Reindeer Run!

This morning I ran the Reindeer Run with some friends from run group.  It was a really interesting run, there was a lot to love about it and some things to really dislike.

Firstly, we had our “Winter Storm Benji” remnants arrive last night.  High winds, colder temperatures and lots and lots of rain, because after all, it’s Florida and not Flori-bama, so we do not get snow.

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It was pouring down a cold ran at 6 am, I was not amused.  I had somewhat unrealistic expectations for this race.  I was sure that with cooler temperatures that I would take some time off the time I ran at the Turkey Trot.  I forgot to take into account that I had run an INSANE hill training session on Thursday, and then swam two miles on Friday.  So I went into the race a little tired.

I picked up my packet yesterday. I had a free registration as I was representing my organization.  Our organization nicely provided an extra shirt for all employees to wear. This is part of our new campaign to raise more awareness of our organization, and I like it. It is a great organization to work for, and while I sometimes feel extremely stressed, I am appreciative of the fact that I have a great boss, flexibility, and good benefits.  in addition, I am proud of the care we provide. So I slapped on that shirt with pride.

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 5.28.03 PM.pngThe Bib for the race was also the most ADORABLE BIB I’ve ever seen….

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I was a little sad because it got totally ruined in the rain.

The race started and I knew it was loops around a parking lot at a large shopping center. This is when I realized that my legs were not cooperating.  Nothing really hurt, but the effort I was putting out was not reflective of the pace I was running. My legs were still really really tired from running the hills. I kept trying to pick up the pace, but my body was not having it. So…it became a bit of a run through parking lots, puddles.  I freely admit I was a little frustrated, because things just didn’t go that well.

I have never been so glad to finish a race! I came in 6th out of 19 in my age group, and finished in the top half of the finishers so all is not lost. Plus we had some fun seeing each other!

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When I finished, I was handed a medal which I think I will remove from the ribbon and make into a Christmas ornament.  Much to my surprise this amazing goodie bag was also handed to me., making this one of the schwaggiest races of the year.

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For a free race, I sure lucked out. Inside this bag was all of these delightful little doo-dads. Most exciting is a race belt that expands to hold a phone.. I’m going to be trying that out tomorrow.


Fun with Friends!  YES!

Super Schwag!  YES!  especially for a 5K.

Organized event!  YES!!!

Easy Parking…YES!!!!

Boo to the race being run in a parking lot, but I think the other stuff makes up for it all… and lessons learned about “racing” when not really on plan…. learned.  My expectations…are tempered.

Happy Holidays everyone!  What is your favorite Holiday activity or race????



New Year’s Resolutions

Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions?  Are they the same ones you make every year, or….are you branching out in 2016?

The lady is IRRITATING, but… Interesting ideas here.

I do like to make resolutions and then see where I end up 365 days later (we get an extra day this year too in February!!!)  But this year, I kind of struggled.  I want to make some athletic goals, but I’m really still in the early stage of healing and so most of those goals can’t really be implemented. In addition, life is happening while I am healing so, I need something to focus on in the meantime.

So here are a couple of goals for 2016.

My MAIN goal is to set myself up to return to running.  Oddly one would think I was doing this already but in reality, i think I was so hopeless when the surgery happened and the aftermath I was very nervous in the immediate recovery period, that I tried really hard not to think about it, and as a consequence…I am currently not ready to ru never if I was 100% healthy.  So what goals go under this?

  1. Eat correctly.  I have a super sweet tooth.

stock-illustration-15279384-sweet-toothSo this is going to be really hard for me. Like many people, I eat well for a few months and then settle into a pattern of take out…some junk food and what not.  When I prepare food that I like it’s pretty easy to avoid the junk… I just have to actually prepare it.

2. Do the exercise I can do…within moderation.

I was recently cleared to use the elliptical and the stationary bike as long as my knees don’t come up high. I started on the bike and increased from 10 minutes daily… My quads…my quads have been burning. After a few days, I added in the Elliptical.  So by the end of this week I was doing 10 mins of elliptical, 20 mins on the bike, 50  minutes of walking on the treadmill and 30 minutes of pool walking every day.  One day my legs just started to hurt.  I need to adjust somewhat because none of this moderate exercise will get me in great shape.  Doing too much does irritate the nerve which is still healing.  So in support of my L5 nerve, I’m going to support it by doing a little less. A delicate balance.

