becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.


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one year off the table: a surgery no-love story.

today is my surgery-versary. one year ago at this moment, i was sitting (okay, laying) in pre-op, getting teased by the nurses about my black toe and blisters while my advisor sat in the corner of the room laughing.

she reminded yesterday about something i had forgotten: the day before my surgery she asked me who was taking me there, and i said, ‘eh nobody, i’ll walk.’ …’and how are you getting back?’ ‘i’ll call a cab.’ to which she responded that, no, absolutely not, she would bring me. and bring me she did. and stayed until i went into surgery, during which time she went back to my apartment and stocked my fridge. she was there when i came out of anesthesia, brought me home, and got me subway for lunch.

the first eight weeks after surgery were, for all intents and purposes, an absolute disaster. nerve block disaster, an unresponsive quad, and my personal un-favorite, the muscle spasm from hell. not to mention, of course, the mysterious way the nerve block didn’t flush out of my muscles, the ridiculous muscle atrophy, the 30-lb weight loss and subsequent chicken leg.

i slowly learned how to sort of walk. and how to sort of go up and down stairs. it took until almost september for me to fully straighten my leg when walking; until october for there to not be a noticeable gait difference.

in november i ran a 5k in 22:07.

that month i also started deadlifting and squatting regularly.

i ran over 100 miles in december.

i worked like a dog. not that working out was foreign to me to begin with, but it took on a whole new meaning. i became focused – fiercely focused – on getting stronger.

in march i pulled a 200# deadlift.

and just last weekend i ran a half marathon. in 1:42:54. a damn respectable time. in the top 2.5% of the 6600 female finishers.

this year has taught me a lot about patience. about listening to my body, and knowing when to push and when to back off. it’s taught me that sometimes working harder isn’t necessarily working smarter – bodies need a break every now and again.

my weight is right back to where it was pre-op. although, my body looks completely different – i’ve never had traps and shoulders like this before, that’s for sure! my quads and calves are still slightly different in size, but it’s hardly noticeable. my squat may still be abyssmal, but all in all i’m stronger than ever.

and i appreciate everything this body does, much more than ever.

so a very happy surgery-versary to me! thanks, Knee, for teaching me some important lessons while you were being a turd.


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kentucky derby half marathon: pre-race post!

tomorrow morning i’ll be running in my second kentucky derby half marathon (which i dubbed ‘the derb’ a few months ago). i’m giving a final exam tonight until 7pm, and then i’ll have to haul tailfeather to louisville to make it to the expo in time to pick up my packet, bib, timing chip, etc.

a few thoughts in the eleventh hour:

  • i honestly don’t know what kind of time to expect out of myself. my knee is fine, but i still have a noticeable muscular imbalance between my good leg and my surgical leg. i feel the biggest effects from that in my ability (or lack thereof) to sustain quicker paces for prolonged periods of time. which i really felt at the railrunner last month.
  • that being said…i ran last year in 1:42:52. my goal was sub-1:45:00. this year…i mean i would love to be a badass and have the most amazing comeback race and PR. but speaking realistically? i ran an 8:23 pace at the railrunner. if i match that i’ll run a 1:50:00. now i think i’ll beat that pace for reasons to be detailed below, but…i’m okay with not breaking PRs tomorrow.
  • unlike at the railrunner, i have a plan for tomorrow’s race:
    • start at the BACK of the corral. i got placed in A (sub-8:00/mile pace) due to my time last year. i need to start in the back. like…butt in the B corral. because (a) everybody goes out fast, so (b) i’ll go out fast with them, and (c) that will be terrible.
    • grab water at the 4, 7, and 10-mile stops. also eat some juju fish. fuel o’ champions.
    • allow the first few miles to not be speed demons. my legs are way slower to warm up than they were pre-surgery. i need to be okay with that.
    • WARM UP. a little run and some dynamic stretching. goal is to have a slightly elevated heart rate at start time. which is sometimes hard to do with the crowds and things, but…i’ll try!
    • don’t get frustrated. i don’t run well angry.
    • when the going gets tough, remember that less than a year ago i had my knee sawed into. i lost 30 pounds in five weeks and had an 11-cm difference between my quads. it took 2 months to be able to walk down a flight of stairs because my leg couldn’t hold my weight. and tomorrow, i’m running a half marathon. who cares if i don’t PR?!

so there’s my pre-race ramble. i have office hours in an hour, then a break, then giving this exam thang. i’m going to go get some coffee and a bagel. the next time i post, be prepared for photos of banged up feet and a shiny new medal!!


