A Girl Runs in Brooklyn

The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step

Look what came in the mail today!

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My new “running wall!”

My parents came to visit me at my apartment in Brooklyn today (they live about 45 minutes to an hour away in NJ). They came to hang out, and for my dad to make me a “running brag wall.”

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On the far left is what started the initial thought that I should dedicate some wall space to running related things. My dad had given me for my birthday in October a framed picture of NYC marathoners crossing the Verrazano Bridge (which is right by my apartment, and I run UNDER it almost every day because the jogging path I do most of my training runs on goes underneath it, and it is my dream to one day run OVER it to begin the NYC Marathon…..2015 I am hoping!!) that has a quote I love on it: “Believe in yourself. You must do that which you think you cannot.” -Eleanor Roosevelt.

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I had never gotten around to hanging it up/finding a place to hang it. Then for Christmas my dad gave me 3 framed 8 x 10s of us from the 3 races we ran together in 2013.  I had a lot of other professional race photos that I have bought that I haven’t done much with other than post on Facebook, and I was also realizing I should figure out a medal hanger, because I was collecting a few medals and they were all on closet door knobs. So I decided to take down what I had up on one wall of my bedroom (the original wall was framed black and white pictures I had taken during my study abroad in Europe…I like them but I am ok with a little change) and my dad had a design concept for a “running wall” he wanted to try. So today he came to be handy with tools and creative with design and I handed my wall over to him. Here are a few more pictures of different segments of the wall:

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Close-up of the medal hanger:

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He wanted to make something that is flexible, as I run more races and have more pictures he wants me to be able to add to it easily and switch around pictures without additional holes in the wall. I already have a few more pictures I want to print out and have framed, but my printer broke as well as the Rite Aid photo machine, so I didn’t get them printed before he came today. His original design was to hang those chains from a long two by four that he had painted black and screwed these cool stainless steel knobs into. But since my walls are made of plaster and not drywall, the walls would simply not hold the weight of the two by four so he ended up going with Plan B and just screwing the chains into the wall. I think it turned out really cool! Can’t wait to print out and frame a few more pictures for it, and run more races and get more pictures and medals to add :):). Thanks to my dad for doing this for me!

And here’s a bonus picture of my parents’ dog Mia asleep on my futon, cuz it’s cute:):

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A Hodgepodge of Good Things: New Medal Hanger, Volunteering at a Race, New Running Shoes, First Outdoor Run in 7 Weeks

Thursday I had a bad day mentally regarding my injury comeback. I have a half marathon that I am registered to run tomorrow that I had long ago come to terms with having to DNS (“Did Not Start” aka drop out of), but I hadn’t yet made much consideration to races after that one.  I had never let myself dwell on the fact that other races also may not happen, and Thursday 1/23 marked one month til my NEXT scheduled half marathon on 2/23. Even though I am SO EXCITED to be running again PERIOD….my 1.75 miles of 2:00 min run / 1:00 minute walk intervals on the treadmill on Thursday, my longest run since I was injured, just felt pathetic. The day before I ran/walked 1.5 miles on the treadmill, following a 55 minute killer spin class, and felt so happy and over the moon. However, Thursday I ran/walked .25 miles FURTHER and yet was frustrated and sad. Makes sense? NOPE. But I guess that is how recovering from injury goes. Ups and downs both physically and mentally. But it really hit me Thursday….how can I be ready for a half marathon in a month?! Well…..maybe I won’t be. And that is ok. Because this race isn’t my whole running career. But if I push recovery I will miss not only this HM, but many more after it. I started to come to terms with it after the initial sadness and frustration of not only missing my HM on Sunday, but possibly having to miss my 2/23 one too. And then, I got something delivered that I have been anxiously anticipating that really helped me feel better:

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My medal hanger!!! It is part of one of my favorite quotes: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” -MLK, Jr. Appropriate, since Monday was MLK day. My dad is coming over tomorrow to help me hang it up and help me create a really cool “running brag wall” that he designed…..so excited!

Today, all the feelings of weakness and frustration disappeared. Today was a great day. Today, I woke up at 6:00am and went to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in a “feels like” temperature of -4 degrees to spend 5 hours outside volunteering at NYC Runs Brrr-ooklyn Hot Chocolate Half Marathon. I handed out T-shirts before the race and then medals at the finish line. Even though it was freeeeeezing, I had a BLAST! It was so nice to give back to the running community that has given me so much, and I met some awesome people. It was a great time, and the participants got nice tech shirts, mugs for hot chocolate with the race logo on them, and really nice medals. I definitely want to run this next year!

