Category Archives: Fitness

Two Wheelin’

Two Wheelin’

I’m easing into bike culture, especially with my pretty new bike.  Xander’s a little deeper, as our only bike commuter.  He’s determined to ride even when there’s snow on the ground.  We’ll see how long that lasts, but in the meantime I’m doing everything I can to keep him encouraged.  That mostly means buying him stuff.  Rain gear, reflective bands, lights, gloves… Yeah, I can buy a lot of stuff.

So when the Philly Bike Expo came on my radar, I knew we had to go.

I was doubly looking forward to this because I don’t often get to do things with just Xander.  We’re still teasing out his interests, so more often than not anything I’m doing with him also involves at least one of his siblings.  But he’s a different kid on his own, and I don’t get to see that very often.

Like bad cyclists, we drove into the city.  We could have taken our bikes on the train, and the expo had valet bike parking, but I wasn’t brave enough.  I paid for my cowardice by getting soaked for parking.  I’m just not as familiar with the parking opporunities around the convention center.  Next time, I’llpark in the garage affiliated with Reading terminal and get validated parking for $4 with my mandatory apple cinnamon bread.  Gee darn.

I’d never been in the convention center.  That is a seriously impressive space.  The expo only took one of the halls, and even though there were a lot of vendors, it didn’t come close to filling the hall.  I was okay with that, because I thought it would be less overwhelming for Xander.  As we started going through the stalls, though, he seemed more the opposite.  He wasn’t interested in anything.  Granted the vendors were made up of a LOT of builders and not as many accessory merchants as I would have liked.  There were also 4 food trucks IN the hall.  That didn’t impress him, either.)  Manwhile I’m getting on every mailing list I come across in hopes of winning something (I didn’t) and otherwise just scoping out what’s there.  Got to check out a couple of helmet and some rearview mirrors, but there wasn’t as much safety gear as I’d hoped and no one had the handlebars I’d wanted to try.  But nothing was catching Xander’s interest.

Then we found the test area.

Remember how I said the hall was half full?  Well, that wasn’t entirely accidental.  One end of the hall was roped off and there were 2 dozen different types of bikes to try out.  We got yelled at initially for not having helmets, but the expo was smart and had a borrowing table available.  I left my ID in exchange for two helmets.

I was willing to try everything, but Xander was really focused on one thing: the recumbent trikes.  There were three of them, but they were really popular, so I made him try the others while we waited our turn.  I think he liked the fat bike, but he was too focused to be able to expand his view.  Finally we talked one of the kids out of the one he’d been hogging and Xander got his chance.

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It was love at first ride.  I didn’t think I was ever going to get him out of it.  I managed to score one of the other ones.  It didn’t fit me well (damn my stubby legs), but man, that sucker was FAST.  And stable.  I almost skidded out a few times, but never came close to tipping over.  After a couple of laps, I passed it on to Xander when he gave his up while I went to try some of the others.  I liked the rear load cargo bikes but had a really hard time steering the front loaded ones.  I didn’t get a chance to try the folding bike (which is a truly amazing piece of engineering!), and they didn’t have any tandems out to try, which was a disappointment.  Granted all these bikes were way out of our price range, but just getting to try them was hugely informative.  The testing also sold me on a new (to me) brand of helmet, the Berns they were giving out for testing.  They’re a great combination of the racing helmets and round helmets.  I liked the style a lot, and they were very comfortable, to the point where I forgot I was wearing it.  They’re a bit expensive, but I think they’ll be worth it.

I left Xander in the test area to go do a second loop of the vendors, and then we went for lunch.  Xander decided on Reading Terminal because he really wanted a burger.  For him, this wasn’t a great choice.  Reading Terminal on a Saturday at lunchtime is MOBBED.  Thankfully we were focused, so we tunneled in in search of a burger and found Hunger Burger.  We got our burgers (him a double cheese, me a bacon cheese) and some fries, then got the heck outta Dodge, stopping only at the Amish bakery for the aforementioned apple cinnamon bread and a piece of red velvet cake to split.  The convention center had a patio with tables, so we camped out to eat and people watch.

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Xander really liked his burger.  I told him he looked stoned.  He didn’t care.

We went back for one last loop and to actually buy a couple of things.  I got him a pair of winter riding gloves and a face mask, and he talked me into getting both of us cycling caps.

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Now we fit in with our new tribe.  Although I’ve been wearing mine while running.

So it was a good trip.  Now that it’s over, I’m thinking about my riding more.  I’m keeping an eye on Craigslist for recumbent trikes, although we’ll have to get creative with hauling it around if we get it.  I do want to get a rack on my old bike to be a grocery hauler with the Wald baskets I’d gotten to check out at the show.  And I want to get us both signed up for repair classes.  I still want to get a repair center set up in our shed.

And we’re already looking forward to next year’s expo.

Run, You Fools!

Run, You Fools!

I am back on the road.

I got out of my boot the first week in October and into an ankle brace.  Hallelujah!  I was cleared right away to drive, walk, bike, basically everything except running.  The doctor said I wouldn’t be running until after my follow-up in mid November. *sigh*  But I did get a prescription for physical therapy, so at least I’d have something to focus on.

There was no way I was driving into the city 2-3 days a week for PT.  I knew there was a PT practice at the Y, but I’d never been impressed with them when I worked at the Y and I knew their hours were weird.  I pass another place, the Physical Wellness and Therapy Center, on my way to and from work, and it had good reviews, so I decided to try them.

Best. Decision. Ever.

