Saturday, December 29, 2018

2018 - The year of rebuilding the once broken.

Going into 2018 I was on the mend from a fractured pelvis. It was a true test of patience, persistence, and determination. Month by month I was able to restore my body and learn how to trust it once again. I learned a lot about myself and found out how strong one can be. I must say that my grandma was a huge inspiration to me when I was recovering from my injury. Right before I sustained my injury in the fall of 2017, she had beat cancer and had been so close to dying from a stomach ulcer that ruptured through her stomach lining. I was reminded that my injury was not life threatening and that I was going to recover in time.
My breakdown of 2018.
I started the year off still cross training from my injury. I cross-trained 60-90 minutes 5-6 days a week and lifted weights 4-5 times a week. I learned to love the gym and embrace the activities I could do, and not focus on what I couldn’t do. Staying active helped me mentally get through the time I was not able to run. I learned that life does go on even when I am injured, and I can find happiness without running.
Getting my swol on!
I had a wonderful health care team I was working with. My orthopedic doctor, Dr. Arnold finally gave me the green light to start physical therapy. I started physical therapy with Christy Nielsen, who is a friend and inspiration to me. I trusted her knowledge and protocol to get me back to running. She helped me return safely to running first by the Alter-G Treadmill then gradually to running outside. Finally, by the end of March I was running outside 100% of the time.
Physical Therapy - Running on the Alter-G
Christy and I post physical therapy session
I had one setback where I became extremely anemic during my transition back to running outside. It took some time for me to restore my iron, but I was diligent and changed my diet to make sure it happened.
My very first run outside post-injury!!
I decided to sign up for my first race of the year. I chose to run the Free State Trail Marathon. It was a true test of the mind and body. To make it even more challenging it rained during the race causing some of the worst mud to run it (the kind that packs on your shoes to make them feel 10 lbs heavier!). I stayed brave and finished my first race without reinjuring myself! I was overjoyed and beyond grateful.
Free State Trail Marathon PC: mile90photography
I continued my build up running my first 50 mile race at Silver State in Reno, Nevada. I have ran the race before and it’s one of my favorites. I ran with caution as I still had trust issues with my body. I would have on and off pain the fractured site that constantly made me aware and that I needed to running with a bit of hesitation. I finished once again with no injury! I was one step closer to being ready to tackle Western States 100 mile at the end of June.
Before Western States was something even more special. My mom was running her first 100 mile race. She ran the Kettle Moraine 100 in Wisconsin. I had the honor to crew then pace her the last 38 miles. I will never forget that experience. It was so enriching to be able to share those miles together and watching her get one step closer to her goal. She finished in 26:46:47 as the 12thplace woman. I couldn’t have been prouder.
My mom finishing her first 100 mile race!
The morning of June 23 I was standing at the start line of Western States. Completely overtook by emotion I started tearing up as the countdown began to start the long ascent to Escarpment. I couldn’t believe how fortunate I felt to be running my absolutely favorite race when in fact I didn’t know if it was going to be possible earlier in the year. I was still very afraid that I was going to reinjure myself and made sure I ran very conservative. My number one goal was to finish happy and healthy. That goal was accomplished! I crossed the finish line in 20:48:56 as the 12thwoman. My heart was restored. 
