Aug 22

Weekend Reading: August & Everything After Edition

By Erin E. Templeton

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As summer, for many of us, speeds towards its inevitable end, I am reminded of the ebb and flow that marks this time of year: the daylight has begun waning sooner, and our daily habits and patterns will shift (or may have already shifted) to accommodate the demands of …read more

Aug 19

Stress Fractures ‘R Us

241874067_7eecb229c9_zI finally got the results of my MRI today (for those of you playing along at home, I had the test last Thursday afternoon but couldn’t get in to see the doctor until this morning. (That is an x-ray of someone else’s foot, by the way . . .)

I have a stress fracture in my first metatarsal. I was very surprised to hear this because after my last appointment, I really thought I had Morton’s neuroma based on where the pain seemed to be located and how much better it feels today than it did on D-Day (July 31). Most stress fractures are of the 2nd or 3rd metatarsals, but then, when did I ever follow the herd? Not in this lifetime . . .

What this means:

1) I’m in the pool for the next 4 weeks. I went yesterday to see how it would go, and swimming laps was fine. No pain at all. Pool running with the float belt was also fine except for the time that I took a step off the bottom with the injured foot. That wasn’t fine. YOWZA. But otherwise, I was surprised at how hard pool running is. It doesn’t have to be, I guess. I mean, you can just float around (some of the seniors at the pool I go to seem to take this approach), but if you are actually running, it’s much more effort that running on the ground.

2) Had I been dealing with a Morton’s neuroma, I would be back running sooner probably, but I would also be dealing with the neuroma pretty much forever afterwards. They are not something that go away completely, though I do have several friends who have figured out successful ways to manage them. The stress fracture is a one and done kind of deal assuming that I follow my doctor’s orders and don’t refracture it before it has the chance to heal all the way. Hence the pool. I will learn to love pool running and swimming for the next 4-6 weeks. Two days down. Twenty-eight or so to go (though to be clear, I do not plan to swim every single day of the next four weeks).

3) You may see me rocking’ a super-swank “post-op shoe.” The doctor said I could also wear running shoes or my Birkenstocks but that I’m supposed to not flex my foot, and this shoe is supposed to help with that. The downside is that it doesn’t fit very well. They didn’t have the women’s medium in stock, so I have a men’s small, which is a bit too wide. So you may see me rocking some chunky socks too, except that it’s August, and I’m not sure I can bring myself to wear chunky socks in August in SC. They did not want to put me in the boot. I asked about it, and they said that for my situation, the boot wouldn’t be any better than this shoe, and that the shoe might not even be necessary. So I have the shoe and we’ll see how that goes.

4) My plan to run the full-marathon in Kiawah this December has changed. I am hoping that maybe I can do the half instead, but if I can’t I’ll live. The Very Good News is that both the doc and his PA said (independently) that April (and the PARIS marathon!) is plenty far away to completely recover and train as long as I let the foot heal all the way and don’t reinjure it.

So all in all, I’m choosing to see this as good news. I have my diagnosis. I know what I need to do for the next month, and I’m determined not to rush it but rather to be deliberate and methodical. The road to Paris started yesterday. It just has a slight detour through the pool.

Thanks everyone for your support and good wishes. It definitely helps.

[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Eric Schmuttenmaer]

Aug 15

Weekend Reading: Back to School Countdown Edition

By Erin E. Templeton

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TGIF, ProfHackers! As the beginning of the semester looms, many of us are trying to enjoy the last moments of freedom while others are finalizing syllabi and trying to meeting writing deadlines before classes begin. Amidst all of this preparation, the world has had a very busy week, and if …read more

Aug 09

On Toughness

8727908613_2164077da9_zWhen you do a Creative Commons image search for “toughness,” you get a lot of wordiness and this hummingbird. I like hummingbirds, and this one is apparently hanging out on a very slight branch in heavy wind (at least according to the photographer).

I feel a bit like this bird right now. One of my friends told me to “hang tough” a few days ago, and I’m trying my best to do it. In my attempts, I’ve realized one thing: there are different kinds of toughness, and some of them come more easily than others.

