Monday, December 15, 2014

"Mommy, please don't break your leg."

As a carded athlete with Athletics Canada, Coach Rick and I were required to submit various documents after my injury.  In confirming my intention to return to full high performance training and competition, many health professionals were involved in assessing my situation and creating a safe rehabilitation and training plan. I remember the excitement I felt when seeing, "November 1, 2014" as the earliest possible return date to competing. I couldn't wait yet knew patience was a must.
And we waited, carefully and steadily doing a bit more each and every day: walk/jog to running, cross training, weekly physio and massage treatments, orthopaedic appointments, and daily at-home routines. My rehab plan slowly but surely grew and transitioned back to my full-time training plan.
And on November 8, my plan included competing again, just over 6 months from my femur fracture.

Rick and I wanted to pick a shorter distance, low-key and local race that I could run without any pressure or high expectations. RunWaterloo's  8 km Remember Run in Cambridge was the perfect fit. I had been steadily progressing in my tempo and speed sessions on the treadmill as it was a safe and predictable surface for recovering. But by mid-October we knew it was time to hit the track again. The plan was falling perfectly into place; we were moving another step forward. 
For a few years, I have been using the North Park Highschool track next to the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre as it has been ideal when my children are in Childcare. It's not the greatest surface but it's what I know. It gets the job done and we can reliably compare numbers. Next year when all of the kids are in school full time I will be able to travel across town to use a rubber track on a consistent basis. 

As I was getting ready to leave for the race, in all sincerity and honesty, my 3 yr old daughter asked, "Mommy, please don't break your leg". I think that is when I realized that my injury likely affected her the most. She went with me to my appointments, helped me do laundry with a walker, assisted with other chores around the house, made the big trip with me to the mailbox every day, and saw me rely on a raised toilet seat, crutches and a cane. A lot from the eyes of a sensitive preschooler with a big hear. When I returned home, she exclaimed, "Mommy, you didn't break your leg!" What a moment.

Race morning, I enjoyed the short and quiet drive to Cambridge, thinking about the past 6 months. It was a gray and cool day, fairly similar to the weather we had on April 27. Warm up went well and a moment of silence was very meaningful before the start gun went off. I felt very relaxed and strong, not like what one might expect after not racing for so long. During the race I was a bit distracted by the trail sections as it took me back to my x-country racing days as a Petrolia LCCVI Lancer, 20+ years ago. The goal for this 8 km race was the same as any other race, after a major injury or having a baby. Marathon pace. So once finishing, knowing it wasn't a fast course, I was very pleased to cross the line at exactly 28:01. Mission accomplished. I did my cool down with Olympian, Alex Genest who was also using this race as a low-key return after some time off. We got to know each other when we raced with Team Canada in Japan in 2012. He too is a parent and University of Guelph Nutrition grad. We both returned home that day feeling positive and ready for more.
Training since has continued to go well. Since racing I've completed 110, 120, and 120 km weeks with yesterday's long run of 30 km being my longest. My fitness continues to improve (RHR is 37), my energy is good, and I am ready to keep implementing the training and competition plan. I look forward to running the December 7 Tannenbaum 10 km race, for the first time. Again, another shorter distance, low-key and local race without any pressure or high expectations. 

Feeling and looking solid in my first race back! Photo by Julie, RunWaterloo.

Alex Genest and Krista DuChene, parents and U of Guelph Applied Human Nutrition grads. We were very pleased with solid performances at the NovemberRun. First race back after taking a break for both. Photo by Julie, RunWaterloo.

So grateful that Therapeutic Massage Counsel and Essential Physiotherapy are kid-friendly. Here the kids were occupied with lunch and lego ... 

and here I was able to quiz my son for his spelling bee.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Like Nothing Happened

