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What a Pain in the….FOOT?

In running you are always warned about doing too much, too fast.  When a problem or injury occurs, it comes back to the reasoning that you did too much, too fast.  While I absolutely believe this reasoning – it’s true to many aspects of life – hearing these wise words while you are in throws of an injury is just ridiculous.  I’ve already done the damage, now what?  I don’t want to hear about what I should do in the future, I want to know what I can do right now to stop this pain.  And then, HOPEFULLY, I will remember the wise words as I ramp up training again (but, then again, I am a runner, so I might just forget them when I tie up my shoes for my next 10k training run).

So, you might wonder what my most recent rant is about, and what I abuse I have caused my body recently.  So…let’s start from the beginning….

In mid-Spring I decided I wanted lighter, faster running shoes.  I went to my local running store and talked to them about my gait, running preference, etc.  They watched me on the treadmill and came back with several suggestions.  I understand that finding the right shoe is extremely important in avoiding injuries in the future and that you need to find the right shoe for you because everyone is different.  I was up to the challenge to find my next dream shoes.  I diligently tried each of the suggested shoes.  Making repeated trips from the shoe area to the treadmill and running about a quarter mile with each new pair.  After about eight pairs and two miles on the treadmill I had narrowed down my choice to the Newton Motion V.  The shoes felt great and I was intrigued by Newton’s Action/Reaction Technology. There are lugs near that ball of your foot that, in Newton’s words, “creates a responsive, trampoline-like cushioning system that provides quicker bounce-back and loses less energy than a traditional foam-core running shoe.”   The sales person explained that this bar of lugs would improve my running form and help me to run on the balls of my feet inside of the back of the foot where I tended to run (but have deligiently been working on changing).   I admit the shoes felt pretty weird with this raised bar across the ball of my foot, but I was promised I would get used to.  I was super psyched to get out with my new shoes and I have to admit my first runs in the shoes I felt lighter and was clocking faster times.  So, I was a convert.  The Action/Reaction Technology still felt strange but I was ready to get used to it for the results I was getting.  After runs I did feel some tingling and numbness in my toes, but thought that was pretty normal and the feeling always went away, so it wasn’t causing me any concern.

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We are headed past the llamas to the top of the mountain at 15,000+ feet

Fast forward to June 2017.  My husband and I are taking our dream trip to Peru.  The plan was to fly in to Cusco, Peru, acclimate a little to the elevation and then do the Lares Trek and head to Machu Picchu.  The Lares Trek is an Inca Trail alternative that is less crowded and while it doesn’t take you directly to Machu Picchu, it takes you over a 15,000+ foot pass and takes you completely off the beaten path where you see stunning mountains, lakes and valleys and get to walk through villages and meet the people who live in the Lares Valley.  While I was most concerned about making it from 8,000 feet to 15,000 feet to the top of the pass that actually turned about to be the easier part of the trek.  (Yeah for no altitude sickness – living in Colorado really does pay off!)  The air was definitely thinner but I felt comfortable scaling the mountains to reach our pass.  The trip from 15,000 feet back to 8,000 feet is what took the toll on my body.  The trail was made up of loose rock and at times was pretty steep.  The constant pounding on the ball of my feet left me with the familiar numbness and tingling in my toes (just on my right foot).

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We came down from the top of that mountain, a 7,000 foot descent.

One the third day of our trek when we finally made it to Auguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu we were dirty and exhausted and so excited to turn in our hiking boots for flip flops.  After one of the best showers I had taken in my entire life I noticed that the numbness and tingling in my right foot was not getting any better.  I mentioned it to my better half and we decided that it was just the pounding I put on my foot as we descended 7,000 feet.   I didn’t really give it much more thought because we were in an amazing place getting ready to see a wonder of the world the next day.

