Finding Balance: Week 2
I guess it's much easier to find balance when you are in a more predictable routine. I went back to work this week (students don't come until next week) so I front loaded my training to accommodate the stress that would come at the end of the week. I think the key to success when you aren't running every day is to really look ahead and make sure you are planning out the most effective way to fit things in. I did pretty well with that this week.
Monday: 7 miles, 1:05 9:20/mi.
I set out to run 3-4 miles today but wasn't going to rule out doing more since I didn't run at all over the weekend. I started and was so bored I thought for sure I'd hop off at 3 miles, but then little by little I just stayed on and cut myself off at 7 miles. I felt totally fine and was happy to have no weird twinging or symptoms while I was on the Lever.
I did two strength exercises after: Squats and hip thrusts. 3 rounds of 12. I'm going to try to just do a couple exercises after each run. It makes it much more manageable to just tack it onto a run rather than set aside a longer chunk of time. I'm way more likely to get a run in than an independent lift... and way more likely to skip a longer lift session after a run... so just putting a few exercises doesn't overwhelm me.
My TOS is getting much better. the chiropractor is definitely working for this but I'll be excited to have it fully better so that I can *actually* lift again and not just do body weight
Tuesday: 4 miles 37 mins 9:15/mi
I haven't done many back to back days but for some reason I thought I'd rather run today than Wednesday. My justification was that I wanted the day before the first day of school off so that in case I had some bad symptoms I would have a day to recover. I pretty much did laundry all day after this. Lots of up and down the stairs and walking around putting chunks of clothing in bedrooms... Trying to get those NEAT moments in.
Man, Good thing I didn't run the day before work because I was THROBBING today. I'm pretty certain the botox has worn off completely... The polarization between how I was just a few weeks ago and now is so glaring. I can't believe I legitimately lived like this and thought it was normal. In a perfect world I could high-tail it to Wyoming for another round ASAP, but there's a lot going on preventing me from being able to drop what I'm doing and head out there, so.... Just gotta deal with it... But holy hell I can't believe this was my old life! Kinda reminds me just how much progress has been made. Sometimes you need to go back to baseline to see that clearly.
Thursday: OFF- First day of school
I planned to take today off because it was my first day of School. I BARELY slept the night before. Legs were THROBBBBINNNGGGGG... In part because I didn't sleep. I think the two days in a row probably wasn't the best move plus I'm back on the concrete floors so... la-la-la- it is what it is. But again. Holy Hell. It's like sticking my legs in lava. It doesn't help that I also actually had a sunburn healing on my shins so it was also itchy. First day wasn't so bad. It was hard because I very much pictured it different, but since the summer didn't go super well for me that "how was your summer" question is always tricky. What can ya do? Things are definitely looking up, just wish I still had a month of vacation since I feel like I missed a month!
I originally planned on going home and running but I literally couldn't believe how bad my legs were. Jeeze. I know I can't go to Wyoming anytime soon but I really wish I could manage the situation. I'm thinking I'll adapt. Probably wont do many 1 hour runs anymore and might have to ..... blahhhhh... Learn to walk. Maybe once school really gets in a groove I can do swimming or something, but right now I'm just too far away from a pool and my kids are starting school so I can't plan anything but a workout at home.
I did use the Air Relax and that may or may not have helped but gave me some relieve temporarily.
Saturday: 5 miles- 46:49, 9:21/mi
Another "planned to do 3 ended up staying on longer"... These will probably bite me in the butt... or the shins... or the calves... but one day at a time. It was a really beautiful day and I was sad to be on the treadmill but happy to be running at all. I missed my chiropractor by accident because I went back to school shopping with the girls. Kill me. haha. Anyway. I tried to put my legs up right after the run to get the blood moving and draining. Just going to play around with different strategies to manage pain because I didn't know what my diagnosis was and what caused my pain in the past so the strategies I used weren't necessarily specific to my needs. At least now I know whats up. Gotta avoid that plantar flexion and get that blood back where it needs to go.
