Friday, April 27, 2012

My Amazing Life

This afternoon I was sitting in my own stank in my pjs working at my computer because I was (am) a good bit behind on writing schedules for next week... regardless, I was intermittently checking FB when interestingly I got a message from Elizabeth Weil asking a question about run/marathon training and an injury she's currently dealing with. She was gracious and said I didn't have to answer if I didn't want but I was like, Um okay this is ELIZABETH WEIL* of course I am going to answer. I was simply flattered by the fact that she would even ask me so of course I wrote what I thought was a fairly thoughtful and objective informational answer to her and then got back to work.

Later she wrote back and thanked me for the info and I told her that I was happy to answer her questions because I thought she was a superstar. (I know I'm such a kiss-ass but I wasn't kidding I really think that- that woman writes awesome books. AND she was on Oprah.). She wrote back and said "The feeling is mutual. Your life sounds amazing!"

Lol. So this is what prompted this blog post. Want to know what I was doing when I heard the little beep of that message coming through? I was looking under my kitchen sink to find out if I could identify the animal that had obviously died under there (I'd finally isolated the nasty smell I'd been experiencing all day it was indeed not my armpits). I stopped search for the dead mouse for a minute to read the message I heard beep through and was like YES. THIS *is* indeed AMAZING. Now WHERE is that dead mouse? OMG that smell is so rank.

So that got me to thinking about how amazing my life was this afternoon. In no particular order, here's what I did:

~I peeled elmo stickers off the bathroom countertop.

~I put my husbands dirty soccer socks in the laundry pile.

~I searched everywhere for my long lost tool to change the battery on my powertap hub.

~I emptied the dishwasher.

~I loaded the dishwasher with all the dishes that were filling the entire kitchen sink and covering the counter.

~I made dinner.

~I fed myself and Moana while my husband was out playing Friday night pickup soccer with his friends.

~I started a load of laundry.

~I cleaned the kitchen b/c I didn't want the two athletes/friends coming over tomorrow morning to ride see what a disaster my house actually normally is.

~I took a shower with Moana (what can I say I'm efficient we both needed to get clean) and got her ready for bed.

That does sound amazing, doesn't it? I mean, it *is* Friday night after all. Lol. I guess when you take into consideration I did all that in ~2 evening hours after getting up at 5AM to go swim/run and then worked non-stop all day long eating lunch at my desk and picking up yet another new athlete today (I keep telling myself I'm going to stop taking new athletes but then I get a referral and he/she sounds super cool so I'm like I can take just one more), it is kind of amazing but probably not in the way Elizabeth Weil meant amazing...

Anyway, I need to go and see if I can figure out how to get new batteries into my PowerTap before tomorrow morning b/c I am rolling at 6:45 tomorrow morning with two of my local super star athletes on a 4 hour Honu training brick. And the laundry needs to be sorted.

*Briefly... I should note that I had the chance to meet Elizabeth Weil in Kona... she was interviewing athletes there for an article in Outside Magazine... I guess just trying to get a feel for how our heads work or whatever...  funny though I was sitting there on the pier chatting with her and had no idea it was ELIZABETH WEIL I was talking to (that's how far up our own asses our heads are during Kona race week we pay attention to nothing/no one but ourselves) and then months later when I read the article in Outside Magazine I was like OMG THAT WAS ELIZABETH WEIL I WAS TALKING TO (finally put two and two together)... Maybe it as good I didn't know though b/c I probably would have been all tongue tied when I was talking to her... instead I was totally just my amazing  myself... Lol.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I Saw The Light!

You know those people who use physiology phrases like 'kinetic chain' and 'glutes firing correctly' and 'activate your psoas'? Yeah, well, I will admit that I would hear those phrases and briefly wonder if they were onto something... and then my mind would wander and I would start to hear 'psoas blah blah glute blah activation blah'... and then I would put my run shoes on and head out the door for another 20 miler.

Enter this recurring calf injury and this time around I'm finally (!!) taking the stance that something is not right with something along that mysterious kinetic chain of mine and since I don't really know what the hell the kinetic chain is I have sought out the help of local professionals who do. I've been poked with needles and brutalized with that graston tool and had my knots forcibly removed via Active Release Therapy... I've used golf balls and trigger point balls and tennis balls and finally think I've pretty much got that calf to stop being so pissed off. But now I'd like to keep it that way... so I sought out the help of yet another local professional who was highly recommended by several of my athlete friends here...

