Monday, March 25, 2013

Trying Lots of Different Paths

"To get to the finish line, you'll have to try
lots of different paths."
Ambry Burfoot

Recently this quote took on a new meaning for me. I, my dear friends, have had to sit down and figure out some new paths for myself to get my injured little body across that finish line May 4th. As you may have previously read I was able to run and enjoy my first half marathon. That was back in January. You may have also read about my injury which caused me to drop out of the Foam Fest. 

Well, I am still healing from that same injury. Last week I had my final boo boo assessment and I was told to let it continue to heal and don't run until it quits hurting. I asked him about how much longer that might be. He said that when it quits hurting it quits hurting. In a sick way that reminded me of the joke "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." Doctor replies "Then stop doing that!".

Great for plantar fasciitis.
So exactly what can I do to train for a race coming up in 40 days? Well, I am cleared to bike, swim, yoga, use my Foot Rocker, and practice meditating until I can levitate across the finish line. But I have absolutely no idea when I can run before the race. So down a different path of training I must go. Cross training and faux running here I come! 

Speedo Hydro Resistant Jog Belt
"Captain Jack"
First, I called up my local Therapeutic Recreation Center pool and asked if I could water jog after work there. I figure if anyone would be up for rehabilitating someone it would be a place set up for the injured. They open up on Monday and I am more than welcome to water jog. They even said I could borrow a flotation belt. But because I will be getting well acquainted with the belt I decided to purchase one of my own. I have named it "Captain Jack". That way I can say "Captain Jack and I have a date at the pool today." So, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays we will be getting in my training miles at the pool until it doesn't hurt to jog. Plus, I am trying to train myself to land midfoot and not heel strike.

I also keep reading about how important strengthening your core can be. Well, this here gal has plenty of workouts to choose from. My choice for the next 40 days will be the muscle building non-impact workouts from TurboFire. No, I am not a Beach Body coach nor am I endorsing the product. It is a fun workout for those who are not in the best of me at this point. I was in pretty good shape from doing P90X and Turbofire about a year ago but then a ton of things happened and I stopped cross training and strictly ran. Plus, I used food as a comforter and BLAM! Stay Puft Marshmallow Tina. I know the weight gain contributed to my getting injured. Now, just when I wanted to get fit again I can't do any high impact exercise. But I can pick the best workouts from my current library.

90 calorie chocolate pudding
cups are tucked away in there!
I am also going to add in the biking. Slow to begin with. My dad -- who is retired-- has volunteered to take me and my bike to work once a week. Then I can bike the 6 miles home. Isn't he great? And last but not least I am going back to eating healthy and trying my best not to use food as a comforter. I have gotten rid of all my favorite comfort foods in the house and have replaced them with healthy alternatives. I just have to retrain my cravings just like I am having to retrain my running stride. And I passed a test today. 

My car is in the shop and I am going to have to shell out $1200 dollars. Normally this kind of news would have me reaching for a brownie box and whipping up a batch to take away my blues. Today, I just made my dinner, ate it, and had a 90 calorie pudding cup to take away the bad mood blues chocolate fix. If chocolate works to take away the blahs after a dementor comes near I figure a low cal chocolate pudding cup will work to take away the food crutch. It did. Soon I hope to be able to just lace up my shoes and go running to kill the stress.

Well, my fellow injured and not injured runners... will my plan work and get me ready for The Expedition Everest Challenge in 40 days? Or will my team mate have to give me a piggy back ride across the finish line? I think I can do this with a little determination and a huge amount of patience with a slow progression towards healing while training. Plus, I know you guys will help keep me on track and give me encouragement and advise as needed. With that combination I am sure to cross that finish line!

Water jogging my way to victory,

Monday, March 18, 2013

FOAM FEST February 2013... Being An Athletic Supporter....

Our Foam Fest Team Name and Logo
How many of you have looked forward to a race for a few months and then had to bow out due to an injury? Yeah, it doth sucketh. The number one reason I was looking forward to this one was because it was going to be my first race with my nephew. This was his 17th birthday present from me...his favorite aunt. The number two reason was it just looked awesome. How often do you get to act like a five year old again? But I found myself sidelined with a heel injury. 

MY new team logo for MY shirt.
My heel started killing me about two days after the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Within two weeks (three days before the Foam Fest) I was sitting in a podiatrist office hearing the bad news. Achilles tendon in a rare spot, bursitis, bone bruise, and pre-bone spur. The cure? Three to four weeks in a boot and then heel lifts that would gradually decrease in height. Good news was it was treatable without surgery or voodoo witch doctoring. I was also assured I should be good to go for the Everest Expedition Challenge with plenty of time to train. Bad news...I was out of the Foam Fest.

I am basically being pushed forward
a little and trying not  to fall over.
I am the lime green one with
the freaking huge boot. 
I was sad but I was thankful that nothing had to be operated on. I was also thankful that I had friends who cared more about me healing than missing out on a race. I decided I wasn't going to miss out on everything though. I asked my niece Caitlin to run with her brother in my place. I would go to support my kinfolk and my friends. I also asked my friend Heather to keep an eye on my niece and nephew for me during the race. So Gimpy (me) was going to the races with her team "Rollin' with my Foamies". I wrapped my boot in Cerran Wrap and headed down to Miami. 

