Monday, September 29, 2008

Rib pain is gone!

I noticed this weekend that the rib pain is gone. It has been at least a week since I had any pain. This is wonderful! :-)

Also, the osteopath thinks I may need to get my orthotics adjusted a little. He thinks the hip pain that keeps coming back is not normal and in his opinion, it can only be attributed to biomechanics. He thinks my left leg is very slightly shorter than my right leg and that it might be the cause of the problems I keep having. He advised that I insert a mini sole under my heel to see if it helps. When I left his office yesterday, he said my hip was well aligned. If the mini sole thingy works, then I'll get my orthotics slightly adjusted. It almost seems too good to be true - it's hard to believe such a tiny difference in leg lenght could create such problems - but it's worth a try.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back to Square Three

I went running yesterday for the first time since June. I was off running for 3 full months and I had only run a few times in May and June while recovering from my abdominal injury. Let's say I have run next to nothing in the past 4.5 months. I wasn't sure how much fitness I have lost, so I thought I would just start running and see how much I could push myself.

I thought I'd be back to doing 1:1s, but I'm back at week 3 of Learn to Run, which is 2:1s x 6. It was very hard, but 2 minutes of running was all I could do yesterday. The first 90 seconds were not that bad, but then I had to dig deep to get to 2 minutes. Yikes!

My ribs hurt the whole 28 minutes it took me to cover a little less than 3K. I felt the pain in my bone, right where the biggest impact was. Man, that was hurting. The toe held up much better and I only had a tiny bit of pain for a few minutes after I was done. This is good news! But then, my SI joint started hurting towards the end, probably because I hadn't been pushing my body a lot in the past months and it was begging me to take it easy.

The mental is strong, although the negative thoughts were starting to take control of my head during my cool down walk. Bottom line is that I'll have to be strong and persevere in the next few months if I ever want to get back to the fitness level I was. We'll see how that new and improved mental of mine will hold up!


I also went back to the pool last Thursday. I didn't lose as much swimming fitness as I've lost running fitness. My ribs hurt a little, but my shoulders hurt a lot during my swim. I swam 280m and that was enough for one night. JF and I will go back to the pool this week. Hopefully, I can swim just a little more with a little less pain this week.

Baby steps...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The best summer of my life?

From the outside, people wouldn’t say this summer could possibly be the best summer of my life. However, when I think about it, it might as well be.

In March, I felt a lot of mental pain. My annual seasonal affective disorder hit very hard this year because of the imposed inactivity and sun rays blocking following my laser eye surgery. At the beginning of April, the cloud lifted, thanks to longer days and to an incredible training month. April has been the best running month of my life so far. During that month, I went beyond the mental barriers that were holding me back. I pushed through that invisible wall and I could finally say that I was conquering my mental during my runs. It was an incredible feeling, to be able to shut the inner critic down during my runs, and this new state of mind was also impacting my personal life. All of a sudden, everything seemed possible… and then I injured myself big time.

Since the end of April, I’ve felt a lot of physical pain. It all started with an abdominal injury that kept me off from running, biking or swimming for over a month. During that month, I sank into a depressive state and everything seemed complicated and difficult. I had to let go of my goal of doing my first Sprint Tri and I felt a lot of anger about it. I felt as if all these hours I had spent in the pool would have been better used doing other things. I felt like a victim and I was terribly worried that I would have lost all that I had built in the last few months, both from my fitness and my mental toughness.

Then, I broke down and someone shook me up. She stopped me dead in my tracks, made me realize I am not a victim and that I had something to learn from this injury: that injuries suck, but they are a part of life that you can’t always control. Therefore, you have to learn to manage them to keep your mental balance when they occur. She told me I should be more compassionate towards myself, that I should take care of myself instead of making myself a victim. That afternoon, that woman flicked a switch.

A week later, I volunteered at the Early Bird Triathlon. I had a few tears in my eyes that morning, but I cheered very enthusiastically for the athletes that ran by my water station. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the race, even if I wasn’t participating in it. I had a very good time and it felt good to give back to the triathlon community.