The kind of toughness I need right now is one of the ones that doesn’t come easily, at least it doesn’t come easily for me. It is the kind of toughness needed to deal with injury, uncertainty, vulnerability. It is a toughness born of patience rather than action. Patience not only to wait for the diagnosis and healing to happen, but also patience to deal with everything else that comes along with not being able to lace up my shoes and burn off my frustrations, no the least of which is all that I do not know about what is wrong with my foot. I have a theory, but I’m a Ph.D. of literary studies, and my foot has little in common with the kind of feet we find in poetry.

Here is what I do know: it’s been a little over a week, and I’ve been off my foot for almost that entire time. You do not want to know how many hours of TV I have watched in the last seven days. Some people self-medicate with alcohol or or cigarettes or ice-cream. I self-medicate with TV. It’s probably not the healthiest of coping mechanisms, but I’m not hung over, my lungs still work, and my clothes still fit despite the fact that I can pretty much feel my metabolism grinding to a halt. In any case, while I’m still walking with a pretty significant hobble, the “rest-cure” seems to be working at least a little. My foot doesn’t hurt as much, and I can get around a little better.

Here’s what else I know: I have a doctor whom I trust. Who has not only examined my x-rays but has also taken a full history and treated me for a few years now. He has laid eyes on my actual foot, palpitated the affected areas, and compared the injured foot to the uninjured foot–in person. He has said I need an MRI. I haven’t yet had the MRI. I won’t have it until next week, and I don’t see him again for a few days after that. So until he tells me what I’m dealing with, I wait. While I wait, I try not to panic or go too far down the rabbit holes of various diagnoses. My baseline is much closer to panic than usual. The wind is blowing, figuratively speaking, and I’m holding on to my branch.

Initially, I had planned to keep silent about the whole thing. I generally play things like this close to the vest. To say that I don’t like talking about injuries or vulnerabilities might be the understatement of the week month year decade(?). But over the course of the last week, I’ve read a number of posts from other runners dealing with their injuries, and they have helped me. A great deal. It has given me hope to read about other people’s determination, their strength, and their struggles. To watch them make their comebacks against broken bones, torn ligaments, and other injuries. Some of these stories are from professional athletes and #runheroes like Kara Goucher and Caitlyn Comfort. Others are my friends who have conquered sprained ankles, broken bones, diabetes, MS.

I’m trying to stay positive and be patient, sometimes more successfully than others. I’m doing what I can to work on my core, my hips, my glutes (not easy when you can’t flex one of your feet!), and when I get back from the beach (where I’m visiting my parents), I’ll start more intensive cross-training (hello pool-running) and hopefully get my diagnosis.

[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Don McCullough].

Aug 05

A Trial: Update

3058506_408a2e7600_z So I had hoped to get a definitive diagnosis today at the doctor. No such luck. The x-ray came back negative, which wasn’t a huge surprise since stress fractures and tendinitis don’t usually show up on x-rays. Or at least the stress fractures that do show up are either really, really bad ones or ones pretty far down recovery road. I was pretty sure I had neither.

So next up: an MRI next Thursday. They could have fit me in a few days earlier, but I’m visiting my parents at the beach. Thursday means I  will come back a day early instead of missing the whole week.

The doctor said that it could be a metatarsal stress fracture, but that one point in our favor (of it not being a stress fx) is that my pain is in my 4th toe/metatarsal, while most stress fx are the 2nd or 3rd. The other viable candidate is Morton’s Neuroma. I had ruled it out pretty much right off the bat because I had read that it felt like you were standing on a pebble, and my foot didn’t feel like that. But it does, when I do try to put weight on it it feels like I’m standing on a towel or a cotton ball. Mostly, there’s pain when I flex the ball of my foot with any kind of weight.

So tomorrow I will try to drive and see how that goes (it’s my right foot). I think it will be ok, but ???

