Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Wedding #1 is done and it was so much fun! More pictures when they arrive...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Butt shot ahead...seriously

Sadly, my oh-so-wonderful 6 mile run this morning ended up a total disaster. Post furious stretching and rolling on a tennis ball, I looked into the mirror to find this on my ass...

Ouchie...hurts like crazy!

Tomorrow, I get myself a massage and hope all goes back to normal.

*fingers crossed*

PS: Getting a half decent butt shot isn't as easy as I thought.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The calendar is marked

I'm so happy to have logged some decent runs these past few weeks that it's now time to set a date. December 6 is when I will officially start base building. If all goes well, that is. Till then, it's going to be a full month and a half of continuing to coax my hip into co-operating by rolling like crazy, strength training, and getting regular massages.

Oh and I have a wedding to get through too...mine that is! Yeah, November 28 is when I tie the first knot (we're having two ceremonies to honor both our religions) with the love of my life! I'm so excited and totally freaking out since there's still so much left to do and so little time. Needing to run more than ever now to keep sanity in check!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Getting there, one small run at a time

First of all, let me say that I'm totally in awe of all those who ran Chi-town last week. The conditions (from what I've read) were brutal and hats off to those who finished in spite of the odds!

Far from racing excitement, I've had some short and easy but good runs these past couple of weeks. "Good" by my definition meaning: with little post-run pain, that just about goes away after a solid 15 minutes of rolling and stretching. This is good news, but if there's anything I've learned from experience, it's to be cautiously hopeful.

Last week, in a desperate attempt to let go of my road-run phobia (I've had some traumatic limping experiences), I dragged myself out for a 4-mile test run. All good (well, almost) till at one point, I had to jump onto the pavement to avoid crashing into a fruit cart (one of the many joys of running in India). Jumping onto pavements = very bad idea. Thankfully, post-run rolling and stretching dulled out most of the pain...I'm almost sure that's a sign of improvement. Then again, I logged a short pain-free (yay!) 30-min treadmill run and a longer 60 mins on Sunday afternoon (hurty during the last 20 mins).

Having tried out various combinations of time, pace, incline, and surface, I've come to realize that I might still need to do most runs on the treadmill, stick to 30-45 minutes (maybe do 60 mins once a week), keep the incline at no more 1% and an easy pace. Of course, I'll be doing outdoor test runs every now and to gauge my progress (and eventually transition). So that’s that. Far from where I would like to be, but still hopeful that some day, I can join in the racing fervor. Yes, progress has been slow, but I just might be able to pick up the pieces once again. There's a faint bit of light seeping in through that pinhole...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Superfood from the Indian backyard

Finally, I’ve gotten down to doing a food review I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Since I am currently in weight-loss/recover-from-injury mode, I’ve been forced to re-evaluate my diet and I’m happy to note that I’m making some really big changes in this department.

So here’s what’s on the plate today: amaranth seeds. This gluten-free seed (it’s not a grain, very similar to quinoa) is probably not much heard of outside of a few cultures, but in India, it’s a big part of our diet and tradition. Here, the air-popped seeds are mixed with jaggary, peanuts, and cardamom, and shaped into confection balls or bars.

Some interesting amaranth facts:

  • The Aztecs believed that amaranth gave them mystical, supernatural powers. Warriors and runners ate it for strength.
  • The seeds are high in protein and contain high amounts of lysine and methionine, two types of amino acids, making it a more complete source of protein than most grains (30% more). Using them in combination with wheat, corn, or brown rice equals the protein content to fish, red meat, or poultry.
  • Amaranth seeds are also high in fiber, calcium (twice as much as milk), iron, potassium, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, E.
  • Amaranth is super-easy to digest (90% digestible) and because of this ease of digestion, it has traditionally been given to those recovering from an illness or ending a fasting period (very common fasting food in India).
  • Amaranth has a low glycemic Index (2.4), keeping you full, longer.
Although you can use the seeds (popped or unpopped) any way you like, I prefer to make porridge of it. It’s super easy and FAST!

Here’s how I enjoy my amaranth porridge:
Warm milk. Hot is best since the seeds soak in more readily.

Add popped amaranth seeds. More or less depending on the consistency you like. 

Mix and let it stand for about 2 minutes so that the seeds soak in the milk and it gets creamy.

Garnish! I sprinkled sugar, melon seeds, raisins, and prunes. Other great-tasting garnishes: bananas, peanut butter, almonds. And it’s ready…YUMM!

