Posted by: Karen Cooksley | March 16, 2014

Injury Update

This is kind of a limbo update, as I’ve been to the doctor, but am awaiting x-ray results. Thursday afternoon I visited my family doctor and told her my symptoms. As I anticipated, I’m to not do anything until we can see what an x-ray of my heel reveals. We might also try a bone scan, but first things first.

For the record, the downtown x-ray clinic is empty on a Friday morning at 9:00. I was in and out of there in 15 minutes.

Does not doing anything include yoga? because I went to yoga Thursday. The heel hurt during some of the standing poses as usual, but the rest of the class was worth it. I really like Kristie’s Yoga for the Non-Bendy, as I am no where near as bendy as I once was, and she’s great at gently describing how and why a body should stretch this way or that.

I’m also sticking to at least one lane swim a week, sometimes two. Flip turns are happening more often, and they keep me from resting at the end of the lane. I’m looking forward to eventually riding my bike to and from the pool (about 3k) in warmer weather and with longer days.

I’m REALLY looking forward to running again, but I understand this will require more patience. I hope there is something we can do about my recovery, as opposed to just plain old waiting.

Posted by: Karen Cooksley | March 16, 2014

Slow Racing

Slow-Racing: It’s kind of like slow-cooking, wherein one gets to take longer to savour the event.

To keep my XC race streak going, I gently jogged 8 km in the February 22 Weaselhead race, and 4 km in the March 8 Fish Creek race. I took my camera along and participated tourist-style, to give me a creative way to gently participate. It made taking the races slowly a little more fun, even when I got lapped by the fast front-runners.

Weaselhead 8k

I completed both loops of the Weaselhead race for the 8k distance, as I needed one more 8k distance in the series to qualify for the Grand Prix standings. It doesn’t matter if I’m 10th out of 10 or 40th out of 40 in my age group – qualifying means I can rate as “Top 10” or “Top 40” in a city of a million people. Little things like that tuck into my ego-belt quite nicely.

The foot didn’t hurt very much at all during that race, and I snapped some lovely shots of the two girls who led me through the first lap. The Jack Rabbit trail on which the course was set is beautifully treed, and it’s one of my favourite places to run. It was a cold day, but we bundled up and kept moving.

Fish Creek 4k

We enjoyed comparatively warm weather for the Fish Creek race. I chose the 4k route and was glad I had, as the foot started whining half way through. It had been recently cold enough that the creek was still frozen, and we ran on it past a lovely frozen waterfall. I snapped some pics of the course, a few course marshals, and a snowman at the finish.

Check out some of the shots I took on my Flickr Page.

These were the last two races in the season, two weeks apart, and now I will rest the foot with no-more-runs until the doc and I can figure out next steps (or un/non/anti-steps).

Posted by: Karen Cooksley | March 16, 2014

VolunCHEERing

Frozen Ass 50k

Monday, February 17 was the Family Day holiday here in Alberta. I and my running buddy had registered for Gord’s Frozen Ass 50k race that day, but I did not race in hopes of resting the sore foot. The running buddy was struggling with a minor injury as well, so he opted for the 25k distance (the 50k is a double out-and-back course).

<3

<3

I’m not one to sit at home and sulk while friends race. My daughter and I heartily cheered on several runners on at a couple of places along the route. We chalked encouraging messages on the path, and offered the running buddy a beer as he ran by (he declined).

Before and during the race we also got to meet and cheer fellow #CMSForeRunner Michelle, who finished her first 50k race. Way to go Michelle – what a wonderful accomplishment!

Original St. Patrick’s Day 5k & 10k 

Since the foot is so consistently cranky, I resolved not to enter any more races until it’s better. Still, I’m more than healthy enough to volunteer, so my daughter and I signed up to be course marshals. We were assigned a fabulous spot, at the north end of a pedestrian bridge, where racers of both distances ran past us first one way, and then back another, with the longer route converging with the shorter one right where we stood on their way back.

We had a blast. We had dressed up in bright green silly stuff, to make the racers smile. We shook noise makers and hollered encouragement. We shouted RACERS THIS WAY when one of our bibbed racers tried to follow a regular training runner the wrong way. We slapped high fives and smiled back at “thank yous”. We especially cheered on Leana, #CMSForerunner Tina, and Dawn.

My favourite post-race food was a mint chocolate chip scone. Check out all the fun we had in the photobooth at the after party!

Posted by: Karen Cooksley | March 16, 2014

February Tough Month for Bike Commuting

View of the Bow River from the 10A St pedestrian bridge, about 5:30 pm

View of the Bow River from the 10A St pedestrian bridge, about 5:30 pm

Our frigidly cold weather warmed up just enough for me to comfortably participate in Winter Bike to Work Day. It also coincided nicely with Valentine’s Day, so I dressed up my pannier with a string of red, glittery hearts and rode in a little early to celebrate with other #WBTWD supporters before heading off to work.

