Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Comeback

Is it just me, or is it crazy humid here in Chicago? I was all proud of myself for putting on a cute shirt today, and now I'm pretty sure back sweat is soaking through it. Oh right... like you've never had back sweat. Isn't your life just charmed? Let's face it people. Back sweat happens. It happens to best of us.

But I digress...

Back to the task at hand. Yesterday I did my first run post injury. Doctor's orders were to wait until Wednesday, but I threw caution to the wind and reasoned, "If its going to hurt today, it will hurt on Wednesday." Sound, I think. The good news is that it didn't hurt. I did 10 solid minutes (OK... maybe I did 11 and some change) in the University's scary basement gym, the same place I showered last week after the bathtub/roach/murder by dictionary incident (if words could kill).

Other than the "running on a treadmill in a basement" part, it went well. I think whenever you have an injury you focus in on that part of the body to the point where you can create sort of phantom twinges, and I spent the first couple minutes thinking, "Is that my foot? Am I in pain?" No Lou, you are just fine. If anything its my knee that is not-so-subtly reminding me that I desperately need to cross train. It's the key people; cross training is the key! Never forget this.

Overall, it went well. I'm still not in pain, and I plan to get on the treadmill on Wednesday for 12-15 minutes of running. I'm targeting Saturday, October 3 as my first outdoor run provided everything goes as planned.

At some point, I'm going to post some wedding photos, and I want to catch you up on my latest and greatest adventure, which I like to call, "Master's Degree: The Sequel: Return to Academia." I don't actually call it that, but it sounds riveting, I know. I was there.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rough Patch

I’m in the midst of a completely unproductive day. For a few weeks now, I’ve been complaining that I literally have nothing to do at work. And this isn’t a “I have nothing that I want to do,” scenario; I literally have had nothing on my to-do list. I took to reading various University newsletters that were printed in July. Fun and relevant.

But now, lo and behold, I have stuff to do. And here I am, slacking and writing a blog. Why, you ask? Just because I generally suck? I hope not. Have you ever had a morning that starts off so wrong that the wrongness prevents you from salvaging the rest of the day because you simply cannot get past all that wrongness? I’m living this right now. This is the reality of my Thursday.

What could be so terrible you ask?

This morning started like every other weekday morning. I dragged my ass out of bed shortly after 7am into the bathroom where I immediately bent over the tub to turn on the shower. But wait! Sans glasses or contacts, my blurred vision sensed something is not right. A dark spot on floor the tub. Hmmm… what could that be?

I hoped… no… I PRAYED it was a cap to the shampoo or even a large hairball. I put on my glasses. Now that I could accurately identify my surroundings, I peered into the tub.


Its inch or so long fat brown body wasn’t moving, but its antenna was, so it was clearly still alive. I backed away from the tub. I paced around the house several times unsure of what to do. You can’t simply smash a monstrosity like that with a shoe. I called MM. I told him what I just told you. He was not helpful.

Finally, a brainstorm. I grabbed the five inch thick dictionary from the bookshelf, headed back into the bathroom, reached out and positioned it over the bug, and dropped it. I think it is dead. It seemed to spring to life as the book’s shadow closed in, but the book was too big, and the bug wasn’t moving fast enough.

I left. I didn't investigate; I didn't clean it up. I took my clothes, a towel, my shampoo, the hair dryer, and my mascara, and I hightailed it out of there. I took a shower in the basement of one of the university’s building (a group shower no less, though I was the only person in there at the time, thank god) and went to work.

I called MM and bitched my head off until he agreed to call our landlady right that very second (my theory is that she likes him the best). Apparently, she spotted one in her apartment (oh god) and put down poison. The lovely fella (or gal) that showed up this morning, seemingly ingested some of the poison, got back into the wall, and decided that our tub was the best possible spot in the entire two flat to die.

Thanks fucker; your poison-induced, near death stupor ruined my morning.

Of course, now I feel dirty. It’s not necessarily my fault. MM and I do live in Chicago, and things like roaches do happen, regardless of your cleaning habits. But I plan to spend this weekend scrubbing my house from top to bottom, possibly with bleach… possibly with something stronger.

