2011 Year in Review

30 Dec 2011 In: Uncategorized

This year was WONDERFUL, and chock full of learning experiences. Here’s a little rundown of what I learned this year.

1) Beware of sleek CEO’s that might promise you the moon and stars. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

2) Jobwise, take some time to find out what you REALLY enjoy doing. Find that workplace that feels like home when you walk in the door. After all, you’ll practically end up spending more time with your co-workers than your spouse.

3) Limitations are only in your mind. Forget about them. Make a plan and go for it. I went from “running hater” to having the most incredible Disneyland Half-Marathon experience of my life. I went from walking the dog once a day as my only form of exercise to my first 5K, first half-marathon, first sprint triathlon and even a “Dirty 6 Mud Run” obstacle course race.

4) Listen to what your body is telling you. I split my peroneal brevis tendon in my ankle this past August. I ignored it and kept going, even ran the half-marathon with the split tendon. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret running that half. However, I should have listened to my body immediately afterward and not signed up for more races and harder training, thinking that tendon injury would heal itself.

5) Face your fears head-on. In January of 2011, I flew my solo in our hot air balloon for the first time. I was nervous and a little scared. I didn’t sleep much the night before. But I was ready, and I had a beautiful solo flight — another life experience I’ll never forget.

6) Appreciate the people around you. They’re the ones that help you create your life to be what it is, help you reach your goals, and are there to pick you up and take care of you when you fall down (or have ankle surgery). Respect, love, and appreciate your spouse, family and your friends.

There were so many firsts this year in 2011 — I can’t imagine what 2012 has in store for me but I know it’s gonna be great. Better. Faster. Stronger.

Making Progress, Slowly

29 Dec 2011 In: Uncategorized

Well, I only got to wear my candy cane cast for one week, and then they put me in the evil Stormtrooper Moon Boot. I also had a wonderful knee scooter we rented for two weeks which helped immensely. After a week on crutches, my palms were bruised and my underarms were pretty unhappy with me. The knee scooter made it a LOT more possible to get around for running all the Christmas errands. US Airways is a fairly large building as well, so the scooter made it more possible for me to get around without having to crutch everywhere.

I’ve worn the Stormtrooper boot for nearly two weeks now, and today is the day they remove my Frankenstitches on the ankle. Hopefully I’ll also find out when I’m cleared to swim and stationary bike. The first day I was allowed any weight-bearing was on Monday the 26th. It didn’t go well — there was significant heel pain and I could hardly put any weight on it at all. Of course it was frustrating and a bit demoralizing.

Chuck ended up going out to crew for Dean & Kim’s balloon that same Monday, so I tagged along with the crutches anyway, otherwise I would’ve just been a couch potato. I ended up doing quite a bit of standing around on the crutches and as the day progressed, I was happily surprised to see that I could put just a teensy bit more weight on the foot.

Since Monday, every day has progressed a little bit more. Tuesday night, I hobbled around with mincing baby steps on the crutches. Wednesday at work I began using one crutch to “zombie shuffle” over to meetings. Today was more of a breakthrough — I actually ditched the crutches at my desk once and walked over to refill my water bottle solo. I took my time and was extra careful, but I was pretty excited to not have that crutch shoved up my armpit.

HOPING to get cleared to start swimming — it’s funny how perspective works. A month ago I was complaining about the outdoor heated pool and how there was no way I’d go swim laps in that thing because of the cold when I got out. Now I don’t care anymore — I WANT to hop in that heated pool and get a little workout. Cold means nothing now that I’ve been relegated to being a couch potato for a month and CAN’T swim.

Candy Canes and Everything Sweet

11 Dec 2011 In: Uncategorized

My ankle stabilization surgery was on December 5th, and it went quite well. They were able to tighten the ligaments that I damaged from figure skating years ago, and were able to suture up the almost 1″ tear that I had on my peroneal brevis tendon. They even cleaned out a lot of the scar tissue from years of heavy use from figure skating.

This past week has been a little bit of foggy blur.  I took off Monday and Tuesday, and then worked Wednesday and Thursday from home, which was nice. It allowed me to keep in touch and get tasks done but still knock out here and there when the pain meds kicked in. I’m happy to say that I’m almost completely off the pain meds now as well, except for maybe one on the mornings when the pain is worse than normal.

