Where I’m At

11/25/2014

Howdy friends – I have not posted much on the blog front lately because frankly, there hasn’t been too much to write about.  A few weeks ago, I went ahead and got another MRI on the old foot because my ankle pain was persisting and getting worse.  :-/  Turns out, I don’t have broken ankle (I kid, partially) but rather, tendinitis of the flexor hallucis longus tendon.  “The whaaaat?”  The FHL basically runs from your calf, over/through your ankle and underneath your big toe.  This tendon helps to bend your toe down.

Anatomy of Flexor Hallucis Longus Tendonitis

The diagnosis on the FHL makes complete sense as my calf is always very tender and I have complained of pain my big toe forever now.  The tendinitis diagnosis was also a big of a relief!  I had been worried I had either a stress fracture in my ankle OR a torn medial ligament of some sort, neither of which would have been fun to treat.  I was also surprised (and annoyed) to hear that the MRI showed there is still significant signs of swelling and fluid in my heel (aka plantar fasciitis) which, if you follow this blog, you know I’ve dealt with for-freikin’-ever.  Thankfully, it does not hurt though but I am being mindful and treating it along with the tendinitis.

The treatment for tendinitis can be tricky as there is no blood flow in a tendon, rather they are just tough, fibrous tissue.  Blood is good for healing injury.  So I ended up getting a cortisone injection in the FHL basically into my ankle bone (ouch), took a week of rest, have two prescription medications (one tablet by mouth and one compound cream to put on topically), and have been using an at home Tens unit for therapy.  The combo seems to be doing well.  I’m not an advocate of repeated cortisone injections to manage pain, but they can  be very helpful to quickly manage swelling when combined with rest. I will see how my FHL feels in about 2-3 months, when the cortisone is technically worn off.

So, if everything goes as planned, my foot will be “better” by the first of the year.  I’ve also gotten a new pair of running shoes, Newtons, and I am easing my way into those very slowly to try to avoid any further injuries!  The verdict is still out on how I feel about them.  They kind of make the soles of my feet feel like I have hot spots, but not sure if that’s just my imagination.  Anyone else run in Newtons?

So other than truly focusing on getting my foot 100% before next September, I’ve been running 10-15 miles a week, keeping up with my 2-3 times a week swims, keeping up with my athletic conditioning workouts, taking 1-2 yoga classes a week and teaching lots of cycling classes at the Y.  I haven’t been outside on my bike a lot, primarily due to traveling and crappy weather, but I’m trying not to stress about it because I’m sure I’ll make up for it next year leading up to Ironman.  🙂 We got out a few weekends ago on a beautiful, chilly day, and did a nice long ~12 mile trail run / hike at Crowders Mountain. I was sore for days after but it was worth it.

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I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I’ll be out at the turkey trot with my family and hope to see some of you out there!  Thanks for checking in everyone!


Babies, a Bum Foot and an Ironman!

08/30/2013

So it seems like an appropriate time to blog. A lot has been going on lately, most notably the fact that three of my very best friends have all given birth in the last 8 weeks!! The timing of ALL of my friends being pregnant simultaneously is pretty exciting / ironic / awesome / crazy / depressing, but there is truly nothing cooler than the birth of a brand new baby and seeing your friends so happy!! There is one more peanut on the way by the end of the year and two more early 2014! I’m starting to worry if I will get pregnant via osmosis. 😉

Welcome to the world Elena (6/26), Kamden (8/23) and Tucker (8/27)! Your Aunt Kim loves you…how could you not!!

Baby Elena Lynn

Baby Elena Lynn

Baby Kamden Vaughn

Baby Kamden Vaughn

Baby Tucker Barzee

Baby Tucker Barzee

So aside from the daily birth / pregnancy announcements, I have been very busy at work, jam-packed with coaching, attempting workouts of some nature every day, traveling, and doing my best to enjoy the downtime. The last report was that my foot was feeling good after the cortisone, but I was still taking it easy to see how long it might last. Well, despite taking it easy, I am in pain again. I am pretty much back to where I was pre-cortisone when I was more-or-less desperate for something to take the pain away. At this point, I’m at a loss. The orthopedic put cortisone in there as a “last-ditch” effort and I prayed it would be the final solution. He mentioned one other shock wave procedure available, but again, it’s not 100% guaranteed, it’s not covered by insurance, and after what I’ve spent on treatment, surgery, massage, more treatment, ARP, acupuncture, and even more treatment, I’m not jumping on the option to spend another ~$3,000, right now. So, I’m at a loss.