Finishing Western States - PC: Howie Stern
During July I had the chance to walk with Gary Cantrell “Laz”, the infamous Barkley’s Marathon race director, during his transcontinental walk across the United States. I walked 12+ hours with Laz from Plainview, Nebraska to Orchard, Nebraska approximately a marathon distance. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will always cherish.
Lazcon 2018
During July and August I did a quick training block before racing UTMB. The 103 mile race around Mont Blanc in Chamonix, France. I had regained my confidence in my body and had a solid build up leading into the race. I ran UTMB focused on running my own race. Gradually through attrition and staying focused I raced myself into contentions of being top-10 in the last kilometer. I was running down into the town of Chamonix when I saw the 10thfemale right ahead of me. I gave it everything I had to finish on the podium. She had definitely given it her all out on the course and I commend her for such strong performance. I crossed the finish in 10thplace being so overcome with joy running 27:31:39 a huge PR for the course. 
UTMB Finish PC: Bryon Powell
UTMB Women Top 10
I learned from the year before to recover after UTMB to avoid the possibility of getting injured. I recovered well and felt like I wasn’t ready to end my season (since I had a late start). I decided to sign up for the JFK 50 mile. It had been a race I have always wanted to run due to its history and how iconic it is. I made another short transition from training in hills to training on more flat bike paths working on more leg speed.
Road Running at Lake Zorinsky
One stop along the way was back in my hometown of Dannebrog, Nebraska. My grandma, after going through her cancer last year and missing out on our towns local race, decided she was going to do everything she could to be able to finish the 5k. She worked so hard. She would walk in town and on the bad weather days she would drive 24 miles to the closest mall to get her walk in. Well it paid off and she ended up finishing the 5k and was the grand master champion! She’s 80 years old and still going strong. And I love her so much!
Grandma finishing her 5K!
During that time I returned to the GOATz 50K race, the one that I had broke my pelvis at last year. I honestly was terrified to run this race. Irrational thoughts entered my mind telling me I was going to get reinjured. I wanted to prove to myself that I was not going to get injured and that I would put those doubts behind me. I ran the race finishing in tears of gratitude. I was crippled like I had been last year. It was a day of celebration! I conquered my biggest fear!!
GOATz 50K w/ Cory Logsdon
A couple weeks later I ran the JFK 50. Mother Nature gave us a special treat with 6-8 inches of snow on the Appalachian Trail and slush to mud puddles on the towpath. It led to one interesting experience. I finished as the 2ndplace female. I am so grateful to have finished yet another race uninjured…catching the theme!? 
Finishing JFK 50
My last two races were local trial half-marathons that ended up being a lot of fun. And I was able to crew my coach, Jason Koop, for the Hitchcock 50 Mile. I finally could give back to him for all the he does for me daily.
Crewing Koop! #givesyouwings
The year turned out to be better than I thought it was going to be. Running a mix of shorter and longer distances provided different challenges to my body. I feel like it kept my body healthy and happy. I am so grateful for all of my experiences and memories from 2018. Reflection is important for us to do in order to learn, grow, and remember where we once were and where we are now. I hope you take the chance to look back and reflect on your year. I am looking forward to 2019 and what it has to offer! Happy New Year everyone!
Happy New Year!!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Western States 2018 – Conquering Fear