3. Manage my Money better.

I’m not crazy with money management, but I have a tendency to get very disorganized and to have late payments not because I was lacking money but because I put off sending the payment in.  Already this year, I seem to have lost an entire coupon payment book.  (I’d do it electronically but there isa  14.00 fee for electronic payment!).

So… What I have done is take 12 envelopes for the coupon payments, write 12 checks, dated appropriately and addressed and stamped them all.  Each month I need to grab one and mail it at the appropriate time. This SHOULD be easier than making the time to write the check out each month and look for an envelope and stamp, right?  We’ll see.

In 2015 I upped my automatic contributions to both my savings and retirement accounts. I didn’t up them very much, so I seem to still not be contributing the MAX to the Roth. This year, I will try to contribute as close to the MAX as possible. This may be a bit tricky as I am also trying to finish furnishing the home.

4. Volunteer

Since I hurt my back I’ve not done any volunteering at all.  None.  Zilch.  I did serve the community as I gave fairly generously to the food bank in November and also adopted an older lady from the tree at the gym and provided her with bed linens and a comforter and a new outfit.  I tried to volunteer several times.  Each time I relayed the information that my back was bad, and EVERY SINGLE TIME I was asked to do something insane for a healing back- like “Set up tents” or “Rake the field for long jump”.  So at this point, I really have to be careful about volunteering and I suspect if I sign up for something like helping a kid with homework, I might have a better chance of success.

5. One totally time specific goal…

 RUN The TURKEY TROT In November 2016.  I might be visiting my parents, but there is ALWAYS a Turkey Trot.  The Turkey Trot in Carlisle PA was my first running race that I remember doing. It was an untimed race and  I was so overwhelmed by the entire experience I never even looked at the clock when I crossed the finish.  In truth I’d prefer to be in Florida and run the race where I had a massive PR and got to run with a bunch of running buddies, but… we’ll see where I am.

6. I should have some work goals.  My Goal for work is to survive through 2016.  That’s it.  I did a ton last year- I was published, I served on committees that I didn’t want to serve on, I volunteered for a lot of stuff that I regretted.  So… Here’s to getting through 2016 with a job.

SO, let’s all go “Kill it” in 2016.


I’m not a radiologist

So, yesterday I went FINALLY to get my 6 weeks follow up X-ray.  It’s the end of the year and people have met deductibles so everyone is trying to fit in scans and other expensive tests. I waited 2 hours for films.  I am amazed and very proud that I was very adult and never asked about the wait and did not complain about it to anyone.  Waits happen.

I was hoping I’d be able to see some fusion on the film, essentially at this stage it would be fluffy white speck or something, but of course I’m not a radiologist.  Not at all.


So this is what I saw.  Once I looked at the image a little more carefully (these are not the best images, because I snapped them with my phone when the technician wasn’t looking, though she did say they were my images so I’m sure she knew what I was doing…)

CWjC2UtWoAArnwk (1).jpgIt would appear there is a lot of fluffy white stuff between the screws, If you look at the vertebrae above there is a huge black gap and below there is a lot of fluffy white stuff.  So, it could be the start of fusion.  I’m not a radiologist, however, so it could be anything… Christmas Snow?

What did kind of alarm me, and also make the technician raise her eyebrows a bit was this film.

CWjDBj6WoAAwcRc (1).jpgWe both kind of looked at it and simultaneously tilted our head to the right… (If you didn’t tilt your head, let me know, because everyone I show it to does…) I said, well that looks odd.  She said, “Well I don’t know what the surgeon intended.”  I never saw my original post op front view films, the Doc told me they looked great. So I really have nothing to compare to, plus as mentioned before, I’m not a Radiologist.  This could be entirely due to the way I was positioned on the table, or it could be where the screw needed to go, or it could be that I bent the screw which would be amazing, considering I’ve not been doing ANYTHING.