Bike Calgary volunteers and some cool sponsors and organizations got together at Eau Claire mall, where cyclists could enjoy a free breakfast, complete with a delightful chocolate to top it off. I tried on some battery operated thermal gloves. They were fascinating, but more expensive than I could justify for myself. A local photographer had set up a fun photo booth and I snagged a fun free bike bell.

Incidentally, the third annual Calgary Bike Swap is coming up on May 3rd this year. I hear that volunteers get first pick? Who wants to volunteer?

I managed one other bike commute in February before temperatures dropped below and beyond my comfort zone for the rest of the month. I’d rather not have to wear a parka on my bike, and even so, I’m still challenged keeping my hands warm. February 2013 I think I bike commuted 2-3 times per week. This February it was twice total.

This past week (March 10-14) I gleefully bike commuted every single day, with the morning temperatures near zero Celsius. By Friday morning my legs ached, “What, AGAIN!”, but the rest of me dragged them along over the frozen puddles and it was glorious. I’m looking forward to another lovely set of bike commutes next week.

Posted by: Karen Cooksley | February 13, 2014

More Not-Running and Winter Biking

Other than two recent cross country races two weeks apart, I haven’t run for over three weeks. My foot still hurts, although the pain seems to have moved from bottom of the arch to the tendons above and behind the ankle. I figure the pain will poke around until it finds it way out. In the meantime, I am continuing with strengthening exercises, swimming and yoga.

I have been tempted to research my foot pain on the internet, but web based self diagnosis seems kind of like reading horoscopes – they all seem to apply and I just end up choosing the parts I like best anyway.

Photo courtesy of Bike Calgary

Photo courtesy of Bike Calgary

Last weekend I finally set up my road bike on the indoor trainer, so last night I cranked out a 20 minute spin before settling in to the strengthening exercises. I hadn’t been on the road bike for so long I had to Google how to shift gears!

Sundays and Tuesdays I’ve been pretty consistent with 35-40 minutes of lane swimming. I haven’t re-learned flip turns yet, but I’m resting less at the ends now.

Tonight I’m going back to Yoga for the as yet Unbendy – soon I think I will carve out some time to practice these poses at home too.

Tomorrow – oh hey! TOMORROW is Winter Ride Your Bike to Work Day! I’m looking forward to checking out on Twitter (#WBTWD) and Facebook about how bike commuters in winter cities enjoyed their commute.

I plan to bike in a little early, to see if I can snag breakfast and celebrate with other local winter bike commuters. It seems that it will even be warm enough that I won’t have to bundle up much. I have not biked to work since our last chinook sometime in January, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. Maybe I will also get to ride next week, if the “warm” (above -7*C) morning temperatures continue.

Posted by: Karen Cooksley | February 11, 2014

Series Streakiversary Nose Hill XC

Yesterday I ran my 90th consecutive Calgary Roadrunners XC series race (10 races per year), at Nose Hill Park. Due to the tender condition of my foot and the cold weather (-16C?), I prudently signed up for the short option (4km), and dressed in multiple layers. My running buddies and I showed up at the start early enough for a good parking spot, and hunkered down in the warm vehicle until just before the start.

With about 10 minutes to go, runners and volunteers gathered at the start line for last-minute greetings and instruction. I learned that one of our youngsters was taking on the 8km loop without her usual parent tagging along. She wanted to qualify for the series Grand Prix, which means she would finish her 6th 8k distance of the season that day. This is an admirable goal, especially if one is 10 years old. I wished I wasn’t injured, so I could try to stay and celebrate her race with her for the whole way, but no, I was to baby the foot. I should likely not be running at all, but my nine year streak is very compelling.

Race director Trev gave us some brief instructions about the double loop course, and off we went up a hill, and then up another one up to the prairie plateau.  I hung out with the qualifying youngster, as she was trotting along at a lovely, steady pace, and if she didn’t mind, I could at least enjoy her company for the first loop. As we reached the top, Penny the noisy, cheerleading course marshal gave us whistles and encouragement. Thanks Penny!

KC Nose Hill 2014 Penny_cheers_on_Kaisa_and_Karen800x600

There was a breeze up top, but it wasn’t so bad as we were dressed for it. My toes and fingers were cold for the first couple of kilometers, but they warmed up after that. At one turn sending us back towards a mountain view, Barry, another course marshal, pointed out a huge porcupine on a shrub just off the course. When we went past it looked like it was moving to the far side of bush, but without all its summer foliage the bush wasn’t a very good hiding place. The sun shone and it felt like the air warmed up a smidge.

The course led us down through a wooded area, where we followed a winding path and tried to avoid hugging trees. The kiddo was great at this, and we passed a couple of adults.

