Six Weeks Waiting…

On this Monday, six weeks ago I got to sleep in and no one was allowed to judge me for it. I was also incredible proud of myself for walking down a flight of stairs without limping or whimpering and I was weirdly proud of my enormous cankles. It was the Monday after my Run, Rabbit, Run 100 mile finish. I was feeling accomplished and I thought I was prepared to take some time off my feet for recovery.

Going into RRR100 I told my crew + pacers that I was willing to get injured if it got me across the finish line. I knew the cards were stacked against me – I’d spent my “peak weeks” of training sitting on my butt nursing an overuse injury in my right Soleus/Achilles, I was just lucky to be toeing the start line undertrained rather than injured. I remember saying “I don’t care if I have to give up running for three months, I want to finish!” more than once during RRR100.

I finished…but I finished injured. It wasn’t until three weeks after the race that I realized just how much I jacked up my left Achilles [note: not the one I was giving all sorts of TLC pre-race]. After three weeks of very strict “no running or hiking” I laced up my shoes and headed out to Matthews/Winters Park for a test run before driving west for a 14er summit. Yea, that tester run didn’t go that great and that 14er summit never happened…just putting on running shoes pissed off my Achilles. Running didn’t hurt but walking did and my tendon was all sorts of crunchy by the time I got back to my car. That Monday I stopped by to visit my PT…

Matthews/Winters ParkNature's ice bath
Matthews/Winters Park + Mother Nature’s ice bath.

In the week right after the race I visited my PT for a quick “nothing is actually broken” once over so she knew just how crunchy and swollen my Achilles was [actually went to go get another PT just to have a “whoa, how are you walking on that?!” chat…I felt badass, or maybe just a little silly for taking an injury that far]. Luckily she said my Achilles was healing and it was much better than it was during my last visit. That was encouraging. But then she told me I just needed to rest…I get how that is incredibly important, I really do, but I was starting to go stir crazy! It had been nearly 9 weeks since I was able to do anything without the linger thought of “uh oh, my body isn’t going to like this…” and I just wanted to be carefree about running + hiking + whatever’ing again!

Lily Pad Lake Trailhead SilverthorneLily Pad Lake Trailhead SilverthorneLily Pad Lake Trailhead Silverthorne
An easy hike to Lily Pad Lake in Silverthorne, CO

My face must have said all of those things and more because she followed that up with something along the lines of “we could do more dry needling right on the tendon, it won’t fix everything immediately but it will speed up the process”…and I answered with a quick “yes, please”. If you’ve ever had a muscle dry needled let me just say directly into a tendon is completely different. The muscle is a deep, cramp-y pain with visible muscle spasms, the tendon is an acute pain with a burning sensation. When needling a muscle the PT can usually see and feel the reaction when they find the right spot, when working on a tendon the reaction is more subtle and I spend a lot of time talking her through what I’m feeling. It’s interesting, to say the least…

St Mary's Glacier Idaho SpringsSt Mary’s Glacier – a short drive off I-70 and quick hike uphill.

It’s even more interesting to actually feel what the PT feels. When we were working on the tendons on the top of my foot [since I was already there with the needles and those tendons were sort of cranky…] she actually let me poke and spin the needles once she put them in my foot. Sounds so gross but it was actually really cool! I could feel when the needles grabbed onto fibers and felt them twist – both in my foot and in my hand when the tension increased. So weird!

Anywho…we’re now three weeks into dry needling on my left Achilles and while the tendon isn’t 100% back in the game yet it has made some HUGE progress! I’m not pain free 98% of the time and I’m allowed back on my feet for short distances and/or low impact exploring, which is awesome. Heck, this past weekend I even ran a 5K with friends! It was low key and involved costumes…who says “no” to something like that?!

Phantom 5K Loveland
A highlighter + a jazzerciser + Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter

I’m also doing my part to be a responsible runner and joined a gym. Yup, a gym. Not only did I give them my money…I showed up, twice! The cleanliness of my teeth and general appearance of my hair has been suffering since I’m focusing on upper body strength training but it feels SO good to have a routine again! That sounds cliché but I swear I’m not exaggerating. Yea, I still hate my alarm at 5:07am but it feels good to [eventually] get up, be active and feel accomplished before I even sit down at my desk at work!

Plus, if I have any hope of surviving the big plans I have for next year I need to do more than just lackadaisically run around mountain trails. I wish I was the kind of runner who could pull 100+ mile races out of a hat but I’m not…so I’m going to do what I need to in order to avoid another long stint of nursing an injury! If this involves strength training and yoga, fine.

