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Monthly Archives: March 2012

I Got Needled and Poked.

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Yesterday afternoon, I visited my friend UnSoo’s home studio to receive acupuncure treatments for my inflamed posterior tibialis tendon and hurty ankle.

UnSoo is a licensed physical therapist and former yoga instructor who has been practicing acupuncture for at least 15 years that I know about. As for me, I have not been practicing acupuncture nor receiving it for 15 years — this was my first time getting poked.

She started by having me lay down on a massage table, and she asked me about the pain as she manuevered my feet and rubbed my calf. I explained the occurrences and conditions of the flare-ups, and we isolated the specific places where I felt pain. And then she took out a brand new package of needles.

“There are nerves that run very close to the area we are going to work,” she warned. “I’ll be careful, but I may hit one. You’ll know because it feels like getting an electric shock. Now relax.”

Holistic Kitteh Sez Relax.

Cough.

When we began, the pain on my ankle and surrounding tissue was acutely tender to touch, but I didn’t feel the first needles go in at all. The slid in like they were going into butter. I lay first on my back and then on my side, so I couldn’t see the needling actually happening, for which I am grateful, and for which UnSoo should also be grateful. For her part, she explained everything she was doing, step-by-step. Almost to a fault. I didn’t necessarily need to know when we would be going very deep, or when we would be needling a bone.

Not my foot.

Occasionally, the needles let themselves be known. Sometimes this felt similar to getting a shot. A few times, there would be a sharp rush of pain, akin to poking a cavity.

“You’re a very good patient,” Unsoo said, as I squirmed and squealed. She may have been saying it as a command.

All the while, she kept rubbing the afflicted areas. “How does this feel? Where does it hurt?” And she would have me turn my ankle against the resistance of her hand to assess the relative pain or ease with which I could perform this function. She would assess the new information, and then resume poking away.

These are not my feet. I, sadly, lacked the foresight to have UnSoo take photos.

Sometimes the needle would give me a small jolt — very low on the Richter scale. She called these “twitches” and seemed to think they were good things.

And then, one time: “AIE!!!” The electric shock analogy was right on. UnSoo remained unflappable. “I hit a nerve,” she said.

At this point, most of the needling was concentrated around my ankle area. Then she had me jump off the table, walk around, stand on my tiptoes and then on my heels. The strange thing is, it felt pretty good. Like, the area felt looser and easy and free. There was still some pain that seemed very concentrated in my ankle area, but overall things felt better. Much better, actually. We did this a few times. Hop on the table, a few more needles. Hop off, give it a test run. Each time showed clear and demonstrable improvement.

“How does this feel?” ahe asked at one point, as she was rubbing my foot.

“Fine,” I said. “Just like pressure.”

“It feels fine?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

“Fine?”

“Yeah!” Sheesh.

“I’m rubbing your whole ankle.”

Oh, you mean the ankle that, 45 minutes ago, was extremely tender to the touch? Yeah. Cool.

Towards the end, she threw in a few extra stabs for good measure — this time deep, deep, deep into my calf.

Then I was good to go.

“Should I come back for ongoing treatments?” I asked her.

“See how you feel,” she replied. “I’m actually impressed with how well you are responding.”

You hear that, everyone? My responding skills are excellent.

Thanks, UnSoo!

So today, there is some soreness in the area, to be sure. She warned there may be bruising, but there is very little actually. In general, my whole ankle and surrounding area still feels looser, easier, and happier.

Tomorrow, I am going to test it out in the Chi-Town half marathon. For the run, I am less concerned, at this point, about my ankle than I am by the fact that for the past two weeks, I’ve barely run and done no cross training. Hopefully, the training I did before that still exists within me somewhere. In any case, I am totally prepared to run/walk it if necessary, or to drop out entirely if my tendon forces me to.

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Oh, the Ironing! Sh*t Gets Deep Episode.

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My visit to the physical therapist this past Tuesday reveals that I do not have a sprain OR a strain — rather, I have an inflamed posterior tibialis tendon.

She recommended over-the-counter orthotics insoles and said I could try out a five-mile run. By the way,  my tendon became aggravated with my old running shoes so the new ones are not to blame. Mommy loves her new running shoes. Smooch smooch smooch.

The next day, Nikki and I met our friend Beth out at the lakefront. I was going to try my five-miler, and they were pushing for eight or more (and in the end ran nine happy miles).

I was two miles into the run when the pain started. I have a pretty high pain threshold, I think, so when I say something hurts like an “aie! aie! aie! Motherfreaking Fuck!” you can take my word for it. But I ran the five, then promptly took of my shoe and sock and slapped an ice pack on that bitch.

It was a great day out, and Nikki and Beth seemed to take forever to get back. I imagined them running joyfully, feeling the ecstatic freedom of movement,

the path gliding beneath their feet, the lake breeze lifting their sails. Those jerks.

