How do you know?

This question is swirling around in my head tonight…how do you know? You all know the saga of my hip, I could write a book with all the different diagnosis’s I have had. Well, the last two docs I saw said the same thing, “you need surgery or you will crawl into old age – your labrum is torn, your hip needs to be reshaped and you psoas is impinged…you are a mess.” Well, thanks for all that, I guess… As my runs have deteriorated, due to the pain taking hold with a vice like grip, I am now wondering – is part of this mental? Indulge me a moment as I wander down this road…when I went to the doctor it was for pain in my abdomen, several doctors went straight for a medical explanation but, the last three (yea, three!) said “psoas!” Rest, Ice, Advil, no running…yada,yada,yada. The same song and dance as every injury. Well, then the last two said “your hips are built in such a way that the running has finally caught up with you. We need to reshape the head in the socket, release the psoas and staple your tear back to the bone.” Well, ever since that fateful day and frankly horrid visit – I have wondered if they are right, is surgery the only way? The first of the two docs who diagnosed the injury did a shot of steroids into my hip prior to an MRI. The MRI confirmed the horrid visit. Days after getting the steroid shot I felt better. Well, fast forward several weeks and the pain has returned – and not just in the psoas but, IN THE HIP – all over it like a vice grip. But, I am wondering if this was the injury all along how come the hip pain is so bad now and it was not prior to knowing what was wrong? Before it was only in one easy to pinpoint spot now, it is the entire area and the other side is annoyed too???? What gives??? Does our mind cause us to feel things differently after we know what is going on inside of us? When I talked to my Dad on the phone tonight, I mentioned the discomfort in the hip and the way my life has been altered and you know what he said “so you find something else to do, let it be and eventually it goes away. Mine always have and so will yours!” I am a Daddy’s girl so, his words always get played over and over in my mind and receive more weight than anyone else’s. I know he is not a doctor but, his wisdom speaks volumes. So, tonight as I think about just leaving the injury to its own device, stop running all together after the Long Beach Half, will the injury heal itself? How do you know when letting go and just letting it be is the best choice? Do you take the leap of faith that your hero of a Dad speaks of or do you go with medical intervention? I am inclined to take a leap of faith and to trust my body to heal itself. I have been under the knife twice in the last two years – once to remove bone spurs in my ankle joint that were causing very odd swelling. That surgery was highly successful and after 6 weeks I was back running again. The second was a partial hysterectomy that was also highly successful and a last resort to avoid anemia. Both of my previous surgeries were clear cut and the only way to solve issues with my body. The hips are so clear cut to my doctors but, to me they are a big, huge, fussy, grey area – like a storm cloud that threatens a down pour but, if you just wait it out, it might just blow over. Rest will be my umbrella against the storm because for now I just can’t answer the question “How do you know you are ready for surgery?” Thank you for indulging me…run on friends!

