What can you say, the dog loves to run…

Finding a great running partner is hard as every runner has their own idiosyncrasies.  Some people love to talk, others like lots of walking breaks, running at matching pace is also hard.

I happen to like rolling hills and HATE the flats. In addition, I like to zone out to my music and take very few walking breaks.  When out running, I am always trying to improve my pace or my form.  My own idiosyncrasies have made it hard to find a running partner.

However, I have managed to find the perfect running partner in my dog Nutmeg!

Nutmeg is a 4-year-old Rat Terrier and she LOVES to run.  I cap her daily mileage at 6 miles, but I know she would keep going if she was allowed to.  She too loves rolling hills, only takes breaks to poop and can match my pace.  She is always up for a run even when I am not and makes me feel guilty if I don’t go running.

If I am going out for a run longer than 6 miles, I have to literally sneak out of the house.  I have changed in the garage more than once to avoid disappointing my running partner.  I can’t be the only one who has done this right?!

Since I broke my femoral neck and had surgery, my little running partner has been suffering.  When I say suffering, I really mean suffering!

While I was on crutches, she would actually jump the fence and take off running down the road the entire time looking back at me.  I am positive she was thinking “come on, run with me.”

Lately, she has been carrying around my running shoes in her mouth and cuddling them. She literally carries them over to me, puts them down in front of me and just stares at me.  It’s really very pitiful!

There are so many things I miss about running!  I literally am jealous of everyone I see out running and I am so anxious to heal so I can get back at it.  One of the things I miss most is running with my running buddy on a sunny Pacific Northwest day.  Heck, I would even take a rainy Pacific Northwest day!

Swimming with a pool boy!

Recovery from surgery to fix my left femoral neck fracture has been hard, but recovery was progressing well.  My physical therapist had me doing lots of squats, lunges, bridges and other butt burner exercises.  In addition, I was going on long walks daily and swimming at the gym.  My return to running was only a couple of months away.

Then one night it happened…..elephantiasis of the leg.  I was at work, doing my nursing thing when all of a sudden, my scrubs felt tight.  My first thought was that I really need to lay off that candy drawer at work.

As the night progressed, my scrubs felt tighter and tighter.  Now I’m thinking in addition to laying off the candy drawer, I need to get on keto ASAP.

Next I set off toward the locker room to stare at myself in the full length mirror.  While staring at my derriere, I noticed the seam of my scrubs was shifted.  It was no longer in the middle of my backside, but pulled over my left but cheek.  WTF is going on?!

Feeling concerned, I set off back to the ER to continue my patient care.  By the end of my shift, I could not even squeeze my hand into my left front pocket.  OMG!

I ended my shift in the morning, went home and went to bed.  When I woke in the afternoon, my leg seemed normal.  I chose my loose pair of scrubs and set off to work that night.  Next thing I know, is my loose scrubs are now feeling tight!

At physical therapy the next day, I tell my PT about what is going on and she inspects my leg and agrees something is afoot.  She takes measurements and my left hip and thigh are measuring almost 4 inches larger than my right.  That day we took it easy at physical therapy and I made an appointment to see my orthopedic surgeon.

Two days later, I was back at my orthopedic surgeon’s office.  X-rays were taken and the hardware in my hip looked good.  My orthopedic took a look at my hip and agreed it was VERY inflamed.

My orthopedic gave me a cortisone shot, recommended doing a CT scan in two months and put me back on activity restriction.  His thought was the swelling may be due to “to much to soon.”  Worse case scenario is my hip surgery is failing and I will need a total hip replacement.  That was literally my biggest fear!

He then told me it would be a shame to make it through the hip pinning to end up having to  have a total hip replacement.  As it turns out, the hip pinning is the worst of the two surgeries.  Apparently a total hip is a walk in the park recovery wise compared to getting three six-inch screws and a rod drilled into your femoral neck.

So now modalities only in physical therapy.  That was not good news.  Modalities only means an extra dose painful scar massage and joint manipulation.  The squats and lunges are easy compared to scar massage and joint manipulation.

