Irish gal living the American dream in Austin, Texas y'all!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Stubborn as a Black Donkey

There are a lot of saying and phrases we use at home in the O'Connor household and it wasn't until I started using them in conversation with people outside the inner circle that I realised we were probably a bit weird (in a good way). Here's a little of Toorsaleen lingo decoded:

  • As tired as a tinker (or ten)
  • As thirsty as a badger (we've got the inside scoop.. badgers get EXTREMELY thirsty)
  • Like a ram in November (figure that one out for yerselves ;))
  • As stubborn as a black donkey
Now, the last one might have been reserved especially for me and was used quite often by my mother. The source of this stubbornness (Coffey VS O'Connor)  is still a source of debate, and while I didn't agree at the time.. I think mamma MIGHT have had a point (don't tell her).

I could give many examples and break myself down here.. but in this case, I know that I pretty much ignored the signs that minimalist running wasn't for me. I felt my foot was 'quare' before I even hit the road.. but no, I had to finish what I started. I had to carry on with what i'd written on my fridge to get done that week. This breed of a fool hit the road a week after a painful treadmill run, hence epic foot malfunction.

You see, I read the book Born to Run (great book by the way) which preached that running barefoot was how our ancestors ran and they had a lot less injuries than modern runners. It was therefore the only way I wanted to run. My body doth protest too much.

So while I could go on a while here's my lessons for trying something new: get advice from someone in the know, listen to your pain receptors, don't be as stubborn as a black donkey when your body isn't cooperating...CAPISH?

With that, I tried to run on Sunday of last week and did 7 miles (RED SIMPLE.. I know). So, I got a bit of a telling to by Mr Man and Mr Man's brother. Here's what Adarell (personal trainer) said to me: 
Be careful with your injury. It doesn't sound good. I know about wanting to finish what you started but your injury is sounding pretty serious. Even if you don't run 7:30 miles we will still be proud of you. I always tell my clients when it comes to injury, the first step is rest (to stop doing what causes pain). Of course I get all types of excuses like, "if I stop I will get fat" or "its not that bad" or my favorite "professional athletes or professional actors and actresses work out all the time so if I want to look like them I have to keep going". To that last point I always say if you are getting paid for your fitness or for your looks then by all means proceed. But conventional wisdom is to stop and let the body heal. So please take care of yourself. You are young and fit and have many years of physical fitness exploits ahead of you. There is no need to rush it now. 

Thanks Adarell, I needed that.

And since then I haven't run.

Here's what I have done:
Fri: steroid injection
Sat: Total body conditioning class
Sun: 7 mile run
Tues: elliptical 30 mins & 15 min ab burner (Nike training Club app.. love this app; get it, it's free)
Wed: Gillian Michael's DVD week 3
Thurs: Elliptical 1 hr
Fri: Abs
Sat: bike.. 1 hr of torture! 
Sun: 30 min elliptical & Booty Burner (love this too)

I'm gonna chance a 3 mile run on Wednesday and test out the foot.

In other news, I had a very successful fundraising event last week! I hosted a bake sale on UT campus on Tuesday. It was a lot of work.. I got a great local coffee shop to sponsor coffee; J.P's Java, thanks a mill. I had so many friends that helped with the baking, I am so grateful to all you guys. Jackie, Aileen, Mikaela, Meredith, Sylvie, Nancy, Larissa and Laura all baked up a storm. Laura even arrived at the building right before it got started with pecan chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven (QUICK, wipe that drool off your keyboard!).

Gluten-free almond cookies I made.. yum yum in my tum

My grand total was $345!!! Big success! Another great thing to come out of this was that I now know so many people in my department too :)

On to my next event now.. I'm very excited about this one.. It's gonna be a kickball party/ barbeque on May 25th. Austinites mark your calendars! Fundraising is a lot of work so when it's something fun, I know I will enjoy the organising process and it will be worth the work; kickballers sure know how to party.

kickballers in their usual attire

I'm now up up $2020, wohooo, it's been a good week! I've still got a lot to raise. $3330 is the absolute minimum I need to raise. $4500 is the ideal target.

BIG thank you to those who donated most recently: Tricia Sheehan, Amanda Coffey, Nuala & Dinny Coffey and Alessandra Rossi!

You too can support The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America here. Our very own Team Challenge runner Michael Ginsberg ended up in hospital this week with an obstruction; he's thankfully home now. The poor guy has had a rough few years with Crohn's, and he's just 29. If you still need convincing as to why we need answers as to the cause and cure, please read this .