The next day (yesterday) the whole thing was still pretty hurty, so it was a good time to really start feeling sorry for myself.

Why me? I thought. I’d just begun to find real joy in running. I’d just begun to run distances I’d have never imagined I’d have been able to run just a year ago, and it was exhilarating. I was looking forward to running. I was having fun. And then it all came crashing down. Crashing down not just any old way, but in a way that turned running into a more painful and unpleasant experience than it had ever been before.

Oh, the ironing!

And there are the well-meaning friends: “Don’t do it! It’s not worth it! There will be other marathons! Pain forever! Ankle amputations! Woe! Woe! Woe!”

And other well-meaning friends, speaking through subtext: “You’re crazy. What you’re trying to do is idiotic. You are destined to hurt yourself. You are destined to fail. Don’t even try.”

So the doubts come creeping in. Who do I think I am? I’ve never been sporty. On any team sport I ever played, I was always the bench warmer. I was never the fast runner or the athletic one. I could never do pull ups, never do push ups, and failed the president’s physical fitness test. Seriously, who am I trying to kid? This is too much. It’s too hard. My body does not have the ability to achieve this, and so now it is rebelling against me. My tendonitis is punishment for hubris. This whole marathon thing was simply not meant to be, not for me, not for me…

This is the time where it would be appropriate to bitch slap me.

In fact, I have enough common sense and perspective to go ahead and bitch slap myself. Because right now, today, at this very moment, I have friends who are struggling with cancer; who are struggling with diseases and degenerative disorders that makes every day of their lives difficult and painful. And I have a boo-boo on my ankle boo-hoo and maybe I wont be able to run the marathon in Prague. Poor me!

But that’s me being rational. If only the voices in my head always demonstrated such calm common sense.

So I take a step back, take a long look at myself,  and ask, what’s at stake here?

Why does this matter so much to me? And why now?

Okay, so I mentioned all that stuff about not being strong, not being athletic. But in the past few years, that has been changing. I’ve been getting stronger and I can do things I was never able to do before. When I visualize what I am running to, it is to a strong, healthy, lean Kathie. It is running to a Kathie who sets tough goals and achieves them, even in the face of obstacles. It is running to a success story, a happy ending, a personal triumph.

Okay then, but what am I running from? From, on one hand, the opposite of all that I just mentioned. But I also must consider a lovely family genetic history that includes obesity, diabetes, heart disease, alcoholism, and cancer; where those who have died prematurely include my maternal grandmother (cancer), my father (alcoholic suicide/accident), two aunts (cancer), an uncle (heart attack), a half sister (cancer), and, two years ago, my own sister, Laura, who died from a freak sudden pulminary embolism. She was in her mid-forties. Is family destiny, and if so, can destiny be outrun?

This monumental goal — finishing the Prague marathon — has, on some semi-conscious level, come to symbolize these fears and aspirations for me.

Rational mind kicking in again: that is way to much weight to put on one single event. Especially an event that I decided to participate in seemingly impulsively (it wasn’t until I took this close look that I began to consider whether/how much my decision may have been made as a subliminal response to my sister’s death). Rational mind, here, is totally right on. It is putting way too much on this one event, and way too much pressure on me, as well. But, people, we have very complicated reasons for wanting to push ourselves past our perceived limits, just as we have very complicated reasons for not doing so.

My fear about not following through and finishing this particular challenge is that I tend to be motivated by a combination of goals and momentum working together. Remove either of those factors, and my interest and attention is likely to wane. The immediacy of this goal makes it exciting to me. Four months of hard work leading directly to pay-off. It’s perfect.

And my training had been going great! And I was mentally totally in the game! Until this stupid tendon started acting up. And now it’s all up in the air.

But I will now allow that my fixation on this one singular goal may not be healthy for me. That not achieving it does not mean I am a failure; in fact, maybe it is one of the important set-backs/obstacles in an even bigger challenge (Maybe that challenge is patience? Maybe it is greater self-acceptance?). Who knows? It’s no be-all, end-all. It’s just a race and it looks like it would be really fun. I’d like to run it. Hopefully my posterier tibialis will cooperate to help that happen. Or maybe it wont, and my life, which is pretty fucking happy and blessed in so many ways, will go on.

This afternoon I have an appointment with another physical therapist (Yay, Unsoo!), who will probably be able to tell me whether there is any hope yet of me running in the Chitown Half-marathon this Sunday (signs point to no). I’ll assess the situation then and take it from there.

Thwarted and Discouraged, Once Again.

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Ugh. So, yesterday, I set off to allegedly attempt to run three miles to test out my ankle again (with the secret agenda of trying to run at least four or five miles so I could return victorious and re-establish my Viking credentials).