On a less positive note – oh. my. goodness. The back and forth fixed/not fixed crap my body is throwing at me right now is literally making me crazy! It is so incredibly frustrating…and this frustration has nothing to do with “oh, I’m losing my climbing legs” or numbers on a scale and everything to do with the fact I am so tired of saying “sorry, I can’t run” when invited out on trail runs or mountain hikes. Turns out a huge part of my social life went down on the trails and now I’m only around for the beer + burgers post-run fun. Which isn’t all bad, but come on body…I’m being nice to you, get your freaking act together!

Motivation to Move

What motivates you to get outside and explore? Who is the one person that is always there to give you that extra push to move? If you’re feeling lazy where do you go for a little inspiration? Is there a certain group of people you depend on to keep you accountable day in + day out?

What is your motivation to move!?

For me…I don’t have a quick answer. I don’t have one individual in my life that keeps me going, instead I have a whole passel of #runablers that are forever giving me a reason to try something new. I don’t have a single goal that gets me out the door every day, I have an entire range of mountains on the horizon full of single track just calling my name.

That is what keeps me going, what gives me a reason to get up at 4am for a training run, encourages me to eat ice cream instead of try to out run an injury, keeps me grounded when things get surreal and has me asking questions even if they seem stupid.

The People

I’m not exactly experienced enough to offer up much good trail running advice but if you asked me about the one thing I could not succeed without I only have one simple answer…the people in my life who are forever encouraging and supporting crazy ideas. Or, as I like to call them, my #runablers. People like Lynne, Marissa, Paula, Logan and Heather [and so many more!] who don’t hesitate to say “you’re crazy…let me help you survive the misery”.

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But it goes beyond my circle of friends and expands to people whose names I may never know, people I only recognize when they are in running attire and have a bib pinned to their shorts, people who sacrifice personal time and energy to help strangers with no expectations of reciprocation, people who offer up support and encouragement to their competitors because they understand what they’re going through. In the past year I’ve encountered a lot of people like this through the running community…both on the road and on the trail, during 5Ks and triple digit ultras distances, through Twitter, forums and friends of friends of friends.

It is this community that motivates me to get my butt outside to train, explore and give back. This community is an eclectic mix of strong wills, hot heads and inflated egos…but if you take the time to look past that you’ll find those willing to offer up endless encouragement, advice buried in personal experiences and daily doses of motivation. These are the people that make up the backbone of the community; the people I seek out when I need someone to say “well, I think you’re an idiot but let me help you prove us all wrong!” or “you’re totally capable of this…here’s my two cents, feel free to take it or leave it”.

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If you haven’t found this part of the community yet…don’t give up! Put yourself out there…take opportunities to run with others, show up for run groups at your local running store, jump into #runchat and #ultrachat conversations, read up on posts + ask questions in the Trail and Ultra Running Facebook group, humbly accept advice but take every single word as a grain of salt. It may seem overwhelming at first, trust me, I’ve been there – it’s nerve-racking to be the newbie in a group but you’ll never have a chance to experience this community as I know it without showing up and taking a chance!

The Mountains

You know those days when people are annoying, conversations are stupid and you feel inadequate + judged for every thought your brain forms? I can’t be the only person that occasionally has moments like this, right!? Or maybe this is weird problem that only I have? Regardless, this is when I know I need to escape…I need to get my country girl fix with a trip into the mountains where a cell signal cannot find me. This is when the mountains are a true motivator!

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Sure, the mountains are a great motivator on a daily basis…they are always on the horizon reminding me I need to be nice to my body so it can hike the winding trails and that I need to plan my workload wisely so I can escape to a trailhead for a little alone time on a regular basis. But it is knowing that, even with “life happens” at the most inconvenient times, the mountains will always be there just waiting for me to show up.

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It seems weird giving inanimate rock formations so much credit but I know they’ll be there when I need them and they will never judge me. They might chew me up and spit me out but they’ll never turn me away. Instead they’ll let me wander around, experience the best and worst of Mother Nature and return to the city with a new take on life and a refreshed understanding of priorities and personal purpose.

Are my motivations to move a little vague and far fetched? Well, I didn’t think so until I tried to explain them but their my motivators and I’m sticking to them! If you’re busy judging me for being crazy…come visit, I’ll show you how therapeutic a trip to the mountains can be and just how selfless the running community in Colorado is! But be careful what you wish for, you may end up moving to Colorado or impulse signing up for race!

PS – I do need to give credit where credit is due and say that my mother is a huge motivator! I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve done something crazy and thought “well, I can’t help that I’m my mother’s daughter…” and then called her with the story. I am the person I am today because of her and I truly hope she takes that as a compliment!

Disclaimer: The motivation to take a look at my own motivators and write this post came from Oscar Health Insurance, an health insurance provider in New York + New Jersey. They suggested this topic to me in correlation with Health Literacy Month. They are not compensating me for this post in any way, with apparel, gear or money…they simply provided a suggestion and I ran with it because it got me thinking! These truly are mot motives and if you can find something similar to get your tush outside for a little fun on the trails then…mission accomplished!