Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lockport 100-Mile Relay

This past weekend, some Front Runner friends and I traveled up to the Buffalo area to run in the Lockport 100-Mile Relay.  The race was a 100-mile relay race that takes place entirely on a 400-meter outdoor track at the Emmet Belknap Middle School in Lockport. Coincidentally, this is the track where Front Runner Derek Petti trained when he was growing up in Lockport.  Teams consisted of up to 10 runners, with each runner running any distance in 400m increments before handing the baton to the next runner.  The runners could run in any order.  Five Front Runners went up to Lockport for the relay: me, Derek, Kelsey, Mike and John.  We stayed with Derek's parents who were the best hosts ever.

I was a little concerned about this relay for a number of reasons.  

1. I literally only ran once in the past month.  And that last run was the VCTC 2x2 Relay, where I only ran two miles and felt awful afterwards, despite having gotten a steroid injection the week before.  My last run before that was the Pride Run on June 26.  So (a) I had no idea if my injury had gotten any better, and (b) even if it had gotten better, I was in no shape to do a race, let alone one on the track where people would be running really fast.

2. There were only five Front Runners confirmed for the race.  Supposedly, there were some people in Lockport who had said they may join our team, but they didn't sound particularly reliable, and there were only three of them.  So for every person less than 10 that we had on our team, we'd have to run extra miles.  Uhhh, the last time I ran more than six miles was in April...  If we got stuck with just five runners, that would mean 20 miles each.  Yikes.

3.  Somehow, the other four Front Runners coming were all super, super, super fast.  Now, I know they didn't care about how fast I was, and that everyone was more concerned with having fun than with winning, but the insecure part of me really didn't want to disappoint the team.  I also didn't want to push myself so hard that I would risk messing up my already-injured butt/hamstring.  So I was just nervous.

So, yeah, looking back, I don't know if it was the smartest thing for me to agree to do this race.  But at the same time, I was really excited about it and thought it would be a lot of fun.

The race started Sunday morning at 8am.  At about 7:45, we received word that two of our runners from Lockport were not going to be able to make it.  Uh oh...  But in the last moments before the starting horn sounded, we picked up some random people, who just happened to want to join a team.  Mitch, 14 years old; Judy, Julie and Ron, all 40-ish; and Drew, 18 and about to start Brown University in the Fall.  I was so relieved that we somehow were able to scrape together a full team.

The original plan was that were were going to start out just running 400m each, and just going through the team 1-10.  But Judy came up with a brilliant strategy that made so much more sense: we'd split up into two groups of five, and each group would run a set number of 400s while the other group rested/recovered.  This way, the runners didn't have to worry about cooling down too much after each run, but they could take a nice break after a few sets.  So we formed two groups: Judy, John, Drew, Ron and Mitch went first, followed by Julie, me, Mike, Kelsey and Derek.  Each group of five would do eight sets of 400s.  Five times.  For a grand total of 400 laps.  Our goal was to average no more than 90 seconds per lap (or six-minute miles).  Oyyy...

My first 400 was about 54 minutes after the start of the race.  I got the baton from Julie, ran as fast as I could, and and handed off to Mike.  I did it in 78 seconds.  OMG, it was too fast.  I was like heaving at the end of it.  There was no way I'd be able to keep this up for 40 laps.  My butt felt fine, but cardiovascularly, I felt like crap.  I told myself I don't need to run that fast; just try to hit 90 seconds.  So the next lap (about 5-6 minutes later), I tried to ease off the pace a little bit.  Still, 78 seconds.  This time I was heaving again, and I was already soaked with sweat even though I was only two laps in and it was barely 9am.  Around lap 5, I just couldn't wait for the set of eight to be over.  I was already dreading the prospect of doing this 40 times.  My splits for the first eight 400s:
78 sec

