Thursday, February 18, 2021

Planning the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Group Virtual

  received entry into the AllState Hot Chocolate Charlotte15K as a part of being a BibRave Pro. Check out BibRave.com to read and write race reviews. 


So, last month I wrote here about how I had an idea about hosting a in-person race for my local friends who wanted to run the Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte. This came from me wanting to arrange something nice and fun because we were all a little bummed that the race went Virtual. Well... much like most of my Virtual Epic Race Day Events, things have escalated.

I HAVE ABOUT 45 RUNNERS COMING ON SATURDAY! That's nuts!
Heck, I've even got 2 runners that will be doing their miles and checking in via video chat that are ON ANOTHER CONTINENT! 

So here is a little bit of what is going to happen on Saturday:

  • I've got two courses routed. One for 15K runners and the other for 5K. The last 5K of the route will be the same so the 15K runners will start at 7:30 and the 5K will join at 9. I am pre-marking the course and providing written routes I also ran the course before my surgery to make sure that everything was safe and a good route. See my post here about my run: https://runnerdgirl.blogspot.com/2021/01/a-bit-early-but-still-hot-chocolaty-fun.html

  • We are staging our race to start and finish at a local coffee shop so we can get hot beverages like Hot Chocolate and Coffee

  • The awesome folks at RAM Racing have donated a bunch of chocolate and some magnets for the races as a bit of an extra perk

  • I will have water, Nuun and treats at the finish. My awesome fellow BibRave Pro and running bestie, Kim (aka Barkingmadrun) has secured a bunch of Nuun tubes to give out.

  • Placement medals for 1st, 2nd and 3rd, Male and Female, for each distance

  • We are collecting donations for the Rock Hill Community Pantry and Fridge which is located right where we are starting/finishing our race

  • I am bringing a camera to take tons of finish line photos and celebratory photos with their awesome SWAG.

Sounds like a party right? It is all going down this Saturday morning. You can check out my Twitter and/or Insta on Saturday morning to follow along with the fun. I will also be posting a recap on this blog early next week. 

You can organize your own virtual event if interested. I am happy to share any advice, just ask in the comments below. You and your crew can register for the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Charlotte here: https://www.hotchocolate15k.com/charlotte/ Register with code BRHC20 and receive a free Hot Chocolate Tech Hat. 


Phase 2 of Recovery... Delayed 1 Week

Yesterday I had an appointment with the doctor who performed my knee surgery. Since I had gone through the process before I know the deal.

4 days after surgery, remove the bandages myself - ✅
10 days after surgery, go in to get the stitches out and get to finally unlock the brace - ✅
4 weeks after surgery, go in and get the clear to remove the brace and walk again - ❌

Wait, what?

Instead of getting sprung from the brace, I have to wear it another week. That is 5 weeks of leg brace for those counting. I guess there was a bit of good news still. Now I can now walk on the leg but I have to keep the brace on it and locked straight when I do. 

The doctor said that this knee was so much worse than the other so he wants me to ease into it more slowly. He then pulled out a knee model just to show me how large the bone spur he sawed out was (a couple inches) and how it was digging a groove into bone underneath (which he tried to fill) every time I took a step. And then glared at me and said “And you were running with it”.

The being able to put weight on does make it a lot easier to do stuff, so I’m thankful for that. And I can drive now. I am also still able to start PT on Friday as I had planned, I just have to be patient a little bit longer as far as getting out there and really moving again. On the bright side I guess that’s one more week for it to warm up before I have to really get out there, so bright side. 

So yeah, yesterday wasn't a great day. TBH I took it pretty hard which involved sitting on the couch (in my brace) and eating about a half a bag of popcorn. But today is a new day, so I put my "big girl pants" back on this morning and focusing on moving forward. I am still focused on rebuilding, it just got delayed a week. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

What I Learned This Time Around: 2nd Knee Surgery Edition

Well it has been 2 weeks now since I had surgery on my right knee. And since this was my second surgery of this kind, this time around, I was going in with a bit more knowledge. Here are the couple of things that I am doing this time around to make my recovery go much more smoothly and get back to doing all the things that I want to more quickly this time. 