So I drove home.  I’ve been having a large amount of radiculopathy (Right leg pain) and it’s been hard to manage it, so I was thinking, if it is caused by that screw, they can move it and that would be nice.  Then I started to think of the expense and time off work for another procedure….and then I just got very overwhelmed.  I mean, it isn’t the end of the world, but I’m really over my Lumbar spine controlling my life.

We have a nifty thing with our hospital system. It’s called the patient portal.  Once lab tests or X-ray reports are uploaded into the system, the patient can access them, with a handy bar that says (low/normal/high).  When I got home, I jumped on the patient portal to find that my X-ray was read as “Normal Post-operative changes”  I saw the Radiologist was using films from the day of my surgery (done after the surgery) as a comparison.    Because of this, I think I can assume that my former X-ray looked about the same.  I also am not 100% sure that the patient portal contains EVERYTHING on a report, just because I can not access my reports from anything done while I was inpatient, and I can’t access my operative reports. That said, from having to read a lot of radiology reports, the Rad guys and gals usually will mention if something appears to have moved/migrated/relocated from the comparison study.  Plus, if s screw moves, usually there is a dark portion around the screw. I don’t see that.

I’ll see the Doctor on Monday, and while he isn’t a Radiologist, he is a Neurosurgeon, and he is more than qualified to interpret things.

In the meantime, I am thinking about what kind of shoes I’m going to need next year for running.  Something with a narrow instep and a wide toe box… going to be tough to find, but I have a few ideas….A company that could send me out a few different styles to try would be welcome.  I know I probably can’t stay in the Saucony because every time I use them for walking they aggravate the damage to my foot… so something with a bigger toe box to minimize my big toe’s contact might do the trick…

I am excited for Monday…. I do think the X-ray shows beginning fusion, but that one screw has me kind of thinking a little bit too much about the whole thing!!!!

Wish me Luck!

Plug problems and other…

Tough day today.  I awoke to the email announcing my plane tickets.

I did note that I am taking essentially a tour of North America on the way home.

Our trip leader texted me:  “Did you see the tickets”

Me: Yes, I am touring the USA on the way home”

TL:  sorry it was the way the budget did it

Me; It’s ok, it was kind of funny.

TL: It’s just stupid.

ME: well, ok, it is stupid.


I did my regular Wednesday workout.  Swim, run swim, getting out for my second run, I realized I had once again been a late Lucy and didn’t really have time for the run. I devised a plan to do it this afternoon and then ran smack into Coach.

He is all excited about my project.  I am churning through the things to worry about.  He is poo-pooing them all.  And eventually towards the end we actually had an interaction that resembled an argument.  So unpleasant.  He was displeased too that I had failed to execute the workout.

Work went pretty well.  I took care of business.  I was essentially focused on the external business of the trip, but…I did take care of the hospital’s business.

People are really responding with mixed emotions.  Most of them do not really have an understanding of how difficult the work will be, and thus are looking at this as a holiday trip for me or something. So they are either jealous, or just annoyed.  My Boss…really has been wonderful in bending over backwards to get things done for me and allowing me to go.

So I just kind of muddled through the day.

At exactly 5 pm, as I was chatting with the boss, my phone went off.  I had an email from my coach.  he was telling me he was super excited for me.  All the situation of the morning came back and I felt the immediate need to rush over there.  Which is essentially what I did. After stopping for a few things.

When I got there, I rushed into Physical Therapy still in my work clothes.  He looked a bit alarmed, and then immediately cut me the thera bands.


I went and changed and was putting on my shoes when he started to gesture to me.  I walked over and he had 4 sheets of exercises for me.  Yeah..Going to be a fun trip..working out with the therabands.

I told him I needed to run my 2 miles…and he added, “which you failed to do this morning”  and I hit the treadmill. My legs are tired.

After..I went to say goodbye and we both relaxed a bit.  Started to talk and talk about things.  His wife showed up and he and his wife prayed over me.  He was very specific even praying for my QL strain. She prays in a different style, but the gesture was so real and genuine that I appreciated it.  She and I chatted a bit for real for the first time, probably EVER.  She told me that “He can’t shut up about your trip”…I for the first time asked about the upcoming baby.  It was a good moment.