On Friday they finally replaced my “cankle” – this HUGE, heavy wrapping that my ankle was in since the surgery, and I managed to talk them into a candy cane colored cast. What I did not expect was the need to force my ankle into a 90 degree angle to be cast. That was pretty painful — maybe it’s good I didn’t know about that beforehand. But after much deep breathing (and pain), they were able to get it close to 90 degrees to apply the fiberglass cast.

The good news is that I only have to wear it for a week, and next Friday I go in for a boot (or a “CAM Walker” is the official term). Think Stormtrooper boots. The worst part about the surgery and the cast are the crutches. No weight bearing still for two more weeks. I find myself exhausted just getting up to move around, or going to the car and back, even when Chuck drops me off in the front of a restaurant. But, this too shall pass, and I’m hanging in there like a (storm) trooper.

Chuck has been amazing this past week, it’s a blessing to have someone that can take care of you when you’re feeling your worst, and even make you smile when you’re hurting. He brought me my medicine on schedule (one dose even included a cake pop), and kept me as comfortable as I could be. Dean & Kim sent me a BEAUTIFUL edible bouquet that cheered me up immensely. You can’t feel too sorry for yourself when you’re chomping down on chocolate-covered strawberries and pineapples, folks.

I’ll post progress here and there — I’m eager to get back to running, but the most important thing is that I want my ankle to heal as perfectly as possible, so I’m not pushing it like my usual hard-headed, two guns blazing fashion.

Down for the Count

22 Nov 2011 In: Uncategorized

Finally had my diagnosis today, after x-rays and MRI’s. I guess my days of competitive figure skating have caught up with me. It looks like my ligaments in the ankle are no more. So the tendons took on the extra work, and by getting hot and stressed ended up getting a split in them. So it looks like surgery.

Ankle surgery in the next 6-8 weeks will repair the torn ligaments and split tendon that I have in my left ankle. It’s got me a little upset, but what am I gonna do? I’d rather they fix it and get me back to running. Until then, it’s “gentle” cycling and swimming. /sigh

On the DL (Disabled List)

3 Nov 2011 In: fitness, running, stress fracture

After both the Disneyland Half-Marathon and the Dirty 6 Mud Run, I was having issues with my shins, ankle, and knee. I thought it was just tendons/ligaments that got strained and needed time to repair. So I’d take a week or two off here or there and go back to running.

Since my last post about training, and how I was going to work in long runs every other weekend, etc — there has been no running. It looks like there may be no running for another month or more. I took more than two weeks off and then trotted across the Fry’s parking lot to go grocery shopping. Instantly the “stabby ice pick” feeling started up again in the legs and the ankle.

So, I’m thinking there’s a problem. I have an appointment with an orthopedic doctor next Friday, which probably means X-Rays or MRI soon as well. At present even the slightest jog or heavy pressure on one leg or another gives me the “stabby ice picks” in my legs. It’s got me a little down. Right now I’m not even biking or swimming. Think I need to start back up on at least cross training this weekend — maybe it’ll improve my outlook.

The Arizona PF Chang’s Rock & Roll Half-Marathon is on January 15th, 2012. I want to run it SOOOO much. But I want to run for a long time, and I guess if it means missing a race until I’m completely healed, that’s what I’ll have to do. :(

Just Keep Swimming

14 Oct 2011 In: fitness, Half-Marathon, running, train, triathlon

I promise a 2011 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta update is coming, but I haven’t uploaded and edited the photos yet, so this time it’s a triathlon training blog entry. Since the Dirty 6 Mud Run where I jammed my knee a few weeks ago, it’s been a challenge to get out there and run.

The first time I ran (the Wednesday after the race), I ran through the knee pain which was clearly not a bright thing to do. That kept me off running again for almost another week and a half with moderate knee pain and clicking in the joint. Finally got back to it this Monday and was pleased to have a good run with a decent pace (for me). Icing the knee was necessary afterward, but the pain wasn’t as severe as it was the last time I had a run workout.