So, where do we decide to run? The same two parks of terror and doom

where I twisted my ankle in the first place!  I needed to reclaim the spaces, I thought.

It was a beautiful day, and we’re running in the second park which is, theoretically, a fun park to run in.  Nikki says “Kathie, slow down,” because my speed had been creeping up and I am supposed to take it easy. I can’t help it — when I am having fun, I start going faster. But then:

Agh! My ankle starts killing again!

Like, where the ankle hits the shoe and the whole thing just hurts and I ask Nikki, “How far have we gone?” and she says “3 miles.” Yow. I had to stop and walk the rest of the way home (although the worst of the pain subsided after about ten minutes of walking). So, I did the three miles I set out to do except, of course, I really, top-secret, set out to do four or five.

Friends, this sucks. I am supposed to run in the Chi-Town half marathon this Sunday! How am I going to be able to do that if I can’t even run 3 miles right now without developing serious pain?

Well, tomorrow I am going to the physical therapist. I don’t know what to expect but I do know it is looking increasingly unlikley that I will be able to run the half marathon this weekend, and who knows what that means for Prague. And how frustrating! My conditioning is great, my mental space is great. It is just a motherfucking twisted ankle that is holding my back for cripes sake!

Worried pug won't comment.

Only seven weeks left to go.

Stir Crazy!

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It’s been almost a week since I last ran, and I’ve been over my “recovery” since before it started. I mean, what the hell kind of Viking do I think I am, if a twisted ankle has laid me up for a week? Sheesh.

Moping around the house or laying around with my leg iced and elevated is driving me batty.

I’ve been wearing pajamas for two days in a row and haven’t showered.

All I’ve been doing is drinking wine and eating chocolate.  And, figuring out new ways to complicate my life.

For example: why not start a new magazine?

I have a habit of not being able to be idle. For example, my decision to train for and run in the Prague marathon came right on the tail of the release of a book I edited and the subsequent book tour, which coincided with my wedding,

12/2/11 NYC

and was immediately followed by the year-end holidays. So, finally, January 2nd rolls around and you think I’d finally be able to relax and breathe, right?

January 2nd is the exact date I decided to begin training for the marathon. And not only that, I decide to write a blog about it because it’s not like the training itself is enough to do. But that’s me; that’s my life. I guess you could call me project-oriented. Or, you know,  high-strung and manic obsessive.

But let me tell you about my new magazine!

It’s called Ms.Fit (get it? like MISfit!), and it is (hopefully) going to launch on January 1, 2013. Currently, I am working on developing an ass-kicking roster of contributing writers and generating cool, fun, exciting content ideas. Here’s a link to the provisional blog page with more details. Check it out — I’d love to know what you think (and what you’d like to see in a feminist, queer-friendly health and fitness magazine).

And to be fair to myself, it’s an idea I’ve been stewing for at least a couple of years now. It just feels like now is the time to make it happen.

Gotta bolt now to go finish dinner (Jerusalem salad, peppers stuffed with dill rice, feta, spinach, and pine-nuts with a Mediterranean tomato sauce, and grilled zucchini with tzatziki), and watch the Bulls game.

Here is my recipe for tzatziki: get one small (individual serving size) of full fat or 2% fat Greek-style yogurt, 1 English cucumber (you know, the long, skinny ones wrapped in cellophane), a coupla cloves of garlic, some springs of fresh mint and/or dill and/or parsley, olive oil, a lemon, salt and fresh ground pepper.

First, peel about 1/2 of the cucumber and then finely shred it on a grater. With a clean kitchen towel, or a few layers of strong paper towels, squeeze out as much of the excess water as you can, and put the pulp in a medium-sized bowl. Open the yogurt and scoop it over the cucumber. Finely mince or press 2 cloves of garlic and add them to the mix. Finely chop the herbs and throw them in as well. Squeeze in about a teaspoon of lemon juice and then pour in about 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add a few shakes of salt and a generous grind of fresh pepper. Mix this all together and let it sit in the fridge for at least four hours (you may have to give it another stir befor serving). Serve this with grilled vegetables or crusty french bread or on top of basmati dill rice, or just stand i nfront of the open fridge door and eat it with a spoon out of whatever container you are storing it in. Bon appetit!

Tomorrow I am going to try to run 3 miles. Wish me luck and happy ankles!

And The Word Is…

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So, I went to the doctor today, and…

There is running again in my immediate future, there is the Chi-Town 1/2 marathon in my immediate future, and there is still the Prague Marathon in my immediate future.

It’s a strain, not a sprain, and although was correct that the best therapy is just going to be to RICE it,

it’s a relief just to know that, for sure. I just have to get back into the running gently. This, I can do!

In other news, I’ve also lost 13 lbs. since my last visit to my doctor, about a year ago.

Yay Cat Likes It!

Off to go make steaks with arugula and blue cheese.

Boo! Sad Trombone!