I had no idea what to expect as I’d never been to PT before.  When I went in, a little nervous as I am in any new situation, right away I was made to feel welcome.  Every staff member introduced themselves by name and remembered mine.  Amazing what a difference that made in making me feel like a person and not a patient.  Mike was my primary therapist, and he was great.  Never talked down to me or dumbed things down.  And he didn’t yell at me for the exercises I was already doing, even the wrong ones.  He put me through some basics and set me up with my exercises at home, including some of the ones I was already doing.  So I wasn’t entirely off base!  The other nice thing they did was schedule me for a week’s worth of appointments at a time.  I decided to do twice a week, to line up with Mike’s schedule and to save me some money, since it was going to cost me $20 a visit!

So Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings, I went dutifully, got worked and massaged, iced and electrically stimulated (that part was fun!)  I was diligent at home with my exercises and stared walking 3 times a week. Mike was impressed with my progress, and two weeks ago, I got permission to start back running SLOWLY.

The next night I started reworking my Couch to 5k training.  The only time I still have to wear my ankle brace is when I run, so I got strapped up and out I went.

God, it felt good!

I’ve lost a lot.  I started with week 2 instead of going all the way back to the beginning, and that was kind of easy.  I pushed myself on the freeform runs, half and half, but otherwise, week 2 was very doable.  Week 3 was…harder.  3 freeform runs, one for 5 minutes at the beginning and 2 8 minute back to back runs at the end.  I was fine with the running drills, but the freeforms were brutal.  The app breaks them down into 2 minute chunks, so I run until I can’t anymore and then walk until the next check-in. It’s not pretty, but I’m getting through it.

I was discharged from physical therapy on Saturday.  Mike didn’t even have me go through my whole workout, just got me warmed up, massaged, taught me a new balance exercise to build up the sensation in my feet, answered a bunch of my questions and sent me on my way.  Yay!  And now that I’m almost halfway through the C25k, I think it’s time to go back to the running club.  Double yay!  For someone who’s totally not a joiner, I have really missed running with that group.  I don’t want to overdo things, so I’ll only go on Saturday mornings and stick to a slow pace, starting with 30/60 second drills.  That way I’ll still be able to do the C25K drills on my regular schedule without risking overtraining.  Then in January, once I’m solidly back to running, I can start back to the Thursday night group runs.  And start thinking about what I want to train for next year.  10k?  Or *gasp* half marathon?  Yeah, I know.  I’ve lost my mind.  I guess I’m okay with that.

While I’m out running, my brain wanders.  I keep hoping it will wander somewhere useful like a new book idea, but at the moment it seems to have decided that I should lead a C25K training for the club in the spring.  I’d use the Zombies Run schedule that I’m doing for my training (only without all the interesting zombie parts), modified to break up week 8 into two weeks, as both Hero and I found that last week a little too intense.  Other than that, I like the development pace of the ZR training, and then people could use the app for days they have to miss.  I don’t know what kind of liability issues leading a training like that might involve, so I’ll talk to the coordinator and see what he thinks.

In the meantime, I’m shopping for new running shoes.  This shouldn’t be so damn hard.  I’ve been running in a pair of Brooks Adrenalines that I got put into by the local running store 3 years ago when I first tried C25K.  So no brainer, I got the same shoes this time.  Except running shoes change models faster than college text book editions, so the new shoes don’t feel AT ALL like the older ones.  The soles are harder with almost no give.  And they were tight.  Thankfully I ordered from Zappo’s, so they’re easy to send back, which I have done in exchange for a wider size.  Except I made one critical error in judgement.  I ordered a new pair (Asics) before I returned the first pair.  Theoretically, there was a logic to that, in that I could then compare them to each other.  In reality, it’s an excuse to have TWO pairs of running shoes.  Except I don’t like the Asics, either.  For exactly the same reasons.  So they’re going back, too, and I’ll get a wider size of those as well.  Once I finally settle on a pair (or two), I’m taking them all to the running store to see if I still need the arch inserts they gave me back then.  With the weight loss and change in activity, I’m not sure I do, or at least not as strong as I’ve been wearing.  In fact, I think the ones I have may have contributed to my broken ankle, overcompensating so far it made my foot roll.  I may need something, as it feels like my arch isn’t making contact when I run without them, but I don’t think I need the full orthotic.

But whatever I end up with, my primary requirement has been met.

Asics Brooks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My shoes have to be colorful enough that I’m happy putting them on.  Morgan thinks they’re gaudy.  I think he has no soul.

When I was…

When I was…

When I was 18, I went to Israel with my dad.  It was an amazing trip, and I learned a lot about the world and myself.

I also came home with a bad case of traveler’s trots.

We didn’t think much of it.  Dad had it, too, and it’s one of the costs of travel, right?

But a couple of weeks after coming back, I developed a terrible case of pink eye, and then suddenly my ankles swelled up to about 4 times normal.  Of course this was aobut a month before graduation, so I looked lovely for the awards ceremonies!

Our family doctor diagnosed all these symptoms as one condition that at the time (1985) was called Reiter’s syndrome and now is called reactive arthritis.  I was lucky to get the diagnosis, as back then it was considered a condition only men got.  Except on hearing about it, Mom realized she had had the same thing happen to her at least twice.

So here I was, at graduation, barely able to walk, eyes red and streaming, getting ready to start the next phase of my life.

I think, looking back on it, that that was the moment my weight problem started.

