Power in My Step

Non-disclaimer: This starts to sound like an advertisement for Powersteps, but it is not–I am just sharing my excitement to have found something that works for me. ¬†I was not compensated in any way, but I wouldn’t say no to a Powersteps sponsorship… ūüėČ

My life continues to be busy. ¬†There’s nothing exciting going on that I can share regarding that. ¬†However, I do want to give an update on the state of my feet. ¬†They are… getting there. ¬†Improving slowly. ¬†Of course, never as fast as I would like.

I took a walk before my exam last night and had some fun.

I took a walk before my exam last night and had some fun.

Beautiful :)

Beautiful ūüôā

My physical therapist and I made the decision today not to schedule any more appointments. ¬†I am supposed to continue doing my stretches and exercises at home. ¬†If I feel I am getting worse or stop improving, the plan is to go back to the doctor to get another PT referral, but we don’t anticipate that will be the case. ūüôā

Last year, I was really stubborn about not wanting to wear supports in my shoes. ¬†I was convinced that if I worked on strengthening my arches, that would be enough to run injury free. ¬†Obviously, strengthening my arches and associated alignment muscles (think calves, butt, hips) is still something to¬†work¬†on. ¬†I even have exercises from PT to work on those things. ¬†However, everyone’s bone structure and alignment is slightly different and some people are just more prone to issues. ¬†So, after a year of on-and-off injuries, I realized it was probably time to get off my anti-support high horse and actually listen when I was advised, once again, to purchase arch supports.

I did have custom orthotics in my preteen years as a competitive figure skater and they completely resolved the knee issues I was having back then, so I’m not sure why I was so resistant to the idea ten years later, but hey. ¬†I came around. ¬†When I first started going to PT in September for this injury, it was recommended that I get some Powerstep inserts, so I headed to the running store immediately after that first appointment and picked up some Powerstep Pulse orthotics. ¬†They felt great and those alone were already a huge¬†help.

This morning, at what will hopefully be my last appointment for a long time, we realized that when I lift my arch, my big toe comes off the ground, too. ¬†This means I’m not pushing off my big toe to walk, nor am I using it to stabilize myself when I stand. ¬†The only way I can push off my big toe is to consciously roll my foot inwards, which puts strain on, you guessed it, my painful tendon. ¬†Or fascia. ¬†Not sure which. ¬†The painful foot place. ¬†My physical therapist told me this rotation is called forefoot varus. ¬†She made some wedges to place near the balls of my feet to help support my big toes so I can use them the way they are meant to be used, instead of trying to get power from the¬†smaller, weaker muscles in my smaller, weaker toes.

Unfortunately, most over-the-counter orthotics only correct for varus in the heel, even though forefoot varus is relatively common. ¬†I actually have a pretty neutral heel and don’t benefit from heel support, so it turns out that a neutral shoe like the Kinvara (which I love) works great with a customized (i.e. added¬†wedges) Powerstep orthotic, since the Powersteps have a neutral heel cup with no heel correction. ¬†After adding the wedges, my feet feel instantly better. ¬†Not 100% better and not healed, but I would honestly say it cut my pain in half this morning. ¬†I’m sure it helped that she worked to loosen up my right foot a little bit, but both feet feel significantly better and I can already tell I am finally able to use my big toes again!

This probably sounds like an advertisement for Powersteps. ¬†It’s not. ¬†I’m just really excited that I finally may have found a combination of footwear and supports that works for me. ¬†And when these wear out, I will probably drop the $300-$400 it costs to get custom orthotics made just for me so I won’t need the taped-on wedges anymore.

Here’s hoping I’ll be out there running again soon! ¬†That is, more than the ten minutes at a time I have been doing twice a week. ¬†At the very least, I hope the ten minutes will leave me less sore in the arch area than it has been. ¬†Baby steps!

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Life Update – Busy Weeks, Fun Weekends

I have been silent on my blog since my last post about not running almost a month ago. ¬†I have been very busy with my final semester and searching for a job for after graduation. ¬†It’s true what they say about the job search being a full-time job in itself. ¬†I have been attending career fairs and career mixers, sending out my resume to every opportunity, networking, studying for interviews… oh and midterms are coming up this week and next for that school thing!