I left the gym and my phone beeped…coach sending me another message.  Good people in ones corner.

As we prayed, I received a message from the foundation’s board president.  The email was so welcoming and loving that I really started to feel good about this trip.

Of course, small problem…

I have not packed yet, and I can’t find my Nigerian plugs.  I really need to get organized, I am probably overrelaxed.

Now just Hurry up

The project is on.  I fly out Thursday night.

Admit I’m a bit nervous as I have not been in Nigeria for about 10 years.  (Man, I am old..I actually feel old.) In addition, I travel alone for most of the first part of the journey. Not so thrilled about hitting Lagos all by myself lonesome, but having done it before I can do it again.

This is particularly good timing, as my coach examined my back last night. He poked and prodded and threw me up on the table and pulled and pushed on it and said, Yes, you have strained your QL.


Exactly “how” I did it is a bit of a mystery.  It really isn’t that bad a strain but it is noticable when I do certain things, like sit-ups.  He did actually work on it a bit and this morning it feels a bit better.

That said. I will be resting and not doing a ton of running while over there.  Or Maybe I will be doing treadmill running.  The hotel states we will have access to the “Triple A fitness center”  but what that is, is always a bit of a mystery.  Chances are, given the location, that it will possibly be nicer than my home gym.

There has been some criticism of the entire project…of all projects, People stating that there are “too many people on the ground”  but in reality, there really are not that many people on the ground doing this work, and in my defense, we are going as a pre-emptive measure to teach the proper use of this protective gear.  I myself did not think I was very knowledgable, until i spent monday on a hospital systems wide conference call and realized that I do know a few things.  And well…maybe there are too many people.  Some times good intentions are just that.

So we will see…

Weekly training wrap up.

Well, I have not really done much in the way of weekly training wrap ups. There has not been too much training going on.

I hurt my left hip in a very odd way…we are still not really sure what happened, but…frankly speaking, I was not that unhappy to find myself tweaked.  I did actually have a very hard time dealing with the ongoing low level of pain it was causing….that kind of chronic underlying pain that seeps into every aspect of life, can be very draining. And this started some time in late June.

Thing is though, it is JULY in FLORIDA.


It is disgustingly hot and humid and not my favorite time to train.  So a load of pool running in there was not the worst thing I’ve ever had to do. It was boring, but…not nearly as challenging as running 13-15 miles in heat worrying about dehydration, nutrition, planting bottles of frozen concoctions here and there, and wondering why my pace suddenly looked as if I was wearing concrete shoes.

That said.  I started to get a bit worried.  I have races coming up and I have some goals.  so…of course right as the hip thing resolves, I decided to pick up the largest bag of dog food I’ve ever seen and kind of tweak out my back a tiny tiny bit.  All I can think of is WHAT was I thinking.  I can afford the smaller 20 lb bag and I can carry that one…The big one is still in the back of my car.  I believe it will empty it up to the house gradually…Still.  That was not the brightest move on my part.

I finally was able to do some running today.  Just 4 miles on the plan and they went…errr. OK.

So it was cooler 75 degrees.  but the humidity was at 97% this morning which was seriously out of this world.  Run still felt pretty good up to the last mile.  I am just a struggling with mile number 4.  It’s up a moderate hill and so on but really I think it is mental.  This is a route I’ve run for probably 7 years now. So that hill and I know each other well.  I hit it and I think I actually gave up.  The heat, the wetness…I was finally motivated to continue running when off in the distance I saw some runners from the run group coming!

I;m back on the mend.

Other than the injury, there are really only three things that are affecting my training in a bad way.

I really dislike my current position. Now that I am certified I keep looking and seeing a few other positions posted that would be better.  But of course.  Better…is the question as they really are unknown….they appear better.  They could be horrific.

Even if better they would mean uprooting myself entirely.  I’ve grown comfortable with my friends, and finally after 7 years of meeting and greeting have started to weed out those who are “mean girls”  and find people who “fit with me”  That is NOT easy and for someone who is single it is very important to have a thriving social life with a variety of friends.  I don’t have a husband/boyfriend I can have accompany me anywhere!