Don’t get me wrong, I had issues before that.  Portion control was all about who finished their dinner first to get to the seconds.  Sweets were rare and often rewards or, again, competitive.  Or something you got to have when you were an adult.  But I was pretty active, walking or riding my bike everywhere, roller skating and dancing, even trying a couple of sports (nothing took).  But for almost six months, I barely walked if I could avoid it (for the first six weeks I could hardly walk at all), and I certainly wasn’t involved in any sports.  Couple that with living in the dorm and eating in the cafeteria, my freshman 15 came on and made no plans to leave.  Even when I moved off campus, I managed to get rides to class until I got my own car.  Sedentary wasn’t just a vocab word from geology class.  That became my lifestyle until this past spring.

I think this is where some of my frustration with the broken foot is coming from.  I can remember hobbling around, losing any interest or willingness to be active, and I’m terrified of ending up back there again.  I can already tell some of the same thought patterns are coming back.  “Well, I’ll try biking, but it won’t really take.”  Did that one my sophomore year.  I was kind of happy when someone stole my bike so I didn’t have to feel guilty about not riding it.  I set up a bunch of upper body workouts to do while I’m recovering.  I have not been good about actually doing them, though.

I don’t want to end up back there.  I know it’s all a mental game, but I’m so new to this exercise gig, it just feels too fragile.  It doesn’t take long to lose a habit you haven’t had long.  I know activity is the most important part of the maintenance for my weight loss.  I HAVE to do this.

I’m just scared I won’t.

Wheelies

Wheelies

I’m still in the boot.

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You can see the fine line of the break just above the fold crease. It looks like an elevation chart!

Two more weeks, which is discouraging, but should have been expected.  Every article I’ve read about broken ankles has said 6 weeks, and it never occurred to me that 4 weeks might just be to check on progress.  So I was incredibly disappointed, bordering on tears.  But everything’s lined up nice and straight and starting to fill in as it should.  Another two weeks, and then I get moved into an ankle brace for god knows how long.  As long as I can start driving again, I’ll be happy.  I actually kind of like riding to work with co-workers, but I want to be able to run errands, dammit!  I’m working on sucking it up, though, aside from a lot of whining, and am looking to get on with things.

To that end, I’m looking ahead to what’s next.  I won’t be able to run for months even once I’m out of the boot (sob!), but it looks like biking will be good right off the bat.  Since initially I got into running as a gateway to cycling (who knew I’d end up loving running!), it seems like this may be the universe’s way of telling me to get on with it.

I did get a few trips in this summer, and even managed a hilly 10 miles once.  But my bike is heavy and sluggish for that kind of riding.  She’s good for rough trails or grocery getting, but dragging her uphill is a chore, even in the lowest gear, and I can’t get her going very fast even ont he flats.  As the ennui of my ankle settled in, I went looking on Craigslist for a more suitable road bike.

I found Galadriel.

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She’s a 1984 Lotus Challenger mixte.  But you wouldn’t know to look at her that she’s over 30 years old.  She looks like she just came off the line last year.  The paint is almost pristine, the welds perfect, and the guy selling her had replaced all the things that lack of use would degrade, like the tires and cables and bar wrap.  He’d even added a rear rack.  I did a lot of research on her, and even though he was asking a lot for her, it was a fair price.  She’s a collector’s bike, where even ones in crap condition go for $150-200, and she’s in gorgeous condition.  I would spend twice as much to get a similar bike new.  But I wasn’t in a hurry to get a bike.  This was only week 2 of the boot, after all.  But she kept eating at me.  I started researching her, and asked other, more experienced riders for their input.  Hell, I even dreamed about her, which is when she told me her name.  So I figured I needed to at least make an attempt at her.  I got in touch with the seller, and he responded right away agreeing to set up a test ride that weekend.  Nikki was great and came up to drive me over, even though she hadn’t driven anything in almost a year, let alone my big old van.  I took off the boot, put on a sneaker, and off we went.

She looked even better in person.  Then I got on her.  She was fast.  And smooth.  She shifted great, despite me having no clue how to use her lever shifters.  There was a fairly steep (for me) hill right next to the house, which I was able to fly up, despite babying my foot.  And she fit me perfectly.

I needed this bike.

I tried to talk him down, but he knew what he had, and I knew what he had, so I told him I’d have to think about it until pay day.  I was worried he’d sell it in the meantime, but if he did, well, that just meant I wasn’t meant to have her.

Monday Nikki sent me half the cost with a not.  “Buy the bike.”  I looked at the ad again.  And I got in touch with him.  The problem, of course, was that I couldn’t drive out to get her.  Fortunately he was willing to drop her off.  She was just as beautiful in my yard as she’d been in his.  I was not going to lock her on my front porch with the other bikes, though, so initially she was in the kitchen and now is living in my dining room where I can pet her whenever I want.

Now, there may be some adjustments made.  As I said, she has lever shifters, which I have never used, and they’re on the down tube instead of on the bars, so it takes a little more finesse to shift.  And she has drop handlebars, which again, never used.  So she’s going to take a little getting used to.  I am going to get professionally fit to her so everything’s the way it should be.  I think the handlebars need to be a little higher, as I feel like I’m tipping over if I hold the brakes.  Once that’s all set, I’ll give it three months to get used to.  If at that point it’s just not working, I’ll change out the bars for butterfly bars which will let me ride more upright and get thumb shifters installed on the bars.  I want to at least give the current set-up a try, though.

Not getting to start riding her this week was especially disappointing.  I’m making it up to myself by shopping for gear for her.  I’ve ordered a handlebar bag which has a map pocket and cell phone display pocket, and I got a repair kit with all the basics for on the road repairs.  I want a trunk bag and panniers, but those will keep, and as the season moves on, I’ll need decent lights.  Sophie, my old bike, will probably be my winter bike, as she can handle snowy roads better, so I won’t need heavier gear for Galadriel.  But what I really want for the new bike are these panniers.

