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Postpartum Expectations from a Runner Girl – Reclaiming My Body Through the Onset of Emotions

26 Jul

Hello lovelies!!!

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Happy Weekend! Yay!!!

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Today I am 73 days postpartum. I was given the green light to start running, I mean training, for a fall marathon by my OB on July 11. It took a whole 8 weeks to be cleared to run after our baby girl debuted. But as you know I’m stubborn and determined so I began running the week-ish prior (hey, my doctor was on vacation and my appointment was delayed!)

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After having been patient for close to 40 weeks to meet my little rosebud, how on earth did doctors expect me to hold off from running for 2 whole months? I ran my entire pregnancy and then they put a moratorium on it?! Not okay.

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Anyway, I took it easy with doctor approved light cardio. I engaged in walking, the elliptical and mini weights beginning at the 4 week postpartum mark. I started running again around 7 weeks (I may be a liar). But I’m not lying about taking it easy. It wasn’t until July 11th that I started to run farther and faster. 

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I wanted to run farther and faster because shoot, I have had my eyes set on a fall marathon. But I also wanted to run farther (not faster) to engage my fat burning furnace to melt the lingering pounds that made themselves home to my thighs, hips, stomach and back. Maybe in my breasts, too, who am I kidding. I definitely don’t need the weight there. If I had a say in its allocations I’d rather see that weight in my boot-tay. Am I right!?! (Squats all day don’t do me any favors…I’m just saying.)

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But because I’m not on an episode of Botched I can’t have anyone rearrange my ASSets how I see fit. I’ve been working hard reclaiming my assets through sweat. Today, more than ever before, I have been focused unremittingly on my core. I have not only engaged in core circuit training, but also legs and booty circuit training, and now, marathon training!!!!!!!

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I’ve been feeling ah-mazing! I feel like I can come back and come back stronger and faster.

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But before feeling ah-mazing I was feeling really discouraged. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying – my having a baby girl has been the greatest gift ever, but being forced to “recover” and recover longer than normal because of a c-section really shook me. That on top of the imminent (and grave emotional) loss of our mother. My little family was paralyzed by pain and forced to accept the bitter dichotomy of life – birth and death. Anyway, that’s another matter… What I’m saying is I was active my entire pregnancy and then boom – no sweat sessions were prescribed for 6-8 weeks. I had to handle my emotions, both postpartum and grief, without running. That was brand new territory for me.

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Speaking of new, I was also a brand new mom who was losing a mother (my fiancé’s). The wave of emotions felt like oil and vinegar – how could one be so blissfully happy with grief and despair rising in the horizon. They didn’t mix well. The onset of emotion overtook me (us). We found ourselves faced with the highs and lows of the reality we were in. We felt guilty for being happy then guilty for being enveloped with grief.

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We traveled by plane 7 days postpartum to visit Andy’s mom before she passed. We had begged for time to spare us so that she could meet her newest granddaughter. I traveled back home, alone, only 10 days postpartum. I was a wreck. I bravely accepted the fate of our mother on my journey home while dodging insults of having such a new baby on a flight, let alone in an airport. I was shuffling between whether or not to spew my circumstance with strangers or smile and embrace the mommy shaming. I did the latter. The judgement only amplified my emotions.

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We lost mom shortly after I returned home. I had emotions storming through me. My mind was in a turbulent capricious state. All I wanted to do was run it out but my body ached in ways that I cannot describe. My cesarean cut pulsated. My heart was heavy. My heart was light. And it was full of love. In the deep of love. My reaction to life was that love surely does cut you. I was a vat of vehemence smiling through all the pain and smiling through all the joys. 

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But rewind…

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On top of all my emotions, my vanity also played and integral part in my hormonal hurdle to find harmony. To find peace. Sanity. Normalcy.

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Rewind again. When I finally got home from the hospital, I wanted so badly to hop on the scale to witness the miraculous weight loss from this “having a baby” diet.

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And.

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Dun. Dun. Dun.

