Officially a Convert

In what has become an unprecedented commitment to strength training, I, Danielle, the T-Rex Runner, have now been strength training (with actual weights) for 2 whole weeks. Thank you for your applause. Sad that two weeks marks an unprecedented commitment to anything, no? Whatever. During the two weeks, I’ve also done a treadmill speed workout several times that, dare I say, I have come to enjoy.

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No, really! It’s true! OK, maybe I don’t enjoy it, but I don’t actively hate it, and that’s something.

No, I still don’t know where most of the machines and weights in my gym are and I still am convinced that everyone notices me wandering around and they’re all like “Girl, bye.” True story: As of yesterday, I have actually started writing down the locations of some of the machines once I find them so that I do not lose them again.

Maybe it’s just because it’s something new and I’ve been into mixing up my fitness routine lately, but it’s been fun so far! I keep track of how much weight I’m using for each exercise and it is entertaining to see it increasing. While I’m not sure that I will ever be a total gym rat and only want to lift weights, you never know. Regardless, it is keeping fitness fun for me right now, and that is what matters! Well, that plus the fact that it’s helping my back, but you know what I mean.

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Does anyone else miss Maury or is that just me? Ahh, a simpler time.

Perhaps even more surprising than the fact that I’m almost enjoying weight lifting is that I’ve come to actually kind of like my interval workouts on the treadmill as well. Granted, they’re short workouts of just 30 minutes, so it’s not like I’m on there forever, but still…I normally hate both treadmills and speedwork so it is a bit odd to find myself enjoying a combination of the two. I’ve also bumped up my speed just a little bit, which is very satisfying as well. While I’m not sure exactly how speed work on the treadmill will translate into speed on the road (and I don’t intend to find out until summer is over, because summer is the worst), I’m proud of myself for getting my heart rate up a little higher than normal and breaking out of my comfort zone.

It was on one of these treadmill interval runs that I actually realized what a full-on HOKA junkie I have become. See, I had worn old shoes to the gym last week because I was just planning on lifting weights and had no intentions of running. I ended up feeling like jumping on the treadmill for a quick set of intervals – just 10 minutes – and holy crap did I notice a huge difference! It felt like I was running barefoot by comparison, and I was shocked by how much impact I felt in my most recent (still cushioned and previously very comfortable) pair of  shoes. I guess it makes sense that I never really noticed it before because I basically started running exclusively in HOKAs as soon as I got my Stinson Lites and I never switched back and forth, but wow. What a difference! It’s crazy to think how much impact I had been subjecting my back to without even knowing it.

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So it turns out I’m way too self conscious to take pictures of myself in a gym with actual people in it, so there’s a 90% chance you’ll just see this same picture over and over again. Or at least until I stay in another hotel. Sorry.

That’s it for me on the workout front for right now. I’m about 10 days out from the Casper Marathon and I’ll be writing a post leading up to that next week. In the mean time, I’m happy to be mixing things up and getting healthier!

LEAVE A COMMENT: Strength training – love it or hate it? Would you rather do your speed work on the treadmill or outside?

Back to the Future

Man, this long weekend/short week has really thrown off my schedule! Not that I’m complaining, of course. I just realized I’d probably end up not posting this week at all if I didn’t do it now, so here it goes. This past weekend, AJ and I traveled to St. Michael’s, Maryland, right on the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay, for the wedding of my best friend from high school. It was like being in the Twilight Zone. Let me explain.

I went to middle and high school with the same group of people. Despite being in a very large school (my high school had almost 5,000 students the year we graduated), most of us were in the same classes together over and over again because we were two years ahead in math, and there was basically only one schedule that could accommodate that throughout middle school and high school. As such, we all became pretty close. With the competitive schedules and grades that we had, the vast majority of us went out of state for college, and pretty much everyone moved somewhere else after we graduated. As such, I haven’t seen most of these people, with the exception of my 3 closest friends, since probably freshman or sophomore year of college at the latest – maybe 8 or 9 years. That’s just how it has worked out. None of us went to our 10 year reunion, either, because it was in South Florida at the end of July and really, who wants to do that? No one.

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Just some of the high school crew on Friday night

I have to be honest, I was pretty overwhelmed to see everyone at first. I’m not really sure why. I guess I just didn’t know what to expect. As a result, I may have drank way too much wine at the welcome reception on Friday night and I may not have done my optimistically/stupidly scheduled Saturday long run. Oh well.