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Beautiful Auguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu

Fast forward again to August 2017. It’s been almost two months since we got back from our amazing trip and we have settled back in to the dull drums of “regular” life.  Pretty much work, work, and more work.  Unfortunately, my toes were still feeling numb (just a few toes on my right foot) and I decided I needed to suck it up and find out what was going on, so I set up an appointment with my primary doctor.  My health insurance requires you always start with your primary doctor for any problem and they will refer you on to a specialist if necessary.  I completely understand the reseasoning behind this, but when it’s hard to find an hour to sneak away from work it’s even harder to find a couple hours on a couple different days to see a couple different doctors.  Anyways, I went to my primary doctor and she was a little stumped.  She sent me to go get x-rays to see if there was a stress fracture (there wasn’t) and then referred me to the orthopedic doctor.  A couple days later I found myself at the orthopedic doctor and he briefly looked at my foot and diagnosed me with metatarsalgia.  From my understanding, and the wise words of WebMD, metatarsalgia is a condition in which the ball of your foot becomes painful and inflamed and can be caused from running, jumping, or wear shoes that don’t fit right.  After my diagnoses, I decided to take it easy on my foot for a while.  I have cut down on the running and have been following the majority of the doctor’s suggestions, but I haven’t had any relief.  My toes are still numb and sometimes my foot feels like its cramping up.  Since my trip to the doctor was less then satisfactory I decided to do some of my own research on metatarsalgia and found quite a few articles about how switching from traditional running shoes to Newton’s can actually cause this problem.  While I thought it was from our hike in Peru, it turns out the problem had probably already started long before our hike and the 7,000 foot descent was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I found the following on Newton’s blog “Forefoot pain, also known as ‘Metatarsalgia,’ is a condition indicated by pain and inflammation under the ball of the foot. This is increasingly prevalent in runners who are making a change to minimal footwear, barefoot running and Newton Running Shoes. As with virtually all running injuries, forefoot pain is a result of doing too much, too fast, too soon.”  The blog then goes on to explain that I shouldn’t blame the shoes, but rather something I did, or something wrong with my foot that was there long before I switched to Newton’s.  This is kind of frustrating because they obviously know this is an issue, but no one at the running store who sold me the shoes said anything about it.  Yes, I should have done more research prior to my new shoe purchase but I was also hopefully that if this was an issue someone might have mentioned it to me.

Fast forward to today.  My toes are still numb.  I’m still trying to figure out how to make them better.  But, they are numb whether I run or not so I am going to lace up my good ‘ol, trusty Brooks (with new arch supports that will hopefully help), and get back out there in hopes I can salvage my training for the Lake Powell Half Marathon in October.

Has any one else has similar issues with their feet?  Any suggestions or words of wisdom you can share on what you did to make it better?

disclaimerDISCLAIMER:  This is not an anti-Newton’s story.  I honestly really liked mine and wish they worked for me – I just wanted to share my experience in case anyone was going through anything similar.  This experience has definitely opened my eyes to how shoes can have such a huge effect on our health and injuries and is going to change how I approach my next shoe purchase.  

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A Machu Picchu Selfie

In my attempt to write more I have been exploring the world of writing prompts.  Just some quick inspiration to get my creative juices flowing.  In my search for writing prompts I came across the Mama’s Losin’ It blog.  Every week the blog emails me five or six prompts that will hopefully inspire me.  So…this is my first attempt to be inspired.

One of this week’s writing prompts was to share the story behind your current Facebook profile photo.  This seemed like the perfect prompt because I have been promising to tell you all more about our trip to Peru and it just so happens my profile picture is from Peru.