Strength Training and Focus…and being Humbled

Today was an interesting day of strength training – it took true grit and downright concentration to get thru a 1 hour Metabolic Strength class. But, having to do so did not stop me for signing up for a full month of them.   I was a little worried going in, I knew I was weak from the right hip down and I was concerned I might have issues keeping up. The trainer was awesome, he modified some of the ab exercises to keep me going. The MC3 (metabolic classes) are high intensity classes that train you like an athlete. They are nonstop and involve heavy kettlebells, drills, body weight and various other pieces of equipment like ropes, cages, sleds, bands and free weights. There are also stair drills and speed work in some of the classes. So, they are not for the faint of heart but, rather for those who really want to up the ante. For endurance athletes they are perfect – it takes a lot to get our heart pumping, we are used to crazy long runs so we like a challenge and we like to sweat. Today, I sweat buckets and it felt amazing. I am someone who loves a workout that is intense – like barely make it thru kind of intense. I got that today. I have to say, the main exercises I had to modify were those that involved my psoas – I couldn’t do bicycles or ankle grabbers – they just put too much force on that area so, I did cross over curls and modified ankle grabbers with my feet staying on the ground. I had to use major concentration on every lunge or squat, going slow and lighter on the kettlebell to make sure I didn’t lose my balance or tweak my hips wrong. It was super hard but, worked well. After class, I could feel the soreness in the hip begin to set in – but, a tired sore, not a harming it sore. I was also very humbled by the shaking in my right leg – it became very fatigued and I had to stay mindful of how much I did. I have always been a powerhouse in the MC3 class so, being back at square one is hard but, very worth it. I am building my body back up and in the end it will be even stronger then it was before. Time and patience are my allies right now and I intend to do what is needed to adjust, modify and protect so that I will reach my goals. Why am I telling you all of this? To share the reality of a runner who is injured. So often the pages on Facebook show only the good and the best of the runner but, the truth is we all have bad runs, we all have moments that are hard, and we all have to battle back after an injury. I may never be the sub 3:40 marathoner I once was again but, I am also 44 and dealing with hips that will likely be arthritic in later life if I don’t have surgery to correct them in the years ahead. I have had every injury in the book but, for the first time in my running career I am dealing with one that will force me to shift my focus. I can’t blindly run thru this one, take a couple months off and see it go away or push the envelope and overcome it. This one scares me and it has forced me to be very focused and very mindful. I know a wrong move will take me down and I know I don’t want that to happen. So, todays return to MC3 was a victory for me – I am back in the game, despite limitations, and that is right where I am supposed to be at this moment in my running life.   Run on Friends.

My Hips and The Road Ahead…

I have been sitting on an injury update for a bit…and, considered not even posting about it. I have gone round and round in my head and talked to my husband so much that he is now going a bit crazy. LOL In the end, an update was needed.

I have finally put a team of specialists around me that I am very happy with – my Podiatrist Dr. Helfand, a hip specialist, Dr. Jackson and his associate Dr. Adamson. Each has given me their thoughts – and both orthos have looked at my x-rays and MRI. Dr. Adamson was the doctor I saw on Monday. He was very blunt and to the point. He was very interested in my running and very understanding of my life but, the bottom line is that my hip issues are caused by genetics, not running. Running just hurried along what would have happened on its own eventually. My hips are built in such a way that the ball head of my femur bangs into my hip socket, causing bruising and tearing of the labrum and impingement of my psoas. The impingement in turn is causing bruising and injury to the connective tissue – the pain I feel in my abdomen. I am simplifying a bit but, you get the idea. The only way to repair it is surgery. PRP will not work at this stage – except to perhaps heal the labral tear but, without fixing the root of the problem, it will likely be a stop gap and nothing more. I am pre-arthritic in both hips – meaning my left is not far behind my right. I have been given the green light to run, but run smart, until after Boston – if the pain does not get worse.   After Boston, I will look at surgery before I plan the next season of running.   Dr. Jackson and Dr. Adamson have painted a picture of my running future and in a nut shell – surgery lets me run into old age, no surgery lets me crawl.   So, surgery will likely happen within the next 12 months to correct the way my hip works and make it more functional so I can continue doing what I love. For now, I will only run races that are a half marathon or less – topping off my training at 10 – 11 mile long runs and short speed and tempo sessions. The last marathon I will run before surgery will be Boston 2015. I have added routine icing to the affected hip, strength, Pilates and flexibility back into my training – I will concentrate on building the areas around my hips to compensate for the injuries and I will move forward with the knowledge that one wrong step will land me in surgery.   When I begin to train for Boston – I will build long runs every other week and top off at 18 miles – I will go into Boston in the best possible shape that I can and know that my hips dictate my race – it will be for the fun and not for the time in 2015. I have run Boston 6 times before so, next year I run to meet friends who are running and I run for the joy of being in Boston. Finding the answers has been the longest process I have ever endured but, knowing that I have them now is amazing. I have come to terms with everything I have been told and I am blessed to have such amazing doctors around me and the support of so many. I could have let this diagnosis bring me to my knees but, instead I am allowing it to wash over me and bring me hope for a great year and spectacular running future. Things happen, it’s how we handle them that makes us who we are. Run on Friends.

How could I not know????

