Monday, February 21, 2011

First PT Appointment

I hurried in to the physical therapy center this morning after a flurry of preparing my office for a group of customers visiting this week. I was the first patient there at 7:00am before all but one of the staff – a great physical therapist with a leaning towards sports medicine.

He walked me through a number of tests to check for imbalances in strength, leg length, flexibility, and posture between my two sides. As I expected, there were several little things that were off. A slightly longer leg, a tight IT band, some weaker muscles. But nothing stood out as THE cause of my hip pain.

He had me do a few sets of exercises and showed me several more to do at home along with some stretching and work on a foam roller. I’ll be back on Friday to see how things are going. If these exercises do the trick, I won’t have to back off on running and I’ll be ready for marathon training in April.

So far so good. I look forward to seeing how this goes!

On a side note, this is my 300th post on Cyclin’ Missy. I’m so happy to still be here on the journey with all of you!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

2011 Event List Updates

Hey, everyone!  I just made a ton of updates to my 2011 Grand Rapids Events list.  I corrected or added dates for a lot of events that were previously missing.  More updates will come in the future.

If you know of any other fun events in or around the West Michigan area, or you see any errors on the list, please let me know!

If you plan to do any of these events, let me know that, too.  It would be fun to meet up for a celebratory beer or some food after a race!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hip pain update - X-rays normal

I heard back from my doctor’s office last night, and the x-rays of my hip looked normal. That means no bone or cartilage issues. Yah!

I’ll be going to my first physical therapy appointment on Monday morning. I’m looking forward to hearing their diagnosis and learning the techniques that I can use to heal and prevent further problems in the future.

I’ve got a lot of years of running still ahead of me! Let’s do this!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hip pain

Since I started running in high school, my right hip has occasionally felt like it goes out of alignment when I stand up from a squatting position. I notice it when I first try to walk normally upon standing up. I just have to move the hip around a bit and then I can walk on it normally again. It never “pops” like it’s going in or out of the socket. It just doesn’t feel right – like that joint is suddenly weaker.

Then last spring as I started training for a triathlon, I began running again more frequently. The year before, I ran very little but did a lot of cycling. So when I started having some minor pain in my hip during or after a run, I figured it had something to do with weak hip flexors or some other weakness that developed from not running for an extended period.

It could also have been a result of working with a personal trainer during the tri training. One of my goals was to correct a minor outward swing in my right foot during my running stride. Maybe my body was adjusting to the new, straighter form after being adapted to the bad stride for so many years.

I’ve continued running throughout the year since then, and the hip pain still occurs sometimes during, but mostly after, running. It’s not bad – just a little bit of an ache once in a while. If I use or otherwise stretch that joint in unusual ways (like in yoga or skiing), it will hurt a little, too.

I’ve tried some exercises and stretches to correct the problem on my own, but it isn’t going away. I’m not super concerned, but at the age of 31, I’m not ready to give up one of the most important activities in my life due to an injury that can be corrected. Or to continue doing the same things if they are just going to make it worse. If this pain is due to long term use or something more permanent like arthritis or tendonitis, I will live with it. But either way I want to know.

I especially want to know as I approach the beginning of a marathon training plan. That’s going to be a lot of running miles.

So, I decided to see my doctor and find out what she thought. I saw her yesterday, and she didn’t think that the problem was anything that some ibuprofen and ice couldn’t address. But we took some x-rays just to be sure, and she wrote a prescription for some physical therapy. I’m eager to hear the results of the x-rays and to see the body mechanics experts.

I’m actually really excited to see a physical therapist! If I ever go back to school for a career change, it will be for PT. I’ve considered shadowing a PT just to get a better feel for the field, but now I get to experience it first-hand as a client!

I’ll update with more information when I find out about the x-rays and see the PT for the first time. Until then, I’ll be enjoying the unusually warm weather for more snowshoeing and yes – running!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

50 in 5

According to a Grand Rapids Press article this past weekend (see the article here), the Michigan Mountain Biking Association is planning to build 50 new miles of single-track in the next 5 years in Grand Rapids. This initiative will include new trails within the city (rather than on the outskirts) and routes connecting existing trail systems.

“The Grand Loop” is planned to connect the Grand Rapids Mountain Bike Park with four other city parks where trails will be built. One of the potential locations on the loop is Ken-O-Sha Park near my house. It would be awesome to be able to ride to a substantial dirt trail system from my home instead of having to drive somewhere.

The “50 in 5” initiative, it is hoped, will move the city of Grand Rapids closer to being a candidate to someday host the IMBA’s International Mountain Bike Summit.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bring on the snowshoeing!

Since the “blizzard” hit West Michigan last week, the hubby and I have subsequently tried for the first time, tried several more times, and fallen in love with snowshoeing.

For our first time out, we ventured out of our house the day after the storm before the side streets had been plowed and trekked down our road. We climbed to the top of every giant snow pile created by a plowed parking lot or intersection that we could find within a quarter mile of our house. Our neighbor said, “I bet you never thought you’d need to use those in town!”

We’ve taken several more walks around our neighborhood since then.