**Warning – Long extended version. See below for the short brief race report**
What is fear and why are we so afraid of it? Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat to us. It is something that can either cripple us or challenge us. We are given that choice to make.
Why do I talk about fear? Well I had fear going into Western States this year. Fear that my injury might come back. Fear that I wasn’t fit enough. Fear that I might fail. Fear that I might not meet expectations. Fear of the distance of running 100 miles. Plainly fear of the unknown.
I decided I was not going to let fear cripple me. I was going to challenge it. I do not want to live life in fear. My passion for running and my passion for Western States is far stronger than the fear of the unknowns. I chose to rise up and face my fears head on.
The light at the end of the tunnel. PC: Howie Stern
Here’s my story.
The Start Line (0 miles) – Walking to the start felt so surreal. Yes, it was finally happening. I couldn’t believe I was able to piece enough training together to be healthy and ready to take on the Western States 100 this year. Tears started running down my face as I stood there waiting to count down the final seconds next to Stephanie Violett, Aliza Lapierre, and Meghan Laws. Stephanie and I gave each a big hug as we both worked hard to get here ready to make this year better than the last. Meghan grabbed me and gave me a big hug and words of encouragement. It was time to climb to the top of Escarpment to have our sunrise date we had planned.
Escarpment (~4.5 miles) – Reaching the summit of Escarpment, Stephanie and I hugged and turned to see the beautiful sunrise across Lake Tahoe. We grabbed Aliza to join us in this memorable moment. It’s been a tradition that we have had since we started running the race. It’s a moment to stop, breathe, and be grateful for life and the friends among us.
PC: Victor Rodrigues
PC: Melissa Ruse
The High Country – Running in the high country is always so breathtaking. The large evergreen trees, the massive granite boulders, and views of the surrounding mountains are picturesque. I found myself settled into a pace and effort that I felt my body could sustain. I shared several miles with Aliza, Corrine, and others. As I was running I was feeling more at ease, then it happened. I tripped on a rock that sent flying forward landing hard on my left leg to keep me from falling down. It was same side that I had my pelvic fracture on. My groin instantly started to ache. Fear shot into my mind. I had thoughts that the pain would only get worse and would cause me to fail, as I still had 90+ more miles to go. I took a deep breath and challenged those thoughts by telling myself to keep going and see how it goes. I knew during training I have had pain in this area before, and it would come and go randomly. I just had to let go and have faith.
I continued on and the pain stayed at only a dull ache. It was just a little reminder to stay patient and run smart.
Reaching Duncan Canyon (24.4 miles) I met up my crew, Chris and Kristina. It was a welcoming surprise to see Sally McRae and Zac Marion there too! As I was heading out of the aid station Chris took me by the shoulders and said something that made me laugh so hard. He said he had a very important message from Miguel…in a Snoop Dogg voice he said, “Just Chiiillll”. I left laughing so hard that I tripped just a ways down the trail dropping my package of cookies…yet still laughing! I picked up my cookies and soon had another runner right behind me. I asked him his name and he said he it was Nick. Well it was great to have company and Nick was running his first Western States! We ended up chatting and the miles and time flew by. My heart and my head were both in the right place. I was so happy to be here.
Robinson’s Flat (30.3 miles) – Here I met my coach, Jason Koop, along with Andy Jones-Wilkins and the other CTS group. They both said I was looking great and running a smart race. I got what I needed and left, having a big smile on my face. I continued on to see a welcoming surprise of Dakota Jones atop one of the hills. He shouted out some positive and encouraging words as I made my way down to the start of the canyons. Here the temperature was beginning to rise.
The Canyons (43-55 miles) – Time to manage the heat. I iced down and took two bottles at Duncan Canyon ready to take on the canyons. I enjoyed sharing the climb to Devil’s Thumb with Corrine, Bob, and Kate. I actually thought it was fun! Just as we were reaching the top to Devil’s Thumb the song “Walk” by Pantera came on. It was the perfect song! “BREATHE…SPIT…WALK.” And yes, I was singing these lyrics out loud because you have to have fun! I shared more miles along with Camelia, Kate, and Nick as we made our way to Michigan Bluff.
Cooling down. PC: Allen Lucas
Michigan Bluff (mile 55) - I managed the canyons well making it to Michigan Bluff still happy and in control. I was running at the right effort for my body. I did a quick change with gear and headed on down the road to Foresthill. I caught up and shared miles and stories with Brian Oestrike, who had run The Bear the same year as me in 2016. Reaching the top of the canyon leading to Bath Road I was running again with Nick. We ran into Foresthill together. I was having such a good and fun day. Still smiling!
Coming into Foresthill! PC: Alva Voo
Foresthill (62 miles) – Here Miguel was to pace me for the final miles. I was excited to see him and my crew. We took off down the road to Cal-street in good spirits. We started making our way down to the trail when suddenly the legendary Pam Smith came upon us. She was looking so good. She and I grabbed a quick picture before she made her way down the trail. Miguel and I were moving good through Cal-1.