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In my picture, you will notice a handsome man and a beautiful mountain.  This is a picture of my better half and myself at the entrance to Machu Picchu with Huayna Picchu in the background.  We arrived at Machu Picchu on the next to last day of our visit in Peru.  We had started out visit in Cusco, hiked through the Andes mountains on the Lares Trek, spent a night in Aguas Calientes, and finally arrived to one of the wonders of the world, Machu Picchu.  We arrived to Machu Picchu with our guide, Ronnie (thanks Kandoo Adventures!), and made our way through the crowds up a steep walkway to a platform overlooking Machu Picchu.  When we arrived at the platform the fog was so thick you could hardly see four feet in front of you, let alone Machu Picchu.  The feeling of disappointment was overwhelming.  I couldn’t believe that we had come all this way and there was the potential we wouldn’t see anything.  Ronnie encouraged us to just wait a little bit and within minutes you could see a small blue patch of sky.  The clouds parted even more and the blue patch grew bigger and bigger and suddenly Machu Picchu was in front of us.  The first views of Machu Picchu were absolutely amazing and utterly breath taking.  You read about places and you see them on the internet and on television, but being there in person was completely different – it was magical.  We spent several minutes on the platform taking in as much as we could, snapping pictures and feeling completely awe struck. After taking in the views we moved on to start our tour and let the other visitors to Machu Picchu enjoy this amazing experience.

My profile picture wasn’t actually taken during our first stop to the platform.  After our first stop on the platform Ronnie took us on a spectacular tour of Machu Picchu.  During the tour, Ronnie gave us an insider’s view of the Lost City of the Incas.  After several hours, it was time to say good bye to Ronnie and my better half and I suddenly found ourselves alone at Machu Picchu (well, alone without a guide – there were still thousands of other people there).  We stood in line at the entrance for a second time and headed back up steep path to the platform to get another birds eye view of Machu Picchu.  This is where we took this picture.  So, my profile is a Machu Picchu selfie.  I love so much about this picture.  First, I feel we look like how we felt, happy and excited.  Secondly, it’s in an absolutely beautiful place in the world and right after this photo we climbed the mountain in the background of the picture and thirdly, I am sporting my favorite alpaca hat that I bought several days earlier on the streets of Cusco.

This was just a quick sneak peek from our Peruvian adventure.  I will be sharing so much more over the next couple of weeks!

What’s the story behind your current profile picture?

MamaKats

My Best Friend

Lazy LabWhen I moved to Colorado my husband promised me we would get a dog.  Less than two months into our Colorado adventure we were picking up Nittany and taking her home.  Nittany has been with me through everything Colorado has thrown at me…home sickness from moving half way across the country, a husband who was a full time PhD candidate (it’s kind of like being a widow), getting married, moving a bunch of times, changing jobs too many times, and finally settling in to a great life in Denver with a job I absolutely love.  She licked up my tears when I was sad and happily participated in puppy dance party when I was excited and happy.  But, in August we will have lived in Colorado 13 years which means Nittany is 12 and closer to 13 then I would like to admit.

 

I had never had a “real” pet growing up and Nittany was my first “real” pet (although the verdict is still out if I even consider thumb_DSC_7275_1024her a pet – she is a member of the family).  Everything I’ve gone through with Nittany has been a first for me.  Having a dog spayed, rushing a dog to the emergency vet because she had eaten a stuffed animal and got really sick, rushing to the emergency vet because she got stung by a bee and her face grew four times its original size, finding out that swans chase dogs when Nittany decided to take a quick dip in City Park Lake, having to put a dog under anesthesia because she somehow chipped her front tooth and it had to be pulled out, getting a call from a stranger who had found your dog downtown Fort Collins because she ran away and was mooching food off strangers at a sidewalk café….and this was probably just the first two years of her life.

 

That brings us to today and another first…finding out your dog has cancer and having to thumb_IMG_6041_1024make the most difficult decision of your entire life so that she doesn’t have to suffer anymore.  Nittany started getting sick shortly after the New Year and after several rounds of antibiotics and steroids and nothing really helping her get better it was discussed that that most likely cause of her illness was a nasal tumor.  Before that time, I never even thought that there was an end to Nittany’s life.  I was naïve and liked to think that she would be with me forever.  But, the reality was here and Nittany wouldn’t be in our lives forever.

