Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Building a Base

Building a Base


So here's my mileage (in km's) since I started shuffling in early July: 11, 38, 52, 48, 58, 61, 70, 70, 78, 30, and 71. Yep, a little recent set back with the 30 km week due to a pain behind the left knee. Likely the transition to straight running with no walk breaks, increased road running, and a few higher intensity runs was just a bit too much. But after a few days of only cross-training, all was well. I've had some decent runs, I know my body is capable of race pace, and have plenty of time to continue building a strong base in preparation for a spring marathon. On Aug 31, I ran a steady 10 km at 4:18/km, four months post femur fracture and surgery. And on Sept 8, I handled 14 km at 4:17/km that included 2 km at 3:28/km. The numbers are encouraging, especially considering I was doing 300 m intervals just a few months ago. I will continue to steadily increase the volume, maintain the strength work, and keep completing a few pool running sessions each week. The plan is to stay healthy and do a few rust busters in November/December with the goal of a solid and consistent effort. I haven't weighed myself since July but am feeling leaner, am maintaining 12+ hrs/wk of cardio activities, am up to a 3 minute plank, and down to a 38 RHR. All good stuff. Getting there.Life has been busy for Team DuChene as we've been transitioning from summer to back-to-school mode. Packing lunches, life at the hockey rink and swimming pool, earlier bedtimes, and fuller schedules can make September a tough month but I was ready and am glad to be back in a new routine. This year our oldest son can participate in x-country running and when asked, I agreed to help coach, which has been another fun adventure as Seth and Leah are able to join the team at practice. Also at the school, I helped with the Terry Fox Run and signed on for another year as "lunch mom", which have been simple ways to give back.  Speaking of giving back, I was glad to participate in another Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope in Brantford, which raised over $54,000 for this year, and over $2 million nationally. Last but certainly not least was my involvement in the inaugural Run Waterloo Harvest Half with proceeds going toward the Kenyan Kids Foundation. I was honoured to be guest speaker at the Friday evening pasta dinner and silent auction, which sold out. The races the following day - the half marathon, quarter marathon and kids' fun run were a hit. We had some drizzly rain but that didn't stop runners from hitting the hills on the gravel roads in Mennonite country where Wesley Korir has done much of his training while with Tarah and her family when in St. Clements. Overall, we raised over $10,000, which will be put to good use in Cherengany, Kenya. The next big event on the calendar is commentating the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with Tim Hutchings and Michael Doyle. I've quite enjoyed doing this and it is the next best thing to racing these big events. The Canadian field is looking real good and I've been doing my research so as to be prepared with a bit to say on most of our participating stars. Should be fun!


Steady 10 km on the treadmill in 44:02 (4:24/km), four months post femur fracture and surgery with just this little scar to show.  The next day I did 10 km on the road in 42:58 (4:18/km). 
Glad to support another Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope. 
Mixed emotions as I donated our Chariot Cougar II running stroller for the Harvest Half silent auction. Kinda sad that this phase of life is over but thrilled that the money went toward the total of $10,000 raised for the Kenyan Kids Foundation.
So pleased to meet Scott Heipel, a 2012 Olympian swimmer, after speaking at the pasta dinner.
She is ready to race the kids' fun run!
Two running moms with their girls: Tarah and McKayla Korir with Krista and Leah DuChene.
Learning some massage therapy techniques. 
Finishing up a treadmill run.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Possible is not always Easy


Best hoodie ever. Coffee on the back deck at the cabin, "Living the Dream" with my sister.


Beautiful scenes enjoyed this summer while returning to running.

My training partner doing exercises with me in the cabin.


Rest. Rejoice. Recover. Yes!


13 years with this great guy!

Watermelon on the back deck at the cabin.


And they're off!


Saucony shoes x 11.