It was so good to rest after that.  I wanted the rest to last forever, but I knew I  had less than an hour (the other group had 10 miles to run).  The next set of eight 400s was considerably harder.  My legs were sore from the 2 miles I had just run (at 5:25 pace).  The sun was starting to come out.  There was a strong headwind at the back straightaway.  It was not fun.  My splits were slower, but I was trying much harder:

After our second set, our group of five decided it was too hard on our bodies to keep doing 400m repeats.  So we switched it up to do 4 sets of 800.  By this point, we had settled comfortably into first place.  The second place team, made up of track and cross country runners from Iroquois High School, were a mile or two behind us, so we figured we could sacrifice a little speed to be able to run at a more comfortable pace (that is, as long we we didn't run the 800s at 400m pace!).  I definitely slowed down for my 800s.  Even so, they seemed so much harder.  At this point it was about noon, and the sun was shining bright.  And we had to run into that damn headwind twice.  It was so hard running to the transition area and knowing that I wouldn't be able to pass the baton off to Mike.  It was brutal, and my splits showed:
101/92 (my legs felt like jello on that first lap!)

Then the fourth set came.  My legs were so tired.  I started to doubt whether I could finish.  Halfway through the set, Kelsey told me not to worry about my splits.  There was still another set to go, and it was better for me to finish than for me totally run out of steam.  So the last two 800s I took kind of slow.  We were really far ahead of the Iroquois team, and it was good not to have the pressure of having every second count.  Still, those were some pretty slow splits...I was feeling like I was starting to fall apart.

When it came to my last set, I couldn't wait for the race to be over.  We decided to switch back to 400s, which I was happy about.  But what made me even happier was to hear that Drew was volunteering to run extra laps.  I immediately enlisted him to run four of my eight 400s.  We alternated laps, so I had a luxurious 11 minutes or so to recover between my 400s.

After my third 400, we all realized that it was entirely possible for the team to finish the whole relay in under nine hours.  If we did it, it would be huge....our original goal of 90-second laps (six minute pace) would have meant finishing in 10 hours.  So we were possibly going to beat that by a whole hour...but we had only a few seconds to spare.  The pressure was too much for me.  And frankly, I didn't really want to run another lap.  Fortunately, Drew was more than happy to run one more lap for me.  That final set of laps was among the fastest of the day.  Derek ran the very last lap, his 41st 400 of the day, at a smoking 66 seconds!

And then, there we had it.  100 miles later, five members of Front Runners New York, joined by five residents of Lockport, New York, won the Lockport 100-Mile Relay in a jaw-dropping 8:58:27 -- that's a 5:23 per mile pace -- beating both our original goal and the second place team by over an hour!!!  We were ecstatic.  We were so glad it was over.  And we all so proud of our achievement.  At that moment, we were the stars of the race, and of the whole town.  I was just so, so happy to be part of such an amazing team.

Later that day, we were awarded with our "1st Place" medals.  It's my first time being first place overall in any running event, ever.  And the fact that I got to share with nine of the coolest people ever made it even more special.  Thanks, guys!!!

One final note.  After I got home, I did my usual post-race OCD number crunching, and I figured that my average lap was 89.47 seconds, a bit under the 90 second goal I had set for myself.  So I was especially pleased.  Thanks to everyone involved who made this such a great experience for me!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Metroman and Butt Results

I'm a little late in posting this but about a week and a half ago, I saw Dr. Metzl for a follow-up visit after my steroid injection.  I told him that I didn't think the injection worked, that I was continuing to feel discomfort when I sat down (especially after biking or running), and that the pain was maybe even more acute following the injection than it was before.  I mentioned to him that while the discomfort seemed to go away for a day or two after I got my injection, it quickly reappeared, and that I was no better off than before I got the shot.

He told me that that "really sucks," but that he was convinced it's piriformis syndrome.  He said that the fact I felt better for a couple of days after the shot meant that we're targeting the right area.  Most steroid injections (including mine) combine the steroid (in my case, celestone) with a local anesthetic (lidocaine and sensorcaine).  It seems that while the celestone didn't make my piriformis syndrome go away, the lidocaine and/or sensorcaine did, albeit temporarily, which means that we're on the right track.  

