Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Kate Writes: New day

Monday was the start of my new exercise plan from my coach. It was raining, I was tired but I was going to go home and then run. Yea right! I know how bad I am at doing that, but after all I had paid the money and I needed to start. Well an angel had been watching me, as I was on the way home the text went. I stopped (as we all should do) and checked who it was from. Well it was from Mark my running buddy. I had not run with him all year, but today he asked if I was running. Yippee! I went and changed at New World, they have a good clean toilet. Got to the car park and meet up with Kevin as well. There were 5 of us and they all had coughs and said they would run slow. Well I was fit and healthy and had to breath very hard to keep up with them. It started raining, it was dark and slippery. I made it around the golf course and then ran back down the road. I could just imagine falling and splitting my arm open. It was a good first back run. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

Karen writes: Good intentions underway

Super Triathlon Diary - made the first entry in it today... it was "DAY OFF".  Not quite the most exciting start.

Healthy Eating - No V today after an exercise in magnificent self control (there is spare V in the office fridge).   But there was leftover chocolate coated ginger in my office, that would have been sacrilege to throw out.  Hmmm...better day tomorrow.

Shoulder - went to physio.  Have been doing exercises and it hurts.  Time for an ultrasound...excellent idea... so I left the ultrasound referral form sitting tidily at the physio reception waaaay over in Parnell on the other side of Auckland.   Clever.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Karen writes: Good intentions...Monday

Kate has a new plan.  I'm planning too.  I have given myself a severe talking to, it is a month exactly since the Rotorua marathon, and only 13 weeks out from our next marathon.  It is time to stop treating myself like a precious wimp, and even if my arm isn't 100% yet, there is no reason why I cant take action to drop some weight, do some leg strength training, and make the running I am managing more useful.

So I have purchased a diary.  This one is meant to be especially for 'triathletes'.   It has lots of little boxes to fill out and spaces to record weights and goals and achievements, and something called a 'key session' record where you do the same thing (eg, 10km run) again, just better. It is surely guaranteed to make me a better athlete!   The diary starts on Monday, I plan on keeping it beside my bed so I can reflect (good word that) on my training activities.   Tomorrow is my last long run taking the current lazy approach, and after tomorrow I am determined that even if I achieve nothing else I will stop rewarding myself excessively with food after running (but I have earned that chocolate).  Me and my diary...getting SERIOUS on Monday!

Kate Writes: new plan

My coach rang yesterday and we have set up a new plan. I am an organised person and i need the plan. It starts tomorrow so today is my last day of rest. Mind you I've just been for a two hour walk on west coach beach with Rach and the dogs.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Karen writes: Lovely run

It was a perfect evening for a run and I went to work early so I could come home a bit earlier especially to take advantage of the lovely weather.  I started by running alongside Maraetai beach, there were children playing on the sand, people walking and talking and enjoying the weak warmth from the sun at the end of this beautiful winter day in Auckland.

I ran a bit further to where there is a picture-perfect crescent shaped bay fringed with massive palm trees.  In the distance I could see at the apex of the bay two people, both seated on chairs.  As I got closer I could hear strains of music, and see that one had a keyboard instrument of some sort, the other brass.  Their sheet music was arranged on a stand in front of them, they were facing out to sea as though they were playing to an invisible audience.  My heart lifted with pleasure at the strange sight, and with the anticipation of beautiful music.

Sadly it wasn’t, but I kept running and in the next bay there was a screaming child being chased by a parent down the beach, and a dog came running up to me on the road.  The owner yelled at the dog, and it went and danced around someone lying on the sand.  The owner apologised to her, I wondered what was different about the dog bouncing me and bouncing the beach-lounger?

Further on there was a child standing at the edge of the water holding onto one end of a fishing net. The child was wearing so many clothes I couldn’t decide if it was a boy or girl, but mum was in the water up to her chest at the other end of the net. The sea was so perfectly flat that I could see the drops of water fall from her arms and making rings on the sea surface as she manoeuvred the net.   She stopped and stood still and seemed content to wait for long moments with the now orange light of the sun in her face.   I thought she must be bl**dy freezing!

I ran and ran and eventually turned around after saying hi to a man taking a bucket of water for a walk along the road.  On the way back the fishers were still there, but the child had now taken off most of the layers of clothing and joined mum in the water.  The dog and the owner and the child and parent and the lounger and the visually rather than aurally appealing musicians had gone.   It was a lovely run.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Karen writes: Crocks

Goodness, me and Kate are a pair of crocks at the moment. 