Ran again today, taking three days off in between to mostly just stretch in the evenings. Ran two miles without stopping once, and it felt awesome! (Normally I do the Jeff Galloway run/walk/run method, but I’ve been wanting to build up and stretch out my run-only mileage). The knee’s still bugging me and needs ice, but it felt so good to run.

I never thought I would hear myself say this, but I really have grown to love running. But this time instead of my typical bullheaded “Just Do It” method of training, I’m forcing myself to take it slow until things get repaired. That means probably only 2 weekday run workouts, of fairly easy pace running. Ice… ice ice ice has become my friend after runs now.

I’ve decided to skip the Oct 30th sprint triathlon in order to work on building more of my fitness base and hoping to run a 2:45 at the PF Chang’s Half-Marathon in January. I think I can do it, but it’s going to depend on how well I can keep my legs uninjured over the next three months.

So to build a base, I’m going to go back to training with a heavy emphasis on swimming and cycling, and take it easy on the running. I’ll add slow, long runs every other weekend.

Meanwhile, it’s “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

Goodbye, Steve Jobs

9 Oct 2011 In: Uncategorized
While I was at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta this past week, I returned to the hotel one night to catch up on news with my iPad – the first article was regarding the death of Steve Jobs. I immediately tuned the TV to CNN. 

It wasn’t a surprise, as an Apple fan I knew he was gravely ill, but the sudden finality of it all hit me. I found tears welling up in my eyes as I watched the anchor discuss Steve’s life and accomplishments. How is it that I can cry for someone I have never even met?

Maybe it’s that after watching nearly every Apple keynote and new product launch, I’ve grown to look forward to the magic and charisma that Steve Jobs displayed onstage. He was like “Willy Wonka” to many of us, and we eagerly watched on to see what new magical device would be this year’s object of our affection.Steve Jobs was a visionary and a legend, and while I will always be an Apple enthusiast, I will greatly miss his “one more thing” surprises and the passion he exhibited as he gave us the first look at revolutionary tech products. I go to sleep and wake up with an iPhone and an iPad on my nightstand. They mean more to me than mere appliances. They’re a part of my everyday life.

Steve Jobs – Godspeed. Thanks for the memories. Thanks for the toys. Thanks for changing the way I both work and play. You will be missed.

 

Dirty 6 Mud Run – Race Report

28 Sep 2011 In: races, running, triathlon

Life is an adventure — make it an exciting one! In keeping with the spirit of adventure, I entered the “Dirty 6 Mud Run” as a team with my friends from US Airways. We each chose a bright color and wore pigtails, knee high socks, jelly bracelets and black running skirts for the race.

The Dirty 6 Mud Run is a six-mile obstacle challenge held at Rawhide Western Town in Chandler, Arizona. Aside from having watched a YouTube video of the race from the prior year, we didn’t know what to expect besides lots of mud and lots of water. It was an absolute BLAST!

After the Disneyland Half-Marathon, I let myself recover from running for about five days and then tried to get back into my run training again. I ran on a Friday and then again on a Monday. I guess I hadn’t given myself enough proper recovery time because within days I was down with shin splints and ankle tendon issues again. /sigh. Back to the swimming and biking regimen only again.

Again with the trepidation of “what is my ankle going to do to me during this race”. And again with the stubborn, “I don’t care, I’m doing it anyway.” Happily, the ankle didn’t give me trouble at all during the race. Since we ran it as a team — Team Dirty Haboob (go look up haboob in Wikipedia) we all had the same race number. We paced closely together, not going too fast, and enjoyed the race, taking each obstacle one at a time.

The obstacles seemed to be first mud, followed by water. Mud again, then water. Then mud, but NO water. Of course, I chose that obstacle to get mostly covered in mud which proceeded to dry into an ashy gray onto my skin over the next mile of running. But the slip & slide washed it all off. The obstacles were a ton of fun and not overly challenging — just enough for five girls to get out there, have a blast together, and accomplish a great workout and a fun race!

On the final run into the finish line, you run through Rawhide’s Old West main street. There were cowboys dressed up holding bullwhips, hollering at you to keep running as they cracked the whip (quite literally) right next to you. Other cowboys shot their Colt 45′s (shooting blanks of course) right at our feet to give us the inspiration to cross the finish quickly. We LOVED it!