Sunday: Short Walk
Last day before the school year officially starts, and after Matts long run we went to Treehouse Brewery to eat from the food trucks, go for a short hike, and have some ice cream. The walk went great and overall I felt good and hopeful that I can maintain some sort of movement while I wait for the opportunity to get another treatment. We had a great time! Unfortunately, afterwards I was sitting down and had some of those really old lightning sensations in the left calf. This had me bummed out at first but its so different this time around because I know this is to be expected. I'm 8 months out from my last treatment... and if I could just fly to Wyoming and get the injections I would, but I can't... and it is out of my control... so I'm really going to have to get creative for the next several months. We will see how it all shakes out... but for now... it's looking like running might be off the table... so who knows what I'll be blogging about next. I'm proud of the risks I've taken and the commitment I've made so far... Time to figure out a new plan. Again.
Summary: 16 miles, 1 chiropractic adjustment, 2 mini strength sessions
Not such a bad week overall, but kinda a bummer at the end! I wish I didn't know for certainty that this pain in my legs wont go away until I can get more botox, but... ya know... it's pretty much a guarantee I'm not going to improve from here on out it's just a matter of how long until I get botox again. So I guess I'll be documenting how to cope with the pain in between treatments... I'm pretty happy overall with how far I've come and know I have a lifetime left to live. Just hope it doesn't impact me too badly and I can get through this school year in one piece please!
Finding Balance: Week 1
I don't really know what to call my training right now, but Finding Balance feels right. Prior to having PAES my entire life was consumed by running and improving by the tiniest of margins in races ranging from the mile to the 10k. Then after college while working a full time I still managed to be even more committed to the sport increasing the distance I pursued. hoping to qualify for the Olympic Trials.... Obviously that requires significant commitment, but what I didn't expect is that running would somehow require EVEN MORE COMMITMENT when I couldn't do it anymore. Only those who have had a rare or difficult to diagnose condition understand just how much work goes into getting it all figured out. I swear I spent more time and money on this phase of *not running* than I ever did to actually run. If only I could have applied this level of commitment earlier. haha! Anyway.... I guess now that that phase of my life is over, and running seems like a thing I can never quite have in the same capacity (which is OKAY!) I have to try to find balance. Even though I spent the last few years unable to actually run, running was still the focus. It was a weird paradox because it was everything and nothing at the same time. Now, after this whole summer (see previous entry) I was pingponging between this all or nothing mentality and the goal is Balance. So... "Finding Balance: Week 1" it is... at least until I find a better name for it. ;)
This week went well! I initially thought I'd run 5 days a week but I did 3 instead. We headed down to Falmouth for the big Road Race this weekend, and even though the Lever is quite portable, dragging it with me somehow felt unnatural and unbalanced. It felt like "serious runner" type of behavior so Instead I just ran a few times before we left and called it a week.
MONDAY- 4 miles, Chiropractor.
I was originally going to try to do just 3 miles but it felt so good to run again (on the lever offloading as much as possible, 45lbs) Those first few weeks were hard and this week was really a good turning point where I can focus forward. I just set the treadmill to 10:00 pace and left it there the whole time. Nothing spectacular, but I need to try to be okay with this. Not picking up the pace, just doing something little every day until it is habitual again. Even though I spent the last few years focused on running I wasn't actually running. My habits are all mixed up from what I'd like them to be so the focus is on habit building not on results or mileage or speed... Just.... Doing it.
I wish I could be lifting, but I was actually diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome so I'm regularly seeing the chiropractor and until I no longer have numb left hand, I'm avoiding lifting. I was given some additional stretches though. For my PAES people, this is actually a similar condition to PAES and treated with botox if more conservative care doesn't work. Not sure if there's a link but when I use my legs I got PAES and now I switched to climbing and lifting and got TOS so who knows. Outcomes across the board are better than with PAES though and I don't want to get Botox because I gotta save all my injections for my legs... but the chiropractor is working well for this so far so we'll see. I just want to be able to add lifting in to my "balanced life" so we'll see how long until I can do that.
Tuesday: 4 miles 9:21 pace.
Ran a bit faster today. Not on purpose just one of the buttons on the treadmill automatically goes to this pace. The owners before us must have set it up, but I just hit the button and go. Legs felt totally fine. Just another day of habit stacking. It was Maebels Birthday so I got this in early. We kept the day low key since Raeas was low key and this weekend we're going to just have a fun mini vacation
Initially I was going to try to run every day, but I had some other plans on this day and I felt like "balance" probably wasn't going from 2 weeks of nothing to running every day. I tried to just be overall more active with non-exercise activity thermogenesis (or whatever) One thing I learned during covid and during my massive weight gain, is the thing that really did me in was working remotely when my job was very physical. So, just being more intentional and "getting things done" at home seems like a fine "balanced" form of exercise.