Dr. Metzl told me that the next thing for me to do is to get targeted physical therapy on my piriformis.  I told him I had been seeing Dr. Degis for PT, who had just switched the focus of my PT from my hamstring to my piriformis.  Dr. Metzl told me I should see a different therapist, Marisa D'Adadmo, who is apparently very experienced with piriformis syndrome in runners.  I'm supposed to see Marisa once or twice a week, for six weeks, and if I'm not better, I will check in with Dr. Metzl again.

At this point, though, I'm not exactly sure what I should do.  I've been working with Dr. Degis for quite some time, and I feel like I have a good relationship with him.  And since we just started targeting my piriformis, I think I want to give him a chance to help me recover.  I'm thinking that if, after two or three weeks, I don't feel any better, then maybe I will switch therapists and start seeing Marina.

One last thing about my appointment with Dr. Metzl.  As were were finishing up, he told me (again) that I should just keep doing what I'm doing...meaning that I can keep running and biking.  I think I'm going to put myself on a break, though.  I can't imagine that continuing to run is going to help things.  I'll still bike and swim, but for the time being, I've already resigned myself to taking a little running hiatus (well, except for one little relay race...more on that in my next post).

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Last week was also the Metroman Triathlon, in Asbury Park.  I had done this race last year, and was looking forward all year to redeeming myself after my sucky second-to-last place ocean swim last year (and not-much-better bike).  Unfortunately, because of my butt condition, I had decided that I wasn't going to do the full triathlon course (1500m swim, 21 mile bike, 10k run), but was just going to do the swim and bike portion.  Fortunately, Anthony (who ran the Distance Medley Relay at the FRNY Track Meet with me) agreed to do the run for me.  We had about 15 Front Runners signed up for the tri or the relay, so I was really excited for the race.

And this year, I felt prepared for the ocean swim.  Having completed the two-mile Hudson River Swim in  June, and the Avon Ocean Mile the week before, I wasn't going to let a little swim faze me.  In fact, after seeing most of the Front Runners do the Avon swim without a wetsuit, I decided to go sans wetsuit too. And I was really glad that I did.  The water temperature was around 75 degrees.  But more than that, it just felt so much more FUN to swim without a wetsuit.  Because of the salt water, I was already buoyant.  The waves were not too rough, so I never felt nervous (although, towards the end, I was definitely ready for it to be over).  And unlike last year, when I was having trouble sighting, and getting freaked out by all of the swimmers coming at me from different directions, I think the other swimmers actually helped me to stay on course. The only thing I didn't like was that my tri-top was chafing the right side of my neck, and every time I took a stroke or breath it would chafe more.  So I had to spend a good deal of time adjusting it while swimming.  That was annoying.

When I finished the swim, it was such a great feeling to exit the water.  There were still plenty of people in the ocean as I was leaving, including many who started in my wave, although they were just about all women (the relay teams started with the women and we all wore pink caps).  Still, I left the water feeling a lot more confident than I felt last year, when I was one of the final people leaving the water despite the fact that I was in one of the first waves.  Also, Chris Stoia's parents were by the transition, and they were cheering me on.  That was really sweet of them.

Then, it was off to the bike for me.  The only issue with the bike was that my damn bike computer was not working properly.  So for the first couple of miles, I was fidgeting with it, trying to line up the sensor thing with the little magnet on the spoke.  I finally just gave up.  Then about four miles into the ride, it just started working.  This actually happens frequently on my bike rides, but never during a race.  Note to self: find a way to fix it.

Twenty-two miles later, I handed off my chip to Anthony.  I did not envy him.  By the time the run came, the temperature was probably in the mid-90s.  And since the entire run was on the boardwalk, there was nothing to block the sun's oppressive rays.  The other runners on the course looked miserable.  But Anthony stuck it out and finished strong.