The only downside from the race was that the final mud pit was shallower than the prior ones, and three of us leapt into it expecting it to be deeeper but we came up a bit short. I’m now having to ice my right knee several times a day to keep the swelling down. I tried to run today (9/28) and by the end of my usual flat 2 mile loop I was in quite a bit of pain. So – back to the good ‘ol spin and swim routine again.

Why is it that now that I actually ENJOY running, I’m always too injured to get out there and run? Aah life — you enjoy testing my patience, don’t you?

If you get a chance to run this race next year and it’s in between planned triathlon or road races, definitely give it a shot. I now have newfound appreciation for running in shoes that aren’t filled with mud and water!

My next planned race is the Mesa Sprint Triathlon on October 30th. It’s an easy one – 400yd pool swim, 12.5mi bike, 2mi run. Even if I cut out running for the next few weeks to let my knee heal, I’ll be good to go for that tri. Time to crank up the bike mileage during the next few weeks, though!

We did it! We are now half-marathon finishers in what is probably one of the most fun half-marathon races ever! Of course, this was my first big race so I don’t have much experience yet, but I can’t imagine a half-marathon being more fun than this one.

My last post was about fear. I definitely went into this race with trepidation. The ankle tendon was bugging me, making it hard to put weight on it for stairs and even just walking. I even had a few people tell me I should drop out of the race. I refused to accept that kind of negativity — after having worked 8 months toward a difficult (for me) goal and having invested hundreds in training, race fees, hotel, and Disneyland tickets, I was not about to give up. I had to have the courage to at least try.

Race morning came, and we walked out to the race start – close to the back in “Corral F”. For those non-racers, when you sign up for a race, you estimate what your pace will be and they will assign you to a corral with others running that pace. We had to be in our corrals at 5:15am, making for a nervewracking hour until we actually got to start running (near 6:15am).

The lead-up to the start of the race was exciting. There were big jumbotrons with Mickey and Minnie in tracksuits, a gorgeous national anthem complete with fireworks booming on the lyrics “and the rocket’s red glare”, and an announcer revving up the runners. Nerves built as we watched Corral A (aka the Type A elite runners) started. Then B, C, D, E, and finally, F. I started my GPS and heart rate monitor and off we ran.

My heart rate was sky high in the first few minutes, topping 185bpm — nerves, adrenaline, and yes, fear, all running through me as we started on our pace. I was so pumped up for this race that we didn’t even do any walk intervals until well after the 5K (3.1miles) distance. The first three miles were a run through Disneyland’s backlot, California Adventure theme park and then Disneyland.

It was just sheer heaven. Imagine a mass of people, all running in the same direction, and running through the place of my childhood dreams — Disneyland. Disney cast members all lined up along Main Street, Tomorrowland and Fantasyland eagerly applauding and cheering us on. We even ran right through Sleeping Beauty’s castle – and then back out of the park.

Now it was time to buckle down — the race was REALLY starting. Chuck turned on the interval timer so we could settle into our run/walk pace (2:30 minute run, 1 minute walk). He did a great job at keeping my spirits up, telling funny jokes, making me smile and laugh, and letting me know when my pace was getting too slow. That’s what a real partner does — supports and encourages you to achieve your best.

Things felt pretty good — much to my amazement even the ankle didn’t hurt a single bit. We settled into our intervals and reeled runners in one-by-one, passing them slowly as we ran by. Now that we’ve done a half-marathon, we realized that Corral F was a bit conservative — I felt like I was zeroed in on passing people left and right (not a bad feeling for a turtle-slow runner like myself). Next race, we need to move up to Corral C or D.

Every single mile had a gorgeous Disneyland mile marker sign with the current time/pace and distance completed. Every mile also had some kind of band, cheerleaders, dancers, a little bit of something to see and look forward to. Things started flagging around mile 8, my pace slowing down a bit. But then came the Angels Stadium where we were on the Jumbotron and the announcer was announcing what state (or country) you were from. There were cheerleaders, boy scouts, bands, and crowds in the stands all cheering us on. It made me feel like a rock star, getting to high-five kids as I ran by — it made the leg pain and tightness a little bit more tolerable.