I was just so excited to see everyone and to introduce them to AJ. He got to meet my fifth grade boyfriend, fellow members of my elementary school math team, and people with whom I shared countless Friday nights at Ruby Tuesday and the movies. They occupied a huge amount of time in my life, and we have some amazing memories together! Although I haven’t seen my high school friends since basically graduation, we see AJ’s all the time – almost all of them live within an hour of us. So I was excited to turn the tables and make him listen to my high school stories, for a change!

What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was how, for lack of a better word, weird the whole experience was. On the one hand, I’m surrounded by all of these people who have known me longer than anyone else who is still in my life, except my family. These people saw me through all of my awkward stages and teenage drama. And yet, on the other hand…we kind of don’t really know each other anymore. A lot has happened since high school! So it was weird to feel so comfortable and yet sort of like a stranger at the same time. It was like nothing had changed and everything had changed, all at once. I think I told AJ about 400 times how weird yet awesome it was and he eventually tuned me out.

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My husband is so handsome!!

But anyway, the point of the whole weekend was to see my friend Scott marry the love of his life and girlfriend of 7 years, Cristina! I’m not an emotional person and I’ve never cried at a wedding, but I had a feeling this one might get me. I was right. The whole ceremony was so personal and the love those two have for each other was evident. Scott is an incredible person with a heart of gold, and seeing him so happy had me in tears. It turns out I do have feelings after all!

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Me and the groom! One of my oldest and best friends. T-Rex Mom said I look drunk in this picture. Thanks to Friday night, I most definitely was NOT.

This wedding was so much fun that I even got AJ to dance! That almost never happens. But the whole vibe of the weekend was just so positive, happy, and in a way, life affirming. We’re all good people. We’re all successful. We’re lawyers, accountants, consultants, journalists, and we spend half our lives in the swamp (ok, that’s just me). We own houses and are married, we love to travel, and we are starting to have kids. And despite everything that has changed, nothing can take the memories we’ve built away and the love and respect we have for each other. So while it may be another 10 years til I see everyone again (although I certainly hope not), I take comfort in knowing that those bonds will never be broken.

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Sam, one of my best friends in middle school and high school! We see each other every year.

LEAVE A COMMENT: Do you stay in touch with your friends from high school or college? 

Out of My Comfort Zone

I’ve been doing some crazy things lately, you guys. Some stuff that is totally out of character. Some things that might cause you to worry about me if you knew me in real life and caught me doing them.

I have lifted weights at the gym twice.

I ran on the treadmill. On purpose. AND I DID SPEED WORK.

There are a few fitness activities I really despise: 1) lifting weights 2) running on the treadmill. And yet, I did both. Why?

Well, I am trying to come up with ways to improve my fitness that will also help my body and my mind. As much as I detest weight lifting (and as much as I try to convince myself that barre is all the strength training I need), my back is something I really need to protect. The stronger my body is, the stronger my back will be, so I’m trying to suck it up. And while I have no intentions of becoming the incredible Hulk any time soon, I do want to get stronger so I can protect this poor, sad, broken body of mine. I’ve been using some verrrrrry basic machine and dumbbell-based workouts that don’t intimidate me too much. In fact, the most intimidating thing about the whole process so far is trying to figure out where the hell all those stupid machines are in my gym, and why they do not appear to be in any logical order whatsoever. Would it not make sense to put all the leg machines in one place? I don’t understand. /rant over.

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Do you even lift bro?

As far as the treadmill goes, that one had to do with trying to improve my fitness while reducing some impact and increasing my motivation. How could the treadmill possibly increase my motivation, you ask? Well, simple. I really, really hate running in the summer. It was in the mid-90s already this week and humid and I just could not bear the thought of running outside, so I decided to jump on the treadmill at my hotel gym. Recognizing that treadmill running is incredibly boring (to me), I decided to mix things up with some short intervals that I found on Pinterest. Holy hell, that workout kicked my butt! It’s been a long time since I have done any kind of speed work.

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Wasn’t sure how the HOKAs would fare on the treadmill, but everything worked out just fine. Minus the excessive sweating, but that’s not their fault.