In addition, my orthopedic restricted my swimming and walking.  No more long walks and kicking my legs in the pool is now forbidden.  He tells me I need to start swimming with a pool boy.  What what?!  Now you are talking my language!!

It turns out I don’t actually get to swim with a hot pool boy.  I get to swim with a pull buoy.  However, anytime I say pull buoy, everyone thinks I too am saying pool boy.  My friends and I have had quite a few laughs over that one!

A pull buoy is a foam device that you hold between your legs while you swim.  The point of it is to build speed and upper body strength because your arms do all the work and your legs just drag behind you.

In the end though, set backs make you stronger.  I have learned it is important to listen to your body.  When I was running, I NEVER did that and am now forced to.

My advice to all my fellow runners out there is to listen to your body!  There is nothing worse than putting your heart and soul into training for that race to only get hurt right before it.

However, there will be more races.  If you heal your injuries, you will be able to run that next race stronger.  Pushing yourself through injury only compounds injuries, believe me I know!

So for now, my return to running is still on hold and I will continue swimming with a pool boy.

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Am I actually choking!?

One of my biggest struggles with distance running is fuel while running.  Well, not just while running but also before and after running a race.  I really do struggle with this while it seems so effortless for other runners.

Every runner fears the runner trots.  This fear is the basis for our obsession with proper fueling.  Any running support group you go to will have tons of posts about post race and during the race pooping issues.  As embarrassing as this topic is, it is a very real issue runners deal with.

I recently listened to Kevin Hart talk about his latest marathon; The Chicago Marathon.  He recounts running by two older female runners.  One he says had poop running down the back of her legs and the other popped a squat on the side of the road and relieved herself.  I laughed so hard at his story that my stomach hurt for days!

For me, my bathroom issue always reared its ugly head pretty much as soon as I crossed the finish line.  Trust me, no one wants to spend anytime in a port a potty at a race venue!

After a few years of having issues, I learned that anything with maltitol is terrible for my gut.  I mean really terrible……

Unfortunately most running energy chews contain maltitol.  In addition, dehydration also is a gut killer for me.

In effort to combat this very real problem, I started running with a hydration pack.  I went to REI, tried on multiple packs and finally chose the Nathan pack that carries 2L of water.  As it turns out, I really love running with a pack on.  Having cold water with Nuun all the time is AMAZING!  Dehydration problem now solved!

Next it was time to tackle the fueling problem.  I needed to find fuel options with no maltitol.  So, I tried running with pretzels and marshmallows.  The pretzels just turned to paste in my mouth.  Marshmallows are awesome except they turn into a sticky ball of goo in the plastic baggy.

I read on-line that some runners run with candy.  This was perfect because as it turns out, I love candy!  A lot of thought went into finding my perfect running candy (or so I thought).

After much deliberation, I decided on Skittles.  Why Skittles you may ask…

Well Skittles can be both chewed and sucked on.  They are fruity therefore no more bad taste in my mouth.  Also, they don’t melt easily, get sticky and are easily portable.  Of course, they are also full of carbs.  Problem solved right!?

Fast-forward to May 13, 2018, the Kirkland Mothers Day Half Marathon.  It was a beautiful day!  The course was advertised as a “gentle” downhill course.  That was definitely a lie!  There were a few tough hills!

I was having a great run.  My pace was consistently in the 9 minute mile and the weather was great.  A mere 5 miles from the finish line, I tossed back a couple of Skittles and started sucking on them.  As it turns out, I tossed those Skittles back a little to hard.

Next thing I know is I am choking!  Like really choking!!  I try to cough and no sound nor air comes out.  Panic sets in……

Of course no one is around me.  Next thought is that I am going to die right there on the trail 5 miles from the finish line and on Mothers Day.

BTW…..I am an ER nurse!

I look around me and see a wood fence.  So I ran over and threw my abdomen against it as hard as I could.  Still choking!  So I do it again and again.  Upon my fourth time, the offending Skittle came shooting out of my mouth.  Low and behold, I could breath!