Nutritional Profile (based on ¼ cup dry grain)
Calories = 182
Total Fat = 3.25 g
Saturated Fat = 0.75 g
Cholesterol = 0 mg
Sodium = 10.25 mg
Carbohydrate = 32.25 g
Dietary Fiber = 4.5 g
Protein = 7 g
Gluten Free  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Oh well

I may have spoken too soon. I ended last week with a super fun spin class, but which turned out to be so not fun the next day. I sort of knew that was going to happen since, sometime towards the end of the class, I could feel the sciatic nerve being pulled. Anyways, that's that and I'm having to get back on the cross trainer. Which honestly isn't so bad once you've figured out the interval and hill programs, and the fact that you can make it as hard as you want it to be. I had a great 1 hr interval session this morning on the AMT machine at the gym and was mighty pleased with how hard I pushed myself!

Some other things I discovered this week that don't work well for me...

  1. Wine on a weeknight. I had one glass of red on Sunday night and woke up the next morning feeling dehydrated and really sick! I think I might be getting too old to do this stuff...shites. No more drinks during the week for me.
  2. Licking yogurt off the cup. Yes, for some reason, I just cannot do without licking the yogurt off from under the foil cover, but I cut my tongue real bad today and spent the next five minutes spitting out a LOT of blood. Yikes!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The dermatologist saved my leg

Yes, I know this sounds crazy but that is exactly how it happened. Well, let me start be recapping my sob injury story. I’ve been dealing with acute piriformis syndrome, along with excruciatingly painful sciatica that would often cause my right leg to go ‘uncomfortably numb’. Also, as I discovered a few months ago, another trigger point was the right groin muscle that would hurt like hell every time I rolled it out. Needless to say, I have been put out of all sorts of running action for the past…10 months! 10 freaking months of pain, popping ibuprofens through the day, missing work on occasions, no solid answers from any doctors or therapists, and dealing unsuccessfully with rapid weight gain (I’ve figured that when I don’t know how to deal with pain, I eat).

So then, a few months back, to my great horror, I found out I was losing hair. Not just a few here and there, but they were coming out in bunches every time I showered or tried to comb them out. Great, now I can be fat AND bald. Sadly, this was the time I had to give in to my hairdresser’s advice: go short so that the lack of hair isn’t so obvious. While I tried my best to enjoy the new do, sadly my hair problems were getting worse. My head got real itchy and I had this crazy funk coming off of my scalp! That was when I made the trip (roughly 1.5 weeks ago) to the dermatologist who, well, saved my leg.

After examining my scalp and striking all infections off the list, the dermatologist decided it’s probably an iron/B complex deficiency. Really, her treatment is a trial and error one and she wanted to eliminate an iron deficiency before moving into other tests. So after that visit, I went home with a strip of iron and B12 capsules and a Rogane-like solution. What happened over the next few days is nothing short of a MIRACLE for me.

After only a few days of taking those capsules, the sciatica vanished! As in ‘gone’, ‘disappeared’, ‘not here’!!! AND it arrested like 70% of the hair loss. AND I don’t feel exhausted every morning and miss gym. AND I last through the day without coffee. AND I want to cry because life feels so darn good right now, I’m having a hard time believing it.

So now, since something isn’t right about this hair loss and sciatica, of course I had to go Google. Turns out, B12 not only helps to form red blood cells but also maintain the nervous system by metabolizing fatty acids found in the myelin sheath (the nerves coverings). This is why it is often prescribed for sciatica and other nerve problems. Which of course makes me wonder why the neurologist I went to didn’t think of this possibility…?

And that’s how it all happened. After 10 months, I finally fee almost 'normal’ again and I don’t quite know how to react to it. Strangely, being normal is sort of weird to me now and I’m just about trying to get used to it. And trying not to get to excited, you know, just in case…*fingers crossed*

So what now? Of course I’m already thinking of race training and other such utterly wild things! But first up is getting rid of the last bit of lingering piriformis pain and losing all the excess baggage I’ve collected over the past months. I can finally exert myself enough to see some positive results (my weight is exactly the same as I mentioned in my last blog). After that, there’s Chicago 2011… :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rock-bottom and beyond

I've officially fallen off the wagon. So what's out of line, you might ask. Well, everything really. This is how the past few weeks (or months) have progressed:

Piriformis syndrome > stop running > cross train > pile on pounds > bored of gym > skip gym > diet astray > pile on pounds > run outdoor track > severe sciatic pain > cross train > pile on pounds > hide from the world.