It’s been more than a month since last writing, shortly after being given the green light to start jogging that was 10 weeks after fracturing my femur on April 27 at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships. And I am happy to report that all is well. It’s great, actually. I started with sets of 15 seconds of shuffling and 2 minutes 45 seconds of walking, and slowly but surely decreased the walking while increasing the jogging.
Prior to my surgery in Montreal 16 weeks ago, I remember thinking that I soon as I woke up, it would all be about recovery from that point. Slow recovery. I knew that I would have to be very careful with my rehabilitation; it would be something I could not and would not rush. And the first place I thought of, which would be great for this pace was our cabin at the campground where I spent much of my summer as a child. It would be perfect. The kids would love the freedom and fun of riding their bikes, fishing at the creek, building forts, playing games, exploring, swimming, going to the candy store, and participating in programs while I would get to ease into training with a soft surface dirt road nearby, my bike on rollers in the cabin, and the campground pool. The atmosphere would be restful and relaxing, we would see Jonathan mid-week and on weekends since his work schedule would be so busy, have limited use of screens, and get to spend our summer with my sister and her three kids!
Now with only one week left before moving back home to prepare for the routine of the kids’ hockey, swim lessons, preschool skates and school, and my increased training, I can honestly say that I think it was been the best summer of my life. I have not heard the “b” word (bored) from the kids, have spent great quality time with my sister and family, enjoyed much spiritual growth and reflection, and immensely loved every bit of the outdoors. It hasn’t been our typical hot and humid Ontario summer, which has been just fine for me. It couldn’t have been any better. I have felt blessed, each and every day, and continued to dream and focus on my big goals and dreams.
The Numbers
Prior to getting a rehab training plan from Rick, I scratched down a few numbers to show where I was and where I needed to be in order to make the qualifying time in 2015 for the 2016 Olympic Games. The standards have not yet been announced but when they are, I will be that much more motivated! Here’s a breakdown of my progress:
  • At the end of week 2, I completed 300 m consecutively at 5:17/km within my longest jog total of 7 km, within a 37.5 km week.
  • At the end of week 12, my goal was to complete 5 km consecutively at 4:49/km, knowing I would need to complete a 20 km tempo at 3:27/km in March 2015.
  • At the end of week 6, I completed 5 km consecutively at 4:15/km the day after my longest jog total of 13.5 km, within a 61 km week.
I’ll say it again, like Bethany said in “Soul Surfer” after losing her arm to a shark, I needed possible, not easy. And what I defined as possible was being able to run at a decent pace without bone pain or any feeling of the steel plate and screws in the femur. Mission accomplished. And I am so grateful.
The Downer
Everything was going really well until the weekend of July 26. A few days before I tripped on a rock, catching myself on the bad leg, and it started to physically hurt. It also didn’t help that I was emotionally hurting a bit, knowing I was supposed to be racing alongside Lanni Marchant in the marathon at the Commonwealth Games (CG) in Scotland. Not knowing what was wrong with my leg and seeing all the CG action that weekend was a bummer. Lanni did amazingly well, placing 4th overall. We are great friends and fierce competitors; I couldn’t help but think how I too could have raced that day. I allowed myself to feel down for a bit yet still enjoyed the weekend, which included a day with Jonathan while celebrating my cousin’s beautiful wedding.
Coach Rick got in touch with James (Dr. Dill, ortho surgeon) and I was in to see him right away. I felt a great deal of relief after James revealed the bone looked great and I could continue with my return to running. I tell you, having a friend care for you during a low moment in your life is really something precious to be valued. After James sensed my emotional state and asked how I was really doing, I was able to articulate that I didn’t want to injure myself again. Through some tears I explained how I was struggling with trusting myself to “Listen to my body”, something in which I always took pride. We agreed that I would have to remember that initial, unique pain of the original stress fracture, and that I would eventually build that trust within myself with time and additional running. Most importantly through this period, I took great confidence and comfort in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
The Routine
While at the cabin, I established a great training routine. I didn’t set an alarm, which usually had me heading out at around 6:45 am to a nearby, country road for an hour or so. The experience took me back to my childhood on the farm. I just loved walk/jogging alongside farms and fields with the blue, sunny sky and abundant greenery. No cement. No big buildings. Just country. I used my Garmin to know how far I was jogging for each set, in order to total my mileage for the day. Once I returned to the cabin, I got out my gear to complete my 20 minute stretching, physio and strength exercise routine while the kids ate their breakfast before jumping on their bikes to start their day.
In the afternoon, I would get on my bike for 30 minutes then grab the swim gear and head to the pool with the kids. While they played their pool games and swam like fish, I did a combination of water-running, swimming and treading for 60 minutes. Riding the bike and being in the pool with temperatures as low as 62 degrees wasn’t always my favourite but it built mental strength, necessary for my marathon return! 
The Joy
Having my sister with me at our campground was so special and meaningful. She helped out with the kids so I could train and work. And I was able to assist with her kids and some groceries. We often expressed our happiness with our “Living the Dream” summer. As a teacher, she was in her happy place and I was returning to my love of running while our families were enjoying hours of quality time together. This amazing summer is nearly over and I can hardly believe that the time is coming where I look back at this whole fractured femur thing as a distant memory.
Read more from Marathon Mom, Krista DuChene
Follow @KristaDuChene on Twitter

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Proclamation: Nine Months.