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pack up; move on.

generally speaking, moving is a massive pain in the ass. even when you’re excited to be moving to a new place…it’s still a pain in the ass. come the end of the month, i’ll have moved twice in less than a year. did i mention moving is massive pain in the ass?

however.

there is something somewhat therapeutic, almost cathartic, about packing. i have a trunk full of things to bring to goodwill; nine months ago when i moved i had another trunk full of things to bring to goodwill. i haven’t acquired that much stuff in those 9 months; i just think that every time i move, i consolidate more, realize i need less.

one thing i’m getting rid of as i move this time around – and this pains me to even put it in writing – is my beloved collection of heels.

i love cute crazy shoes. love them. and my mom, for every birthday, holiday, or jenn’s-coming-home-to-visit day, would manage to find me the cutest pair of pumps, peep-toes, t-straps…you name it.

sadly, i have two things working against me and making it damn near impossible to make any of these shoes happen.

elephantitis

reason #1: elephantitis of the foot. that heinous bone spur on the side of my foot makes fitting it into pumps…well, pretty much impossible. i struggle to get it into flexible flats some days!

knee scar

reason #2: that time i had knee surgery. although i trust the joint about 95% now, i also recognize that i have fallen off my own flip-flops before. pre-surgery, stone sober. when i think about the possibility of re-injuring myself and needing another surgery because of my choice of footwear…i can’t bring myself to risk it.

so, then, i’ll be bringing some of my favorite shoes to goodwill this afternoon.

Photo 82 Photo 86

it hurt my elephantitis (and my blisters) just to take these pictures. and i seriously cannot wait to get my camera back when i go home. taking these with photobooth/contorting my mac took way longer than i care to admit.

so here’s to a new chapter. a chapter of adventure, of grace under pressure, and of growth.

and one full of running shoes and ballet flats.


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rumor has it there was a weekend in there somewhere.

it’s sunday night and i am, as i find myself every sunday night, gazing around wondering where the heck the weekend went and when exactly it is that i get to have one of those lazy, relaxing days off i’ve heard glorious tales about.

i fly home a week from today. so i really only need to make it through friday and i’m home free and get a glorious six days home. yes, i will be bringing work with me – to the tune of two major papers and presentations that need doing – but it will be a relief to mix things up a bit. get out of my routine (i can’t believe i’m saying that!), get a change of location, see my family oh my gosh i am SO excited!

it was an emotional week. i tore through some scar tissue in my knee on monday. in the long run that’s actually a good thing – my knee’s looser and more flexible now – but it jostled things around in there and for the first 18 hours or so i was in the worst pain i’ve been in since the month of my surgery. and it was touch and go all week, really. even today, i dialed back my pace and distance for my run just in case. my legs felt a little wonky and my tendonitis was slightly flared up, but the knee felt okay so i’ll take it!

having that moment of “oh my god, did i do something permanent? do i need surgery again?” was terrifying. my advisor walked into our office monday morning to find me sitting on the piano bench icing my knee and sobbing – partially from pain, but mostly out of sheer panic. i have worked my tail off for the past 6+ months to bounce back from this surgery, and i would be devastated if something went seriously wrong at this stage in the game.

so today i am grateful. grateful that i didn’t jack my knee up again, for starters! but grateful that even though i’m not yet back to my “old” self, i’ve come a long way. and i’m learning to listen to my body when it tells me something’s wrong. i’m learning that taking it easy today because i want to be able to run ten years from now is okay. i don’t have to be 100% gung-ho 100% of the time.

and i’m grateful for these, because they’re delicious and are half the reason i get anywhere near my protein intake on any given day. i credit them with the 105# bench i posted today. and the 125# squat i’m determined to push tomorrow. yes, my squat and bench are only 20 pounds apart. cut me a break, i’m still gimpy.