Team Dave and Anthony's final time was 2:40:22, broken down as follows:
Swim:  35:42 (176/200)
T1:  2:26 (116/200)
Bike:  1:12:19 (133/200)
T2:  0:55 (26/200)
Run:  49:00 (84/200).

For comparison, my swim last year was 45:47 and my bike was 1:15:27...  so I showed an improvement in both.  Yayyy! 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Swimming to Dinner

It's been almost two weeks since I got my steroid injection.  During this time, the only running I've done has been the Van Cortland Track Club 2 x 2 mile relay last week.  But even so, I can still feel that my butt/hamstring is not really fixed by the injection.  I have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Metzl tomorrow, and will see what he has to say about my next steps.  

In the meantime, I've been continuing to go to Dr. Degis for physical therapy.  As I wrote last week, he has shifted the focus of my PT from my hamstring to my piriformis.  Each session consists of about 20-25 minutes of using the ultrasound machine to deeply penetrate the muscle with soundwaves, and about 20-25 minutes of active release / stretching that, I think, breaks down the scar tissue in the pirformis so that new muscle can grow.  

Unlike the electrical stimulation machine that I've used in the past, which sent shocking electrical pulses into my butt, the ultrasound machine is barely detectable, except for gel that has to be rubbed everywhere so it glides more easily.  But the next day, I always feel an immense achiness right in the area where the ultrasound was applied, which makes me feel like it's working.  Looking back, I think it may have been the ultrasound, and not so much the running I did at the 2x2 relay, that put me in such pain and made me limp last Friday.  But I'm still taking some time off from running for awhile.

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Sunday I went with a bunch of the Front Runners Multisport athletes to Avon-by-the-Sea in the Jersey Shore to do the Avon Ocean Mile Swim.  It was my first ocean swim since the Metroman Triathlon last year (where I came in second to last in the swim after I freaked out and then got off course).  And I was determined to confront my fears of ocean swimming at this race.

I knew I could do it.  The fact that I did the two-mile Hudson River Swim last month gave me the confidence that I needed.  But the day before the race, Jeff, Chris and I went to check out the water.  The waves were HUGE!  Even bigger than they were at Metroman last year.  There was NO WAY that I was going to get into that water!  Jeff and Chris immediately went into the water, dove through the six or eight foot high waves, and started swimming around having fun.  I couldn't even get past the first wave; it just looked too scary.  I didn't know how I was going to do the race the next morning.

Chris then came back out of the water, grabbed my hand, and helped me get in.  I started out with the smallest waves, putting my head under the water and letting the crest of the wave go right past me.  After a few more waves went over me, I was feeling somewhat comfortable, tried to calm down, and got myself into a good mindset for the race the next morning.

Sunday morning came, and the waves did not get any smaller.  When we arrived at the start, I could see that pretty much the entire field looked like they were serious swimmers.  Not only that, but practically NO ONE was wearing a wetsuit.  Maybe five or ten people out of 170ish swimmers.  There were about 25 of us Front Runners there, and even most of the Front Runners decided not to wear a wetsuit.  Granted, the water was about 75 degrees, but I couldn't imagine doing an open water swim, particularly in tides as big as they were that day, without the added buoyancy.  Even with my wetsuit, I was nervous, and was seriously considering not doing the swim at all.

Rachel talked me into doing it, though.  She made me realized that a one-mile swim was not particularly long compared some of our workouts, that I was properly trained and ready to do this swim, and that the nerves were just in my head.  So I decided to go for it.

I made a point of testing out the water before the race--putting my head in it, feeling the temperature, getting comfortable with diving through the waves.  I think doing this really helped me out.

When the starting horn sounded, I just went out.  I dove through the waves and I swam.  No freaking out whatsoever.  I actually was quite calm throughout the whole swim.  Which isn't to say I was exactly comfortable.  Even swimming way out into the ocean past the tides, the ocean swells were still pretty intense.  And each time I felt myself immediately lifted up and falling down, I felt my heart in my throat.  But I just concentrated on my stroke as best as I could and kept going.