Nine months.
No, I am not pregnant. It’s almost as good.
I am running again! Well, jogging…but still! And I’m doing it with goals and dreams.
Big goals and dreams.
And I couldn’t be happier.
Everything has fallen into place beautifully since fracturing my femur, 11 weeks ago.
The glass remains half full. God is good, all the time!
So here are my big goals and dreams:
1. My goal is to run my first marathon in April 2015, nine months from now, one year after my major injury. So far I have surpassed all of my little goals along the way, while recovering from this busted leg, so why should this be any different? You know me—set the bar high, achieve, and repeat. Originally, I thought I’d be on crutches for 2 months; it was 5 weeks. I thought I’d need a cane for 3 weeks; it was two. We thought I would return to running at 3 months; it was 10 weeks. Etcetera, etcetera. There is no stopping me.
2. My dream is to make the qualifying standard within the qualifying period to represent Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There, I’ve said it. You read it here! The bar is set. I’m moving forward!
It certainly won’t be easy but like Bethany said in the movie, “Soul Surfer” when returning to training after losing her entire arm to a shark, “I don’t need easy. I need possible”. I’ll be honest, I kept my return to jogging quiet, mainly because I didn’t know how it would go. Speed walking is one thing. Running is another. Despite reassurance that the plate and screws are securely in place, I had no idea what it would feel like. I don’t know many athletes with hardware in their femur, trying to make a full return to training and racing. But, there are some, somewhere. And I hope to be one, sometime.
So let me go back a few weeks since my last post. On June 20, I had a bone scan, which confirmed that the critical blood supply was indeed not affected by my injury. I had been told this by the surgeon in Montreal, Dr. Jarzem, but a thorough exam nearly two months after the injury and surgery would give us a clearer picture. At this appointment and upon discussing my continued, positive progress, Dr. Dill then moved my next appointment up a few weeks. On July 4, I had an x-ray, which again showed continued healing in the bone. I again cringed when I saw that hardware drilled into me. I rarely think about it unless telling someone so when I see it on the screen, it seems very foreign. And like watching the iRun video of me finishing the race, I shudder.
Coach Rick came with me to the appointment because of the possibility of me being allowed to start jogging, provided the x-ray was good. Sure enough, Dr. Dill was pleased so we started discussing how I could safely ease into it. We understood the great importance of being very careful. Very careful. The bone was healed enough that I could gradually start but was still healing. Doing too much, too soon could be very problematic. I remember being told in hospital to be very careful in the first 48 hrs after the surgery due to risk of dislocating the hip. It was concerning. And I was very cautious. The last thing anyone wants is a major setback. We talked about using soft surfaces (treadmill, trail, dirt road), continuing to cross-train, walk-jogging, and paying great attention to being slow and steady, stopping if it was painful. Rick explained how I eased into it after the last injury, saying that we expected this return to take longer.
So we left the hospital with smiles on our faces, ready to start the next chapter. Of course, I started with a few shuffles that very day. I just had to! And it was neat because Crossroads Christian Communication (100 Huntley St.) was there as they are covering my story in my attempt to recover and participate in the Toronto 2015 PanAm Games. After our taped discussion about my story, they filmed my first few shuffles with Rick by my side at the North Park track in Brantford at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, where I train. They will see some big improvement when they tape me the next time!
On the first day, I likely did about six, 10 second shuffles with walking between. The next day within my 45 minute walk I did 8 x (0:15 shuffle & 2:45 walk). Since then, I’ve daily added a few more sets with a few more seconds, working my way up to a 60 minute walk with 22 x (1:10 jog & 1:50 walk). I started wearing my Garmin and doing the math in my head to begin estimating my “mileage”. Week one was 11.2 km and today was 4.4 km total. It’s thrilling to see it in writing!
It took less than a week to go from a shuffle to a jog but I know it will take much, much longer to go from a jog to a run. What I mean by a run is heading out at a steady pace, for a decent length, not thinking about anything. I know I can—and will—do it!
As for how it felt, the various areas of soft tissue were tired by the end of the day, especially due to the increased walking that week. Most importantly, there has been no bone pain! The most entertaining aspect of my first few shuffles was the “jiggly” left cheek compared to the solid right. But even that has improved by leaps and bounds in just over a week. I am into a great routine with my morning walk/jog with stretching and exercises, my afternoon bike and pool time, and evening plank, averaging 2 hrs daily.
Oh, and one more thing about the nine months. Just like I gave up any sort of junk food for 3 and 6 months prior to my last two marathons, I’m doing it again. Yep, bye bye goodies until April 2015! It’s all good, folks!

Healing well. Don't think I'll ever get used to seeing this foreign object. At least I don't feel it when running!!!

Kids made the news, running with the weather gal while promoting the Harvest Half!

Get your tickets at http://raceroster.com/events/2014/1845/harvest-half-2014

It was good while it lasted. See you again, Peanut Buster Parfait (and other sweets), in April 2015!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sometimes you have to look back to look forward