I have been doing as much activity as possible with what I am able to do, though there’s just something about being a runner that I’m starting to miss so very dearly. Right now, I’m a jogger, who sometimes needs walk breaks up hills, who runs like 20-30 min at a time. It’s humbling. I also haven’t had as much time to ride my bike these last few weeks because work is extremely busy and it’s hard to get out during the week and I’ve been traveling a bit on the weekends.

Speaking of travel, I had the opportunity to go to Louisville this past weekend to watch the Ironman! I knew ~10 people racing, but most importantly were my two wonderful friends Jim and Leigh-Ann. I’ve trained with Jim for several years now and Leigh-Ann was my coach and my #1 training buddy leading up to Cabo. The Ironman environment is always an incredible experience, whether you’re racing or just spectating, but being at this particular race was very bittersweet for me. I started this race in 2010 and DNF’d at mile ~24 of the run. It was heart-wrenching at the time and it’s probably safe to say it still haunts me to this day. I had literally trained my butt off for the race (in hindsight, probably overtrained), but I ended up vomiting for 80+ miles of the bike ride and attempted to run the marathon in 95 degrees with, essentially, zero calories left in my system. Determined to get to the finish, I managed a walk / run while cramping in every part of my body, but by mile 24, I was starting to black out, dizzy, and afraid I’d fall and crack my head on the concrete. So, I hopped in an ambulance and cruised straight to the med tent . I had friends fly in and surprise me for the race, my family there, my boyfriend at the time there, they had shirts made, the whole 9-yards…and I didn’t finish. I could practically SEE the finish line! I do comfort myself knowing that I did what was best for my safety at the time; I literally couldn’t go another step, but it’s still a tough pill to swallow to put your heart and mind into something for ~6-7 months and not do what you came to do.

That said, being there this weekend at a very interesting, challenging time in my life physically, and watching both friends and those I didn’t know complete such a grueling event was extremely inspirational. I’m so far removed from that level of fitness right now that I will admit, I also felt a little discouraged. For the last 5 years, for all intents and purposes, I could have completed an Ironman at almost any point by because my base fitness has been so huge for so long. 100 mile rides have been no big deal, 3k, 4k, 4.5k swim sets were typical, and 10, 11, 14 mile runs have been standard. Given the ongoing status of my foot, some days it feels like I may never be able to race again. Running ~4 miles right now, sadly, feels challenging, so many things hurt during, and my whole body hurts more after. Things hurt that have never hurt before, in addition to my foot. One thing I have learned is don’t ever stop moving if you don’t have to, your body truly thanks you!

Despite feeling discouraged about my own fitness, it was truly awesome to be there watching friends and familiar faces race. I had a great time tracking all the Charlotte people, maneuvering the course, cheering, and supporting. Watching Leigh-Ann cross the finish line after the year she’s had, was nothing short of amazing. She’s been through so much that the emotions were overwhelming. Seeing Jim earn his spot to the World Championships in Kona was truly awesome. He’s been so supportive and such a great friend to me for a while now and there’s no one who deserves it more. Watching Carrie win her (very competitive) age-group and qualifying for a 2nd year in a row, while making it look fun and easy was very, very cool!

There were tons of other Charlotte athletes who had great, good, and some less than stellar races, but regardless of each persons finishing time, there is nothing more amazing that completing an Ironman. This weekend reminded me that even if I may never race again, no one can ever take the three I’ve completed away from me or the countless other races I have completed. All I can wish for is that if racing can’t be a part of my future, that there is something equally as rewarding and fulfilling as triathlon has been for me to replace it. 🙂

Happy Labor Day weekend everyone! Hope you enjoy some time off!


Foot Update #2

06/23/2013

Hi friends!  

