Sunday, August 28, 2011

August in a Nutshell

Like many of my other running blogger friends I haven't taken the time to post much this summer, but since the hurricane is raging outside and I don't have much else to do today I thought I'd catch up on blogging. The last time I posted was right after I'd gotten my MRI results for my ankle sprain which threw a wrench into my plans for the NYC Triathlon and any other races I'd hoped to do this month and probably through September. Plans for my Half Ironman in October are completely up in the air at this point so I won't even talk about them for now.
Despite my inability to run for the last (almost) 5 weeks, I have been keeping very active and I'm still pretty sane. When the summer session at work ended on Aug 12th my husband and I took off for the beautiful waters of the 1000 Islands in Ontario, Canada where we spent a really great week with family and friends. I invited my good friend and swim buddy, Sally, to come up for the weekend and enjoy the islands with us. We had a beautiful weekend with calm water and bright sunshine so she and I were able to get in two truly gorgeous long swims from our Canadian island over to the US side of the St. Lawrence river. On Saturday we thought we'd swum far enough to cross the border, but we spotted a map that evening that suggested that we'd turned around too soon and had not actually hit US water. Oops. We set back out again early Sunday morning with the GPS and made sure that we swam to the border and over before turning back. On Saturday we'd only gone about 0.86mi before turning around, but on Sunday we hit 1.2mi before swimming back. After a long hiatus from the water due to awful wisdom teeth complications, it was tough hop in and swim that far, but I was so happy to be out in that crystal clear blue water. At one point during the swim back to Canada on Saturday I stopped swimming, popped my head up and just said something about how happy I was feeling. I had my sweet hubby paddling his kayak alongside on my right and one of my favorite people swimming right next to me on the left. Sally's boyfriend was also paddling on the other side of us to keep us safe from passing boats. Those swims were so wonderful, I finally began to feel normal again after the really painful ordeal with my teeth. I was still in pain for most of the week away, but it was tolerable with some Tylenol and ice.
My goal for the 9 day vacation was to get in two bike rides, but I only managed one between swimming and some laziness. I did have one really nice 22 mile ride along the 1000 Islands Parkway bike path while we were in Canada with a few little rolling hills. It was a nice change of scenery and I actually enjoyed the ride, but I still wasn't that motivated to get in the saddle again because my butt was sore for a few days. I may need a new seat..ouch.
After we left Canada we headed down into the Adirondacks to finish out our vacation at Sally's house. The weather and a late-sleeping husband thwarted my plans for a Friday morning swim and an afternoon canoe/hike, but we did manage to get in some canoeing on Putnam Pond between thunderstorms, which was entertaining. Sally and Chuck weren't home until Friday night, but Saturday was a fun, outdoorsy day with some more great swimming in a secret, crystal clear pond surrounded by untamed woods. Sally and I swam the length of the pond, about a mile, while Dave and Chuck bushwhacked around to meet us at the other side for lunch on a big ol' rock. After lunch we sat around and enjoyed the sunshine and peace & quiet before hopping back into the cool water to swim back. We beat the guys back to the other shore and had to hike around in our speedos and sneakers until they arrived with our clothes. Other than being eaten alive by mosquitoes (one bit the center of my forehead!) we had the perfect day. I couldn't get enough of those long open water swims, hopefully I still have a few weeks of open water swimming ahead before the water gets too cold and summer melts away.
Upon returning home to NYC for a day or two, I decided that I really needed to get on the bike more often if I'm going to maintain some leg strength while not running. Now I know that you use muscles in a different way when biking vs running, but cycling is still a great way to keep up leg strength when you're banned from running. I was extremely proud of myself this past week for getting in two rides in two days. Wednesday morning I met up at 5:30 am with a tri group in Point Pleasant, NJ for a long ride up the NJ coast to Asbury Park and back. It was really nice for motivation to link up with some other folks for a ride because I was having a really hard time getting out the door with the bike. It always seems like such a production at home to lug my bike down the stairs and get to a safe place for riding when I'm in the city, so I was really grateful for the group ride in an easy, safe location. We got in about 27 miles that morning and I actually enjoyed every minute of it. The next morning I pushed myself to get out the door and just go for a ride right outside Mom's front door. I told myself I'd shoot for a short 10-12 mile ride just to get it done, but I ended up riding 17 miles around the area and really having a nice time exploring the farther reaches of the neighborhood. The only reason I turned back towards Mom's house was because I hadn't packed enough water and snacks and I was getting really hungry and my butt was killing me from the long ride the day before. I did some of my ride around this beautiful Ocean County Memorial Park, which is dedicated to the soldiers from OC who died during various wars. It is a really quiet and peaceful place so I rode slowly and took in the view because I wanted to be respectful of the few folks that were standing near the plaques of their loved ones in small huddles. I snapped these few photos before I left the park:

In ankle news, I'm finally starting to notice some progress! I went to PT three times this week and spent the rest of the week doing work on my own to keep my foot and lower leg loose and I had my first pain-free swim on Friday afternoon! I was so thrilled, it has been 9 weeks since my injury and I was so happy to be able to push off of the wall with both feet, kick hard for a boost and just enjoy my swim. It has been way too long since I felt completely normal in the water. I didn't have to worry about injuring the fragile wounds in my mouth from breathing out too hard, or injuring the newly formed fibers in my ankle ligament, it was so freeing.
For now I'm hiding away from the hurricane in the Poconos with the intelligent and amusing Pigtails Flying and Races Like a Girl. Hurricane Irene has toyed with my plans for a long bike ride up here, but there's nothing I can do about it so I'm just going to relax and watch the trees blow outside the window with my ankle wrapped in ice. I'm making progress towards healing and that is something I'll raise my glass to. Cheers.

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

What a week.

It has been a rough week! The past 8 days felt more like 3 weeks between a million doctor/dentist appointments and lots of pain. I'll give you the short version because I'm sick of the full version from living it. Last Thursday evening I had my 3 wisdom teeth extracted, all were impacted and one was extra complicated. I ended up with something called Dry Socket which means that it isn't healing properly and there is exposed bone in my jaw. To sum it up, it fucking hurt. It is okay now after 3 days in a row of visits to the oral surgeon for quick treatments. Apparently this is really common because tons of people have told me that they also had it. It felt like the worst thing ever a few days ago, but now everything just tastes like cloves from the medicine in my socket. It'll be fine in a few more days. Whew.
In the middle of that mess, I had an appointment with an Orthopedic Dr to check out this nagging ankle injury that I got 6 weeks ago. It happened with a traumatic blow to the ankle during my first (and last) soccer game of the season. A girl twice my size kicked me on the lateral side of my foot while my foot was in the air. I scored a goal that game, for the record. The doc insisted on an MRI and Xray, but I thought that was excessive. Keep in mind that I was still on heavy painkillers from the teeth and had forgotten how much my ankle had been hurting. The imaging was Wednesday and my wonderful Dr emailed me the entire report to read today. He knows I'm a PT. Here's the exact wording:

1. High grade partial tear of the Anterior Talofibular ligament without retraction. (ATFL=ligament on the outside of your ankle, mine is halfway off of the bone)
2. Contusions versus reactive edema of the posterior, medial and lateral talar dome without a fracture or osteochondral lesion. (oh my poor Talus- a bone, is really beat up. It's a major component of the ankle joint)
3. Large tibiotalar joint effusion. (aka fat ankle)
4. Possible reactive edema versus Contusions of the lateral malleolus ( what most people think of as their ankle bone). Mild Peroneus brevis and longus tendinitis. (those are the tendons attached to the muscles that move your foot outward)

So, what now? This week I go see an ankle surgeon who will set me up with some sort of brace to keep the ligament in place so that it can heal itself. I'll wear it for several weeks. If it doesn't help, I'll have to get it surgically repaired, but it should work. Then I'll have weeks or months of PT to retrain my ankle to work properly because the ankle plays a major role in balance and it's going to get lazy in that brace. I actually really appreciate having all of this knowledge in my head, it makes the whole thing manageable. Of course it sucks that I'm out of the NYC Triathlon this weekend and possibly (probably) out of my Half Ironman this Oct, but I always knew I was risking injury by playing soccer and I didn't care because I love it. Don't we all risk injury when we train for our marathons, trail races, triathlons, swims, etc? Someone remind me of this in a few weeks when I'm cranky: It is only an ankle injury, you're still a healthy, strong athlete with wonderful friends and family and there will be many more races in the future.
I'll know more after I see the surgeon, but for now I'm thinking that I'll have lots of time in the next few weeks to work on strength, core and everywhere else. I need that anyway,hopefully I'll be ripped come Fall.
I wonder if I should tell the Doctor that I won two Age Group awards on this ankle? Hmm, maybe it's best for my karma not to be boastful.

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