Unlike the other open water swims that I've done, this one was only marked by one buoy, at the turnaround point.  So for half a mile, I had no idea if I was going straight or zigzagging all over the place.  People were swimming across me both left and right, and the buoy was so far off you couldn't even see it for most of the swim.

There was a moment, though, when I got a little nervous.  I was maybe 3/4 of the way to the turnaround, when the lead swimmers were on their way back.  As they were all coming towards me, en masse and really fast, I was bracing myself for a  head-on collision.  But luckily, they were spread out wide enough that I didn't run into them.  And as they were passing me, I saw the sole buoy floating in the water not too far from me, and it gave me some confidence to know that I was almost halfway done.

After I turned around at the buoy, though, I think the swim got a little bit more difficult.  Since the waves were coming from my right and I breathe from my right side, I felt several times that I was going to get flipped over in the water.  And by this time, my wetsuit was badly chaffing the back of my neck, so I felt I had to adjust it every few strokes.  And the sun was in my eye.  And all the thrashing around was starting to make me feel a little nauseas (I was really glad I didn't have breakfast that morning).  And I was just plain tired.  I think the waves were pushing me to go towards the shore, because at one point a lifeguard floating in the water (there were many of them, which made me feel very safe) had to point me and some others in the right direction.

But I finally finished, in about 37 minutes, in 135th place (out of around 170).  Not particularly fast, but not the slowest.  And I did it without freaking out, so I was very pleased.

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This weekend I'm doing the Metroman Triathlon in Asbury Park.  I did it last year, and had pretty much a disastrous swim.  So I decided I had to do it again this year to redeem myself.  Unfortunately, because of my continuing butt injury, I've decided only to do the swim and the bike, and Anthony is going to do the run for me.  Still, I'm excited to have a chance on improving on my swim.  I wrote a race report last year before I started this blog.  It's pasted below for your reading pleasure (along with a picture of me exiting the water, delirious):

I completed the Metroman Triathlon in Asbury Park, NJ this weekend with some FRNY/Tritons friends. Onesimo, Chris and I did the Intermediate distance (1500m swim, 21.08 mile bike, 5.8 mile run). Ryan and Jeff and did the Sprint distance (500m swim, 10.54 mile bike, 2.9 mile run). It was Chris and Jeff's first Triathlon, and me and Ryan's first ocean swim. Joe Lim came to cheer us on and take pictures.
The swim had a beach start. And unlike Ryan and Jeff, I wasn't smart enough to go into the water beforehand to test it out. Big Mistake. When they sounded the start and I ran into the water, I pretty much immediately started to freak out from the cooooold water, the rough waves, the saltiness and the low visibility. Luckily I had waited for most of the people in my wave to go before me so I avoided getting trampled. But still, I couldn’t bear to put my face into the water. I distinctly remembered thinking that Les Jones had said to dive UNDER the waves, not over them…but as the waves kept crashing into me, it was just too scary to dive into them. As a result, I kept getting pushed back to shore and fighting harder to go out.
And despite all that we’ve learned about technique in the swim clinics, I pretty much doggy paddled all the way out to the first buoy about 75 meters away from shore, where we turned left. Once I passed that buoy, I decided that there was no way I would be able to doggy paddle for the whole mile, so made myself put my face in the water, just a little bit at a time. For the next quarter mile or so, I alternated between swimming a few strokes of freestyle, and a few of breast stroke / doggy paddle / back stroke. I finally started to settle into my stroke somewhere around .3 miles, but I felt I had a really hard time sighting, and was zigzagging all over the place. They said were five total buoys that marked the course (with a turnaround at the last one), but I somehow lost track of them.
Around .4 miles was another episode of swim panic. The swimmers in my wave had already turned around and were coming directly at me. The swimmers in the wave after me had caught up and were coming directly at me. I would lift up my head and see swimmers in all directions. To make matters worse, the two major landmarks on the Asbury Park boardwalk are both similar-looking huge brick structures with green trim, which made me confused about which direction I was going in.
Somehow I made it to the turnaround point. The swim back occurred mostly without incident, until I reached the fourth buoy. We were supposed to turn right (back towards the shore) at the fifth buoy. Because most of the swimmers had already passed me, I didn’t really have anyone to follow. So I turned at what I thought was the fifth buoy. It turned out I was one buoy too early. After several minutes of swimming towards the shore, a swim marshal on a kayak came up to me and asked if I was ok. My response was something like, “Um, yeah, the finish is that way, right?” His response, “Um, well, No…you made a hard right at the fourth buoy. There’s one buoy left.” I looked to where he was indicating, and I saw that the buoy I skipped might as well have been a million miles away. Disappointed, but still determined to finish, I turned around and swam to the buoy and then to the shore.