Like Nothing Happened

I sit at my computer, hardly able to articulate how I feel. It's done. It's over. Like nothing happened. Other than getting in my first rust-buster race in a few weeks, I have checked off all the boxes on the recovery to full-time training and racing transition plan:
First full run with no walk break. Done. Aug 24.
First full km at goal marathon race pace. Done. Sept 2.
First solid run of 20+km. Done. Sept 27.
First 100+ km week. Done. Oct 12.
First run with scheduled pick ups. Done. Oct 18.
First track workout. Done. Oct 23.
First week with my favourite 28 km road/trail route. Done. Oct 25.
I fully realize there is much, much more work to do in order to get back to a sub 2:30 marathon but like we have said all along, there is lots of time. No need to rush.
When speaking at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon expo with Silvia Ruegger, we were asked about how we were able to overcome our significant injuries and return to successful marathoning. Silvia explained the importance of staying strong in other areas, i.e., hours of pool running and other forms of strength/cross-training, to which I completely agreed. I then spoke about how I compared this injury to another pregnancy. I needed to be patient, allowing my body to heal completely, knowing I would return with another strong passion to train and race like never before. You can't bypass the last few months of a 9 month pregnancy; I could not skip through the critical weeks the bone was healing.
As for the numbers, Coach Rick and I are following the training and racing plan executed after my last injury, which was a glute medius strain and tendonopathy followed by a few broken ribs around the time of Dec 2012-Feb 2013. This time we planned twice as long to recover from my femur fracture as it was much more significant. Comparing the six months prior to when I was in 2:27 shape for Worlds (Aug 2013), I am now about a month ahead of where I was then! I will again repeat with a distance of 8km as my first race back to get out the rust. Ideally I can hold on to marathon goal pace (3:30/km) but we have no high expectations. Running strong and steady with a solid finish is the priority.
I just finished two down weeks of 77 and 80 km, which was scheduled as a necessary recovery period before resuming 100+km weeks again. I get excited to look at the training and racing plans that is mapped ahead. As they say, "Onward and Upward"!

That day when I'd run 20 km with James and Clayton like nothing ever happened.  Happened. Sept 27, 5 months post femur fracture/surgery.
Enjoying a coffee after to celebrate our friendship. 

Great support team, checking my running form and reviewing my recovery and training plan. Thanks, James, Rick and Paul (Essential Physio). Missing: David (Therapeutic Massage Counsel).  

Kip Kongogo and I are all smiles for our Coach, Rick Mannen.

8:00 am. Getting ready to go live for the 25th Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. 

12:30 pm. And that's a wrap! Thanks for a great morning, Tim Hutchings and Michael Doyle. Next marathon...I'm racing!

Kelly Weibe and Krista DuChene, Saucony athletes. Unfortunately Kelly didn't have the marathon debut he would have liked due to injury. We will see him back at it!

Gorgeous day to do my first track workout in 6 months! I did 6 x 800 m repeats with 1:45 rest between, Oct 23. Not too bad.

Our 8 yr old is again playing rep hockey this year. We just love seeing his passion and talent grow. It's been said that he is very coachable; an honour for any parent to hear.

Love seeing our 6 yr old enjoy his swimming and piano lessons.
Back on the ice, teaching another one to skate. A few more weeks and she will be done with the pusher. All smiles.

Oh, the years I've spent reading books to the kids in the van before the childcare at the gym opens. Sadly, this is our last year as our youngest will be in full-time JK next year. I will cherish these days yet be ready to hand her over as she will be more than ready to go. I certainly don't look forward to the day they are all in school but will take full advantage of more opportunity to rest and recharge in my quiet afternoons. The timing is perfect for my long term goals.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Building a Base

Building a Base

So here's my mileage (in km's) since I started shuffling in early July: 11, 38, 52, 48, 58, 61, 70, 70, 78, 30, and 71. Yep, a little recent set back with the 30 km week due to a pain behind the left knee. Likely the transition to straight running with no walk breaks, increased road running, and a few higher intensity runs was just a bit too much. But after a few days of only cross-training, all was well. I've had some decent runs, I know my body is capable of race pace, and have plenty of time to continue building a strong base in preparation for a spring marathon. On Aug 31, I ran a steady 10 km at 4:18/km, four months post femur fracture and surgery. And on Sept 8, I handled 14 km at 4:17/km that included 2 km at 3:28/km. The numbers are encouraging, especially considering I was doing 300 m intervals just a few months ago. I will continue to steadily increase the volume, maintain the strength work, and keep completing a few pool running sessions each week. The plan is to stay healthy and do a few rust busters in November/December with the goal of a solid and consistent effort. I haven't weighed myself since July but am feeling leaner, am maintaining 12+ hrs/wk of cardio activities, am up to a 3 minute plank, and down to a 38 RHR. All good stuff. Getting there.Life has been busy for Team DuChene as we've been transitioning from summer to back-to-school mode. Packing lunches, life at the hockey rink and swimming pool, earlier bedtimes, and fuller schedules can make September a tough month but I was ready and am glad to be back in a new routine. This year our oldest son can participate in x-country running and when asked, I agreed to help coach, which has been another fun adventure as Seth and Leah are able to join the team at practice. Also at the school, I helped with the Terry Fox Run and signed on for another year as "lunch mom", which have been simple ways to give back.  Speaking of giving back, I was glad to participate in another Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope in Brantford, which raised over $54,000 for this year, and over $2 million nationally. Last but certainly not least was my involvement in the inaugural Run Waterloo Harvest Half with proceeds going toward the Kenyan Kids Foundation. I was honoured to be guest speaker at the Friday evening pasta dinner and silent auction, which sold out. The races the following day - the half marathon, quarter marathon and kids' fun run were a hit. We had some drizzly rain but that didn't stop runners from hitting the hills on the gravel roads in Mennonite country where Wesley Korir has done much of his training while with Tarah and her family when in St. Clements. Overall, we raised over $10,000, which will be put to good use in Cherengany, Kenya. The next big event on the calendar is commentating the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with Tim Hutchings and Michael Doyle. I've quite enjoyed doing this and it is the next best thing to racing these big events. The Canadian field is looking real good and I've been doing my research so as to be prepared with a bit to say on most of our participating stars. Should be fun!