I’ve been so busy that I’ve barely even noticed the time pass in terms of how long I have been off. ¬†It was just the other night that I was lying in bed and realized it had actually been five weeks since my last run. ¬†That’s enough time off for some stress fractures, and I didn’t even realize it had been that long! ¬†So, as you can imagine, I haven’t been too torn up about not running. ¬†It certainly helps to be so busy during the week that I¬†don’t even have time to think about running.

Where my weeks have been filled with work, school, and looking for work for after school, I have been able to fill my weekends with wonderful experiences. The weekend before last, Matt and I went camping in St. Ignace and visited Mackinac Island, which is something we had talked about doing all summer. ¬†We had a mild summery weekend, so we planned the trip on a whim the day before leaving. ūüôā

Our campsite after packing up to leave on Sunday.

Our campsite after packing up to leave on Sunday.

Me in a rock formation

I don’t remember what this rock formation was called, but here I am inside it.

Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints.

I liked this sign at the entrance to a wetland board path.

Under the Mackinac Bridge

Our ferry ride back to the mainland stopped us under the Mackinac Bridge for pictures.

Last week Saturday, I went to a WordPress conference called WordCamp Ann Arbor.  It was for work, but I really wanted to go and had a lot of fun.

WordCamp swag

WordCamp swag.

On Sunday of last week, I biked out to the cider mill with some friends.

Cider Mill ride!

Cider Mill ride!

This Saturday, I went on a breakfast bike ride to (and back home from) the Dexter bakery, where I had a huge and hugely sweet apple fritter. ¬†As you can see, I’ve been reliably cross training about once a week. ūüėõ

Bicycle Dexter poster

Poster in the bakery

Matt’s birthday was last weekend, so I bought us two tickets to last night’s¬†Michigan v. Penn State football game. ¬†It was an “Under the Lights” game and the atmosphere was incredible. ¬†Our team (Michigan) won and it was very fun to watch.

Matt and I wearing light-up glasses.

They gave us light-up glasses.

Lights during the half-time show

The Michigan Marching Band’s halftime show.

Fun was had!

Fun was had!

My proofs came in the mail for my senior pictures!  Oh, and I cut my hair short.

"Hi, I'm professional."

“Hi, I’m professional.”

"But also fun."

“But also fun.”

Finally, because I should probably update you on my injury… I have been attending physical therapy twice a week and my foot improved drastically after the first week. ¬†Since then, improvement has slowed, but, this past¬†Friday, my physical therapist cleared me to try running ten minutes twice a week, with the stipulation that I ice after, warm up, and cool down. ¬†So, on Friday evening, I stretched, walked for five minutes, ran for ten minutes, probably didn’t stop smiling the whole time, and then walked another six minutes home. ¬†My feet felt GREAT during the run, but they were extra sore after. ¬†They hurt quite a bit on Saturday, and I was worried standing for so long at the game would make them even worse. ¬†However, I woke up this morning with virtually no pain. ¬†It’s confusing and I am of course going to wait until at least tomorrow (Monday) to try running again, but I’m excited to be making progress. ūüôā

Why I’ve Been MIA and Shutting Down

I am working on a blog-related project and I had intended not to blog until the project was ready for release. ¬†I made that decision when it was almost done, but then classes started and I haven’t been working on it because I am suddenly a lot more busy. ¬†Every time I have wanted to blog over the last couple weeks, I have decided that I can’t because my project isn’t ready yet. ¬†I think it’s been three weeks now and I don’t want to rush completion, so I’m just going to return to blogging until it is done. ūüôā

This is going to have to not be a running blog for a while because I am not running for a while. ¬†I have a piriformus injury that is almost gone, but I also have persistent tendinitis in the arches of both feet. ¬†I have had the latter on and off for almost a year at this point. ¬†Running with tendon pain is just not worth it to me anymore. ¬†I am restarting physical therapy on the 26th for my hip, and I have been much more diligent about doing prescribed at-home exercises and icing my feet. ¬†I have been wearing inserts in my shoes, and if my physical therapist suggests custom orthotics as she has in the past, instead of saying “no thanks,” I am going to ask, “How much and when can we make them?”