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The weight I gained during pregnancy was still there. Every. Single. Pound. Yes. Every single pound was accounted for.

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I cried on the inside. 

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These are the things they don’t prepare you for postpartum, especially post-cesarean. The fervent of emotions. The inability to easily pick up your baby from their bassinet because your cut is new and wretchedly deep. The pain. The fear of being a new mother. The weight. Oh my goodness the water weight. But I stress – the emotions. Emotions because as new mom I can tell you expectations are too high. Emotions because I almost had vaginal birth but my baby couldn’t handle the contractions and her heart rate kept falling dangerously low. Emotions because I felt like every single person was overwhelmed with joy over my little miracle and all they wanted to do was meet her but they discarded me. No one (most) thought a cesarean was a big deal. Not many asked how I was. And because notifications of vagina jokes kept coming across my iPhone because… “Hey, it’s still intact!” What the fuck ever people!!!  Hello, I’m in pain!!! Everyone forgot I was the star of the show. But with the birth of my little angel I suddenly became the supporting actress. My glowing beauty transformed to that of a rag doll beat up and ran over by an 18-wheeler that reversed. I looked like 50 shades of SHIT with breasts as solid as boulders that doubled as my serving platter because I could eat dinner off them. Emotions because I was pining for the day I didn’t feel like a dairy cow. Emotions because despite it all, I wouldn’t trade my old self for my new self. Emotions because I thought I was crazy for loving this new role.

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Emotions because of my new body. 

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I remember I stripped off my clothes and looked in the mirror. I stood there for a long time. I poked my stomach. It was soft. I was amazed that the elasticity and muscle memory were not activating!!! Then I saw my thighs. My calves. My legs. I cried hard. Vulgar Tears. I felt disgusting in my skin. How could I have felt like a champion of pregnancy up until birth and return home looking like a foreigner in my skin? I truly didn’t recognize myself. There was no bump but those weren’t my thighs.

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Why hadn’t the doctors sent me home with a “What to expect after you have a baby – cesarean edition” pamphlet that outlines the litany of normal concerns for new mothers (and fathers) who courageously try to navigate through an emotional, sleep deprived battlefield of heightened senses? Mind you it should also detail realistic expectations of what you should anticipate from your body that asserts, “Relax! You don’t have a fever. And no, you did not wet the bed. You are experiencing  hot flashes and night sweats – that is your body’s natural way to flush out all the excess water from pregnancy and delivery.” I had NO pamphlet. I had to resort to Google for this wealth of information to learn that the pregnancy glow alters to a new form…a foreshadowing tale of what I have to look forward to – menopause. WTF.

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I was also patiently awaiting my new form sans baby bump. But I weighed the exact same after having had my 6 pound 5 oz baby girl from the day I was admitted. How was that even plausible even after being forced to fast, too? I drank nothing but water and coffee for days. I made liars of their cleansing characteristics because they surely didn’t act like any kind of diuretic. I was still feeling very pregnant. I was mortified. 

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The pamphlet idea would have been notably helpful at that mile marker. I didn’t know about all the water weight I would gain due to the IVs. I didn’t know my cut would burn, tingle, feel oddly numb but sense pressure for days, weeks, months. I didn’t know about breastfeeding and prolactin.

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I wore long dresses for days to hide my legs but they didn’t cover my newly augmented breasts by milk. People would speculate all my weight went there, and while it made me laugh, I was beyond uncomfortable. I was annoyed and embarrassed by my blossoming bosoms.

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I felt awkward. That’s it in a word. But I was also the happiest I had ever been. It was the strangest thing.

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But now that my little family and I are two months in, I’ve grown fond of my new body and its abilities. I had high expectations of rebounding and I didn’t meet the mark. But I know I will. That’s who I am. I do acknowledge that I’ve snapped back relatively quick but I wanted breastfeeding to be some miraculous cure-all of soft curves and a soft tummy. Newsflash: it isn’t. It’s an old wives tale.