We are still awaiting the validation scores.  I feel sick about it.  The website is down for maintenance so we might hear on the 16th of this month.  I feel so under the gun. I actually do try very hard to report stuff correctly, so one would think the validation would be a piece of cake, but…in reality….I discovered with the amount of items I am required to process in a short time frame, I do occasionally make errors.

And once the Validation stress is over, *if* we pass…it will be time to get ready for a Joint Commission Accreditation visit, at which time I will need some of the nurses to answer questions correctly….which seems easy but is not.  Joint Commission stresses me less than the other two things. main goal in the next month is to keep work separated from training.

I’ve managed to lose 7 pounds in the last 2 weeks when not running, so a good reset for that…need to keep eating healthy.

And perhaps things will change.  They always do!

Wrapping up the week.

This was a pretty interesting week.

We had a lot of change ups in training and also work seemed to demonstrate some changes.

Work first since it pays for all the fun!  On Wednesday we got our “records request”  from the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services.  I spent the day trying to figure out where the second half of the request was.  It was buried in the packet that the manager of “Health Information Management”  had not really looked at.  It took about 6 hours of my 8 hour work day to unravel that, but I did. I was a wee bit annoyed, but really…this is why they pay me- in part- to be sure that stuff gets done correctly.

Oddly.  CMS has asked for 2 charts to review for Surgical Site Infection, and neither of the 2 patients they chose had a surgical site infection.   Both arrived at the hospital with nasty infections due to perforated bowels, both were discharged from the hospital within 5-10 days with no further visits returns or complaints.  So, I’ll be curious as to what the chart reviews of those two cases reveals.  I think it will reveal that their system of using coding to identify things is not very accurate.  (Yes both patients had an “infection related code”  but even the coders clearly noted “Present on admission”).

To add to my anxiety: CMS is validating the Laboratory ID reporting I do to the CDC.  CDC reporting is very focused on Location based lab testing.  CMS is focused on “billing status”  As in:  was the patient considered inpatient, observational, or outpatient.  CDC just cares where the patient was physically in the building.  I have no idea how CMS will judge or validate. I could do very well, if they validate on the CDC standards, or I could fail entirely if they interpret the CDC guidelines differently.

Anyway, the rest of the week, I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy to CDAC (Clinical Data Abstraction Center) has been to work with- in comparison to both CMS and CDC.  I sent them some examples of documentation for validation and they immediately replied that this was the appropriate documentation that they wished to see.  Usually, when dealing with Government I hear…. “We can not tell you what is or is not acceptable, only you can decide what is appropriate”….But CDAC help desk was very forthcoming and honest.  I told the help desk woman in York PA that she was 20 mins from my hometown to which she replied that I should come visit any time I’m back home.  This was much friendlier and I appreciated it.  I will go visit, if only to see the building and people who have caused me such angst.

SO, looks like we will soon have the records copied and sent off, and then I sit and stew until about Mid-July when I receive an arbitrary score…based on…I mean, they are supposed to be checking how accurate I am with my reporting, but they chose 2 patients who did not even have any infections….etc.  I say this because I do feel that the reporting on websites such as “Hospital Compare”   doesn’t actually often reflect anything current or truthful about the quality of care provided at any hospital.  I know they are trying, but…current data on the website is about 1 -2 years old as it is.

So,  I may survive this validation process.  This is the tail end of round one. I have 2 more quarters to go after this.

BUT….What is life without training?  Mine would be kinda empty.

Monday I had off for Memorial Day. THis is a huge change for working out, as loads of people did not work on memorial day.

The gym and pool were closed, so I headed out to Lucky’s Lake.

I was essentially supposed to do the distance that equalled 3 crossings.  I don’t know what got into me, but I just did one.  I was tired.  Plus, I got a lot of water up my nose which gave me quite a bit of pause.    I let coach man know and he didn’t seem to care about the lack of distance. I did not bother him about my amoeba fear, I mean if I get it I’m just gonna pretty much die.  I did have the thought that if I had amoeba, I would not have to worry at all about reporting requirements, ha ha ha I think I’m out of the amoeba window for now.