Another life saved…..

After taking a couple of minutes to recover, I finished the last 5 miles.  Boy did I have a story to tell.  My husband in addition to my ER coworkers were dying when I told them.

The icing on the cake was I had a great run!  Also, no stops at the port a potty were required.  I consider that a win!

Total time on the 13.2 mile course was 2 hours 8 minutes and 58 seconds.  That works out to an average 9 minute and 48 second pace per mile.  Even faster if you subtract the time I had stopped to choke, save my self, recover and then finish the race.  AWESOME!

One of my dreams is to run in the Boston Marathon.  Improving this pace slightly put my training in line to hopefully qualify in the next few races if all continued as planned.  I’m 45, so my qualifying time is not as fast as others.

My next full marathon was to be the Seattle Rock and Roll in June 2018 and that was to be followed by The Tunnel Light Marathon.  Little did I know, my future was bleak….

However, lesson learned.  No more hard candy on runs!

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Swimming is no joke!

Almost 12 weeks on crutches and couch patrol is a very long time.  Especially if you are use to going out for a run 5 times per week.  My mind and body got restless and there was no relief from that restlessness in sight.  Finally 6 weeks after my hip pinning surgery, my surgeon gave me the permission to start swimming.

I ran long distances and was in pretty good shape plus I was on both the swim and diving team in high school so I figured swimming would be no great challenge.  Granted I graduated high school in 1991 and had just had surgery to fix my broken hip……..

In usual Kerrie fashion, I figured if I was going to become a swimmer (again), then I was going to do this right.  So, off I went to purchase my speedo, swim cap and goggles.

Boy was I in for a surprise.  I forgot what putting a speedo on was like, especially over a healing broken hip with a healing surgical incision.  First off….a correctly fitting speedo is tight.  It literally is like trying to sausage your body into something 5 sizes to small.  I literally broke into tears trying to pull that thing up over my hip.

Speedo’s are not flattering.  I literally felt more exposed in the speedo than in my bikini. My boobs were flattened down and hung almost to my stomach as there is no support built into a speedo.  I breast fed my daughter for 15 months so trust me, I need support. The hips are extremely high cut and the swim suit is tight.  The reason speedo’s are built this way is to reduce the drag in the water.

Later that night, I headed off to the gym to get my first swim on.  Upon walking into the gym, I was greeted by a sign that read “pool closed for repairs.”  Enter the disappointment….

Upon further query, the staff explained that a member had thrown up in the pool just minutes before I arrived.  All I could imagine was getting there a few minutes earlier and swimming through vomit.  YUCK!

After a few days wait, I headed back to the gym to take on swimming.  I jumped into the pool, donned my swim cap and goggles and took off swimming freestyle.  Well, I made it 2 laps and literally thought I was going to die!  My heart was pounding and I was out of breath.  That day I thought I would swim for 1 hour and barely made it 30 minutes.

As out of shape as I felt, I also felt amazing.  It felt so good to have my heart pumping again and to feel out of breath.  My leg is so heavy and stiff.  While I was swimming, it felt weightless and moving it felt easy!  I have not felt that way since I injured it on June 10, 2018.  I could not wait to go swimming again.

When I was running, I had to have music playing to help me run.  Hours were spent crafting the perfect playlists.  I have had the misfortune of my headphones running out of battery while running and that is awful.  My stride, motivation and drive would suffer without music.

However, with swimming that is not the case.  I look forward to the calmness and quietness the pool brings.  The world really does fade away while swimming.  That is something I never felt while running.  Running is amazing, but you are always paying attention to your environment and safety.

Now I go to the pool and swim 3-4 days per week.  In addition, I am now able to swim for an hour and could possibly even go longer.  I feel stronger and more athletic every time I go swimming and it feels amazing.

The other plus is my good friend Janine also swims with me.  When I was running, I was a solo runner and preferred it that way.  Now I look forward to meeting my friend at the pool and our well deserved latte’s after our workout.