Picking up Miguel! PC: Ian Torrence
Then Cal-2…my nemesis. Every year one of the Cal-street sections gets me. As we were going I started feeling terrible. I felt like I couldn’t breathe well, my right hip was really starting to hurt and I was getting overheated. I had to walk/run a lot of this section. Once we got to the Cal-2 aid station I was desperate for some pain relief and asked for a couple of Tylenol. They gave me two, iced me down, and sent me on my way.
As we were making our way down to Cal-3 I started to find that I was breathing better and my hip was beginning to feel less painful. I started running well again. Then as we were getting closer to Rucky Chucky Miguel started feeling awful. He said his stomach wasn’t good and he wasn’t sure if he would be able to pace me after the river.
Once crossed the river to Green Gate embracing the cold American River water, Miguel and I made the decision that he would stop at Green Gate and go with Chris and Kristina. He said he would get himself better and be out at Pointed Rocks to pace me to the finish. This meant I had about 13+ miles to go alone in the dark. Time to be brave…because, I get scared running alone in the dark. I have this ongoing fear that a mountain lion will attack me.
Green Gate to Pointed Rocks (79.8 – 94.3 miles) – This section always seems long to me. I decided to turn my iPod on and listen to some music. This was a perfect distraction so that I wasn’t thinking about mountain lions the whole time. I ran well in this section making decent time. I played leapfrog with a few runners, Nick being one of them!
Pointed Rocks to No Hands Bridge (94.3 – 96.8 miles) – By the time I reached Pointed Rocks my right hip was back to hurting very bad. The Tylenol had worn off. I could tell it was inflammation in the bursa of the right hip. Every downhill felt like someone was stabbing a knife into my hip. However, I had zero pelvic pain! That was a huge win. I picked Miguel back up and he was feeling much better. I struggled to run all the way to No Hands Bridge, but did a lot of fast walking. We made it to No Hands and Miguel told me I had a good shot at breaking 21 hours. That was the little motivation I needed to get me running again.
Robie Point to the Auburn Track (98.9 – 100.2 miles) – I did everything I could to ignore the pain and keep running. I was focused on the goal…sub 21 hours. We pushed up Robie’s Point and to the top of the road. Here we saw the final mile sign. We had made it!! We picked up the pace and entered the stadium to embrace the long journey it had been to get here. I was overcome with joy and happiness hearing Tropical John announce my name over the loud speakers. Finishing and getting a big hug from Craig Thornley, the Western States race director, was the moment of truth. I had conquered my fear and I had won!
At the track! PC: Allen Lucas
Elation! PC:Michelle Rice
20:48:56 12thplace female – 5thWestern States Finish – 10th100 mile race finished
No Fear. PC: Howie Stern
In summary I ran the perfect race I could have given my level of fitness and having to come back from injury. Not being able to train or run for months definitely made me lose a lot of strength and cardiovascular fitness. I had basically three months of training to get me prepared to run 100 miles. That is why I had to be honest, and not let myself compare or get down on myself for not being where I was in years past. And with that mindset I was able to run happy and enjoy the race!
Thank You - It is a huge appreciation to what goes into making a phenomenal race like Western States happen. Thank you Craig Thornley for your tireless enthusiasm, compassion, and commitment to the race. Thank you to all the volunteers who gave up their time to be there to support each and every runner out on the course. We couldn’t do this without you. Thank you to all the race committee, who are behind the scenes doing so much work we don’t even know about.
Thank you God for giving me the gift to run and having my faith become stronger through these trials. To my coach, Jason Koop, for providing me the support, training, and knowledge to get me ready to run Western States. To my crew, Chris and Kristina Hall, who tirelessly provide me with everything I need to make my race successful. To my family who are supportive and provide me the love and strength I need. #GrandmaStrong And to all my friends and fans…your words of good luck, encouragement, and support mean the world to me. And to my wonderful Sponsors who allow me to do what I love. This includes Altra, Squirrel’s Nut Butter, Drymax Socks, Honey Stinger, and Carmichael Training System.
Grandma Strong! PC: Lori Leonard
And a very special thank you to Miguel Ordorica. He is not only my pacer, training partner, and best friend…he is someone that is always there for me. He has given me unconditional support through the good times and the bad. I couldn’t ask for a better best friend and I truly couldn’t do this without you. Thank you!!
Race Specifics:
Shoes – Altra Timps (one pair the entire race)
Socks – Drymax Stephanie Howe edition
Kit – Altra race top/shorts/visor/ice hat/ice bandana
Hydration – 2 Nathan 20 oz handhelds
Nutrition – M&M’s, Keebler Cookies, small packages of mini Kit Kats and Reese’s, potatoes w/ salt, Honey Stinger Waffles, crackers, watermelon, chocolate covered espresso beans, animal crackers. (First race I ate only real food…no gels)
Fluid – Water, Lemon-Lime Gatorade, Coke and Mountain Dew.
Anti-chafe - Squirrel’s Nut Butter
Watches - Garmin 910XT then Garmin Fenix5

