Category Archives: scars

Week in Review: 3.20.17 to 3.26.17

Monday: 5 mile workout, half power of my usual 5-4-3-2-1 fartlek. Legs felt pretty clunky. Lifted legs afterward.

Tuesday: 3.8 mile recovery run with the dogs.

Wednesday: 7 mile workout, 4 by 5 at tempo pace with 60 seconds between. Felt pretty good.

Thursday: 4.3 miles. Legs tired!

Friday: Hour of cross country skiing with the dogs; new snow and leaving for the weekend? Needed exhausted dogs.

Saturday: Travel to Asheville. Lots of walking but no run.

Sunday: 3 mile Asheville hill classic. Great to be back. Tons of walking as well.

Total Miles: 23.1

Lots of good news this week. First, I found a house!!!!!! My mom and I spent a busy 36 hours in Asheville looking for houses and by Sunday night, I found an amazing one. Interestingly, it was the smallest one I looked at but it used the space well, has a perfect location and is a great setup for dogs. One of other parameters I used to evaluate places was ability to run. Although the new house sits on top of a hill (it’s Ridge Street, after all), it has great access to all sorts of running and even a greenway that is under construction.

Second, I’m cleared to lift and workout fully (as tolerated). I saw my fabulous breast surgeon yesterday and she cleared me for all exercise AND the surgical pathology confirmed that I had a sclerosing papilloma which means that it was a benign tumor. All great news.

This week, I’m back to reality. As I said last week, Unplugged has gone from a race to a supported workout for me so I’m training through it. I have a combination workout on the schedule for tonight and a long run planned for Saturday. In between will be easy workouts, just trying to get a base underneath me.

 

Will Joins the Club

I first met Will in Chem Lab. He’s good looking, but the real reason I talked to him was because he was on crutches and had a scar that looked remarkably similar to mine, a few months old at that point. Once I found out he was a runner, Hot Runner Boy was born. My sister thought I was nuts when I texted her that night that I’d met the guy I was going to marry. I wasn’t wrong. It took me a while to get Will on board, but I think he’s pretty psyched I’m as committed to being right as I am.

Despite being a runner, Will hadn’t run in almost three years due to an ankle that just kept having major anatomical issues. From a tarsal tunnel release to an extra tendon removal and finally a total reconstruction, it was a LONG road to get back to running, let alone racing. Throughout all of this, he supported everyone else in his life who was just running along, including me. Finally, he joined us again in the spring and things have gone well enough that he’s picked his debut marathon. I’m so excited to see what he does at Toronto in October of 2014!

Keeping Fit on Crutches

From an informal poll I took on New Year’s Eve, most people view recovery from surgery as a time to veg out, catch up on TV and generally ignore exercise. For me, it’s precious weeks off from the aerobic base I’ve spent the last 36 months building. As such, I’ve been “working out” almost since surgery. Granted I’ve been limited by the instruction to not weight bear and the sheer of ice over Burlington, but I’ve made do and found some entertaining websites in the process.

First, I googled “chair workouts.” I figured that there must be people who have limited mobility that still like to workout and I’m not the first person on crutches. It turns out that they run the gamut but that YouTube is full of personal trainers with “great cardio workouts.” I’ve tried a couple of them but my two favorites are the following:

Chair Cardio by Trainer Trish (tough on already tired crutch arms)

Seated Cardio by Spark People

Ridiculous as it may sound for someone who runs 70 miles a week, I’m working through these videos every day, with a goal of adding reps of the first workout and completing the whole second workout. In concert with my crutch to and from our classroom, this comprises most of my daily workout. I’m also doing as much strength training as I can, primarily upper body and core. I figure that if I can come out of this with great arms, I’m ahead of the game.

After finding out that UVM’s handicap doors don’t work and crutching half a mile on ice tonight due to some jerk parked in the handicapped space without a permit, I googled “keeping fit on crutches” for entertainment. I learned that crutching for 10 minutes burns 50 calories and got some not-so-useful tips on “surviving crutches.” The article is right about the bag (I have a backpack for school and a lovely Vera Bradley tote for home), but misses just about everything else including what to do if an ice storm hits (tiny steps!), how to not show everyone how sweaty you are (black everything) and ways to style your hair when showering is just too damn hard (low bun, works every time).

Thankfully, I only have about another week on crutches. Next week, I see Mark and transition to my walking boot. Assuming the ice is gone by then, this will make coaching and life in general much easier. I also look forward to many boring hours on the bike and in the pool.

Home!

Surgery was about 100 times better this time around. Anesthesia worked their butts off for me and I woke up feeling great and out of pain.

We’ll see how things go down the line but Dr. Charlson was encouraged by what he saw once he released my nerves, which were conveniently compressed by some unexpected fascia.

Now the hard part begins: recovery and staying still. Anyone have TV show requests?!

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Okay, You Can Call it a Comeback

After much consideration, surgery is scheduled for December 30th, a frustrating end to a frustrating year of training. It seems that my foot was just waiting for me to say “Uncle,” as numbness and pain are now an almost-daily event. The recovery is supposed to be “easy” and the running at this time of year isn’t great anyway, so I’m hopeful that I’ll get lucky and be running again as the snow begins to melt.

