Stress and Injury

I wrote this a week ago and sent it out for submission. Having not heard back I’m chalking it up to Written Rejection and am moving on, choosing to post it here instead.

I should be heading out for six miles tomorrow morning according to my marathon training plan. But since writing this piece, I’ve pinched a nerve in my left scapula, which kept me from Saturday yoga, woke this morning with a pulled muscle in my neck and have a faint, but still there, soreness in my quad.

I am, in physical terms, a big old mess!

Maybe it’s time to hang up the hopes for a January marathon. Maybe running to meet a time and distance goals should not be my focus right now. Maybe at this phase of my life I should run for pleasure and freedom and stress relief.

No decisions must be made today.

Acknowledging the thoughts……


Stress and Injury

Being plagued by a tremendous amount of stress recently I woke up ready to go for a run, but had momentarily forgotten about the right quadracept injury that had forced me to put my marathon training on hold. If that wasn’t irritating enough, as I stepped down from my bed I felt a muscular pull up the backside of my right calf; curious as I haven’t done any running or worn new and different shoes since I’d allowed myself this little break to heal from the nagging pain in my thigh.

As I hobbled down the stairs I wondered if the mental stress I’ve been under lately is causing my body to react in a way that is purely physical; both slowing me down and creating pains in places where there shouldn’t be any. It isn’t just common sense that stress can cause illness and injury, in April 2012 a Scientific study at Carnegie Mellon University found proof that mental stress can cause harm on a cellular level; real and actual inflammation can (and does) form in the face of stress.

Two weeks ago I was on a running/yogic/healthy lifestyle roll. Marathon training was in its first week, my consistency in yoga attendance was helping me gain strength and focus, and my food struggles seemed a thing of the past (quitting sugar helped). I was pushing my limits much as I had a year ago at this time, but my circumstances are currently quite different.

Forget that my divorce mediation is nearing closer by the day, the fact that my mother is a week out from surgery from a skin cancer or that my daughters have been acting out to the point that I’ve called a child psychologist for help. Forget that I’m still living with my soon to be ex, that as a stay at home mom I am at the mercy of my husband’s financial choices or that I haven’t worked in six years, since before my twins were born. I have no idea how I’ll support myself after the divorce.

On Tuesday, when a life threatening illness of a loved one rang in my phone, it dawned on me the enormous amounts of life stressers that have plagued what I am coming closer to christening, “Terrible 2012.”

I have a list of things I want to do. I want to run my second marathon in Miami (in January). I want to find meaningful work that will monetarily add to the lives of myself and my children. I want to eat right and attend yoga and fit in my closet full of clothes all presently too tight. I want to feel happy about the chores that keep my house running. I want my family to be healthy. I want to spend time with friends and hear about the wonderful things happening in their lives. I want. I want. I want.

But now may not be the time for the things that I want.

Now might be the time to step back and allow the universe to deliver to me what it thinks I need.

Am I ready to hang up the dream of Miami? Not yet.

Am I going to beat myself up for eating more than my share of the pumpkin pie? Nope.

Will I attend yoga tomorrow morning as I have been for the past few weeks? Yes, because I know it is good for me (my intention, however, will be to remain mindful and without pressure to perform).

What I am not going to do is allow the stress to creep up and cause me pain and frustration and worry.

Sometimes a person needs to be able to choose between what they need and what they want on a minute by minute basis. Knowing when not to do the thing(s) that they want becomes the only decision; the grown up decision to say, “I can’t right now,” knowing that they’ve saved themselves from a stressed out illness or unfortunate injury.

Have you ever pushed through stress and injury for a race? How did you do?


It’s not funny how badly I want another one of these and the experience to go along with it.

An Injury in Mommyland

With week one of my marathon training complete I know I should write an update.

But after injuring my right quad the day before week one was to begin, there’s not a whole lot to report. I managed to run fourteen miles even though I took off one of my mid week runs. After yesterday’s eight, whereupon I had to call my husband to come and pick me up (I miscalculated my route and the extra two miles home would have left me completely incapacitated), I’ve decided to take a rest.

My pulled thigh will not heal if I continue to push the plan, so I have committed instead to running zero miles this second week of training.

We will see how week three looks, but my goal right now is to listen to my body and be kind to my whole self.

On the food front, I’ve had my hand in the sugar bowl more than a few times recently, but I’m feeling really fine about my choices. I’ve even added back in some gluten and have not felt any ill effects.

No bingeing, no madness, better decisions are being made all the way around.


Has your training ever been sidelined?