So today I did not work out, I am still processing the injury and figuring out which way is best to proceed. As I mentioned, my running plan will remain the same – except the running will now be swimming or rowing. I will strength train and look cut again. A nice side benefit of more time to lift weights. I have nailed down a pool I can use, I have one in my back yard but, I am pretty sure doing flip turns every 5 strokes is doing to get old fast. So, off to the Aquatic Center I go. The pieces are in place and tomorrow morning I begin the detour that will get me thru the injury and back to running.   I can’t say that I am sad about not running for a bit, I am between races after all and I think my brain (almost as much as my body) could use the break. There is however one tiny thing niggling away at the back of my brain “how did I not know how bad it was!” How did I, the running coach, not realized just how much I was hurting myself! Yes, I saw several doctors; yes, I taped; yes, I pulled up on miles and ab work…I had tests, lots of them, MRI – ultra sound – blood- urine – x-ray….hours in offices. Hours of being relived the pain wasn’t a cyst, appendicitis, infection or worse – cancer. Yes, after 5 months of discomfort, my brain went there. How could it not, persistent and ongoing pain that no one can figure out, brings fear and the what ifs! When the second of four doctors said “it’s a tear!” I went with it – I had lived a moment where a fall after being twisted up in my dogs leash would explain the tear – so yep, I did the rehab for a tear. And it got better for a bit, but then it got worse….much worse. I watched my half marathon times fall from 1:44 to 1:56 in a matter of 5 months, with the same training. I watched my long runs slow and then stop altogether. I saw myself shying away from my favorite strength classes, opting to strength train on my own – for fear of pain! Fear was starting to eat the motivation that I have always had. I became so tired of hurting that it was easier to just toss in the white flag then fight. For a long while, I tried to fight it, I ran the races – I kept trying but, it was taking a toll on me because the efforts were halfhearted at best.   So, last week I finally had, had enough. I braved the chiropractor and he saved me. He knew what was wrong and he knew how to make it better! He is my HERO! But, despite the joy of finally knowing and the excitement over new and creative workouts….I am still trying to silence the question, “how did you not know?” I think it is bothering me because I see injuries in others and I urge them to get it checked, or rest, or pull up. Together we draw the line between serious injury and the normal pains of being a runner…and then we make a plan.   But, somehow I missed doing the same for myself. I even question if I am the right coach for an athlete if they have too many injuries, big or small. But, yet I don’t question how I train myself???? I do alter and modify my training to meet goals but, somehow I missed this one! I missed that I had an injury this significant. I ran thru it, around it and right smack into it. I first felt it hit last fall and it took on a life of its own at the Holiday Half this past December. I am so blessed that I was able to complete my season and rest during my off season. So, the running gods are smiling on me in that respect I suppose. Why am I telling you all of this – well, I am not sure. Maybe to tell you that if you know something is wrong and you can’t get the answer – don’t give up. To let you know that even 13 years of running experience and a certification don’t make you immune to injury and down time. On the flip side, I am also gaining another experience that will make me a better coach, a better runner and a stronger person. So – where there is negative, there is always positive. I went with a diagnosis I wanted to believe but, knew in my heart it was wrong. Now, I have the real one and can move forward. I will come to terms with the questions I keep asking myself but, never again will I just accept what a doctor says when I know deep down inside, they are wrong. And you shouldn’t either. Fight for your running self, it will be the gift you give yourself – the gift of running into old age and being healthy for a lifetime. Run on Friends. Coach Jackie

New Season, New Evaluations…

If any of you have been wondering why I have not been posting a lot of my workouts in the last couple weeks it is because there have not been a lot of them. I have pulled way up on training to focus on some things in my life (good things in the long run – no pun intended, lol) and to give my body/mind a break. I do have a half marathon this weekend, the OC Half, that I am going into with no expectations except to have fun, see some friends, and cheer on a few Sparrow Runners who will be reaching for their goals. I took the pressure off, right after the LA Marathon, exhaustion and lack of motivation became my companions. I recognized this as a need to rest my running body/mind – I rejoined Pilates for a month, pulled my running back to 2 or 3 days a week and shifted my focus to other priorities. It has worked like a charm. After OC, I will shift back to training for a half PR – for me that would be a sub 1:42. My next race will be the San Fransisco Half in July. After San Fran –

October – Long Beach Half
November – Santa Clarita Half
December – CIM Full
December – Holiday Half (possibly)
February – Diva Half (possibly)
April – Boston 2015

– There are a couple other races that are on the bubble but, I am not ready to commit to them yet. I am going for a PR year, rather then a ton of races year.