Thursday 4 miles, 9:22 pace
Same shit, different day. I ran in the morning (running means on the lever fully off loading until further notice), cleaned the house, then went to get my hair done. I wanted to get it done before school and get something much more subtle and lower maintenance in terms of color. The appointment was supposed to be 3 hours so I was supposed to meet Matt after and we'd all head to the Cape for his even with On Sponsored athlete Ben Flanagan, But my hair is a monster and took 4.5 hours so I drove down by myself and met him there. It was fun to chat with a pro athlete and his coach. Ya know, race jitter days were fun, but also fun is not having to stress about it all!
Friday: Beach Day!
Wow, equilibrium restored today!
I am not a "beach" person, but today could have converted me. It's nice the girls are at an age where it's much easier to watch them. Just sitting and relaxing was great. Matt took a few work calls while we were there but he didn't have another even until Saturday so we just relaxed today. We met up with Lisa from Sneakerama for the beach and then again with her and Steve for dinner. much more relaxing than the last time we saw them on Falmouth when I ran in 2019 (right before the marathon I BQ'd at). We were going to leave early Saturday morning since we had two cars, but we stayed an extra day because we were enjoying our time so much! We were supposed to take a vacation in early August, but family circumstances had us stuck at home so this was making up for it (even though matt was working)
Saturday: Pool Day and Mini Golf!
I spent 3 hours at the outdoor pool at the hotel with the girls while Matt went to work. Another good mix of relaxing and movement. We played "fishy fishy cross my ocean" a bunch of times. The water was so warm we literally could have stayed in it all day! We went back to our hotel room once they were tired from the sun and that gave us a few hours before Matt got home. I did my coaching while they played with their little LOL mini toys.
Mini Golf was pretty fun. It was a little hot and Maebel hit me in the head with a club... But I got a hole in one and Matt won overall... so we both got a win and the girls had fun finally giving it a try. The hotel was a bit rough tonight (previous nights were really good, but always gotta be one "overtired" night of silliness... Happy to return home tomorrow!)
Sunday: Drive Home
One thing I wish was that we took our bikes because Matt had a long run and he did it on the Nationally Ranked Cape Cod Bike Path. There's no way the girls could ride with him for his whole long run but we could ride slowly way behind him.... Maybe next time! Instead we got Breakfast and watched the Road Race streaming online. We didn't head into the race because we aren't idiots. There's only one way off the Cape and it's the worst traffic. So we avoided that. Since we had two cars and the kids were overly silly the night before we separated them for the ride home. It was kind of nice to have 1:1 time with Maebel. My goal was to get over the bridge away from the Cape ASAP and then stop for lunch after.
Well, I'm posting on time, So that's probably enough to say this week was a relative success in terms of trying to find balance. I ran 12 miles total and three weekly runs which is about all I probably should do after 2 weeks off and a bit of a "Paes Scare" Next week I go back to work so TBD how I do once things pick up again. It might be better because I'll have a natural routine from work, but it might be worse because I'll have less time on my hands... The good thing about balance is that I don't need to knock it out of the park every time. I'll be on my feet more next week because of work anyway so that's going to count for something.
Post Marathon Blues and Beyond
It's been about 4 months since the Boston Marathon came and went... a lot has changed and nothing has changed at the same time. On a personal note, both the Principal and Assistant Principal resigned from their positions at my school which has given me a significant amount of anxiety leading into the next school year... From meeting both of their replacements, it seems like everything will be okay, but it still will be a huge change for me. My legs began impacting my performance at work and having two administrators who understood my level of commitment to my health and the complexity of the diagnosis and treatment gave me comfort and now I'm a little stressed about how that will be in the next year.... not to mention the fact that my daughters will also be attending the school for the first time and praying their behavior doesn't give a bad first impression or reflect poorly on me as an educator... they haven't been in a structured "school-like" environment since Daycare closed in March of 2020... who knows what they will be like! Sigghhh... time will tell... but my life has shifted a lot from prioritizing my legs to accepting the progress I've made so far for at least a little while until I have the flexibility and financial stability to go back out to Wyoming for another treatment. In the mean time, here's a short update on how things have gone broken down by month.