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I am currently working hard at marathon training again and I believe I will get back to where I was before I was pregnant. Perhaps all these months off from intense training have alleviated my hip issues! (Praying!!!)

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Speaking of running, I have been doing speed work, fartleks, tempo runs, easy runs and I’m slowly gaining back my ability to cover distance. I completed my longest distance of 8 miles strong last week! While I’m so fortunate to be logging miles again to gain speed, endurance, and to soon cover distance to chase Boston, I’m finding that despite it all – my running, leg, booty, and killer core workouts – I’m still unable to activate that fat burning furnace I spoke of earlier to shed the last 3 postpartum pounds. .


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I know I sound obnoxious because it may not sound like much weight, but for me, as a runner, each pound adds time to my pace. My inner voice screamed and continues to scream, “WHAT gives!?!?” 

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I told you before, where I once had abs I am soft. Now I assure you I’m not bitching terribly much – I know I’m fortunate to have been able to shed most of the weight I gained without any effort, but these last few pounds have been troubling me, especially with my incessant desire to workout in an effort to reclaim my body! My gosh, I had rented it out for 39 weeks and even provided an eviction notice…can I have it back yet? Please?

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Through all my attempts guess what I discovered?!? Keep reading…This is only another example of the type of content the pamphlet should cover…

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Despite my efforts, mothers who breastfeed, regardless of the old wives tale that breastfeeding helps melt the fat, retain approximately 5-10 pounds of fat to ensure that in the event of famine, we can nourish our littles (so I guess I’m doing well!). The reason is due to the hormone prolactin – the evil but necessary culprit! Prolactin remains incredibly high in your body for up to 6 months postpartum making weight loss a challenge! It is a challenge because it reduces the body’s ability to metabolize fat. BAM! Repeat. BAM!!! It acts like a safeguard to protect a baby’s milk supply. Hey hospital, put that in a pamphlet to help new mothers ward off fatuous expectations! 

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So here I am, I’ve been sweating it out like the badass motherrunner that I am, and I can’t shake all the weight despite clean eating and exercise. I didn’t get it. I was so frustrated! But now knowing that when I decide to stop breastfeeding the weight should come off effortlessly makes me one happy runnergirl. Oh, that on top of the fact that I won’t be carrying melons around that fluctuate in weight every 2-3 hours. That’s right, I’ve been racing against my milk coming in! Maybe that’s making me faster (I can dream). But until I decide I can no longer continue nursing my little rosebud, I will cherish the moments of feeding her while also being proud that my milk is helping her get those adorable little rolls on her legs! That’s right, I’m the reason for my little chubbina (chubby signorina)!

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Thanks for stopping by and reading about my journey – from chasing Boston to chasing baby – motherhood and running – and my life between all those miles.

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XO

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Valgal

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A New Affair 

19 Jul

Hello lovelies,

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Notice anything different?!.

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Other than me not having a baby bump?!?

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The shoes!!! Meet Brooks Launch 3!!!

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That’s right friends, #badass #motherrunner was running on clouds today. Clouds of comfort! I literally had an extra spring to my step for push-off and it gave me amazing energy return! For real though!!! Plus, their ultra light and perfect for me (I’m a neutral runner). I’m in love. .

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Newton, we’ve covered a lot of distance over our 4 year courtship, but your discount code for me has since expired and your 5 lugs just don’t comfort me like the 4. You will be my first love, and I will continue to be a fan, and even wear you for feelings of wild-eyed marathon training nostalgia of the past (I have quite the collection)…But let it be known you’ve got some fierce competition these days! And I’m thinking it’s time for a new affair…#runnergirl

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Today marked my marathon training’s request of an easy 3 mile run – which was totally hard to do because I wanted to rocket through my run with these new badass kicks!!! But hey, I’m following protocol – and that’s a first!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

First Week of Marathon Training Postpartum

16 Jul

Hello lovelies!!!