I was lucky enough however to get out for a run on Sunday.  The run itself felt pretty average, in spite of it being an absolutely gorgeous morning.  I ran at first with the Te Puru runners along the Omana and Maraetai waterfront, then headed off by myself through the country towards Clevedon, marvelling at things like clumps of very early jonquils, gorgeous Autumn leaves, cold looking cyclists, and drivers feeling the need to speed past me stirring up choking clouds of lime dust from roadworks.

I was in no hurry to go home though and just meandered along, eating my favourite coca cola flavoured energy gels and thinking about nothing much.  You see there was no shower at home due to urgent and unplanned renovations happening in the bathroom.  It was found on Friday that the bath was threatening to descend through the floor of its own accord, not good.  On Saturday night I had suggested that if the there wasn’t a usable shower on Sunday morning, I wasn’t coming home from my run until there was one.  Just as well I didn’t really mean it, 2 ½ hours on the road was quite enough given I am on ‘light’ running while I recover from the tricky shoulder problem.

I am pleased to report that the shower now works, and the shoulder is more upset by my sitting typing at work than by the running.   I have just taken the arms off my office chair to try to improve the angle for using the mouse to try to fix that.   

Anyway, it is 3 weeks since the Rotorua Marathon and I am very aware that I have lost condition. I feel I can vaguely claim the title of 'runner', but don't feel even remotely like a 'triathlete'. My weight is up, my clothes don’t feel the same, and there is a sense that something important is missing from my life.  I feel so much better after going for even a bad run that I want to get back into a training routine… soon!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Kate Writes:lazy weekend

I had my operation on my arm last Monday so we are day 6. I did think about going out for a bike ride but I turned over in bed and the arm hurt. I think the stitches had caught. So I decided to stay at home and get that assignment done. Its a pharmacological paper at Auckland Uni. I'm hoping to get prescribing rights later in the year so all this study is good. I'm actually enjoying it. Some of it even makes sense. My hand is a bit swollen so I might have been doing too much so a rest is needed.  Roll on next week when I should be back to normal, well what ever that is!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Karen writes: Long may we run...

Official clearance for light running!  I'm happy now.   But am taking today off after the physio session, my shoulder hurts, but I can't dispute that things continue to improve. I still can afford to be a little bit nice with myself right now, when the training kicks in again properly for the next challenge I need to be fully recovered because barring injury the work wont be stopping for...oh dear...9 more long months.  What is the next challenge? Why, another marathon of course.  We have signed up for the next one at the end of August, just 15 weeks away.

I was sent a useful article recently.  I have harbored the secret dream to be running and participating in events for many years to come.  Every time I go to an event, I look at the senior members of the sporting fraternity, sigh when I see how much faster they are than I am, but also their continuing success reassures me because they represent tangible evidence that being very fit is possible even into the 8th decade for some.   It is hard to find anything written that talks in a practical sense about HOW people do it, they seem to just get on with it.  This article from the Running Times is the most practical and positive thing I have seen yet on the topic, it dispels myths about running causing joint damage, talks about having a long running life, but also, most importantly, about how it is still possible to improve.  Have a look, I found it quite inspiring... Ten Strategies for Running Longevity.  Funnily enough it also mentions muscle imbalance, just like the physio.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Karen writes: Its a small country...

I injured myself.   It is the latest in a long line of injuries and grumbles sometimes impacting on (this time), or at other times caused by my sporting efforts. I have been getting treatment however, and even been doing the prescribed exercises.  Those exercises are a bit strange, I had made the assumption that exercises need to have uncomfortable weights or endless repetitions or make you sweat or feel miserable to do any good.   These exercises are strangely delicate and very focused and highlight hither-too unnoticed weaknesses.

For the first 2 visits to the physiotherapist I asked "when can I run", the first visit I was told "in 10 days", and the second visit I was told "perhaps Monday".   I forgot to ask on the third visit, perhaps subconsciously not wanting to be told I couldn't run after-all.  So I ran, taking it easy, ready to stop at the first sign of trouble.  I felt ok, in fact I was more than OK.  While I ran I made every excuse under the sun to justify taking that risk in spite of the fact that I would have told anyone else who did the same that they were nuts.  After I ran I agonised over the possibility of having done more damage, but oh, I did enjoy being back out moving again. The arm got tired and it was a bit alarming to experience how much change there was in the range of movement and strength... I couldn't swim if you paid me, but there was no pain then, or the following morning.  Importantly though, my increasing feelings of twitchy irritation and general not-feeling-right-ness disappeared, and whew, I could stop feeling guilty about morphing into the BQFH at home.