Monday, June 18, 2018

Western States…I can’t believe I’ve made it.

What a journey this has been. My thoughts and emotions are raw as I sit here and type this. To be honest my eyes are welling up, my throat is tight, and my stomach feels like it has a ‘pit’ in it. I am beyond grateful at this moment to be healthy and ready to run the Western States 100. If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is my most favorite race and it means so much to me to be a part of it.
If you are just catching up to what happened to me last October I will give you a quick rundown. On October 22, 2017 I was running a 50K trail race and sustained an injury during the final half mile of the race. An MRI showed that I had a complete facture in my lateral superior pelvic rami and a stress fracture in my inferior pelvic rami (basically I broke my pelvis). I was to be non-weight bearing for 4 weeks followed by several weeks of minimal activity. It took me up until February to actually start running again (on an anti-gravity treadmill). I didn’t start running outside full weight bearing until March. Since then I have gradually increased my training load under diligent guidance of my physical therapist, coach, and doctor.
A constant reminder I saved on my phone.
It was exactly one month after my injury I was given one of the coveted spots to run Western States by the Ultra-Trail World Tour. I knew right then that I had to become focused on recovery. I had this opportunity and I was not about to waste it. Thankfully this meant I did not have to rush my recovery in order to race for a Golden Ticket, which was a huge relief.
Reflecting back just 6-months ago when I was unable to run and barely able to walk, I was uncertain if I was even going to be healthy enough to run 1 mile let alone 100 miles. The future looked so bleak at times, but I kept the faith and continued to believe that if there is a will, there is a way…so they say. In time I was able to start running on the anti-gravity treadmill. I’ll never forget that first time at the 17:00 minute mark crying because the feeling of running again felt so powerful. It took over a month of physical therapy and running on the anti-gravity treadmill before I was able to run outside at full body weight.   
The anit-gravity treadmill
When I first started running outside again I had pain in my groin with every step. The pain would go from a dull ache to random sharp pains. If it became too sharp, I would end my run. Then I would typically have to take a day or two off before I could run again. The dull pain persisted, but I worked through it knowing that as long as it wasn’t sharp it would be ok since it had been over 13-weeks since the injury. And bone heals between 10-12 weeks and actually becomes stronger than it was previously.
I basically had to retrain myself to run again. After using the anti-gravity treadmill and using the Arc-Trainer (like an elliptical) my stride was short and choppy. It took me about 2-weeks before I finally felt like I could stride out normally. During my transitioning to full weight bearing I suddenly became extremely anemic. My hemoglobin in just two weeks went from a healthy 14.0 to an unhealthy 7.2. That drastic drop took all my energy away. My runs suffered and so did I. The sudden drop in my hemoglobin was caused by a couple of factors. One being hemolysis (foot strikes caused a destruction of my red blood cells). The second being my own fault of not taking my iron supplement or eating iron rich foods. It took a good 3-4 weeks of taking iron 2-3 times a day, adding in red meat and fortified foods such as Cream of Wheat into my diet, and cooking in a cast iron skillet to slowly rebuild my red blood cells. I am still on the low end of normal, but I will not let myself neglect my iron ever again.
Finally, in April I started to feel more like myself. I decided to test my fear and sign up for my first race since the injury. It was the Free State Marathon in Kansas. This scared me more than running my first 100-mile race had. I knew if something would cause my injury to return, that I would not be able to run Western States. I had to test my body and trust that whatever happens, happens. It ended up really testing me because the rain came down on my second half of the race causing the mud to stick to my shoes. The weight of my shoes was going to pull on my injury site and if it was going to fail…this would cause it. I had only a minor pain here and there, but nothing constant or to the point of stopping. I finished the race overcome with joy and gladness. I made one big step towards my goal.
Photo Credit: Mile90photography
Soon after I talked to my coach, Jason Koop, and we came up with a solid yet flexible training plan. I did a similar final build up like years in the past, but a little dialed back. I’ve also taken more days off than I typically ever have in all the years of running, but I was listening to my body and being patient. I wasn’t going to risk any setbacks.

Now with only having 5-days until I start my 5th consecutive Western States 100, I know I have done everything I can with the amount of time I’ve been given to be as ready and able to run 100 miles as best as I can. I am starting this race full of gratitude, thankfulness, and a new inner-strength that I have grown since recovering from my injury. I am taking this journey from Squaw Valley to Auburn to celebrate life, health, and the ability to run free. Here’s to a great day full of memories and adventure!! 
Thank you everyone who has been with me on this long road to recovery. You have no idea how much your words, messages, and thoughts have meant to me. Please know that I take each of those messages to heart and they have helped me heal. I am dedicating my 2018 Western States race to all of you!! 
Photo Credit: Gary Dougherty

With Love,
Kaci AKA Pixie Ninja

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Struggle After The Struggle.

