Sunday, June 20, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

Ruminations and Almost Running:
Three weeks ago I finished a 20 mile run by stepping wrong and twisting my back just around the corner from my house. Then I spent the morning washing floors, vacuuming, and cleaning bathrooms. My back took issue with that, and by the time I was done I was sweating - not from housework, but from back pain. I learned my lesson: housework is evil.
Over the next two weeks I hobbled through two uninspiring runs and two pointless swims. I found myself at the chiropractor on an almost daily basis. He was very helpful, but there was no quick fix. I went to a physical therapist a couple of times which was awesome. He found out things that were wrong with me that I didn't know about. And those things all tied into other things (muscles) which pulled me forward and to the right and ... well, let's just say there was a lot of work to be done.
My second marathon of the season was just days away when I went to the physical therapist again. He refused to give me the go-ahead to run. I begged, I cajoled, I bribed, but he wouldn't say yes. No running. Dang it. So I tried something else. Housework, I said, really should be put on my do-not-do list. He refused to say "No housework." I begged, I cajoled, I bribed, but he wouldn't say no. No getting out of housework. Dang it. I thought about grabbing some letterhead and forging my own doctor's note excusing me from vacuuming, but my conscience overrode my good idea.
So with housework in my future and running not in that future, I walked out of the office a very gloomy lady. When I went to pick up my race packet the day before the race, I mumbled the news that I wouldn't be running. Ugh.
Well, they said, we can transfer your registration to next year. Shock! You mean all was not lost, just merely delayed!? It was like a lightbulb turned on. I could still do it - just later! And, they said, you could stand at the finish line and hand out finisher's medals. Delight! I could still be part of the race-day atmosphere! Things weren't how I'd planned them, but this new path I was taking wasn't so bad after all.
One week ago now, the race was held, and I was there, handing out medals to half-marathon and full-marathon runners. The coolest part was placing the medal over a friend's head, welcoming in another friend, and getting a big hug from yet another running friend. As I watched the runners come in I knew they had worked hard and it was gratifying to finish. I also knew that I had worked hard, but although I wasn't running I was grateful to be there. Besides, the pain on their faces made me think about how much more fun I was having at that moment than they were. It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning. But of course, when I got home, housework was waiting for me.
I should've stayed at the race.
It's been three weeks now since my injury. Friday my Physical Therapist sort of said I sort of could try a run. So I sort of covered three miles by walking, jogging, stopping to stretch, and repeating. I was sort of happy. It would've been much nicer if it hadn't hurt at all, but it didn't hurt too much. I ran the last 1/4 mile barefoot, which made my back actually feel better than ever (probably because I was so focused on every little rock I stepped on, wincing at my tender feet instead of my tender back).
While I struggled with three miles Saturday I couldn't help remember almost exactly one year ago struggling with my first run after a tough miscarriage. I know this is a story many women can tell, and it always amazes me what strong, tough, and resilient creatures women are. We make it through one pain or heartache or another, and keep on moving. Running was my out, my way of dealing with the trauma, and I wanted my body to be strong again. But with three miles being almost insurmountable a year ago, I thought I'd never be able to do a marathon again. But work and patience gets you far. This spring I've run marathon distances at least four times, with at least that many 20+ mile training runs. Now once again, I'll have to work and be patient and get through another setback. Every time I have a setback, I lag a little, then pick myself up, and finally get going again, all the while singing to myself, "Back in the saddle again..."
Speaking of saddles, with this injury I haven't even been able to bike outside - I can only bike sitting straight up. My bike trainer has been my best friend lately. Hooray for cross-training! And, interestingly, although walking and running hurt, I can go up and down stairs without pain. So I've been climbing up and down the local university's stadium stairs. I've spent only about 30 minutes on the stadium each time, but HOLY COW! There have only been two other times in my life that I've been so sore - the first time up the Grand Teton (an entire day) and my first marathon (4+ hours). Thirty minutes on the stadium is awesome. I LOVE the soreness. It means I found a weak spot that I can work on.
Swimming, which I generally love, hasn't saved my sanity. My Physical Therapist said to avoid the front strokes (I always do the front crawl) and to do backstroke instead. B-O-R-I-N-G. And, for me at least, dangerous. I don't swim very straight, I splash water up into my nose, and I hit my head on the edge of the pool. Hmm, I guess there's something else to work on.
By the way, this past Saturday afternoon after my sort-of-3-mile-run, while I was washing the floors with the hard-floor washer/scrubber/vacuum thing, I noticed something: it wasn't sucking up the dirt. I took it apart and guess what? It's broken. Hee-hee. :) Until my husband fixes it, I've got my excuse from at least part of the housework. (I think I'll hide it from him). Besides, when I'm on the trainer or at the stadium or swimming in the water, I don't see the spots on the floor anyway. I only see that I'm recovering...that I'm back in the saddle again.


ABC Soup Mix - Spiffied up

This uses the dry lentil & ABC pasta soup mix available in bulk from places like or the LDS Church Cannery.

2 C. Soup mix

8+ cups water (add more as it cooks off)

Simmer for 2 - 2 1/2 hours until lentils are well cooked. Stir frequently, especially near the end to keep from burning on the bottom.


1/3 to 1 can diced tomatoes w/chilis (a whole can makes it really spicy - too much for my kids)

2 Cans Italian Stewed (diced) tomatoes

1 Tbs. Salt (or less, to taste)

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 lb. Kielbasa, sliced into bite-size pieces, and browned in skillet.

Simmer up to 1/2 hour longer.

Whole Wheat Blender Pancakes

From www.

1 cup milk

1 cup whole wheat, uncooked (the wheat berries)

2 eggs

2 Tbsp. oil

2 tsp. baking powder

2 Tbs. honey or sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

Put milk and wheat in blender. Bend on highest speed for about 2-3 minutes (to have bits of wheat crunch) or 4-5 minutes (for no crunch) (I like having bits of wheat :) it's yummy). Add eggs, oil, baking powder, honey, and salt and blend on low. Bake on pre-heated griddle (low heat works best). FOR WAFFLES: add one additional Tbs. wheat, increase oil to 4 Tbs.

And Family

Picnic Lunch. When the sun shines in Rexburg we rush outside. I can't imagine what the neighbors must think as I sit in the driveway folding laundry. We usually eat out on the grass, but since this was a soup lunch we needed a flat surface to avoid spills. It was sunny, but a little chilly. Thankfully it has warmed up since this photo was taken two days ago. I LOVE SUNSHINE!


  1. great post, steph! the physical setbacks are awful! it seems that they arrive at the most inconvenient time to remind us that we should be more than grateful for basic health. good for you to find new ways to feel exercised!

    i also think its not fair for you to post food pix while i am out of town.

    lastly, i don't think you should tell jeff about the broken vacuum just yet. better to enjoy the break from house chores ;)

  2. Jill - I miss you having you around! Guess what? Jeff fixed the vacuum. Darn it. Sometimes having a handyman around backfires on me :)