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Okay, so my ankle is still an issue. And it is making me feel very sad.

The conscientious reader may recall that last week I twisted or strained or sprained or did something to my ankle. I think this occurred during an otherwise pleasant 6-mile run through a few neighborhood parks; heretofore regarded as the parks of darkness, doom,  and despair.

In any case, I wrapped the ankle and took care of it and a couple of days late it felt better and I ran a 7 mile run that was really fun and pleasant and didn’t seem any the worse for wear. The next day, however, the soreness returned. Not so bad, though, so when Sunday and my 14-mile long-run came up I felt okay to go for it.

My ankle did feel sore during a lot of this run; mostly when I landed on uneven surfaces or had to turn or veer too quickly. I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it, though, because right after the run I had to quickly get ready for a performance thing I was doing, and then, after the performance, I had some beers, and didn’t think anything else of it.

I am, after all, a Viking.

The injury to my ankle may, quite possibly, have longer and further reaching origins that the run through Hell Park and its sequel. Many years back, I was hit by a car and bruised up my ankle pretty badly. I never had it xray’s or an MRI (my more serious injuries affected my other leg which is, ironically, holding up brilliantly during my recent onslaught of abuse). But I have had occasional painful incidents with that ankle ever since.

Or, there may be no connection at all.

For example, there is no connection between this image of drunken college girls and any of content of this blog post:

Nor is there any connection between this picture of a big butt and anything relating to my ankle owie:

The reasons I have gratuitously posted these pictures is because two of the most common search terms that direct people to this blog are “big butts” and “drunk college girls.” They seem to be particularly effective in drawing traffic from Saudi Arabia, for whatever that’s worth.

I can only imagine that this picture of  lesbians kissing will push my hourly hits through the roof.

Or, considering my target audience, maybe these sexy women:

 

But I digress.

In any case I made it through the night after the 14-mile run with no issues,or so I thought.

Until I got home and looked at my foot and realized that I could no longer distinguish my ankle. Comparing it to my other foot confirmed that I certainly should have a fully visible ankle on my sore foot.

So, I have been back to icing it, wrapping it, elevating it, and trying to stay off of it. And I am very depressed.

Early on when this happened, I scoffed at seeing a doctor. Why waste my time when I knew exactly what they would say: stay off if it, ice it, wrap it, elevate it. That’s how these things go. And meanwhile, my dwinding training weeks and crucial upcoming long runs feel like they are slipping away from me.

After the last long run, my feeling was, if my ankle is going to hurt when I am running, so be it. I’m tough. I can handle it. Now I am reconsidering that logic.

So, I have an appointment with my doctor for tomorrow.  Because as bad-assed as I am, I don’t want to be one of those assholes who refuses going to the doctor when they really should.

Oh, blarg!

Midway Point: Dealing with Setbacks

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I am officially midway through my marathon training, which is appropriate, I guess, as I feel about 50% prepared. Due to a few different factors, my last week or so of training has been sporadic and now things are complicated by the fact that I seem to have sprained my ankle.

On the good news front, my wife, Nikki, who suffered her own setbacks eary on when she got the flu, followed by an outpatient surgery, followed by her own ankle injury, is now back on board.

Our complications this week include an excessive schedule of meetings and obligations on my part, plus two unplanned late nights hanging out with bad influences,

which put us off course. And then, I assume during our 6.5 mile run on Saturday, something occurred which made my ankle feel very hurty.

Sunday it continued to be hurty and yesterday, during and after a 12-mile run, it was very hurty, indeed. Now it’s all compression wrapped and I am limping around town and hoping that it miraculously heals within the next 24 hours.

Because of Nikki’s setbacks, I readjusted the training schedule a bit so that she could catch up to me. So instead of running 15 this week, we ran 12. We’re scheduled to run 14 this Sunday and 16 the following Saturday (which gets me back up 16 right when I am supposed to be). The following week we’re running in the Chi-Town half-marathon, which will actually be our step-back week, going from 16 to 13.2. And the week after that, we have our 18-miler.

I did have a leeway week to take in case I needed it for whatever reason, which is pretty much what happened this past week. That means from this point on I have to stick with the program. The longer runs are crucial, not just for training your body, but also for training your mind — for finding the right headgame to push you past your mental blocks.

All of this bringing me to this point: it’s an incredibly craptastic time to hurt my ankle. But I’ll deal with it as best I can by taking care of it over the next few days, and see where that gets me. 

In the meantime, I did reward reaching the midway point by acquiring the trainers I’ve been coveting.

When I tried them on at the store, they felt as great on my feet as I hoped they would.

Midway through! Thanks to all of you who have offered me encouragement and support. In the past 8 or so weeks since I started this rinky-dink blog, I’ve received about 2,000 hits, including readers from all 7 continents, which is pretty cool.