I am 6 weeks from my surgery on Friday!  I had a 4 week appointment that didn’t go quite as I hoped, but was not surprised given the pain I’m still having.  My doctor performed another ultrasound which revealed than my previous 7.5-8mm of scar tissue (at the worst part) is now down to 5-6mm, so I’m improving (3-4 is normal)!  However, I’m improving much more slowly than he’s seen in previous patients.  The Topaz devise has only been around for a few years and has seen very high success rate in the large majority of its recipients.  Typically, patients are in the boot for 2 weeks, 2 weeks of moderate / light activity and then they are usually easing back into running.  Unfortunately, I’m skewing that data a bit.  He claimed he’s never had a patient who required crutches or needed the boot longer than 2 weeks.  :-\  There are days even now my foot hurts enough to feel as if I need the boot, but he’s encouraged me to try to resume normal walking without it.  

I’m “allowed” to do all activity other than running and jumping based on how my foot is feeling and my doctor insistent than I can’t further damage the heel walking, swimming, riding or doing the elliptical…so I have been, with a serious amount of caution.  I’m hesitant to do too much or go too hard because I have pain after when I do.  Well, and when I don’t too.  Ugh.  

I have no real update or plan of action at this point, other than just waiting a bit longer.  I got back on July 9th for another follow up.  We discussed at the last appointment that we’d determine a plan of action at the next appointment based on how I’m feeling – which may include additional procedures, but I say a little prayer every night that that’s not the case!  There’s a lot of compensatory “issues” going on with my foot that will be addressed once the heel is fixed.      

I’ve been making my best of the unwelcome downtime  by getting some projects around my house done and am  meeting with a Realtor to list it for sale next week!  I have a found a few bigger houses in the area that I really like which give me more space that I could definitely use.  First project is to sell my house though.  🙂  I’ve also been out cheering at as many races as I can and that’s truly a lot of fun!  Seems like there’s a new wave of up and coming triathletes locally mixing in with the old, which is really cool to see.  I’ve taken on 3 new coaching clients too so I’m back to full capacity and its nice to have that to keep me involved with the sport while I’m not actually training.  I have 5 clients doing Ironman this year and the process of working with first time Ironmen to me is the most fun part of coaching!  

So that’s my update!  I remain hopeful that I’ll be able to run again, and at this point, I’m not letting myself thing anything otherwise.  I’ll check in when I know more!  


A Quick Post-Surgery Update

05/13/2013

So my surgery was this past Friday and everything went according to plan…I think.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

I was home by 2pm on Friday where I spent the remainder of the day in bed with my foot elevated.  Looking back, I don’t remember a whole lot about the ride home and the day is kinda foggy, so I was definitely more drugged than I felt at the time.  I do remember some pretty excruciating pain setting in  at about 7pm, which sent my sister to the pharmacy to pick up the pain meds I didn’t think I’d need.   I usually try to avoid pain pills but there was no avoiding them on Friday.  The doctor put in a nerve block on both sides of my foot and this wearing off was pretty darn uncomfortable!  Sleeping Friday night was somewhat of a challenge because I couldn’t get my foot comfortable in any position, but otherwise, the night was uneventful.

I woke up Saturday feeling a little woozy, but in less pain than Friday.  My sister was doing her first race of the season at Jetton Park and there was NO CHANCE I was missing it….she flies around the world to watch me race for Pete’s sake!  In hindsight, however, I probably shouldn’t have been driving 18 hours after anesthesia.  Thankfully, I arrived safe.  I was sure I could sweet-talk the cops into letting me drive down into the water since I was on crutches, but nope.  The (a-hole) cop made me park about 1/2 mile from the park entrance and crutch ALL the way down to the water.  I swear it was almost 2 miles.  It took me over 30 minutes and I only arrived about 5 min before Dawn’s wave start, but I made it.  It was fun laughing and watching the race with Leigh-Ann, Franci, Bill, Joye and Paul and great to see Kelly and other familiar faces out there cheering and racing.  After the race, thankfully I got ride back to my car from a much nicer police man who took a lot more pity on me and HOW far I actually crutched to get down there.   🙂

Later that day, Dawn and I packed up all the dogs and headed to my parents house for Mother’s Day.  There is truly no better place to relax and put your feet up than their house.

momdad

It was a gorgeous day at the lake!