Thanks to the Calgary Roadrunners fabulous phojographers for pics!

Thanks to the Calgary Roadrunners fabulous phojographers for pics!

Upon emerging from the wood, we were pleasantly warmed up and so was my foot. A course marshal pointed out the 4k turnoff to the finish and I just didn’t want to go yet. I carried on for the second loop with the girl leading the way. We chatted about what she was learning in math and science. We wondered what it would be like to go to Mars. I told her stories about my great grandparents who immigrated from Norway to homestead in the 19th century. Before we knew it, we were back running past Penny on the prairie and the porcupine in the prickles and pell-mell through the poplars again.

The course had a two stage, delightfully long, downhill finish. I encouraged the girl to let loose now – the finish was close – go crazy and give what’s left. She did, and I bounded down, whooping after her. Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy finish lines? and downhills? and downhill finish lines?

Oh happy day! High fives and hugs all round. Off to the hall for chili (OMG fantastic chili) and brownies and connecting with friends.

The foot survived. It’s sorer than I’d like, but that’s the price I paid. Totally worth it. And now I only need one more series 8k to qualify myself for the Grand Prix (out of 2 races left in this season).

If this is something you’re thinking of trying, check out our club photo gallery. You’ll see all kinds of runners out having a blast.

Posted by: Karen Cooksley | February 11, 2014

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Posted by: Karen Cooksley | February 5, 2014

Active Patience

I like to think of myself as a patient athlete. I have gone through cycles in my lifestyle as a runner where I strove for certain times for certain distances, even tried to beat certain other competitors, but most of the time I’m content with the basic consistency of showing up and rising to the challenge of the day, race, or season. I’m happy to run, share my runs with friends and celebrate my ability at races.

It is a struggle to be patient while I wait for my niggly foot to heal up, but this quote is helping:

“Patience is not passive waiting.
Patience is active acceptance of the process required
to attain your goals and dreams.”
― Ray Davis

When I broke my run streak last month I realized I should not sit around just waiting, so I’ve been gradually working other activities into my calendar, like swimming and yoga.

I am really glad I trained for those triathlons in 2008 and 2009. That training with friends gave me confidence in the pool, which makes it easier to go now than if it were a new, scary thing. The last few Sundays I’ve been substituting swimming instead of my Sunday morning long run.

Last night I finally managed to get in a 40 minute mid-week swim. It felt really good to just set myself into motion over and over again – to breathe hard and work that movement into a rhythm that synced with my breathing. It is not quite as good as running, but it is still active and meditative. It takes a bit more time and resources to get to and in the pool, and I can’t swim whenever I want to like with running, but I can do this while I wait for the foot.

Last weekend I tried a new class, Yoga for Athletes, and it is something I need. I have taken maybe two yoga classes in my life, and I think the last one was 9 years ago. I have been meaning to add yoga into my life anyway – I think it will help me stay stronger and healthier as I age. Once I got there it was not scary at all, as Kristie the instructor was very instructive and patient, and my body, though tight, didn’t mind holding most of the poses she gave us. I was a little concerned about barefoot standing poses, but the plantar fascia and I seem to be getting along, and the sore achilles seemed to benefit from the gentle stretching. I didn’t fall over – bonus!

I’m still doing the exercises from the Running Injury Clinic on a daily basis, though I have forgotten once or twice. I have noticed that I’m getting better at some of the balance ones. The calf raises are annoying something just above my ankle, so I’m being careful with my form there to avoid pain and correctly strengthen whatever it is.

The sole under the corner of my heel still hurts like a bruise, even randomly during the day just walking around the office, and I am impatient with that. I mean, I’ve not-run for like, 11 days now. It should be better, eh?

Can I run yet?

No?

How about tomorrow?

No?

Maybe next week?

Patience…

Posted by: Karen Cooksley | January 28, 2014

CRR XC Series Race Streak 89

When you are on a really good streak, one that involves something you really enjoy, one you’ve kept going – that’s also kept you going for almost nine years, you don’t just quit for an achy foot.

I have been participating in the Calgary Roadrunners XC series for over 13 years, and since February of 2005 I have not missed a single one in the series. There have been times when I’ve walked one or two due to twisting a knee or recovering from a cold. I have, on occasion, pre-run the course in order to volunteer while others ran, but those counted, as they were that day’s course, on that day.

That being said, the 12 Mile Coulee race last Saturday landed smack dab in the middle of a two-week rest from running, wherein I am striving to release my foot from plantar and achilles (mostly in the heel) pain. I said I would be gentle on the foot. I promised I’d go slowly and not harm it, so as not to negate three previous weeks of physiotherapy. I said I would find a six year old on the course and run at the child’s pace, so as to hold myself back, like I did two weeks ago at the Nose Creek race.

I lied.