The good news is that I stuck it out, made it through, and was really proud of myself when I was done. The time went by fast and I didn’t feel any worse (or more numb) for the wear the next day. I won’t do speedwork or treadmill workouts all the time, but I can definitely see myself incorporating them a bit more this summer. I’m trying to mix up my fitness routine as much as possible right now to get me back in shape while encouraging a healthy mindset and a healthy back, and I have to say, so far, change is  good!

How do you mix up your workouts? Do you have a favorite treadmill interval workout that you want to share with me/kick my butt with?

Running is Funny

Running is a funny thing, don’t you think? Sometimes it’s up, sometimes it’s down, and it’s basically impossible to predict how you’ll feel on any given run. I think the nature of running sometimes means it can be hard to stay motivated – at least it does for me, anyway. I’ve noticed that quite a few running bloggers I follow are struggling with motivation right now in one way or another, whether it is sticking to a training plan, bumping down their usual distances, etc. And I totally understand why. I’m experiencing a little bit of the same thing as I try to come back from this latest back injury. My training was going SO incredibly well for awhile, and I felt like I was taking the right precautions and going about it in a smart way. I had a great 15 mile run and was feeling really confident about maybe not PRing in my next marathon, but certainly running well. Then all of a sudden I woke up hurt, and I’m still not back to normal. Whether running or one of my other activities or just bad luck caused it, I don’t know, but the result is the same.

So as I try to come back from this injury, I’m struggling with wondering “What’s the point?” I’m trying to build up my long runs to be somewhat prepared for the marathon in Casper (now 3 weeks away), but I know I won’t be able to run the way I was hoping. Hell, I might not even be able to finish. And I’d be lying if I said that it hasn’t crossed my mind that maybe, just maybe, my body isn’t cut out to do marathons anymore.

But I’m not the type of person who likes to make rash decisions or quit before I’ve exhausted all options, and I know that I’m facing a solid month off, at a minimum, after Casper before I would need to start training for NYC. In all reality, no decisions about my marathon future will be made until it’s time for NYC training to start in July. And yet, as I pulled myself out of bed for my planned long run this morning I thought “Is it worth it?”

Today, the answer was yes. I’m on week 3 of slow improvement in my running endurance. My leg/back are about the same and I appear to have reached a plateau where some of my foot is still numb, but it’s less than it used to be and it’s not getting worse. My long run last week was 8.5 miles, which I did while visiting T-Rex Mom for Mother’s Day. She accompanied me by riding along on a very squeaky bike and we got to have a nice chat while I ran along the lovely (and most importantly, shaded) multi-use path near their house in North Carolina.

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HOKAs + shade + T-Rex Mom = happy me

That run went great, and I felt confident going into this week’s long run, which I planned for 12 miles. But still, with a marathon 3 weeks away, 12 miles seemed pointless. I can’t help but try, though! So I forced myself out of bed this morning and turned on a podcast and just went. I didn’t bring my Garmin, I didn’t get mad at myself if I stopped for a quick walk break, and I just ran based on how I felt. It turns out that I felt pretty good, so I ended up doing 13 miles instead. The thought of doing 16 crossed my mind, and I know I could have done it, but it didn’t seem like the smart move to double my long run mileage while I’m trying to come back from injury.  Plus, it’s not like a 16 mile run is going to magically transform me into some fitness machine that’s going to PR at Casper. Not gonna happen.

It’s discouraging when you feel like you’re doing everything right with your training and something goes wrong, whether it’s work, health, or life-related. It’s easy to lose motivation and wonder what the point of it all is. At the end of the day, I try and remember that whether I ever finish another marathon or not, the reason I run in the first place is because I genuinely enjoy it. I may not always love training, but I DO love running. So although my goals may change in the future – at this point, I have no idea – I know I’m a runner for life.

Are you a runner who sometimes struggles with motivation, or are you the type who never loses the pep in their step?

Lessons I Learned When I Got Divorced

The topics of love and marriage have come up a lot in many of the conversations I’ve had with friends and coworkers lately – more so than usual, although I’m not sure why. Some are finding love for the first time, others are struggling to deal with a divorce, and others are just navigating the daily battles that sometimes happen to the best of couples.  For some reason, I guess because I got divorced young and went from a lot of really bad relationships to one really good one, people ask my advice a lot. I’ve found myself reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned on the journey from being someone’s ex-wife (how I used to define myself) to being Danielle, who happens to be married, and how my perspective has changed as a result. And so, if for no other reason than I don’t really feel about writing about running today (not because it’s going badly, just because I write about it a lot), here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from my divorce, brought to you by Dr. Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project. Unrelated, but you’ll have to hold me back if Hulu doesn’t pick it up for another season now that it’s been cancelled. Fix it, Jesus. ANYWAY.