The bike and run were less eventful, except that I narrowly missed crashing my bike into a flock of Canadian geese.
My final time for the 1 mile swim was 45:47…about six minutes slower than I had done the Hudson River 1.3 mile swim in May. Out of 190 people who did the Intermediate Distance swim, I came in 189th. But I was glad I finished, and I’m looking forward to my next ocean swim (August 23rd in Long Branch, NJ). I was able to make up some time during the bike and run, where I ended up passing 24 people to finish in 2:43:35 (165th place). My next Tri is West Point, on August 16. Fortunately, the swim is in a lake.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I don't think it worked.

So it's been eight days since my steroid injection, and I have disappointing news.

In the days following the shot, I wasn't quite sure it was working.  I woke up Saturday a little sore, but that was mostly from the shot itself, and not from my injury. (Apparently a very large needle was used and it makes you sore for a few days...  I hadn't seen how big it was when I was injected).  Sunday and Monday I woke up with no soreness at all, which I thought was good since I had been waking up feeling pain in my hamstring/butt before the shot.  Then Monday afternoon, I took a little bike ride--just like five miles or so to keep Dane company while he ran--and I could barely feel the injury.  Monday evening, as Dane and I were eating dinner at the delicious Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park, I started feeling the tight/tingly sensation that I always feel when I sit down for long periods of time.  I had to sit with my leg crossed over my knee for most of the meal.  Tuesday, on the bus ride back to NYC, I had trouble sitting down for the whole ride and found myself constantly adjusting my legs.

The doctor said it would take about a week for the steroid to have its full effect, so I kept a positive outlook.  Thursday was the 2 x 2 relay.  I figured it would be fine to do since it was about a week after the shot.  My butt actually felt fine during the run itself, although the rest of me felt completely out of shape.  It was my first time running at all in almost two weeks, and it felt that way.

Bernd was my partner for the relay.  We were Team "Muffin Hunters," named after the prize muffins VCTC gives out to all the age group winners.  Bernd took the first leg and I took the second.  When I went out, Daniel from FRNY was about 100 yards ahead of me.  I think I let the my competitive instinct make me go out too fast, though, as I set my sight on him from the very beginning and tried to close the gap between us.  I ended up catching up to him in about a half mile, but as soon as I did I knew I wasn't going to be able to maintain it.  Sure 'nuff, halfway up Cemetery Hill, I ran out of gas, and Daniel left me in the dust.  I always forget how tough that hill is until I'm wheezing to get over it.  I spent the last 3/4 mile trying to recover.  In the end, I did the two miler in about 13:38.  Considering my lack of running over the prior two weeks, I was pretty satisfied, despite the ego-crushing.

It is now Saturday night, though, and I spent all of Friday and most of today limping around.  The pain I felt was maybe the worst post-running pain I felt since my injury began, although now I feel like it might be more in the middle of my hamstring than in my butt.  This isn't good.