Steady 10 km on the treadmill in 44:02 (4:24/km), four months post femur fracture and surgery with just this little scar to show.  The next day I did 10 km on the road in 42:58 (4:18/km). 
Glad to support another Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope. 
Mixed emotions as I donated our Chariot Cougar II running stroller for the Harvest Half silent auction. Kinda sad that this phase of life is over but thrilled that the money went toward the total of $10,000 raised for the Kenyan Kids Foundation.
So pleased to meet Scott Heipel, a 2012 Olympian swimmer, after speaking at the pasta dinner.
She is ready to race the kids' fun run!
Two running moms with their girls: Tarah and McKayla Korir with Krista and Leah DuChene.
Learning some massage therapy techniques. 
Finishing up a treadmill run.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Possible is not always Easy

Best hoodie ever. Coffee on the back deck at the cabin, "Living the Dream" with my sister.

Beautiful scenes enjoyed this summer while returning to running.

My training partner doing exercises with me in the cabin.

Rest. Rejoice. Recover. Yes!

13 years with this great guy!

Watermelon on the back deck at the cabin.

And they're off!

Saucony shoes x 11.

It’s been more than a month since last writing, shortly after being given the green light to start jogging that was 10 weeks after fracturing my femur on April 27 at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships. And I am happy to report that all is well. It’s great, actually. I started with sets of 15 seconds of shuffling and 2 minutes 45 seconds of walking, and slowly but surely decreased the walking while increasing the jogging.
Prior to my surgery in Montreal 16 weeks ago, I remember thinking that I soon as I woke up, it would all be about recovery from that point. Slow recovery. I knew that I would have to be very careful with my rehabilitation; it would be something I could not and would not rush. And the first place I thought of, which would be great for this pace was our cabin at the campground where I spent much of my summer as a child. It would be perfect. The kids would love the freedom and fun of riding their bikes, fishing at the creek, building forts, playing games, exploring, swimming, going to the candy store, and participating in programs while I would get to ease into training with a soft surface dirt road nearby, my bike on rollers in the cabin, and the campground pool. The atmosphere would be restful and relaxing, we would see Jonathan mid-week and on weekends since his work schedule would be so busy, have limited use of screens, and get to spend our summer with my sister and her three kids!
Now with only one week left before moving back home to prepare for the routine of the kids’ hockey, swim lessons, preschool skates and school, and my increased training, I can honestly say that I think it was been the best summer of my life. I have not heard the “b” word (bored) from the kids, have spent great quality time with my sister and family, enjoyed much spiritual growth and reflection, and immensely loved every bit of the outdoors. It hasn’t been our typical hot and humid Ontario summer, which has been just fine for me. It couldn’t have been any better. I have felt blessed, each and every day, and continued to dream and focus on my big goals and dreams.
The Numbers
Prior to getting a rehab training plan from Rick, I scratched down a few numbers to show where I was and where I needed to be in order to make the qualifying time in 2015 for the 2016 Olympic Games. The standards have not yet been announced but when they are, I will be that much more motivated! Here’s a breakdown of my progress:
  • At the end of week 2, I completed 300 m consecutively at 5:17/km within my longest jog total of 7 km, within a 37.5 km week.
  • At the end of week 12, my goal was to complete 5 km consecutively at 4:49/km, knowing I would need to complete a 20 km tempo at 3:27/km in March 2015.