However, I was reminded of what a small world we really operate in when I made contact with trainer Grant.  I described my injury and said I was "managing light running", of course conveniently missing out the fact that it was an assumed rather than definite clearance.  I went on to describe the treatment I was receiving from the wonderful physio. That was my undoing...it turned out that Grant (operating out of Clevedon) was very familiar with the wonderful physio (operating out of Parnell) and he happily went off to make contact to make sure the training he prescribed was going to aid the recovery.   Oops, it is a small world.  But what better support could an apparently injury prone athlete pretender ask for?

Monday, 14 May 2012

Kate writes :surgery

Today I have had more of my arm removed for pre melanoma. I kept my eyes closed. It feels ok,but then the local anesthetic is still working.The doctor says no swimming for 2 weeks, but did not mention running or spinning. But I will be good 1 week + 1 day off until my next spin class and I will take it slowly. After all I do not want split wounds. It seems strange saying to people that I am an endurance athlete and need to have extra stitches put in for security. Is that me I'm talking about or someone else? I'm not sure if I will ever think of myself as an athlete but what else would you call it , unless its total madness!  

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Karen writes: Ah, this must be true!

Don't you just love it when you read something you badly want to believe in?   I KNEW chocolate had to be good for training.  Well, it is actually chocolate milk, but close enough. See what Ironstruck has to say about the topic.

Kate writes: Chaffing

You would have thought I would have worked this one out by now! loads of cream stops you chaffing. But I went swimming on Friday, nothing new in that, we did a lot of work with a buoy between the legs to get the hips up. nothing new. But I was a bit slow so I thought I would cheat and kick the legs a bit. Well when I got out of the water I had sore areas on the legs, I mean red raw! My coach said, full of sympathy , you wont do that again. No I will not next time band on no movement at all!  

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Karen writes: Last weeks news

Last weekend's injury drama is starting to look like just that, last weeks news.  Saw the physio again today, the arm is a bit weak, but the range of motion is almost back to normal, and that horrible pain is pretty much gone, raising the questions as to what on earth it was in the first place?  It was most likely to have been some sort of rotator cuff damage, but to recover so quickly from being so debilitated...strange.

It is possible that the 40-odd thousand arm swings from the marathon a week before, and the 12km run the morning of the injury might have made the muscles a bit vulnerable.  I was also told I have some over-development of arm and shoulder muscles at the front, and need to build up the strength at the back to balance things out.  Such an imbalance is apparently easy to get and makes you more at risk of injury.  So obviously I keep learning, keep making mistakes...and it looks like will continue to do so.

But what a relief.  I had visions of months of recovery, the worst case scenario of frozen shoulder could take years to repair, and here I am feeling like I could swim tomorrow!  I'm not going to though, I shall do the light exercises recommended (no pushups, yaaaay), and even turn up for the next physio appointment next week.  My neck is going to get some more attention then, imagine that, if I could increase my turning range I would be coming out of treatment better than before I got injured...

I think back over the succession of problems and injuries both me and Kate have had in recent years, any one of which could have put us off because they all seemed pretty much insurmountable at the time.    It can seem to be one thing after another, but you do your research, sort the problem out as best you can, and then forget about it... until something else comes along.   I remember the first full cycle ride around Lake Taupo back in 2007, I wore an elbow brace my arm was so sore and weak.  In other years I have distant memories of terribly tender hands from handlebars making training a misery, shooting pains up fingers from all the gear changing on the bike, a bottom too sore to sit on, a succession of upset necks and backs, saddle sores, plus the odd scrape or bump from falling.  Then the running distances increased and the focus changed to sore calves, dodgy Achilles tendons, blisters, black toenails, chafing, knee pain, breathing problems, cramps and stomach issues.  Swimming brought it's own challenges with leg cramps, ear infections, bruises from misjudging the end of the pool and headaches.  At times when the workload increased up to another level we caught one cold after another, and the occasional dragging tiredness which just couldn't be worked through was there too.  And we say we enjoy it and have never been healthier?

