Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Set Back Day at Montreal General - Another Day ... in a New Office

#KristaStrong #MarathonMom #TeamDuChene

So I successfully timed my toilet trips and pain meds, which allowed me to get 3 + 2.5 hrs sleep last night. Oh, what a difference that made. I felt much better this morning. My new roomie hardly makes a peep, and has two lovely daughters who rotate shifts during the day. One does 8am-2pm and the other 2pm-8pm. You really bond with those around you when recovering from surgery!
Mornings are busy at hospitals. And the care is great. Here at Montreal General, rounds are at about 6:30 am so your vitals are done and you are awake and ready to face the team when they arrive. I was all smiles when they came to see me, bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning. Amazing how I could carry on a conversation without crying after sleeping. We talked about my pain, the anti-clotting needle I'll self-administer at home, the eventual removal of the plate and screws, usage of pain meds, and the need to stop every hour on the long drive home. Jonathan and I hadn't said anything to anyone but the plan was to go home today, provided I pass the "stairs test" with physio. So mid-morning Jonathan arrived after checking out of the hotel and picking up the rental (graciously covered by Alan and the CRS), packing our bags, and getting my goods from the pharmacy. He went to get something to eat while I headed down for my stairs test. I successfully used my crutches to the "gym", was able to go up and down the stairs safely, then started to feel weak. I sat to take a break with both the physiotherapist and student nearby. Then I fainted. Twice. Both times I was unresponsive. I opened my eyes to a bunch more people, was again drenched in sweat, and knew what happened. Jonathan walked in to check on me and back came the tears. They wheeled me back to my room and gently placed me back into bed. The discharge decision was then assigned back to ortho. Once ortho got the story, they decided internal medicine should get involved and make the call. I remained positive but did allow myself to do a bit more grieving. Hairy legs, greasy hair, muscle weakness, missing the kids, an 86 yr old roomie who had surgery after me and was lapping me in recovery, and a feeling like I was disappointing a ready-to-go home husband made me pretty sad. I had some lunch and opened up a few more encouraging messages. In particular, I read about fellow marathon mom, Jo Pavey's plan to run at the Commonwealth Games, an email informing me that I had the "LetsRun" quote of the day*, and Dylan Wyke's newest post entitled, "Where have you been hiding?".  It was so meaningful to read about his comeback struggle. Like Shalane Flanagan wearing her heart on her sleeve about racing Boston until she wins it, I truly admire athletes who are so honest about their feelings.  When he ended his post by wishing me well in my recovery, more tears made their way down my face.
Eventually the internal medicine doctor came to see me. We had a really good conversation to determine the reason for the fainting. I had never fainted in my life before this experience. Basically after finishing a half marathon with a stress fracture, completing the fracture in the process, having emergency surgery, taking necessary strong drugs for the operation and recovery, being nearly completely sedentary days in a row, already having low blood pressure and a resting heart rate, we decided I should stay another night. Being safe is always better than being sorry.
So, I had an early dinner and watched part of a movie with Jonathan before he headed out. I said good bye and opened up my laptop for some more therapeutic blogging. It's now 8:05 pm and my roomie and I are on our own. We will likely call it a night soon, hoping for a better tomorrow!
Enjoy the pictures!
- Canada’s defending half marathon champion Krista DuChene talking about how she finished this year’s race running with a fractured femur for the final 500m when an undiagnosed stress fracture turned into a full break. She was in first before breaking her leg and after limping to the finish line still managed third.

A good start to the day, FaceTime with the kids. 

A great ortho team checking on my roomie before seeing me.

One of many trips to the washroom with Jonathan as my escort. Can't yet go on my own.  

Would LOVE a shower but am grateful for the warm and soapy bedside sponge bath.

Some swelling in the leg but the wound looks great. Won't include that picture.

Evening FaceTime didn't go so well. Poor Leah wanted to hold the screen the entire time and struggled sharing with her brothers. I fought the tears and stayed positive, despite this and her asking numerous times, "Mommy, when are you coming home?". Grammy and Grampa are taking great care of them. Sometimes FaceTime is more harm than good.

"Vending Machine". Seriously that's what it's called! Swipe your credit card and choose your crutches. 

Breathing device to help prevent clotting.