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OMG this means AJ is my Kanye…yesss

1) Relationship issues are never one-sided. Although I will never talk about the circumstances of my marriage and divorce on the blog, everyone – including my ex-husband – who knows the situation would agree that what happened was pretty traumatic and unfair to me. My ex is not a bad person, but he did a lot of bad things at one time in his life. But just because those things are pretty egregious doesn’t mean that our divorce was entirely his “fault,” or that my behavior had nothing to do with it and was always perfect. I personally think that one of the best things about divorce is it forces us to examine ourselves and how we can improve as people and partners. No one is perfect, and no one is blameless. We all have room to improve and every divorce or break-up is a glaring reminder of ways we can be better. Learning to accept some of the blame allowed me to release the anger I felt and move forward with my life.

2) I only have control over my own behavior. As a person with major control issues and a rather naive world view (especially at 23), I believed that I could control my ex-husband by being a “better” wife. More successful, more beautiful, more thin, more whatever – if I made myself better, he would have to change his behavior, right? Wrong. My divorce taught me that I only have control over my actions and my reactions. I cannot control the behavior of others, and their bad behavior is not necessarily reflective of the effort I am putting in. Also, their good behavior is not my reward for being perfect. This has been immensely helpful in stopping my compulsive need to “fix” people and work on “fixing” myself instead.

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3) Most things are not worth arguing over. A couple weeks ago, AJ did something that kind of annoyed me. It wasn’t a big deal at all, nor was it intentional on his part. I was a little frustrated, so I spoke to a couple of friends about it, more to get it off my chest than anything else. They both responded with “OMG! I can’t BELIEVE he did that! He owes you a serious apology.” Both are in new relationships that are pretty up and down, and when they said that, I couldn’t help but laugh. All I could think was about all of the other stuff that has happened to me in my past relationships. My sweet, heart-of-gold husband unintentionally annoying me is not something to  get worked up over. Is it something to address? Sure, but not something to get mad about. And when it comes down to it, most of the things that couples argue about are just not that important. I’ve learned to pick my battles and choose to focus on the positive. After all, the positive is why I married AJ, and it so greatly outweighs the negative – as it should.

4) I must remember that I know my partner. When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, you know the other person. You know why they do things and what their motivations are. I know AJ is a truly good person who would never, ever do anything to hurt me on purpose. He has proved that every day for our entire relationship. When he upsets me, I approach it from that perspective (that he is a good person) and try to understand where the miscommunication occurred, because that is all it is – a miscommunication. It makes issues a lot easier to recover from if you remember your partner’s heart. By contrast, if you are in a bad relationship with a person who is careless with your feelings, you probably know that too. Making excuses for the other person while you wait for their behavior to change will only lead to heartbreak.  Listen to your gut – you know who you’re with.

5) It’s ok to be sad, regardless of the circumstances. Despite the reasons my first marriage ended and all of the pain that it brought me, I was very sad when it was over for a very long time. That didn’t make sense to most people, who couldn’t believe I loved my ex in the first place. They expected me to be angry or happy or something else – anything but sad over the loss of something I had tried so hard to hold on to.  I felt like I was letting my family and friends down when I was sad. But divorce is hard, and no matter how bad things were, sometimes, you miss the familiar and the person. After all, you loved them for a reason. It’s possible to have mixed emotions – relief, sadness, anger, and happiness – about the same situation at the same time. It gets better.

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6) Life goes on, no matter what. The world didn’t stop when I got divorced, and thank God for that! I had to reestablish myself and my identity while dealing with all of the things that we all do every day – bills, job, family, friends, etc. Stitching my life back together while experiencing such deep emotional pain made me realize that I was capable of overcoming anything. I’ve taken a lot of risks that I would never have taken before simply because I believed that I was capable of making it work in the end, and it’s working out just fine so far.

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My dad used to say “I am my ideal, and I envy myself.” I still think it’s ridiculous, but maybe it’s not such a bad idea to try and live up to your own ideal of what a person should be.