Here’s to being fully healed from my pelvic stress fracture and complete fracture! It took a full 4 months and now at 22-weeks I have no pain or discomfort in my injury site. I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to wake up and not be worried about my injury pain. Now I am able to do all daily activity and exercise without pain in my left hip/groin. It’s such a grateful feeling. It felt like I was never going to get to that point. Patience and perseverance paid off.

I started back running on the anti-gravity treadmill at the beginning of February. I was slowly building up my time, days of running, and distance. Everything was going well. Near the middle and end of February I was able to add in outside running at 100% body weight. And then my first full week of running outside happened the week of March 5th. Runs felt great even though I was slow and out of shape. I felt happy to be doing what I had missed for so long.

Then recently I started to notice I wasn’t feeling quite right on some of my runs. I felt like my effort was more labored than it should be. I kept telling myself, “Oh it’s just because you are getting back into shape. This is normal.” Then it happened. I was running one of my standard routes that I have done a bazillion times. As I was running up the slight hill my legs felt like they were completely gassed and in a lactic acid state and my heart started feeling like it was beating out of my chest. I had to stop at the top and regroup. This feeling was a Red Flag to me. I knew from the past and having been anemic off and on that these were anemia signs and symptoms. I decided right then that I had to get my blood checked as soon as possible. And it occurred to me that I had stopped taking my iron supplement since my injury. In retrospect it was a very dumb move on my part.

Luckily, I work in a hospital so they were able to poke my finger the next day and take a quick test of what my Hemoglobin was. It came back reading 8.4 g/dL. Crud…that’s just what I suspected, however a lot lower than I would have expected. I had just had my Hemoglobin checked on Jan 22 and found it was at a healthy range at 14.3 g/dL. So, this sudden drop definitely worried me. I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for the following day.

I just received my results this past Friday and sure enough I am in a state of anemia. My blood values are terrible and this is why I am feeling so terrible. I’ve never experienced all the side effects of anemia before because I had gradually developed it. This time it was happened so drastically that I was not able to physically adjust. I now have episodes of faintness, weakness, constant heart palpations, deep fatigue, and my mind is not sharp. I am managing it as best as I can. Here are changes I have made.

1.     Eating red meat at least 2-3 times a week.
a.     A Challenge for me as I haven’t eaten red meat for years.
2.     Using a cast-iron skillet.
3.     Changing my diet to include more iron rich foods (Cream Of Wheat (45% daily value), spinach, black beans, fortified foods, etc).
4.     Taking an iron supplement twice a day (per doctor’s recommendation)
a.     Ferrous Sulfate (325 mg) + Vitamin C

I am willing to do what it takes to get myself 100% healthy once again. So if you are one to have problems with anemia and having low iron, I urge you to stay on track with your diet and supplements. Don’t be foolish like me. I am paying the price now and it is not fun by any means. When every run feels like the end of a 100-mile race that you blew up on and you are death marching it in…it is not something you want to have to experience on a normal basis. So take it from me and stay healthy and happy!! J

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Long Road to Recovery

Enjoying the time outside w/ my girls
I am currently on my seventeenth week since my initial injury. It has been one of the most challenging endeavors I have dealt with. Running has been part of my life for the past 15 years, and when it was suddenly taken away I had a huge void to fill. I was lost at first just dealing with what to do with the time I had spent running. So I problem solved by finding new activities to fill that time. This included going to the gym to lift and cross-train (when I was able), hanging out with friends and family, and doing more projects around the house. The new activities became the new norm for me, and I was okay with that.

Me and inspiration to keep fighting and staying positive.
During my recovery I focused on staying positive and not letting myself become overwhelmed. It was indefinite how long it was going to take for my body to heal. That loss of control scared me and I don't do well with that. However, I would say for the most part I was really good at finding what I could control and stayed focused on that. I won't be the first to admit it but, I am human and there were days that I would break down and become sad and depressed. It is to be expected when you have lost something you love. I would let myself be sad and cry at times. Once I would let myself feel the emotions, I was able to build myself back up and go on. I believe feeling emotions is important in recovery. It allows the mind and body to heal.