Lately, I have been wishing that I could just erase my last year or two of running.  Through mostly mistakes of my own, I have been plagued with injury after injury.  Sure, I ran my fastest half marathon in May 2013, but I also got a stress fracture and peroneal tendonitis during the way-too-aggressive build-up.  If I could, I would give up that PR to not have begun the vicious injury cycle back then.

Hindsight is 20/20 and there is no point to living in regret.  I may have had an unproductive, mostly injured 18 months of training, but I can learn from that.  I can learn to be patient, to be cautious, and not to try to keep up with far more experienced runners (in terms of pace, mileage, and what workouts they do).  I may not be the most patient person on the whole, but patience is all I have right now when it comes to running.

I am only 21 years old. ¬†There are people who start running at this age or later and end up running very well into their thirties and beyond. ¬†The other night as I was lying in bed, I thought, “I wish I could just start over.” ¬†And you know what? ¬†I can. ¬†If I am very patient and heal completely instead of going back to running as soon as I think I feel better, I can start over. ¬†If I do not think of it¬†as a return to running, I can start over. ¬†I’m not going to think about things I used to be able to do and my goal will not be to get back to that level of fitness. ¬†I don’t want to go back. ¬†I want to move forward. ¬†I’m¬†going to start fresh. ¬†A clean slate. ¬†A healthy body. ¬†Unknown potential.

I’m hoping for a January 1, 2015 start date. ¬†Not a return date, but a start date. ¬†If I am not healthy by then, I will not run. ¬†If I am healthy before then, I will enjoy extra time off and start in the new year. ¬†I am done running for this year. ¬†This has been a long, painful learning process that I am ready to leave behind.

Just to be clear, the blog is¬†not going anywhere. ¬†I will keep writing here, and hopefully soon my project will be ready to unveil. ūüôā

Quick-Fire Week

I made a really good choice this afternoon when I decided to buy a coffee at work. ¬†I was falling asleep, but now I’m not, and I’m also feeling very optimistic. ¬†I may also be a little hyper, which is making me want to blog, but not put too much effort into writing a¬†well-articulated post.

So, a quick-fire approach to recapping my recent life:

  • I went to a yoga class on Thursday with my friend Katie. ¬†It was a lot of fun and felt really good. ¬†It was my first time ever doing yoga in a studio. ¬†I want to see if I can make it again this week.
  • I did the ice bucket challenge after my brother nominated me:
  • Matt and I spent the weekend with his parents, originally for the Crim, but then we hung out longer and had a fun time.
  • I attempted to run the 10-mile at the Crim on Saturday morning, despite¬†the hip issues I had been dealing with. ¬†By mile two, my hip¬†was starting to get tight, and before the six-mile mark, it was pretty much shot. ¬†I walked the majority of the final 4.5 miles after hanging out with course volunteers for 10-20 minutes. ¬†I finished in two and a half hours and I was pretty bored walking because all the walkers around me had friends to chat with, but I was by myself. ¬†Regardless, I covered the distance, so that is something to be proud of, even though it could have gone a million times better and I could be a million times healthier.
  • On Sunday afternoon, we went shopping at an outlet mall and I managed to get a pair of shoes, plus six pairs of no-show socks, for $32!
  • My final semester of college starts in a week, so I have been preparing for the job-hunting process. ¬†It’s both exciting and stressful, but mostly exciting.
  • My bike is finished being repaired, so I get to pick it up tomorrow after work and I will get to ride it when we go up north this weekend. ūüôā
  • Matt and I are seeing the series 8 premier of Doctor Who, “Deep Breath,” in a¬†theater tonight!

Have you been up to anything exciting?  Do tell!