Yesterday’s lunch. Millet bread, a hard boiled egg, avocado, greens and tomatoes. I’ve added some gluten back into my diet, but I like the milllet bread, so that will stay.
This morning’s breakfast, which Grace said, “looked disgusting,” (what does she know)!. Fage plain Greek yogurt, a peach, and Kind’s Maple and Chia Clusters. Another gluten free choice that I’m keeping in my diet. Thank Goodness for Kind… they make some surprisingly deliciously healthy foods.

Wild Horses Wild Time

The timing of our little vacation was perfect.

The place we chose, six miles past a paved road in the land of wild horses made it easy to forget the outside world. We four by foured it all along the sandy dunes to get to civilized land, since the roads aren’t paved that far down the Barrier Islands of North Carolina’s coast.

I spent my days sitting on the beach watching the girls play, giving me a chance to read a real book with real pages (as opposed to the audio versions), while Brian manned his fishing pole.

It’s funny how a break from reality lifts the doldrums (monotony you don’t even realize until you escape) and everyone is so much more peaceful.

The wild horses have added to the mystique and magic of the place.

They’ve been living along the shores of the Outer Banks since the 1500’s, descendents of the Spanish. We know this because we read up from books lining the rentals’ shelves. They had been pushed off Spanish ships that were sinking and their tough stocky bodies mixed with determination to live gave them power to swim to land.

The horses have survived longer than the Colonies and Blackbeard the Pirate and now roam the beaches, heads down nibbling sea grass. Every morning we would watch to see them coming up over the sandy hills and at dinner time we’d crane our necks to catch a glimpse as they’d disappear through the trees to where they’d sleep.

I managed to run one day, despite a nagging pain in my left calf. I probably should have given myself a few more days to nurse the leg (sore for a week already), but I couldn’t resist a beach run with the horses.

Beach running, I’d forgotten, is much tougher than running on nicely paved streets. My attempt at five miles turned into three with a half mile walk up the dunes back to the house. When I returned I was dripping with sweat, but stuck my legs in the hot tub anyway, hoping the heat would loosen the pull.

Amazingly, it felt much better the next day and tomorrow I will attempt a street run as soon as the kids are dropped off at school.

Yesterday, Brian’s old friend Uncle Al drove up from Raleigh and it was great to see him playing on the beach with the girls and their dad.

I watched from my chair while the boys got my daughters started with drippy sand castles, which kept them occupied for long enough that I was able to get all the way to page two hundred fifty in my book. Have I mentioned how much I’m loving The Help? It’s about a writer and a story she must tell and I’m delighted by the surprise (I can relate more than a little).

Last night I left the guys to party it up with Crown Royal and Coke and only had to come up once to tell them to turn down the music. They were having a good time, but I chose to  spend my evening in a wicker chair next to my sleeping girls, while putting the finishing touches on the piece I sent to

The piece I was working on, entitled Infertility, Hope and Mother’s Day, turned out fine. It was a difficult one to write, but sometimes I need to be reminded of how much I wanted my monstrous monsters. If it doesn’t get published there, I’ll post in Mommyland.

It was early when we got up this morning and not at all a beach day. I attempted to get something posted, but the 10:00 check out time made it impossible.

We are home now. I’m back in my writing chair.

Back in the saddle tomorrow in regard to my diet and my running, school for the girls and work for their dad.

The saddle. It’s a good fit, but sometimes I wish we were more like those horses we left trolling the sandy dunes; wild, free, with nothing to do but laze and graze. Those horseys have no idea they’re on a permanent vacation.

They were so excited their feet left the ground!
Mommy hearts S+G. G was on the cusp of a temper fit. Notice her stomping out my letters. Four year olds!
When the horses got closer we’d back away and let them pass. This time was special because there was a pony in the pack. You can see him right against his mother.
After the beach. Trying to be like my awesome bloggy friends who take pictures of themselves to document their fab fashion finds. Loved my Kayce Hughes Tunic, but I’m afraid I’m hopeless in the self-photographing department.
Lesson to mom’s with smallish children. Avoid teaching them how to take pictures using your iPhone. You will spend precious time erasing two hundred plus pictures of Chi Chi and Chi Chi and rental house mermaids.
Sweet Sandy Soph.
Grace. She throws a mean tantrum, but most of the time she’s a real lovey.
Usborne Activities Fairies Sticker Book. These things are an absolute lifesaver for children on vacation. The girls would work on them for hours. The Ballerinas, Sports and Pirates books are great, too!
Heading Home Happy.

Twenty Mile Monday

Twenty miles in the rain = not so much fun

Twenty Mile Monday could have easily been titled, Brutal With A Captial “B.” It was that hard.

I knew I was up against a big one when the skies opened as I waited to leave. The fact that my Garmin was dead was another good indication. In the end, I chalked up the difficult nature of the run to not only those unfortunates, but I’m pretty sure my premonitions, made in a post two days ago, jinxed me as well.

