becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.


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all my excites; all my grumps.

i’m writing this post while sitting in barnes and noble. on friday afternoon. so yes, it’s queued. more on that later.

all my excites!

  • the semester is over!! i had a great semester, really – fantastic students, good coursework that wasn’t too extremely difficult, and i learned a lot about various things (teaching, research, academic bureaucracy).
  • it’s summer!! which means lots of things for me, all of which give me excites:
    • it’s the summer of the symphony. i have 18 months until quals, and this summer is dedicated in part to learning the major symphonies. all of beethoven, the major mozart and haydns, brahms, MAHLER!!, sibelius, dvorak, stravinsky, tchaik, prokofiev…score study and listening, come at me!
    • i just bought a cookbook on clearance for 2 dollars. i’m going to continue to not eat PB&J every day, guys!
    • revamped training and programming, which i talked about earlier this week. i made a training plan for the bluegrass 10,000 which is relatively low volume (max 23 miles/week) and has 800s instead of mile repeats. i’m also adding in hill repeats once a week, either after tempo runs or in place of them haha. since we know how i feel about tempo runs! i’m also committing to metcons twice a week, volume lifts over maxes, and all in all getting pumped to shock the system and do work!
    • sun sun sun i cannot wait for sun!! (yes i wear sunscreen. i have 3 gnarly scars from a melanoma/pre-melanoma issue several years back. but still…vitamin d!!)
  • i have a hair appointment in an hour. i love my hairdresser.

all my grumps!

  • i submitted a request to windstream to get interwebs. on april 20th. “we’ll be in contact in 48 hours,” they sez. “if you don’t hear from us, call us,” they sez. two days go by and so i call. “you submitted your request on a saturday,” they sez. “you have to give us 48 hours of WEEKDAY hours,” they sez. “call back wednesday,” they sez. wednesday i call. “the soonest we can get somebody there is may 3rd,” they sez. i huff but agree. today (may 3rd) i call in the morning, juuuust to be sure. “oh we had to cancel that,” they sez. “WERE YOU GOING TO TELL ME?!” i sez. “…” they sez.
  • the regional manager was supposed to call me to give me an ETA on my interwebs. it’s 5pm on friday and i have gotten no call. i’ll go ahead and assume i won’t hear anything until monday, and only then if i’m extremely lucky. until then…web-less.
  • i’m working on regaining flexibility (boo, surgery) and the last couples of degrees of flexion in my knee. the joint isn’t stopping me; it’s my damn gastroc head that keeps seizing. so every morning after i finish lifting, i’ve been forcing my sorry self to sit on my heels for 1-3 minutes. it sucks. but it’s starting to suck less. but i’m super sore for the rest of the day. ::grump, grump::
  • my credit card bill is going to be out of control this month due to this godforsaken surprise move across town. like…out of control. plus my tuition bill just hit (yes, in the last week of the semester. go cats.) granted i’ve got full funding so i only pay a couple of hundred every semester for mandatory fees and things…but it’s a couple hundred on top of all the shit necessities i got for my new place.

now i’m going to go purchase my 2$ cookbook and chat up the guys at complete nutrition, which is right next door to my salon. because it’s the first friday of summer and that’s how i roll.


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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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significance in numbers.

every now and again something will happen and i’ll think; “i should write a blog post about this.” but it’s always something small and somewhat insignificant, and i never get around to it. but today i have decided to compile a handful of those small and insignificant things to create a mid-sized, slightly more significant post.

insignificant thought #1. it’s safe to say that anybody who works in retail has probably, on at least one occasion in their lives, been the buyer. more specifically, they have at some time received change for a purchase. which is why it baffles me to no end that NOBODY had EVER realized that, when giving change back to a customer, give them the coins first. coins first, straight into their hand, then the bills and receipt. when you give them the paper first, nine times out of ten the coins proceed to slide down the chute of bills and receipt paper and land all the eff over the counter. seriously though, this procedure should be a part of cashier orientations everywhere.

insignificant thought #2. this is a concept i’ll refer to as “the alternate merge.” when, say, a line of traffic is moving through and another line of cars is waiting (i’m from new york and this happens a lot in construction zones on the highway – the highway traffic itself is moving slowly and the exit ramp is often at a dead stop with people waiting to join the party), you practice The Alternate Merge. each person allows one car in. one car. per person. which means that, no, sir, you may NOT attach yourself to the ass bumper of the car in front of you and expect me to let you both in. wait you hot damn turn, you will enter the highway in another 7.2 seconds. just play by the rules and nobody has to hear any colorful language or honking horns. The Alternate Merge. just do it.