I don’t pretend to know everything about relationships. I’m no marriage guru. All I know is what I’ve learned, and I live my life with intention every day. I guess my point in all of this is to say that divorce sucks, but it’s not a death sentence. It’s an opportunity for incredible personal and emotional growth if that’s what you choose to make it. I’m grateful, and I feel fortunate that my ex was/is in my life. So if you’re going through a hard time in your relationship, a breakup, a broken engagement, or a divorce – just know that you will come out better for it on the other side. And when you get here, I’ll be waiting to greet you.

What lesson have you learned as the result of a hard time? 

 

Step by Step

It’s funny how life works. One day, you’re writing a dramatic blog post about your numb foot/leg/back and calling your surgeon, and the next you’re feeling just a teeny, tiny bit better. First things first. I spoke with my surgeon finally – literally while hacking through a swamp – and he said it sound like I had herniated another disc in my back or made a current herniation (I have two) worse. He recommended another MRI and said that would determine the course of treatment, but that it could heal itself in the meantime, require physical therapy, and injection, or as a last result, another surgery. He said not to do anything that hurt, but anything that didn’t hurt was ok.

I worked in the field last week, as I will for pretty much the whole month of May (hence the aforementioned swamp hacking). Lucky for me, walking doesn’t really bother my leg,  so I decided to head out for a walk after we got back one evening. I figured I would run a few steps and see how I felt, but planned on just walking and getting some more exercise and enjoying the evening air. Oddly enough, despite a whole day in the field on my feet, those few steps felt pretty good. My leg seemed more able to engage, and I was able to run a mile without walking from weakness. I decided to call it quits at a mile and walk the rest of the way, but I felt just a little optimistic, even though I had no idea what the next day would bring.

I woke up the next morning feeling normal, did another whole day in the field, and did an online Barre3 workout with the same promise to myself – I would not do anything that hurt. I modified a lot of the moves but still got a good workout in and better still – no weird pain the next day. So I set out again for a run/walk and ended up running about 2 miles, feeling stronger than the previous day. Not 100% by any means, but definitely better.

I did a Barre3 class in studio on Friday morning, again with modifications, but also again with no extra pain or numbness. That meant that this weekend brought me and my HOKAs a “long” run, which was actually more like a 4.5 mile run/walk. I’d estimate that I ran probably 3.5 miles, more or less, with breaks whenever I felt like I needed them.

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Post “long run” excitement! From Instagram

And today I did my first bike ride in easily a month and ended up riding about 23 miles. I’m definitely planning on spending more time on my bike when I can, but it’s hard when I’m traveling for work all the time. My bike isn’t exactly the most convenient thing to lug around.

I’ve started thinking about the Casper Marathon and what my approach should be. Originally, I was of course planning to run the full marathon on June 7. Now, I’m not sure how realistic that is. Even if my back continues to heal, which I hope it does, I’m pretty horribly undertrained. My last long run of 15 miles DID go great (and was at a great pace), but by the time I get to race day, it will be over 2 months old. While that is very similar to my training for the Prairie Fire Marathon (my first one since back surgery, back in October) when my longest training run was 16 miles, it’s still not ideal. I know my endurance is not where it should be, even if my back ends up being fine.  The biggest problem is that the half and full marathons do not really run the same course, so I have to decide what I’m going to do ahead of time.

Part of me says that I should do the smart thing and drop down to the half, regardless of how I feel. The other part says that I can try the full, set out to have fun with no time goal (the thought of which kind of angers me because I had hoped to run a solid race in Casper after a great training season), and see what happens. If I finish, great. If my back ends up causing a problem and I DNF, oh well. I’m just not sure what to do, and unfortunately I think it will be a game time decision. It won’t be the race I was hoping for either way, but I’ll still be having fun with my friends and seeing a new place – that’s the most important thing. We’ll see what happens!

 

Appointing Myself Ambassdor to Argentina

This will be my last post talking about Argentina, so don’t worry – soon it will be back to your regularly scheduled injury-related rants and random nonsense.  Y’all seem to be enjoying my pictures, though, or at least you are kind enough to lie to me and tell me you do, so thank you in advance for indulging me one final time.

