17 December 2014

If you want to see me run for the first time in 2 years... (plugging my JINGLE BELL HELL shenanigans)

...this Saturday (12/20/14) at 8 am, Inspiration Point in Berkeley's Tilden Park is the place to be.

(Notice I didn't put any minutes after that "8"? That's because we don't run a very tight ship at #JBH...yet. We're just glad when people intentionally show up...even if it's just because of the FREE DONUTS!)

Jingle Bell Hell 2014 (click that to see the informational post) will be my post-surgical debut run. It'll be short (like, a quarter of a mile) and hopefully sweet. But it might suck. Be there to find out!

There will be donuts.

There will be chip-timing again.

There will be cookies.

There will be water.

If I knew people were going to actually show up I'd get some shirts made and some bling. There will be prizes. And remember...the winner gets his or her name inscribed on the awesome trophy IN INK! And that means FOREVER.

I'm hoping we double the real-life participant numbers this year and hit The Big 5. It's way more fun than it sounds like. Really.


29 November 2014

Jingle Bell Hell...not just another virtual race...

...but one with a sketchy prize history yet an amazing assortment of donuts at the LIVE event.

You may or may not remember that I've been race director (using that term verrrrrry loosely) for an awesome holiday race for the last three years. (That takes you to the first running...click here to see the second year's recap and here to see last year's). Remember how no one attended the 2011 event knowingly and the winner of the real life race was a random guy who had no idea he was a part of the resurrection of Jingle Bell Hell. 

Runner Chris...random guy who won last year's race!

And then the next year the indomitable RoseRunner was crushed by SFRoadWarrior in a surprise upset. Of course she did have a 2-mile handicap! I was able to lure flesh-and-blood, intentional participants with DONUTS!!! Donuts have now become a signature drawing point for this event.

And there were all of the virtual participants who never received their prizes and probably hate me now :( If y'all knew what my last year has been like, y'all'd forgive me in a heartbeat...I promise. Note: lack of blogging was due to IRL insane turmoil and putting-back-together-of-life-pieces.


Three was not exactly an attendance charm. Only two participants again, but this time Jen didn't get sick...and she WON! 

We're giving it another go! It's time to begin thinking about running in this fabulous event!

Below is information on the race...past and present...a little history...some details...hope to see you there, either in the flesh or in spirit!

The 6th running of 
Jingle Bell Hell
1/3-marathon and fun run 
Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 8:00 a.m.
Inspiration Point, Tilden Park, Berkeley, California
Rain or Shine

or wherever in the world you might be :)

The starting point of the real-life event is Inspiration Point in Berkeley, California and the course map is...

and the elevation profile is...

as determined by my Garmin.

The History

My best friends from high school used to put on a race in December. It was small in terms of the number of participants but huge in terms of fun and adventure. Initially, it was a half-marathon, but they found that very few of their friends were at all interested in or capable of running that far. Additionally, the course involved some running on a twisty, narrow road with minimal shoulder that did see its fair share of traffic...especially on weekends. So they abbreviated it to a 1/3-marathon (more or less...a bit over 8 miles) and were able to run it entirely on a paved, car-less road.

My husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) and I ran in their 3rd Annual Jingle Bell Hell in December of 1995 (see picture above...I am front and center with the socks on my hands, he is in the back in the light shirt). It was freezing by Bay Area standards...but not wet. Not everyone went all the way out to the turnaround...and that was just fine.

I won the trophy that year... the "Actually Trained for This Race" Award...

Each year, the winner gets to have their picture taken with this perpetual trophy and have their name added to the illustrious list on the bottom... ballpoint pen inscribed on masking tape, 'cuz we're classy like that. And there will be some prizes that can be taken home as well :)


I am really hoping to see some local runners in attendance! It's not far from San Francisco, San Jose or even Santa Cruz... looking west or south. Concord is super close to the east, and Sacramento is just 90 minutes away to the north. It's a great follow-up to the early December races, like CIM.

If you're coming in from out of town and need a super cheap place to crash...with an SF Bay view, in a solid structure, and don't mind driving about five miles...

The Albany Bulb Waterfront has some very artistic structures that may or may not be inhabited by squatters.

If you want to do virtual version of Jingle Bell Hell, here are the parameters...
  • Must be at least 5K in total length...no maximum.
  • Must be done on a challenging course (and if you hate treadmills, that means it could be on a treadmill) because the idea is "Hell" ... that is the important part.
  • Must be done between December 13 and 21, 2014... any time of day or night. This gives you two entire weekends to choose from.
  • You must laugh at least once... can be an evil laugh, a laugh of futility, any kind of laugh but laughter is a MUST.
  • Email me a link to your Jingle Bell Hell recap so I can post it and we may all share in the fun... please include something about when, where, why regarding the laughing part and what made the run your special brand of Hell :)
Participants in the virtual race will be entered in a prize drawing. Things like fueling products, Nuun hydration products, winter running gear, running safety items, some random stuff. Receiving these prizes is always iffy, as previous participants will tell you, because I really really really hate going to the post office. But honestly, folks...ARE WE REALLY RUNNING FOR PRIZES?????