Look Auntie T! Foam.
TIP #1... Have something to do while they run.
 This was my first experience being a supporter and not a racer. I never understood how my family didn't get bored just standing around at a race waiting for a glimpse of me wogging by. But now I was in on the secret. Being a supporter is actually kind of fun if you have a job to do! My job was official team photographer.If I could find a position on the course (where I wouldn't be in the way of the official course photographers) then I would stand there and take photos. Because you are dedicated to taking photos of just one group you can get some really great shots! After seeing my photos after the race my friends didn't feel the need to buy any of the official race photos. So snap away if you aren't in the way!
Time to familiarize themselves with the
texture of the foam....or just play with it.

Before the race began my team decided to play with foam left behind from the start of a wave before theirs. I had a blast just watching them play around with it while I snapped photos. These are the kinds of moments the official photographers ignore. The foam had a really weird texture and didn't leave your hands wet like bathtub bubbles will. I thought to myself that maybe they wouldn't get all that wet but they would get muddy. I thought wrong.

A FOAM starting line!
And they're off!
Soon it was time for them to line up for the race. The start line slowly began to fill up with foam and the crowd began to jostle for position. My team became more giggly and smiley as the foam piled up. To be honest I did too. It was pretty cool. 3...2...1...GO! Through the foam they ran and were soon out of sight. Now it was my turn to race. Unfortunately I had about three quarters a mile to walk/hike to get to the giant slide towards the end of the race. I gimped along as fast as I could. Up a hill, then down a hill, then up a hill, then down a really dangerous gravel hill, then across a field, and then I was at the slide. I noticed the wooden walls were not too far away (about a quarter mile) across the field. Eh, I came this far why not go over there. Besides, I knew I would have enough time to gimp back to the slide because of the wait time to slide down. So I gimped my way over to the wall.

TIP #2... Cheer for other runners.
Here come my Foamies!
As you already know by now I love to high five race supporters and volunteers while I run by in my races. It gives me a boost of energy and it is downright fun to do. So I decided why not do that here? Except this time I would cheer for them while I sat on the ground. The hike over there killed my foot which made standing difficult. Too much too soon. So, I cheered and called out "I love your costume!" or "You got it!". But the best example of a support team I saw that day was a group of racers.

Up and over Foamies!
You can do it!
I knew that the Foam Fest supported Special Olympics but I was surprised when I saw a group come racing down the road. Talk about awesome people! I wish they would come cheer for us at Disney races or better yet compete in them with us. You should have heard them cheering each other on. And they stuck together as a team. They all patiently waited for the last one in their group to make it over the wall. Then they hugged, patted each other on the back, and took off towards the next obstacle before the giant slide. I kind of wish I had taken a picture to make an inspirational poster. Made me smile. 

But wait! Is that the neon colors of my Foamies racing towards me? YES! First my friends Amanda and Lara came racing up and over the wall. Apparently they decided to race each other. About ten minutes later I saw Michael come running towards me with Caitlin not far behind him. Up and over they went. About two minutes later my friend Heather and the two other members of our team came trotting towards the wall. Up and over. 

Gimp, gimp, gimp...over to the slide I went. Lucky for me there was one foam obstacle before the slide for them to conquer. This plus the wait in line gave me enough time to make it over to the giant slide. And I mean giant! 40 feet tall! I was proud of them all. Especially of my nephew Mikey because he is afraid of heights. Look at the picture! They look like ants up there! One by one (except for Heather's friend Robin who was also afraid of heights) came sliding towards the water. Heather (as seen in the picture) was the only one to actually splash into the water. The rest slowed themselves down and walked off of the ramp. It was so much fun to watch and take pictures. 

Michael finishing his first race!
And off they went! I knew I didn't have very long to get to the finish line. At least not with my foot starting to hurt. But dang it, I was determined to get there before they did! I personally think I should have gotten a medal for my epic journey back to that finish line. Remember that gravel hill I talked about climbing down? Guess what I had to do on the way back? That's right...climb back up. After that I thought I would be smart and cut across a field rather than stick to the road. Seriously folks. You should have seen it. Comedy of errors and volunteers on atvs watched as they passed me by. But that is okay. What doesn't kill you today makes you wish for death tomorrow.

The four horseman of the Apocalypse?
Naw, they just smell like horses.
I made it back in time to see Michael the mud monster come racing towards the finish foam. I was proud of him and he was too. Then I saw a sight that made my heart happy. My friend Heather made sure Caitlin wasn't left racing by herself. With the smell of horse pooh scented mud in their nostrils they came racing for the finish foam. One by one they crawled through the foam trying to get clean but grinning ear to ear. It was awesome.

You guys smell like a barn!

We found Lara and Amanda and had their foamie team picture taken as a group. In my heart I wish I could have run with them but I knew I had done the correct thing for me and my gimpy foot. I wanted to heal and be able to run another day. And I will. Meanwhile, I was reminded yet again of a fundamental truth. There is joy in serving others, there is joy in sharing other's happiness, and there is joy in simply being together doing something silly.

So, if you are sidelined with an injury might I suggest volunteering? I guarantee you will have a greater appreciation of those who cheer you on at your own races. And I know they will thank you for it. When you finally do recover go out and run a race or two where the joy is in the silliness within the race and not the personal record at the finish line. You'll wonder why you hadn't done it sooner.

Until next time...