New race seasons, bring new evaluations. Have you re-evaluated lately?

Hollywood Half Marathon Race Recap

I picked up Stephanie from FB/ I Run California on Friday afternoon. We had not seen each other since our epic trip to the NYC Marathon this past November. That trip was over the top fun and was the start of a forever friendship. This was to be our second race together, with the third one to come in July, when we run the San Francisco Marathon together. The minute she jumped in the car, if was like no time had passed and we picked up where NYC left off. We chatted, caught up and braved the LA freeways on our way to the Hollywood Half Marathon expo. The expo was at the Hollywood Palladium – a very old club that whispers of time gone by. Old chandeliers graced the ceilings, miss-matched furniture was shoved into corners, and the walls were smoke darkened…not beautiful or clean – rather, historical. The organizer had arranged for 3 photo spots – each with a different Hollywood theme, where runners could pose with their bibs and friends – nice touch! We even witnessed the organizer, his wife and their 3 beautiful children getting their photos taken – their son, who looked to be about 3 stole the show! He was not giving in to the photographer who was trying to get him to smile, it became a bit of a game and a charming one to watch.   The expo was small but, had a good variety of vendors and very nice volunteers. We were treated to an adorable race shirt and nice looking bib. I bought a pepper spray and 20 tubes of Zip Fizz. Both needed. Stephanie and I took some pics and had a wonderful time walking around and chatting. The only thing that this expo had that no other expo I have ever been to has – a full service BAR! Yep! Martini at 3 in the afternoon anyone? Ummm… No Thanks. I am happy to say that I did not see one runner partake in it! LOL

From the expo, we headed to Pasadena so that Stephanie could check into her hotel. We then headed to Old Town Pasadena for a little window shopping and dinner at Louisa’s Trattoria. We each had a yummy grilled salmon with garlic mashed potatoes with water and Zip fizz to drink. Yep, you know you’re a runner when your drink at dinner is a hydration beverage. LOL We wondered around Old Town after dinner laughing and visiting the stores. Around 8pm, I dropped Stephanie off and headed home. We had a 4am date to ride to the race…sleep called.

When I got home, I started to think about the race and decided I wanted to run it with Stephanie. I didn’t really care what my time was, I just wanted to have a fun race with a dear friend. The next morning at 4am we agreed to do just that – run it together. Stephanie kept telling me to leave her if I needed to but, the choice was happily made to cross the finish line with her. We are pretty close in pace but, Stephanie has been fighting an injury and she was worried about slowing me down – didn’t bother me a bit, I was happy to run for fun.

We parked at the Hollywood and Highland complex – very easy parking – big gold star for the race! The complex is home to the Academy Awards and the Dolby Theater. I have worked on several pre and post shows for the Awards so, it felt very comfortable to be there. We wandered around and took photos – on the grand staircase, on the musical staircase, by the Best Picture signs…it was a blast. We were even lucky enough to meet Julie Weiss – Marathon Goddess. We both follow her on Facebook so, it was a joy! About a half hour before the race we wandered down to the start line – that was right in front of the home of Jimmy Kimmel Live and across the street from the Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the location of the hand and foot prints of many stars. Again the cameras were turned on and laughter took over. Stephanie even laid down under a photo of Marilyn – adorable!! It was on our way back to the start that we realized we had not seen any bathrooms, we each had used the one in the complex but, wanted to hit the porta potties before the start – they were nowhere to be found??? No signs, none in sight. Very odd. Mark against the race for that. It was in our search we ran into Melissa from FB/ Melissa Meets the Marathon. She looked adorable all decked out in pink. It was a pleasure to meet her – she is so sweet and fun!