But in the meantime, our landlady (to her credit, she’s a good landlady) is going to put traps in our apartment.


If you managed to get through that, you’ve come to the good part! Lucky you!

I had my follow up appointment with the foot doctor yesterday. Things are looking good and I’ve been advised that I can begin “weaning” myself off the boot. I can also begin doing the elliptical trainer and other exercise. If my foot is pain-free by this time next week, I’ve been given the go ahead to run, only 10 minutes though, and on the treadmill. From there, assuming I continue to be pain-free, I can keep adding time to my treadmill runs, and once I hit the 30 minute mark, I can take my show on the road.

Last night, after being tired and bored and whiny at work, I waffled on whether or not I wanted to spend an hour at the gym. I knew that if I didn’t I’d spend the rest of my evening parked on the couch watching American’s Next Top Model and Glee (Watch this please; I do not want to deal with another “It’s such a great show but no one’s watching so we have to cancel” scenario. Remember Arrested Development, people? It’s MM’s new favorite show, according to him, after seeing it twice) and whatever other crap was on.

So I went. I turned on my iPod, choosing to listen to the “Wedding Good Times” mix that I put together for the trip to Sawyer, Michigan with MM, my sister, and my sister’s boyfriend, and I busted a move on the elliptical. Seriously, once I got started I looked longingly at the treadmills, which were nearly all available since the weather was perfect for running yesterday evening. It was all I could do to keep myself from jumping on a treadmill.

Who would have thought that I would be craving the treadmill? One more week.

However, despite my lack of running sadness, it felt great to be at the gym again. I practically skipped home (with my boot on).

As for the marathon, it looks like I’m going to bail on this one. I hate to do it, mostly because I feel like I’m using my injury as an excuse because I don’t feel much like fighting for it this year. And yes, if I wanted to fight for it, the doctor seemed to think that he could get me to the starting line. But really, if my heart’s not in it, isn’t that an even more compelling reason not to toe the line on October 11? Even on the best days, 26.2 miles is a long way to go. It’s been a busy year. Taking on the marathon in addition to a few half marathons was ambitious considering all of the life changes that coincided with training. Right now, I’m undertrained and underwhelmed. Why should I end up in a boot again just to prove to myself that I wanted it when I really don’t?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Careful When Wishing

This boot is made for walking...

Don't freak out. This looks worse than it is. I went to Athletico yesterday morning for a screening, and they told me that the pain I was experiencing probably wasn’t a stress fracture, but the spot where my foot was bothering me… well… that’s a pretty common place for a stress fracture. To be sure, they said, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to a specialist and get an x-ray.

One of the benefits of being married—well, of me being married, this does not necessarily apply to everyone—is that I am now a card-carrying member of MM’s fancypants insurance that covers everything under the sun, 100%, no questions asked. Uninhibited by the high cost of healthcare, I made that appointment and got that x-ray and the young sport medicine/orthopedic M.D. talked to me, a lot, about what was going on with my foot.
You probably have some frequently asked questions:

What exactly did he say?
“First of all,” he said, “You did the right thing by telling me.”

He didn’t say that.

But he did tell me that, even though there is no fracture, it was smart of me to come to the doctor, rather than waiting a few weeks, continuing to run on it, and winding up with something much more serious than what is going on right now.

So what exactly is going on right now?
He called it a “stress reaction,” which might be a made up thing, but on the spectrum of bones breaking and whatnot, this is exactly the kind of injury (pre-injury?) that could lead to a stress fracture… quickly. It can be caused by overuse or… let’s say (off the top of my head)… running 18 miles after taking a break from running/activity in general for a couple of weeks.

But how do you make it better?
Rest, for starters. No half marathon for Lou this weekend. And, I won’t be running for a minimum of two weeks or until I am pain free, which could be… who knows… never (?!?). But probably not never. Probably two to four weeks since I was smart enough to go in immediately even if I only went in order to show off my fancypants insurance.

Is that all?
Well… no. After the requisite, “rest and no running” speech, he said, “And… you’re not going to like this, but if want to heal as quickly as possible, I recommend you get fitted for a boot.”