Have a great week people! P.S. please share the weird saying in your family, surely we're not the only weirdos? 

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fashionable footwear

Let me present to you the very latest in footwear fashion!

Sexy eh?! Hobbling around in my bootie with over a week now.. getting used to it, apart from the ordeal of climbing stairs.. I look like John Wayne or a duck.. ya gots to spread 'em wide to climb a stairs at any reasonable speed!

I started writing this post last night and I was feeling rather frazzled after a ''character building'' type of week but today all I can think is.. what a difference a day makes! Lots of positive things are happening again.. and good news on the foot front is one of those things!

I had an MRI scan on Monday night (8PM..wierd) and I was anxiously awaiting results all day yesterday and today. So, the fracture they found last week is a really old one and not a concern anymore. AND I don't have another fracture.. I have inflammation that was basically caused by the barefoot running I tried out..remember teenage mutant ninja turtle feet? Yup, if you're thinking of barefoot running, don't!

I talked to the podiatrist about it last week and he says that if you grow up barefoot and that is all you know then running that way won't be a problem since you develop the muscles necessary to support yourself from a very young age. While some people can handle starting as an adult, the vast majority of people can't and get injured like me. One guy i met during the week quoted his doctor as saying, ''barefoot running? I love it! It makes me lots of money!''

I'm getting a steroid injection on Friday, new shoes that will completely stabilise me and I should be back running in a few weeks (fingers crossed!) In the spirit of Team Challenge and those who run while needing to poop 20 times a day (Crohn's sufferers), I'm not going to let this setback stop me! If I can't run in July, I will bike 13.1 miles (a few times), do it in a wheelchair, something! Fear not, I will shed blood, sweat and tears for the cause!

The running and training is really only a part of what I'm doing, and to be honest, the fundraising part of this is a lot more work than I anticipated. Working in research, it has taught me that you've gotta try a lot of different angles and often repeat the process over and over.. but eventually something works and it is delightful!

I will have a few events for fundraising, like the bake sale I am having next week in my department at work. I have applied to many, many places for donations of giftcards.. and relative to how many I have applied to, with little success. I have giftcards from a local supermarket (HEB), movie tickets and ice cream voucher's (Amy's.. the best!) - not too shabby I guess!

On Sunday, with my bike (the damn car was out of action) and my fighting spirit, I took off in search of local businesses willing to sponsor. If at least one of the ten places I tried will help out on some way, then I'll be happy. So for now, I'm gonna keep trying my best and organise some great events that people would pay money to go to anyways, so my friends won't just feel obliged to attend.

My friends and family in Ireland have been very supportive.. my Dad is organising a cycle to raise money! Thank you all so much. Special shout out my aunt and uncles, the Coffey siblings.. Dan, Jerry and Mary. Terri Mantia and Joanne O'Sullivan too, thanks a bunch! Your money will do great things for Crohn's and Colitis sufferers.

Please donate if you can:

Here's the workouts I've done in the last week or so..
Monday: OFF
Tuesday: Step and Sculpt (love this class but my foot doesn't)
Wednesday: 20 min elliptical, 20 min bike, 10 min abs
Thursday: Dynamic strength (happy feet!)
Fri & Sat: OFF
Sunday: 30 min elliptical, 20 min bike, 15 min Nike Training Club 'arm definer'
Monday: OFF
Tuesday: Step and sculpt
Wednesday: 30 min elliptical, 20 min bike & planks

Look what arrived today.. a canvas of Toorsaleen (home) for my wall :)

Speaking of which, I've saved my best news of the day 'till last.. flights booked for July! Mr Man and I are coming home!! I'm so excited, lots of happy occasions to celebrate and I'm even getting a bit weepy now at the thoughts of cuddling my nephew for the first time :)


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Monday, April 8, 2013

Let's Talk About Poo

Now, hold on, before u click the x on this window, let me explain why I want to talk about poo and where it comes from (yep, where poo comes from). I’m gonna talk a little bit about something that’s directly related to my fundraising cause but affects us all.. poo problems! Bear with me, I know it sounds disgusting but please keep reading!

Since I signed up to run a half marathon for Crohn's and Colitis, I definitely feel it is my duty, in a way, to talk about the conditions and explain to people why it is a worthwhile cause. While part of this is make people aware that I am fundraising for a cause that is worth supporting, another side of it is to get people talking about bowel issues.