About 10 minutes to gun, we took our places in the coral – I was in coral 1 and Stephanie was in 2 – we both started in the back of 1. After a beautiful singing of the National Anthem, the gun went off. We took off into the darkness of Hollywood, as it was only 6am. Hollywood Blvd. was all lit up with spot lights for us – a nice touch. As we ran, the sun came up over the city – lovely. The course itself was really ugly. Both sides were lined with the stars of the Walk of Fame but, Hollywood is anything but glamorous. The buildings are old and run down – there are some gems mixed in as the city is trying to revitalize itself but, for the most part – not very attractive. The course was primarily an out and back but, mileage was added by having us go up and down a number of side streets. Very odd and crowded on the turns. We did get several glimpses of the Hollywood sign, the only saving grace for the ugly course.   As Steph and I could not find potties at the start we both made a stop at mile 4. It appeared that many people had the same issue. The other thing lacking were volunteers – the water stops were poorly managed and many times we had to run up and wait for a cup to be poured or grab our own. Not a huge deal as we both had our own fluids. The volunteers that were there were very nice and were working like crazy to keep up with the runners.   God Bless them for their efforts. Stephanie has been fighting a hamstring injury for a bit now and it did make an appearance about half way into the race. She is a fighter and I just told her to do what she needed, we were in it together and I wasn’t going anywhere. We turned what could have been a very hard race for her into one of laughter, goofing for the cameras and just enjoying the experience. Neither one of us has run an entire race with a friend, so it was a fun new experience.

 

We crossed the finish line in 2:03 – hand in hand and smiling like a couple of loons. We collected our lovely sparkly blue star medals and I collected my “best of LA” challenge medal (that was huge and hysterical!).   We took more pics as we made our way back to my car – Hollywood Blvd and the stars on the Walk of Fame our inspiration. It was a fun way to end the race. After the race we reflected on the day as we headed back to Pasadena to clean up before heading out for lunch and shopping before Stephanie had to be at the airport. We agreed that the cons of the race were diminished by the wonderful start and finish.  We had a great time running with the spirit of old Hollywood all around us. So, if you get a chance to run the Hollywood Half – I would say go for it – it is not perfect (ugly course, odd adding of mileage, not great water stops, lack of potties) but, it is only the 3rd year and it gets better every single time they run the race. The organizers listen and by listening to runners each year has proven a good thing as the numbers grow each year and the changes they make are always good ones. So, go run Hollywood friends! And if you can – run it with a friend, it makes it even better!

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One Run for Boston Stage 2 – AMAZING!

How do you put into words an experience that changed you?  That tweaked how you view the world ever so much? Amazing, does not seem to do it justice.

Yesterday, on the way to UCLA Drake Stadium – the start point for stage 2 of the One Run for Boston, I told my husband I was nervous.  I no longer get nervous before any of my races, anxious to start but, not nervous.  Today, I was nervous – the unknown, the message of the journey, the climb up a mountain…all of it was flitting around inside.  My husband, son, Mom and Dad were all going to be at the start and finish of my stage to take pics and cheer us on – for that I was grateful, I really wanted all of the people that had seem me run my first Boston to be a part of this journey.  It meant so much to my heart to be a part of this team.  The Boston Marathon means so much, to so many, and for me it will always be the marathon that I dedicate to my Dad – the place I worked hard to get to 6 times – the place my Dad taught me I could make it too – the race I ran for the first time and he was there cheering me on, so proud to see his daughter follow in his footsteps.  When the bombing happened, I was not there, I was at home, having not tried to qualify as I was supposed to run New York instead.   I was outside feeding our little stray cat when I found out what had happened – our neighbor ran over, stopped dead in her tracks and said “oh thank god, I thought you were running Boston…did you hear what happened?” She told me as we ran inside to turn on the TV.  I sank to my knees and just started to cry.  I was so worried about Jody, Devon, and all of the runners I knew that were on the course that day.  Slowly the news traveled in that everyone was ok but, the sickening reality that so many innocents were not was gut wrenching.  The images and sadness were so overwhelming.  However, the spirit of the runners and the amazing response to help was uplifting.