Volunteering “Selfie”:

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Really cool participant medals I handed out:

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Participant shirts and mugs:

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After I finished volunteering, I headed to my favorite little local running store in Park Slope, Brooklyn near Prospect Park called Jack Rabbit. I wanted to do a fitting for new running shoes. I have been running in the Mizuno Wave Inspire 9s for a year now, have 3 pairs (1 retired, 1 almost ready for retirement, and 1 that is 4 months old…I rotate between 2) and I really like them, but kind of wanted something different in the mix. And I wanted to do a running store fitting (where they analyze your gait by video taping your feet running in each shoe on the treadmill and watch it in slow motion) because I was wondering if I still needed stability shoes for overpronation or if I could try something neutral. The employee doing my fitting thinks I still need stability shoes, and said the Inspire is a good match for me but had some other recommendations of things I could add to the rotation. He put me in Asics Kayano 20s and OH MY GOD…..heaven in a shoe. They are more expensive than the Inspires but I absolutely fell in love with them. So supportive and feels great! And pretty too:

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I could not resist the temptation to take them for a spin IMMEDIATELY. To volunteer at the race I had worn several layers of winter running clothes under my coat anyway since I figured those were the warmest and most comfortable things I owned for standing outside for 5 hours…..so I took off my coat, scarf, furry vest, and ear muffs, swapped my boots for my new shoes, and returned to Prospect Park (one of my favorite places to run!) and took the new shoes for their first run! I did 2 miles of run/walk intervals. It started snowing during the run, but I didn’t care. I had new kicks on my feet and I was running OUTSIDE for the first time in SEVEN WEEKS! I was so happy!

First run outside in 7 weeks “selfie”….

I was happier than I look but my face was frozen so my smile isn’t as big as it felt haha:

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So, a new medal hanger, fun volunteering at a race, new running shoes, and my first outdoor run in 7 weeks. Not too shabby for getting myself over a bad day 🙂

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After 6 weeks no running….I ran today!

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After a 7 minute recumbent bike warmup, and then 30 minutes on the elliptical, I visited the treadmill for a mile run!!! It was really more like a walk/jog….I alternated 2 minutes walking with 3 minutes jogging for a mile in over 14 minutes… but it was something….and it was great!!!

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On Strength Training

Well….today was going to be a swim night but ended up being a Strength Training night.

I’ve been feeling like I have a little cold coming on since yesterday morning. Nothing major I don’t think….scratchy throat, stuffy nose. Been trying to combat it with Emergen-C, Zicam, Flo-Nase, Advil, lots of water, good night’s rest. ANYWAY…. I think I am going to be just fine, but decided it was in my best interest to skip my swim tonight. Already a rainy, damp, chilly day….having a stuffy nose and going swimming in a cold pool just didn’t sound like a great idea. But I did not come home and crash on the couch (tempting as it was)…instead I did a full “return to running” strength routine!

Strength training for runners is really important for injury prevention and recovery. I learned this the hard way a year ago (something about this time a year and getting injured for me, apparently! I guess running in January is overrated anyway) when I developed my first major running related injury, ITBS (Illio-tibial Band Syndrome). ITBS is generally felt as a sharp pain on the outside of the knee. It is often caused by muscle imbalances- in particular weak hips. Having weak hips causes the pelvis to be unstable while running, which leaves you more susceptible to a variety of injuries, ITBS being a common one. Or at least this was the case for me. When I had to take a break from running for several weeks because of it, and the few months after I returned to running, I religiously followed a strengthening regimen targeting the hips. But as the ITBS stopped being a problem, I started to let strength training slide, until I basically never did it. I can’t help but wonder if this contributed to my recent foot injury.

Well, I have decided on a New Years Resolution, and that is not to let strength training slip away again!!! So tonight I went back to my trusty hip routine. Which is a combination of two different hip routines:

Myrtl Hip Girdle Routine

Strength Running ITB Rehab Routine

I do 20 reps of each exercise in both routines, starting with “Myrtl” and moving to “Strength Running.” I do not do the clam shells in Myrtl though because they are done in Strength Running but with a resistance band. (And tonight I did regular squats instead of pistol squats, just was worried the one legged ones were going to be too much for my foot).

I also did ankle and foot exercises that I learned from a physical therapist friend to help strengthen the muscles of my left foot and ankle that have been feeling stiff and weak since the foot was in a boot for 5 weeks.

Also, I discovered this routine today. I tried a few of the exercises from it, a few of them I think I need to work up to as my foot and ankle get a little stronger (he did give modifications so whenever he did I did the modification, and skipped a few), but I think this routine will be PERFECT for getting my muscles ready to run again:

Rapid Muscle Response Workout

So….runners, do you strength train? What are your favorite exercises?

