Kinda Sorta Not and Yet Totally About Running

This past Wednesday I had a consultation with a surgeon regarding what is commonly referred to as “Reduction Mammoplasty”.
Yes.
You read that right.
I am having The Girls (as they say) “cut down to size”.

This isn’t exactly one of those ‘elective, corrective surgeries’ that can be done ” under the radar”.It is going to be noticeable.
I mean, have you met me?!
And if you have ‘met’ me . . . well . . . Why are we even having this conversation?!

All that aside, let’s just get to the nut cu…  err… the rat killin’ of the whole thing.  Shall we?

My Goal Date for this whole ‘Procedjah‘ is Tuesday, February 26, 2013.

I’m scheduling it that far in advance because there are two races I intend to run between now and then:
The St. Jude Half Marathon on December 2nd, 2012; and
The New Orleans Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon on February 24th, 2013.

I’ll have the surgery the 26th of February which will give me ample time to recover and train to run the St. Jude Full Marathon (my first 26.2) in December 2013.

So.
That’s what I have coming up in the next year and a few weeks.

I’m sharing this here to ask for your prayers and positive thoughts as I prepare mentally and physically for this surgery.

My intention is to be so completely prepared – on every level – that the surgery and recovery go like a hot knife through butter.
Literally and physically.

Oh, and if you have any question about the “necessity” of this surgery, let’s just say that the doctor said (and I quote): Oh we have got to do something about this.  And that was before I told him I was a runner!

So there you have it.
The biggest personal decision I have never been able to hide.
Because what am I gonna say come February 27, 2013: I have NO IDEA where they went!  I just woke up and they were GONE!! ???

A PR and A Crossroad

HCRP and I joined another couple we’re friends with running a 5K Race this morning.
As 5K races go this one was relatively small (I’m guessing under 200).  Of course earlier in the week I’d heard someone say there were FIVE 5Ks in our area today.
Which I still find puzzling for a city that consistently ranks among “America’s Fattest/Least Fit Cities”.  I digress . . .

Given the small number of runners there was this little imp in the back of my brain elbowing me and whispering “You might actually medal in your age group!”
I didn’t.
I came in fourth (I think – no Official Results yet) in Women 45 – 49.
And I’m good with that.
No, I don’t know the answer to “Fourth out of how many Julianne?” I placed way ahead of the me who was happily, complacently, and sedentarily on my couch two years ago and in my book that falls under “W” for WIN!

What I did do is PR* this race!
My previous 5K PR was 34:35 in November 2011.
Today the clock read 33:50 when I planted my foot across the Finish Line.
So in eleven months I’ve taken 45 seconds off my 5K time.
Not bad for someone who really hasn’t been working on speed or to reduce race time.

Which brings me to The Crossroads.  Not that Crossroads, although I live within a couple hours’ drive of that Crossroads, that’s not the one I’m talking about.
No, I have reached a Training Crossroads.

Here’s the deal:
I can run a 5K in a respectable amount of time.  I have run several 5Ks and fully intend to run several more.
I have run a 10K in a somewhat less respectable time.  But still, I’ve run one and I know what to do better for the next one (in three weeks actually).
I have trained for and completed a Half Marathon in what I consider a respectable time.  And in a time that HCRP and my Runner Friends said was a respectable time for a first Half.

The Crossroads I stand at is this:
I can continue to train as I’ve been training, focusing on consistency and endurance, and be content with my consistent 35 minute-ish finishes.
OR
I can begin using my short (3 – 4 mile) runs to do speed training to reduce those 5K and 10K finish times; continue using the mid and long runs to work on endurance and consistency in Halfs; and start looking towards the really long runs** that will be required next year when I begin training for the 2013 St. Jude Full Marathon.

*le sigh*
And so it begins.
Goal Setting.
Running Goals.
Training Goals.
Dear Sweet Asics, what fresh h*ll of life lessons is this going to bring?!

Lexicon for my non-running reader(s): (Hey!  There could be more than one!)
*PR = Personal Record
Sometimes called a ‘PB’ or Personal Best.
This is a runner’s personal competition with the runner in their own shoes.
Often more important than finishing “First” or “Last”. It’s all about Better!