I was not able to do more then run and pray last year but, this year I decided to give back in a way I was not able to last year and run One Run.  My heart felt THANK YOU to all of you who donated to my run yesterday, we raised over $400 for the victims.  If I could hug you all for the journey we went on together, I would – so watch out, because next time I meet or see one of you – a hug is coming your way!!!

On to the run – Yesterday the temps were 88 in Los Angeles but, we hardly felt it – my team and I waited inside Drake Stadium for the arrival of the torch we would carry from UCLA to Griffith Observatory.  Stage 1, took off from Santa Monica with 100 runners and would be meeting us for a run around the track and a hand off of the torch that we would carry up to Griffith Park for a hand off to stage 3.  One of the Stage 3 runners was Anel Hernandez, a friend from Fit Sparrow so, I was pretty excited to be able to handoff to her team.  Our team started with 5 but, only 3 of us made the entire run of 14.5 miles (slated for 11.8 but, a couple wrong turns made for a longer run), two of our runners were running multiple stages and had just run stage 1 in the high heat so, they joined in for the first 2 miles then slipped out to hydrate and rest.  Bill, Mark and I ran the full journey together.  We traveled up Sunset from UCLA, passing thru Beverly Hills and Hollywood before making the journey up the mountain to Griffith Observatory.

The run up Sunset was shaded but, we were running in the street for portions of the run where there were no sidewalks – it got a little scary a couple of times but, turned out fine.  We did have one down right funny moment in Beverly Hills when a Range Rover pulled up to a stop light next to where we were waiting to cross and a young (no more then 7) boy waved, then glanced over at Dad to see if he was looking , then flicked us off! Yep, trying out the bird and under the nose of Dad.  We all just looked in shock and then dissolved in laughter.

 

As we continued on we headed down the Sunset strip – a little odd as I had ran it the week before for the LA Marathon.  LOL  Lots of interesting Sunday afternoon people watching for us as we ran along and were yelled at more than once “the Olympics are over!” as we proudly handed our One Run torch back and forth.  The bewildered look on the faces of the people we passed was half the fun of the run.  The best look of complete confusion came from the face of the guy who sold us more Gatorade at a little mini mart.  We tried to explain but, it just seemed to make him more confused as he kept saying “you know this isn’t Boston.”  We continued down the Hollywood walk of fame, dodged tourists and street performers…talked to people as we waited for lights.  The journey was truly a fun one.  We alternated chatting with each other and became friends over the miles.  After a couple wrong turns we made it to the base of Griffith Park and began our journey up a two lane highway clogged with cars.  The run from the base to the top of the mountain where the Observatory sits is 1.8 miles.  We wound our way thru the people and cars and kept a nice even run all the way up to the top.  It felt amazing, as if we were being carried along by the spirit of the runners who waited for us at the top.  Up and up we went until the Observatory and the cheering of the Stage 3 runners came into sight.  We were greeted with hugs and high fives.  My son ran over and hugged me and my family snapped photos.  It was unreal.  The channel 11 news at 10pm was there to record our hand off and interviewed each of us (odd, as I work for channel 7).  I started to cry after the interview as the emotions of the day were brought to the surface.  Today was truly a day I will never forget. Thank you to Mark and Bill for making the journey so much fun and to the organizers Danny and Kate for an amazing journey.  The day was topped off with the signing of the One Run car before it headed off to the next stage.  Knowing our names will travel all the way to Boston one stage at a time is pretty wonderful!

I cannot wait to journey back to the Boston Marathon in 2015.  This year I will be watching it on TV and cheering for so many amazing Facebook friends who will be running!  You are in for such an amazing journey and I wish each and every one of you the best of luck!  You will be getting on planes and making your way to that historic finish line in the next few weeks – live every second you are there and enjoy your runs, you all deserve it and this year will prove to be the most spectacular race yet.  Hugs to each of you!!!!

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