The vendor on Etsy who sells them has taken them down, but I’m hoping they’ll go back up eventually.  They’re expensive, though, $150, but they hold a lot of stuff, and don’t they just look like something an elf queen should have?  And they’d be easy to move between the two bikes as needed, so they’d be flexible.  So I’ll watch to see if they go back up.  I’m not allowed to get them anyway until I can complete the long park trip I have planned.  It’s 30 miles round trip, and is the same route the local bike club rides, so once I can do that, hopefully I can start riding with them.  Meanwhile I’ve created an Amazon wishlist for all the other goodies I want.  I may make another one to build fantasy kit for bike camping.  There’s so much stuff to get, I could go a little nuts!

And I’m not the only cyclist in the house!  Xander has been amazing about riding his bike to school.  He can’t wait to get out the door in the morning, literally.  I’ve had to keep him in when he’s made a break for it a 6:15. As it’s staying dark later and later in the morning, we’ve been adapting.  He know has a quick release light for his handlebars, and I ordered another set so he’d have them front and back.  I also got him a pair of cycling gloves with skeleton hands on the back to keep him warm now that it’s finally cooled off.  There are a couple more goodies I want to get him, like spoke lights and a reflective harness, but there’s time for that.  He said he wants to keep doing it even after I start driving again, but we’ll see how long that holds once the snow flies.  I may drag him out with me on a couple of long weekend rides once I get moving again.  Who knows, maybe I’ll have a riding buddy!  Hero’s getting more attached to her bike, too, but she doesn’t want to make it her sport of choice, because then it’s work instead of fun.  This is a mindset I hear from a lot of my family, and it makes me a little crazy.  I mean, shouldn’t your work BE fun?  But she has to do what works for her, and as long as she gets some fitness in, I’m happy.  Of course, she still has to get through her push up test in gym, but that’s a whole other workout goal!

So.  Two more weeks.  (Again.)

Getting the Boot

Getting the Boot

I should have realized that doing that epic running post was just asking for trouble.

As those of you who follow me on Twitter or know me in real life know, my running took a turn for the dramatic on Sunday.

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As I said in my running post, I’ve started doing 6-7 mile runs on Sunday to build my endurance.  The first one had not gone great, mostly because of the route I took.  Not sure how it ended up being all uphill, but it honestly was.  So I mapped out a different route, one which went down to the high school, past almost all of Hero’s friends houses so I could properly embarrass her, then back through almost-country and into town.  I knew this route from driving it a number of times and having run part of it with the running club.  It was hilly, but they were up AND down, so I thought it would work.

The first thing I did was swap the arches out of my old running shoes into my new ones.  I liked the new ones, but they just didn’t have enough arch support for my feet, and with my overpronation issues, I figured I needed them for that as well.  Put them on and they felt good, so yay!  Fashionable runner!

I got all my apps set up and running, then started walking my warm-up.  It was about 75 degrees and 70% humidity, so not bad at all.  Started running at my usual spot.  As always, it took a while to get in the groove of the run, but the Zombies, Run! episode was really engaging (it was the last episode of season 1, so big doings!) and the route worked well.  I didn’t like running at the high school just because there was no shade, but I was there less than 5 minutes, so it’s certainly doable.  Everything felt good.  The country stretch was pretty, running past all the tall corn in the quiet of a Sunday morning.  I like Sunday mornings.  No one’s in a hurry to get anywhere.

My app told me I had done 5 miles in about 56 minutes.  It usually gives me credit for a faster run than I’m doing, but still, that told me in general my pace was pretty good.  I felt strong.  Confident.  Just had a mile and a half to go, and then I could get on with the day.  Take the kids back to school shopping.  Clean the house.  Maybe do some of the work on the shed I need to.

The next thing I know, I’m face down in the middle of the street.

I didn’t trip.  I keep saying I stepped off a curb, but it wasn’t really even much of a curb.  It was one of those ADA ramps they put on sidewalk corners.  Zero entry.  I’ve had to practically vault much higher curbs on other runs. And yet, when I stepped from the concrete onto the asphalt, my right foot rolled right as my body weight shifted left, and down I went.

I’ve had falls like this a lot.  Ever since I got reactive arthritis as a teenager, my knees and ankles have always been a bit weak.  Every once in a while one of them will just go, “Nope!” and down I go.  But I’ve never had it happen at speed before, and with all my weight coming down on the foot that was turning.  I heard that sucker pop and knew I was in trouble.

I picked up my glasses and dragged myself back to the curb to evaluate.  A runner and a car stopped to see if I needed help, but I waved them off, as I didn’t know how bad it was.  Stubborn me figured I could just carefully walk home.  It wasn’t that far, after all.  My first mistake was taking my shoe off.

My second mistake was walking half a mile with no shoe on.

By the time I got almost to Main Street, I was seeing black swarms in front of my eyes, which is usually a sign that I’m about to pass out.  So I found a stoop and sat.  I realized I was only about a block from one of the earlier mentioned Hero’s friends homes, so I called Hero to see if they were home that weekend.  They weren’t.  None of her friends whose parents I knew were in town.  The people I knew from the running club were all out of town, too, and I didn’t have anyone’s number anyway.  So I asked Hero if she would ride her bike down so she could at least walk back with me. (It only just now occurred to me I could have sat on her bike and one footed it home.  Oh well.)  Then, left with no choice, I called Eric to see if he could take me to the urgent care center.  Thankfully he could, and asked if I wanted him to pick me up where I was now.  I told him Hero was on the way, but if he wanted to come the route we’d be going home just in case, he could.  After I got of the phone with him, I thought, well, I don’t want them to miss me, so I’ll just hobble to the corner.

