So it’s been almost a month since my last post. In all honesty I’ve been finding it difficult to find any joy to write about. I have found myself bouncing between doctors offices and physical therapy and it has interrupted my training schedule and completely displaced my MoJo. What I thought was a jacked up trapezius muscle has now been determined through an MRI to be a bone spur between my C6 & C7 vertebrae. This spur is pinching my nerve and causing arm/shoulder pain and tingling fingers. Good times.
Dr. Magic Hands went on a ski trip and recommended I see my primary care doc to get some steroids while he was away. That started the ball rolling down the road of traditional medical care. So I found myself at a physical therapist and it was love at first ultrasound. Sweet Julia is an angel from heaven. Sorry Dr. Magic Hands, I have cheated on you and I liked it! I will be back and we will make up, but for now Julia is my Jam (and insurance covers her ;-) ).
Cute, isn’t she?
Sadly, despite how hard she tried to woo me with the ultrasound machine, the traction machine and her Graston scraper,
I was unable to obtain long lasting relief and off to an MRI I went. Only to receive the craptastic news of the spur. I was really hoping for a soft tissue issue. But it is what it is, and now I’m off to meet a new batch of medical providers who want to sedate me and give me a Cortisone shot into my vertebrae. Sounds safe, right?
So, through out this whole pain-in-the-neck process (sorry couldn’t resist the pun), my training has been sporadic. I go through days of not wanting to irritate my symptoms more and then days where I think “you might as well just do it since it’s going to hurt anyway”. The half ironman that I was going to do in May is off the table and anything beyond that, I will decide after I see how the Cortisone works.
As I type this, I’m realizing that there has, in fact, been joy to report. Joy in the fact that I met a kind, warm caregiver and new friend in Sweet Julia who took the time to let me cry on her shoulder and counsel me. Forgive me Dr. Magic Hands, I promise that I’ll make it up to you.
Once in a while in life you have those moments where you are sure you made the right decision. This weekend was one of those moments for me. Several month’s ago my girlfriend’s and I decided to run the Seaside Half Marathon. This would be our second time traveling together to enjoy a girls weekend/run at the beach. We had two new participants this year who do not run and have never done a half marathon before. This run is so much fun. The course is fairly flat, it has amazing views and is flush with happy participants. Most of the runners are there to have fun, oh and of course collect the Vera Bradley bag that are handed out at the finish! Two years ago when we went down to do the race I went with a purpose to see just how fast I could do a half marathon that did not follow a 1.2 mile swim and a 56 mile bike. I trained hard and I was on a mission. I also left my girlfriend’s behind after 3 miles, selfishly pursuing a PR. I was extremely happy with my finish time but I was also left feeling a little empty and extremely guilty after I found out that my sweet friend Ya Ya (not her real name) struggled through the final miles with a stress fracture. So this time I decided that my race experience was going to be different. This race was going to be about encouraging and supporting someone else, regardless of how long it took to finish. So Ya Ya and I decided to insist that our friends “who don’t run” let us run with them, no matter what the day brought. The end result was that I experienced uncommon joy and much more satisfaction from getting my friend across the finish line than I ever would have had achieving a PR. Experiencing my friend’s joy and amazement from realizing an achievement six months ago she never thought she was capable of (with a respectable time to boot!) was priceless.
God blessed me with this group of women, who encourage and pursue grace. He also blessed me with a lesson about life. Achieving a Personal Best is far more rewarding than achieving a Personal Record.
We are in our second round of inclement weather in two weeks. This time, trapped in our homes under a quarter inch of ice and a predicted 3 inches of snow. All of which will be gone in less time than it took to come. School has been closed for 3 days and I am ready to drop kick the next person who asks me what’s for dinner. Ah, but alas we have one shining light guiding us through this “catastrophic” event, and that is the Winter Olympics. Thank goodness we can train our focus upon these amazing athletes at 8pm every night and watch until our eyes give way to the Sand Man. This evening’s event is the women’s Alpine Skiing and the unanimous question within our house is a resounding, “WHY?? Why would you do that? Why would you hurl your body down an ice covered 70% drop for the equivalent distance of the height of the Washington Monument?…on two sticks? WHY? Now, full disclosure, I blew out my ACL skiing so I have a hard time watching downhill skiing because I can’t help but relive my accident every time I see a skier fall. But in a small way I can relate a little with the downhiller. I get asked quite often, “Why?, Why do you put your body through all that training? Why would you want to endure 140.6 miles of punishment?” My response to those questions often depends upon my mood or who is asking. Lot’s of times I’ll just say, “Because it feels so good when I stop”, and other times I will go into the whole thing about loving a challenge and anyone can do it. It is different for everyone of course but when it boils down to it, I think the common denominator of the athlete who does extreme races is the high you get from pushing yourself beyond the ordinary. Now, don’t get me wrong, I certainly do not put myself in the same realm as the downhill racer, those people have nerves of steel, or a loose screw, whatever you want to call it. But I do understand the desire to go out and push your body beyond it’s comfort zone. It’s simple. It’s because it’s thrilling. :-)
So yesterday started with a trainer ride in the paincave. An hour with 2 times 12 minutes in zone 4. Not terrible. The hard part came when I had to decide whether to pooch on the 30 minute easy run afterward. It was pouring rain outside which meant a trip to the neighborhood clubhouse dread mill or the dread mill at the gym. Both meant gathering gear and taking the car. My Outseason self whispered, “psst, it’s just a zone 1 run, it won’t matter if you skip it”. But the truth of the matter is that I use that “out” more often than I’d care to admit so I held myself accountable, sucked it up and went to the clubhouse. To my dismay my zone 1 run turned into a struggle. What? It’s zone 1 for Pete’s sake! Well, it turned out that my calf was not on board with my decision to suck it up and decided to throw a protest in the form of cramping. SO, down I went to an even more embarrassing pace than zone 1, (think Mile 20 of an Ironman run). Too embarrassing to even share with y’all, but that pace enabled me to finish my run and even add 10 more minutes just to show the calf who was boss.