I think I will continue swimming even when I am able to run again.  Perhaps a Triathlon is in my future!

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Wait! You are not going to run again are you?!

I get asked if I am going to ever run again quite often.  My response to this question is always “yes I am definitely going to run again.”  The next question asked is aren’t you scared your going to get hurt again?

My running career has brought me more than my fair share of injury.  Some of them were definitely my fault and others just happened because I run.  Injury and running seem to go hand in hand.

Running injuries seem to unite the running community.  Most runners you meet are battling one running injury or another.  If you don’t believe me, just check out any running group on Facebook.  The most common posts are related to running injury and soliciting advice on how to keep running through the injury.  We all pay attention to each other limps, KT Tape application, stories and advice.  It is a commonality most runners share.

I have waged a war against shin splints, tendonitis, blisters, lost toe nails, sciatica, falls, abrasions, bursitis, muscle pulls and the coupe de gras femoral neck fracture.  Each of these injuries are a new chapter in my running novel.  The final chapter will hopefully end with me running in Boston one day.

I know, that sounds odd doesn’t it?!  I know you are thinking “why not just pick up another sport?  Clearly running is not for you.”

For most runners, running is not just a sport…. It’s a way of life.  You put everything you have into running.  It is rare to have a conversation that does not reference running.  Running is woven into the fibers of your identity.  A shopping trip for new cloths always turns into a cute new running outfit.

Running shoes are also an obsession.  After all, they say a good pair of running shoes will help prevent injury.  Once I started to become plagued by shin splints, I was always checking out new running shoes.  I thought “if I can just get into the right running shoes, my shin splints will go away.”

Ultimately, I ended up in an almost zero drop running shoe and I think this shoe helped contribute to my femoral neck fracture.  I spent hours researching running shoes and was convinced that a zero drop shoe would fix most of my running injuries.  So off I went to the running store, jumped on the treadmill, had my gait analyzed and picked my new shoes.

Little did I know I was actually increasing the strain on my hip when I took away the majority of the padding of my running shoe. I went from a 12 mm drop to a 4 mm drop shoe. I guess this is why the minimalist shoes are so controversial.  This is not saying they are bad and on the right person I am sure they are awesome.  For me, not so much.  Ultimately, I realized that running shoes are padded for a reason.

That’s the thing though….Runners are always trying to keep running.  In order to keep running, you have to minimize the injury risk.  How do you do this?  This is the million dollar question to a runner.

For me running is more than just a love (and sometimes hate) for the sport.  It is hard, so very hard.  You have to overcome barriers placed by both your body and your mind.  Your body and mind will both scream at you to stop and you need to find the inner strength to keep going.

During a long run, I could think clearly, work out anger and sadness, de-stress, celebrate victories and just enjoy the world. I felt like I came home a better and stronger person after each run.  “A run has never returned me the same.  I go, I grow.” – Kristin Armstrong

So to answer the question… YES!  I will run again one day.  I will add the femoral neck fracture to the list of my other injuries and the injuries to come.  I won the lottery as far as injuries go so the future injures can’t be as bad as this one… Right?

 

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Words With Friends

After my surgery, I was admitted to the hospital.  My dad met me in my hospital room and patiently sat at my bedside for the duration of my hospital stay that day.  As anyone would, he quickly became bored.  After all, watching someone doze in and out of consciousness due to pain medications has to be about as fun as watching paint dry on a wall.

Once I became a little more awake and alert, I asked my dad if he has ever played Words With Friends.  To my astonishment, he didn’t even know what it was.  Who in this day doesn’t play Words With Friends?!  I’ll tell you who, my dad….

After I gave him some grief about not knowing what Words With Friends is, I convinced him to download the app.  I told him that first off it is fun, but it also helps keep you connected to people.  So, he downloaded Words With Friends and his addiction began.

I gave him a brief tutorial and we then spent the next several hours playing Words With Friends.  He quickly learned I am a Words With Friends ninja and his losing streak began.  It’s been 2 1/2 months since my surgery and I think he has won one game.  My step mother Susan says I created a Words With Friends monster that day.