Just recently I started Physical Therapy with one of my best friends, Christy Nielsen, who is also a renown runner and expert in running rehab. She has been giving me exercises to improve my imbalances, stability, and strength that I have lost or never had. It's shown me how much work I have to do to be healthy again. I also have been able to start running again. First starting on the Alter-G (anti-gravity) treadmill. I had to start at 65% of my body weight and have just started running some outside which is 100% body weight. I haven't been this sore from running in years. It's shocking how much you loose in the time off. 

Christy & Me
Alter-G Treadmill
I am devoted to my recovery and will go through the long journey of regaining fitness. It's not easy, but neither is our sport. It's the journey we must start by taking it one step at a time leading to where we want to be. I have goals for this year in returning to Western States and UTMB. I may not be at my peak fitness, but I will give it everything I've got. Thank you everyone for being so supportive and uplifting to me during this time. It honestly helps more than you know. I'll be back...

Running outside!!
I also want to give a shout out to my new sponsors and returning sponsors for supporting me during a time when many would have let their athletes go. Even when they knew I was injured Altra and Drymax socks wanted me to be a part of their team. That's to me is very admirable and shows their character. Also, I want to thank my returning sponsors who are sticking with me through this injury too. Squirrel's Nut Butter, Honey Stinger, Kahtoola, and CTS. Thank you for being awesome!! Here's to a healthy 2018!!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Test of Willpower

Today marks 38 days since my pelvic stress fracture occurred. This has been one of the most painful and debilitating injuries I have ever sustained in my 15 years of running. I have just started to walk without limping, been able to stand on one leg, and sleep without having to wake up to turn. It's made me appreciate the little things we take for granted in life. My patience has been and will continue to be tested in this recovery process. So far I am winning this competition.

Sunday crutching w/ Laurie.

I had my follow-up appointment with my doctor yesterday. He said that I will have 4 more weeks of non-impact or non weight-bearing activities, since I am still having pain even with walking. He has cleared me to be able to ride the recumbent bike and swim with a buoy between my legs for a method of cardio. I can continue lifting upper-body weights too. Until I can walk without pain I will have limitations because it indicates that my stress fracture is still healing and remodeling. He expects 10-12 weeks until I get to return to weight-bearing activities. Maybe that will be my Christmas present to myself this year?!

Crutching away w/ Laurie. 
I won't lie and say I am happy 100% of the time, because that's not true. I have many days when I feel depressed and sad...but, then I think about the positive things going on in my life. And I focus on what I can do, not what I can't do. So what can I do? I can lift upper-body weights. I can use crutches and get outside and crutch for distance. I can now ride the recumbent bike. And I can swim with a buoy between my legs. Also, I can spend time with friends, family, and find other interests to occupy my time.
Enjoying time w/ my grandparents.

This forced time off has healed up all other niggles that had been plaguing for months. It's also allowed me to rekindle that passion and fire I have for running. I cannot wait for that first run and to begin training again. I dream of it daily. And now that I have a spot in Western States, I can be as patient as I need to in returning to running. I will continue to listen to my doctor, coach, and physical therapist in order to heal properly and come back when my body is fully ready. Until then I will keep the fire building inside me to train hard and enjoy the process of regaining my fitness once I get a green light. Stay tuned for further updates on the recovery process.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Learning to Overcome

Overcoming – is best achieved when you become a partner with the reality of the situation and work in cooperation with it rather than fighting or trying to overpower it.

Where has time gone…it’s been over a year that I’ve blogged anything.  I apologize for being such a slacker. So I decided to start it back up now. As many of you know my year has been full of several trials and tribulations. I won’t go into all the details, but it seems like I just can’t get a break. Despite all that I’ve been through, I wanted to make sure that I learned from these experiences and found ways to grow as a person. Just as in ultras, if life, we are tested with situations that we never thought we’d make it through…however, with determination, strength, and perseverance we can find ways to do so. This has been what my year has taught me.