Talking with Anica on the phone the other day she was telling me about how when something along that mysterious kinetic chain of ours is not working as it should, other muscles jump in and compensate... They end up doing jobs that are not really theirs to do... She described muscles as each having their own personality types... some are lazy and won't step up to do their job unless they are forced to by the master brain... while others, like the quads and IT Band, are like big bullies and will step in and work in capacities they're not meant to- but they can so even though the job might not get done as efficiently, it gets done. Some muscles, like our calves, will take on jobs that aren't theirs and do them without complaint for quite some time until they finally just get PISSED and go on strike by just completely shutting down. I'm not surprised that my calves are my personal weak spot... my personality is similar to theirs... I do jobs that aren't really mine to do (I pick up the slack when others don't do it) and just keep my mouth shut about how pissed off I am about it all and then one day just blow up and LOSE IT at something that seems totally trivial.

Anyway, with that explanation over the phone I was really looking forward to meeting with Anica this morning. Our time together was awesome. First of all she is just super cool and is the type of person who just truly wants you to function at your best. And while obviously she is not the only professional who understands this stuff, in my experience she has been the best at teaching it. It seemed like her goal today was not simply to fix me, but to teach me how to keep my body functioning the way it was meant to function. That, and she's also really obsessed with butt muscles. She showed me how to access some little butt muscles that typically are just slackers... but now I have the tools to shout at them "HEY BUTT MUSCLES!! WAKE UP!! We're going out to play and you need to work today so those calf muscles of mine stay happy..."

So now I'm thinking about how I can work with Anica going forward... thinking about putting together a small clinic for some of my local athletes so she can pass on the gems she taught me today. I've now got a little 10' warm up routine to go through each day before I go run that should light up my kinetic chain like a lightbulb and keep me functioning correctly. I'll let you know if it worked at the Honu finish line! :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chicken Nuggets Aren't Food

Part of our conversation at dinner tonight...

Moana: "Are these chicken nuggets?"

Me: "No. It's mahi mahi. Moana, where have you seen chicken nuggets?" (I'm wracking my brain trying to remember the last time I've even seen a chicken nugget? It's been at least 8 years I'd think?)

Moana: <crickets>

Me: "Have you ever eaten a chicken nugget?"

Moana: "No."

Me: "Good. We don't like chicken nuggets." (I'm indoctrinating my daughter.)

Scott: "Chicken nuggets are yucky. Chicken nuggets aren't food." (In good news, Scott and I think alike.)

Moana: "But Kekoa likes chicken nuggets!"

Ah ha! So that's where she's seen chicken nuggets. Pre-school lunch. And now I can just picture the conversation that's going to occur next time Moana is at school and some kid opens his lunch box and pulls out chicken nuggets... Moana is going to say something like My mommy says chicken nuggets are yucky! Lol. And the teachers are all going to roll their eyes and remember that Moana has the crazy mommy who comes to pick her up with that weird pink tape on her calf.

I used the leftover brown sticky rice tonight to make rice cakes with scrambled eggs and chicken (real chicken!) from the Feed Zone cookbook (awesome!) so that's what Moana is going to pull out of her lunch box tomorrow. She's probably the one who gets made fun of at school. Today she had steamed beets and zucchini along with the leftover turkey shepherds pie (again Feed Zone) I made last night. And strawberries for dessert. She ate it all!

Moana's school pictures came in today... this is the spring version. I bought the fall pictures and wasn't going to spend more money on spring pictures too but those photo companies have a smart game plan. I mean, they take these super cute pictures of your kid and then print them out for you... how in the world was I going to opt out of buying this one? I'm a sucker. But she is darn cute if I say so myself. ;)


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stability

I know you have all seen and read about the importance of core strength and hip stability and functional movement exercises that not only work to keep us injury free but also increase our economy and efficiency when swimming biking and running... That info is everywhere these days. Yet I would guess that I am not alone when I admit that for years I saw examples of these simple little exercises and thought to myself 'whatever'... Like how could a basic little movement like that really help my running??

Enter recent calf injury and three professionals who all agreed that my lack of hip strength and stability was playing a part in my situation and guess who has become a believer in these basic little movements?

Moana will demonstrate a couple of the moves I've been doing. They really are little copy cats, aren't they?
video

I was pretty impressed with this one... this is not easy and she just started doing it all on her own after watching me.
video

I also caught her rolling her calf out with the golf ball I found at the beach. No video of that one but it was pretty funny to watch her concentrate and then every once in a while just sort of moan out loud.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pain

I just finished rolling out my ass again. I'm obsessed with rolling my calves and feet and hamstrings and glutes and quads... My new philosophy... If you can roll it out, why wouldn't you? 