A friendly face. Francois, from Sunday's Banque Scotia 21 k race. Thanks for stopping by to check on me!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Busy Day at Montreal General - Another Day ... in a New Office

#KristaStrong #MarathonMom #TeamDuChene

Shortly after Jonathan headed back to the hotel Monday evening, I read a few more encouraging messages then settled in for what I hoped to be a restful night. Did not happen. Out of respect for another patient, I won't get into details but I hardly slept, again for the second night in a row. I know it's hard to sleep while in hospital but this was something else. Might as well have been the labour and delivery floor. Because sleep is so important for recovery, I was concerned and when I'm overtired, I cry easily.
Anyway, after falling asleep at 5:00, I was woken up at 6:30 for my vitals, which are necessary before rounds. The two ortho residents came by, looked at the incision, got my update and basically said I could be discharged - but it was up to physio. 
Shortly after breakfast and Jonathan's arrival, physio came by but my time with them was shortened because I had to go for my post-op x-ray. They were able to assess me but it was clear that I was not ready to return home. I knew I wasn't physically ready but the tears still flowed. I just couldn't move my leg in order to accomplish the basics. But they were positive and gave me my exercises and said they hoped they'd be able to pop in again later. I successfully used the toilet (these are big events post surgery) then was wheeled away to x-ray. The travel down the hallway was an enjoyable change of scenery. 
Upon my return I was delighted to discover I was moved to a semi-private room! Earlier, in the middle of the night, I had emailed a few close friends and family members to pray for the situation. It was definitely answered. 
The morning quickly filled with a range of activities: learning to give myself injections at home for the anti-clotting med, numerous bookings for interviews (in person and by phone for newspaper articles and  radio shows), ordering lunch from the "Room Service" brochure, resting, and doing my exercises. Like my routine at home, I knew I could get all my tasks accomplished in the morning and be ready for a solid nap at 1:00 pm after lunch. I had another set-back when I fainted again upon my return on crutches from the toilet. More tears but we think it is because I was going from flat on my back to standing, not sitting between. I already have low blood pressure to begin with so it was not overly alarming considering I'm recovering from a half marathon, broken femur and surgery! But still a concern. Until now, I had never fainted in my life. 
So, with Jonathan beside me, receiving flowers and taking phone calls, I shut off my devices and nestled in for a sleep. There's so much you have to time properly - mainly peeing and pain meds - in order be successful with sleeping and activity. Around 3:00 pm when the meds wore off, I woke up but felt much better. Two solid hours of sleep can do wonders! 
Overall, it has been a day where I can again count my blessings. Jonathan has gone back for the night to start planning the logistics of our trip home, whenever that is.  A trip to the pharmacy for my meds, shopping for crutches and a raised toilet seat, and renting a van will fill his evening.
I'll continue to post updates by Twitter and Facebook.
Time for some serious zzzzz's.
Enjoy the pictures.

Just like my ambulance experience in Russia at World Champs - no one spoke english and I was transferred multiple times.

Two steps forward = upgrade from bedpan to commode + success with crutches. One step back = fainting back  into bed.

Alan Brookes whisking me away with Rachel and Erin assisting. I guess this is our podium picture - gold, silver, bronze!

The dietitian in me still eating balanced meals. Turkey, sweet potato, mixed vegetable and asparagus....and can you see the Reese Peanut Butter cup underneath? Thanks, Wendi and friends!

Smiles after surgery while the stronger OR drugs were still in me!

Chocolate covered strawberries? Yes, please! Thank you for the lovely arrangements, Essential Physio, Mayor Chris Friel & Brantford City Council, Canada Running Series, and ScotiaBank Quebec, delivered personally by Nathalie Bergeron from High Road Communications

Doing what I must do for physio. Tough work to recover.

First hospital photo shoot.

Love this picture. Grammy and Leah nearly asleep while snuggling. Kids are in great care.

My man, booking interviews, receiving flowers, screening calls so I can sleep, and investigating discharge logistics. #TeamDuChene

Writing has been very therapeutic during it all. A peanut butter cup makes it a little sweet.

Chit-chatting for the Montreal Gazette story.