So today is Monday and I still am not able to put any weight on my foot, which I’ll admit is somewhat surprising to me.  The doctor led me to believe I would, essentially, walk out of the surgery center in my boot and get “instant relief”.  He did say the scar tissue was very dense and required quite a bit of “fanning” which is a bit more invasive, but I still didn’t envision this!  Perhaps he downplayed it or perhaps my procedure resulted in a bit more bruising than some patients, but I would hardly say I’ve gotten “relief”…yet.  I’m hoping to be feeling better very soon.  I’ve been using my crutches religiously and for the first time in my life, I’m actually thankful for them.  The thought of walking on my foot, in a boot or not, makes me cringe at this point.

I still feel confident that proceeding with surgery was the right choice.  My foot felt absolutely terrible on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning before surgery, which confirmed doing something more drastic was 100% necessary.  I’m going to be patient and hope that I will be feeling better…at this point, walking with no pain in my foot almost feels like some wild and crazy fantasy that will never come true!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend.  Thank you to everyone who called, emailed, text and checked in!


Taking a few deep breaths – or a million.

05/03/2013

When life gets tough, it is not my nature to sit around and have a pity party for myself.   I realize life gets tough for everyone at some point and more often for others; even when my life provides me with challenges, I’m smart enough to step back and remember that I have a pretty darn good life.

That said, I have been somewhat quiet on the blog front lately because I’ve had quite a bit of stuff going on in that has pushed me to all sorts of new limits.  Frankly, my life just hasn’t been “blog worthy” lately.  I will certainly not get into details of all of my personal business, but what I will discuss is how challenging its been that I can’t fall back on my usual “coping mechanism” for stress – my training.

As most people know, I have spent the last 5 years of my life swimming, biking and running to my hearts desires – with the typical aches and pains here and there, but virtually “injury” free.  Prior to triathlon, I spent 6 or 7 years running…a lot.  And before that, playing all sorts of sports.  I had one injury in 2008, which actually led me to triathlon, but otherwise, I have never been sidelined for more than a few days at a time.  I have taken some downtime during those 5 years to throw away the training schedule and do boat loads of yoga, but its always been on my terms.

Which brings me to my foot.  My stupid right foot, that I’ve come to despise.

What we thought was a stress fracture, was not.  I had an MRI that told me the plantar fascia tendon was partially torn.  So I rested.  I ARP’d, I wore a boot, and I rested.  And I got zero relief.  As it stands right now, I haven’t run in 6 weeks and my foot doesn’t feel any better.  So I saw a foot specialist (it took quite a while to get an appointment with him), who finally told me what is really going on with my foot.  Hindsight is 20/20, but I should have seen him in August when my foot started hurting!

Basically, there is 2.8mm of fascia surrounding my left heal bone with “normal” being ~2 – 3mm.  The fascia on my right foot currently measures 7.46mm.  The dark spot / line seen on the MRI and classified as a “partial tear” is actually just an area of dense scar tissue at the attachment.  Scar tissue forms when you don’t get rid of the fluid and inflammation that builds when you have plantar fasciitis for long periods of time.  At this point, it is considered Plantar Fasciosis due to the presence of scar tissue (vs. inflammation as with standard plantar fasciitis) and hundreds of micro tears.  Though I treated  the symptoms all along, I never actually took the time off to let the inflammation and fluid subside because I had a race to do!  Stupid, yes – and I’m regretting that now.  I can rest, ice, APR, acupuncture,  laser, massage, ART, etc to my hearts desires…they will not help with scar tissue as they are all targeted on inflammation.  If I chose not to do anything, I will have pain for the rest of my life (per my Dr).  Until surgery, I can continue to do most anything except run and jump since at this point, I can’t make it any worse than it is.  :-\

So it’s confirmed – I will have a 2-part outpatient procedure next Friday.  The first part of treatment is called the Topaz Procedure (don’t watch that if you have weak stomach), which is more “surgical” and will require general anesthesia.  The doctor described it to me like boring dynamite through rock to break up the scar tissue.  The second procedure is called PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) and acts as the perfect “compliment” to the Topaz.  PRP can be done with local anesthesia but I will get at the same time, thank god.  If you’ve never had needles in your heal, trust me, you don’t want them while you are awake!  PRP is a newer treatment that has reported some great results from studies.  Per my doctor, the combo of Topaz / PRP is “the cats meow” for advanced cases like mine.  He has only had 3 athletes out of hundreds of cases get this combo and not get relief.  Please pray I’m not his 4th.  🙂