Starting PT Sooner

Last surgery, I was SHOCKED at just how quickly I lost muscle, especially in my quad on the leg where I had the procedure. 8 months later the quad is still smaller on the left than the right (for now). So the day before my surgery, I made a consultation appointment with IVY Rehab, the place where I did PT last time, to talk to them about what could I do to both not lose as much strength in the leg that is having the surgery and to also not lose any of the progress I had made back on the other leg. They staff there is AMAZING and they hooked me up with a 31 minute, 7 exercise session that I could do at home, starting as soon as the bandages came off. 4 were for my right leg (the new surgery) and 3 for the left (the older surgery). So starting that Monday, just 4 days after surgery, I have done my 31 minutes of PT faithfully every single day. Not gonna lie, the first few times it hurt, a lot. The straight leg raises were not fun at all! But after a week or so, it is getting loads easier and my legs are both feeling quite strong. I plan to keep it up until I can start back to going to PT on February 19th. 



Doing Upper Body Workouts

Another thing that I was woefully bad at last time around was being quite lazy in general. Just because I couldn't move around very well, I kinda didn't move much at all. When I finally did make it back to Burn, I noticed I had to drop the weights in my upper body workouts by quite a bit, even struggling with the 15 and 10 pound weights. Well, I realized this time, that it made no sense that not being able to use my right leg should mean that I don't use my upper body. So I turned to YouTube to see what kind of upper body workouts I could do seated. Turns out, quite a few!! So, with the vast resources of YouTube at my disposal, I made myself a schedule, 6 days of upper body workouts with 3 different focuses repeated and then a rest day. My schedule is:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Yoga
  • Wednesday: Strength
  • Thursday: Cardio
  • Friday: Yoga
  • Saturday: Strength
  • Sunday: Cardio

I've found some pretty great workout to do and am actually having fun. Typically will choose a workout that is right around 20 minutes or so to do as I will then do my 31 minutes of PT after. Because yes, I do want to remain active and not lose the strength and endurance as much this time around, but I also acknowledge that I am still healing and don't want to overdo it. But I am still getting in a pretty good amount of work if the soreness in my arms is anything to go by!


Modifying my Crutches

Last time that I was on my crutches I was very stubborn about mastering them. I was determined that the crutches would not win over me and I would become an expert at making them do my bidding. And these were a temporary irritant in my life so I would make no concessions to them, even ignoring well meaning advice from friends on how to make them more manageable. And to no surprise, they tore me up! My hands ached all the time, I would get huge blisters on the palms of my hands and I chaffed like mad on my sides. I am still not sure why I was so stubborn about not trying to make my stint on the crutches easier for myself, but this time around, Day 1 I logged on to Amazon and order some gel pads. They have made the WORLD of difference. 2 weeks in and my hands feel just fine. They are not even red or sore at all. Friends, if you find yourself on crutches, trust me, this will be the best $13 you will ever spend: Vive Crutch Pads. Love them and they come in fun colors too (I went with teal). 


Trying Harder to Keep Positive

I will be the first to admit it, my first knee surgery I was MISERABLE! I remember one particular Sunday, I think about a week or so after my surgery, I went upstairs, laid down in bed and cried, as in sobbed out loud, for like 2 hours. I spent a lot of time in bed just kind of lamenting all the things I could no longer do. After I was adamant that I would NEVER do that again, knowing full well that my right knee, while not immediately "injured" as the left was, it needed the same procedure if I would ever hope to run (or really even walk) without pain. But finally, after 6 months with the last few of no pain in the left leg and still massive amounts of pain on the right, I decided to go ahead and go through with the surgery. 

Maybe because I already knew from experience that things would eventually be better has me a bit more positive this time. I've been trying to focus more on the positives and less on the negatives. Yes, I can't walk, but I can still do something active every day (see above). I am not having to go out in the below freezing temps. My cats cuddle with me more since I am mostly camped on the couch with a cozy blanket. I am working from home this time (I was laid off due to the Covid pandemic during last surgery recovery). I also have 2 super fun events coming up later in February to look forward to, both of which I will totally be able to do, my Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte Virtual event (which I already ran, but will be organizing the event on race day) and the Wine 5K race (which I will be walking).



I also have been reading the book The Comeback Quotient: A Get-Real Guide to Building Mental Fitness in Sport and Life. This book was the Book Club book for the BibRave Pros and it was a perfect read for my current situation. I haven't quite finished it yet, our book club discussion is Feb. 9th, but I am more than half way through it and should be done in time no problem. The book talks about how those who have had the most successful comebacks, those who overcome injury and hard times, do so with not just a positive attitude, but a realistic attitude. The book emphasizes accepting, embracing and addressing reality as a way of coming back from injury. I have been trying to take the lessons to heart, even though one memorable passage talked about how utterly miserable one runner's situation was and it pretty much described what I was going through almost verbatim right now. Laugh so you don't cry and all that. It's a good book though, and I recommend it to anyone going through an injury, or even if those not, to get some valuable insight on how being an "ultrarealist" can help your overall outlook. 