Once out of the stadium around mile 9, things quieted down a bit and I continued to get a little slower. Chuck asked me, “Shari — do you want to finish under three hours, or just finish?” I wasn’t feeling great by then, but I wanted it bad — to finish sub three hours. For you elite runners, you can probably do a half-marathon in less than half that time, but for me, having never run any kind of distance in my entire life, it was a big goal.

I gritted my teeth and picked up the pace a little bit. Around mile 10, we saw Kim who met us at one of the intersections. Kim and Dean are both Ironman triathletes and fantastic runners so they came out to support us on our first half-marathon race. She met us knowing that it gets hard around mile 10 for new runners, and was there to help pace us into the finish line. She was such a welcome sight. Chuck was wonderful, but he was running out of entertaining material by now, and we were both happy to see her smiling face.

We worked a bit harder now, picking up the pace to keep up with Kim. My quads and calves were burning and exhausted. Dean ended up catching up to us around mile 11.5 or so, and ran with us up until close to the end of the race (where he was escorted politely off the course since he didn’t have a race bib). :)

Finally I could see Disneyland again, and knew we were weaving our way toward the finish line near the Disneyland hotel. I was REALLY ready to be done with the race by now. We got close to the finish line, Kim wished us good luck, and we ran together toward the big F-I-N-I-S-H. Chuck and I held hands together as we crossed the finish line, and I found myself choking up a little with tears of joy (and relief, and accomplishment).

We got our medals a little further down past the finish line — HUGE gold Disneyland race medals, and our first half-marathon was now in the books. Our official time (including a little bathroom break in the first 5K part) was about 2:53.

After cleaning up at the hotel and icing our legs down, we headed off to Disneyland and California Adventure to enjoy the rest of our day, albeit a little bit gimpy. You could tell the half-marathon runners — we were the ones wincing stepping off high curbs or hobbling down stairs.

It was worth the months of pain, sweat, summer heat training, injuries, self-doubt and tears. We’re now signed up for the PF Chang’s Las Vegas Rock & Roll Half Marathon in December followed by PF Chang’s Arizona Rock & Roll Half in January. Go big or go home!

Fear

2 Sep 2011 In: motivational, running

I’m afraid. There, I admitted it. In less than 48 hours I will be running a distance that I have never run before, on an ankle that has been giving me some issues for the past two weeks.

The Disneyland Half-Marathon is this Sunday and my transformation from couch potato to wannabe runner has been an 8 month long journey. Am I fast? No. Am I learning? Yes. I’ve battled injuries, aches, pain, 6 months of plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and now a bum ankle that has me a little concerned. To become an good athlete you need patience — not a trait that I have in spades. But I’m learning what my body can take and what I am capable of.

I’ll get better, faster, stronger. But it isn’t going to be an overnight process.

Here’s a pic of me jumping off the rock at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of O’ahu, Hawaii last month. The jump is about 18-20 feet, down into about 8 feet of water. Standing at the top looking down, my feet did NOT want to jump off that rock. My brain was on high alert saying “Do not do this.” Fear.

I had jumped off the rock as a kid and remembered being pretty scared then, but just going for it. And I loved it after I jumped the first time. Looking down into the water 20 years later from the top of that rock, fear threatened to overwhelm me again.

After staring down at the water for what felt like a decade, I finally summoned up enough courage to watch for the incoming swell, crouched like a tiger, and leapt off the rock.

Sometimes you have to do the very thing that scares you to overcome your fear. The feeling of accomplishment when you conquer your fear, whether it’s just jumping off a high rock or completing a half-marathon, is worth it.

Just tell yourself, “I can do this.” Believe in your training plan. Take the fear and put it into a little desk drawer in your mind and close that drawer. Then just leap.

About this blog

UI/UX Developer by day, a million other hobbies by night. Attracted to shiny objects that need recharging. Passion for life, love, and sushi. Trail running, hiking, books, gaming, sketching and travel are just a few of my interests. Multi-platform (Windows, OS X, Android, iOS) enthusiast.


Photos

Grand Canyon Apr 2013Picacho Peak Christmas 2013
Hawaii Jun 2013Renaissance Faire 2013
Peralta Trail Mar 2013Vegas Red Rocks - 2013

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