**”really long runs” being defined as 15 – 20 miles or possibly further.
Yes, I really am just that crazy.

Is there a Yoga Zone?

I put up last night’s post and went to bed confident that My Plan was going to work flawlessly.  I’d ace six today, maybe even eight, and three weeks from tomorrow I would complete my first half-marathon.
Yeah.
Well.
What’s that they say about intentions and paver stones?
That.

Regardless how solid my plan was or how strong my resolve in that plan, my left knee just wasn’t up to it.  While I didn’t get all the way to six miles, I did arrive at the inescapable conclusion that I will not in fact be participating in the March 18th half-marathon we are registered for.  Rich will be running it alone.  I did get further today than I have since this whole mess started three or four weeks ago, the ping/twinge didn’t hit until 4.38 miles today as opposed to sidelining me at 3.25 or 3.5 so that was progress of a sort.

After doing a lot of online research and talking to other runners, I believe that what I am dealing with is a simple case of Runner’s Knee.  I have believed that all along.  I continue to believe that.
I have friends – wonderful, loving, concerned friends – who are calling for me to see an Orthopedic doctor.  And I will.  As soon as I have exhausted every other avenue.
I have an appointment with my chiropractor on Wednesday and at that time he’s going to take a look at the knee, give me an adjustment, recommend some exercises, and we will give my body time to heal itself.  I do have a very good chiropractor who will refer me to an ortho doc if he sees any reason to believe I’ve done damage that needs more than time and rest to resolve itself.
I won’t be running.
At most I’ll do a couple miles on an elliptical machine but only when I am able to do normal daily activities, like oh, say, walking without pain.  And yoga.  There will be yoga.  But neither of those things until after I see Dr. Jeff on Wednesday.

Between now and then it’s Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
Until I can get a good knee brace the compression is taking the form of an Ace Bandage.  Which gets the job done.

Since I a most likely looking at a good month off of running I’m going to have to be extra diligent with my diet to keep from putting weight back on.  And hey, I’d been asked to write more about that aspect of things anyway.  So to keep this blog on everybody’s radar I’ll be doing that.

And I’ll be sure to let you know if/when I find The Zone in Yoga.

Back in my laces again

Both my hamstring and knee have “been pain free” for three days now both with and without compression support.  Therefore, It’s time to get back on the road.  Or treadmill.  The jury’s still out on where exactly it is that I’m going to test the rehabbedness of my leg.

The recently discovered Treadmill Hater in me is jumping up and down chanting “Hit The Road!  Hit The Road!”  The part of me who still remembers the agony of limping along for-what-seemed-like-ever a week ago Thursday night keeps raising her hand from the back of the classroom saying “Ummm…  What if ‘It’ happens again and you’re miles away from the car and have to do that limping/wincing/stabbing pain thing again?!  Huh?  What about that Miss Road Hitter?”  What we have heayuh is a failyuh to reach a decision.

So.
I’m doing what any intelligent, level-headed, human being would do: I’m letting the weather be my guide!
If it’s cold and rainy that’s my “sign” that tomorrow afternoon’s six miles (with the possibility of expanding to eight) will take place on the (dreaded) treadmill.  Thank God for Audiobooks!
If it’s only cold, but not rainy, we’ll be hitting our favorite local running/biking trail.
I think that’s a perfectly reasonable ‘coin toss’.

I’m both excited and a little nervous about this whole thing.
I WANT to be running again, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little afraid of feeling that “twinge” at the back of my knee again.  I’m at T-minus 29 days and counting to my first Half Marathon and I really want to run more of it than I walk.

It’s going to be just fine Julianne.
That’s what I keep telling myself.

Head and Shoulders, Knees . . .

Let’s just stop at knees, shall we?
That seemed to work for my run tonight.
What was supposed to be a six mile run turned into a 3.5 mile run, a dull ache behind my left knee that eventually became full-bore pain all around said knee and me unable to do more than limp along at a slow walk.  Since we were a little more than half-way through our six mile run the only solution was for Rich to continue running, get the car, and come back to pick me up however far I managed to limp along before meeting up with him.