  • At the end of week 6, I completed 5 km consecutively at 4:15/km the day after my longest jog total of 13.5 km, within a 61 km week.
I’ll say it again, like Bethany said in “Soul Surfer” after losing her arm to a shark, I needed possible, not easy. And what I defined as possible was being able to run at a decent pace without bone pain or any feeling of the steel plate and screws in the femur. Mission accomplished. And I am so grateful.
The Downer
Everything was going really well until the weekend of July 26. A few days before I tripped on a rock, catching myself on the bad leg, and it started to physically hurt. It also didn’t help that I was emotionally hurting a bit, knowing I was supposed to be racing alongside Lanni Marchant in the marathon at the Commonwealth Games (CG) in Scotland. Not knowing what was wrong with my leg and seeing all the CG action that weekend was a bummer. Lanni did amazingly well, placing 4th overall. We are great friends and fierce competitors; I couldn’t help but think how I too could have raced that day. I allowed myself to feel down for a bit yet still enjoyed the weekend, which included a day with Jonathan while celebrating my cousin’s beautiful wedding.
Coach Rick got in touch with James (Dr. Dill, ortho surgeon) and I was in to see him right away. I felt a great deal of relief after James revealed the bone looked great and I could continue with my return to running. I tell you, having a friend care for you during a low moment in your life is really something precious to be valued. After James sensed my emotional state and asked how I was really doing, I was able to articulate that I didn’t want to injure myself again. Through some tears I explained how I was struggling with trusting myself to “Listen to my body”, something in which I always took pride. We agreed that I would have to remember that initial, unique pain of the original stress fracture, and that I would eventually build that trust within myself with time and additional running. Most importantly through this period, I took great confidence and comfort in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
The Routine
While at the cabin, I established a great training routine. I didn’t set an alarm, which usually had me heading out at around 6:45 am to a nearby, country road for an hour or so. The experience took me back to my childhood on the farm. I just loved walk/jogging alongside farms and fields with the blue, sunny sky and abundant greenery. No cement. No big buildings. Just country. I used my Garmin to know how far I was jogging for each set, in order to total my mileage for the day. Once I returned to the cabin, I got out my gear to complete my 20 minute stretching, physio and strength exercise routine while the kids ate their breakfast before jumping on their bikes to start their day.
In the afternoon, I would get on my bike for 30 minutes then grab the swim gear and head to the pool with the kids. While they played their pool games and swam like fish, I did a combination of water-running, swimming and treading for 60 minutes. Riding the bike and being in the pool with temperatures as low as 62 degrees wasn’t always my favourite but it built mental strength, necessary for my marathon return! 
The Joy
Having my sister with me at our campground was so special and meaningful. She helped out with the kids so I could train and work. And I was able to assist with her kids and some groceries. We often expressed our happiness with our “Living the Dream” summer. As a teacher, she was in her happy place and I was returning to my love of running while our families were enjoying hours of quality time together. This amazing summer is nearly over and I can hardly believe that the time is coming where I look back at this whole fractured femur thing as a distant memory.
Read more from Marathon Mom, Krista DuChene
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Proclamation: Nine Months.