Another week passed and I volunteered again, this time at the race kit pick-up of NCM. Again, I had a few tears when I got to the Expo, picked up my kit knowing I wouldn’t run the race. But I put all that behind me and I did my best to enjoy every minute of the best running weekend in Ottawa! On Saturday night, I went out and cheered for JF who was running the 5K (instead of the marathon he had trained so hard for) and then for the 10K runners. My friend Nancy was running this race after coming back from months of injuries. I was so very proud of both JF and Nancy for being such great sports – even though neither achieved their original goals, they did the best they could in the circumstances and to me, this is what running is all about. On Sunday morning, I cheered the marathoners and half-marathoners like crazy: not just the runners that I knew – everybody! Man, did I have a great time! A lot of runners thanked me for cheering them on and I was very happy I could be there to help them during their race. At the group dinner that night, I congratulated everyone and did my best not to talk about my injury: it wasn’t my day, I could talk about my injury any other day. That day was about celebrating my runner friends and I had a wonderful time.

I started running again by mid-June and then I had my bike accident. Every minute of my life was painful; every sneeze a torture, every movement a battle. The basic things in life became painful: dressing up, taking a shower, getting in and out of bed… I physically hurt non-stop for the next two weeks... and just as I was starting to get a tiny bit better, I broke my toe. More pain, even more restrictions in my movements. This time, I couldn’t even walk. My upper body was a mess and now I couldn’t stand up. This was a joke, right? This had to be a joke.

And then, I remembered what I was told back in April: that this was a good time for me to learn how to manage injuries, so that I wouldn’t become depressed whenever I got one. I decided to do just that. I started keeping my mind busy with stuff that I didn’t have time for when I was training a lot: cooking and baking, cleaning, organizing, reading, seeing people. I cheered a lot and I hung out with my runner/triathlon friends. I celebrated their successes and supported them through their rough patches.

I also kept my mind full of positive thoughts. There were tough days, but I didn’t become depressed. For me, this is huge. I conquered my mind. I’m stronger than the effects of the lack of endorphins on my brain. I can control my brain, provide it with the much needed serotonin so that it doesn’t go into depression mode. I won. I conquered. I’m the boss of my own mood. I am in control. I’ve done it once, and I can do it again. I’ll just have to remember that I have it in me, that the power is there and that all I have to do is unleash it. I’ll just have to look back to the summer of 2008 to understand how much more powerful I am now.

I don’t know if I have ever been more proud of myself than I am right now. I keep thinking about how well I handled this summer and I am amazed that I could keep sane. I am much more capable than I give myself credit for.

And this, my friends, is worth a lot more than any medal I could have gotten this summer. Was it the best summer of my life? I think it might have been!

Monday, September 01, 2008


I rode my road bike again today, it was the first time since the "fear incident" two weeks ago. I have to admit that I was making up all sorts of reasons to postpone this ride.. my parents visited us last weekend, I was too busy going to the market on Saturday morning, then I had to go grocery shopping on Sunday morning and later, I was too tired to go. Even this morning, it took me until 11am to get going and I had to force myself to go.

The truth is that I was scared to be scared and the feeling was paralyzing me.

I have been riding my hybrid bike to work a lot in the past two weeks. I've become more confident on that bike and I've seen my average speed go from 14 kph to 16 kph in the last two weeks [this includes the time I wait at red lights and stop signs]. My maximum speed has also increased, and I thought this was a good sign that I was becoming more comfortable being on a bike again.

The ride was fine this morning. I can't say it was fun, because I was a tiny bit scared. I'm proud to report that I did not have a panic attack and I did not have visions of accidents and painful injuries. It was a nice change. At one point, a little girl decided it would be a good idea to ride her bike parralel to the path just as I was passing her even if I had yelled that I was passing. I cursed at her, but I didn't hit her - thank God, or I would have gone over my handlebars again. After that incident, I became more nerveous and I decided not to push it. I rode 12.5K.

I saw my osteopath on Thursday and he worked on my sternum, which was very tight. He didn't put much pressure on it and it was hurting like hell! Just slightly touching it now hurts a lot. The osteopath thinks my body went into protection mode and closed the rib cage up to avoid further injuries. Now is time to relax a little and let my body go back to normal... I think I'm not out of the woods just yet.

I got the yellow light to go to the pool: I can go, but I have to take it very easy. If I have pain, I have to stop. I can deal with those conditions! :-)

The bad news is that I will not be ready to do the Last Chance Triathlon in three weeks. I kinda knew it would come to this, given that I only got the yellow light to start swimming again, given my bike fear and given the pain I felt when I ran to catch the bus on Thursday. It really sucks, but I'm really zen about it. This is just the way it is for me this year.