June 15, 2014
It has been seven weeks since my femur fracture and I continue to progress in leaps and bounds.
The most rewarding advancement has been the return to my daily routine. Initially after Jonathan's parents left, it took nearly an entire day to do the work I did in addition to my training. "Simple" house-hold jobs like laundry, cleaning, cooking, and tidying up for a family of five were quite difficult to accomplish with crutches, on my own. But I managed to find ways to function safely around the house to get it done and it began to get easier as my leg got stronger. Of course, I had help from Team DuChene. Now I am back to getting the kids ready in the morning, heading to the gym, lunch and quiet time with 3 yr old Leah, those house-hold jobs, after-school activities, dinner, and bed-time routines.
My spirits remain high but I am human and there are times I've felt a bit bummed. Missing planned races, not seeing my name on the Canadian team for the Commonwealth Games, and the occasional, "You should be careful" from people I hardly know has sometimes bothered me but has been short-lived. I look at where I've come from and where I'm going and expect it to be one serious come-back!
I've had many people contact me with their stories and the one thing I continue to believe and apply, in many areas of life, is to remain positive and not compare myself to others. Although possibly similar, every situation is unique. I choose to disregard the negatives and focus on the greater steps to come.
Initially, there seemed to be so many things I couldn't do - stairs, walking, driving, standing on the broken leg and the obvious, running. But now running is about the only thing I can't do. Every few days I am able to do something new, which is both encouraging and exciting. A few days ago I was able to take 5 or 6 steps, without limping and without my cane. Two days later, I completed 3x5 minutes of walking on the treadmill, hands-free! This morning I did my longest walk (with the cane) of 1 hour, followed by 30 minutes of cycling, which felt great. Every day the soft tissues are getting stronger and stronger.
I think I will be able to wean myself off the cane by 8 weeks, which will give me 4 weeks of steady and solid walking before I attempt jogging. In my mind I will take about 3 months to progress from jogging to running. I've often compared this injury to that of a pregnancy come-back but to be honest, I think this will be easier. Because I was back to my gym, physio and massage routines, less than 3 weeks after my surgery, I did not lose too much strength or endurance. Before the fracture, my resting heart rate (RHR) was 36, and when in my best shape it's been as low as 29. For me, tracking this is a good fitness indicator. After my fracture, my RHR was up to 48 and now it's down to 41. Getting there.
As for pain, I continue to be without it. The odd time I may experience some is when I quickly catch my balance on the fractured leg, usually to prevent a trip over one of the kids or dog. Ten legs around your two can sometimes do that! I guess I could say I've had some pain in the soft tissue in the left leg, as it has been built, but it is certainly nowhere near the bone pain from the fracture.
In terms of set-backs, I have also been very blessed in this area. I did however, get a second infection in the same area as before. For those of you who know anything about surgery, particularly involving bones, you do not mess around with this. I notified Dr. Dill right away and we gave it a few days but it was not getting better as I likely had a dissolvable stitch that did not dissolve. So, off to the fracture clinic I went. Weak stomach? Stop reading here. As a parent, I've always believed in taking kids with you to appointments. They need to learn how to behave appropriately in such environments. However, this was one time that I had to go solo. After freezing the area, Dr. Dill essentially cut a tunnel, 1 cm x 1 cm in diameter and 1 inch deep. Yes, 1 inch deep. So much for what I thought would be something simple like removing a sliver! His wonderful nurse, Susan, assisted him in filling it with packing tape, and covering it with various layers to keep it clean, dry and protected to heal from the inside. At one point, Dr. Dill consulted with an infectious diseases doctor and did a swab to confirm that it was a simple, bacterial external infection. If it was some other strange bacteria or infected internally, near the hardware or bone, we would have one very serious issue. I had to have the area changed 5 times in the first week. It is healing quickly, I am now finished my antibiotic, and hopefully I will be able to resume my pool work in another week or so. No rush.
I have missed the water but have still been able to get in 1.5-2 hrs of daily activity. At the gym I use the elliptical, stair-elliptical, bikes and treadmill. At home I walk outside and bike downstairs on rollers. The walking allows me to build those glute, quad and hamstring areas, necessary for running but does not create much of a cardiovascular workout as I can only get my heart rate to about 100 BPM. The other methods provide a great variety where I can usually keep my heart rate at about 150 BPM, allowing me to get back into decent form. I do some stretching and a variety of upper and lower strength training, nearly back to my original settings. Both Sherri (physio) and David (massage) think I have about 80% strength in the left leg. I am hoping that this previously weak left leg will be and stay at 100% in another 5 weeks when we expect to get the green light to run. Well, jog. In the evening, I am up to a 2:15 plank, 25 pushups, and a steadily growing variety of other exercises.
I have a bone scan, June 20 and my final ortho appointment with x-ray is July 18. I am still enjoying this break but am mentally starting to really miss running. I know I am not ready yet but believe that my mind and body will be in synch when the time is right. #KristaStrong






All smiles as I hop on the elliptical for the first time at 5 weeks.

I won't include pictures of what's underneath but post-surgical infections are something to not take lightly.


video

At 1 week, it took nearly 30 seconds to get my leg off the couch.

video

 At 7 weeks, I completed 3 x 5 minutes of treadmill walking, hands-free!



Psalm 37:4-5 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Goodbye Crutches, Hello Cane!