With all that said, I still have some bad days, days where I cannot shake being sad and lonely. I still get frustrated at how long things take to do and how simple things like taking a shower and getting dressed take so much longer than they should. I hate not being able to do things that should be easy, like walk and carry something at the same time. And I HATE asking for help (like a lot a lot). But... I am doing a much better job this time at staying focused on the future and not dwelling so much on the present.

This is tough. But I am tougher. And I may be broken right now, but I will rebuild stronger. 





Friday, January 29, 2021

Oops I Did It Again

Second Verse, Same as the First (sort of)... 

So I went and had me  another one of those knee surgeries. This time, I got the right knee taken care of pretty much the same as my previous surgery that I had on my left knee this past summer.

So to answer the question that I am sure most have - Why again? Well basically, my knees, both knees, are/were just not ever right. It wasn't because of running, in fact the first time I ever went to a doctor about knee pain was a good decade before I started running.
As you can see from my posted X-ray, (taken before either was fixed up) my knee caps actually were not located in the correct place which ground down the cartilage leaving the sides of my knee caps grinding bone on bone. As you can imagine, this hurt basically most of the time I moved, let alone ran. I'd just gotten accustomed to it and did things like taped them or wore support braces to mitigate it.

Apparently knee caps belong in the middle, huh!

What started the whole knee-fixing process was I did actually injure the left on top of the underlying misaligned knee cap and no cartilage thing (that was from running, my bad - torn meniscus training for an Ultra). I got referred to an ortho that specializes in athletes (ha ha, me an athlete) and his assessment was if he was going in to fix the injury, he might as well fix everything. 5 procedures and 6 months later, my left knee is pretty darn "normal" and totally pain-free, something I'd never really experienced.

Since the procedure was so successful in fixing the left knee, he recommended that I do the other one too. Luckily all this knee needed was the correction to the degenerative issues - a lateral release to properly align the knee cap and microfracture drilling to create new cartilage. My left had 5 total procedures due to surrounding injury, the right only needed 2, so I am hoping for a quicker recover, though I will still be non-weight bearing and in a locked brace for up to 4 weeks. Turns out things were again, just a bit worse on the inside than the scans showed, and I had several bone spurs all up in there as well which had to be removed, but overall, still less work was done on the right.

But... after this recovery period, that should be it. I should be good to go with two properly aligned knee caps and brand new cartilage. Which means when I am cleared to be back up to running again after surgery, I should, conceivably be able to run pain-free and work my way back up to where I was or even faster.

Part of the decision to go ahead and do this now is that race events are still not going to be happening for a while, so the hope is that I can recover without missing out on too much. That by the time events are up and running again, so will I be. And, if I am being totally 100% honest, I am not terribly sad to be missing cold weather runs. (You may have heard this on a blog post or 12, but I really hate being cold).

One Week Down
Looking a bit better already
It has been a week since my procedure, and overall, it’s feeling really good. The pain is mostly just soreness and it feels pretty sturdy, but I’m listening to doc’s orders and not putting any weight on it and keeping it in the locked brace like a good girl. There's still substantial swelling, but about the same as the left knee was at this stage. When I first unwrapped the bandage at day 4, there was a lot more post-surgery bleeding than the last time, and so much bruising, but all of that has mostly cleared up after a week. It still looks a little yellowish, but in the inside, the pain is much much less than the left knee was at this stage. Either that or I just don't remember clearly. I go in on Tuesday (Feb. 2nd) for my 10 day follow up with the surgeon and I am confident I will be given the clear to unlock my brace then. 


Friday, January 22, 2021

A Bit Early, but Still Hot Chocolaty Fun!

received entry into the AllState Hot Chocolate Charlotte15K as a part of being a BibRave Pro. Check out BibRave.com to read and write race reviews. 



In my last blog post, I talked about how I had to change up my original plan for my Hot Chocolate 15K Virtual Race. That instead of running the event on the Charlotte event date of February 20th, I had to run my race early due to having a knee reconstruction surgery this week. It will be 4 weeks before I am able to walk again and another 8 weeks after that before I will be cleared to run. So rather than waiting until after, I decided to run it early, because you know I was for sure going to earn that awesome SWAG.


In addition to my race, I used the opportunity to run the route that I had planned for the runners of the Virtual Race event to check the distance and to see if there were any issues on the route. So on January 16th, I set out bright and early in the cold to the race event site, Knowledge Park, to set off to run the routes. Since the event had both a 15K and a 5K race, I made a 10K route and a 5K route so that the 15K runners can start out earlier and join back in with the 5K runners to finish together. 