After our time in Ushuaia, AJ and I headed back to Buenos Aires for a final 2.5 days. The only real thing on our agenda was a day trip to Colonia del Sacramento, which is the oldest city in Uruguay and is located just across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires. We got there in about an hour on a ferry! We had heard great things about the city – it’s called the “consummate day trip from Buenos Aires” and it is easy to see why. It feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of BA. The old town of Colonia del Sacramento (Colonia) is a UNESCO World Heritage site complete with original Portugese and Spanish colonial architecture. It’s amazing that the town is in such great shape, and it’s a fun place to take a walking tour, shop for antiques, and eat at sidewalk cafes! And hey, another passport stamp never hurts either.

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Standing outside the entrance to the old village – a lot of the wall is original, although the arch has been rebuilt

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What pretty much every building in the old town looked like! T-Rex Mom would have died and gone to heaven with all those flowers.

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Calle de los Suspiros – the Street of Sighs! This completely original street was home to the town’s prostitutes until the 1960s, hence the name! Pretty amazing that the buildings have stood the test of time for so long.

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I’m sure that the entire purpose of this wagon is for pictures exactly like this, but I could not possibly care less.

As you can see from the pictures and posts over the last few weeks, our trip to Argentina was amazing. I have a lot of friends who travel and many who have been all over the world, but I have never heard any of them talk about going to Argentina. I guess it’s not a popular destination for the U.S., but for the life of me, I CANNOT figure out why! Argentina is a huge country and it has something for everyone, whether you are looking for a huge, bustling city with tons of culture, a trek through a rain forest, hiking, glaciers, adventure – it has it all! Not to mention, the country is extremely well set up for tourists and everything is very easy to navigate and understand. Although speaking Spanish will definitely make your life easier, many people also speak some English. Cabs, steak, and wine are cheap – what more do you need? Many other things are in line with American pricing, but it’s definitely not as expensive as most European countries.  The people are incredibly friendly and welcoming! I truly can’t say enough good things about each and every person we met along our trip, from cab drivers to hotel staff, tour guides, waiters, locals, and more. Argentina is very different from other countries in South America, particularly places like Peru and Ecuador, in that it has a very European influence and very little evidence of the indigenous culture. It’s fascinating, fun, and honestly, not to be missed! I’ll spend the rest of my life telling people to visit Argentina, and I know AJ will too. Seriously, put this place on your bucket list – you will not be disappointed.

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We capped off our perfect trip with another late night and fun day with Cristina and Stefano before heading back home.

Ok, I’ll leave you all alone about Argentina for now. Next stop on the Wanderlust Express tour – Dubai in October! I’m going with my best friend Lauren (we went to Japan together, as you may recall) and we can’t wait! I guess I better get planning!

LEAVE A COMMENT: Where are you traveling to next?

Back to Square One

Although I’ve got one more Argentina post to share this week, today I’m going to talk about running. Or, more specifically, hobbling. After taking nearly 3 weeks off thanks to my hurt back (which became my hurt/numb leg and foot), I felt like my back had progressed to the point where I could try a short run when we got back from our trip. I honestly couldn’t wait to strap on my HOKAs and go for a run. I really wanted to get my marathon training back on track, and the mental break had me raring to go! I didn’t expect a miracle – the amount of wine I drank plus 3 weeks off was going to hurt, regardless – but I wanted to give it the old college try despite lingering numbness in my right foot. I know that sounds crazy. I can’t feel my foot, but I thought I could run on it? Well, yeah. I didn’t really feel pain, I just didn’t feel anything, so I thought, “we’ll see.”

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If all else fails, find some goats to pet! Fortunately, there is no shortage of goats in rural SC.

As it turns out, the ability to feel your foot is fairly important while you’re running. Who knew?! But even more than that, I can tell that the nerves in my entire leg are screwed up. It’s hard to explain, but I didn’t feel like I had the ability to control certain muscles, and I could tell, for example, that my right calf was simply not engaging. All of the work was occurring in my hamstring and up, which certainly did not feel very good. I could run for maybe a quarter mile before the numbness and general weird feeling (I won’t call it pain since it didn’t hurt) would get too intense, and then I would walk. I was convinced that it would “warm up” and go away because I am an idiot who ignored the fact that it never once did that in Argentina. I ran/walked 3 miles, came home, and almost cried. What of the Casper Marathon? Training was going so well and now I can barely hobble.

I finally figured out how to use the self timer on my phone, so you can expect groundbreaking photos like these occasionally.