Superstitions are not a new thing for athletes. We’ve all heard of baseball players who wear the same socks for entire seasons or who chew on a certain type of gum during every game. I have learned that it is a very bad idea for me to write any sort of expectations about an upcoming run. It’s happened more than a few times now and I think I get it.

With the marathon nineteen days away, the only talk will be about the fact that it lingers and any actual running that is happening after the fact. Better safe than sorry.

For the first two hours of yesterday’s run I listened to my book. Since I don’t want to spoil anything for folks who haven’t yet read Chasing Fire, I will just say that the only smile that crossed my face (during my long four hours and fifteen minutes on the puddled roads) was when Girl on Fire put on her wedding dress and spun. I had visions of feathers and fire and pearls, which was a lovely prelude to my minds swirling images of Oscar actresses twirling in their own gowns. The description of Katniss took my breath away, much as it did when I got the first glimpse of Gwyneth in her cape and Claire at the after party.

When I realized I wasn’t paying attention to the story any longer I switched to music. But an hour of Ellie and Britney and Beyonce couldn’t block out the harsh reality that I was soaked to the bone. The Kleenex in my pockets were solid bricks of wet paper and I resorted to nose blowing on the arms of my shirt. My hands were bright red, almost purple from the cold. I tried to cover them with the long ends of my race shirt, but would let go when I noticed that the tight gripping caused new pain.

Pain in the hands could be managed by releasing the grip and opening and closing my fingers to get some blood moving. This then helped eased the tension in my shoulders. The pain in my legs was the worst and I knew it wouldn’t be remedied until I was done.

By seventeen miles I wanted to throw the white flag. I no longer cared about my time, my only objective became to finish. I tucked the ear phones into my pocket and tried to concentrate on what was happening in my body. My calves were bad. There was new pain at the inner corner of my knees. The place where my foot met my leg, not the ankle exactly, but around to the front, was sore and tight like a pulled rubber band. I knew that at this point I had no choice but to walk and take inventory of the issues so as not to injure myself further. As much as I wanted to be inside my house, warm in my tub, legs propped up on my bed, I continued the walk run until mile nineteen.

When I saw that I was almost there I didn’t stop running, even though my run was closer to a walk, a depressing fourteen minute mile slow. I hit the stop button on the Garmin at twenty and grunted like a woman in labor for the next fifteen minutes. It took time to strip off my clothes, because my hands were such a mess. I was grateful that no one was home because they surely would have been horrified. I knew I had a list of things to attend to so that I’d be able to put it all behind me. I had to keep moving.

I managed to get all the layers off save my undergarments and base top. I opened a chocolate milk and guzzled some down. In between grunts I managed to mix up a greek yogurt with honey and add some Go Lean and strawberries. Then I located the roller.

I got down on the floor after a bite  and a swig and began by rolling out my left IT band. The pain was not bad, so I moved around to my left quad. Next were the right hip, IT, and quad which were better than usual. The major pain was in the calves and I yelped at the point where the roller crossed them, up and down and back again.

The one part of my body that didn’t hurt, in fact it looked radiant, was my face. Four hours of running in the elements does wonderful things for the skin. I looked rosy and clear, pretty on the outside; a complete opposite from what was happening on the inside.

I should probably label today Taper Tuesday, since it is the official beginning of the final three weeks. Instead, I’m christening it Take Care of Mommy Tuesday.

I told Sophie and she suggested that maybe I could use a wheel chair. I agreed what a great idea, but she reminded me I’d have no one to push it, since Dad will be at work and I’m too big for her to wheel around.

Who am I kidding?

A mother’s work is never done even if she did just run in the depths of hell the very day before.

The cape that made me gasp! This is beyond divine!
Claire Danes in Valentino. I love this dress and don't think she's ever looked prettier.

Give Me A Break

The weather has been perfect for running, but I am tired and need a break. My hips are sore and my left toe joint is flaring. If training for a marathon took up a lot of time before, it’s using even more lately as I have to stop to ice the old bones a few times a day, making it hard to do my job; kids, clean, kids, clean, clean kids, clean.

The first sign that rest is needed, after feeling old injuries coming on, is lackluster running. In truth the only thing that kept me going for yesterday’s eight miler was the extended description of Sookie and Bill’s first time. At least I had a smile on my face.

When I dozed off yesterday afternoon, leaving my kids to their own devices, I realized I needed to switch up the plan.

When I woke, both girls had emptied their piggy banks onto the bedroom floor and made a long circular path of coins for their princesses to walk upon. Surprisingly, they were playing nicely and unlike the last time I fell asleep in the middle of the day, no one had cut their own bangs.  I couldn’t help thinking they were like those dogs you hear about whose owners have died and then stay close for comfort. For this I was grateful, though I don’t really like being the dog owner in that scenario. The reality is that (indeed) I was (and am) dead tired.

