in it. This was a stupid idea! It was immediately soaking wet as soon as it touched my skin. I should have just swam in it. I probably lost 30-60sec just trying to pull that thing over my head. Lesson learned... just swim in the top no matter what.

Starting early is awesome! I was grateful to get in the warmer water and get started at 7:20 instead of 8:20. Transition closed at 6:30 and I think I might have gone crazy waiting around for almost 2 hours. 


During packet pick-up the day before, I got an orange cap in my packet... no big deal. While we were all getting ready and putting our wetsuits on, my buddy said, "Why do you have a men's 35-39 cap?" Hmm. I don't know. When it was time for my wave, All World Athlete Women, to get in the water, I looked around and noticed that everyone else had burgundy caps with AWA on the side. Suddenly, a volunteer yelled at me to trade caps with her as we are walking into the water. I grabbed the AWA cap threw it on my head and barely had time to adjust my goggles before the gun went off. A little water leaked into my left gasket; but it wasn't too bad. My sighting was fantastic... which is not normal. I swam close to each bouy and made tight turns. I can tell I'm getting a lot more comfortable in the water. By the time I turned the last corner, I noticed I was in a pack of AWA men! I really didn't want to get out of the water, I was starting to feel good and the water was warm, and I kinda stink at the bike... oh well... off to pedal. 

I started off feeling really good! I kept my pace just below the "legs burning pace". We were heading north and apparently there was a nice little wind pushing me along which is probably why I thought I felt so good. I really didn't notice it until we started heading back south... then we definitely found that little wind. 

As I'm turning right off of hwy36 to head east on Ute Hwy, I merge with two cyclist who are also heading east on Ute. I notice they are not racing. They're on road bikes, one of them is wearing a Camelback, and they don't have race numbers. They are drafting each other very closely. Then, outta no where, a course marshal pulls up next to the 3 of us and slows down. He's looking us over pretty good. I panic and sprint off because I'm scared he's gonna think I was drafting off these non-racers. I imaging myself arguing with the marshal: "THE JUST PULLED UP WITH ME AND THEY AREN'T EVEN RACING!" I just keep my head down and keep hauling for a few more seconds. I think he was probably just checking out the other 2 guys and then realized they weren't in the race. I saw the scooter scoot off, phew. 

About halfway through the bike, I realize I'm awfully close to a friend of mine who is a stronger cyclist than I am. That is a good sign I should back off a bit as I have no business riding that close to her. "Save it for the run," I tell myself. I make a conscious decision to ease up and create a little distance. By mile 50, my butt was ready to get off that saddle. I HATE TRI SHORTS (all of them)! There is nothing good about them. The "padding" is a joke. There's nowhere near enough padding to ride a bike, but just enough padding to make running uncomfortable... and they're too long for short people. Ready to get run!

After a quick stop in my personal port-o-potty, I head out to crush this run. I take the first lap at a comfortable pace. I feel like I'm just putting around passing people here and there. I start coming up on some familiar people that flew past me on that bike. It starts warming up a good bit. I hit every aid station to get 2 cups of water, one for my head and one for my mouth. As I come around for the 2nd loop, I decide to pick up the pace just a tad. I check my watch and realize that I should come in under 5:30:00... woohoo!... given that nothing crazy happens. I notice that my feet are getting really sore. The whole run was on a gravel road and I can feel every little rock under my foot. This pushes me to go a little faster just so I can be done sooner. I finish up the run feeling strong... 5:18:56.