As you can see, the only consistent item in my routine is "pile on pounds".

And now, I'm going to do something that's so NOT easy...

121 lbs (up 7 lbs)
There, I've said it and I feel miserable. But hopefully, I can now start digging myself out of this sorry existence. To this effect, here is what I'm starting with ASAP:

Get a personal trainer.
I've had one for most of the past few years and I know it helps. Darn expensive at this new Gold's Gym i now go to but 3 months to begin with and we'll see where that goes.

Document the diet.
I've NEVER kept a food/calorie log and honestly, since I'm pretty good at 'what to' and 'what not to', I've never needed to. But this time, the problem is with the portions.

Kill this injury.
It's been around waay too long! Although, I've understood that this is something I'll probably have to live with (yes, they say that piriformis syndrome never really goes away), I'm positive I can get back into training at some point.

Blog more often.
Seriously, this confession mode is helping. And the fact that reading about other running lives helps me keep that focus. Thank you bloggers!

Go shopping.
A little retail therapy doesn't sound so bad right now. I've been thinking about summer dresses all week. I think I'll give in.

Time to pick up the pieces and get back on track...wow feeling better already! And yes, I'll be posting my progress report as often as I possibly can. I promise.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Running in a Straight Line

Well well, it's been a while and I have to say that I've missed this space. The last month has been chockablock with work, business travel, life plans, with a reasonable measure of general malaise sprinkled on for that finishing touch. But some good shone through as well and that more than makes up for this tedious phase. I have finally been able to reach the 45-minute running mark. On the dreadmill (0.5% incline...just for the record), mind you. But what the heck, I’ve gone from not being able to run 30 seconds to a full 45 minutes! That’s B.I.G. and I’m thrilled to bits. Of course, for every good day, there are a few bad ones (and damn it, I can’t sit 5 minutes straight without a pillow under my butt), but I’m anxious to see how the piriformis behaves the day I take it out on a “real” run. Soon!

On that note, let me digress and jump to something far more interesting. I’ve been asked many questions about what it's like to run in India and if I could put up some pictures. Well, the best account I’ve read on this subject is the one written by the BF during his early days in India. So without much delay, here he is, recounting what it’s like to run in India, with a few pictures (not mine but they are the streets I run) of the city we live and run in…

India : Running in a Straight Line
Finally, a spare half an hour. Time to lace up the new shoes attach the iPod and go for a run. With a little OAR playing in the background and a water bottle in my hand, I am off. It starts off easy enough straight out of my flat, good pace, good energy…maybe 3, maybe 4 miles today. "Johnny doubled up with a royal flush, I had 3 jacks and a pair of nines…" I am ready to go.

And then I hit the street, a quick turn to the right to avoid the rickshaw followed by a stumble and a near ankle turn on the uneven pavement. On to the main street, each step adjusted just before it is taken in anticipation of the chaotic crowd movement…right, right, straight, left, jump over the stray dog…sometimes finding the hole…sometimes choosing poorly. A turn off the main street, ahhhh some clear area. I open up into full strides…."who's up for game three, I can barely see…"

I start pushing a little harder until I catch a tennis ball in the side. I turn my head to see a group of local kids doubled over in laughter as I just ran right through their pick-up cricket match. I turn off the road down a path and through one of the local slums. I cut back and forth through the people while absorbing the observing eyes of the crowds. I make one more turn and there I am, at a dead end and exhausted. 3 to 4 miles, no, but in India's true nature, it challenged my mind and it challenged my body, and in the end I got what I needed. It just didn't look like what I had envisioned.

There are a million experiences to write about after just a short time here. India will assault your senses with the mass of people, the poverty, the traffic, the extortion, the pollution and don't get me started with sitting in a government office for days. It will overwhelm your senses with the charm of the people, the festive nature, their loyalty, their spirit, the colors, and incredible ties to family.

But the most enduring of many incredible things about India is that it can teach the ego a profound and humbling lesson. No matter the education level, no matter how well traveled an individual is, if they think they have humanity figured out, my suggestion is go take a run in India. Nothing happens in a straight line.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Recovery: Week 2 day 1

Since I misbehaved on Saturday and my piriformis won't make peace with me, I decided to make up by keeping today's workout sober. It was lower body strengthening day in any case, so all I had to do was keep the running in check.

