Archive for ‘Franc v. Tube’

March 12, 2010

Franc v Tube: Détente


10 months since the start of Franc v Tube, I’m officially admitting détente.

Given my stubborn nature, I recognize that this decision may come as a surprise. It’s not that I can’t complete this, but when I consider that:

  • I am not allowed to run until 12 July 2010 (4 months from the date of my second nerve block)
  • I no longer live in Putney, which makes running there seem a bit pointless.

…it seems like it is time to pick a new goal.

So my current goal is not to need another epidural in July, as surely I can have croissants outside of the day surgery ward.

I’ll pick something more athletic, maybe in August.

December 28, 2009

Training Update: 28 December 2009


So, as expected, I’ve been hard at work eating. It is the holidays, after all, so I’m just going to be thankful that my gym clothes are stretchy.

I had my appointment for my second opinion with my new extra super sports medicine doctor (ESSMD) earlier this week. I describe him as, “extra super” because not only did my physio recommend him, but after receiving a fax about my intentions to seek a second opinion from ESSMD, my GP actually called up, raved about him, and mentioned that he is the consultant physician to the England rugby union.

Anyway, the ESSMD checked out my scans and agreed that I don’t have a normal MRI. Looking at the cross section scans, the nerve is definitely a bit compromised.

Given that, I have two options:
A. Have an epidural, performed by a doctor referred by the ESSMD
B. Resume all my old exercise slowly, and see if the situation worsens. Supposedly, I can’t really do further permanent damage to myself, and my worst case is that the nerve flares up badly again.

I’ve opted for plan B. From what I gather, the epidural is likely an inevitability, but I would prefer to put it off a bit, if possible. Besides, I have a new gym membership that is very convenient for my new digs that I’m so looking forward to.

So, I went for my first bit of running in over two months last Tuesday. On the treadmill, two minutes jog, one minute walk for the most part. It’s not particularly exciting, but it’s a start. The nerve hurts a bit, so we’ll see how this goes. My physiotherapist is away for the next few weeks, so this is a good bit of test time.

With any luck, it will all go well, and these posts can start getting interesting.

A number of people have asked me how my upcoming move will affect my plans for Franc v. Tube, as following a move to a new flat in January, my despised commute will be a thing of the past.

I do plan to do my little train race, even with a new home location. I’ll just have to pick up a beer along the way to drink on the finish line of my old front step, rather than collecting one from my old flat.

November 20, 2009

Training Update: 20 November – TMI?


So, about that little break I’ve been taking…

I’ve had a sciatic nerve inflammation wreaking havoc with me for a long time. Since oct 2005, in fact.

I’ve mostly just coped with it. I take conference calls standing up, I avoid chairs where my knees are higher than my hips, I gave up big heels, and I sleep with my leg turned a certain way.

Two orthopedic surgeons, two physiotherapists, and a massqage therapist in the States were convinced it was a hamstring problem and best they did for me was a lot of flexeril. I really thought this was just going to be permanent.

I got to the UK, and was advised that the culprit was likely the nerve, and the assigned tracking exercises made an incredible difference. I was amazed how something so basic radically improved the situation. I still was in agony when required to sit for long durations, but I could manage long haul flights with anti- inflammatory meds. Even better, the stability work I’ve been doing all year was expected to help set me straight long term.

Then, it seemingly flared up out of nowhere. Seemingly because the pain didn’t specifically correlate with anything I did or didn’t do. Such was true until I woke up very sore along the nerve in my back after a more challenging run at the end of October.

An MRI was suggested, so I once again benched myself, and I waited.

The radiologist’s report claimed a normal result, which my sports med doc agreed with and suggested a few weeks of accupuncture. More than half of MRIs administered to people my age show disc issues that have no injury symptoms according to the doc, so it seems that a normal scan may just mean nothing extreme.

A few weeks in, I’m no better, and my physio, who is a spine specialist, is encouraging a second opinion because he and several of his colleagues think that the bump highlighted in the picture is the cause of my woes. That’s where a disc appears to be pressing on my nerve.

So, my goals of racing the train will not be met this year, but I’m still not giving up.

October 20, 2009

Training Update: 21 October 2009


I’ve been steadily trekking towards the showdown, but I’ve had a bit of a setback.

My last running evaluation showed that I’m still doing the hip rotation thingy that I’m not supposed to do, although it’s significantly better than it was when I first began this process of learning how to run again.

What this has meant for me is reducing the rate with which I increase my run. I took a week off from the treadmill, and I’ve been stuck in week five of Couch to 5k now for an extra two weeks. The 8 minute run/ 5 minute walk is fine, but the 20 minute run is where I lose endurance and my hip starts to go. I expect I’ll have another week or two doing intervals with an eight minute run before I can increase it.

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying these Annie Barribal works in the Tube stations. The one pictured to the right seems creepily appropriate in a city under constant camera surveillance.

September 22, 2009

Training Update: 22 September


I was doing well for a bit there, running slow intervals, exactly as I had been told.

Then, I went for a run right before we left for Taiwan. It was excellent. I started running and I didn’t stop. 5k later, I hopped off the treadmill, glowing red and feeling completely pleased with myself.