Happy Saturday – woot woot! Today marked my longest run postpartum – 8 miles at an easy pace – averaging 7:52/min. My lungs and legs felt fresh. Granted, I could have definitely welcomed speed, but for first time ever, I’m following a marathon training schedule and it told me to go easy. Yup! This mama is ready to BQ!!! And with training I hope to shed the baby weight too. ..

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The hardest part of marathon training post baby so far has been to be patient with miles and time because let’s face it, during pregnancy we’re told not to: run for too long, not to elevate our heart rate, not to exert too much energy etc…Therefore, running for long periods of time is new again – my mental training to tackle distance is lacking. The second challenge is running in between feeding sessions – I’m always racing against my milk coming in 😂. .

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Anyway, I really wanted to go faster and/or longer today but I took a step back and told myself that I am committed to embracing the marathon program that promises speed. If I could run a Mary before (or 3), then I can definitely run one again 🙌🏼!!! I mean shoot, I only missed Boston by 4 minutes before while having bronchitis – perhaps I’m closer after baby? Either way I’m loving the journey! First week of 12 ✔️ done and done! .

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Hello, #Boston! I’m coming for you!!! 💙💛 #bq

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Thanks for stopping by! XO.

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Valgal 


Runnergirls’s Postpartum Update

13 Jul

Hello lovelies!

Today’s been a really hard and emotional day for me. The ugliness of these feelings crept in my mind last night and I was surprised they were still present this morning. I’m not sure why I’m feeling blue – but I’m crying for no apparent reason. I’m thinking it’s related to postpartum hormones and the unwelcoming truth that I return to work soon.

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To shake these feelings I went for an hour run and covered 7.6 miles – my longest run PP!!! My average time was 7:53. These miles includes a mix of #fartleks and #tempo pace for #marathon #training. I had a few fast miles disguised in my overall pace and that, as well as the sweat, helped clear my mind – but not enough. I finished today’s workout feeling both badass and disengaged with my mind…

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You see, this quote puts it perfectly – “Running is alone time that lets me unspool the tangles that build up over days. I run, pound it out on the pavement, channel that energy into my legs, and when I’m done with my run, I’m done with it.” This may not be the case today, but I’m sure it helped me run some of the funk out.

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Hey postpartum hormones, you’re a bitch! Hopefully, I get back to me STAT. Until then, I’ll be running it out but most importantly, loving on my little rosebud. #postpartumsucks #truth #justbeinghonest

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

A Walk/Run Sequence- Who Am I?

22 Apr

Fitness for two:
This Garmin snapshot of a walk/run sequence may not make me look like a Boston bound runner – but training 20lbs more than my race weight has surely got to give me some kind of advantage. Riiiiight?! Post-Partum Expectations – compliments of Runner’s World.

Excerpt:

There’s a theory as to why some runners have a good post-partum running experience – it’s called the “remodeled” heart. “During pregnancy, the heart actually changes to accommodate for a higher level of blood circulation,” Mottolla said… The result? The heart likely doesn’t have to work as hard at any level of exertion following the process of giving birth. It’s something akin to the benefit some runners might experience from training at a low heart rate—eventually the heart adapts and helps move runners forward at less effort.

***Less effort -💪🏼😜✌🏼️ helllstotheyes!!!

Many runners speculate that their increase in oxygen-rich red blood cells helps boost post-partum performance. This is true, but only for a short period.

***💪🏼😜✌🏼️ I’ll take it!!!

James Pivarnik, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology and epidemiology at Michigan State University said there is the possibility that the hormone relaxin, which helps prep a woman’s body for delivery, might play a role. “If relaxin makes a woman more flexible and that increases her stride length by even a small bit, she might benefit,” he said.

***💪🏼😜✌🏼 I’ll take this too!!!

New moms might also experience a psychological boost from the delivery process. “There are women who might realize that if they can give birth, they can tough it out in a race, too,” Pivarnik said.

***Oh my gosh, I don’t know if I’m ready for this. I can finish a marathon no problem regardless of pain, fatigue, exhaustion, legs heavy with lactic acid, but birth? Epidural please!!! ✔️ Anyway, with relentless focus, hard work, and baby in tote (we got the BOB stroller!!!) my dream will come! Boston will happen!