Feeling good and proud of myself for fighting through the adversity in my head and body, I headed home for a nice shower and lunch. As I pulled into my garage I felt the car bump and move left a little all accompanied by a nice scraping sound. Lovely. I caught the edge of the garage with my back fender. It would appear that none of my back ends fit properly these days!
I pride myself with how I can MacGyver my way in and out of our postage stamp garage, all while negotiating my stepdaughter’s vehicle, which is parked in our turn around behind me. I can proudly say not once in the five years Miss Giggles has lived with us have I hit her car. In fact I can usually back all the way out our garage and back down our curved driveway in one sweeping motion. Family members are even awed by my talent. But alas, something was off within my universe yesterday and I clipped the garage. Luckily I have a father who is knowing of all things car and he advised me that a small amount of gasoline on a rag would take the offending tattle tailing paint off my car. Bless your grease monkey heart Dad! No one will ever know ;-)
The bright spot of my day came when I had my appointment with Dr. Niklaus DelFavero(a.k.a. Dr. Magic Hands). He is the fixer of all body-things-gone-wrong. You see, my shoulder pain, which is now in my arm and neck, is still bothering me. Dr. Magic Hands has informed me that I am experiencing radicular (more like ridiculous if you ask me) pain originating from an inflamed nerve root located at C6 or C7. Fantastic. So I said to Dr. Magic hands, “I trust you completely. Work your magic.” And so he did. Cracking, twisting, ART’ing me into relief.
I’m still not cured but I’m better and I’ll take better over the same or worse any day.
“I look GREAT in these bike shorts!,” …….said NO one….EVER. As I stretched and pulled up the diaper-like, image crushing offender I call my bike shorts, I couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of how they looked on me. These shorts pinch and pucker in all the wrong places. All in the effort to protect the land down under from the punishing saddle of my bike. No woman should be made to put these on and have to look at herself. Especially in the first two months of the year. The minute I put these things on The Handle sisters sprout twins at the top of the short and somehow the back of my leg becomes the Millennium roller coaster from Cedar Point. (Sigh) “Patience girl,” I say to myself. “We are working on body composition right now and it’s going to take a while to undo the mess you made over the Holidays.” So knowing the only line of defense against these offending shorts is a good training session, I drag my bumpy, sausage looking arse down the stairs to the Paincave for my daily dose of punishment. One hour of zone 4 intervals, EN style. When it’s over, I’m thankful. Thankful for surviving the workout, thankful for having the time for the workout and most of all, thankful to let the sausage out of its casing.
So we made national news this week. Two and half inches of snow and ice equates to disaster here in the ATL. Having grown up in Vermont, it’s laughable to me that this would paralyze a city but it’s very real. We just don’t have the equipment to treat the roads. Plain and simple. And it leads to mayhem. We were lucky compared to a lot of people. I picked the kidlets up from school just as the snow started to fall. My Spidey senses told me that the buses were going to struggle getting the kids home at the rate the snow was falling. It was that slushy snow that ices quickly. Charming (husband) considered hanging out at his office for a while after it officially closed but when he discovered the office was deserted he reconsidered and departed. His 25 mile trip home took 4 1/2 hours which, by comparison to most, was quick. Here’s what his drive looked like:
My girlfriend’s 8 mile round trip trek to pick up her kids across town took 6 hours. Another friend of mine ditched her car and walked 3 miles home. Parents were walking to the schools (approx. 4 miles one way) to get their kids at school. Many children had to spend the night at school. It was nothing short of horrific for many. Especially those trapped on the highway all night. But amidst all the heartache were stories of greatness. People flocking out to the highways and side streets to provide those stranded with food and water. A baby being born with the help of a police officer who happened upon them. A mom who grew up in the south and is petrified of driving in these conditions found the strength to be calm and courageous in front of her kids and safely drive them home. Beauty in the human spirit showed through this tough experience. How cool is that?
Am I pressing forth with strength or stupidity? My answer this week before the training was strength. My answer after was, “Well that may have been stupid.” See, for the past two weeks I’ve been…well…meh. Charming husband gave me his cold which was in fact a doosie, taking me out of commission for 3 solid days. Then my trapezius muscle got all jacked up and is sending nerve pain all the way down my arm. WTF? I have no idea what I did but it is stubborn and bringing me to my knees. I have managed to maintain most of my training, only standing down two workouts due to the cold. Luckily the cold did not move to my chest. The endurance God’s, you know the one’s we call “They”. They say that generally if your cold is in your head, go ahead and work out, if it’s in your chest, stand down. So opposed to standing down last Sunday, I stood up…to Eves Road.
Eves Road is the road that leads down to my happy place, the training grounds near the river. It’s a solid 2 miles of hills. All roads that lead away from the water lead up right? Ah yup. Two victories, the first being the obvious of running up the entire thing at a pretty decent clip and two, not cheesing out of it when I could have easily excused myself. Strength! Well, maybe not. I’m afraid the effort expended compromised the two following workouts. So…I don’t know. All I know is I realize what a blessing it is to feel good. Something that I generally take for granted. For all of those who battle chronic pain or illness, I have a great respect for your courage.