I (very unwisely) tried running a couple times while making my way on my own.  After all, the pain had subsided so surely I could run NOW!  Eight steps.  Tops.  And the pain came back with its good friend ‘excruciating’.  So I hobbled along.  By the time Rich got back to where I was I was leaning against a light post because walking – even 1.0 mph – was no longer an option.

On the way home I was p-i-s-s-e-d o-f-f!  I felt robbed, betrayed, and generally hurt and angry.  As I had told my knee early in my hobbling along: I have done everything right!
I have trained progressively.
I stretch before and after my runs.
I have invested in good, professionally fitted running shoes.
I have given up wearing heels for cripes’ sakes!  I’m talkin’ Bando-freakin’-lino pumps here people!  Bandolinos!
I deserve better out of my joints and muscles than all this!

What probably got me more than anything else was this: I was looking FORWARD to this run!  The six mile course we were running tonight was the same one that was my first six mile run.  It is comprised of the first and last three miles of the course of the half-marathon we’re training for next month.  There’s a fairly long, challenging incline at about mile 2.5; and the end of the course is also a fairly steep, short incline.  And when we first ran this six miles it kicked my butt!
I was actually in tears on the long incline, and even though I made it to the top I was certain I would never be able to do the Half.  And that final, ending uphill bit?  I couldn’t even finish that.  Now granted, I did run that whole thing last Thursday at the end of our 4.5 mile run but that was without The Long Hard Hill.
Tonight I was R-E-A-D-Y!  And from Step One I felt good.  Despite the fact that it was 43° when we started and with the sun going down wasn’t getting any warmer as we went.  I felt great cardio-wise, leg-wise, mind-wise, every-wise.
Right up to the point that the back of my left knee started twinging between 3.00 and 3.25.  We actually stopped running earlier than our four minute mark so I could stretch – hoping that would take care of it.  I tried running again from 3.25 to 3.5 and it was clear that I was done running for the night.
I think what made me the most angry was how much I had been looking forward to not just finishing, but enjoying a run that had previously been such a challenge.  And the fact that I really had felt so good from the very start of tonight’s run. 

So we get home – after spending the ride alternately cussing (I know, I gave it up for the new year, sue me) and crying, texting my BFF in a near state of panic, and texting another good friend who is also a runner and a Trainer – and I get about the business of rehabbing what I am now certain is Runner’s Knee.
I have a Sports Injury!
Which was just a little bit exciting for about half a minute.
Based on what I’ve read other muscle stresses/strains can contribute to this, so I have a feeling last Sunday’s hamstring strain was a contributing factor to this. 

I’ve also ordered a Tommie Copper Knee Compression Sleeve.  Which should arrive by about Wednesday of next week when I intend to be ready to have a short, slow, easy paced run on the treadmill.
Until it arrives I have a wide Ace bandage I’ll be wrapping the knee with.
I’ve rehabbed a sprained groin muscle, I can rehab this.

AND keep running!
Just not tomorrow.

Happy Side Effects and Learning Curves

When I started running last July I weighed somewhere around 176 pounds.
I weighed myself yesterday morning and I am at 161.5.
That’s roughly 15 pounds in 29 weeks.
1/2 pound per week.
The ‘slow and steady’ kind that guarantees permanent results.
Which is a good thing.
But weight loss wasn’t why I started running.
Pretty ironic for a woman who’s been “on a diet” since 1979 (funny, that’s about a year after I last ran voluntarily).
For the record: I am 5′ 4″. 

No, I started running, as stated on my About page here, for a couple different reasons.
Yes, there was that “my husband was a runner and I think he misses it ” thing.
But more than that was the whole
faux Nike ad from What Women Want.  I wanted to feel that way when and from running. I wanted that love affair with “The Road”.  And slowly but surely, that has become more than just a tear-jerking scene in a Helen Hunt movie for me. I have come to love “The Road” and love that unconditional acceptance from “The Road” no matter how long it’s been since the last time I met with it/her.