My attitude towards the recovery following this surgery is different than before. When I ran Philly in the fall of 2012, I was excited about running. I felt like I was poised for a breakthrough and looked forward to making huge improvements in 2013. Unfortunately, 2013 never really got off the ground and I ended up barely moving before VCM with a sub-par performance and an almost-competition free last six months. Surgery isn’t easy and I wish I didn’t have to go through it but in many ways, it allows me to kick off 2014 with great hope. I look forward to rebuilding my feet, my legs and my running fitness. I look forward to the opportunity to train hard and race again. I want to prove to myself (and maybe others) that I still have PRs in me, that I’m nowhere near the top of my talent.

Until surgery, I’m taking each day as it comes. Some days, I can run forever and be mostly comfortable. Other days (like today), my foot went numb walking home and is tender to the touch.

Guess I’d better amend the tagline for this blog…

For Holly

I guess it’s a good sign that I rarely think or talk about compartment syndrome anymore. What used to dominate my running life is now relegated to the occasional ache in my mostly-faded scars. Holly brought me back recently, though, asking a question about my symptoms before surgery on my very first post. I wrote her a reply there, then realized it probably warranted a post of its own. So for Holly:

Holly:

Now that I’ve had quite a few years of living with Compartment Syndrome, training with other athletes with CS and coaching high school girls with CS, all I can conclude is that the biggest challenge with CS is diagnosis. I didn’t have pain, I had horrible fullness, drop foot and a burning sensation. Some days, I could go 30 minutes without pain. Some days I couldn’t make it 5. Another friend had the weakness sensation that you describe and an inexplicable drop in performance, but no pain. Another had excruciating pain. And the lack of hardness could simply mean that your anterior and lateral compartments (easy to palpate) are not affected, but your superior and deep calf compartments could be…the point is, it’s really hard to diagnose CS unless you have the puncture test.

I will tell you that the first time I got aggressive about handling my symptoms, I balked after a spinal puncture was suggested as my next diagnostic step. The surgeon with whom I was working didn’t feel that he had enough of a definitive diagnosis and I had already undergone a nerve conduction study, EMG and Stryker test, all of which are extremely painful. The risks of that procedure outweighed the benefits for me at the time, I stopped running for a while and got another year out of my calf. My second surgeon was much more aggressive, had seen more CS and helped me make the good choice to go through with the fasciotomy even though I didn’t have the classic clinical symptom of pain. My recovery took a long time and my surgery side still bothers me, but now over  two years out from surgery, I’ve had a full return to sport.

Hindsight being what it is, I wish I’d advocated for myself more starting in high school and certainly by college. I had a lot of non-specific lower leg pain that prevented me from performing at a level consistent with my fitness and talent and spent many years in chronic discomfort. Surgery was difficult for me; I didn’t handle the anesthesia well, I developed a blood clot and my recovery was long. That said, I’m exceedingly happy with the results and if I were to develop symptoms in my right leg, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

Hope this helps…

S

Gray’s Anatomy

When I was a little kid, I leafed through my mom’s anatomy textbook, fascinated by the network of nerves, by the intricacy of the connections between muscle and bone. As an adult, I collect anatomy texts, including grandfather’s copy of Gray’s Anatomy. I have coloring books and outdated textbooks, piles of notes and magazine articles and have attended the Bodies exhibit in multiple cities, all in some quest to understand the body just a little bit better. Naturally, I’m particularly interested in the body as it relates to running. Prior to my surgery, I read every paper I could find on compartment syndrome and on the fasciotomy itself. I marked my shins and memorized the procedure as though understanding it would help my body to heal.

In biochem, we’re currently covering the various pathways that push glucose and glycogen around the body and my mind always wanders to the applications for the runner. I love hearing the science behind why I need a Gu after 60 minutes and why eating within an hour of a workout is so pivotal for performance. I like the reinforcement that base building really is evidence-based training.

So I had to smile at today’s motivational poster from Runner’s World, with an anatomical model running. I would hypothesize that in fact, this runner isn’t an endurance athlete. His calf and quad muscles suggest a shorter, more explosive action, perhaps a soccer player, possibly a triathlete. My favorite part, however, is how his landing foot is oriented towards the ground.

How do you seek to better understand running?

You Found My Blog How?!

I’ll admit, I’m still surprised by the search terms that lead people to this blog. Most of the time it’s for product reviews. Recently, people have been searching for lots of motivation. Sometimes, though, search terms are just plain bizarre.

Right after surgery, I posted a picture of my first shower. This process entailed a garbage bag over the incision secured with duct tape. It’s a pretty PG picture. However, numerous people have stumbled on my blog by typing duct taped girl in shower. Incidentally, most of this traffic is coming from Russia.

Last week, someone found me by searching for weird crotch smell in lululemon crops. As I told my running partner that night, I’d certainly reviewed the crops, but the only thing I’d said about the crotch of them was that I didn’t have to pull up on it because they fit well. So, uh, I can’t help you there person from Indiana.

Today takes the cake, however. The print on one of my pairs of Lululemon Speed Shorts is called “snowy owl” for its gray, ombre finish that resembles that of its namesake. To the person who searched washing an owl, please, PLEASE fill me in. I’m dying to know why (and how) one would need to wash an owl.

I know this isn’t running related, but “washing an owl” was too funny to leave alone.

Happy 6 by mile repeats day.

For Claire and Neal

A couple of people who are just shortly post-op have reached out lately to ask about recovery. To be honest, I’ve blocked out most of the misery that went with post-op, so I had to go back to entries from that time and my running log. Here’s what my first two months of running post-surgery looked like:

Looks pathetic now, but I remember being so excited the first day I ran one consecutive mile. It really is all about perspective.