I guess in the past I have opted to skip all this rolling because, well, it hurts. I was just on my living room floor with a tennis ball under my ass and I had this horrible grimace on my face and Scott was like WHAT are you doing?? And I know it sounds crazy but there's this weird part of me that is totally embracing the pain I feel when I find yet another tight spot somewhere. There are some spots in my upper hamstring(s) that make me go YIKES. At this point I am 100% convinced that the hamstring/glute/hip spots are directly related to the calf pain. Pretty much the only time my calf feels perfect is when my hamstring feels good and loose.

Yesterday I had another ART appt. My ART guy is getting to know me better and has apparently decided that he needs to be (and can be) more aggressive in getting after my tight spots. Clearly I am willing to put up with whatever pain necessary so I can go out and put myself through more pain... the ithurtssogood good pain of swimbikerun... So Erik got out that graston tool thing at the end of my appt. Here's a little video of one doctor using a graston tool on an achilles tendon. Doesn't look that bad, huh? Yesterday Erik had me loading my soleus by standing on just the one leg and going through the running motion while he used that tool and dug right into my fascia... It was searingly painful. He said he could hear the tissue cracking though so I guess there was some scar tissue in there that maybe has now been broken up and is healing? He warned me that for sure I would be bruised but then he put more Kinesio tape on it (blue this time- Moana put in a request for purple next time) so I can't see the bruises. I asked him if I could run today and he said if I felt like it I could.

And I felt like it! So I did. It's definitely not perfect but it's better and didn't give me any problems while I was running so that was awesome. I did feel pain while I was biking and running today... but it was the good kind of pain... the kind of pain you feel through your whole body when you're reaching and digging and trying to make your garmin display the numbers you want to see... I was happy with the numbers I saw today. :) 6 weeks til Honu!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Balls Are The Bomb!

It finally got hot in Hawaii! I swear we've had such cool weather this winter and I have just been waiting for it to feel hot. Got that today. I do think we have to double our water intake on long workouts when it goes from 73 to 83 degrees. I am sitting here feeling like I am radiating heat after a 4+ hour brick. Yes. I said BRICK. :)

So I rode by myself today... had some power goals I wanted to hit for long intervals and those don't involve drafting... My typical ride along the coast. I get to look at the ocean pretty much the whole way.

It was a fairly flat 75 miles today and my goal was no big efforts but no real easy riding either... Interesting how much harder it becomes to hold power after you've been doing it for an hour+ with no real coasting or relaxing. This was good race prep today because I hardly coasted at all. Aero bars all the way baby.
If you know how to read these graphs you can see that I totally started DYING like 3/4 of the way through... strong headwind, shitty roads... I was just over it and swearing at myself (out loud). It was bad. I stopped at a beach park to fill my bottle and regroup. I took a powergel and had a nice little chat with myself then got back on it and hit another 30' interval which was my strongest of the day. Powergels really do give you power!

Anyway, ready for the best part? Afterward I ran 3 miles! Yep. I just had a sneaky suspicion that I would be able to run today... and I was right! I've been diligent about rehab not only on my calf but on my foot and my hamstring and my glute and my IT band and my quad... and not just the left side but the right side too. Basically I just assumed that every muscle from my belly button down was screwed up somehow so worked them all and ta dah! My calf is not screaming at me today. I credit these sadistic little balls- the little wooden one is a game piece to one of Moana's toys and if you're a triathlete you're likely familiar with the striped one.
I don't think I'm totally out of the woods yet with this injury thing but I'm confident that I am headed in the right direction... Amazing what a little 3 mile run can do for one's mood though.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Trying Not To Lose It

I'm trying not to lose it. My calf felt perfect yesterday morning and I was told to go ahead and try running to see if it was indeed better... and it seemed like it was! It was glorious for ~2 miles and then I felt a little twinge... but it wasn't terrible so I kept going but 2 miles later when I got home it was clear that my whole lower calf had tied itself in a knot again. Blah.

So I am coming out of denial and it is occurring to me that this calf thing is going to be more of a long term real chronic issue than I originally anticipated it would be. Now what to do??? My biggest frustration really is that I don't really understand what the real issue is... and that Dr Erik is not my best friend and neighbor who I can pop over and see for free every day (that would be ideal at this point- I'm pretty sure he's my best hope at getting to the bottom of this). Of course I have turned to Dr Google and have come across this idea that maybe my flexor digitorum longus is involved... That makes sense to me for a few reasons... first b/c when the pain comes it is worst when I use my four little toes to grip the ground... and secondly b/c Dr. Erik right away decided that my hips were involved as well and this blog mentions that the two may indeed be connected (though its all connected, right??) So anyway I have incorporated some exercises I found into my new routine of a gazillion PT exercises I've come up with so fix my hips and core and glutes and calves and hamstring, etc.