Actually, I really, really, really enjoy it, and I have never been healthier. I guess what I was saying in that gloomy last paragraph was that there isn't much you cant work through with the right advice, some sensible trial and error and just plain persevering. I'm pretty sure Kate can't imagine not doing what we do either.   So this latest injury scare is hopefully like all the others and can eventually be relegated to history, in spite of the nagging doubt that it could come back, at least until something else comes along to be hypochondriacal about!

And Kate, the race is back ON (no competition here of course).

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Kate writes: back to normal

I'm sorry that Karen's suffering with her shoulder. Its a relief to me that my injury has gone. I have a normal week and went to spin last night. I could get my heart rate up to 90% I was very impressed. I will get another spin in and a swim this week and then its 2 weeks off with my arm. Probably not a bad thing, rest is good.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Karen writes: Optimism

I think sometimes one of the most important things about treatment of injury can be instilling a sense of hope, or optimism that things will get better.  Obviously there could theoretically be a point where optimism is unreasonable, or perhaps even professionally irresponsible, but today, on my first visit to the physio, when I was secretly convincing myself that my Ironman hopes were escaping...surely coming out with a renewed sense of optimism is a pretty precious thing.

I went to Kate's physio.  It involved a trip into Parnell, not an easy place to get to from South Auckland I have to say, but it is silly to ignore a good recommendation.  A history was taken, a check starting at head level identified firstly that my shoulder problem wasn't from my neck, but then "oh, how long haven't you been able to turn your head more than 45 degrees to the right?"  "Um...probably about 25 years" was the answer.  Some gentle pressure and I felt like I was about to do something from the exorcist and I could briefly see over my shoulder...wow that is so COOL!  "Pretty sure we can fix that, but we wont overload you today" he says.  I made some comment about being a bit lethal on the bike as I normally turned most of my body to look behind me and  I got the sort of 'you are kidding' look I probably deserved.

So, on to the shoulder.  Most likely rotator cuff (YAY) but still too inflamed to put it through a good range of motion. Possibly it is a decent tear to inflict the type of incapacity and pain I was experiencing, but..."this is what we will do...and if that doesn't work we can do this...and this...".   It was so good to hear something positive like that after all the doom and gloom I had been reading about!   Then I got some needles stuck in me (acupuncture is a new magic for me to believe in), and my shoulder was strapped and I was given detailed explanations accompanied by much articulation of a model shoulder joint, "this is what your shoulder is doing now, this is what the tape will let it do...".

Of course I had to try, "when can I run"?   NOT for at least TEN days was the answer.  But I can now lift my elbow 6 inches out from my side without squeaking so I am very happy and going back on Thursday.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Karen writes: Sore Arm

I am paying for my crack about trying all sorts of other things before medical science, but to be fair, at that point I was talking about sports injuries which may or may not respond to things other than the standard treatments of stopping running and taking pills. Anyway, on this occasion my brush with medicine wasn't for a sports injury, but boy does it impact on my sport.

Yesterday we spent the day with my brother and his whanau doing the 7yo birthday celebration thing.  On the way into town in the car I reached into the back seat to pick something up off the floor, and my right arm hurt a bit.  By the end of the day I was holding my arm close to my body, couldn't lift it or move it without using the other arm, and was in tears with the pain.   Today the sympathetic GP thought it was likely to be either (best option - recovery in months) rotator cuff tear, or (worst option - recovery in years) 'frozen shoulder'.  I came out with a prescription for voltaren, referral to physio, and of course the suggestion that running while it hurts so much, let alone cycling or swimming aren't really an option!

My brain immediately went into overdrive to try to convince myself that I can get around this thing... like reminding myself I have a month of rest due after the marathon we ran a week ago.  Since I wasn't planning on really resting then perhaps if I actually do take the time off and do as I am told (maybe just a bit of light spin with my arm in a sling?) plus get some serious physio, maybe the problem will disappear?   I further reasoned that if it didn't go away completely in that month, perhaps I could do a reduced 12 week running programme  to get ready for the next planned marathon...and here is the key point...just not swing my right arm while I run?

The thought processes got more tortuous when I thought about swimming...I wondered if I could get away with not swimming until early November, and if the worst came to worse could I swim with one arm?   My mother pointed out the flaws in the swimming plan, even if I could figure out a way to maintain forward motion on top of the water with one arm (when I usually struggle enough with two), getting in and out of a wetsuit might be a problem.  She was right of course, especially when I paused to think about the fact that right now getting into the easiest of clothes one-handed is an exercise of houdini-like proportions, let alone managing firm fitting sporty outfits. And of course it HURTS.