Here how the session went:

Treadmill: 20 minutes walk/run (14 minutes run)

Free squats: 2x15
Standing lunges: 2x15
Seated leg press: 2x15
Calf press: 2x15
Seated calf press: 2x15

Leg curls: 5 reps > crazy sciatic pain > abandon
Toe raisers: 3x15
Leg raises on decline: 3x15
Glutes on machine: 2x15
Hip adductor/abductor: 2x15

Stretch routine with some yoga asanas sprinked in.

Tomorrow is cardio day and I promise not to be silly.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Recovery: Week 1

Since I started with the physical therapy sessions, I’ve gone from being an injured couch potato for 2 months to kick-starting a workout schedule at the gym, including cross-training, dreadmill walking (yeah yeah), and a weight training regimen specially planned keeping in mind the piriformis.

In spite of the torture of starting afresh, I have to admit that getting back into an exercise regime has been the best thing ever! I don’t feel so useless (and hopeless) anymore. Nevertheless, learning to walk before running has been hard and over the last couple of days, I managed to hit both extremes of the emotional barometer.

A few days into dreadmill walking got me wired up and since there was no discernable pain, I cranked up the speed to a fast walk just short of breaking into a jog. The next day, I jogged for 10 minutes. Of course, I could still feel a slight pinch at the back of my thigh, but it was a far cry from the excruciating hurt I had felt for the past few months. So far, so good. On day three, jog turns into a run. Slow and on the dreadmill, but a run nevertheless! And 30 minutes too. How cool is that!

And now, here's the part where reckless enthusiasm gets in the way of caution and sound logic. If 30, then why not 45? I think there’s a very good explanation for why not. But no, stupid me had to give it a shot. Of course I finished the run and of course the piriformis revolted. So I’m back on the couch for today, in pain but wiser.

Note for the future: When injured, curb the enthusiasm!

The search is over

A B.I.G. announcement is in order: After much consternation and failed medication trials (thanks to the uncertainty of the ortho), I unraveled the "dead leg" mystery. Acute piriformis syndrome. Phew!

So it’s been a combination of various treatments for the last two weeks. I’m still on the medication prescribed by the fancy neurosurgeon and I have to say it has helped reduce the pain dramatically. But this time round, I’m also working with a super cool physical therapist (it was she who first suggested the piriformis syndrome) to include:

Interferential Therapy
This uses electrical stimulation for pain relief, muscle stimulation, increased local blood flow, and reduction of oedema. My therapist straps on electrodes along the pain path down my leg and shoots electric impulses over 20 minutes, increasing the voltage every 2-3 minutes, as the muscles get used to the stimulation. It tingles and can feel a little weird when a muscle twitches, but leaves you with a deep-tissue massage after-feeling. Fabulous!

Short Wave Diathermy
SWD is a high frequency alternating current that produces heat for deep tissue heat treatment. So, I sit my ass cheeks (targeting the piriformis muscle) on 2 heated pads and lay like that for about 10 minutes. This feels so damn good; I’ve snoozed off on more than one occasion!

Stretch Routine
A set of stretches that specifically target the piriformis and other surrounding muscles, and the spine. I hold the stretches for 10 counts and do 5 reps of each. This is something I’ve been advised to weave into my everyday post-workout routine.

So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks and I’m happy to report that it’s all paying off! The pain is diminishing and I’m finally on a slow but sure recovery path. Can I just say "woohoo"? Woohoo!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

10 things happy

So I got tagged by the Redhead a few days ago to write about 10 things that make me happy and I have to confess this has been one of the funnest blogs I've written. So here goes...

The Boyfriend

One of the reasons why I’ve mellowed out over the years. He’s an amazing person who is always by my side and encourages me to go the extra mile (running included).

Running Blogs
Ever since I discovered the world of running blogs, I have been a happier person. It‘s my daily dose of inspiration, encouragement, discovery, and support. I am so happy to be able to share the joy and pain of running (and life) with everyone out there. Thank you!

Strength Training

I love love love weight training! I was a gym nerd before transforming into a running nerd and I still love the “after feeling” of a heavy duty strength training session. Not to mention the sheer joy of seeing your body shape up beautifully!

Random Verses
Words have always had a way with me and I confess there have been times when I let hope hang on to a few. It’s amazing what the power of beautifully fashioned words can do to your emotions…

To the Moon - PB Shelley
Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth, --
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

Home-style Indian Food

Dal (lentil), roti (Indian bread), sabzi (vegetables), and tandoori chicken…I miss it all and I get cranky if I live without it for too long.

My Home
I love the home that the boyfriend and I share. Although, we still have boxes to unpack and fixtures to fix, it’s ours, it’s warm, and it’s full of love.