I can hardly believe the incredible progress I've made in such a short time. Our bodies are amazing.
In just 5 weeks, I have come from one of, if not the, most physical and emotional lows of my life after fracturing my femur with the finish in view while defending my Canadian Half Marathon title.
I think the lowest physical point was when I was bedridden after surgery, weak and weary as the anesthetic wore off, trying to lift myself off the bedpan. I did not succeed because of the pain, fatigue, and lack of strength to hold myself up, consequently spilling the liquid contents underneath me. Waiting for help with tears running down my face from pain and disppointment, while lying in my own urine, was a definite low.
And the lowest emotional point was when I knew I required surgical placement of a plate and 3 screws for a fractured femur but had to go for a CT scan first, to determine if I had tumours. With my family history and several physical signs,  bone cancer was a risk. Another definite low.
But I had peace. Incredible peace the entire time. Yes, for the first few days I think I cried more than anytime in my life. I was exhausted and overwhelmed after finishing a half-marathon, having major surgery, finally having my husband with me, processing everything that happened, and not sleeping for two nights.  I was sad with peace; not teary from anxiety or anger. There is a difference, a world of difference.
During that time, there was never a point that I said, "Why me?" or thought that it couldn't get worse. Sadly, when you are dealing with disappointment or loss, you can usually think of someone or something that makes your situation look and feel better. After my mom took her last breath, the nurse told my sister and I to take all the time we needed. When she lost both her parents at once as a teenager, she was not allowed to say goodbye. We do not know why terrible things happen but can allow ourselves to grieve, knowing we will get through it. It was very therapeutic to acknowledge my feelings, something I recently spoke to a group of local swimmers about, in my "Dealing with Disappointment - the good, the bad, and the ugly" presentation.
I've never been shy about my faith; God has been first and foremost in my successes and disappointments. And I don't believe this fractured femur thing is going to be that different. Psalm 66:17 says, "For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke". Like my disappointing World Champs Marathon where I collapsed in the extreme heat, my faith was strong. And after becoming the second fastest Canadian marathoner just two months later, I thanked God. I think it's going to be quite exciting to see how this story enfolds! In fact, just yesterday, I was contacted by the producers at 100 Huntley St. TV who are following Christian athletes heading toward competition at the 2015 PanAm Games in Toronto. I explained my situation to which they replied that if it was ok with me, they would like to follow my recovery process and journey back to running. Stay tuned.
I do know that I may not return to high-level training and racing and "I have learned how to be content with whatever I have", Philippians 4:11. But, like I said in my last post, I am following my heart and believe that with each and every day, my first marathon back is that much closer.
Now, let's get to the exciting developments.

This morning I had an x-ray and appointment with my running friend and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Dill. After getting some paperwork out of the way, he showed Coach Rick and I the development in bone growth by comparing the 2 week x-ray to today's 5 week x-ray. Looked good to me!  We then discussed how I could continue to progress in my rehab and gradually return to full-time training. I was very pleased and pleasantly surprised to:
1. hear that I could progress to full weight bearing, right away, and
2. read on the, "Athletics Canada - Notification of Injury, Illness or Pregnancy" form that I could return to full high performance training and competition, November 1!
As for walking, he watched me take a few steps, which I've been able to do this week but with a heavy limp. He asked me how I felt then explained his assessment and wrote a physio note with instructions to work on gait training, full motion, and abductor strengthening. He concluded that I would likely be walking limp-free in about 2 weeks!
As for training, he confirmed that I could continue in the pool and on the bike, and even start using the elliptical if I felt safe and ready. He did a few tests to determine my leg strength and confirmed that I should continue to gradually increase the resistance. I have been carefully adding to the volume and intensity of my various activities to about 1.5-2 hours per day. I've also been re-establishing an evening routine of stretching, new physio exercises, and pushups and such, which includes a 2 minute plank.
Lastly, he was pleased with my incision upon examination since it did get externally infected last week. Infections are something to not mess around with, after surgery. Because I finished the antibiotic more than 48 hours ago, we put that issue behind us.
I got the date and instructions for my June bone scan, and next appointment in July, which I believe will be my last. If all goes well, this is when I will get the green light to jog again. I'm sure it will take several weeks to progress from jogging to running.
Tomorrow is my last injection of Fragmin, the blood thinner, and I have been successfully using a cane all afternoon. I biked for 1/2 hr at 5:30 am, and did some easy pool running for 1/2 hr and walking for 1/2 hr at 5:30 pm.  Progress. Incredible progress.

Back on the treadmill, walking for now.

Backpacks and bras for holding things make crutches way easier.

No more needles. No more connect the dots.

I allowed myself to indulge in sweets since you need some belly fat to successfully inject the needle. Tomorrow is my last one so I've asked Dr. Dill for a repeat.
Off for some pool running at Jonathan's sister's, down the street, while the kids enjoy their first swim. New fancy cane in hand.