Nine months.
No, I am not pregnant. It’s almost as good.
I am running again! Well, jogging…but still! And I’m doing it with goals and dreams.
Big goals and dreams.
And I couldn’t be happier.
Everything has fallen into place beautifully since fracturing my femur, 11 weeks ago.
The glass remains half full. God is good, all the time!
So here are my big goals and dreams:
1. My goal is to run my first marathon in April 2015, nine months from now, one year after my major injury. So far I have surpassed all of my little goals along the way, while recovering from this busted leg, so why should this be any different? You know me—set the bar high, achieve, and repeat. Originally, I thought I’d be on crutches for 2 months; it was 5 weeks. I thought I’d need a cane for 3 weeks; it was two. We thought I would return to running at 3 months; it was 10 weeks. Etcetera, etcetera. There is no stopping me.
2. My dream is to make the qualifying standard within the qualifying period to represent Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There, I’ve said it. You read it here! The bar is set. I’m moving forward!
It certainly won’t be easy but like Bethany said in the movie, “Soul Surfer” when returning to training after losing her entire arm to a shark, “I don’t need easy. I need possible”. I’ll be honest, I kept my return to jogging quiet, mainly because I didn’t know how it would go. Speed walking is one thing. Running is another. Despite reassurance that the plate and screws are securely in place, I had no idea what it would feel like. I don’t know many athletes with hardware in their femur, trying to make a full return to training and racing. But, there are some, somewhere. And I hope to be one, sometime.
So let me go back a few weeks since my last post. On June 20, I had a bone scan, which confirmed that the critical blood supply was indeed not affected by my injury. I had been told this by the surgeon in Montreal, Dr. Jarzem, but a thorough exam nearly two months after the injury and surgery would give us a clearer picture. At this appointment and upon discussing my continued, positive progress, Dr. Dill then moved my next appointment up a few weeks. On July 4, I had an x-ray, which again showed continued healing in the bone. I again cringed when I saw that hardware drilled into me. I rarely think about it unless telling someone so when I see it on the screen, it seems very foreign. And like watching the iRun video of me finishing the race, I shudder.
Coach Rick came with me to the appointment because of the possibility of me being allowed to start jogging, provided the x-ray was good. Sure enough, Dr. Dill was pleased so we started discussing how I could safely ease into it. We understood the great importance of being very careful. Very careful. The bone was healed enough that I could gradually start but was still healing. Doing too much, too soon could be very problematic. I remember being told in hospital to be very careful in the first 48 hrs after the surgery due to risk of dislocating the hip. It was concerning. And I was very cautious. The last thing anyone wants is a major setback. We talked about using soft surfaces (treadmill, trail, dirt road), continuing to cross-train, walk-jogging, and paying great attention to being slow and steady, stopping if it was painful. Rick explained how I eased into it after the last injury, saying that we expected this return to take longer.
So we left the hospital with smiles on our faces, ready to start the next chapter. Of course, I started with a few shuffles that very day. I just had to! And it was neat because Crossroads Christian Communication (100 Huntley St.) was there as they are covering my story in my attempt to recover and participate in the Toronto 2015 PanAm Games. After our taped discussion about my story, they filmed my first few shuffles with Rick by my side at the North Park track in Brantford at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, where I train. They will see some big improvement when they tape me the next time!
On the first day, I likely did about six, 10 second shuffles with walking between. The next day within my 45 minute walk I did 8 x (0:15 shuffle & 2:45 walk). Since then, I’ve daily added a few more sets with a few more seconds, working my way up to a 60 minute walk with 22 x (1:10 jog & 1:50 walk). I started wearing my Garmin and doing the math in my head to begin estimating my “mileage”. Week one was 11.2 km and today was 4.4 km total. It’s thrilling to see it in writing!
It took less than a week to go from a shuffle to a jog but I know it will take much, much longer to go from a jog to a run. What I mean by a run is heading out at a steady pace, for a decent length, not thinking about anything. I know I can—and will—do it!
As for how it felt, the various areas of soft tissue were tired by the end of the day, especially due to the increased walking that week. Most importantly, there has been no bone pain! The most entertaining aspect of my first few shuffles was the “jiggly” left cheek compared to the solid right. But even that has improved by leaps and bounds in just over a week. I am into a great routine with my morning walk/jog with stretching and exercises, my afternoon bike and pool time, and evening plank, averaging 2 hrs daily.
Oh, and one more thing about the nine months. Just like I gave up any sort of junk food for 3 and 6 months prior to my last two marathons, I’m doing it again. Yep, bye bye goodies until April 2015! It’s all good, folks!

Healing well. Don't think I'll ever get used to seeing this foreign object. At least I don't feel it when running!!!

Kids made the news, running with the weather gal while promoting the Harvest Half!

Get your tickets at

It was good while it lasted. See you again, Peanut Buster Parfait (and other sweets), in April 2015!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sometimes you have to look back to look forward