The morning of the race I packed up my stuff, baked some oatmeal chocolate chip squares (did you know January is Oatmeal Awareness Month?), and settled down to blog about my injury mitigation. Before I knew it, the morning had slipped away and I was almost late for the noon race. This is not a race to arrive at the last minute – the parking at the hall is more than a kilometer away from the start! I arrived at the hall with 10 minutes to get to the start and a $50 dollar bill to pay my $7 registration fee. Right, no time for that – just get to the start, register later!

I ran my fastest kilometer of the day getting to the race start. On pavement. In trail shoes. This was not likely a healthy thing for the foot at all, but the rest of my body was quite adamant about the whole thing. At least, I’m pretty sure that was my fastest kilometer of the day. I don’t actually have evidence of that because I re-set my GPS to zero before the race start, and then promptly forgot to start it when the race did. At least I remembered to put on my Kahtoolas to grip the inevitably slippery slopes.

This all sounds kind of stressful, but the race itself was lovely. The sun shone, the snow was kind of gushy but not really hard to run on, and I was with about a hundred of my favourite kind of runners, trotting across a scenic, mountain-facing ridge and then careening down through one of the coolest little valleys in the city. It just felt so good to run. And Careen! Woooooohoooo!

I did remember, albeit half way through the race, that I was supposed to be holding myself back, so I tucked myself in behind a 70 year old for the remaining 2 km. I was only going for 4k, but he was planning to run 8k and pacing himself accordingly. I then proceeded to be annoyingly perky by chatting with a woman behind me for a while before she passed us. I eventually shut up and gave the guy a few minutes of peace and quiet.

My foot did not hurt during the race. Excitement and enjoyment had carried me through the course. The foot very much minded the walk back to the hall. I slowed down to accommodate it, but it ached the rest of the day, and no amount of apologizing would shut it up. Clearly I should just run trails (felt good then) and avoid walking on pavement afterwards, right? Ahemmm.

Right. Well. I have resumed my non-running streak. Each day I have performed my strengthening exercises, and Sunday I swam 20 laps at a local pool. I haven’t swum 20 laps in one go in a very long time. I should do that again soon.

Posted by: Karen Cooksley | January 25, 2014

Running Injury Recovery

In early January I gave up on waiting for my foot pain to go away on its own, and enlisted the help of a local physiotherapist and the Running Injury Clinic.

I could get into physio sooner than the clinic, so that’s where I started. Gina of Action Sports confirmed that yes, I was suffering from plantar fasciitis, but it was also combined with achilles tendonitis. This is common stuff for runners, and if caught soon enough, very treatable.  Gina used an electronic thing to zap my foot while heating up my calf. She massaged it and used ultrasound, and then taped up the bottom of my foot. After two weekly treatments and finally breaking my daily running streak last week, I’m feeling much improved. Heck, after yesterday’s (third) treatment she didn’t even need to tape it, and I’m bending my foot normally when walking in daily life.

Wednesday I got in to the Running Injury Clinic (RIC) for a separate assessment. Earlier this year I joined their Healthy Runners Study as a research subject, and was eligible for an injury assessment if needed – kind of like a “Get Out of Jail Free Card” in Monopoly. Also, as part of the study, I had agreed to report any injuries anyway.

Thursday night I went back to the RIC for biomechanical data collection, so they could compare my new injured running with my June running. They stuck a bunch of reflective balls on my legs and lower torso again, and I ran for a couple of minutes on their big treadmill. My foot hurt a lot that evening, but it really felt good to run.

Biomechanical Data Collection

Biomechanical Data Collection

Shari at the RIC agreed that I should not-run for another week (except to gently participate 12 Mile Coulee XC 4k today for the XC streak), and work on strengthening rotational exercises for my hips, ankles, feet and calves with a theraband, which is a flat stretchy piece of rubber. I’m to do these exercises daily for six weeks as I ease back into walk-running to train for the L’Arche Half Marathon. Walk/run intervals are recommended. I’m to email the clinic with any questions or concerns.

I should not require much more physio, but should check out acupuncture or “needling” for the bottom and back of my heel. Deep water running is encouraged. Yoga and massages sound like very good things to try.

Shock wave treatment would be last resort, as it’s expensive, my marathon training this spring would not be complementary, and I might not need it if I behave myself now.

I’m told I also need new shoes – mine are Motion Control (for floppy feet), but I actually need to pronate more. I should change immediately to a Stabilizing shoe, then over time work towards a Neutral, but don’t need to go as far as minimalist. The shoes I have now don’t let my foot use its own strength, and I can’t soften my own impact with the ground. This is not a surprise – a new kind of shoe  helped me last time I hurt (2003, I think).

So, Deep Water running in NW Calgary – anyone want to join me? I hear there a new, newbie-friendly Yoga for Runners class in Hillhurst – who’s in? And I’ll be off to visit Gord for some new shoes.

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