 

 

 

 

 

We struggled with asking ourselves when was the right time to let Nittany go from our IMG_1847lives and we even came up with a plan for Nittany’s last week with us, but the pain of knowing our time was limited was breaking our hearts and making us question our decision every minute.  I think we were both looking for a sign to know that our decision was the right one but we both agreed that Nittany had always been there for us and we needed to be there for her and make sure she isn’t in any more pain than absolutely necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

As you can tell from this rave review Nittany has already won The Best Dog in thumb_DSC_7248_1024the Entire Universe Award and today she gave us one last gift for which we will be forever grateful and will seal her title for eternity.  As we struggled with knowing if what we were doing was right or not Nittany gave us a sign and we knew it was her time to go…to go and not be in pain anymore and to finally be able to sleep a restful sleep.   Nittany went peacefully to sleep on the morning on Monday, July 18, 2016 after over 12 happy years with our family.

 

 

 

 

 

I have her paw print etched on my skin and my love for her will be etched on my heart forever.  Nittany was the best dog in the entire world and gave us more than we could ever thank her for.   IMG_3578

 

 

 

 

Mt. Flora

1My husband is an avid mountaineer. He has over 40 of Colorado’s 14ers under his belt as well as many, many 13ers. He gets up above tree line and at elevation on a regular basis. Me on the other hand – I may live at 5,280 feet but I am pretty much a flatlander. I don’t get up to the mountain nearly as much as I would like to. So, I was so excited when my husband suggested that we hike Mt. Flora. Mt. Flora is a 13er near Berthoud Pass.   Mt. Flora stands at 13,146 feet and the majority of the 7+ mile hike is on a ridge high above tree line. According to SummitPost the total distance from Berthoud Pass to Mount Flora is 3.6 miles one way with about 2200 feet total elevation gain and 350 feet elevation loss.

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We got to the parking lot at Berthoud Pass around 9:00 a.m., coated ourselves in sunscreen because we would be walking directly next to the sun, and headed up the old Berthoud ski hill towards Colorado Mines Peak. Instead of continuing up the road to the radio towers on the top of Colorado Mines Peak we took the trail pointing towards Mt. Flora. From this point Mt. Flora is 2 miles away. The trail was very easy to follow and was mainly made up of fine gravel and stones. While you are pretty constantly climbing upward the incline never seems overwhelming. The higher we climbed the more mountains you could see and the views were incredible. There were vast open fields that made you think you were in a scene from The Sound of Music. You expected Julie Andrews to start running across the field singing The Hills Are Alive at any moment.

3On this hike you get a lot of bang for your buck. For a relatively easy hike you get to see a lot of mountains. The higher we climbed the more beautiful our surroundings became but the higher we climbed the windier it got. At times there was probably a 30+ mph sustained wind. The wind was definitely the most difficult part of the hike. Because it was a relatively warm day the wind wasn’t freezing cold but it was just constantly blowing in your face. Before long my eyes and nose were running and at times it was hard to catch your breath.  But, we tucked our heads and continued upward!

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Along the way we saw so many wildflowers. Colorado’s rainy spring and summer has lead to an amazing wildflower season and the greenest I’ve ever seen Colorado. There are a few of what some might consider false summits along the way (or in my case I had no idea which mountain we were going to summit so when we passed over one and headed to the next I didn’t even realize and just thought it was part of the hike). We hit the summit in about two hours and spent some time taking pictures and visiting with a friendly marmot before heading back the way we came.

5We passed a lot more people starting up the trail as we were headed down then going up which always makes me worry a little bit. Living in Colorado you need to be thunderstorm aware and get up and down mountain as early as possible in the day before the thunderstorms roll in. I think this summer has been one of the most dangerous for lightning strikes and its hard to go more than a week without seeing another news story about people getting struck while hiking above tree line. So my PSA for the day – don’t be an idiot, hike early, and keep your eyes to the sky!

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It took us significantly less time to get back down then heading up and before noon we were back at the truck and ready to head to Idaho Springs for pizza at Beaujo’s.  There is nothing more satisfying after a day of hiking or skiing then pizza at Beaujo’s!

 

What is your favorite hike and what makes it so special?

 

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