I made it to the next house.  Surrendering all pride at that point, I called him to come get me.

Hero showed up, and she blessedly brought a water bottle with her.  I tend not to carry one on my runs as I’m well hydrated going into them and am not usually out long enough to need them (plus I hate carrying anything).  So that was a blessing and secured her position as my favorite daughter.  (hush.)  Eric got there about 10 minutes later, we went back to the house to get my checkbook and wallet, and off we went to urgent care.

On later reflection, I wish I had gone to the ER instead, but at this point I figured it was just a sprain and no big deal.  But I’d never had a sprain before and didn’t know what to expect.  And there usually isn’t a long wait at the urgent care center, so there I was.  They got me checked in and back in about 5 minutes, and within 10 I was on the x-ray table.  By then my ankle was huge.

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The staff were all very kind, but the doctor who finally saw me hardly talked to me at all.  He didn’t even give me any instructions until I asked pointed questions.  But the nurse who brought me my aircast was very nice and helpful.  Take it easy, elevate it, ice it, yadda yadda.  By 11:30, I was home.

Well, I still had that list of things to do, so.  After lunch I took a nap, and then I took Xander and Hero to 2nd Avenue to do clothes shopping.  It had to get done, and I could do it all leaning on a shopping cart, so I did.  I gave them a budget of $50 each and a couple of things they HAD to get (picture day outfit especially, since their picture day is the first Thursday of school) and set them loose.  Well, set Hero loose.  I went with Xander to help him pick some things out.  The score of the day was all his, though.  A beautiful black long sleeve dress shirt that fit him gorgeously.  He got compliments from 5 different people waiting in line at the dressing rooms!  He got all his back to school clothes (although he could use another pair of dress slacks) and even a pair of shoes for under his budget.  Hero didn’t do as well, but she got a couple of nice pieces.  She doesn’t need as many clothes, as her drawers are overflowing.  Once we get those purged, we’ll have a better sense of what she still needs.

I got a cane.  It was only $2.50.

Then we went to the dollar store for the bare minimum in school supplies.  There was no point in buying a lot until I know what they really need.  So they got paper and pens or mechanical pencils, depending on their preferences, pencil bags, a couple of other knick nacks.

I got a couple of ace bandages.  The aircasts are proven in studies to be better than compression bandages, but both together are even better, so I was going to use both.  Knowledge, and how to get it.  One of the perks of my day job.  Then we went home, where I had Hero help me make dinner.  I sat and chopped, she handled the stove part and made the muffins.  Then I took my pain meds and crashed.  Thank you, hydrocodone!

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and didn’t sleep well with the cast and the pain, so I called out from work on Monday.  Slept a lot, iced and elevated it, and made a comfrey poultice that I wore for a couple of hours.  I’ve seen that stuff work miracles, so I figured a boost couldn’t hurt as long as I did the mainstream therapies along side.  All was going well until that evening when I got a call from the urgent care center.

They’d found at least two breaks in my foot.  I needed to come in and get splinted, and then I’d need to see an orthopedist.

Well, shit.

I automatically went to my go to source for all my medical needs, and lo and behold, Penn Medicine ortho does same day appointments.  Even though it was Sunday evening, I filled out the request form figuring I’d get a call first thing in the morning, and politely declined the urgent care center’s offer to splint it for me.  It didn’t make sense to pay to have them do something that would just get undone and presumably done better the next day.

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Tuesday I heard from Penn via email.  My phone number hadn’t come through on my request, so could I call in?  I did.  And the rage started.  The receptionist I was talking to said she could get me an appointment on Friday.  For a broken foot.  Seriously?  She knew nothing about the same day service, and kept giving me the standard line of she couldn’t override the doctors’ schedules.  I understand scheduling, honey, I’ve done it myself.  But I also know for emergencies, you can find time to squeeze me in.  “I can get you seen in Cherry Hill today.”  Seriously?  “The only other place I have any openings today is in Exton.”  Fine, send me to fucking Exton.  Yeah, it’s just as far and inconvenient, but at least there isn’t a bridge.  “You’ll need to bring your x-rays.”  I lost it at that point.  You’re one of the most advanced care centers in the region, if not the country, with your own very impressive imaging centers, I can’t freakin’ DRIVE, and you need me to bring x-rays from a Podunk care center?  Honestly??  She got an earful, poor thing.  I know she was just doing her job, but I was too hurting and frustrated to care at that point.  She went away for a few minutes, and when she came back, lo and behold, she had an appointment for me downtown that afternoon.  I’d still have to get my x-rays, though.  Fine, I’d manage.

I’d already been in touch with Deb about giving me a ride.  She had another commitment at noon, but she could at least take me to get my x-rays and get me down there.  I figured even if I had to camp out in the waiting area for a couple of hours, I could read or knit or take a nap, so long as I was there, and I could get myself home.  The bus stopped right outside the office that would take me to the station, and presumably I’d be in some sort of a cast by then.  Deb’s driving karma held out, though, and it took an hour and a half to get downtown.  Midday on a Tuesday.  What the hell, people?  I felt guilty about keeping her so late, but she felt bad about not being able to stay, so the guilt balanced out.  And I only had to wait about 45 minutes.