Leave a comment if you want to participate!

04 November 2014

A lot happens in 6 months...

I'm going to row again. All because of this. I got inspired.

That's the latest, anyway.

Filling you in, in reverse order, on my life over the past six months...and trying to keep it brief...here's what's been going on...

Halloween happened.
Miss C kept changing her mind on what to be. I don't even know what she ended up trick-or-treating as, but she got this great big sucker that made her very happy. X was a faceless, voiceless shadow, AKA Chromeface. G was Fizz the Tidal Trickster and Q-Man was a ninja...like many other fourth graders at his school.

We hit up the very expensive, local pumpkin patch. Lots of bouncy castles and slides for the low, low price of $10/30 minutes per kid. And pumpkins were NOT included. It's such a racket. But the kids had a BLAST!
A few days before Halloween, she got an Elsa dress that, while delightful to twirl in, did not make the trick-or-treating cut.
That crazy, 10-day Fall break at my kids' school happened...

We played CandyLand and got an Anna costume...that also did not make the Halloween cut.

We went to the beach to see the sun set, ran races at the San Francisco Zoo, and did speed work at the local track.
We also did some hiking in a princess nightgown that was worn for 5 (not kidding) consecutive days.

Ragnar Napa Valley happened...

I was invited to drive for Team You're the Wine that I Want. It was so much fun. Kind of more fun that running it probably would have been...at least for me! Cathryn, Jen, Jess, Sabrina, Amanda, Janet, Jim, Matt, Rich, BT, and another Jen (?) took me on a fun trip that involved too many inside jokes and a triple espresso. I can't wait to do it again :)
Summer vacation happened...
Lots of camping in the redwoods and hiking in the East Bay hills. My hip is officially GOOD. Actually GREAT!!!! My oldest son and I got up to over 13 miles of hiking...pain-free...except for the pain in my ears from his whining...actually he wasn't really THAT bad :) And I'm feeling awesome enough to have entered to walk a marathon. I fell in love with the Humboldt redwoods and so decided to walk in the Avenue of the Giants Marathon next May.

And that's my life in a nutshell since May 12th.

What's the best thing that's happened to you in the last 6 months?

Random picture of yummy grape sorbet from a fancy Napa restaurant.

12 May 2014

Update: Six weeks after hip replacement *graphic photo warning*

...and all's well :)

If you missed my initial post-op post, click here.

The walker has been retired.

I frequently wonder where in the hell I've left my cane.

The pain is minimal, and none of it is in the joint. What a beautiful thing!

I have a set of 10+ exercises that I am to do 2-3x/day. They are so basic. I started getting agitated because the rehab seemed lame. Then I realized that I'm not rehabbing from a sports injury and trying to get back into competitive form...I'm helping my body recover from a MAJOR trauma. Seven layers of tissue were sliced open and then stitched/glued back together. Nerves and muscles were retracted. A bone was sawed in two pieces. And then a metal rod was hammered down the center of my femur.

  • Calf raises and some anterior tibialis thing. 
  • High knee "marches" (quad and hip flexor, challenges balance).
  • A thing like butt kicks (works hamstrings, stretches quad, challenges balance).
  • Rear leg extensions, standing with minimal movement...just enough to activate the glutes.
  • Side leg lift, standing with minimal movement...just enough to activate the glute medius.
  • Sidestepping.
  • Walking up and down stairs, alternating feet.
  • Seated leg extension.
  • Seated leg extension with quad lift.
  • Seated leg extension with slight abduction.
  • Bridges.
  • Clams.
  • I walk a lot.
I have my 6-week post-operative check-up with my surgeon this coming Thursday. There, he will determine which restrictions to continue or impose or remove. I started driving last week...that was a big change! I was cleared for "a little" driving which turned into a lot...as in my normal amount. My leg isn't happy with that :( I need to pull back, but my husband was nearing a breaking point with driving duty. Hopefully, this week will be a lighter load for me.

I'm so very lucky and deeply appreciative to have such a supportive group of online and RL friends. Many thanks to all of you for your well-wishes and advice :)

12 April 2014

A runner with a walker...the road after hip replacement.

I'm now the proud possessor of an artificial hip. And a walker.

And, let me tell you, recovery is a bitch.

My surgery happened on April Fools Day. It started at 5 pm and was a wrap by 6:15. It went seamlessly and flawlessly, and the surgical team was very happy. Yay! I walked the next day with my walker, and I went home three days later.

The time leading up to the event was NOT spent getting in great shape as I had hoped and mentioned in my last post a million years ago. Turned out that working out in pretty much any way caused me great pain...and I was just soooooo sick of being in pain. So I bagged it. I went into surgery out of shape and overweight. #winning

The best part of having surgery late in the day? You basically fast for 24 hours! Starting off my weight-loss journey ;-)

So the surgery happened. The pain came. It was horrible, but not as horrible as being massively and concretely constipated. Turns out pain killers do that, and the only way to get unconstipated is to stop the pain killers. So guess what? I'm not taking pain killers! Wheeeeeeee! Sometimes I almost get high from the pain. Sort of. I'm lying. It really hurts and there is no euphoria attached to it.