I want to increase awareness of bowel-related diseases, regardless of how small the community of people who read this. I work in health sciences research and it is part of my job to be aware of the latest research that's published. I never see Crohn’s-related research published. If it’s taboo to talk about problems down yonder in the poo pipes, then there just isn't awareness as to the scale of the problem  among a population of people, hence the lack of research. 1.4 million Americans suffer from Crohn’s and Colitis, it’s a huge problem and clearly worth researching. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) is doing great things to change this, pumping $180 million into research thus far, all raised through fundraising.

Here's the other thing: It bothers me when people say they're having stomach problems, when really, they are referring to poo problems. I know I might be considered a little on the vulgar side (especially by American standards!) but your stomach is just one component of your gastrointestinal system, an organ in your abdomen, and why should we be so embarrassed about calling a spade a spade (Americans get that expression, yea)? Granted, I won’t cause a fist-fight over it if you don't tell me about your bowel movement while I’m eating, the time and place should be considered ;)

Going for a number 2 is just as natural as feeling hungry and eating. But here is my point to all of this…Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are progressive conditions with symptoms becoming more severe and less responsive to treatment over time. Nobody knows the cause OR the cure. If people talked more about their poo problems then maybe we would understand more about the disease progression and early symptoms. Maybe people would be more descriptive about what the ACTUAL problem is, instead of a doctor just fobbing them off and telling them to eat better. As with many diseases, early diagnosis and treatment is going to be vitally important for improving patient outcome.

Sooo, let’s start a facebook page about where we post pics of our dung every day will we??!! Who’s on board?! JUST KIDDING!!! But seriously, I hope what I said above made some bit of sense and you can all relate to the ability to have a good poo so please help out those who can’t!

Here's what I've been up to the past week, prepping for the half marathon:
Sunday: 4.6 miles in 37 mins in a lovely neighbourhood, not mine obviously! Not too shabby considering my foot was hurting a bit

nice spot for a run

Monday: 40 mins elliptical & abs
Tuesday: 'Step and Sculpt' class at the university (UT Austin) gym
Wednesday: 5 miles on treadmill, tempo run
Thursday: off
Friday: 'Vinyasa' yoga class at the UT gym
Saturday: 3 mile Team Challenge group run
Sunday: Capitol 10K in 47:31, oh yeaaa!

It's been 3 weeks since I hurt my left foot, and I didn't run at all for 2 weeks. :ast Sunday I tested it out, and while it hurt a bit to run on it, I could manage a decent pace on it. I had just a week to go to the 10K so I figured I could manage it! The treadmill was fine on Wednesday (I'm getting to the point of the details, promise), and I was pshyced for Sunday! In all honesty, I hardly slept Saturday night (the circling helicopter all night and the treat of a mass murderer on the loose didn't help either), with nerves and excitement! I ran with three great gals: Jackie, Stacey and my Team Challenge bud Aileen! 
Left to right: Jackie, me, Aileen and Stacey

There were 17,500 runner yesterday, what a buzz! All in all, my foot felt fine and I was really happy with my time! It wasn't easy, actually it was tough. I guess my fitness has dropped in the hiatus; I thought my head was going to explode it felt so hot! I couldn't believe I bumped into a running buddy at mile 5, when I was really needing it, he delivered me a high five and we vowed to maintain the pace! I did 7:39 min/mile and according to the website 20th in my age group, wohooooo! worth the pain! We were all delighted with our times so a great day out for all the gals!

I already had had a podiatrist appointment made for this morning. I thought about cancelling, but I went anyways.  And what do ya know.. I have a stress fracture...and I am now the proud owner of a very sexy bootie (note: bootie not booty) for at least 3 weeks! The best (worst) part is that the fracture isn't even where the pain is so I could have a second one, further up my foot, so for an MRI I go. I can still bike, and exercise, but no running... balls, balls, and more balls! At least this means I can try out every exercise class at the UT gym.. and I'll still go support our runners on a Saturday morning, find a way to make use of myself!

Please 'like' and 'share'my posts if you know of others who might like a read or who would like to support CCFA.

A huge thank you to Eimear Plower, Michelle Dennehy, Brigid O'Connor (mother hen of the O'Connor household) and Anne Golden for donating this week xx

Runners, any tips on maintaining cardiovascular fitness while injured?

Have a good week y'all!

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