June 15, 2014
It has been seven weeks since my femur fracture and I continue to progress in leaps and bounds.
The most rewarding advancement has been the return to my daily routine. Initially after Jonathan's parents left, it took nearly an entire day to do the work I did in addition to my training. "Simple" house-hold jobs like laundry, cleaning, cooking, and tidying up for a family of five were quite difficult to accomplish with crutches, on my own. But I managed to find ways to function safely around the house to get it done and it began to get easier as my leg got stronger. Of course, I had help from Team DuChene. Now I am back to getting the kids ready in the morning, heading to the gym, lunch and quiet time with 3 yr old Leah, those house-hold jobs, after-school activities, dinner, and bed-time routines.
My spirits remain high but I am human and there are times I've felt a bit bummed. Missing planned races, not seeing my name on the Canadian team for the Commonwealth Games, and the occasional, "You should be careful" from people I hardly know has sometimes bothered me but has been short-lived. I look at where I've come from and where I'm going and expect it to be one serious come-back!
I've had many people contact me with their stories and the one thing I continue to believe and apply, in many areas of life, is to remain positive and not compare myself to others. Although possibly similar, every situation is unique. I choose to disregard the negatives and focus on the greater steps to come.
Initially, there seemed to be so many things I couldn't do - stairs, walking, driving, standing on the broken leg and the obvious, running. But now running is about the only thing I can't do. Every few days I am able to do something new, which is both encouraging and exciting. A few days ago I was able to take 5 or 6 steps, without limping and without my cane. Two days later, I completed 3x5 minutes of walking on the treadmill, hands-free! This morning I did my longest walk (with the cane) of 1 hour, followed by 30 minutes of cycling, which felt great. Every day the soft tissues are getting stronger and stronger.
I think I will be able to wean myself off the cane by 8 weeks, which will give me 4 weeks of steady and solid walking before I attempt jogging. In my mind I will take about 3 months to progress from jogging to running. I've often compared this injury to that of a pregnancy come-back but to be honest, I think this will be easier. Because I was back to my gym, physio and massage routines, less than 3 weeks after my surgery, I did not lose too much strength or endurance. Before the fracture, my resting heart rate (RHR) was 36, and when in my best shape it's been as low as 29. For me, tracking this is a good fitness indicator. After my fracture, my RHR was up to 48 and now it's down to 41. Getting there.
As for pain, I continue to be without it. The odd time I may experience some is when I quickly catch my balance on the fractured leg, usually to prevent a trip over one of the kids or dog. Ten legs around your two can sometimes do that! I guess I could say I've had some pain in the soft tissue in the left leg, as it has been built, but it is certainly nowhere near the bone pain from the fracture.
In terms of set-backs, I have also been very blessed in this area. I did however, get a second infection in the same area as before. For those of you who know anything about surgery, particularly involving bones, you do not mess around with this. I notified Dr. Dill right away and we gave it a few days but it was not getting better as I likely had a dissolvable stitch that did not dissolve. So, off to the fracture clinic I went. Weak stomach? Stop reading here. As a parent, I've always believed in taking kids with you to appointments. They need to learn how to behave appropriately in such environments. However, this was one time that I had to go solo. After freezing the area, Dr. Dill essentially cut a tunnel, 1 cm x 1 cm in diameter and 1 inch deep. Yes, 1 inch deep. So much for what I thought would be something simple like removing a sliver! His wonderful nurse, Susan, assisted him in filling it with packing tape, and covering it with various layers to keep it clean, dry and protected to heal from the inside. At one point, Dr. Dill consulted with an infectious diseases doctor and did a swab to confirm that it was a simple, bacterial external infection. If it was some other strange bacteria or infected internally, near the hardware or bone, we would have one very serious issue. I had to have the area changed 5 times in the first week. It is healing quickly, I am now finished my antibiotic, and hopefully I will be able to resume my pool work in another week or so. No rush.
I have missed the water but have still been able to get in 1.5-2 hrs of daily activity. At the gym I use the elliptical, stair-elliptical, bikes and treadmill. At home I walk outside and bike downstairs on rollers. The walking allows me to build those glute, quad and hamstring areas, necessary for running but does not create much of a cardiovascular workout as I can only get my heart rate to about 100 BPM. The other methods provide a great variety where I can usually keep my heart rate at about 150 BPM, allowing me to get back into decent form. I do some stretching and a variety of upper and lower strength training, nearly back to my original settings. Both Sherri (physio) and David (massage) think I have about 80% strength in the left leg. I am hoping that this previously weak left leg will be and stay at 100% in another 5 weeks when we expect to get the green light to run. Well, jog. In the evening, I am up to a 2:15 plank, 25 pushups, and a steadily growing variety of other exercises.
I have a bone scan, June 20 and my final ortho appointment with x-ray is July 18. I am still enjoying this break but am mentally starting to really miss running. I know I am not ready yet but believe that my mind and body will be in synch when the time is right. #KristaStrong

All smiles as I hop on the elliptical for the first time at 5 weeks.

I won't include pictures of what's underneath but post-surgical infections are something to not take lightly.

At 1 week, it took nearly 30 seconds to get my leg off the couch.

 At 7 weeks, I completed 3 x 5 minutes of treadmill walking, hands-free!

Psalm 37:4-5 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Goodbye Crutches, Hello Cane!