The pain is in my right thigh.

The joint feels fine.

Apparently, during the surgery they slice into your TFL and then split the muscle fibers and then retract the split muscle with metal retractors. And then they retract your quads with metal retractors. All so they can see the joint capsule, which they then slice open. Once they've sawed the femoral head off, they drop the leg down perpendicular to the rest of the body using a special table. This pops the femur up and out a little so they can drill down into in more efficiently and with greater visibility.

Are you cringing yet? I'll stop. But if you click the first link in this post it leads you to a post that has a link (you following me?) to an actual video of a hip replacement surgery...should you wish to make yourself totally skeeved out. Or educated. For me, it was both.

What this means is that my quad is ON FIRE. And weak.

Physical therapy is so humbling.

Every simple exercise causes leg shake. I have 10 exercises and a couple of "practical" things that I do at least three times a day. My PT says that I would progress faster if I were taking pain meds :( I'm going to test the waters with acetaminophen and ibuprofen, and I'll be icing after every session. Yesterday she had me go up and down our big flight of stairs (now one of my "practical" things to practice) and our goal is to have me off the walker and using the cane by the middle of next week. Graduating up to my friend, the cane :)

Most of the time I'm in good spirits. It's been challenging sometimes because I really just want to be alone. Or have people baby me. But my kids are on Spring Break (I know, I know! They are NEVER in school!) and they are still perfecting their "helpful" skills and because I can't drive them anywhere, they are ALWAYS here. (Go ahead...ask me how many times I've seen Frozen since my surgery. Go ahead...ask.)

People who've been down this road tell me that by six weeks out, you hardly even know you had the surgery...other than the fact that you don't hurt anymore :)

Others say that you shouldn't really plan on being "normal" for at least six months.

And then there's the guy who just ran a 100-mile ultra just shy of 11 months post-surgery. He finished in about 28 hours. That won't be me. Sorry not sorry. 

Will I ever run again? I don't know. I know that I want to. At least a little bit. But I have a lot of work to do before I'll feel comfortable tackling that. For now I'll be working on getting out of bed without using my hands to lift my leg up and over ...and graduating from the walker ;-)

Happy spring, people! Never ever ever take your mobility for granted :) Ever.

I've been posting a lot of this....ummmm....journey on Instagram. Feel free to click on over and follow me there.

15 February 2014

A first time for everything.

My first post here in 2014..

My presence here at Taking It On has been sparse, I know. I was here a lot for a couple of years, and then things slowed waaaayyyyy down. Some very difficult things happened in my personal life...some of which I feel comfortable sharing and others, not yet. I doubt I'll ever return to blogging here every day, but I do have a real fondness for you, my Taking It On readers, and for blabbing sharing about myself and life's trials and tribulations and so am still drawn to indulge in this narcissistic outlet from time to time. Here's the latest...

In my last post, which was posted on the last day of last year (lots of lasts), I shared an image of a very diseased hip joint. It was an x-ray taken a year ago, and it was gnarly...in a not good way. For a reminder about what went down, click here to be transported to February of last year. That day I had gone in for a second opinion and I saw that x-ray for the first time. And it stunned me into reality. At that appointment I made the decision that I will get a full hip replacement.

Two weeks ago I had a new image taken. I was x-rayed this time in preparation for meeting with an orthopedic surgeon. It looked even worse...bigger bone spurs, more of that white stuff indicating increased bone due to stress, and weird cysts in the femoral head. Looking at the picture made me cringe. The surgeon said, "Sooooooo...you've got a really messed up hip!"

And while he didn't sing to me, he did spend an hour talking with me about life and surgery and family and joints and "big picture" and zombie apocalypses. He's my surgeon-of-choice and I am excited to get this done.

After a year of basically doing NOTHING in terms of fitness, I'm now cross-training like it's my job. The plan is to be in the best shape time (and pain levels) will allow going into surgery. I need to get stronger and more fit...and I need to lose about 15 lbs. That last part is so humbling. I can't say I've ever been in that place before. But I'm ready to... what am I ready to do????

That's right... TAKE IT ON.

'Cuz that's what I do.

Will I ever run again? That remains to be seen. It is on the "NOT recommended" list for artificial hip recipients, but people do it anyway. My surgeon said, "I can sell you the car, but what you do with it once you drive it off the lot is up to you." 

But enough of that hard stuff...

Everything else in life is going nicely...my kids are happy, my husband is happy, I'm happy. We just moved to a house that suits us really well, and the kids are all still going to their same schools. Big G is loving his high school (and how many people can say that they LOVED high school?). And, if you clicked the right link above, you now know my dirty little, two-timing secret. Please understand that I needed an outlet and I know that some of you have a hard time with "language." We are all multi-faceted...now you have a glimpse of more of my facets :)

Me with wet hair and a beautiful 4-year old.

So, HI, EVERYONE!!!! Have you missed me as much as I've missed you??? And running....I really miss running...


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