A what?
A boot. And I’m not talking about the Canadian word for “about” either.

I know. It seems a bit excessive for a diagnosis that ultimately comes down a little bit of annoying foot pain. But, I took it, mostly because it was free (for me!), and I figured it couldn’t hurt, and really I’ve never had an injury visible enough for strangers to feel compelled to get up and give me a damn seat on the train. But now I look mildly crippled, which works in one’s favor when utilizing public transit. So whatever. I’ve been wearing it for the most part, though I cheat a bit at work, where I am happy to stay planted in my desk chair anyway, so I guess that’s not too taxing for my poor, tired, stressed out foot bone.

And the marathon?
Eh, who really knows? The doctor said based on my fitness level, the fact that this isn’t my first year training for a marathon, that I got treatment early, and that I’ve been not only running, but consistently cross training all season (until now!), it’s still a possibility. According to the doctor, who clearly expects more of me than I expect of myself, I might not be able to run the entire marathon, but rather I will probably need to walk parts of it.

He said that? Really?
Really. I said, “Huh… walk parts of the marathon? Ya don’t say doc…” But not really, I probably just squinted at him incredulously.

Are you sad?
I hate to say it, but I kind of don’t care. I did tell him, “I know runners come in here when they are knee deep in training and their entire life hinges on whether or not they run the marathon, but that’s really not how I feel this year, and right now I’m a lot more concerned about running as my regular cardio activity than I am about toeing the line not matter what it takes on October 11.”

Wow, you’re annoying.

Is that all?
Yes. You can go now. Or, if you’re so compelled, you can leave me well wishes for my speedy “recovery” in the comments section.

Eh… I’m kind of busy right now…

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Adventures in Double Digits

Eventually soon, I will do a recap of the wedding (in pictures!), but right now, I am taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming to recount for you my recent training escapades. Novel, yes?

I mentioned in passing that I did not run for 10 days. On the Thursday before the wedding, running buddy Meg and I had ambitious plans for a 16 mile run. It became clear that 16 miles would be too time-consuming, and we decided that we would do a *mere* 14 mile run. After more thought, that too seemed daunting, so we agreed that 10 miles would be sufficient.

We woke up that Thursday morning to rain, and since both of us had been surviving for weeks on approximately 6 hours of sleep a night, we decided to wait out the weather and enjoy a relaxing morning. When we finally got moving, I figured I didn’t have it in me to go farther than 5 miles, but it turned out to be a great run. We added miles until wedding madness caught up at 7 miles, and time prevented us from going any farther.

MM and I packed enough running paraphernalia to do at least two solid runs in Cabo. But immediately we realized that training runs were not going to be a feasible part of our honeymoon itinerary. Even MM, who is always active and unfazed by difficult running conditions, had no intention of even pretending like we would attempt to run in the 100+ degree, humid Cabo weather on the uneven, unpredictable Cabo sidewalks.

When we returned to reality, I got back into a routine with Meg, but knew that with all I had missed, continuing to train for the marathon would be difficult. Next on the agenda: 18 miles. On Monday morning, during an easy 40 minute run, I realized that my longest run up to this point had been the half marathon a full four weeks earlier.

I mean, let’s be serious folks. Five miles, especially when you’re talking about “a little more than 10” to “almost 20” is quite a jump. I reasoned that I should try it, but I wasn’t going to fool myself, and if I couldn’t do it, I would relinquish my marathon hopes 2009, run another half, and call it a season.

But really, I was hoping for an out. I wanted a shitty run; I wanted to throw in the towel under the guise of prudence for my health and well-being, and I knew going in that my ulterior desire to give up would be thwarted.

I woke up on Saturday to near perfect running weather. After weeks of Saturday morning runs hindered by 5 hours of sleep and the pre-wedding nutritional/stress eating plan of barely 1200 calories a day, I had eaten (a lot), slept, and was ready to go. Lindy and I started the run early, at 6:10am or so instead of waiting for the CES group to start at 6:40. We went south for two miles, then back north to our starting point, where Meg and Freedom Runner met us and we continued on. We took our time—my goal is to finish the marathon under 6 hours, preferably a 5:45, which if I can manage a solid 13 minute mile, is totally doable—staying between a 12:15 and 12:45 minute mile, stopping at the fuel stations and bathrooms, and in general, walking if we needed to.