I have an appointment to see Dr. Metzl again this coming Friday.  I don't know what he's going to suggest we do now.  But I think I'm coming to accept that it's time for me to take some time off from running.   I'm thinking this means no fall marathon, and no Reach the Beach this year.  Maybe a couple of months of really no running.  I'm hopeful, though, that I'll be able to at least bike and swim.  (Last Wednesday, Rachel, Zander and I biked a few loops of Central Park during the FRNY Fun Run.  I think if I can keep biking with the runners, it'll make the time go by faster...).

Tonight I'm in New Jersey, getting ready for my one-mile ocean swim tomorrow.  Chris, Jeff, Josh and I tested out the waters a little bit, and the waves were really big and rough.  It was actually kind of scary.  It took me a few tries before I was able to swim past the crashing waves to where the water was more calm.  Tomorrow's swim is going to be interesting...  I'm definitely going to be wearing a wetsuit, even though the water temperature is around 75 degrees.  My goal is just to finish and hopefully not freak out.  I'm excited and nervous.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Shot in the Butt

Just got my steroid shot in the butt.  The experience was actually not too bad.  Much better than all of the MRIs I've gotten recently.

I went to the Hospital for Special Surgery's facility on East 70th and the FDR.  The waiting room was quite nice, overlooking the East River with a nice view.  It was very spacious, and they had lots of TVs tuned into different channels.  I was watching Rachel Ray.  I have to say, it's little things like this that make a visit to the hospital that much more pleasant.

When it came time for my shot, I had an ultrasound technician come in and take some ultrasound pictures of my butt.  Here's one of them below.

A few moments later, Dr. Gregory Saboeiro came in.  I felt in good hands with Dr. Saboeiro, who's the Chief of the Interventional Radiology Department at HSS.  I told him that I got the injury from running, and he told me that he was also a runner!  In fact, he's done five marathons!  However, the past couple of months he's been suffering from a really nasty case of plantar faciitis, so he hasn't really been running.  So, of course, I had to ask him, "Why don't you just give yourself a steroid injection?"  He said he didn't think that steroid injections were that great for plantar faciitis; I think it was because so much stress is placed on the plantar facia while running that, if the proper amount of rest isn't taken, it could cause it to rupture.  But he said with the piriformis, a steroid injection usually does the trick.

Another reason I liked Dr. Saboeiro is that one of the first things he said when he walked in the door was that the procedure should be a breeze because I was so thin, haha.  Apparently it's harder to find the sciatic notch (which is where my injection was going...I think it's an area around the piriformis) in larger people.  An then, while looking at the ultrasound of my butt, Dr. Saboeiro said, "This is like the best sciatic notch I've ever seen!"  I think I'm going to take that as a complement, whatever it means.

So the shot itself wasn't too bad.  It took about 10 minutes, most of which was prepping the area.  There were then two shots, one anesthetic to numb the area, and the other was the steroid itself.  It was only about two minutes of having a needle in my butt, and it was numb enough that I didn't really feel very much.  It all happened pretty quickly and painlessly.

So now, I'm supposed to take about 3 days off from any kind of exercise involving my legs....which I actually do not mind at all since it is the long weekend and I get to sit on the beach all day!  He says that after about a week, the steroid will be doing its job, and in theory, I should not be feeling any pain.  I can't wait!!!

FRNY Pride Run, Butt Stimulation and Live Octopus Soup

As I write this, I'm just a few hours away from my butt injection.  I've been counting down the days since last Tuesday when I made my appointment, and I have to say that I'm really excited.  If what I have is really piriformis syndrome, then the shot will pretty definitely help it.  My friend Matt who ran NYC last year developed a nasty case of plantar faciitis just a few weeks before the race.  I remember it was so painful for him that he couldn't even run without being in agony.  About a week before the marathon, though, he ended up getting a steroid injection.  And three days later he was all healed... he even went on to qualify for Boston.  So I'm really hopeful it'll help me too.