So then the other question becomes how the heck do I hold on to some of that fitness I built over the winter?? I've come up with a plan of course and it involves #1 trying not to gain any weight and #2 lots of quality time spent on that elliptical machine at the gym. I went today and have to say, afternoon talk show television is ridiculous. Seriously. I don't watch a ton of TV to start with (and never afternoon talk shows) but I saw some today while I was at the gym about those nutso women who are just obsessed with Botox and whatever other surgeries to lift this and that... I just could not relate to that at all. Don't they have anything else to do? Then Anderson Cooper has a talk show (really? I had no idea??) and he had some women on there who are obsessed with these life-like dolls of infants/babies... Creepy. And weird that Anderson Cooper would stoop to hosting a show like that? I thought he was a news guy, no? Anyway, after an hour of intervals on the elliptical machine I had created a little river underneath myself that I wasn't even sure how to clean up? I mean, I get wiping the machine down and all but what do you do about the river underneath it? That floor is gross I'm not using my personal towel but it felt weird to just walk away? And then in the locker room I'm sure I totally offended some people as I was wringing out my socks and shorts into the trash can... ok gross but seriously they were dripping so I didn't want to just throw them in my bag like that? At home after a run I can wring my clothes out into my sink and no one watches so I never really considered this before... Clearly I'm going to have to come up with a better routine to manage my sweat at the gym b/c that river I created today will not be the only one I create over the next few weeks. How do you gym rats do it?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bring On The Bruises

You know it's totally true that I have felt less inspired to blog this past week and that has been 100% influenced by this calf "situation" I've had going on. It's like when I can't run I feel like I am not even 'whole'... so while I've had some decent swims lately (4x/week swimming is totally the key for me if I want to feel good in the water) and some incredible bike rides (4-6 rides/week = escalating power numbers that have been super fun to hit), they just feel empty when I can't run. Go figure.

I have heard some people who know things about PT say that you don't have to have someone totally wrench on a muscle to get it to loosen up... and maybe that is true. BUT, in my personal experience, the professionals who have tried to be careful and avoid bruising me or simply don't believe in working the muscle too hard have left me with lingering trigger points that have continued to cause debilitating pain when I try to run. On the other hand, the guy who fixed me when this happened last year sent me away from his office with 3 bruises and I compared my experience there with going through labor (and I had Moana without drugs)... but then I ran 17 miles the next day and didn't have another calf situation for ~14 months. So I guess you could say I was craving some bruises again this time around. Pleeeease. Someone just give me a damn bruise.

This afternoon I finally got in to see the guy who fixed me last year- Erik at Diamond Head Chiropractic... this guy knows Ironman and he knows Ironman athletes and what we do to ourselves. I told him today that I needed him to beat my calf into submission. And he did that. It was incredibly painful. But I grit my teeth and grabbed onto that table for dear life and welcomed the pain because I knew that he knew what he was doing. I don't actually know if I have any bruising because I have this pretty tape on my calf now.
Moana of course couldn't take her eyes off it and thinks it is the coolest thing ever because it is pink. My husband didn't even notice for at least an hour after he got home from work. I am just stoked that I can put weight on my forefoot and toes without feeling any shooting pain up my soleus. Mama might just get to run tomorrow! :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Kona IronWomen Camp!

Ok IronWomen... this one's for you!

I had so much fun putting on that training camp in Scottsdale last month that I decided to go ahead and do another one this summer. This one is for women only. It's going to be Thursday, June 28- Monday, July 2 in Kona. I've rented a big house right off Ali'i Dr (running distance to the pier... we can run/ocean swim/run every day!) so we can all stay together and spend five days escaping our husbands and kids training and talking and bonding like only IronWomen can!

$750 covers 4 nights in the house as well as transportation to/from the airport and most of your food (I'll stock the house and we'll eat in a lot). Plan on swim/bike/running your brains out, learning a little something about training/racing, and making some awesome new friends along the way. :)

Looks like I've got 2 spots open so if you're interested, contact me!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Team Island

