Sunday, February 22, 2009


So things are a changin' here at the Casa de Danielle and Sam.

My roommate (who owns our house) has decided to take advantage of the fact that I will be at sea for all of April to put her house on the market.

I don't know who here knows the pain of selling a house, but we have six weeks to get this place sale worthy.

Which means that my stuff?

Needs to be all packed up.

After 4.5 years here, I can't believe I am down to less than two months left. And the next two months are going to suck (please see previous post).

I may have mentioned this before, but I intend to move to Seattle with just my station wagon (which conveniently has a rack for 2 pairs of skis and 2 bikes).

So I am in the midst of a massive purge.

I actually enjoy it. It's very cathartic.

The last time I did this was when I was finishing up the Peace Corps and had to fit two years of my life into two pieces of luggage and a carry-on. That was actually fun since I gave my stuff to all the people I had been working with for the past two years and so I knew who would best distribute stuff.

But yeah, if you happen to be wandering around the mountains above Azua, Dominican Republic and see some grandma wearing a Phish Fall Tour 1995 t-shirt, you know who to blame.

Anyway, I am currently working through my stuff in the kitchen cupboards.

I took out my Doughnut Run pint glasses and got sad. So the Doughnut Run typically gives pint glasses instead of t-shirts. EXCEPT for the first year I was here. I have a t-shirt from that year. I have run the doughnut run four times total, so I have three pint glasses.

The race is usually in April, so I was pretty bummed that I would miss it this year (being AT SEA and all) and that I would forever have an incomplete set of pint glasses.

So I was packing them up and decided to check the webpage to see if I might be able to just buy one off them.

And lo and behold!

The doughnut run is taking place on March 29th!!!

So three days before I leave, I can stuff my face full of Krispy Kremes while running a 5k.

My time here in Ames will be complete as I go for the doughnut per stop (8 total) race. My highest is 6. This is going to be hard (please see excel plot),

And I think Steve in a Speedo needs to defend his title.

(and I think you other MSP peeps also need to roadtrip :-)).

Friday, February 20, 2009

I heart red wine and running!

Seriously, it totally makes everything better.

So yeah, today was totally craptacular.

My advisor, out of the blue, says to me "So you need to have three papers out to graduate."

To which I respond (in my head) WTF?!!!!!

Hello! Before I took the job in Seattle we discussed this and what milestones I needed to accomplish. And in my head, the goal was to have two papers out before I left in April. I am making good progress on one, and March will be devoted to the other.

But now! A third! Which I am going to have to pull out of my ass!

To all you non-academicians, I'm not talking about a paper like you write for a class. I'm talking paper that needs to be submitted to a journal and peer reviewed so you can't submit some half-assed piece of work!

So yeah, now I have 150% of the work I thought I had to do before I blow this joint. And yeah, did you know I really only have 6 weeks left in Ames? After over 5 years here, my time here is dwindling fast. I was at the point where I was a bit stressed with what I had to do, but I had my head around it. I had a productive work week so I was actually feeling pretty good.

But then I got blindsided by this. Let me note that he has never required that any of this other students get 3 papers out before they leave.

And did I mention I will be on a boat for the entire month of April? And then at a field station for all of May and June? And that I have to defend my mid-July to graduate this summer? Who has time for this shit?!

Anyway, this cast a bit of a pallor over the rest of my day.

So I decided to blow out of my office at 4pm and go home and run, since it was over 30 degrees. I am finally upping my mileage a little and I had a glorious 7+ mile run. It was dark and I was totally unsafe and not running with reflective gear and totally running on dark country roads. But only a few cars passed me, so it was all good. I couldn't see my HRM so I just had to listen to it beep when I was running too hard or I was being lazy. My run wasn't superfast (7.25 miles in 1:20), but it wasn't supposed to be fast, but an easy run. Of course, I have a half-marathon in a month and I am still only up to 7 miles, but I have been doing "long" runs twice a week or so, so I figure that has to count for something.

Well anyway this is my favorite route in Ames. It is the route I randomly ran the first Thanksgiving I was here and I hated the world because not a single person asked me if I had Thanksgiving plans so I spent Thanksgiving alone and I hated Iowa to death (you people aren't as nice as you seem to think you are) and I decided to just run this loop that I didn't even know where it went or how long it was and it turned out to be a good 7 miles and it was the first time I ever ran more than 6.