I can hardly believe the incredible progress I've made in such a short time. Our bodies are amazing.
In just 5 weeks, I have come from one of, if not the, most physical and emotional lows of my life after fracturing my femur with the finish in view while defending my Canadian Half Marathon title.
I think the lowest physical point was when I was bedridden after surgery, weak and weary as the anesthetic wore off, trying to lift myself off the bedpan. I did not succeed because of the pain, fatigue, and lack of strength to hold myself up, consequently spilling the liquid contents underneath me. Waiting for help with tears running down my face from pain and disppointment, while lying in my own urine, was a definite low.
And the lowest emotional point was when I knew I required surgical placement of a plate and 3 screws for a fractured femur but had to go for a CT scan first, to determine if I had tumours. With my family history and several physical signs,  bone cancer was a risk. Another definite low.
But I had peace. Incredible peace the entire time. Yes, for the first few days I think I cried more than anytime in my life. I was exhausted and overwhelmed after finishing a half-marathon, having major surgery, finally having my husband with me, processing everything that happened, and not sleeping for two nights.  I was sad with peace; not teary from anxiety or anger. There is a difference, a world of difference.
During that time, there was never a point that I said, "Why me?" or thought that it couldn't get worse. Sadly, when you are dealing with disappointment or loss, you can usually think of someone or something that makes your situation look and feel better. After my mom took her last breath, the nurse told my sister and I to take all the time we needed. When she lost both her parents at once as a teenager, she was not allowed to say goodbye. We do not know why terrible things happen but can allow ourselves to grieve, knowing we will get through it. It was very therapeutic to acknowledge my feelings, something I recently spoke to a group of local swimmers about, in my "Dealing with Disappointment - the good, the bad, and the ugly" presentation.
I've never been shy about my faith; God has been first and foremost in my successes and disappointments. And I don't believe this fractured femur thing is going to be that different. Psalm 66:17 says, "For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke". Like my disappointing World Champs Marathon where I collapsed in the extreme heat, my faith was strong. And after becoming the second fastest Canadian marathoner just two months later, I thanked God. I think it's going to be quite exciting to see how this story enfolds! In fact, just yesterday, I was contacted by the producers at 100 Huntley St. TV who are following Christian athletes heading toward competition at the 2015 PanAm Games in Toronto. I explained my situation to which they replied that if it was ok with me, they would like to follow my recovery process and journey back to running. Stay tuned.
I do know that I may not return to high-level training and racing and "I have learned how to be content with whatever I have", Philippians 4:11. But, like I said in my last post, I am following my heart and believe that with each and every day, my first marathon back is that much closer.
Now, let's get to the exciting developments.

This morning I had an x-ray and appointment with my running friend and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Dill. After getting some paperwork out of the way, he showed Coach Rick and I the development in bone growth by comparing the 2 week x-ray to today's 5 week x-ray. Looked good to me!  We then discussed how I could continue to progress in my rehab and gradually return to full-time training. I was very pleased and pleasantly surprised to:
1. hear that I could progress to full weight bearing, right away, and
2. read on the, "Athletics Canada - Notification of Injury, Illness or Pregnancy" form that I could return to full high performance training and competition, November 1!
As for walking, he watched me take a few steps, which I've been able to do this week but with a heavy limp. He asked me how I felt then explained his assessment and wrote a physio note with instructions to work on gait training, full motion, and abductor strengthening. He concluded that I would likely be walking limp-free in about 2 weeks!
As for training, he confirmed that I could continue in the pool and on the bike, and even start using the elliptical if I felt safe and ready. He did a few tests to determine my leg strength and confirmed that I should continue to gradually increase the resistance. I have been carefully adding to the volume and intensity of my various activities to about 1.5-2 hours per day. I've also been re-establishing an evening routine of stretching, new physio exercises, and pushups and such, which includes a 2 minute plank.
Lastly, he was pleased with my incision upon examination since it did get externally infected last week. Infections are something to not mess around with, after surgery. Because I finished the antibiotic more than 48 hours ago, we put that issue behind us.
I got the date and instructions for my June bone scan, and next appointment in July, which I believe will be my last. If all goes well, this is when I will get the green light to jog again. I'm sure it will take several weeks to progress from jogging to running.
Tomorrow is my last injection of Fragmin, the blood thinner, and I have been successfully using a cane all afternoon. I biked for 1/2 hr at 5:30 am, and did some easy pool running for 1/2 hr and walking for 1/2 hr at 5:30 pm.  Progress. Incredible progress.