I will be in a boot again for ~3 weeks and after that the course of action (unfortunately) is to be determined.  Unlike, say, a broken bone where you set it, put it in a cast and wait x weeks for it to get better – this isn’t the type of injury or procedure that everyone has the same results or time frame for recovery.  I hope that after 3 weeks in the boot I am feeling good and at that point will be cleared to do anything but run and jump for ~4 more weeks.

Unfortunately, after the procedure when I am (hopefully) pain-free, the story is not over.  The second phase of this injury is getting to the root of what caused it so I don’t end up back here in 6 months.  Obviously resting and getting proper treatment if I ever feel it coming on down the road are a given, but with the amount of running I do, I need to be sure I’m in the right shoes, have the right insoles, proper gait, etc.  The doctor and I will go through all of that in my follow up appointments.

Despite all of this, I am trying my best to stay positive.  I have a lot of other issues going on and would do anything to be able to pour myself into my training and racing, but for now, I am spending my time riding, burning up the elliptical, the step mill, taking body pump and working on some much needed core/glute strength.  I am confident I will get back at it when my foot is healed and am hoping this forced rest will be beneficial to my mind and body in the long run.  🙂


” – “

03/29/2013

No, the title of this post is not a typo.  🙂  I went to yoga today and left with some much needed perspective.   The teacher briefly discussed a book she is reading about how you would live if you found out you were dying in 30 days.  The book references a tombstone where on a tombstone is the date of your birth and the date of your death.  These dates are separated by a ” “.

If you sit and think long and hard about that little tiny symbol, you realize how magnificent that “ ” really is.  It encompasses your entire life!  Everything you do from the day you are born until the day you die are summed up by one single  “ “.

I spent a some time in the final moments of class thinking about my “ ” and what it currently encompasses vs. what I’d like it to encompass.  I thought quickly of everything from the person I am and who I’d like to be, the things I’ve accomplished and what I still have left to accomplish, the places I’ve traveled and still want to go, the people I’ve met and, perhaps, haven’t met, and my life in general.  It was just “one of those moments” in life when things just become a little bit more clear.

This has been a trying week for me on many levels.  Sometimes all it takes is a little unexpected perspective from a yoga class to help remind us to not sweat the small stuff.  We only get one tiny, little ” ” in our lives so we might as well make it the best damn ” ” we can.


What’s Next?

03/28/2013

Well, the question of the hour seems to be “what’s next?”

At this point, my only priority is resting and healing my foot and staying active doing fun workouts that include as little swimming, biking or running as possible. It’s 12 days post race, I haven’t run since race day and my foot still hurts. I had an MRI today and should get the results to that very soon…the moment of truth!

Given I had a hard time running in Cabo for various reasons, my body recovered quickly post race. I took 5 full days off of nothing but laying around soaking up the sun and have spent the rest of the time since I’ve been back doing 30-45 min of elliptical, Stairmaster, athletic conditioning classes and a ton of glute/core/total body strength. I normally get most of my strength work from intense yoga ~2-3 times a week but that has been so limited because of my foot that I’ve turned into a big, blog of endurance. Perhaps this injury is a blessing in disguise to get back into the gym and tighten up! I am really enjoying the downtime, maybe the first downtime I’ve had in ~3 years, and doing different types of workouts. I plan to attend some classes at the Hilliard Studio, continue to practice yoga (so long as my foot will tolerate) and may even finally take some much needed time to focus on my swimming. We’ll see.

Race wise for 2013 is a complete question mark at this point. Much is contingent on my foot, but also contingent on my desire to race and some pretty exciting outside factors. The only thing I know for sure I will be doing is Blood, Sweat and Gears Century – a pretty “epic” (for lack of a better term) mountain ride in June – and racing my bike here and there. The only other race I have registered for is Raleigh 70.3, but again, that will be dependent on the diagnosis of my foot.

For now, you can find me at gym getting ripped. 🙂