My First(ish) Sports Massage

I haven’t had a sports massage, deep tissue massage, or any kind of massage where a professional massage therapist works on a specific problem area since I was ten or twelve years old. ¬†I had been wanting to get one for quite a while, remembering how painful yet effective they had been for me in the past. ¬†However, I had this mental block about how I only wanted to go to my old massage therapist, who is 45 minutes away and works in an ice rink.

After I developed some intense muscle¬†tightness in my hip last week, I decided it was time to suck it up and go to someone local. ¬†It turns out my insurance covers “osteopathic manipulative therapy,” which is a fancy way of saying “deep tissue massage.” ¬†It would be 90% covered, but my insurance manual said I would have to get approval before going (whether that is a referral from my primary care physician, or something else, I don’t know). ¬†Additionally, the closest place offering those services and accepting my insurance was a chiropractic clinic 20-30 minutes away. ¬†It just seemed like a lot of hassle, so I opted to pay out of pocket to go to a local clinic.

I did some research online while lying in bed Wednesday night. ¬†My hip was stressing me out, worrying about where to schedule a massage was stressing me out, stress leads to lack of sleep, and stress plus lack of sleep does nothing to relax muscles. ¬†So I did my research late at night. ¬†I looked into a few places and found one near my apartment with a record of working with professional athletes and Olympians, as well as volunteering their services at the end of local races. ¬†I felt confident they knew what they were doing and especially knew runners. ¬†Plus, they had online booking, so I was able to schedule myself an appointment online at midnight for a sports massage the next day after work. ¬†Always a plus when I don’t have to make a phone call!

When I made my appointment, I described my problem in the “special instructions” section. ¬†When I showed up the next day, the massage therapist already knew exactly why I was there and had printed off some materials about helpful stretches to send home with me. ¬†I was already impressed. ¬†I wasn’t expecting any sort of rehab/at-home advice. ¬†The whole 45-minute session was very feedback-oriented as well as instructional. ¬†He explained what he was doing and what I could do at home to help my hip. ¬†It was never very painful, not at all like how I remembered the massages I used to get (maybe they were a different style), but obviously a massage does not need to be painful to be effective, because it helped a ton.

After the massage, I thought my hip felt about 50% better, and now, the next day, it feels 80% better. ¬†I’m still debating whether to run today because I’m worried about “undoing” the work from yesterday, but even just walking feels so much better, so I am very very happy.

I think I’m converted to someone who likes to get massages during training! ¬†My wallet can probably stand the $50 every month or so.

Do you like to get deep tissue or sports massages (they’re different things, right?) to aid in recovery? ¬†If so, how often do you get them?

My Life Feels Full: Last Week’s Adventures

The only way I can describe last week is “full.” ¬†My heart and mind (and stomach, hah!) felt full. ¬†It is unusual for me to do anything other than running and relaxing at home on weekdays after work. ¬†I usually try to go out of my way to plan something to do on¬†one weekend day, just so I don’t feel like I’m wasting my weekend by sitting around. ¬†However, this past week, I had something going on every day. ¬†While it made the week feel long, I thoroughly enjoyed it. ¬†I always had something to look forward to, and even when those things were errands, I still somehow managed to enjoy them.

On Monday, I got to leave work for a few hours in the afternoon to take my road test. ¬†I finally became a licensed driver at age 21! ¬†I already wrote about that experience here. ¬†Matt and I celebrated with burgers and beer at a restaurant near campus after work. ūüôā

Tuesday was pretty uneventful, EXCEPT I had a meeting before work with someone I may be doing some freelance web development for.  I got to drive there on my own AND it was in a part of Ann Arbor I rarely go to, so it was actually pretty exciting.  Especially the part about being able to drive there on my own.

I also got free barbecue for lunch on Tuesday. ¬†Alternatively, I got paid to eat barbecue, since I got it on a work “field trip” to a power plant 100th anniversary celebration. ūüôā

IMG_2756

There is a local Meetup group here that does several group run events every week. ¬†I have been wanting to go for a few weeks, but until last week, I hadn’t gone. ¬†On Wednesday, I went to their Wednesday Social Run. ¬†It is at a park I have to drive to because I’m not interested in adding four miles onto their route right now, so I hadn’t been able to go until last week. ¬†Funny enough, it turns out their route passes right by my apartment, as in¬†we run¬†right across the street from it. ¬†Theoretically, I could do the second half of the route on my own to run to the park, then do the first half with the group and return home, but that kind of defeats the whole SOCIAL part!