I always start my races with a plan and then make adjustments; depending on the weather or how my stomach feels or if I'm bored and just wanna eat. Here's how this race went down:
Pre-race: coffee, banana, muffin (homemade)
Bike: 1 Espresso Chocolate Chip Bonk Breaker (broken into 2 halves), 1 salted caramel Gu, 1 water bottle, 1 water bottle with Nuun, 2 Endurolytes
Run: 1/2 of Honey Stinger Chews, 1 Endurolyte, a lot of water and Gatorade

I strongly believe in not racing with my Garmin. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely addicted to my GPS watch when I am training. But when it comes time to raceday, I just go by feel. How do my legs feel? How's my breathing? Do I need to back off? Can I push a little harder? After a proper taper... you SHOULD be going faster than you train. If I would have seen my MPH or pace during the race I probably would have panicked and slowed down even though I felt fine. I just use a $14 stopwatch that I got from Target. I only use it for timing my nutrition... Like if I plan to eat # calories every # minutes... that's it. Data is overrated on raceday. 

I came in 10th in my new age group... not too shabby! I paid the price though... I've been crazy sore. I'm finally starting to feel like myself again. It's hard to wrap my brain around the fact that I have to do double that in 6 weeks... one day at a time. 

Go Run Some!
Race for Vince
Runners Roost!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pre-Boulder 70.3

The Boulder 70.3 is 3 days away! I have lots of mixed thoughts and feelings and goals and back-up goals for this race. I'm not even really sure how I'm gonna approach this and I probably won't until I put my face in Boulder Reservoir. Part of me wants to keep it relaxed and have a "training race" and the other part of me wants to see how fast I can go... hmm.  

I somehow ended up in this "All World Athlete" category?! I am being 100% honest when I say I don't know how I ended up in this group. I mean seriously, I did two official Ironman events last year. During the Raleigh 70.3 I spent about 10 minutes onthe ground talking to a medic and 4 hours racing with a broken shoulder. And my other Ironman event was IM Wisconsin which I was definitely not racing. So, I'm not sure what point system this All World Athlete thing uses... but they should be stricter... because I should not be included. 

But it is what it is and I guess I should enjoy the perks while they last! The best part is that I get to start at 7:20am instead of 8:05am. This means I don't have to stand around waiting to start while watching the port-o-potty lines. This also means I'm going to get to see even more people fly past me on the bike, as I am a crappy cyclist. Yep... I'll probably see ALL my pals on that bike course! At least I'll beat the heat (but the high is supposed to be like 78, and that's kinda nice). 

This sets me up for my biggest, loftiest goal...

Goal #1: Don't let Tyler pass me. I get to start a full hour ahead of him! We are basically identical swimmers (I used to be faster for the record!). Seriously though, he has a fancy new Cervelo that makes him go fast. I hate it. Hang on, let me do the math to see how fast he would have to go to catch me. Ok, so I averaged 18mph in Raleigh, so Tyler would have to average 26mph to gain an hour on me. I hope I can handle this. 

Goal #2: Keep wheels on road, helmet on head, feet in clips, and scapulas in tact. 

Goal #3: Find all those A-holes that passed me on the bike course and run them down. Just kidding... goal #3 is HAVE FUN!!!!

This will be my first official Ironman event that is local! Last year I traveled for all my big races; it will be nice to see more familiar faces out there. And I'll have a lot more rides available if I need to go to the ER!

Thing #1: Fix my aerobars. They've been crooked since October. One is pointing straight while the other points to the right and it makes me feel dizzy when I stare at the wheel. I should fix that. If it don't do it now, I'll probably decide I should fix it whilst racing--not safe. 

Thing #2: Socks or no socks on the bike? Something about bare feet in my bike shoes sounds gross. But putting on socks will add about 8 seconds to my transition time! Ugh! decisions... Decision made. It's worth 8 seconds. 

Thing #3: Put chain lube on my chain. I degreased The Green Flash and totally forgot to lube her up. She wasn't happy last weekend. Sorry girl!

Thing #4: What song should I stick in my head that will push me through 5-6 hours of endurance fun? 

Yes, these are the only choices.

I don't think I'm feeling as fresh for this 70.3 as I did last year. This one is a lot closer to my full IM race, so my training load has been a bit bigger recently. Oh well, we'll see soon enough!

Go run some!