OTTAWA RACE WEEKEND

The Ottawa Race Weekend has always been my family favourite racing event. From the recreational joggers in the 2 km to the world's best in the marathon in our nation's capital, you can't get much better.  We went as a family in 2010 and 2012, and again this year. I decided to take the entire weekend off because of the infected incision and long periods of time I would spend sitting, on my feet at the expo, and crutching around. I had to be realistic about what I could physically handle and fit into our family's schedule. On Thursday morning, we headed out on our first road trip in our new (used) van, having lunch at the half-way point with Jonathan's cousin in Belleville. After quickly dropping our bags into our hotel room upon arriving in Ottawa, we headed to the expo to watch the Transcend movie in support of the Kenyan Kids Foundation, and spend an hour at the Saucony booth. We got back to the hotel in time to eat dinner with the Korir family and let the kids have a 15 minute swim in the pool before it closed. On Friday morning after breakfast, we walked down to board the Amphibus, a family tradition while in Ottawa for race weekend. In the past, I'd stay back to nap with the youngest but with me not running this year, and Leah out-growing naps, we made it our first ride together. You get a tour of the city on the roads as a bus, and on the water as a boat. It was quite fun. After lunch, I headed to the expo to spend some time at the iRun and Saucony booths. It was so great to say hi to people, update them on my progress, and hear about others' somewhat similar experiences. The same went for Saturday when I was there in the morning. Like many have been inspired by me, I too was encouraged when hearing the tremendous comebacks and difficulties of other athletes. By the end of my time, my leg was sore from standing and cheeks tired from smiling in so many pictures, must like our wedding day. I was honoured to have a steady stream of people, both days. Later that afternoon, the boys laced up their Saucony shoes and pinned their bibs to their new race t-shirts. Despite the several waves of hundreds of runners, and me on crutches, Leah and I were still able to see Jonathan, Micah and Seth start and finish their 5 km race. Shortly after that I headed to the Rogers booth to meet with Tim Hutchings and Mark Sutcliffe for the 10 k race commentating. We reviewed our plan and were informed of the necessary technical details before going live shortly before the start. It was a fun and relaxing evening as Mark facilitated the discussions and spoke about the course as a local, Tim added the technical details of the various international runners, and I shared some about my training and racing, and spoke to talent of the Canadian runners. I also provided insight to returning to competitive training and racing after having a baby as Mary Keitany crushed the women's field, won the gender competition (women get about a 4 min start ahead of the others), and set a new course record in her first competitive race since having her second child last year. Her last major races were a victory in the 2012 London Marathon and 4th place finish in the 2012 London Olympic Games Marathon. Quite impressive and a neat theme to my weekend as earlier that day I met with Dylan Wyke's wife, Francine, to answer some questions for a study she is doing on elite athletes and pregnancy. After the race, we headed to Jonathan's cousin's for dinner then got settled back into our hotel room. I was already pretty tired at this point yet having an amazing time, even without racing. Almost as fun. Almost. Sunday morning, Manny gave Tim and I a ride to the Rogers booth. Again, the three of us chatted within our areas of expertise and enjoyed sharing stories while providing viewers with coverage of the 42.2 km event. I was able to get two 10 minute breaks when Geoffrey Mutai and John Halvorsen were scheduled to share a few words. It was just enough time crutch my way to the porta potty and stretch my leg. Shortly after we aired the interviews with Canadian Champions, Eric Gillis and Rhiannon Johns, and provided a summary of the race before ending the show, I chatted with a few people in the media/VIP area then found Jonathan and the kids to make our way back to the hotel to check out. On the way home, we enjoyed another meal with another cousin, and safely made our way back to Brantford, just in time for bed.

Ready to drive to Ottawa.

Leah and McKayla Korir loved seeing each other again. Hoping they can to play together in Cherangani while we serve with the Kenyan Kids Foundation.

Fun at the expo.

Amphibus tour.

All smiles after the 5 km race.


Had a great time commentating the 10 km and Marathon races with Mark Sutcliffe (left) and Tim Hutchings (right).

Heading home after another family fun Ottawa Race weekend.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Comeback Kinda Athlete

We are really looking forward to our upcoming family weekend in Ottawa since last going together in 2012 and 2010. It was so kind when Manny, elite athlete coordinator, contacted me shortly after my accident, informing me that we were still more than welcome to go (if I was up to it). He also offered me the opportunity to commentate the 10 km race that I was supposed to run. I had a great time commentating the marathon last year so look forward to doing both races this year. Additionally, the boys are racing the 5 km, Leah and I will have our first ride on the Amphibus, and we will get to see several relatives.