And along with that has come what I call the Happy Side Effect of weight loss!

Ahhh weight loss. Let’s talk about that for a moment, shall we?

This time last year I was edging dangerously close to hitting the 200 pound mark for the second time in my life, and neither of those resulted in a bouncing baby anybody.
My blood pressure had been ‘borderline high’ (130/80) for a good four years, my cholesterol numbers have stayed below 300, but the ‘good’ cholesterol was a little on the low side and the ‘bad’ cholesterol was a little on the high side. (My personal jury is still out on that good/bad cholesterol thing, but I err on the side of caution and take the doctor’s word for it.)
I got winded walking up a flight of more than five stairs; my ankles, knees, hips, and lower back hurt far more often than there was ever any reason for them to. I wasn’t in “bad” health, nothing life-limiting, but still not as good as it could have been.
I was, in short, The Average, Low-End-of-Obesity, Out-of-Shape, American.

Fast-forward to today.
Yes, I’m losing weight.
And for the first time in thirty-four years I don’t have a Goal Weight.
That amazing, amorphously specific, all-consuming, unattainabe Number.
Oh don’t get me wrong, I thought I had one.
Wanna know what it was?
One Hundred Thirty-Five Pounds.
I am, as previously stated, 5’4″ tall and depending on which “Ideal Weight Chart” you choose to believe in my “Healthy Weight” is anywhere between 105 and 150 pounds. And I have made the trip from one end to the other of that spectrum – including a lot of swings way off that higher end – numerous times.

The truth is that I have no clue what a healthy weight is for me.
Not a truly healthy one.
And certainly not a healthy, slender one.

I know how to get skinny.
I have “attained” that particular “goal” by: starving myself; abusing diet pills (the old-school, early 80s, over-the-counter kind); abusing laxatives (that’s a hard one to put in writing); by fad-dieting (name one since 1979 and I’ve probably at least played at it); and by calorie restriction combined with over-exercise.

I know how to work-my-butt-off-out then go home and sabotage my own efforts with not just what I shoved in my face but how much of it I shoved in there.

I know how to over eat healthy.
It doesn’t matter how whole the grains are, how lean the meat is, how fresh the vegetables are, or how high the fiber is if you eat two or three times as much of something as is necessary or healthy.

What I don’t know is this: I have absolutely no idea what a healthy weight is on my body with the combination of eating a reasonable, healthy diet and consistently exercising.
None.
I don’t know if “That Number” is 135 pounds, 145 pounds, or 125 pounds.

I have never known my body in a truly balanced, healthy state.
Okay, that’s not true.
When I was eight, nine, ten years old I knew my body in that state.
Because when I was about eight years old my mother went through what my family called her “Health Food Kick”. She started reading Adelle Davis’ books and eliminated all processed food from our diet. And at that age I was playing outside – physically active – more hours of the day than I was sitting in front of a television. In school we had actual Physical Education Class, and Recess. You remember Recess don’t you? (And not the adorably quirky Disney Cartoon.)

The only other time in my life that I was intentionally, all-around healthy was when I was pregnant with my son.
I was diligent about what I ate. I was conscious of sodium consumption because I was determined that I was not going to develop edema which my Ob/Gyn was nearly obsessive about. Having suffered two previous miscarriages I was (as we Southerners are wont to say) dead-set and by-god determined to bring a healthy child into the world so I ate healthy like it was my job.
I wasn’t “working out” per se, but I was in college which had me moving from class to class in different buildings, and my workstudy job entailed giving campus tours which was a lot of walking!

But past that I honestly have no clue what my body being nourished and moved and functioning as a truly healthy, living entity looks or feels like. This is the Learning Curve from this post’s title. Learning what exactly a truly healthy body feels – and yes looks – like for me.
What is its size?
What is its shape?
What does it feel like?
And yeah, a little bit of me wants to learn what That Healthy – Truly Healthy – Number is.

What I do know is this: My body – given a healthy diet and consistent exercise – will let me know what its healthy weight is.

I am that incredible combination of excited and terrified to find out what THAT number is!