On the upside, the post has a picture of cat feet for two reasons:

  1. Cat feet are awesome. More specifically, cat toes are awesome.
  2.  I initially did a creative commons image search for “foot injury.” I don’t recommend it. I saw some very gruesome images. But on the upside, I still have all my toes. I am not dealing with antibiotic resistant, flesh-eating bacteria. Chances of amputation are very low.

So it’s more waiting. And whatever core work I can do that doesn’t aggravate my feet. Oh, and finishing the syllabi and writing project I have overdue.

 

[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user liz west]

Aug 05

Another trial

Injured Piggy Bank WIth Crutches I haven’t run a step since Thursday morning. That’s five days. FIVE. In fact, I haven’t walked many steps either. I haven’t driven at all, and I’ve only left my house once, last night, thanks to a friend who came and picked me up. I don’t know what the problem is yet, but a weekend planted on the couch with my laptop has given me lots of time to do research, so I have a few theories: metatarsal stress fracture or extensor tendinitis are my two leading candidates. I’m hoping for that latter even though it likely means a needle. But I’m the wrong kind of doctor to diagnose foot injuries, so I shouldn’t speculate further.

In any event, I’m potentially looking at some significant time away from running. This after starting to work with a coach, buying a new Garmin, signing up for a 5K later this week, and starting a training cycle for a December marathon.

The less rational side of my brain says that doing all of these things in such close proximity triggered the jinx gods. Magical thinking? Maybe.

But I’ve also been thinking a lot about the timing of it all. I was not smart about my recovery after Big Sur. I started running too much too soon. That landed me a quad strain and now this. Looking back over the last couple weeks, my foot had been bothering me from time to time. It didn’t bother me when I was running, but it flared when I would do lunges or sometimes when I was walking. I thought it was my bunion, but it wasn’t. I know that now.

If I have to deal with an(other) injury, I suppose it is good that it is happening now. It would be much more difficult to deal with if I were a few weeks out from a race I had been training for for months. I have accepted the fact that a marathon is probably not in the cards for December. If I’m lucky and smart going forward, maybe I can still do the half. The race I really care about, Paris, is in April. That’s far enough away that it should still be okay. I may not be going for speed, probably not, but I hope that I will still be able to get up to the distance if I train wisely. Here’s where I’m glad I hired a coach.

But the other thing that I have realized is that in the grand scheme of things, even if this is a worst case scenario and Paris is also off the table, it’s nothing compared to what many of my friends have dealt with in the last year or two. While I hate not being able to run more than I hate most anything else, it is temporary. There will be other races. More importantly, I have friends who are helping me and a really good partner in my couch potatoey-ness, my dog Parker.

Hopefully in a few hours I’ll know what I’m dealing with and can formulate a plan to go forward.

[Creative commons licensed image by Flickr user Ken Teegardin]

Aug 01

Weekend Reading: Poppies in London Edition

By Erin E. Templeton

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Happy weekend, ProfHackers!

Over the course of the summer, historians have observed the centennial anniversaries of the First World War. This weekend, one hundred years ago, Europe stood poised on the brink of war. France and England had been issued ultimatums by Germany on July 31, 1914, and mobilization had begun …read more

Jul 22

Joining the Flock

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I’ve run off and on since college, but I became more serious about it almost three years ago (August 2011) when I decided to train for my first half-marathon. Several factors went into that decision including a desire to do more for myself and my health. I had a couple friends on the Twitterz who were serious academics *and* athletes (looking at you Lori Emerson & Kathy Harris) who not only raced themselves (cycling and triathlons respectively) but who also warmly encouraged me to give it a try. As a result, #13orBust was born, and I probably annoyed my Twitter feed for three or four months with my training. By the time I reached the finish line, I had learned a very important lesson: “or” was the wrong conjunction for the hashtag. That is, it is/was possible to do both–finish the course and bust in the process (thank you per anserine bursitis). I finished the race and got my medal. And landed myself on crutches for a few weeks thereafter. While the outcome of that first race left much to be desired, I came away from the experience determined to get myself healthy and keep training so I could do it again, better this time.