April: Boston Marathon on- 26.2 miles-Like everyone else, after the Boston marathon was complete, I took some much needed down time. I mean, I was on my feet in a race for 5.5 hours for the first time... EVER... and had this race hanging over my head since 2019 (or 2013... whatever...)... I needed a physical AND Mental break.... Plus my husband had a Marathon on May 1st so we shifted to focusing on that.
May- 13.6 recorded miles
May was weird.
After processing the Boston Marathon and the training that led up to it, I determined that the best way for me to proceed with this botox process was to work on speed and generating power with my "new" muscle patterns. SO instead of focusing on daily runs and increasing mileage I put my focus on increasing intensity and keeping mileage low. I knew that my weight gain would add extra strain and be problematic for compensating muscles taking on an increased load so I purchased the Lever Running System to allow myself to have a bodyweight suspension system similar to the Alter-G and we also got a treadmill on Craigslist for a great price to allow me to have access to this technology whenever I wanted. HOWEVER... I toyed around with speed and strides on the treadmill before the Lever was delivered and "Womp Womp" pulled my calf (none of those miles logged).
I essentially traded one problem for another. Instead of PAES symptoms causing me to halt running, it was normal "overtraining" symptoms that caused it. On paper I'm not even close to overtraining... but if you think of it in terms of weight lifting and strength to weight ratio, I essentially increased my weight (due to weight gain) while simultaneously decreasing my strength (muscle paralysis from Xeomin), and that's just not something you should ever do with progressive overload... so... My lack of patience waiting for the Lever confirmed for me that I do, in fact, NEED the lever to take off some load and gradually add it back on. It took a few weeks for my calf to be ready for any running, but once I got started with the Lever at the end of May, man... WHAT A JOY!!! I was able to log 13.6 miles across three different runs just before June
June 85 Miles:
June was the best stretch of running I've had and probably will have in a long time. Since I set the goal to get faster, I joined my friend Laurens 5k summer training group so that I could have a little guidance. It's easy for me to overthink or get in my head about everything so having someone else was helpful. It wasn't full 1:1 coaching where I felt like I needed to hash out details of my legs... I figure on the Lever, I could just do all the training and use my own knowledge to adjust if needed. I was consistently running 3 days a week, two workouts and a longer run (got up to 10 miles)... and the last week of June I ran a 5k "race" on the lever in 21:56!
My initial goal with this program was to break 25 minutes on the ground, but my goal shifted with that to maybe legitimately breaking 22. Usually with running when you race and you make a big measurable jump in fitness, you change training paces... but for me I decided instead of changing paces I'd just add more weight (aka: not offload as much) for my training. My shins were a little sore here and there so I suspected I'd need more botox by August, but hoped I'd get through this program and then take August off to go to Wyoming. June really had me excited for training. It was the only thing on my mind for the path ahead was to get fit again... be myself again... maybe even compete and set goals again. Ahhhh... What a FUCKING dream! I was so excited! .... until July....
July- 54.2 miles
Well, July started off with a really big shift in my priorities. Just as I was starting to make plans to put running goals back in focus, we had some personal events that made me realize that was going to need to be put on hold. Confusion doesn't even begin to encapsulate my emotions... Especially from where I sit now... but it was still a hopeful time, just had me looking elsewhere for once. It gave me time to reevaluate what I have been after. Primarily my goal was to get back to fitness in general however with having that Boston Qualifier and then running Boston I still harbored some delusions about the running I had in front of me. I had to put those delusions to rest again and I devised a plan that put Botox treatments on hold... even though at the time I really didn't want to do that at all... my reality did not agree with what I wanted, but sometimes that's life. I did keep things in perspective though, a year ago when my legs were in such pain I couldn't function... the improvements I've made thus far have definitely given me enough of my life back that I don't need to rush right into another treatment... but I really wanted to. It was a tough reality to process...