Anyway, then I came home, took a hot shower (stretching in the shower, new favorite thing!) and ate leftover mashed potatoes and cracked open a Cab from the Columbia Valley. When I was in NZ mode, I was all about drinking NZ wines, so now that I am in Seattle mode, it is all about the WA wines.

Anyway, my day sucked, but now endorphins + alcohol == superawesome!

I may have to remove this post tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Still a gimp, but Boston 2010

I had my first follow-up with the doc today since surgery. I got my stitches out, and was told that things seem to be progressing alright, but we're being ultra-conservative, so I was told 4 more weeks of crutches and the knee brace, and to come back for the next follow-up in 4 weeks. No driving until the next visit, so I continue to work from home and being an undue burden on my sister for trips to the grocery store, drug store, strip know, the usual errands one needs to do when you're laid up sick.

On the bright side, one of my father's oldest friends, who is a double amputee, who was named Employee of the Year by Careers and the disAbled Magazine, and will be honored at its 17th annual awards banquet in April, is also training to run the Boston Marathon in 2010. If he is able to run, he's asked me to be his guide for the race. I'm hoping he is able to get his training done and qualify. We're really proud of him, and looking forward to Boston next year. It should be an awesome time.

It gives me something to look forward to, and to think about, in my current state of wallowing in self-pity. I can't forget that my injury is temporary, I'll be able to run again at 100% on my own two legs by the summer (if all goes well these next couple months). People in situations a lot worse than me are still able to do these things I hope to do. I just need to try to not let these last few months get me down too much...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Here comes the "library-scientist"

I know, I know, it doesn't look like real science but that's the only way I could think of to fit in a team of running scientists.
Just a quick note from the librarian to say hi.

Caroline (somehow known as a frog in the blogosphere...)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ten ways cross-country ski races are different than running races

1. They give you an actual cloth bib. I am not actually sure what to do with it now. Since it has two sides, I'm almost tempted to make a bag out of it.

2. I actually skied behind a 80 year old Swede named Sven-Olaf for a mile. Until I wiped out going down a hill and never caught the old man again. Did I mention he was doing the 42k and I was doing the 13k? Also I only know his name because he had a special bib indicating he was a "Vasaloppet Veteran" - he has done the sister race in Sweden (a 90k) 30 times. Talk about badass.

3. At water stops you get heated water and... blueberry soup. Really. I was told that you haven't really done Mora until you have dribbled blueberry soup all over your bib from trying to ski and drink at the same time. Although I was also told to beware of the blueberry soup since apparently blueberries? Natural laxative.

4. You think the beginning of some running races is a clusterfuck? Put all those people on skis. Watch them go down the first hill and fall down. Watch a pile up ensue.

5. You want to see a bottleneck? Any hill, even a short one, that is too steep to glide up results in a huge mass of people trying to fishtail their way up, some of whom really suck at it and fall down and take out everyone behind them. Or at the least they cause everyone to stay at a standstill while they try and get up. If they don't fall, they spread their skis so wide, no one can get past them.

6. I don't know about you all, but from running, my hip flexors are very tight. Hey did you know that cross country skiing involves leading with your hips? Hey did you know I could barely walk for two days afterwards?

7. In freestyle races, you can either skate or classic ski and apparently they don't have separate divisions. That's kinda almost like making a runner race someone on rollerblades. I classic. So I got passed. A lot.

8. Apparently even though I suck at going up hills while running and I am good at going down hills, on skis, it's like Bizarro world, so I pass a lot of people going up hills (well when they aren't falling down and taking me out like a bowling pin). I almost feel like when I cross country ski race in the future, I should have a goatee.

9. This has less to do with skiing vs. running and more to do with racing in north-ish Minnesota. I said thank you to a policeman directing traffic (the trail actually crossed roads at points) and he said "You betcha!" Yay for stereotypes!

10. Not that running isn't superfun too, but cross country ski racing seems so much more like frolicking through the woods, but someone gives you a medal when you are done frolicking!

More swimming advice

Since Thursday, my days have pretty much consisted of laying on my couch, crutching to the kitchen, or crutching to the bathroom. I started physical therapy on Tuesday, and started working from home today (Wednesday). I still can't walk, though I am starting to put more weight on my leg, which is some progress I guess.

The doc says I should be able to start swimming again sometime in the next few weeks, once I have some more strength and it's ok to soak my knee (i.e. once the stitches are out and the wounds have healed), as long as I use the pull buoy.