So what did I do the next day? Well, I decided that my leg must just need some strengthening, of course. That’s how we fix everything, right? Physical therapy and exercises? So what better way to do that than to go to a Barre class when I have not been in 3 weeks! Can you guess where this is going? Hint: somewhere horrible. Could barely move for two days afterwards, so I guess we can cross that off the list of things to do.

At this point, it’s time to be concerned about what is going on with my back, because it is causing the nerve issues in my leg. If I were dealing with back pain, I would know how to proceed – I know the exercises I’m supposed to do, stuff like that. But losing feeling in my foot to this extent is something totally new, especially for this long, and I don’t know what to do. The problem is, my surgeon lives in Colorado and I live in South Carolina and don’t trust any doctors here. I put a call in to my surgeon and I’m hoping to hear back from him soon about what to do next and who I should go see.

Ironically, I celebrated the one year anniversary of my back surgery on Friday, April 24. My surgery changed my life so much for the better, and I would honestly say I would do the same thing again every year if I had to. Nine months of pretty much complete freedom from pain after 12 years with it? Yeah, I’ll take that. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely frustrated, though. I was doing so well, and I really have no idea what happened besides I guess a mileage/fieldwork overload, or maybe just some bad luck. Who knows? It doesn’t matter. I just want to get better soon.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

Hola, chicos! We’re back from Argentina and over the next few days I’ll be responding to all of your wonderful comments, posting a few more pictures, talking about where I’m at with my running, and more. Things are pretty hectic around our house right now, but I’m going to do my best to keep my head on straight! So here we go.

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As I write this, I’m on a plane heading from Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, back to Buenos Aires. And although I’m a bit sick of using the word “surreal” to describe different parts of this trip, that’s really the only word I can think of to describe “el fin del mundo” – the end of the world, as Ushuaia is called. After an amazing few days in El Calafate, I was honestly a bit worried about heading to Ushuaia. How could it possibly measure up to what we had just seen and done? It was bound to be a letdown, I thought.

Thanks to the spectacular scenery, once again, and some new friends, it definitely was not a letdown. I don’t know why I doubt myself, because the internet and TripAdvisor haven’t failed me yet. Saturday was AJ’s birthday, so I made him pick the activity for the day (he’s not a person who loves to plan things in general). Well, my friends, this is where I went wrong. Bless his heart, the man gets motion sick very easily – on planes, boats, cars, buses, whatever – and yet he chose a 4×4 tour. This means we would be basically going over super rocky back roads and on windy mountain trails in an SUV. It’s one of the most popular activities in Ushuaia and yes, to me, it sounded cool. But I know my husband, and I knew it could only end poorly. He insisted he would be fine and who was I to stop him? What the birthday boy wants, he gets. Spoiler alert: the birthday boy did not even make it to the mountain roads before he started to feel sick, and the tour guide had to call us a cab and continue on with the rest of the group. Womp womp. I felt awful for him, but thanks to my research, I had a backup activity ready to go for just such an occasion. Bless his heart. The rest of the day turned out to be a pretty crazy and interesting adventure, as you’ll see below.

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We took a ferry ride through the Beagle Channel – the water body that connects the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean at the bottom of South America! Charles Darwin sailed through here.

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If you go to Tierra Del Fuego National Park in Ushuaia, you can also visit the southernmost post office in the world and get “El Cartero” (the postman) to stamp your passport!

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We met Cristina and Stefano, who are from Italy, at the bar the night before and became fast friends! Between their broken English and our broken Spanish (they spoke Italian, French, and Spanish), we communicated just fine. We ended up going hiking the next day  at Tierra del Fuego National Park and spent a lot of time together before we left. AJ is now learning Italian on Duolingo so we can go visit them.

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I reached the end of the world! We walked to the end of the Pan American Highway, which stretches from Alaska to the end of Argentina, and I grabbed this photo at the end of the walking trail. 

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After the 4×4 incident of 2015, our backup activity was a hike to Laguna Esmeralda, which came highly reviewed. The reviews mentioned it being a “little muddy” – um, that’s one way to describe it!

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The reward was worth it, although my shoes will never be the same. I’ll let you slide this time, Trip Advisor.

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Laguna Esmeralda in all her glory. I don’t even mind the unfortunately placed sun.

LEAVE A COMMENT: Make AJ feel better and tell him about your worst birthday!

Say hello to HOKA!