I ran quite a bit in early July knowing my legs were a ticking time bomb.... symptoms did start to show up and I was confused if it was from offloading less or if it was because the Botox was wearing off or what... Either way I was able to still proceed as long as I kept it really slow and offloaded as much weight as possible. I dropped out of the 5k training group and decided to just focus on easy runs for overall health. Additionally I had this numbness in my left arm for over a month so I couldn't lift and that was limiting my exercise even more.... and then, just at the end of July, I had another personal event occur which confused things even more, and as I sit here mid August I'm still working out my emotions around it all. In June I was sky high and to summarize July, it was free falling without a parachute......
August 1- August 15- 0 miles
Still free falling from July, August was off to a rough start.... Which is tough because both my daughters have birthdays in August... Raeas is August 1st and it was one of the worst days for me... ever.... so I felt bad. I tried my best to show up for her, which is all I can do. I think there are two types of free-falling you can experience... The free falling where you willingly jump; a leap of faith... and the free falling where someone pushes you off a cliff. I'm the second one. Somehow when I hit, once again, a NEW rock bottom (really hoping to stop finding new lows), I still have been bouncing back alright... much better than expected. I think its all sort of hinging on how the rest of the year goes, but for now I'm doing okay. This had nothing to do with running but yet, running being such a forefront of my life for so long everything in my life is somehow connected to it and vice-versa. It's crazy that even with as little running that I have done in the last 3 years, this is still true... but anyway....
This has been a lot harder stretch than I thought it would be. Not at all the summer we wanted... and even though in the beginning of July I expected things to be difficult for a while, it's actually been beyond what we originally expected. I left social media to guard myself a little because when I shared that my legs were still bothering me, I got some feedback that made me realize sometimes I just want to grieve alone. I didn't realize how deep the grief in front of me would get... and I'm grateful my intuition led me to get off the internet before the events of July occurred. I've always been an open book and oversharer... sharing usually feels good... But then I can't take back what I've put out there. Stepping away from social media has allowed me to process my feelings more slowly and "absorb the impact" before I write a narrative that may change in a week or two... and hopefully this time away from the daily sharing and "content creation" has detoxed me from this thought that I need to keep engaging and keep posting whatever the new trend is. Not to say I'm off public social media completely, but the time away has certainly given me time to see what things are worth sharing and what things I'd rather keep to myself or to a smaller audience. Honestly, I'm tired of my own sadness and my own story ... So... That's as much as I'll give here, but I will say things are looking more hopeful, at least for now, in the weirdest ways... I'm not all "everything happens for a reason" ... But I am finding some light in all the darkness.
August 15 and on
I want tomorrow to mark a new day for me... which is why I wanted to finally follow up on the blog today... I don't have a clue what is going on with my personal life for a long stretch of time... but I do know that I have to get back up and keep going. I've decided I need to run or walk every day or at least 5-6 days a week for 30 minutes or more indefinitely. I'm going to attempt to get back on the lever tomorrow and see how that goes, even if I have to walk... I just need to figure out a way to not fall back into a really depressed state. I can't afford that right now, so I'm trying to revive the weekly recap blog even if the recap never the running I envisioned I could get back to.
For my PAES people, this has nothing to do with the McGinley method "not working"... I absolutely have 100% faith that it is and will continue to work for me when I continue the treatment... I just have to put it on the back burner for now. So please don't read this as me giving up... it's much more complicated than that, as anyone with PAES knows- it's not a straight line and while we're out there battling doctors for a diagnosis and tests, and treatments... Life goes on... and so while I'd love to just get a new injection ASAP, there are limitations I'm up against, and life goes on....
So tomorrow is a new day... Where I just try to play the cards I've been dealt and see where the chips fall. I spent all the time since the Boston Marathon being pushed and pulled in a million different directions and trying to fight the current.... But I'm just going to accept where I am, and get up and rise for and go another round.
Welcome to my blog! I've been blogging for a long time on various platforms. My intention has never been to reach the masses, but rather to give myself a chance to reflect and journal. I feel it at least challenges me to be somewhat coherent, however you can expect ramblings and grammatical incorrectness here!
I've recently been diagnosed with CECS and fPAES and had it treated with BOTOX of all things... So I suspect to see more and more people looking for answers with that in the future and hope to continue blogging so there will be easy to access follow-ups as that was helpful for me.
NOTE: Apologies that some of the pictures incorrectly load sometimes. I try to keep up with the glitches, but can't always! Hope it doesn't impact the blog experience for all the PAES visitors.