So, I figure, to give me something to look forward to, I would hit you all up for some more advice, since you really helped me out last time. For the next four months, I will be able to do nothing except swim with a pull buoy (no running, no biking, no nada that involves strain, stress, or any real use of anything from the waist down). I've really enjoyed the swimming I've done for the last 5-6 weeks, so I'm excited I can continue with it.

My question is, first, is there any danger in doing nothing but freestyle swimming 4-5 times a week for about 4 straight months in terms of strain or muscle imbalance, and if so, what can I do to balance it out, keeping in mind that I have to use the pull buoy, so I have no access to my legs?

Oh, also, on a completely unrelated note, for everyone who checks us out via RSS, in my boredom, I added a little poll to the blog. We'll be changing the polls around once a week, so if you want to come check us out at some point during the week to vote, please do. :)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Still alive

Thursday went well, all things considered. I got up around 8 a.m., and between then and when I left to pick my sister up to go to the surgical center at 11, I almost ate something approximately 6 times. Every time it was a situation like, "Hrm, I'm kind of hungry, I should have a granola bar," or, "My mouth is really dry. I need a glass of water." Then, every time without fail, as I started to do that thing, I would literally say, "Son of a bitch!" and stomp away from sweet, delicious food.

So at 11, I left, picked up Sherri, and off to the surgical center we go. It was like 25 degrees out, but I had to wear shorts, which was fun. Got there, filled out the forms, and apparently the normal banter between my sister and I greatly amused the receptionist who was laughing for the 10 minutes we were in the waiting room. I went into the back, and found that almost everyone I spoke with was a runner. The nurse in her 40s or early 50s who took care of prepping me was telling me about some sprint tri that she's doing in September. One of the other nurses who was wandering around tried to do Chicago a few years ago but had IT band tendinitis and had to drop out, but is doing the Country Music Half in Nashville this April. Her only question for me about that race was how hilly it was, because her husband is a total baby.

The nurse who was prepping me told me that my doc is not only a team doctor for DC United, but he was also one for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Steelers head guy recommended him to be the doc for the Redskins, too (so yeah, my doc apparently is a big sports medicine guy). Once she had my IV in, asked what was getting worked on. "My right knee." "Please point to it." So I did. And then she colored a big green dot on the leg right above the knee, which the Doc signed when he came in to talk to me before surgery. (So yes, Glaven, they did draw a "cut this leg" mark on me)

The doc finished his surgery prior to mine really quickly and he showed up before the nurses had me fully prepped. They went through setting up the IV, getting the anesthesiologist, etc, nice and quick and we were ready to go. The anesthesiologist asked me if I wanted to be awake to watch the surgery, but the doc clearly would rather have had me asleep, as I'm sure it's much easier for him to not have to explain it all, etc, so I just said no, knock me out. The last question I answered before rolling into the surgical suite was the Doc's resident asking me how I hurt my leg. My answer, "Oh, 20 mile long run." He just looked confused. Everyone else already knew I was a runner so that answer didn't seem odd. Doc was talking about the options he might perform depending on what he saw, so the last thing I said to him before he headed to prep was that I want to run another marathon when I'm healed, so do what he thinks is best, I trust him.

They rolled me into the suite, and the last thing I remember was the anesthesiologist saying they didn't have a blood pressure cuff and sending someone to get one. Then I woke up in post-op. Things are a little hazy for a while. There was a nurse who kept laughing at me because she kept telling me the exact opposite of what the Doc had told me in the last few weeks, so I kept asking her to clarify if she really meant the opposite of what he said and she just laughed and said, "The anesthesia is making you forgetful. You already asked me that." I also have a habit of shaking my head really hard to try to "clear the cobwebs" when I get tired at work or whatever, so I did that a couple times to shake the anesthesia off. She was really worried I was going to throw up from doing that, so kept asking me to stop, but it was helping a lot. I was starving and thirsty as crap, so I asked for a drink. She gave me some apple juice, which I downed. At this point, Sherri was back with me, so I told her how I couldn't wait to get to the car to be able to eat. The nurse said I didn't have to wait, so I grabbed a granola bar from my bag (I brought 2) and ate it in like 3 bites. Again, nurse is concerned I'll puke from anesthesia, but I am fine, so 5 min later, I ask for more juice and eat the other granola bar. She's still worried, but after I finished the 2nd one and the juice, her comment was, "Damn, you handle anesthesia really well!"