So I have just been online doing my usual google check out of what other people do.  I have found...as usual...lots of conflicting advice from those who do try to run with these problems and from those who don't.  There are good news stories and dire warnings and everything in between.  What it means...as usual...is that only weighing all the information up and trying things out for myself will determine how this latest, most challenging new speedbump in my endurance career will turn out.

At the end of the day, whether current plans for events like marathons and triathlons turn out exactly as expected in the 9 month lead-up to Ironman 2013, stopping exercising in some form or other is absolutely not an option.  This is partly because it would be just so hard to even contemplate getting back to this level again  from scratch, partly because I enjoy it so much, but also  because the exercise keeps me well enough with my thyroid condition to manage and enjoy my busy life.  There is also our fundraising for our Christchurch colleagues, that doesn't feel finished and I think it will take the Ironman next year to do that.  Will just have to see what tomorrow brings, so far the crystal ball shows more voltaren, heat packs, and finding a highly recommended physiotherapist.

Kate writes: week off

I have had a busy week with the national diabetes conference on and a couple of days at uni. But I have lost 2 nails on each foot, so they have been a little sore. No running or swimming or biking. Wherever did I find the time to do it all? Any way I am back to training this week with a couple of swims and spin I hope and a little run. Just for starters. It sounds a bit intense but I am having more surgery next week on my arm and that will stop training for a few weeks.  

I have been sacked by my physio. He said if I can run a marathon with no problems my Achilles is mended. Its a shame, quite enjoyed the physio.   Once my arm is healed I will have no excuse to not train. Watch out Karen I'm after you :)

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Karen writes: first run after marathon

Last night I went out for a short run, partly to check that the legs still work after last weekend's marathon efforts, but also to take a look at the promised perigee moon.  Now I don't recall hearing the word 'perigean' in common usage before, however a friend mentioned it in an email, and since then it's been bandied about on the radio, repeated in the TV news and has appeared in the newspaper. So I had high(ish) expectations as I trotted off into the chilly night, heading east, looking for that larger, brighter 'super-moon'.

Sadly the moon didn't look any different from usual.   Happily however the legs worked fine, and rather unusually, I showed some sense and came home after a brisk 5km, feeling that I could have gone much further.   Tomorrow morning it's time for the Sunday catch up with the Te Puru runners.  I feel really good, and the only leftover sign from spending all those hours on the road less than a week ago is a propensity to eat everything in sight, but it is a funny place to be without anything to actively aim for.  The idea is to have a month of taking it easy... whatever that means... before starting a 12 week marathon programme again in June then it's all on, back on the Ironman trail.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Karen writes: Magic

Endurance runners have to believe in magic.  Otherwise you would be terribly sensible and give up what is essentially a pretty insane sort of activity.   Many of us believe in the magic of supplements which are sure to make you feel great and perform better.  How about the magic of ritual and routine, or that of creams and lotions and potions and stretches and carbo-loading and compression and miracle fabrics.  The only magic you may try to avoid for as long as you can is that of medical science with it's nasty habit of recommending things like giving up running when something hurts, or providing frightening forms of pain relief with lists of consequences and contraindications which don't make the effort seem worth it.

It is nice to always have one thing in the magic spectrum which even for a runner seems a bit 'out there', however you don't dismiss it because after all, one day it might be the only thing you have left to try before you have to finally do what the Doctor tells you.  Like stick-on titanium dots, which are NOT described as magic by their proponents, but as SCIENCE.  The man at the Rotorua marathon expo wasn't going to take the time to explain how his dots worked, he also wasn't impressed with my comment about how convenient it must be to have a titanium joint replacement to achieve the same thing.  In between giving extravagant guarantees of the efficacy of the rather innocuous looking 'dots' should they be applied before the race (and left on for 5 days after), he was keen to point out the research papers displayed on the wall from our own, reputable, Massey university.

I've now googled 'titanium dots running' and the strange stuff which comes up under that search-word combination leaves me completely at sea in terms of how they are expected to work.  I do however admit to a sample packet stashed away in my bag.  I didn't use them for the Saturday marathon in spite of the exhortations of the Dot man, they are carefully hoarded in the event that I need them for when all other magical avenues (except the Doctor) have been exhausted.  I could very possibly have to eat my words then, I do hope so, magic would seem to be the foundation my running is built on.