You ask, where is the Pixie Ninja now? What is she training for? She has been awfully quiet lately. Well to tell you the truth I have just finished my last race of the year two-weeks ago. The G.O.A.T.z. 50K here in Omaha. It was a great end to the season. I got to run and be with so many friends that day and see my mom run a PR. What didn’t go so well was that I wasn’t really planning to end my year at this race. Whoa…what?! Yes, that’s right…I had big audacious plans to kick-start my training in order to race Bandera 100K for a chance at a Golden Ticket to go back to Western States.
G.O.A.T.z. 50K race
What happened, you ask? Well it all happened in less than half a mile to the finish of the G.O.A.T.z. race that I felt a pop in the front of my left hip. It had been getting sore on downhills throughout the final loop, but I just blew it off as fatigue. After it popped it made me stumble a bit and then this horrible pain shot through my hip/groin. I considered walking it in, but with less than a half-mile left I pushed myself to finish. I crossed the line and stopped instantly. I stood there and was scared to take a step. When I did I felt the most excruciating pain in my hip that I have ever experienced. I thankfully had a couple friends to help me hobble over to a picnic table to sit. I’d never finished a race like this before and not been able to walk. I was scared, but figured I just pulled a muscle and would be back fine after a little rest or in a few days.

I got home and literally couldn’t walk. Every step with my left leg felt like knives being driven into my hip/groin. I didn’t know what to do. I put ice on my hip and rested the rest of the day. I figured by morning I’d be fine. Oh was I wrong! I couldn’t get out of bed or even stand on that leg. Tears welled up in my eyes as I was trying to figure out what I had injured. I thought to myself how am I going to work? Well I did what I don’t recommend to anyone and popped 4 ibuprofen. It numbed the pain enough for me to limp around. I literally hobbled all week thinking my leg should be healing by now. The days past and I was feeling no relief whatsoever. I felt desperate. I called one of my closest friends, Christy Nielsen, who is a Physical Therapist and long-time renowned distance runner. She told me to come see her that day.
When you don't have crutches improvise with trekking poles!
I went and saw Christy and she did several tests on me to see what she could find. Her initial thought was a pelvic stress fracture. She referred me to Dr. Arnold who had me see him the following day. He ordered x-rays and an MRI. The x-rays confirmed nothing. So, I had an MRI this past Wednesday. I was sitting on pins and needles waiting for the results. Sometimes 24 hours can feel like forever. The next day I got the call I had been waiting for…the call from Dr. Arnold with my MRI results.

The MRI had confirmed a stress fracture in my left inferior pubic ramus of my pelvis and also a slight moderate stress related bone marrow edema in the lateral superior pubic ramus. Additionally, I have a hemotoma and synovitis in the muscles around the fracture, and a lot of tendonosis/tendonitis going on in my hip muscles. In other words…my left hip is a hot mess. The prognosis for recovery is to have 4-weeks of being non-weight bearing (crutches) with no cross training besides upper body lifting. Then I will have a follow-up in 4 weeks to see how the healing has progressed. That will determine the next step. He expects me to be out from running for 2-3 months.
My MRI reading
Am I bummed? Oh yeah! However, I have come to terms with it and decided that I will not let myself get down. There are far too many things in life much worse than a broken bone. I just went through my grandma’s life and death situation…so this is nothing!! I witnessed my grandma rise up and prove that she wouldn’t let cancer or her almost fatal ulcer stop her from getting back to living her life. She is my inspiration. Plus, we’ve already made a goal to walk our first mile together!
My beautiful and strong grandma 
Remember our bodies are resilient and strong. The key is to be patient and let them heal. We put them through a lot of constant stress, and sometimes our minds are too strong for our own good. We’ve been preached to by so many about ‘listening to our bodies’. I didn’t and now I will pay the price. I’ve been very fortunate to have never gone through a lengthy time-off injury. It can happen to anyone at anytime. Until I return to running I will find ways to stay happy by spending more time with family and friends, going to the gym to lift for fun, volunteering at races, and living life in a positive manner. There will not be any pity-parties here! I pity-partied myself out at Western States aid station, Rucky-Chucky, this year. That’s a one and done for me!
The only pity-party I will allow myself this year. Besides they are LAME!
Since I have time I will keep my injury progress updated in my blog. Thank you for following and being my friends and fans. All of you mean a lot to me. I promise I will be back strong for 2018!! I am SO ready for the new year.