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Goodbye to “The Boot!”

Well this is my formal GOODBYE to the boot! I took it off for the last time, and hope I will never have to put it on again!!!!

Good Riddance to You, Boot!

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First, a quick aside. Before I say goodbye to it for good, I can’t believe I forgot to share a true gem of a picture from my Adventures in the Boot section of this blog entry. On December 28th I attended the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium between Rutgers University and Notre Dame with my dad and brother. We entered the stadium on the exact opposite side as our seats were and I had no idea how I’d manage to walk that far in the boot, so we had to get Yankee Stadium staff to put me in a wheelchair. It was a bit embarrassing but I was in good spirits about it, and my dad had a ball taking a photo shoot of me being pushed around Yankee Stadium in a wheelchair, all in the name of being able to cheer for my favorite college football team (Rutgers!!)

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Anyway….. so this week has gone well for me. This was my 5th week in the boot, but the first time I was cleared to add more physical activity, and was also allowed to wear the boot only to work my full-time job (where I have to do a ton of walking around) and then spend a few hours each day in sneakers and no boot. I did the stationary bike every other day for 35-45 minutes each time, and it felt AMAZING to be sweating and getting my heart rate up again. I went swimming once. Friday I got to go to yoga for the first time since I hurt my foot and that felt WONDERFUL. And today I went on a mile walk. My foot doesn’t hurt anymore, but the muscles that I didn’t use while walking in the boot (the boot keeps the foot/ankle in a static position so you walk without flexing your ankle at all) are feeling a little stiff and sore. Hopefully that will work itself out quickly though. Tomorrow I will work sans boot, and hopefully get to shove that thing way in the back of my closet!

My plan for returning to running is to play it by ear. This week I am going to continue biking, add the elliptical, and see how walking around all day everyday at work without the boot goes. If this week goes well, I hope to start running next week!! A light at the end of the tunnel!

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Running 4 Judy….my biggest motivation to heal fast and get back to running!

Yesterday night I returned home from a long day at work to find something special had arrived in my mailbox: The medals for my Virtual Race for the “I Run 4” organization! What is this, why is it important, and why is it so motivating? Allow me to explain. First off, pictured below are the medals. They are going to be engraved with names once I complete the Virtual Race, one will be engraved with my name and sent to my buddy Judy, and one will be engraved with Judy’s name and I will keep it:

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Now, allow me to explain what I Run 4 is and who Judy is :):)

Back in July, I learned about an organization that matches runners with children and adults with special needs (http://www.whoirun4.com/) (https://www.facebook.com/groups/irunformichael/). A runner gets randomly paired with a “buddy” that the runner can dedicate his/her races, training runs, and other workouts to. The runner and the buddy post updates on the facebook group page, in which the runner will post to their buddy about the runs and races for him or her, and the buddy’s parents will post to the runner updates about what is going on in the buddy’s life as well as encouragement for the runner. The group is such an amazingly positive and inspirational place and I would recommend it to any runner!! Runners posting on the facebook page will often make signs, T-shirts, photo collages, videos, ect (a few have even gotten tattoos for their buddies!) to show their buddies that the runs are dedicated to them. It is so much fun!

I got randomly matched with a girl named Judy to run for. She is 15 years old, and diagnosed primarily with Being the Most Awesome Teenaged Girl on the Planet; secondarily with Being Sweet, Kind, Adorable and Absolutely Hilarious; thirdly with Being Sassy, Stylish, Inspirational, Smart and Cooler than I Could Ever Dream to Be; and least importantly with Down Syndrome. It was a random match, but I truly believe something in the Universe was at work when we were matched together (Destiny? Divine intervention? I could never pretend to know but it was a PERFECT MATCH!) We both love most of the same things, in particular chocolate ice cream, the color pink, yoga, Disney Princesses, music, and cheerleading (she is a cheerleader who competes nationally in the Special Needs division, I was a cheerleader for 10 years) and the list just goes on. Here’s my Judy Girl and her brother Matthew on their first day of school in September, sent to me by their awesome mom Kim (and pictures of Judy and Matthew are being used in this blog post with her permission):

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Isn’t she the cutest??? Matthew too :). He has his own runner, but I still love him!