So, final results: Only one tear, on the medial side. Turns out whatever he saw on the lateral meniscus on the MRI wasn't a tear. He repaired the medial tear, so I have 4 sutures in it. I have to wear the big immobilizer pictured in the post from Monday. However, the good news is that I can put weight on the knee as long as I wear the immobilizer. I only use the crutches as long as I feel I need to use them and then I gimp around with the brace. I will be starting home exercises Saturday, and PT starts Tuesday. Doc says he doesn't want me to run for 4 months, because he wants to make sure the repair can heal. There's only a 70% chance of a meniscus tear repair healing, so he wants to give it the best chance (apparently, if you tear your meniscus while also rupturing your ACL, you have a much higher chance of the meniscus repair healing because of the amount of bleeding that happens when fixing a ruptured ACL). However, when my sister spoke with him after surgery, she told him I had been swimming and using a pull buoy to immobilize my legs. He said that I should be able to start that within a couple weeks, so it looks like between now and June, I'll be all swimming. I'll be a fish by the end of this thing.

Overall, things went extremely well. The pain is really setting in now (Friday night), so I'm staring with the painkillers, but that's what they're there for I guess. The next few days will almost assuredly be a blur of Percocet, Vicodin, and sleep. :)

The drug form they gave me when I left the surgical center was awesome, and I include it here for your entertainment. The header of column 3 is what really makes this!

Just call me Sacajawea

So how brilliant of an idea is this?

So at some point in August I have to move from Iowa to Washington. Guess who also went from Iowa to Washington? Yeah, that's right. My homies Lewis and Clark.

So I am totally going to do the Lewis and Clark trail from Iowa to Washington. Essentially that means following the Missouri river from Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana, getting over the mountains in Montana and then following more rivers to the West Coast.

It will be scenic!

There will be lots of places to stop!

I bet I can even manage to not stop at a chain restaurant the entire trip, since I imagine the trail is littered with places called the Lewis and Clark Cafe and Sacajawea's Pit Stop.

And I decided that to commemorate the trip, that I am going to aim to be in Chamberlain SD for the Lewis and Clark Triathlon on August 15th. I'll have my bike with me anyway, so why not?

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Leaving for the hospital in a little bit. See you on the flip side!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

So tired

As I was expecting, I am feeling comfortable in the pool now that surgery is 4 days away. Today I did a 300m warmup and then 1500m, with no stops (personal best, so I'm pretty happy)

Swimming has been an interesting exercise experience for me. I am not going balls out, so I'm not out of breath while I'm swimming (and nevermind how weird it feels to exercise but not sweat). I can just get in a groove and keep going, which is nice, and I don't feel really exhausted while I'm in the pool. However, after a day like today, 5 minutes after I'm done, I just want to lay on the floor of my sister's apartment (I swim in the pool at her building) and sleep for an hour or two.

I've been thinking about races in the last third of the year as a way to keep my spirits up lately. I am on our WWR team in August. There are a couple other race possibilities, as well; I'll mention them again later in the year as I put more thought into them.

I've also been trying to find a sprint tri to think about for the fall within a reasonable distance from DC. I found ones in Hagerstown, MD in July, Culpeper, VA in August, Williamsburg, VA in September, Boonesboro, MD in October, and Bumpass, VA on October (perhaps the best named city in all of VA I never knew existed). If anyone knows anything about any of these races, let me know what you think. Once I'm on the mend and start training again, if it looks like I'm going to try to tri, I'll probably end up joining the DC Tri Club (their newbie race of choice is the NJ State Tri in July; the same weekend as Hagerstown).

Anyway, 4 days and counting until the big day. I went to the doctor's office on Thursday and picked up the knee immobilizer, the painkiller prescriptions (Percocet and something that I found out was an antihistamine when I looked it up (I don't know, but whatever)), and a Polar Care, which is an interesting device that is a knee brace attached to a cooler with a motor that circulates ice water through the brace.

I'm definitely resting Monday, but I'll get in two more days in the pool Tuesday and Wednesday.

We're number one!

At least for now...

Now we just have to go kneecap any potential Flatlander teams who come alphabetically before "Back off man, I'm a scientist." or any Corporate teams, and we can repeat as Team Number 1 (see WWR 2006 bib in header).

The check is going out on Monday! So now we just need six more people to pony up! We have six months! That's one a month!