Freedom Runner kept us entertained with stories until she turned off at Montrose to head home, about 4 miles into our journey north. We still had miles to go. When we reached the end of the path we turned back around and headed toward our starting point. We were joined by another runner, who again, kept us entertained with stories through the next several miles. Unfortunately, when we reached our end point, we were about two and a half miles short of the intended run. On most days, this would prompt me to say something like, “Fifteen and a half miles is good enough,” and head off in search of an everything bagel with chive cream cheese, but not today. I turned back around and headed north to get in my final miles.

I’m not actually sure where I ended up—somewhere between 17 and 18 miles to be sure—but it was a great long run, probably the best run over 10 miles all season. So now what? Am I stuck? After all the glory of a solid long run, I woke up Sunday with a new pain in my left foot, which has yet to subside. And, it definitely feels like a “that’s not right” kind of pain as opposed to an “I’m sore because I ran 18 miles” pain. I think I am going to make an appointment with Athletico to make sure it’s not a stress fracture, and then go from there. I don’t count the marathon as a definite yet, but as long as I am not hurt, I will hold myself to the 20 mile run in two weeks. But first, another half marathon.

One week at a time.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

But Not Forgotten

Once upon a time, about a week and a half ago, MM and I went on a real vacation. There was no half marathon, no marathon, no triathlon, no family, big event, or holiday. No... we spent five days sleeping, eating, sunbathing, swimming, sleeping, reading, sleeping some more, and walking around in the blazing hot Cabo San Lucas sun. That's enough to make a couple of newlyweds hungry.

So here it is, in pictures...

Every morning, we were treated this view from the honeymoon suite's private patio.

The Bungalows--think boutique hotel meets bed and breakfast--serves a huge gourmet breakfast every morning. Each breakfast begins with a plate of fruit and fresh-squeezed juice followed by waffles... or a breakfast burrito... or an omelet... you name it, they probably make it and it's amazing.

We were one of three rooms that were occupied at The Bungalows during our honeymoon. We spent a lot of time lounging by the pool all by ourselves. Seriously, we practically had the run of the place.

It was all so stressful, I had to get an hour long massage on the private patio.

After being lazy for several days, we decided one "activity" was in order. We decided that activity would be surfing.

Which looks awesome, but was actually terrifying.

I know you came to this blog in the hopes you would see a photo of MM's foot. So, that whole "surfing adventure" ended with MM "nearly drowning" and cutting his foot up on some rocks.

He was not pleased.

Seriously. He was not happy. Arguably, surfing was my idea.

To cheer him up, we went out to the famous Cabo Wabo to hear some live music and have some cocktails.

MM felt much better once he had this totally manly drink.

Eventually, MM got over his foot and the whole "I nearly drowned out there" nonsense. Our last night, we took a sunset cruise. Yes, we're on a boat.

And we saw some seals!

And then the camera batteries died.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Honeymoon Is Over

Gosh there’s so much to catch up on. I’m back in Chicago, back at work, back to training (as of yesterday after a 10 day hiatus), back to reality, etc. It will probably take a series of posts to say all of the things I want to say about the wedding ceremony, the reception, the weekend in general, and of course, the honeymoon. Lucky you, right?

I suppose I never really thought about how I would look back after it was over and relay it to the masses, but I certainly did not realize until we were there, in the moment, that choices we made would end up equaling something that was beautiful, emotional, colorful, fun, and undeniably represented MM and I as individuals and as a couple. I don’t tend to describe much as perfect and it never occurred to me that this story would begin, “It was perfect,” as in “perfect for us.”

But really, if I’m going to give you the whole story, I have to start with the prologue, back up about two weeks before the wedding, and fill you in on one of the details that I left out—first because of shame, and second, after I got over the shame and realized that I had done the right thing, because of general lack of time to write it down.