In the days and weeks after my surgery, I played Words With Friends tirelessly with my dad.  Eventually my sister and step mother also joined in.  Before I knew it, I had 3 games going at one time with my dad in addition to a game with my sister, step mother and husband.

Recovery from hip pinning surgery is no joke.  The pain was incredible and the thought of moving my leg made me want to cry.  Everything was hard from getting dressed, bathing and even going to the bathroom.  All I wanted to do was just lay on the couch, take my pain medication and sleep, sleep, sleep.

Sleeping is also incredibly difficult.  I am not a back sleeper, but this surgery made me one.  My left femoral neck was broken and I was unable to tolerate sleeping on my right side because it put to much tension through my left hip.  There was no option to sleep on my left side because it was to sore from the surgery.

Now I still can’t sleep on my left side because my hip is still very sore and I can feel the screw heads with any pressure on my hip.  So on my back I sleep with a pillow under my left leg and hip.  If I’m lucky, I can sleep a few hours on my right side with pillows between my legs supporting my left leg.  Needless to say, I don’t sleep through the night at all!  I really miss sleep!

Playing Words With Friends helped distract me from the pain I was and am still going through.  When wide awake in the middle of the night I always have a play waiting for me.  At physical therapy during the painful scar massage and muscle work, I always have a play waiting.

In all actuality, it’s not truly Words With Friends that deserves all the credit.  My husband, dad, step mother and sister have made my recovery that much easier by playing me in Words With Friends.  I don’t think they know what those games actually did and still do for me.

This is not to discount any of the other help I received from my mom, step dad, my other sister or my friends.  They all have their blog posts coming too.  This is just a shout out to my Words With Friends buddies and a thank you.

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A Padded Toilet Seat and a Disabled Parking Pass

There are a few things I thought would occur during my 45th year of life and a padded toilet seat and disable parking pass were not any of those.  However, both of them occurred and are extremely necessary.

Before my injury, I considered myself pretty physically fit.  A normal run was at least 8 miles and I was doing that 5 days per week.  On the days I wasn’t pounding the pavement, I was pool running.  When at work, I was running the stairs for 5 minutes at a time every hour.  Crushing my movement goal on my apple watch was a daily occurrance.

As physically fit as I considered myself, it was no match for crutches.  While using crutches, you are literally exhausted all the time because you are using upper body muscles that get neglected.  In addition, the palms of your hands have permanent bruises on them making it difficult to actually use the crutches.

This is where the disable parking pass saves your ass.  No more parking at the end of the parking lot and stopping every few feet to re adjust your hands and rest for a few moments.  That long walk from the far reaches of the Costco parking lot is a thing of the past.  Also, the parking spots are much larger which is a bonus when you are trying to swing a bad leg and crutches out of your car.

I was very aware of the hardware in my hip from the moment I awoke after surgery.  My hip had an incision, bandage, stiffness and pain plus you can actually feel the hardware in your bone.  Weird, I know!  I became even more aware of my hardware the first time I sat down on the toilet seat.  The inside rim of the toilet seat just happens to sit right where the screw heads are in my hip.

After I complained to my husband about this for several days, he suggested we go buy a padded toilet seat.  So after we went out to breakfast, off we went to Fred Meyers.  Initially we looked in the plumbing section where the other toilet seats are located with no luck.  Then my husband suggested we check the geriatric section and of coarse there they sat, the padded toilet seats.

The relief was immediate!  Sitting on the toilet seat was no longer a painful event.  My husband is however not a fan of the padded toilet seat.  He says it makes him think of his grandmothers house.  In addition he also thinks the toilet seat is warm and feels as if someone was just sitting on it taking care of business.  As it turns out, he prefers a cold toilet seat.  Fiona, my daughter, is a huge fan and can often be seen sitting on the throne with the padded toilet seat.

Anyway, its the small victories.  For me, one of those victories came in the form of a padded toilet seat.