If you’ve been running for more than about 3 days, you know that your running shoes are basically sacred. Once you find a pair that works for you, you stick with it til that inevitable horrible moment when the company makes some weird change that ruins the shoe or, even worse, discontinues it forever. I’ve been a pretty diehard Mizuno Wave Nirvana fan since I discovered them after my second marathon, but guess what? That shoe no longer exists. When I got news that it had been discontinued, I started hoarding pairs that I found on the internet in an effort to delay the inevitable. After my back surgery, I decided I needed to branch out a bit – after all, all the running magazines say that running in two different types of shoes can reduce your risk of injury by up to 40%, right? I think we call agree that if I need anything, it’s to reduce my risk of injury.

One kind of shoes that I had never tried, but had always thought about, was the HOKA ONE ONE brand. They’re a pretty big deal in the Marathon Maniacs and 50 States Marathon Club communities, which makes sense – if you’re going to run marathons on back to back weekends or days, the more cushion you have, the better! The shoe started out as being very popular among ultramarathon runners and trail runners who loved the huge amount of cushioning that the shoe provides, which helps when you’re running 100 miles or over a ton of uneven surfaces. When I first heard about them a couple of years ago, they were just breaking into the road running culture but had a reputation for looking kind of like…well…clown shoes! The huge amount of cushioning and unorthodox design of the shoe definitely did not make for a traditional profile, although they look much different (and a lot less clown-esque) now.

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Unorthodox – yes. Super cushiony – also yes.

As much as the brand intrigued me, I was also nervous – I hadn’t had much luck with shoes with a low heel-toe differential, which means that the difference in elevation between the heel and toe of the shoe is very small. I had tried some slightly more minimalist shoes in the past – think Saucony Kinvaras and the like – with not such great results, but I wondered if it had something to do with the lack of cushioning in those types of shoes as compared to the heel-toe differential.

About a month ago, HOKA ONE ONE reached out to me and a very small group of other bloggers in hopes of starting a brand ambassador program. I was given the opportunity to try out and model of shoe that I wanted to see if it worked for me, and then decide if I wanted to join the program. To be honest? I was intrigued, but extremely, extremely skeptical. I lose toenails very easily if the toebox of my shoes is too small, and the Wave Nirvanas (R.I.P) were the only kind of shoe I had ever found that did not cause that to happen at distances greater than a half marathon. Plus, the shoes have so much more cushioning than I was used to, and I’m used to a lot. It’s almost like running on platforms! Finally, I was worried about what the low heel-toe differential would feel like, since Wave Nirvanas have a very high differential.

I tested out a pair of the Stinson Lite model on a few short runs at first. Based on the recommendations on the website, it seemed like the right pair for a road runner like me who is a moderate overpronater. Although I liked the cushioning, I felt like I needed some more arch support. Fortunately, I had a pair of insoles from Insoles and Beyond that I could put in, and they immediately felt better. I gradually built up my runs until I felt confident about doing a long run in them, and I completed 15 miler in them! My longest run since December and I felt no pain or soreness the next day plus didn’t have any sore toenails! It was then that I knew that Hokas might be great solution for me.

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After 15 miles in those sweet kicks, I knew it was a match!

So, I have officially signed on as a HOKA ONE ONE brand ambassador! I’m excited about this partnership because of what the company represents. This is a company devoted to helping its runners stay injury free and on the road as much as possible – who doesn’t want that? After announcing my partnership on Facebook and Instagram (as well as briefly here on the blog), I’ve been so excited to hear from so many of you who love your Hokas as well! Here’s what my partnership means for you: you’ll be hearing from me occasionally about different races that I may attend or participate in as a HOKA ONE ONE ambassador – they sponsor some pretty awesome events, including the L.A. Marathon! I may host some giveaways or mention new products as they become available, but I will not be doing a bunch of sponsored posts or product reviews. I’ll link up with HOKA ONE ONE from time to time on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and I’ll be writing some original content for their website as well. Basically, you’ll be the first to know about all the great new stuff happening at this company! And if the ambassador program expands in the future, I’ll be sure to tell you all about that, too.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What kind of running shoes do you wear? Have you ever needed to switch brands? What questions do you have for me about HOKA?

Disclosure: I receive occasional pairs of free shoes in my role as a HOKA ONE ONE ambassador. You can come to my house and borrow them sometime if you want to try them out.