At the same time, I'm trying not to be overly optimistic.  I recently came across this medical journal article that I found by Dr. Thomas Byrd, an orthopedic surgeon in Nashville.  Dr. Byrd states that he had 15 patients with piriformis syndrome who didn't get better after physical therapy.  He gave those 15 patients steroid injections and only three were fully recovered.  For the other 12, the effect of the steroid shot was just temporary.  Seven of those 12 chose to get surgery on their piriformis, and five of those recovered.  So the odds aren't terribly reassuring.  But I'm going to keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.

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This past Saturday I ran in the Front Runners New York Gay and Lesbian Pride Run.  Since it's presented by my running club, FRNY, it's always my favorite races of the year (except maybe the marathon).  But it almost always falls on one of the hottest days of the year, and this year was no exception.  This year, though, the heat didn't bother me that much, since I had decided that I wasn't going to run super hard, and was instead to try to pace my friend Alison to a PR.

Well, we came close, but we didn't quite make it.  From the very start, the heat and humidity were pretty brutal.  I wasn't even sure if I would be able to keep pace with her.  I was definitely glad that I didn't start in the blue corral where I usually start, since I knew I would have been pushed to go faster, and that would have been ugly.

Despite the heat, and not getting the time we wanted, this race turned out to be super fun.  If you look at the picture above of us holding hands as we cross the finish line, I have a huge smile on my face.  When else am I ever going to smile after finishing a five miler on a hot and humid day?  Alison and I finished the race in 42:58, or a 8:35 pace.  It's about two minutes a mile slower than my Pride Run last year, but I enjoyed every second of that difference.  :-)

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On my weekly visit to Dr. Degis, I told him that Dr. Metzl told me to get a steroid injection in my piriformis.  Dr. Degis didn't seem too pleased.  He still thinks that my problem is in the ischial tuberosity, even though the MRI came up negative.  

I'm sort of wondering if Dr. Degis is right.  When I was at his office, he did all sorts of pressing on my piriformis to see if he could isolate the pain, and I wasn't really able to feel any particular pain in the area.  But from what I understand, the piriformis muscle is tucked way in the butt, behind the gluteus muscles, so it's not that easy to palpate.

Dr. Degis also used a new machine on me.  Some sort of electronic stimulus thing.  Now, I've seen Dr. Degis about a million times, and he always puts me in all these crazy positions to stretch out my butt.  But using this stimulator thing was the first time I felt self conscious in his office.  I had to pretty much expose my entire butt cheek to him, have him lube it up with this crazy gel, and then have him take an electrically charged instrument as he zapped all over my butt.  It was not pleasant.

I'm not sure exactly what it did, but the next day, I was limping everywhere.  I'm hoping that just confirms that the actual problem area is my piriformis, and the injection I'm getting today is really going into the right place.

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On Tuesday, I went on another one of Fatai's Budding Taste excursions.  This time we went to Sik Gaek, a Korean restaurant in Woodside, Queens.  This place was very different from the Korean restaurants in K-town that I usually go to.  First, they were blasting Korean pop music. The worn, homey feeling made the restaurant seem like it had been there forever even though it is just a few months old.  It felt like the kind of place where kids in Seoul would go to after a night of crazy drinking and partying.  My kind of place!

The most memorable dish of the night that we got was the Korean hotpot.  It came out in a huuuuge caldron, filled with meats, shellfish, noodles and vegetables, in a spicy (but not too spicy) broth.  But the kicker was the live octopus that was freshly pulled out of the tank that was just placed right on top.  When the hotpot came out, the octopus was still moving.  But slowly, everything started cooking, and poor octopus started to slow down its movements.

I don't think PETA would be pleased, but boy was it tasty.  I've never had octopus that fresh before.  And since it was only cooked for a moment, it was so tender and tasted like the sea.  I can't wait to go back and try the live octopus sashimi!