That satisfaction remained until the next morning, when I woke up with miserable hip pain. I was told to train gradually because when I get tired, I use the wrong muscles to balance, and my decision to enjoy my run meant I did all the things I wasn’t supposed to. My hip hurt for five days, well into the Taiwan trip.

Lesson learned? Quite possibly.

I took a break until we returned, and soon thereafter, I stumbled across a writeup about Couch to 5k. I liked the idea of a structured training plan that my adherence to wouldn’t make my physiotherapist cringe, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit disgusted by the notion that running a 5k would require nine weeks of training. The longest I had ever trained for said distance was three weeks at most. Then again, I also have had a lion’s share of running injuries, and the only reason I finished the 5k I ran earlier in the month was raw stubborness, not fitness. I printed out the plan.

Today marks the first session of week four, so I have six more weeks to go until I can officially run halfway home from my office. Week four is the point at which you actually have to jog more than walk. My tortoise-worthy achievement is above.

I think I am more couch than 5k. We’ll see in another week or two.

August 4, 2009

Training Update: 5 August


In the mighty battle that will be Franc v Tube, there has been a little progress since the last update, namely that I’ve actually run a some!

In this case, “some”, is a mediocre sounding 15 miles in since 15 July.

Getting back into it is something I’m really struggling with. I’m supposed to gradually ease back in, which isn’t really indulging my stubborn nature after 8 months of sitting on my couch eating. (Yes, it was fun.)

So, I’m trying to be good, sticking to slow intervals twice a week. I’ve already cheated a bit and overtrained, but I’m mostly behaving myself and trying to make the best of the bit I’m allowed to do. This can’t last forever, right?

I’ll definitely be running in Kenting and in the meantime, I’ll just keep telling myself that Franc v Tube will be even better in the autumn.

On that note, I leave you with the 70’s-astic picture above of yours truly, doing something I do even better than running: touching cheese.

**PS: I didn’t get a spot in the New York Marathon. I’ll hear about my lottery for a spot in the April 2010 London Marathon in October, and I’ll probably sign up for the the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town and the Chicago Marathon (just so I can see Victoria!) as a backup plan.
Perhaps I should start a Franc v Midlife Crisis thread for all that, eh?

July 8, 2009

Training Update: 9 July 2009


My preparation levels for the big day remains nearly unchanged since the last update.

I did acquire new running shoes, or as they’re called here, “trainers”, but as you can see, they’re still in pristine condition.

I had expected to be back running by the end of June, but unfortunately, I picked up a case of bronchitis while in New York, which led towhat is now going on four weeks of bad asthma and a lot of prednisone.

The good news is that my physio has said that as long as my lungs are feeling OK, I can finally start running some easy intervals to start acclimating my body to both running and hard cardio again. I expect to be giving this a go by this weekend, when I’m nearly off the asthma meds. I also hope to be dragging my bike out, if the weather holds up this weekend.

So, more to follow very soon!

May 24, 2009

Training Update: 24 May 2009


I'm hard at work!

Lately, I haven’t really been hard at work, training for the big challenge.

My physiotherapist was out for most of April due to a vacation and illness, which delayed things a bit. I was just OK-ed to start cycling again around a week ago. Since then, it has rained whenever I do have free time; although, I finally got my bike out for the first time this year during this holiday weekend.

As for actually running again, not yet! My latest jog for the camera shows I’m still not ready yet. I have been led to believe that I’ll be back running sometime in June, though, so the battle is still on.

Needless to say, all this waiting has led me to pursue workouts on my couch, often accompanied by a brick of cheese and a can of beer.

I should enjoy it while I can, eh?

Tags:
April 5, 2009

Franc v. London Underground: The Challenge Summarized


The Enemy!

Moaning about mass transport is one of the many skills I have developed over the past year to help me fit in. Problem is, it’s often justified.

To be fair, the Underground (aka: the tube) is the oldest underground railway. It does a remarkable job, consdering that.

One morning last fall, while complaining about the train, it occurred to me:
My apartment is about 10k from my office. As the train ride from Putney to Farringdon takes 50 minutes and I have a 10 minute walk to the train, then I can get to work faster by running than taking the trains.

I have proudly shared this observation with others throughout the winter, claiming that soon, the showdown would occur.

It is now time to start planning:
1. I have paid for my underground ticket online, so my journeys will be logged from hereon. This will allow me to determine an average journey time for training purposes.
2. Route research has begin. I recognize that I can’t literally outrun the train along its path of travel. Not at first, anyway!
My intention here is only to prove that I can run between points A & B faster than the train will take me. I am confident that I can do this as a matter of time and distance; however, navigating traffic lights and pedestrians will require me to do this a bit faster.
3. I need to actually get off of the couch and run. An injury to my IT band teamed with months of cold and darkness means that I’m not as fit as I was when I first made these claims. It also means that I’m not yet ready to train.

Training will begin as soon as my physiotherapist says I can run again. That’s probably not going to be for at least another month, but I’ll post about it when I can.

Once I can again comfortably run a 10k (at any speed), a date will be set.

The big day:
During the evening rush hour, I will kiss my husband goodbye and put him on the train at Farringdon. Then, I will run home.

Success criteria:
He will arrive home to find me in our apartment drinking a beer. Thus, if I am not inside of the apartment, beer in hand when he arrives, I have failed the challenge.

In the event of failure, a new date will be set.