The Meetup event description says, “4 to 8 miles, depending on your interest,” so I had thought there might¬†be multiple groups doing different distances, or that there would be route options. ¬†However, there ended up being just¬†one route that everyone did, which happened to be 6.3 miles. ¬†Of course, that is squarely in the 4-8 mile range and would normally be fine, but having not run at all the previous two weeks, it was a little rough. ¬†Maybe more than a little. ¬†I was sore for two days after the run. ¬†Two days! ¬†I had fun though and I’m looking forward to going again this week.

Since it was my first time going, I just¬†had to go out with some of the group after. ¬†I had eaten pizza for lunch that day, but when they decided on a pizza place for dinner, I still wanted to go to hang out and make friends, so I had pizza again and it was delicious. ūüôā ¬†Hashtag no regrets. ¬†Well maybe ONE regret. ¬†Drinking even one beer after a 6-mile run and having not eaten in 5-6 hours was not one of my better ideas. ¬†I started feeling it halfway through. ¬†Oops. ¬†(I’m not someone who likes to get drunk. ¬†Nor tipsy/buzzed. ¬†At all.)

By the time I got home around 9, it was time to go to sleep because I had a doctor’s appointment at 7:50am the next day before work. ¬†This, like Tuesday’s meeting, was another one of those banal things made exciting by the fact that I could drive to it¬†on my own. ¬†On the way to work afterwards, I was able to stop by a coffee shop I had¬†wanted to visit ever since it opened last year, but hadn’t because it’s not within walking distance and I guess I never really wanted to bike there. ¬†It was nice and the manager knew my mom when I mentioned her. ūüôā

After dinner, one of my friends came over to visit before she moves out of state in two weeks to start veterinary school. ¬†We decided to go to a nearby open-air bar to try a drink she wanted to get before leaving. ¬†It’s called Constant Buzz (strawberry smoothie, pi√Īa colada, rum, tequila, vodka, gin) and only comes in a 50-oz size, so I invited Matt and we split it three ways. ¬†(Here’s a funny blog post by a Michigan grad about the bar and this drink, by the way.) ¬†It was delicious. ¬†Then, some older ladies gave us the remainder of their sangria after we took a picture for them on their way out. ¬†Also delicious! ¬†(This time I did not get buzzed. ¬†The body is a funny thing.)

Yummy drink

Yummy drink

Silly faces drink

Silly faces drink

Friday was the day I had been looking forward to all week. ¬†Matt and I had made plans for our siblings to come visit. ¬†We all went to dinner at a make-your-own “Italian” place, then spent an hour or two walking around downtown and showing them the university campus. ¬†I hadn’t seen my brother in a long time, so it was really great to hang out.

Siiiibs.

Shiny Happy People

On Saturday, I was feeling achy and sluggish. ¬†When I didn’t feel better after a couple hours of relaxing, I decided to go for a short run (only my second of the week) to see if it would help. ¬†I felt much better during the run, but it wasn’t until Matt and I¬†got a late lunch at Jimmy John’s that I felt close to 100%. ¬†While we were at lunch, Matt’s parents texted him asking if we wanted to come over for dinner. ¬†I didn’t think I would even want dinner, but we didn’t go¬†until late and I ended up¬†being pretty hungry. ¬†We went to an Irish pub in downtown Flint and it was extremely delicious. ¬†The portions were huge and none of us could finish, so I got to take home some leftovers, which I ate for dinner last night. ūüôā ¬†With how much I ate out last week and how many times I had leftovers, I didn’t have to cook at all last week…

Finally, on Sunday, Matt and I headed up to Frankenmuth (a historic German town) for an all-you-can-eat German-style chicken dinner at Bavarian Inn.  We ate almost nothing all day (he had a brownie and I had a bowl of cereal and some grapes) in preparation to stuff our faces. xD  This post has gotten very long (I told you last week was full!!), so I will leave you with some pictures from our time spent walking around Frankenmuth while our food digested.