On top of having a ton in common, it turns out that Judy’s family only live about an hour outside of NYC. Judy told her mother that she wanted to come see me race. However, the problem was Judy’s mother works weekends (when 95% of races are held), but on Labor Day the stars aligned! There was a race on Roosevelt Island (little island in the East River between Manhattan and Queens) on Labor Day, when I was off work, Judy and her brother were off school, and it was a weekday so their mother Kim was off work too :). So Kim and her sister Shelley brought Judy and Matthew to my race. Unfortunately, a car fire on the Queensboro Bridge that goes right over Roosevelt Island broke out in the middle of the race and in the interest of the safety of the runners they cancelled the race halfway through. It was a 10K race and I was stopped at just under 3 miles and not allowed to continue. However, it still was my most fun race to date because I got to spend the day with Judy and her family afterwards 🙂 here are some highlights from the day:

Me, Pre-Race:

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Meeting Judy for the first time, Post-Race (well, post when the race was ordered to stop):

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Delivering Judy some dimes I saved for her (Judy has her OWN ORGANIZATION called Dimes 4 Downs, in which she collect dimes in order to help grant wishes for children with Down Syndrome through her mother’s organization Gifts from the Heart for Downs):

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Judy and I having a “girl chat” and her cracking me up with telling me about the celebrity boys she loves (band boys like One Direction and vampire boys like Edward from Twilight):

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Judy wearing my race number:

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A pic Judy’s mom snapped of us walking together…..we inadvertently wore matching ribbons in our ponytails….I think it is the once a cheerleader always a cheerleader thing:

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Hanging out on Roosevelt Island with Judy, Matthew, and Aunt Shelly:

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And a Chinese food lunch:

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What a great day!!!!

Running for Judy has been a true honor these past 6 months so far….her family is wonderful and I am so happy they are in my life now. I am also thankful for the I Run 4 organization in general….the positivity of the exchanges between all the runners and buddies on the facebook page is so motivational and inspirational!

For the New Year, the creator of I Run 4, Tim Boyle, decided to have a Virtual Race to benefit the organization and other organizations that contribute money towards different causes that support people with special needs. The concept of the Virtual Race was that sometime after January 1st the runner completes an amount of miles specified by their buddy. Once the amount of miles is completed, you send the buddy medal to your buddy (and can choose to engrave it if you want, or write on it in Sharpie, whatever floats your boat) and keep the runner medal. Judy chose my mileage for me….my Virtual Race is 150 miles!!! She originally chose 150 MILLION but we compromised at 150 :):). So, now that the medals have arrived, I cannot WAIT to start running miles to get to the 150 so I can get this medal to Judy :)! If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is!!!!

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Time to Start Regaining Fitness and Strength

I have been injured for 4 weeks. Ever since I ran a half marathon in Central Park on Sunday, December 8th, 2013, my 2nd half marathon- The Frozen Bonsai Half Marathon. The race actually went REALLY WELL. I wasn’t “racing” it for time….I ran the whole thing at the pace I usually run my long runs. Training in between my first half marathon (The Baltimore Half Marathon on 10/12/13), and my 2nd half marathon was not as ideal as I wanted it to be. I ran my first half marathon as fast as I was able to (I finished in 2:21:47 [2 hours, 21 minutes, and 47 seconds] at a 10:49 pace, which considering it was my first and the course was hard I was thrilled with), and so I wanted to give myself some time to recover and run some easier runs. Then I developed some issues with shin splints, so I ended up running lower mileage than I wanted to through November, and wasn’t able to do any runs over 7 miles. So I decided just to take it easy at the December 8th Frozen Bonsai Half. I didn’t want to put too much stress on my body or hurt myself trying to push too hard on non-ideal training. And I THOUGHT I succeeded. I finished the race in 2:32:13, 10.5 minutes slower than my first but not pushing very hard, and finished feeling great with a huge smile on my face. Nothing hurt.

While I am talking about the Frozen Bonsai Half Marathon, here are some pics from the race:

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Well, nothing hurt…..until AFTER the race that is. I woke up the next morning and could not put any weight on my left heel. The pain was excruciating, and I limped through work all day Monday and it did not get any better. Tuesday I took off work and went to the doctor. He thought I had a stress fractured cuboid bone (bone in the foot right in front of the heel), or possibly a tendon injury, but either way he said the treatment was a LOT OF REST and staying off it as much as possible while I got tests done. So he put me in a soft cast gave me a medical walking boot, and ordered me to stay completely off of the foot, no work or anything, for 3 days and keep the soft cast on.  Then on that Friday I could return to work but limit my walking as much as possible and wear the boot at all times. For exercise he said I could do upper body weights, core work that I could lie on the floor for, and swimming. NO RUNNING, NO STATIONARY BIKE, NO ELLIPTICAL, NO AEROBICS CLASSES, NO YOGA until I received further orders. Swimming was the only cardio I was allowed. Hmph. So I followed his orders and was a very good patient. I found a place to get a few swims in, and  discovered I’m REALLY BAD at swimming. I can swim in a sense that I am not a drowning risk when in water, but I have not done much swimming as an adult, and when I do it usually involves being on vacation and reading a book by the hotel pool, getting really hot and jumping in the pool to cool off. Actually swimming laps, this was new to me. I was happy to be able to get some exercise but I felt like I was too poor of a swimmer to get a really good workout. I also went to the gym a few times and did the upper body weight machines and some core work. With the holidays coming while I was injured though, I kind of just embraced that it was time to rest, enjoy family time, and heal. The results of my X-Ray and MRI concluded that my foot wasn’t fractured but instead had a contusion on one of my bones, and some tendon and ligament inflammation/scarring (but no tears) but the doctor still wanted me in the boot and resting as much as possible.

Here’s my lovely soft cast I was in for 3 days:

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And the boot:

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And how I got to use one of those motorized carts to get around a grocery store, and how “lovely” my boot really dressed up my Christmas Eve dress:

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But now, after my appointment yesterday, I am cleared to start weaning off the boot (thank goodness….I hate that thing!), for this coming week only wearing it to work, and next week being done with it completely. I also was cleared to slowly resuming regular exercise!!! He said I can do the bike, elliptical, run….BUT introduce things back slowly, don’t push too hard, and start with the lowest impact stuff and work my way up(aka stationary bike first, running last). So today I went to the gym and got on the stationary bike and got my first real cardio workout in exactly 4 weeks!!! I did 37.5 minutes (a 5 minute easy warm up, about 30 minutes of pushing harder, then about 2.5 minutes to cool down), which apparently was 13.5 miles (it takes me over 2 hours and 20 minutes to run that but less than 40 minutes to bike it….interesting). But just getting on there and breaking a sweat….man…. IT FELT GLORIOUS! I felt out of shape but didn’t even care because I now I know I can work on getting my aerobic base back, leg strength back, and working towards getting back to running again!

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Welcome to My Running Blog!

I planned to start a running blog in 2014. I have been getting pretty into “the running thing” since the summer of 2012 and had some pretty big plans for 2014, and was hoping to bring along with me whoever wanted to come on my journey via this blog. What is this journey that I had planned?

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1. The Journey of a Thousand Miles

I decided that I wanted to log at least 1,000 miles this year. This averages out to between 19 and 20 miles per week. Since June of 2013, I generally put in between 20 and 30 miles per week when I wasn’t “tapering” for a race, recovering from a race, or injured, so I figured that this would be an achievable goal for me.

2. Becoming a Half Fanatic

I ran my first half marathon in 2013 and fell in love with the distance. I decided I wanted to keep training for and running them. I know several people who are part of a sort of “club” called the Half Fanatics, which you have to qualify for by running a bunch of half marathons. There are different levels you can get up to but the minimum you need to do to qualify is 3 half marathons within 90 days. I decided I wanted to attempt to qualify for this “club” this year.

3. Qualifying for Guaranteed Entry into the 2015 New York City Marathon

New York Road Runners (NYRR), which is our biggest race organization in NYC, who organizes the NYC Marathon, has a program called the 9+1 program. If you run 9 NYRR races and volunteer at 1 additional race in a year, you get guaranteed entry into the NYC Marathon the following year. Without guaranteed entry you have to try to get in by doing a lottery, and it can take years. If I complete the 9 races and volunteer at the additional race in 2014, I will get to run the 2015 marathon.

4. Coming Back from Injury

This was an unintended goal on my journey, but life happens. I had already planned to start this blog in the new year, but in December I began having problems with my foot. I ran a half marathon on December 8th, and the race went fine and I felt no pain. However, afterwards I could not put any pressure on my left foot without excruciating pain. I went to the doctor and he thought I had a stress fracture. He put me in a soft cast and ordered me to stay off it completely for 3 days, and then walk only in a medical walking boot. I have been in the boot for over 3 weeks now, and have not run a step in almost 4 weeks. After an X-Ray and MRI, it was concluded it was NOT stress fractured, thankfully, but I had a bone contusion (basically a bruised bone) and some damage to a tendon and ligament in that same area. I can start weaning myself off the boot in a few days, and should be able to return to running gradually. An unfortunate way to start my year, and really unfortunate to have to start a running blog when I’m not running , but I have every hope I will be able to get back to it soon and resume my goals!

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