Tuesday I went back to work and training.

4 mile tempo run which was WOW…really BAD!   I had one mile at projected tempo pace. Mile number 2 I could not hold pace at ALL.  Usually mile 2 is an easy fast mile, but not today.  At the end of mile 2 I regrouped and thought I would “jog home”  but actually Mile 3 ended up being quite fast.  Mile 4 has some rather large hills at the end and so it also ended up being like Mile 2. I hate hated this run.  So frustrating. Post work, I had a legs workout and a swim. The legs workout went pretty well and the swim was awesome…my own lane on a tuesday evening.  My friend was supposed to swim with me but she cancelled, which really didn’t affect me…I’m always going to get my workouts done.

Wednesday I had a Brick.


Unlike many, I like me some brick.  This one was a simple 35 min spin and a 3 mile run.  because of Tuesday’s fail, I felt pretty hesitant.  I saw my friend in the locker room between the bike and run….(so yes transition was extended for shoe change bathroom, and chit chat.  well, I’m not really a triathlete!).  I moaned a bit and one of the professional triathletes grinned madly at me, as I was already pretty sweaty as I said, “I’m a just gonna do a little itty run out there…”  The run turned out FINE.  I think the spin loosened up my hip.  It was more of a tempo run than my tempo run.  I was definitely aware of the hot hot hot and muggy humid conditions, but somehow I just ran through them…Hope this is the start of a summer of just getting through, which would be loads and I mean LOADs better than last summers Moan and Whine festival.

Thursday:  Speed work on the treadmill.  I could have done this outside, but chose the TM for flatness and also for the air conditioning.  (No joke there.)  2 sets of 2 mile repeats.  This is a bit gentler than 800 repeats.  I had a bit of trouble deciding what speed to take them at.  I was afraid to commit to a speed that I “Should” be doing them at, because I wanted to be able to complete the repeats.  So…they may have ended up slower, but that’s what I did.  The 2 mile repeats is really a tricky workout..Start out too fast…and somewhere you fail…start too slow and you feel like a total slug that didn’t push it.  I feel Ok about these, I’m in a build period and still trying to get it together with the speed work.  Whatever.

Thursday Night I did some arms and abs and hung around with the Coach.  We had some good discussion about the repeats, and things in general. He is such a good influence on my life.  I hope we continue in the vein we have been in recently.  Coaching relationships, like any other relationship can have ups and downs and can be quite intense.

Friday I had another Brick.  50 min cycle and 7 mile run.  Yes, that is not a typical brick, but I’m not a triathlete.  The purpose of a brick for me is to get used to running on tired legs.  My legs were tired, but I was so glad to be getting it done on a Friday.  It did make for a bit of a “low motivation” day at work. This was the second switch, it was in order to get me on the run at 6 am rather than at 8 am, makes a big difference right now with the heat.

Saturday was a blast.  because of our switch- I got up late, hung around the house, piddled about…and eventually made my way over to the gym for a long long swim.  2 miles of swimming later, I inhaled some pizza, and rested, still feeling like I had done an easier workout than normal…(I did Friday’s workout, plus a few more yards.)

Today I had the “long” run.  12 miles again.  I tried out Chia seeds in my nutrition, and added in an extra salt stick cap.  I also forced myself to intake more liquid than I wanted.  I think as I get warm, my interest in drinking or eating goes down, but if I decrease my intake, well… It seems to have worked pretty well.  I did not get miserably chilled like last week after, and my run was slightly faster than last week, on the same route despite starting later.

So overall feeling pretty good.  My one current work/life balance obstacle is this exam I am supposed to be studying for.  I take it in July. I periodically pull out index cards, but honestly…I do not want to study.  So lets hope I pass it in July because if I do not, I will be studying until October when I will have to retake it and hopefully pass.

Overall a good training week.  Only 6 more hard days then I get a rest week…which is a diet week, and a study week too.

Today of course is Comrades Marathon day.  So training seems to have taken on a new appeal.