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The center was very nice.  The building is right across from where I’d worked for the National Board of Medical Examiners, and hadn’t even existed until a year ago.  That area is building up so fast, it’s astonishing.  For me the nice thing about going to Penn is that even though I was new to the practice, I didn’t have to fill out a ton of paperwork because I’m already in their system.  I still had to wait until my appointment time, but that was fine.  They got me back about 1:30, and it went pretty quickly from there.  The resident was able to show me the break.  It’s pretty straight across the bottom of my fibula.  What urgent care thought was two breaks actually seems to be two ends of the same break.  The doctor said that it was actually in a good spot, that that low the joint isn’t as unstable and doesn’t open up.  Almost all of these kinds of breaks heal just fine.  I did mess up probably all three ligaments attached to it, but we’ll worry about those after the break heals.  I got prescribed a CAM boot and told to come back in 4 weeks for more x-rays and to discuss rehab.  The nice thing is this doctor is a sports medicine doc, so he’ll know how to get me back running.  Oh, but no driving for the next 4 weeks.

That’s the part that’s going to suck.  Never mind that we can’t do the day trip to Assateague now.  More important is no grocery shopping and I won’t be able to drive Xander to school for his first couple of weeks of high school.  When I told him he would have to ride the bus, he said, “Can’t I just ride my bike?”  So he’s going to do that.  I’m sending him and Hero to test ride it this weekend and to find the bike racks.  I’d like to get him a rack for the back of his bike so it’s easier for him to carry his backpack, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford that before school starts.  Thank ghod we got their back to school basics done!

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So this is Fred, my live-in companion for the next month.  We’re getting along better than I’d expected, certainly better than I got on with the boot for plantar fasciitis a couple years ago.  I’m actually relatively comfortable sleeping in it, although that may be the pain meds.  I have an oddball pair (trio?) of handknit socks I’m wearing under it in rotation to keep the smell down, and I’m figuring out what shoes to wear on the left foot to balance out the height of the boot.  No more flip flops for me!  Several of my co-workers have been incredibly generous about driving me to work with them, so I’m back in the office on schedule, which makes me feel a little more human (and the air conditioning doesn’t hurt!)  I’m easing into the new normal.

I’m just glad I didn’t pay for any of those races already…

Running Around

Running Around

I wanted to do a run report, as I know it’s been a while, but I couldn’t remember the last time I’d posted on it.  So I went back to the blog and checked.  Holy crow, it was back in JUNE.  I didn’t even tell you about my race!  Lots of developments since then.

But first, the race!

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It was a gorgeous evening.  First time in weeks that it wasn’t disgustingly humid.  It was still 83 degrees, but without the humidity, it was pretty comfortable.  I dragged all the kids along (support your family, dammit!), which they were okay with, especially once they saw all the freebies!  We went from having almost no water bottles to having almost too many.  Although with teenagers, there’s not really such a thing as too many.  There were a LOT of people there.  1,500 registered racers.

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They started us in waves, so by the time the slow part of the race got over the start line, the clock had already been running almost three minutes.  Which probably made me run a little too fast at the start, but I got it under control before the first mile.  Learned I suck at drinking and running, so I’ll just walk through water stops in the future.  But I was pleased!  I ran the whole thing, no walks, although I did have to push myself a bit the third mile.  And I sprinted the last 100 yards or so, which felt good!

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I found the kids (who had missed my impressive finish) and we went to find my time.  33:56, which for a first time I thought was pretty good!  Even if I was 86th in my division… That was a pace time of 10:56, so I now have a baseline time to shoot for.

Afterwards I was entitled to free food, but I felt nauseous even thinking about it.  Next time, though, I’ll get the food and just give it to the kids.  I paid for it, someone should eat it!  We headed home for a shower and some serious stretches, and I started thinking about my next races.

But then vacation season hit, and my running fizzled.  Between the heat and humidity and the time demands of getting ready for the trips and then the actual trips, I went from running 4 times a week to running twice if I was lucky.  I did run the one morning at Assateague, but my images of running in DC got scuttled by distance and cowardice.  One thing that did help, though, was the formation of the Lansdale Area Running Club.  Just before the race, I saw a post on the local Patch talking about the first meeting of this new running club, starting at the Starbucks about a mile from our house.  Hero and I went out to see what’s the what, and it was GREAT.

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They were a really nice, small group of people of all levels, very supportive and encouraging.  I’m not the best runner in the group, but I’m not the worst, either.  Since then, I’ve gone every Saturday we’ve been home, and the group has been growing steadily.  Last week, we started doing Thursday evening runs sponsored by the local microbrewery with free drinks afterwards!  The cherry cider last week was nummy, but this week I’m trying the blackberry mead!  And the best thing is it’s half a mile from the house, so I can walk!  All in all, it’s been a great motivator.

That said, my times have sucked.  I know it’s the weather, but if I can get under a 12 minute mile, I’m doing well.  Not what you want to see 2 months after getting under 11.  It’s been so hard, though, with the humidity and all, that I’ve switched to doing run/walks.  It hasn’t really helped or hurt my pace any, but it has helped me get all the way through a run.  I can’t wait until fall and cooler temps.  I ought to fly!  I have started doing 6-7 mile run/walks on Sundays, just to start increasing my endurance.  They aren’t pretty.  I need to work on my routes.  But I’m doing them, and that ain’t nothing.

As for upcoming races, I’m not really signed up for anything at the moment.  I’m tempted to run/walk a 10k that’s a fundraiser for a nearby rail trail on Labor Day (i’m a sucker for rail trails), and there are a couple in September and October sponsored by the college.  The one I’m guarantee doing is the 8k associated with the Philadelphia Marathon in November.  I think a couple of us from the running club are doing that.  It’s not until November, so I’ll have plenty of time to get used to the weather and get my endurance up.  I’d like to be able to straight run it.  I don’t mind run/walking longer distances, but I want to be able to run 5 miles without walking.  Not a big goal, but there you are.