For anyone who is interested in saying hello, here is my schedule for the expo at the Ottawa Race Weekend:

Thursday, May 23
6:00-7:00 pm tRANscend
7:00-8:00 pm Saucony

Friday, May 24
3:00-4:00 pm iRun
4:00-5:00 pm Saucony

Saturday, May 25
10:00-11:00 am iRun
11:00-12:00 pm Saucony

May 17, 2014 Three Weeks Post Surgery

Since last writing, a week after my surgery involving placement of a plate, 1 large and 2 small screws due to a fractured femur (after running a 1/2 marathon with an undiagnosed stress fracture)*, I've gradually transitioned from being barely capable to do much of anything, to establishing a safe routine, including most housework, various rehab exercises and normal living activities. I've categorized my progress as a way to summarize the last few weeks.

Orthopaedic Surgeon 
Friday, May 9 was my 2 week post-op appointment with my orthopaedic surgeon and good running friend, Dr. James Dill. Coach Rick took me to the 7:45 am appointment and Josie stayed with the kids since Jonathan had to work. The appointment started with an x-ray at the Brantford General Hospital Fracture Clinic. It was my first x-ray since the accident where a transfer board and extra assistance was not necessary, which was somewhat of a milestone.
As a local dietitian who often sees patients needing to lose weight to better their chances of success for hip or knee replacements, I've always known of James' excellent reputation. His sister is a speedy marathon mom from the east coast and they are incredibly caring and lovely people. Thank you, Jen and PEI friends, for your support over the years.
James was involved from the day of my accident, including viewing the x-ray and CT scans, and we've been running together for several years so he obviously had a great understanding of my history.  It was no surprise that he conducted a very thorough appointment in which I think I caught him off guard when to his first question, "So, where do we start?" I replied, "When can I run my first marathon?". A sense of humour is a good thing. We decided to cover the basics then eventually got to it later. From the appointment I learned that I could start showering because the incision was healed (never did have staples or stitches), begin warm water classes in the hydrotherapy pool at the gym at 3 weeks, begin driving at 5 weeks, resume taking my routine supplements (iron, multi-vitamin/mineral), and make the family trip to Ottawa at 4 weeks as I would still be taking Fragmin (to prevent blood clotting). One of the best pieces of news was when James explained that I wouldn't necessarily have to get the plate and screws removed. We will cross that bridge if we come to it but unless there is an infection, discomfort, or arthritis, my hardware is there to stay. One less surgery the better! The other great piece of news was our discussion about my return to running. No one knows what tomorrow will bring but I'm trusting James who is optimistic for a full recovery, and I am listening to my heart, which tells me that I will return to travel down that Road to Rio. I am realistic that God may have other plans, and that is fine, yet do strongly believe that with each and every day, I feel my marathon return is that much closer. After 3 babies and collapsing in the heat at World Champs, and other minor injuries, I have proven to be a comeback kinda athlete; one tough momma.

*I think I have this right - I had a stable, garden I, non-displaced intertrochanteric fracture. Fortunately with my fracture, the femoral neck area, with the really good blood supply, was not harmed so there remains good healing potential. I am blessed that it was 80%, not 100%, fractured.

Physiotherapy and Massage
At my first appointment at home because I can't yet drive, Sherri and I basically talked about everything that happened. From the "why" to "Rio", we covered it all. She gave me some basic exercises and reviewed the safety of my daily activities, explaining that she would continue to see me weekly at home, and follow up with James and Ron for my treatment plan.
Thankful for an elevator in the massage therapy building that is close to home, I was able to get David booked to give me a gentle massage. My left knee has been bruised, the last few days, which is  normal after surgery. We too had a good discussion about everything, looking back and looking forward.

Pain
I've been very blessed to be relatively pain-free from the beginning, when I am not moving. That is why I'm smiling in some pictures and grimacing in others. When in hospital I was often asked about my pain level, which was 9/10 with movement. Childbirth remained at 10/10 and broken ribs moved down to 8/10.
Since returning home, I had a few small sudden movements and sneezes, which resulted in a decent amount of throbbing pain in the upper leg area. It often lasted about 10-15 minutes but subsided on its own. And other than taking 2 tylenols last week after my first busy day, I haven't taken anything since. I will sometimes feel a dull ache in the leg while sitting but I think that can be expected at this point.
Check out my "Pain will not prevail" for a few of my thoughts on the subject.

Sleep

Daily Activities 
On Thursday, eleven days after my surgery, and after one week at home, I made my first trip upstairs to sleep in my own bed and enjoy my first shower. I didn't mind sleeping on the couch or bathing with a laundry tub but after being in my own bed and shower, I knew there would be no turning back.
I'm not overly confident using my crutches on the stairs so have been safely bum-scootching my way up and down, once or twice a day.
After Jonathan's parents left, I was on my own for the before school routine. Of course Jonathan was more than willing to do the work but I insisted that I learn to do it. When the first morning came where I had to make our weekly batch of pancakes, it was exhausting. Seemed like it took nearly twice as long as normal. I can easily stand at the sink to wash dishes or chop vegetables but back n' forth, from one counter to the fridge to another counter, is incredibly slow with crutches. I have learned to ask for help and the kids have been great to fetch things from the fridge, grab things I can't reach and pick up dropped items from the floor.
Thankfully I had two friends from church come to help me with some cooking and cleaning. Let me tell you, it was hard to say yes to their generous offer but when the alternative is to ask Jonathan, I decided to take them up on it. Cleaning floors is likely the most difficult job with crutches. The kids can vacuum but mopping is something that only an adult, or much older child, can do.