It was a cold morning, but not nearly as cold as the last Hot Chocolate 15K that I ran, which was just 22 degrees when we started!! Ugh! This time it was 31 which was much more bearable. I followed the 10K route that went through downtown Rock Hill, around Glencarin Gardens to Winthrop Lake, to the Winthrop Campus and back to Knowledge Perk and then back out again for the 5K which lead back to the Winthrop campus and towards downtown Rock Hill and back up to Knowledge Perk to finish. 

As for the route, I did make 2 changes in route. One change was to move a turn a block so the route crossed at a stop light with a crosswalk for safety and another change to go down a more scenic street. But even with the route changes, I hit exactly 15K when I got back to the street corner by Knowledge Perk where I started. So yay!


 
When I finished my Virtual Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte, I of course had to get a nice hot cup of Hot Chocolate. It was delicious! And so nice after a cold run. My time wasn't spectacular,  but I did take it easy due to my knees and stopped to take a few pictures along the way to clarify some things on the route. 

Since I ran my race early, I haven't yet received my SWAG. They will start shipping out packets on January 31st, well before the race date of February 20th. And as for my event, I currently have 30 racers confirmed currently and I think a few more still will join. I am really excited about some of the plans that I have made to make it more like a real race event, one that runners are sorely missing including race day pictures, awards and finish line treats. 

When BibRave and RAM racing found out about our little event and sent us a box of treats including chocolates and HC magnets. I may have indulged in a chocolate piece to celebrate my finish. 


I'll be sure to share pics of my awesome gear once it arrives. And of course share all the epic race day fun that I have planned on February 20th. In the meantime, if you want to earn your own SWAG and/or plan your own event, register here: www.hotchocolate15K/charlotte. You can score yourself a cool HC branded Tech Hat (seen above) using code BRHC20 when you check out.


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

A Chocolatey Change of Plans

 received entry into the AllState Hot Chocolate Charlotte15K as a part of being a BibRave Pro. Check out BibRave.com to read and write race reviews. 



So, 2021 looks like it is still going to be doing it's best to be difficult at least for a little while, which for us runners mean more virtual races. No worries, it is all of what you make of it. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I am the Queen of Virtual Races and making them amazing and fun. If you are new, seriously, go check out some of my Virtual race recap posts, some have included 8 way high fives, 
multiple race surfaces, inflatable animals, shooting BB guns and other craziness. So when I heard that the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Charlotte was going virtual, I was like - No problem, I got this! 

The original idea - Get together a few friends to run the race here in Rock Hill on the race date - February 20th. Usually I attend this with a pretty decent size group, so gathering a crew I figured would be no problem. I thought it would be fun to meet at a local coffee shop that serves hot chocolate to celebrate after. Fun right? 

Some of the "usual" Hot Chocolate Charlotte Crew


What it's turned into - Apparently, I got a bit excited and have now taken on the task of basically hosting a mini-race of multiple distances. But you know what? It is going to be crazy fun! I will post more details later when everything becomes set in stone, but as for now, I have 25 confirmed racers that will be meeting up at Knowledge Perk in Downtown Rock Hill to run, walk or both either 15K or 5K. The 15K racers will meet at 7:30 am to tackle a 10K course through Downtown Rock Hill and around the Winthrop University Campus. Then return back to Knowledge Perk to meet up with the 5K runners for their remaining 5K course. After there will be a finish line party at Knowledge Perk with Hot Chocolate (or hot beverage of choice). We'll have cheer areas, an official finish line and handing out of medals, almost like a real race! I may even bring some bananas!! Oooh, and I just thought I can totally take finish line photos!! Luckily, I will have my best girl and Virtual Race planning partner, Kim with me again for the assist.


Here's hoping it'll be warmer for my race
than it was at last year's HC 15K!! 

But here's the kicker... I am actually not going to be able to run my own race event. In perhaps the biggest change of plans concerning the whole thing, I am going to be having another knee surgery, this time on my right knee, in just over 2 weeks which will have me side-lined and most likely on crutches still during the race day event on February
 20th. No problem, it is probably actually easier for me not to run it so I can better organize the day and make it special for the participants. I plan to run my 15K distance the weekend before my surgery (surgery will be Jan 21, so I will run it on Jan 16) and use the run as both my Hot Chocolate 15K and as a course preview for the mileage I have routed for the main event. 

No matter what, it is going to be an awesome time of running, friends and chocolate. And I cannot wait! 