Oh, and I got new running shoes for almost nothing on eBay.  I just need the inserts for them and I’ll be a little more stylin’ on the road!

Run Report

Run Report

More than just running, though!

I made it through the week 8 redo on my 5k training.  Hero was really struggling with her week 6 training, so she redid that week and I went out with her a couple of times to do it and then tacked on an extra 20 minute run, which seemed to do the trick.  Rather than redoing the day 2 training like I’d planned, at the end of the week I went straight to the 5k run.  I very carefully mapped out a new route, got the distance perfect, and went out and DID IT.  I only walked once for about 45 seconds and had one long road crossing, but I think that pretty much counts as mission accomplished.  And even with those pauses, I still had an almost perfectly steady 11:30 minute/mile pace.  So I’m really happy with that!  That was last Monday, June 8th (recorded here for posterity!)

I lasted exactly one run before I crumpled and started running the full Zombies Run! app.

Hero’s doing better.  She was struggling with a head cold and female issues, so she wisely decided to redo week 6, and did it slowly.  By the end, she was running most of all her free runs.  She started Week 7, but on the second day got a bad pain in her hip and had to stop.  I think she’s just not stretching enough, so I walked her through some, including the IT band stretch I just learned and which has saved my life, and made sure she was holding them long enough.  She’s going to give it another stab today or tomorrow.

Since I finished the 5k training, my runs haven’t gone well.  To be fair, the heat and humidity here has been ungodly, and I was still running in the evening.  But now that the kids are out of school and I don’t have to get them moving in the morning, I can go out and run then instead.  Did that for the first time on Tuesday, and it wasn’t bad.  I only ended up walking 3 minutes or so out of 48, AND I found out that the route I’ve been doing wasn’t 3.2 miles, but 4.1.  And my pace is still consistent at 11:30, so in reality, I’m doing a lot better than I thought I was!  I’ve got this new route tweaked to where I like it, so I think that will be my regular run, in either direction, and then I’ll work on building distance/time from that.  And hey, I only have to add 12 minutes instead of 25 like I’d expected!

I finally got signed up for my races.  I’ll be doing the Tex-Mex 5k next Wednesday evening.  I’ve got it mapped out, and it looks pretty doable.  The worst of the hills are in the first half of the route, so I can get them out of the way no problem.  I’m tempted to go try running it in advance, but no, I’ll just keep on keeping on.  I also signed up for a virtual run/walk, the Sherlock Run.  I’ll admit, I’m doing it mostly for the medal (because it’s awesome!)

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But it also raises money for rescue dogs, which is always a good thing.  I signed up for the 22.1 mile challenge, which fortunately you don’t have to do all at once.  I should finish earning it with the Tex-Mex run, so two medals for the work of one!!  (Although I don’t think I get a medal for Tex-Mex. Oh well.)

I haven’t given up on the cycling, either.  I’m not getting much riding in this week because of getting ready for the trip.  I’m not comfortable riding early or late, as I don’t have my lights rigged up yet.  But once we get back, next week I’ll get back to alternate days with the running.  I’m already improving.  In exploring what I thought would be a 7 mile route, I got lost and ended up going 10, and aside from one monstrous hill, I didn’t have too much trouble.  I do need to get the bike looked at, as the front derailleur isn’t shifting to the lowest gear.  Hopefully that’s a quick and easy fix, though.  Xander’s decided to be my riding buddy for his summer activity.  So we have to get his bike in shape (the weld blew on his front gears) and make sure he knows the rules of riding on the road.  Then we’ll start doing distances and see how he does.  I’m not sure if we’ll actually ride together together, as he likes to go pretty fast, but that’s good.  Once we know what he can do, maybe we’ll see about hooking him up with a local ride club.

I know all this fitness stuff has really taken hold, though.  It’s become so automatic that when I get off my routine, I get twitchy.  Last night, I kept feeling like I was forgetting to do something, even though I’d already run for the day.  Today is worse, as it’s a rest day and I can’t run (I refuse to tempt injury.  I’m at risk enough as it is!).  I’m so looking forward to tomorrow morning, it’s not even funny.  Me, looking forward to running.  IN THE MORNING.  That’s just…deeply wrong somehow.

Doesn’t stop me from doing it, though.

 

Wheels up!

Wheels up!

Sunday was a wheels day.

I had all my housework done, so I planned to putter.  I spent most of the afternoon watching Harry Potter and finishing the singles for a new yarn to get it off my bobbins before Tour de Fleece starts next month.  But the morning was spent with some different wheels.

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This is Charlotte.  She is the base of what I hope will become my cycling lifestyle.  She’s a hybrid bike, good for both urban commuting and distance cycling.  Neither of which I do at the moment, but I want to.  I know I talk a lot about running, but that’s not what I really want to be doing.  I want to be a cyclist.  Not for speed, but for distance.  I love the idea of cycling holidays, of hopping on my bike to run to the grocery store, of riding to work.  But other issues aside, I can’t manage even a few miles without getting exhausted.  Or I couldn’t.  But if I can master a 5k, I can build up my riding endurance as well.

But I have to start somewhere, and Sunday was about finding out where I was starting from.  I mapped out a couple of routes to the grocery store and was surprised to find out that what had seemed like an overwhelming distance was really just under 3 miles each way.  If I could run that far, I certainly could ride it.  So Sunday morning, I got Charlotte out of the basement, dusted her off, pumped up the tires and set out to see if I could do it.