Back to the Gym!
Friday, May 16 was a big, big day for me as I was able to return to my normal routine. I got myself and the kids ready and out the door for Jonathan to do drop-off at the school and gym. I must admit that it was pretty emotional for me. I remember it was one of the first thoughts I had while in hospital. I knew that as soon as I made my return to the gym, I was on the road to recovery. While dropping off Leah at the childcare, I had some tears of joy as I was so glad to be back. Poor Leah started crying as a result but quickly cheered up again when I reminded her of all the stories she wanted to share.
I safely made my way to the hydrotherapy pool and joined the older folks under the great instruction of Tia for a warm water workout. For years I've admired people's dedication to improving their health in these classes, often using walkers or canes to get there. I knew if they could do it after illness or surgery, I could too. The heat and gentle movement felt great, and because of the buoyancy and 50% weight bearing, I could almost walk while in the water. Folks double my age were lapping me in the warm up but it was a great session where I was able to move comfortably and easily increase my range of motion and strength. Because the first half of the 1 hr class is lower body, I think I will move over to do some pool running for the second half, next week. After carefully drying off, changing and making my way to the weight room, while chatting with my gym buddies I hadn't seen in a few weeks, I got on the recumbent bike for 15 minutes of easy, low-resistance biking. Again, it was great to easily move the leg with no pain or discomfort. I finished up the morning with some upper body weights then gave myself twice as long to shower before heading down to get Leah.

We just returned from opening our cabin for the summer where we will now spend more time with me not training for the Commonwealth Games Marathon(Glasgow, Scotland in July). With a pool and plenty of paths, I’ll have lots of opportunity to continue healing while slowly returning to training. I’ll likely post again at the end of May, after our Ottawa weekend and my 5 week post-op appointment, which will hopefully show some serious bone healing! Thanks for your continued prayers and support. 
#KristaStrong . God is Good. The Glass is Half Full.

Back at the gym. What a great feeling.



Still some swelling in the (left) leg but at least there is some definition again.

The scar won't be too bad at all. Nothing a little Vitamin E can't help.
Looking even better a week later.

Talk about inspiration. Returning to surfing after a shark takes her arm?! Wow! I had always wanted to watch, "Soul Surfer" about Bethany Hamilton. So glad the kids let me pick the family movie the other night. Makes a return to running, after a busted leg with some hardware installed, seem not so bad! A great quote from Bethany in the movie when hoping to return to surfing, "I don't need easy. I need possible". 

Spending more time with Leah at home allows me to work on my artistic skills. Clifford looks pretty good, if I say so myself. She has enjoyed more time with mom, reading books, learning numbers and letters, and listening to nursery songs (thank you, youtube!).

In great hands with my running friend and orthopaedic surgeon!


Love the personal cards, pictures and letters from the kids for Mother's Day.

Making things work. I sit on my walker to fold laundry with my #1 helper, Leah. 

Thanks for the kind words, Sam, Daivd, and NYRR. You bet I'll "come back stronger than ever"! 
Just had to take this picture. There are times I am bummed but looking at my short 2014 season is certainly something to be proud of. I still managed to race 7 events this year, from a 3,000 m on the track in early February to the half marathon in late April.  And my NYC half marathon time of 72:26 in March was technically a (2 second!) PB because it was on a certified course.
My 70:52 from 2013 was from Vancouver Scotiabank, a non record-eligible course (point-to-point).
My 32:41 from the 2014 Yonge St 10 km was 11 seconds faster than my 10 km PB from 2013 in Ottawa but it was also a non-record eligible course (downhill).


Walking to and from the mailbox, twice that day, was a big accomplishment. I'm now up to about 1 km per day, which takes about 24 minutes. Leah and I enjoy little games along the way and the mailbox never has more the one day of mail in it at a time now. 

Grammy and Grampa with Leah, opening a beautiful Edible Arrangement from my friend Jody and her family. Their care for our family during this tough time was amazing.  We sure loved having them around and I was sad to see them go.

I'm able to easily stand on both legs with weight evenly distributed. I can do calf raises and not-so-deep squats. But raising the leg, using the hip flexor is nearly impossible. I know it will come.
Thanks so much for this, Hugh Cameron. Speaks volumes!

What a wonderful Mother's Day with my #TeamDuChene. I was able to return to church (very thankful for the elevator), spend most of the day outside in the beautiful weather, enjoy a late lunch at the Blue Dog, and watch a movie with snacks later in the evening.






Mark 11:22-24 "Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.