But my favorite outing so far has been to Stanaback Park about 1.5 miles from our house. In the summer, I’ve enjoyed running or cycling on the park’s paved path through the woods. But on our snowshoes, we ventured off the path and explored the forest following game trails, examining deer bedding areas, and walking on the frozen creek. I loved feeling lost in the woods, making our own trail through the fresh, powdery snow.

The hubby has really taken to this new hobby, which I’m super excited about because I’m loving it, too. It’s great exercise and makes the deep, snowy winter way more fun. For the first time in years, I can say, “Bring on the snow!”

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy Blog-Birthday

I can hardly believe it.  Today is the two-year birthday of my little Cyclin' Missy blog!

I have met some great people through this blog, and I've received some really meaningful stories, advice, and encouragement from all of you.

Thanks for reading about my expriences and for sharing this adventuring with me!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winter Traction Review

I hear many people say that they avoid running in the winter due to the cold temperatures and slippery surfaces. With the right clothing, the cold has never been much of a problem for me. But icy pavement can be hazardous and frustrating.

This winter, I’ve been trying a few different inexpensive products that strap on to the bottom of my running shoes to provide more traction on the snow and ice. None of these are perfect, and they certainly aren’t meant for extreme conditions like climbing. No matter what type of traction aid you use, you should still be careful when walking and running on slippery surfaces. But products like these do make me feel more confident on my feet and more efficient as I push off the ground.

The first product that I tried is a set of Magic Spikers by Eisen. These are made of rubber with a set of metal spikes (AKA crampons) concentrated at the ball of each foot. I picked these up on clearance at a shoe store a couple years ago for about $10-15.

Pros: The ¼ inch spikes are robust and dig in to thick snow (fresh or packed down) really well. They offer good grip on ice, too (though I don’t trust them to do all the work – I’m still careful). They fit snuggly on my shoes, and the spikes have lasted well without any bending.

Cons: Since the spikes are inflexible and concentrated at the ball of the foot, they can be a little uncomfortable on clear sections of pavement. They would be better if there were some spikes on the heel, too, to even things out.

The second product that I’ve tried is a set of YakTrax Pro. Instead of spikes, the YakTrax use sets of crisscrossing rubber straps wrapped in wire coils. You basically get a diamond of coils under the forefoot and one under the heel. They cost me about $18 online.

Pros: Since the coils cover the whole length of the foot, my footfalls feel even on both snow and clear pavement. I like that I get some traction on the heel of my foot as well as at my toes. The YakTrax fit around my shoe with an additional Velcro strap across the top of the foot for extra security and adjustable fit.

Cons: The coils provide traction all over the foot, but they don’t dig in very deep. I miss the feeling that crampons provide when they grab pavement under the snow.

My hubby was actually the guinea pig for the third product in my review – a set of STABILicers Lite. While running together, he saw that I could stride more easily wearing my various types of spikes and asked for a set of his own. STABILicers Lite are made of rubber with traction pads (like on the bottom of snow boots) and small metal spikes at the balls of the feet and on the heels. They cost me about $15 online. There are other versions of the STABILicer with more robust spikes, so if they interest you, check out their website.

Pros: The STABILicers Lite seem to offer a little of both worlds. They provide spike traction both at the toes and heels and are comfortable on clear pavement. They fit snuggly on shoes. Note: After reading online reviews of the product, I decided to buy a size larger than what was recommended on the website. I’m glad I did, because they don’t stretch a ton.

Cons: The small spikes on these don’t dig in super deep, but they still make a difference in traction.

Overall, my preference is torn on these products. I have ended up choosing either the Magic Spikers or the YakTrax depending on the conditions that I plan to run on. That has worked well for me.

A whole array of similar products exist in stores and online, and I’d recommend giving one of them a try if you want a little more confidence running on slippery surfaces in the winter. Very few obstacles truly have to stop you from running. Low traction is certainly an easy and inexpensive one to overcome.

What solutions have you found for increased traction in the winter? Have you come up with any home-made options? I’d love to hear about them!

And if all else fails…you can always try a set of these...which I plan to do today, by the way. ;)

Ride the Divide and Outside

Last Thursday, a showing of Ride the Divide - a documentary about the Tour Divide mountain bike race - came to Grand Rapids.  I was so excited to see it after following several bloggers doing the race over the past couple years.  The film was fun.  I'm glad I had the opportunity to see it in my city.

The cyclists of Grand Rapids packed two screens for the film at the Wealthy Theater, which produced what the Tour Divide folks claimed was their biggest crowd yet.  If that's true, I'm a little proud.

After the movie, someone mentioned that Grand Rapids was designated the nation's best town for mountain biking by Outside Magazine.  See the story here.  I was surprised to hear that when I think about places like Crested Butte or Moab.  But GR is a pretty good place to ride.  We have miles and miles of trails from easy to highly technical within 30 minutes of anywhere in the city.  It's inexpensive to live and ride here, and the spring/summer/fall seasons are beautiful.  I'm not sure #1 is deserved, but the mountain biking here is pretty sweet.  Thanks to Outside for the visibility!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Registered - 2011 Chicago Marathon

It’s official! My 2011 is starting out with big plans. I am now registered for the 2011 Chicago Marathon. This will be my first marathon ever, and I am excited!

Time to start running!