Sunday morning seemed like the best time to make the attempt, as the traffic would be at its lowest.  The problem with living in the suburbs is that there is ALWAYS traffic.  We don’t really have back roads per se.  But some roads are worse than others.  I won’t go on Cowpath, because it’s always busy and overwhelming.  But going the back way, I only have to do half a mile on Orvilla Rd., another busy road with narrow shoulders.  That half mile seems a lot less intimidating somehow.  We’ll see how it goes when I have to deal with actual traffic, but this trip was just about distance.

I got off to a pretty good start.  Route 1 was fairly flat at the beginning, so I had good speed and was fairly comfortable taking the lane when I needed to.  The first hills were a little intimidating.  I’d grown up on single speed bikes, so gears are not intuitive for me.  But I’ve been asking a lot of people a lot of questions recently, so I at least knew technically what I was supposed to do.  It didn’t make them any easier, but at least I didn’t have to get off and walk!  Made it to Orvilla and was pleased to find there’s just enough shoulder to feel relatively safe up to the store.  Made it there in 15 minutes, which surprised and pleased me.  Honestly, most evenings I can’t drive there that fast, the traffic is so bad.  So riding there isn’t an unreasonable option.  But I was pretty out of breath.  I rested there for a couple of minutes, then turned around to take Route 2 home.

I don’t think Route 2 was worse.  A little longer on Orvilla, but only a block, and the left turn is at a light, so that helps.  But OMG the hills.  Okay, yes, there were only probably two that actually qualify as hills.  The rest were…slopes.  But crikey!  And the last one was towards the end of the ride, when I’m already out of breath.  I almost ran out of gears.  But only almost.  And I made it home in about the same 15 minutes, so either route is viable.

So there.  I’m not ready for grocery fetching on the bike yet.  Especially since I don’t have the right gear.  I have fenders, a rear rack and baskets in my Amazon wishlist for when I have more money, but I’m adding regular riding into my exercise routine.  The nights I’m not running, I will go out for a half hourish ride, around 6-7 miles, and try to do a longer one on the weekend.  15-20 miles a week this month.  Next month I’ll try to double that.  It won’t come right away, but it will come.  By the end of the summer, I would like to a) be able to ride the Schuykill River Trail into Philly and 2) be able to ride the 202 trail into Doylestown.  The second is harder than the first, even though the distance is shorter, because it is seriously hilly, and not just slope-y but actual HILLS. But just having a goal is a first step.  And I’ve learned that I can actually achieve these things.  I won’t be ready for the Endless Mountain 1240k next year, but I’ll be closer to it than I am now. If I can ride a century (100 miles) by next year, I’ll be a happy cyclist.

Kugel!

Kugel!

Saturday was not exciting, as I mostly spent it doing housework.  Actually, that’s not entirely true.  Hero and I got up early in the morning and went out to watch the Kugel Ball Run, the local 5k race to support our YMCA.  I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn how to actually run a race besides the mechanics of running itself.  Hero’s had a couple of frustrating weeks with her 5k training (sickness, TMI troubles, scheduling issues) and I think was heading towards giving it up, so I also hoped she’d get a little inspiration from it.

The race took off at 8:30, but we got there closer to 8.  I got to see some of the folks I had worked with at the Y, which was nice, since I don’t get up there very often anymore.  We watched people signing in and warming up, and I got to explain a bit about the difference between passive and active stretching as people were running and hopping and swinging their legs around.  Then we went and grabbed some breakfast at the local bakery before heading over to the starting line.

There was a LOT of variety in the runners!  A bunch of kids younger than Hero, some folks a lot older than me, a couple of people running with strollers, some really serious runners with their big old running watches and a lot of people just using their phones.  I got to point out different kinds of shoes to her, and there was even one barefoot runner, which got her very excited!  We talked to one of the runners about the timing chips, and we listened to the announcements about how the timing worked.  I saw a bunch of runners using kinesio tape, so we talked about that some, too, even though it’s still a big mystery to me how it works.

Almost before we knew it, and without much fanfare, the race started, and I think Hero was a little surprised at how slowly everyone was running.  This is something I’ve been trying to reinforce with her, that distance running, at least at the point we’re at, isn’t about speed, it’s about being able to finish.  She admitted that she’s a little messed up because of gym class at school, where they just finished doing the timed mile and the teachers were really pushing speed.  Seeing over 100 people putting into practice everything I’d been telling her may have helped.  What does Mom know, after all!

We had 20 minutes or so before the first runners crossed the line, so we went and wandered through the farmers market to see if there was anything good this week.  Silly, there’s always something good, but I was broke, so we didn’t get anything.  We checked out the vendors setting up on Main Street for Lansdale Day, the big annual event the race is part of, and then headed over to the finish line.  I had to take Hero’s phone away from her as the runners started arriving, as she would have spent all her time reading Tumblr rather than watching the race.  But it was eye opening for both of us, I think.  The fastest runners came in at about 25 minutes, but the bulk of the pack was around the 32-35 minute mark.  That made me feel pretty good, as that was about where I thought my pace was, so I knew I wouldn’t embarrass myself when I do my race!  And the runners didn’t come in in the order I would have thought.  The young Marine came in a lot further back than I thought she would, and one of the stroller runners a lot earlier.  One of the kids was in the first 10 to cross the line.  So again, educational for me and inspirational (I hope!) for Hero.

That night she asked me to run with her, to help her with her pace.  We ran some of the route the race took, and she seemed to do a lot better.  I peeled off after her second 7 minute run and did 20 minutes on my own without stopping.  But I wouldn’t have my big test until Monday.