I bought a third wedding dress. You probably didn’t notice because I don’t expect my readers to keep up with all my costume changes , but the last photo I posted was of a dress that was not ornate Dress #1 (from the famous Filene’s Running of the Brides sale) nor was it the simple Dress #2 (from David’s Bridal). Nope, this was Dress #3, which I bought exactly two weeks before the wedding and cost more than the other two dresses combined… and then some. Crazy? Yes. Crazy like a fox? Um… yes (?).

First off, I was settled on dress #2. I was happy with it; very pleased that I had decided to go with something simpler, which I thought was more “like me.” But, by the second and final fitting, during which the seamstress at David’s Bridal did not even bother to come out and look at the dress, which – I thought – was fine, since the dress zipped up. You see, my concern all along has been about things zipping up. That’s how I started this process, trying on the few size 14 dresses that Filene’s had and praying they zipped up. Over the course of 6 months, I lost almost 25 pounds, but didn’t shed the “I hope it zips up” mentality.

When I got the David’s dress home, I tried it on again only to discover that the top of the dress was so baggy, I could stuff a softball down the front of it. It looked, overall, ill-fitting, which is not the adjective you want to use when you describe your wedding dress.

But that’s really not the whole story. The truth is, I had found out about three weeks earlier that my stepsister had worn the same dress for her wedding. While I tried to not let that bother me, I couldn’t deny that it did, and no amount of altering would change that.

And yes, I did look into altering it further, but after buckets of tears the day after I brought the dress home (aka, two Saturdays before the wedding), I took action. I found a boutique in Lincoln Park that specializes in samples and sells them off the rack. By some miracle, when I called at 11am on Saturday morning, they had an appointment available at noon, even though they only take one bride at a time for an hour appointment and are only open for six hours on Saturday. I explained my "predicament" and the woman on the other end of the phone line said, "Oh yeah, we have girls come in here all the time a week or two before their weddings." Great. I'm not alone in the crazy. I called @, explained the situation through my hysteria, and within about 20 minutes had picked her up and was headed to Lincoln Park. I honestly thought that this would be fruitless, that there would be no way I’d find a dress, and I would have to live with the best option I had.

The dress I bought two hours later was the first dress I tried on. The saleswoman pulled it out of the backroom after I asked if there was anything else, scared (mostly) that what I had pulled out wouldn’t fit me. There was no question even though I walked away and tried to pretend that I was weighing the options of paying for another, more expensive dress that required rush alterations (including removing the cap sleeves to make the dress strapless) two weeks before the wedding. I was kidding myself. With most “big” decisions, I have known the decision I would make in an instant, it was just a matter of time before I admitted it to myself. Within 10 minutes, @ and I turned around and headed back to the store.

I know it seems ridiculous, childish even, to think that a dress made all the difference, but after my first fitting, the shame of buying dress #3 faded, and I knew I had not only made the right choice, but by getting this dress, I had, no doubt, circumvented two weeks of emotional turmoil. The truth is, I know myself well enough to know that if I didn’t feel good about how I looked on my wedding day, getting through all the other stuff was going to be 10 times, maybe 100 times, harder for me. I’m admittedly vain, and trying to “save money” and going with a dress “I liked” and seemed “good enough,” was a stupid thing to do in the first place.

I’m not saying that my philosophy was that money was no object by any means. I’m saying that I should have been smarter about my search. But, in the end, I know that dress was waiting there for me in the backroom (taken off the floor because it was five months old). Maybe in 10 years I’ll realize how silly I was about a dress that I will only wear once, but it was the right choice for me at the time I made it.

Honestly… I think you'll find it difficult to disagree:

Dress #1: Filene's Basement
Please ignore the fact that I looked like shit warmed over in this photo.

Dress #2: David's Bridal
I do think this dress is cute. It's just a lot cuter on other people.

Dress #3: Weddings 826This is the first fitting, pre- the sleeves being chopped off.

P.S. If you happen to know anyone in the market for a wedding dress, I happen to have two for sale, super cheap-like.