insignificant thought #3. being that i’m a runner and i also travel by foot quite a lot during the day around campus and the area, i absolutely admit that some pedestrians are assholes. they think they possess a no-holds-barred “right of way” that extends waaaay beyond the crosswalk when they have the little blue flashing man. yet that being said…when it’s pouring outside, or snowing, or balls effing cold…would it kill you, anonymous motorist, to slow down and let that student carrying seventeen textbooks and an umbrella cross the street? it’s campus and we have a speed limit of about 10mph anyway – how far would you have gone in the five seconds it took you to stop? and besides – you’re in a nice climate controlled and dry car; this poor bastard is freezing their ass off and/or getting soaked.

i feel like this will be an ongoing list. which, rather than “insignificant thoughts,” could be titled “things that piss jenn off.” but, really, same difference.

i also PRed my bench today – 115#, came up really smooth. and i drank powerade while i was lifting to try and get some electrolytes back after yesterday’s violent illness debacle.

back to real life/class/work/4:45am wake-up tomorrow. i also have my last appointment with dr. surgeon-man. i think this is supposed to be my 1-year appointment. so why i’m having it at 10 1/2 months is beyond me.


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survival of the wednesday gauntlet.

nothing says “hump day” like a tempo run.

also, nothing says “i think i may vomit on the treadmill/why do i like running again?/eff it i’m gonna be a professional couch potato” like a tempo run.

but i made it through with no upchuck (barely), and that’s another speedwork wednesday in the books. somehow it’s Week 4 of my training schedule already. not quite sure how that happened.

i’m moving my deadlift day from friday to tomorrow. friday i’m speaking on a panel at 9am, and it’s for prospective undergrads so i need to look put together. which means i need to be sure that i’m done with my workout by at least a quarter to eight so i can shower and make myself presentable and be on time.

so tomorrow’s deadlift day. my favorite day!

i pulled 185# on monday, one rep, a slight grinder. 200# by the end of the month. i want. so badly.

i’m back in physical therapy for all of the hip flexor/left back/left trap pain i’ve been having. i’m on a “no squats” regimen for the week – BOO. and we discovered that (a) my hips are structurally jacked up and uneven as hell; (b) all of that unilateral work i have been so diligently doing since surgery worked a bit too well – my pain isn’t from overcompensation by my good side, it’s due the fact that it is now my weaker side; (c) my hip flexibility has fallen to zilch.

but it’s okay, it’s not like i teach yoga or anything.

i have an easy 3-miler tomorrow, and i’m going to have to force my long run to happen on sunday when i get back from indiana. three hours in the car and then a 10-miler. sounds like a party to me.

one of these weekends…one of these weekends i will have my beer. just not this one.

 


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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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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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there are a million things i should be doing right now.

like putting my laundry away. or writing out my lifts for tomorrow and tuesday. or packing my clothes for tomorrow. or working on one of the minimum six major academic papers/presentations i have coming up.

instead i’m listening to bizet and blogging.

i got my period today. after six months of hiatus. i know i should be relieved and happy. my body is getting back to its pre-op functioning state. i’m starting to look less lopsided/my surgical leg is growing back its muscles. i no longer have to stress about my bones going (back) to crap because of the amenorrhea.

but instead i’m spazzing out because getting my period back means that i’ve gained weight. which i know i have – about two pounds of stayed-on weight. and while i know that two pounds is literally negligible in the visual sense, i feel bigger. and less muscular. and it’s pissing me off.

i’m trying to console myself with the 90# bench i put up this morning. and the fact that the very nice brosef i was sharing the cable row with asked me as we swapped off and he saw what weight i was pulling if i was a triathlete. and the fact that yesterday i ran nine glorious miles at a 7:55/mile pace and felt amazing the entire time. negative splits, no bonk whatsoever, no cramps, knee felt brilliant.

when i think about that, getting my period back doesn’t seem catastrophic.

but in the next breath i start to panic that i’m getting tubby and will continue to gain weight and it will be horrible.

and now that i’ve gotten that out of my system…i believe i should tend to some of those million things i should be doing instead of bitching and blogging.

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