Sound like fun? You can organize your own virtual event. I am happy to share any advice, just ask in the comments below. You and your crew can register for the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Charlotte here: https://www.hotchocolate15k.com/charlotte/

The Hot Chocolate SWAG is always so SWEET! Your package will include a comfy charcoal grey full zip jacket with a removable hood, a keepsake 15K or 5K medal, personalized bib, hot chocolate packets, chocolate squares, and some awesome sponsor goodies. You can get a bonus tech hat when you register with code BRHC20.






Saturday, January 2, 2021

Hating the Cold a Little Less with the Buff® DryFlx+ Collection

 "Disclaimer: I received a Buff USA DryFlx®+ Hat and Neckwarmer to use and review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"


I'd like to think that I am a pretty open book. And for sure one of the pages would read in big tall bold letters - LISSA HATES BEING COLD!! Like really hates it. But, runners gotta run, so I begrudgingly drag my butt outside to put in the miles no matter the weather (cause let's be honest, another one of those pages would say LISSA HATES TREADMILLS!!)

I've written many a blog about how I hate the cold. Seriously, at least 2 or 3 each winter. And I am always on the lookout for something, anything that will make the freezing and below temps a bit more bearable. So I was super excited to have the opportunity to try out Buff USA's newest winter line, the Buff® DryFlx+ Collection. 

Here's the technical low down from the Buff USA website:

Featuring technical smart zones that increase breathability and targeted warmth, while enhancing active fit and moisture management – so you can focus on what matters.
  • 4-Way ULTRA STRETCH
  • Moisture-management
  • Thermal Insulation
  • 100% Seamless Woven Design
  • Reflective Elements
Sounds pretty great, right? But how does it perform?

I received the Hat and Neckwarmer, both in Deep Blue. When I first received them, I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to give them a proper testing. See, I live in SC and our Decembers tend to be pretty mild with the coldest temps in late January through February. Well 2020 for once did not disappoint (or did it, cause again, cold is awful) by delivering an excessively cold December. It was well below freezing way more than usual. One week it was below freezing almost every single morning when I got up! Perfect (well for testing at least).

For my first run in my new Buff DryFlx®+ gear, I broke the cardinal rule of running - Thou Shall Wear Nothing New On Race Day. But, I have worn several Buff items in the past, so I felt pretty secure in my decision. (Links for posts to other reviews of Buff gear can be found at the bottom of the page). 


Post Charlotte Half Marathon pic 

So the morning I had planned to run the Virtual Charlotte Half Marathon it was pretty darn cold. I wasn't sure I would need both, but I for sure wanted to wear the hat. And it was an awesome 
decision. My first thought was that it was crazy thin, so I was a bit suspect about it keeping me warm. No problem, my head was nice and toasty warm. My second thought was I was worried about over heating when the sun came out full as I started my 13.1 miles before the sun came up, but would be finishing in daylight. No worries there either! Somehow, the fabric never made me feel too hot, despite the temperature increasing a good 10+ degrees during my run and finishing in full sun. I was wearing a vest where I had plenty of pockets for stashing stuff, but never felt the need to remove it. 

The next week the temperatures were down right brutal. Most mornings I go to Burn Boot Camp at 5:30 am and on strength days, I will typically run at least a mile right after camp. This usually has me starting my run at the absolute coldest part of the day. And this day, it was 27°F!!! That is just downright disrespectfully cold for the first week of December in SC. So I added my Neckwarmer in as well. And you know what? I felt pretty good. I particularly like the way that the Neckwarmer is high enough to overlap the back of the hat so there is no gap to keep your neck and back of your head completely covered. The Neckwarmer is also designed so that it has an articulated mask design to cover your mouth and nose. I was surprised how easy it was to breath through and left the mask up the whole run. Cause yeah, it was REALLY cold! 

Not happy with the weather, but happy with a nice warm head

It worked so well, I did a bit extra running that morning.

I've also worn it on much longer runs where again, I started out super cold and it warmed up a bit before finishing and the Neckwarmer is comfy when folded down as well. Overall, I am highly pleased with the DryFlx®+ collection and am happy to have these items as a part of my winter wardrobe. 



You can pick up your own DryFlx®+ gear, or anything else from the Buff website here: https://www.buffusa.com/ Sign up for emails and receive a code for 15% off of your order.

You can follow Buff on Twitter here: Buff_USA
and on Instagram here: Buff_USA

And if you haven't followed me yet on either of those, you can find me here on 
Twitter: RunNerdGirl
and here on Instagram: runnerdgirl