Back on the treadmill, walking for now.

Backpacks and bras for holding things make crutches way easier.

No more needles. No more connect the dots.

I allowed myself to indulge in sweets since you need some belly fat to successfully inject the needle. Tomorrow is my last one so I've asked Dr. Dill for a repeat.
Off for some pool running at Jonathan's sister's, down the street, while the kids enjoy their first swim. New fancy cane in hand.


The Ottawa Race Weekend has always been my family favourite racing event. From the recreational joggers in the 2 km to the world's best in the marathon in our nation's capital, you can't get much better.  We went as a family in 2010 and 2012, and again this year. I decided to take the entire weekend off because of the infected incision and long periods of time I would spend sitting, on my feet at the expo, and crutching around. I had to be realistic about what I could physically handle and fit into our family's schedule. On Thursday morning, we headed out on our first road trip in our new (used) van, having lunch at the half-way point with Jonathan's cousin in Belleville. After quickly dropping our bags into our hotel room upon arriving in Ottawa, we headed to the expo to watch the Transcend movie in support of the Kenyan Kids Foundation, and spend an hour at the Saucony booth. We got back to the hotel in time to eat dinner with the Korir family and let the kids have a 15 minute swim in the pool before it closed. On Friday morning after breakfast, we walked down to board the Amphibus, a family tradition while in Ottawa for race weekend. In the past, I'd stay back to nap with the youngest but with me not running this year, and Leah out-growing naps, we made it our first ride together. You get a tour of the city on the roads as a bus, and on the water as a boat. It was quite fun. After lunch, I headed to the expo to spend some time at the iRun and Saucony booths. It was so great to say hi to people, update them on my progress, and hear about others' somewhat similar experiences. The same went for Saturday when I was there in the morning. Like many have been inspired by me, I too was encouraged when hearing the tremendous comebacks and difficulties of other athletes. By the end of my time, my leg was sore from standing and cheeks tired from smiling in so many pictures, must like our wedding day. I was honoured to have a steady stream of people, both days. Later that afternoon, the boys laced up their Saucony shoes and pinned their bibs to their new race t-shirts. Despite the several waves of hundreds of runners, and me on crutches, Leah and I were still able to see Jonathan, Micah and Seth start and finish their 5 km race. Shortly after that I headed to the Rogers booth to meet with Tim Hutchings and Mark Sutcliffe for the 10 k race commentating. We reviewed our plan and were informed of the necessary technical details before going live shortly before the start. It was a fun and relaxing evening as Mark facilitated the discussions and spoke about the course as a local, Tim added the technical details of the various international runners, and I shared some about my training and racing, and spoke to talent of the Canadian runners. I also provided insight to returning to competitive training and racing after having a baby as Mary Keitany crushed the women's field, won the gender competition (women get about a 4 min start ahead of the others), and set a new course record in her first competitive race since having her second child last year. Her last major races were a victory in the 2012 London Marathon and 4th place finish in the 2012 London Olympic Games Marathon. Quite impressive and a neat theme to my weekend as earlier that day I met with Dylan Wyke's wife, Francine, to answer some questions for a study she is doing on elite athletes and pregnancy. After the race, we headed to Jonathan's cousin's for dinner then got settled back into our hotel room. I was already pretty tired at this point yet having an amazing time, even without racing. Almost as fun. Almost. Sunday morning, Manny gave Tim and I a ride to the Rogers booth. Again, the three of us chatted within our areas of expertise and enjoyed sharing stories while providing viewers with coverage of the 42.2 km event. I was able to get two 10 minute breaks when Geoffrey Mutai and John Halvorsen were scheduled to share a few words. It was just enough time crutch my way to the porta potty and stretch my leg. Shortly after we aired the interviews with Canadian Champions, Eric Gillis and Rhiannon Johns, and provided a summary of the race before ending the show, I chatted with a few people in the media/VIP area then found Jonathan and the kids to make our way back to the hotel to check out. On the way home, we enjoyed another meal with another cousin, and safely made our way back to Brantford, just in time for bed.

Ready to drive to Ottawa.

Leah and McKayla Korir loved seeing each other again. Hoping they can to play together in Cherangani while we serve with the Kenyan Kids Foundation.

Fun at the expo.

Amphibus tour.

All smiles after the 5 km race.

Had a great time commentating the 10 km and Marathon races with Mark Sutcliffe (left) and Tim Hutchings (right).

Heading home after another family fun Ottawa Race weekend.