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and then october ended…wait, what?!

time is flying. holy crap.

this week’s highlights:

  • 95# bench. new PR.
  • 115# squat. that’s 100% body weight. freaking finally! my surgical quad is coming along, slowly but surely.
  • PR for standing dumbbell shoulder presses (25# for 8 reps), one-arm dumbbell rows (30# for 10 reps), and leg press (235# for 10 reps) as well. good week for lifts.
  • i agreed to be a subject in a research study on ACL reconstruction recipients and post-operative gait. so yesterday i went to the biodynamics lab, got hooked up with a bunch of sensors, and walked and ran on a special treadmill while they filmed me with high-speed cameras that picked up my sensors and made a little 3-D avatar on their computer system. so cool! then we did some measurements and strength testing. the researcher told me that:
    • i have the best running mechanics he’s seen in somebody who is 6-months post-op (my six month-iversary is in fact tomorrow!)
    • my left leg is significantly shorter than my right. which explains my lifelong problem of one pant leg dragging on the ground.
    • my balance test scores were also the best he has seen in anybody with ACL reconstruction, even 9-12 months post-op. thanks be to yoga!
    • i run with a serious (about 20 degree) hip drop. homegirl needs to strengthen her glutes. good thing my squat is coming back to life!
  • i had an exam on tuesday and a presentation on wednesday. i think they both went well.
  • a semester’s worth of early mornings and crazy days finally caught up with me, and after i lifted yesterday morning i had the shakes i was so physically exhausted. so i walked to my car, crawled in the backseat…and napped for two hours. in the parking garage. not one of my finer moments.
  • i got new running shoes today – finally! the tendonitis issue was getting out of hand. i hemmed and hawed, was disappointed with the brooks ravenna 3s (i love and swear by the ravenna 2s but can no longer get them in my size now that the 3s are out). i ended up getting the saucony guide 6. i immediately – since i have no patience – took them out for a test run. i did a 10k and everything was perfection. i am SO excited!
  • i have a belly full of fresca and tortilla chips, both of which i have been craving ALL week. i did a lot of work today, so i am totally okay with calling it a week and passing out in the near future. early morning tomorrow so i can work, drink coffee, and work some more.

 


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one day at a time.

i’m feeling a little less lost/behind/overwhelmed in my classes. i have a stats take-home to do this weekend. and a lot of studying. and a musicology presentation to prepare, with lots of library time in my near future. but i can do it. just need lots of coffee!

i posted a 3 rep, 90# bench again today. after 4 x 5 @ 85# and 2 x 5 @ 80#. and three prep sets at lighter weight before that. also PRed incline dumbbell bench – 1 x 8 @ 25# and then 3 x 8 @ 30#. i’ve never made it through all three sets in full with the 30# dumbbells. but don’t be fooled – even though i can press ‘em, it’s still terrifyingly touch-and-go on whether i can kick them up with any sort of grace.

also maxed out my squat – 2 warm-up sets of 10 reps at 45# and 75#, then 2 x 10 @ 95# and 2 x 10 @ 105#. the 105s weren’t pretty, but they happened. i know i’m still relying on my good leg, but i’m really trying to focus on driving through that surgical leg as i get out of the hole.

i supersetted (new word. yes.) squats with tricep dips. four sets of 8. toasted.

i also may have eaten an entire bag of beef jerky during my break tonight. and then came home after work and ate my weight in cottage cheese and grapes. needless to say, protein intake is once again a priority for me. because i want that 100# bench.

sweet baby jesus i am so excited to fall into bed.

this post brought to you by the inability to concentrate on my schoolwork.


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pomp and circumstance.

i saw the surgeon today for my six-month post-op appointment. my six month mark isn’t for another two weeks, but we’ll continue on accordingly.

i graduate from PT on thursday! he actually said that he’s “proud” of me for all of the progress i’ve made – coming from a slightly grandiose and self-important orthopedic surgeon, i found that to be quite the compliment. so thursday will be my last PT session. not gonna lie, i’m sad. i mean, it’ll be nice to have that time added back into my day for studying and writing papers and things. but. i love my physical therapist, and the entire staff over there at the sports med clinic. i shall miss them!

in other news – i leg pressed 220# today for 10 reps. i’m starting to see the medial head of my quad coming back into form. and i bought tampons for the first time since spring.

oh and i bit into my apple this afternoon and it was rotten and i was the saddest panda.

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