Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer round up

If I seem to have fallen into a black hole for the past month and a half, I apologize. I was on my annual pilgrimage to Cleveland to visit my parents with my son. This trip is a chance for my son to have in-depth, quality time with his grandparents and my chance to give back to my parents just a small, small amount of the boundless support and help they have given me over my 39 years. This summer, among other things, I helped clean out and organized their storage lockers, helped buy my mom a car to replace her aged station wagon, took my niece shopping (for 12 hours over 2 days! I had no idea it could take that long to shop!) to complete a much needed update of her closet and get her ready to leave for college, grocery shopped, cooked some was a busy month!

Of course, that wasn't ALL that happened while I was in Cleveland. To give you an idea of some of the running-related excitement that occurred over the course of the month here are a few photos that sum up the trip pretty well:

First, this happened:
Look! No boot!
After four weeks in the boot and six weeks off of running I was declared free of bone swelling and allowed to enjoy bending both my ankles normally, wearing flip flops and all the other perks that come with burying the air cast boot in the deepest reaches of the back of my car. I cannot begin to tell you how happy this made me.

Of course, this didn't mean that I could just leap back into my regular running ways. As much as I wanted to just run out the door of the ortho clinic and keep running for 8 miles, I really respect the injury recovery process and I wanted to do my very best to rehab this injury responsibly. Fortunately, I was able to do this:

Thanks to my truly phenomenal chiropractor Leo Kormanik at Ohio Sports Chiropractic in the Cleveland suburb of Northfield I was able to run on the Alter-G twice a week for the duration of my trip. (He was also willing to humor me by taking photos and videos of me on the treadmill!) In addition to letting me use his extremely cool toy he treated me at every visit with active release technique, graston technique, stim and cold laser...4 complementary therapies that helped to undo some of the soft tissue damage that had led to my injury and to speed the healing process. 

For any of you who are curious, the Alter-G is FUN. Really, really fun. Well, as fun as wearing neoprene shorts and being zipped into a giant bubble can be. I am, admittedly, still a bit unclear as to how it all works but essentially the neoprene shorts zip into the grey and clear "bubble" which inflates and reduces the body weight with which you are running on the treadmill. This allowed me to run while not stressing my still-healing bone nearly as much as if I were running at full body weight. I even ran a 5k PR on the Alter-G! Well, at 84% of my body weight. This means that if I could just keep all my functional muscle mass, my bones, my organs and a healthy level of body fat but could weigh 84 pounds I could easily run a 17:59 5k. Sooo, that probably ins't going to happen. But it sure was fun to see that time on the display! 

Anyway, enough enthusing about the Alter-G and Dr. Kormanik. (Did I mention that he ran a 2:18 at the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon? And is spectacularly nice and wickedly good at his job? Okay, now enough enthusing...) 

Lest you think I spent my whole time helping my folks and hanging out with Dr. Leo, there was one important non-running event that happened while I was in Cleveland. When I went to Cleveland I looked like this:

Lots of long, blonde, curly hair. I had been growing it out for a while and I have always really loved it when it was long! But one day I did this:

Frankly, it was the easiest decision I have made in a very, very long time. See, my incredible, hilarious, brave childhood best friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor a few months ago. Carrie and I have known one another since we were 3 and 4 years old, which is by now a very, very long time. We share so many childhood memories and frankly, because I lost a fair bit of my memory when I was in my early twenties she actually holds a lot of my memories for me. As kids she was the calm, peaceful foil to my spastic, energetic self and I always aspired to be more like her. She is also a wickedly funny, strong, fantastic adult friend and our friendship truly is one of the greatest joys of my life. Understandably, I was really, really upset that a brain tumor had the gall to lurk around in her brain giving her headaches and vision loss! Fortunately, almost the entire tumor was successfully removed during her surgery. Unfortunately, a small part couldn't be removed and required radiation. In anticipation of the radiation Carrie decided it would be prudent to cut her hair short in case of hair loss. At first I offered to cut ALL of my hair off and send it to her for a wig but that turned out to be a bit unreasonable so in lieu of that I just went ahead and cut it all off so that she didn't have to chop her hair off solo. Better still, Carrie's awesome sister and 2 of her good friends in Seattle also cut their hair short! She has a superb support system, which is a testament to what an amazing person she is. In case you are wondering, she looks absolutely gorgeous with her short hair and her radiation is going very well...she is more than halfway done and is tolerating it immensely well. The little sliver of tumor, hopefully, is not faring as well :) 

Before I get us all sentimental, let me circle this all back around to running! Carrie also happens to be a superb triathlete and a longtime member of the Seattle LunaChix team. She has trained through as much of her brain tumor experience as possible and has even raced 3 times since her surgery. She is a total badass. Furthermore, she introduced me to the fantastic LUNA sponsored athlete program so now we get to be on the same team! I am incredibly proud to be a LUNA teammate with her. If you want to read more about her amazing journey you can zip on over to her blog at

In the spirit of Carrie's tenacity I decided to run a little test race at the end of my time in Cleveland. I was really excited to run a race in my LUNA gear! I found a nice low-key 5k my last weekend there and dragged my dad out of bed early with the promise of a post-race frappucino. Based on the estimated junction of my Alter-G PR and the way my legs were feeling (a.k.a. tired and slow) I was crossing my fingers for a sub-20 minute result. The extent of my race strategy was to not look at my watch, run comfortably hard and not walk. (My dad, wise guy that he is, was just hoping to have fun and beat the other 70-plus year old dudes.) After an early morning warm up run, a toasted nuts and cranberry LUNA bar and a half a bottle of cold water to beat the humidity I toed the line. 3.1 miles later this had happened:
Holy cow!
I was THRILLED. It is kind of amazing...less than 18 months ago I was running in the 18:20's and itching to run faster, but on that day I was over the moon with a 19:14. It may not be super fast, but it is a beginning! I know that the road back from my injury is going to be long (that is a whole other post!) but it was so exhilarating to have checked the first come back off the list.

In case you are wondering, my dad totally earned his mocha frappucino...he not only beat all the guys over 70, he beat all the guys over 60! I am so proud to be his daughter! 

And there you have it. A month-plus in Cleveland. I came home exhausted but feeling really, really fortunate that I get to go spend that extensive time with my folks again this year. I am now back home in North Carolina soaking up the humidity and counting down the days until my son starts first grade and I am able to run a 50 mile week again. Next week I will have a more running-centric blog update. See you then!

**One other note: the fine folks in Cleveland were super seemed like every time I went to the gym or Starbucks or the local Whole Foods people were asking about my LUNA jacket and tee shirts. I managed to come up with a concise explanation of the sponsorship program and it was universally met with an enthusiastic response to LUNA's support of regular women. A number of people didn't know much about LUNA products so I shared a bunch of my bars with baristas and gym members...hopefully I made a bunch of new LUNA lovers out of them :)