My Friends
Over the years, they have come and gone, some stayed in touch, and some exist just in memories. But to all I’m thankful, because without them, I’d never have had the life I did.

Yes, I’ve always been a girlie girl, shopping is my release, and I’m attracted to all things pink or gray or pink and gray. The only thing my female shopping buddies find odd about me is that I find running tights sexier than minis. Obviously, they are not runners.

Generosity of Strangers
It makes me happy to think that there are good people in this world. I don’t know what I would have done without the girls who accompanied me halfway home one night when I was being followed by a drunk man; or the college student who offered me his standby fuel when I ran out of mine and didn’t even let me pay for it!


We all run for different reasons and yet we’re often unable to rationalize why we do. I’m not going to explain this one, but I will say that it’s the one thing without which I feel totally miserable.

Run strong everyone!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The warmest white Christmas ever!

All said and done, I've ended 2009 fabulously. Not only did I train for and run my first half marathon, I wrapped it up with an awesome family vacation to Chicago and beyond.

Here are some pictures from then...

A limo pick-up at Chicago! I wish I was half awake to enjoy it though. The 30+ hours journey was a killer.

Someday I'll be pounding the streets of Chicago

The Bean

With my parents in front of the Milwaukee Art Museum

One of the numerous pretty brooks in Waupaca. Seriously, snow makes everything look so lovely!

Even saw some solitary joggers! And I'd get overly excited everytime I spotted one. Should have gotten a picture :(

A fireplace to warm my back and a fabulous brandy slushie to get into the Christmas spirit :)

My first traditional Christmas lunch ever...everything was so yummy!

Opening gifts with the family was so much fun...first time again

At the Packers game (I swear I was the only colored person there) with the boyfriend and his dad. Now, how many Indians can claim to have done this, at Lambeau no less? Ooh check out those mighty mittens!

Boyfriend's dad helps my dad walk onto the frozen lake. My mom needed no help though, she literally ran out (this trip was her first exposure to snow)!

The boyfriend packing in enough for a brutal facewash. Check out the wicked grin. And yes, it was brutal.

The NYE party. The hostess is a marathoner and needless to say, we discussed IT bands and foam rollers. Perfect party conversation.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The nerve

Wow something to write about. Finally! Here's an update on the relentless search for the cause of my mysterious leg/hip injury, a source of much pain and despair over the past several months.

Scene 1
After much delay, brooding, and hours of pouring over running injury sites (during work hours), I have my lumbar spine X-rays examined by the chain-smoking ortho (he looks like a wreck but is ironically one of the best in town…hmm). No stress fractures, no disc abnormalities. Nada.

I say, “So the next step would be an MRI, right?”

Chain-smoking ortho says, “Yes, and I bet nothing will come out of it.”

I say, “Hmmm.”

Scene 2
I’m laying in the scan room, with nothing but a green robe on. They plug cotton balls into my ears, “because the noise is deafening.” Not cool. Then they proceed to strap my head, arms, and legs. Not cool again. Into the scanner I go. The next 30 (yes, 30) minutes are pure agony. MRI scans are serious torture.

Scene 3
Ortho looks at the MRI scans.

“Like I told you, nothing.”

I nod and burst out, “It’s getting worse! I’m worried the ibuprofens won’t work anymore…I’ve taken so many!”

To which he replies (I think I see him getting serious now), “I suggest you see this neurosurgeon…”

Scene 4
This neurosurgeon is fancy. The waiting area is designed like a new-age meditation resort. I’m certain he’s going to charge by the alphabet. I go in, he asks questions, I answer, he bends and flexes my legs, I cooperate.

Finally he speaks, “I’m pretty sure your S1 nerve is pinched.”

“How might that have occurred?” I ask.

“Any sudden movement, although this usually occurs when you bend forward and pick something heavy. And you made it worse by not resting it.”

This is when I ask the dreaded question. “Will I be able to go back to running?”

“Of course, but first you must give it 3-4 weeks of complete rest. No strenuous exercise and no running.”

Is this it? Did he nail it? I'll take it if he did!

Right now, as I sit here with an ugly, uncomfortable lumbo-sacral binder around my waist, my thoughts drift to the anguish of going back to the ‘starting line’. Yes, the leg still hurts. Yes, I’m going to have to start by shedding the weight. Yes, training for a marathon seems far-fetched. Yes, I can’t even begin to map out this year’s races.

Nevermind all that, for now, I'm pinning my hope on the S1 nerve.