How are you managing your goals during pregnancy?! Let me know by leaving me a comment!

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

Friction

25 Jul

Hello Lovelies!!!

And how are all of you fabulous people doing today?

The sun is out, the weather is warm but not too warm, the humidity is low and I got my run on today…I got it in!!! Today is a good day. And last night I had a good evening, too. I shared my evening with the lovely beauties I’m grateful to call my friends. My relationships with them are so powerful and with little friction. We sipped on wine and shared laughter over topics of relationships, travel, engagements, injuries, and wildly inappropriate subject matters. The dialogue nurtured me as I have missed these women immensely. I swear these friends of mine eat sunshine. We can discuss terrible and beautiful things that have happened to us and to others. We can also discuss world events that are equally terrible and beautiful, and we do so in such a manner of grace and patience with sober awareness paired with frivolity. These women help me explore the depths of myself I wouldn’t otherwise know. They help me see a world through a different lens and I want to give them a shout out and say thank you.

I want to say thank you to these beauties for a myriad of reasons. One of which is kind of my mantra and I’ll get to that. But to travel somewhere 2,200+ miles away from home and to luck into a group of women who not only speak my mantra, but live it…are you shitting me? This is not common practice. I believe most people peacock 24/7 and I’m not trying to sound pessimistic there…more like I’m finally a realist. More often than not people speak words crafted by their bitter tongues that speak boilerplate bullshit…But these women, nah…they’re real.

I always find that when I’m with these women we find ourselves in a natural rhythm of conversation. Their passion and excitement flows from their tongues like the wine we pour in our glasses. Their eyes sparkle and radiate when they divulge new news! I love these women unconditionally because they don’t encourage whining. They don’t suggest that you have to explain yourself and what you’re doing with your life. Instead, they propose solutions; they suggest that you throw yourself in unknown territory without a predetermined plan. They encourage strength, independence, and freedom from the insecurities that we tend to build in our heads. If there’s friction they want to help you sand it down. They speak Valerie. They defy the status quo and don’t explain why. They just do it. They are genuinely themselves. They are authentic. And they don’t apologize. Helllllooo, can you tell why I love them?

One of our topics in the middle of our wildly inappropriate conversations was about my hip. My good ol’ right hip. They encouraged me to accept my fate and have surgery. So let’s discuss the deets.

Granted, I ran today…but oh man the hurt. It felt like someone was stabbing a steak knife in my hip in an attempt to get it lodged in there to stay put while I was running. War games were playing in my head. My rational self begged me to stop while my stubborn self told myself to push through the pain. PAIN IS TEMPORARY. Pain is Temporary. Pain is temporary.

This is when I recognized that the conversation I had with my doctor the other day was not hogwash. I had originally thought that the doctor wanted to err on the side of surgery because that’s profit in his pocket…and although he showed me evidence of why it was needed, I couldn’t believe it.

So let’s backtrack…

Monday I went to a specialist who would perform my right hip labral tear surgery. I visited with him to discuss the results in greater detail, determine the necessity of it and if required, schedule the date of surgery. When I met with Dr. P he promptly asked me if I knew my results. I assured him I did. He said okay, tell me what you know. I explained the tear in quick breath. He advised me that I was misinformed. He followed it up and instructed me to lie down on my back because he wanted to contort my body to feel how my hip would react. 

Okay. I felt friction.

After a few awkward leg placements and my right hip popping disturbingly he sat me up. The friction dulled to intermittent blunt pain. He inquired if the positions hurt. I said to a degree but it was tolerable and felt more like my hip was catching onto something. He appeared to be in disbelief and said I have a high pain tolerance.

He had me take a seat next to him by the computer. Images of my hip flashed on the screen. I recall thinking, “Great. What good is this shit…I can’t read it. It’s my hip. Woo freaking hoo. What’s atypical about it?”
That’s when Dr. P starts explaining my condition.