It's been a while (like 2 years??) since I've swam to the Mokes. Before I had any responsibility a husband and a kid I used to swim out to the Mokes fairly regularly... at least once every few weeks. I remember my first trip out here really well. It was 2005 and I had only been living in Hawaii for less than a year and was just finally establishing a group of real friends... I don't remember exactly how it came about but somehow I ended up swimming with a couple people I didn't actually really know who became really good friends as a result of this awesome swim... none of us had done this swim before but somehow one of us must have heard about it so however it came about I do not remember... but it was a Sunday morning and we swam to the island... sat in the sand there and told each other all sorts of things one might not normally tell people they didn't really know very well... then swam back to Oahu and ended up making pancakes at my house. It was such a cool morning that we established ourself as a little group and named ourselves Team Island because the bonding had been so awesome. We were all really close friends after that... Unfortunately Team Island has since been disbanded because I went and got hitched and had a kid and Andy went and became famous and Ellen and Dana both are in the Navy and are no longer stationed in Hawaii. Rumor has it Dana is coming to visit next month so we'll have to swim out to the Island to catch up because it's been years and really, no other venue would do for the kind of catching up that will be required.

This is Lanipo beach which is where we start the swim. There are some new swimmers on Oahu these years and some of them have actually never swam to the Mokes before so somehow it came up that we should do it so we decided to gather a group to do it this morning at sunrise. Good Friday indeed. 

It's less than a mile out to that island and the one we land on is the one on the left where there's a nice sandy area that works well for sharing your innermost secrets. It's where I told Dana and Ellen that I was pregnant back in 2008. Somehow it seemed like we needed to be there for me to spill the news.

The wind was a bit chilly this morning (I think it was only 70 degrees) but the water was nice once we managed to get in.
This is like 100x more interesting than the pool.
Obligatory group shot from the island. We had a good group of 11 of us this morning plus a kayaker to give everyone the illusion that we were not shark bait safe.
There are some incredible swimmers in this group. Nalani, Roz, Nathan, Mark, me, Vicky, Aaron, Natasha, Lectie, Brian, and Steve. There were too many of us out there to have any real heart to heart talks. Need a smaller group for that kind of discussion.

It's a bit dicey getting back in because the waves are crashing from like all directions on that island but the best bet is just to sort of rip the bandaid off and go for it so off we went. Here's what Oahu looks like heading back...

Afterward we shower in style. Mark brought HOT water. He has experience.
Good Friday Indeed!

Credit for these pics goes to super swimmer Vicky West. She is a welcome addition to Oahu women's swimming!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Calf Muscles Are Like Ticking Time Bombs

So a couple weeks ago when my mom was here I was telling her how relieved I have been this year to have been able to train so consistently without even a hint of the calf issues that have plagued me in the past. It has been over a year since I had any niggles in my calf and I've run easy, hard, long, uphill, downhill, in sand, etc and no problems at all. Phew!

Then last week, out of the blue, on an easy 8 miler, my calf started getting tight in an ugly familiar way... WTF? I was jogging like 9+' pace... but the feeling was too familiar and I knew better than to try to run through it... it was the kind of escalating tightness that causes a strain or a tear if you try to run through it (been there done that... twice). So I stopped. Mid run. Tried to massage it a bit but it was pretty pissed off already and had tightened up into a stubborn knot and would.not.release.

<Insert nasty swear word here>

I walked home feeling confident that I had not torn anything and just needed to do some eccentric calf dips and trigger point massage and as soon as it released I'd be fine and back to normal. But for whatever reason when my soleus triggers, the whole damn calf triggers so I just had bumpy knots all throughout the whole calf... lateral side gastroc, medial side gastroc, soleus, posterior tibialis... pick a point, any point, and it was a mangled pissed off angry knot. Amazing how fast and out of the blue that can happen.

So I've attacked this problem with the same focus I attack training.... if there is a professional to be seen about something like this I have seen him... I've tried massage, trigger point, acupuncture, rolfing, ART, ultra-sound, graston. Some of that was just ridiculously painful... My ART guy yesterday was actually encouraging me to just go ahead and drop some F-bombs... He was getting into part of my quad and just sort of felt it and muttered "Oh this is gonna suck" and he was not kidding. I think ultimately my calf problem is not a calf problem per say but a hip instability problem that is manifesting itself as a calf problem... so now I find myself setting off on a course to first alleviate the acute problem (calf) and then go after the root problem (hips). In good news I've got some awesome professionals here on my side who know what the hell they're doing so while I'm confident I'll eventually get this fixed, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated to be dealing with this again. Especially since I can't look back on my training and define a real cause to this... In the past when these calf issues have come up I could look back with my 20/20 hindsight vision and see that the track w/o followed by the tempo w/o followed by those hill sprints followed by another tempo run all in one week (or something ridiculous like that) was the cause... this time I don't feel like I could look back and see anything glaring so that frustrates me.

At this point it is definitely better but not runnable quite yet... so I'm off on yet another bike ride... At least it's a beautiful sunny day!