I am choosing not to run tomorrow’s five miler in an effort to give myself an extra day of rest. By Saturday I am sure I’ll be itching to hit the road.

Until then I’ll ice, take ibuprofen, and rest.


Nothing’s ever sounded so good!

Ready To Run!

This morning I went to visit Dr. Kerner. The technician took x-rays of my ankle and I read through an entire People Magazine (the one with Casey Anthony on the cover) while I waited. I can’t remember the last time I read through a magazine front to back, even the ads.

When Dr. Kerner came in, after analyzing my x-ray and pressing on my foot, he said that I didn’t break any bones. It’s just a sprain.

He then asked me how I did it. I started at the beginning and gave him the whole story; from training for the marathon, to blogging, to looking for the writing journals where I’d written about running, on and on. I lost total control of my mouth.

Finally he stopped me and said, “You mean you didn’t even do this running?”

“Yep! That’s right!”

When he said I could run again as soon as I wanted, I made a high-pitched noise and did a little dance. He slid away from me on his rolling chair, and I couldn’t help but think that I might be a little much for him so early this particular morning. When he left the room, I saw him hand my chart to the nurse and say, “Sprain.” That was it.  I stood in the doorway and watched him walk away.

Maybe Dr. Kerner was having a bad day. He didn’t seem as excited to talk to me about running, though he did say that he’d just bought new shoes that he’d run in yesterday, but they didn’t fit, and made his toes numb. That would bum me out too. I told him to return them!

I managed to escape the office without embarrassing myself further. I took my ankle exercise sheet from the nurse and walked away (with barely a limp). As I exited the waiting room I noticed people all around me with those big black leg braces and two people in wheel chairs.

After my appointment, I went for coffee with my friend Dawn, who is also a mommy to twins. Her kids are a little younger than mine, but I was reminded what a tough job we have. We talked a lot about the kids, a little about the husbands, and she told me I looked, “great.” I took that as permission to grab a croissant and a handful of chocolate chips when I walked in the door back at home.

As I noshed, I checked the weather report for tomorrow morning. It’s 80 degrees and cloudy in Raleigh today, but tomorrow will be 50 and raining. I’m so excited to run again, I don’t even mind if it’s wet or cold. I think I’ll wear my Lululemon pants with the rain repellant fabric on the front and the cinch ties at the bottom. My plan is to do an easy 3-4 to get these bones moving again. I’ll probably listen to some really loud music and smile the whole way.  My route will stay close to home, in order to avoid the broken pavement up my favorite side streets, and I will be checking my time, just to gauge my pace.

I grabbed another croissant as I ran out the door to pick up the kids at pre-school. I told myself, as I climbed into the car, that I’ll use up the carbs tomorrow!

Writing as a Practice

froggy pajamas, compression sock, iced ankle, and last night’s quinoa left on Sophie’s chair

At this very moment, I am sitting in my froggy pajamas, with a compression sock on my left foot, which is elevated on a chair, wrapped in a Ziploc bag filled with ice. I had just gone upstairs to locate a journal I had written while taking a class at UC Berkeley in my late 20’s.  The class was called Writing as a Practice. The purpose of the class was to pick an activity that I did 4-5 times a week and write immediately afterward. I chose running. Kind of like blogging, pre-blog Universe.

As I rummaged through the drawers in my closet, where my journals are hidden, I racked my brain about where it could be. I move my journals around often; truth be told, there’s some scary stuff in there. Moving them makes me feel like they are safer, though really, no one is looking.

The Berkeley journal wasn’t in my drawers. Maybe it was on that really hight shelf, in that box with all my old photos? Instead of going to find a chair to safely climb up, I stepped on the lowest built-in with my right foot, stretched up to grab the highest hang rack with my left hand, and reached for the box with my right hand. At that very moment, Sophie, recovering from a really horrible yesterday (ear infection, fever, the works), ran into my closet crying that I can’t run today! Some days I have to peel her off of me to get out of the house. In my haste to get the box, and my frustration of having Sophie completely under foot (I also didn’t want the box to fall on her), I slipped and landed squarely on my left ankle. CRACK!

I laid on the floor for Brian to come help. Tears streaming down my face, I yelled for Sophie to, “Go get Daddy!” She didn’t. She wanted her, “Hoppa Woobie” and was crying herself.

Ok. Regroup. I’m mad as hell, but what can I do? The smart thing is to rest the ankle. It’s throbbing up my thigh. Forget the running today. Hopefully if I give it a day or two, I can still do my long run on Sunday? Adjust the schedule again. One step forward, two giant steps crippled steps back!