Guess what…

I don’t have a right hip labral tear from running…NOPE. That’s the secondary condition from running. The primary condition is severe Femoracetabular Impingement (FAI) or better known as hip impingement with a number of bone cysts coupled with a large labral tear. Ouchies!

To explain I’d like to compare it to relationships. When something is good for you it shouldn’t hurt, right? But like most relationships friction arises. How do you get past the friction—especially when the relationship works for the most part?

This is my conundrum.

Running, parallel to me and my relationships with people have become old faithful to each other. SO why is it turning on me? Is it bored with my antics, my conversation, my very essence? Have I nagged about the pain and discomfort for too long? Have we become like security blankets devoid of true companionship?

I have exercised integrity with running. I have even applied the attraction principle—a little bit of distance and silence… I thought that should have done the trick (back in April). Running post-discovery of the labral tear robbed me of my confidence but reassured me when I picked it back up that distance and silence were golden gifts—the catalysts that helped me find my speed. A BQ was SOOOOO in my future, like tomorrow!!! So where did I go wrong? Did I even go wrong? Why are we breaking up?

My running relationship akin to that of real relationships has caused literal friction. My hip impingement basically means that the pain I’be felt since I was about 3 years old in gymnastics and forward was due to my ball (femoral head) and socket (acetabulum) rubbing abnormally creating damage to my hip joint. Apparently, compliments of my genetic makeup, my femoral head is too big for the socket (that’s what she said – I had too…sorry!). All my complaints of the rubbing, crushing, clicking, catching, sanding and popping sensations in my hip have a real physiology — for that I am relieved.

I’m suffering with the reality of my diagnosis because I’m used to getting what I put in on and off the path. I like to gain what I’ve earned. I recognize obstacles come up and trust me I know them well. I overcome them. I am happy to run through them with all my might — my whole 5’2” stature. But now I won’t be able to run through this one. Did I earn this discomfort because I was putting in the miles and speed to earn a BQ?

The surgery is going to require Dr. P to complete an arthroscopic procedure. He will shave my femoral head down to a size that accommodates the socket. During the arthroscopy he will repair and clean out the damage to the labrum and articular cartilage as well as shave off the cysts. Ugh!

Dr. P told me because of my 5’2” frame and being moderately thin that it is highly likely I will have a difficult recovery because my body won’t be able to compensate for the excessive swelling. Oh boy. He’s telling me to expect a 6-9 month recovery.

WHAT!?

I asked him immediately when I can start running…he laughed. He told me I might be able to jog sooner but he can’t give me a definitive timeline. I’m troubled because I don’t know what jogging is.  

My point is the friction is real. I can choose to either work through the friction to find a resolution (surgery) or wash my hands of it. Some relationships are best ended. Truth. Not this one. If you’re like me and chose to work through the friction I hope you reap the rewards of fighting through the discomfort because you want it so madly!

Relationships are unpredictable (have you met running?). Some are safe. Some are monotonous. Some have explosive sparks (hello wildly inappropriate girl talk). Some are bound by magnetism. Some are boring, abusive, codependent, selfish and proprietary. Whatever relationship you find yourself in, running, platonic, romantic, I urge you to see the opportunities disguised as friction. 

I believe there is an opportunity to BQ despite the diagnosis…just not as soon…

The BQ qualifying door may be shut for 2015 but I recognize that although I have been rejected from what I wanted, I’m being re-directed to something better. Find comfort in friction. Make it a friend. After all, to date it’s been a long-lasting friend helping me to discover that it all isn’t really that random — you can fuck up entirely along the way, you can play the wrong sport and not get that D1 scholarship, date the wrong people, marry the wrong person, invest in the wrong stock, train too hard and get injured…but you end up exactly where you need to be.

Cheers to friction. May it continue to unfold in all your relationships and may you find its remarkably uncanny backdrop in crises to be the driver of your greatest revelations.

How do you handle friction? What have your experiences been with sports/running injuries and how have you rehabilitated?

Thanks for stopping by!!!

X0

Valgal

     

 

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