Since then, I’ve run four more half-marathons and one full 26.2. I’ve also run lots of 5Ks and few 10Ks (I like 10Ks quite a lot, there just aren’t many of them where I live). I’ve also battled shin splints off and on and flirted with other overuse injuries, most recently a mild quad strain. Last year, my brother gave me a pair of Oiselle arm sleeves for my birthday (the ones he gave me are black, but those aren’t currently available, it being July). I had heard of Oiselle (pronounced wa-zell) before, but none of my local running stores carry the line, so I hadn’t seen any of their clothes in person.

I fell in love with a pair of arm sleeves. Yes, I know how weird that sounds.

But it wasn’t just about the arm sleeves. It was about the fact that the company was driven by women and dedicated to supporting women runners. I’m a professor at a women’s college, and two of the five things I care most about in the world are female empowerment and running (the others being rescue animals, books, and pizza). A few months earlier, Molly Baker, the woman behind Girls on the Run had delivered our commencement address and gotten me especially fired up about girls and women and running, so Oiselle seemed a logical complement.

Soon thereafter, I learned that Oiselle had a team of ambassadors, the Volee: a group of women who represent the brand, especially at races, and I wrote to the team manager to get more information. I had missed the application window but hoped to participate the next time-around. In the meantime, I read more about the company, its mission and personnel, and I began to follow the athletes: the high-profile Lauren Fleshman and the many other members of haute volee, the Oiselle elite racing team. The more I read, the more I liked. And then they pulled off the unthinkable: they signed Kara Goucher, a marathoner whom I’ve long-admired. My transition to full-on fangirl was complete, as evidenced by the 2.5 hr drive to Atlanta last weekend to attend a meet and greet with Lauren Fleshmen, Melissa Lawrence, and Caitlyn Comfort at West Strides running store (they were in town for the Peachtree 10K on July 4th). The night before, I was having some serious second thoughts about driving all that way for maybe a half-hour in the store, but that morning, the sun was shining, and the road was calling. Plus, I was under doctors’ orders to rest my strained quad for a couple more days. Driving would keep my from running, which had increasingly been tempting me especially on that beautiful morning . . . Anyway, the meet and greet was great. I can easily and honestly say that all of the Oiselle athletes were really cool and friendly. I am happy to have had the chance to meet them. AND: all Oiselle gear was 20% in the store. There wasn’t much left in my size by the time I got there, but I did get a Lesko Bra, something I’ve been eyeing on the web. As an extra-special bonus, I managed to not get a speeding ticket despite the heavy police presence on I-85!

Earlier this week, Oiselle announced an opportunity that I had been waiting for: the Flock. Different from their previous brand ambassador program, Volee, the Flock has a one-time membership fee ($100), which includes a racing singlet, a track bag, $20 towards racing bottoms, (I went for the Roga in Graphite) and a $25 contribution to the Emerging Runner fund that offsets expenses for the Oiselle elites.

At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about paying the membership fee, but ultimately, I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and pony up the support for one of my favorite companies. So now I’m a member of the Flock. It’s been really cool to see such excitement from across the United States come across my Twitterfeed. So many women who share my enthusiasm and excitement! My local running community is awesome, but it’s predominantly male. I treasure my female running friends (Hi Cate!), and it’s exciting to be a part of a larger community of women who share a passion for running and actively support each other.

[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Pranav Yaddanapudi]

Jul 11

Weekend Reading: Umbrellas in Portugal Edition

By Erin E. Templeton

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Happy Weekend, ProfHacker friends!

The title and image for today’s Weekend Reading comes from the Ágitagueda art festival, an annual tradition in Portugal this month that was recently featured in Bored Panda.

If you have even a fleeting interest in the digital humanities, it is well-worth your while …read more

Jun 20

Weekend Reading: Walking a Cabbage Edition

By Erin E. Templeton

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Happy weekend, ProfHackers!

For many of us, summer means spending time outside, whether walking our dog (or a cabbage–see below!), taking kids to the pool or mowing the grass. But summer is also tick season, and with ticks, increasingly, comes …read more

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