IMG_2789

I thought this mouse/cheese statue was funny.

I thought this mouse/cheese statue was funny.

From "Tiny Town" outside Bavarian Inn.

From “Tiny Town” outside Bavarian Inn.

More Tiny Town

More Tiny Town

Still more Tiny Town.

Still more Tiny Town.

The Covered Bridge and someone handsome.

The Covered Bridge and someone handsome.

More Covered Bridge. :)

More Covered Bridge. ūüôā

Lesson from the Gardens: Obsession

On Friday at lunchtime, one of my bosses took some of us at work to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens to see an 80-year-old agave in bloom. ¬†It was great “professional development” time. ¬†I’m a web developer.

They had a panel open and Mr. Agave was growing out of the ceiling!

They had a panel open and Mr. Agave was growing out of the ceiling!

The venerable Sausage Tree.

The venerable Sausage Tree.

A surprising number of people in our group (three or four of us) are into gardening and know quite a bit about different kinds of flowers and plants. ¬†They would point out things they owned, things they wanted to own, things they tried to grow, etc. ¬†On the way out, one of my coworkers asked my boss, “So, you are into gardening?”

“I used to be. ¬†I tend to do things until they become MY JOB. ¬†I’m taking a break now until it becomes fun again.”

I just yesterday wrote a post about how I am sick of training for races and how I might want a break from running until I can¬†return to the primal fun-ness of it all. ¬†Obviously running will never be my job, just like gardening is not my boss’s job, but the principle applies. ¬†I’m aware I have an obsessive (addictive?) personality and I do tend to get very into things only¬†to do them so much that I get sick of them.

Two years ago, I was incredibly into knitting and crochet. ¬†I haven’t touched my knitting bag in a long time, except to move it. ¬†Admittedly, the summer I was super into yarn crafts was the summer my apartment had bed bugs (they were there before I moved in and I wasn’t told…) and I did most of my work sitting on my bed, so I’m still a little freaked that there could be bugs surviving in there. ¬†The other day, I was actually thinking about how it would be nice to knit something again, but how if I did, I would probably want to get all new things because of the bug potential, which is really too bad because I still have some good unused yarn.

Maybe I actually will hit the knitting shop this weekend and pick up some new yarn.  At least I can still use my old hooks and needles.  Anyway, I digress.

Lately, after working on a puzzle up north two weekends ago, I have been obsessed with puzzles. ¬†I walked around¬†to six different stores downtown last Monday but couldn’t find any, so I picked a few up when I went to the grocery store the next day. ¬†I got a four-pack of 500-piece puzzles and a 1000-piece puzzle. ¬†So far, I have finished one of the smaller ones and have the 1000-piecer about three-quarters of the way finished. ¬†Like I said to Matt the other day, I’ve been doing puzzles so much this last week that soon I’m never going to want to do one again.

Finished about half of this one Tuesday night and the rest on Sunday.

Finished about half of this one Tuesday night and the rest on Sunday (500 pieces).

I took this progress picture on Saturday night. I finished a lot more of it last night. :)

I took this progress picture on Saturday night. I finished a lot more of it last night. ūüôā (1000 pieces)

And yes, in case you were wondering, I AM one of those people who will play a song over and over again until I hate¬†it. ¬†Luckily, that seems to take a very long time for most songs. ¬†There is an album that came out almost a year ago–The Death of Me by Asking Alexandria–that I still listen to all the time and is still a staple in any playlist I make.

Sometimes, people talk about a line between dedication and obsession. ¬†That line might not exist for me for some things, but I’m only obsessed with things as long as they are FUN. ¬†Running by myself is NOT FUN right now, but I’m getting pretty psyched about all the social runs I have plans to go to in the future, and I’m probably going to do a local 5k this weekend FOR FUN. ¬†No pressure for a time, no pressure to race, just having fun and contributing to a good cause.