Tears, Bedpans and Hearts of Gold

#KristaStrong #MarathonMom #TeamDuChene

Tears, Bedpans and Hearts of Gold - Montreal Canadian Half Marathon Championships - April 27, 2014
Wow…where do I start? As I lay in in my gown in bed at the Montreal General Hospital, with a plate and three screws in my leg, I can’t help but think it wasn’t the hardware I thought I’d take home. There have been lots of tears. But, you know me. God is good. The glass will always be half full. There’s way too much to be grateful for.
So here’s the shorter story: the hip that’s given me grief for a few years finally called it quits. After leading the entire Canadian half-marathon championships race as defending champion with great confidence and fitness, my bad leg started to tire with pain with only about 5k to go. I was able to quicken the pace to lengthen the gap ahead of Rachel Hannah a bit more, but like a bad dream — with the finish in sight — it was like I lost a limb. Game over. Done. Extreme pain. No use of the leg…at all.
The thought did not even occur to me to not finish. Crazy. So I hopped. It was the kind of pain one could not “work through” or “tough out”. I clearly remember someone shouting: “Crawl if you need to”…
You bet I will, I thought.
I still managed third and upon crossing the line, fell into the arms of the amazing Alan Brookes. Seriously, that man is so special, father-like to me. He, Charlotte and Inga with the Canada Running Series have hearts of gold. He whisked me away to the medical tent. I was assisted with great help from Predrag Mladenovic and others back to the much warmer elite room. I could not move. Emily Gillis, Eric’s wife, was there and the tears poured down as I glanced across at her sweet kids, not thinking, “When will I be able to run”, but rather, “How will I care for my own?” A lovely girl with the tender care and knowledge as a nurse, she came over to console me. Just something about another mom with me, really helped. Thanks, Emily and congrats on the win, Eric!
Behind the scenes, two other great people were discussing my situation; Hugh Cameron and Ron o’Hare suggested I be seen in Montreal, immediately. I believe Ron’s words were “Do not move.” Thanks, guys.
Fast forward several hours of waiting in the ER with family friends (who brought tissues and chocolate!) and Athletics Canada‘s Douglas Duncan (what a great guy), we finally had the diagnosis of an 80% non-displaced fracture requiring surgery. So, a mere 20% increase would have made for a complete displacement. Before the surgery, they sent me for a CT due to a history of irregular night sweats, menstrual cycles and lymph nodes, and the lingering hip bump with a history of cancer on both sides. It did not show any obvious lesions or tumours so after a quick pee in the bedpan to rule out the last possibility—pregnancy (!)—I was under the knife. For someone who refused a C-section for hours with her first baby, I was finally up for my first-ever surgery. Couldn’t be avoided now! Many thought my tears were anxiety. Nope, just sad. God can deal with the rest and keep me calm. And that he did. It was time to get it fixed.
Upon waking I was cold, groggy and numb as to be expected. It took a few hours for the spinal to wear off so it was about 3:00 am by the time I was rolled to my room. I couldn’t sleep with noisy roommates so basically waited until morning. Douglas returned shortly before my husband, Jonathan, arrived — then I started my road to recovery. Simply to pee in a bedpan was a tremendously tedious and painful task, never mind awkward and undignified. Definitely the low of my morning was peeing my bed because I missed the target, then later fainting after my first physio, which included an attempt at the commode with crutches. The sight of it even made the student light-headed. Oops. There are more significant “dramas” going on around me so I’m at the mercy of my roommates for napping and enjoying the occasional moment of silence (when they leave for tests). When you are in a room with others also recovering from surgery, you start to count your blessings for the basics of life. Milestones of eating and drinking, passing gas and voiding pee are big deals in this room shared by four. Thank goodness for curtains and earplugs.
I’ve just finished dinner and successfully used the commode followed by five, 8-foot “laps” with the crutches. No fainting!
Hopefully, I’ll continue to move forward and we will have a better idea as to when I can go home. Thankfully, Jonathan’s parents came to the rescue so he could be with me. What wonderful support!
I’ve already had many interviews and have basically explained that I see this as a break similar to pregnancy. It will be a year or more out of the game to recover only to come back even faster and stronger. Of course there’s no guarantee but like my disappointing experience at Worlds in Russia, I’ll be back! This story is not over.
I have received tremendous love and support. Thank you from the depths of my heart.
Links to stories/videos:
Athletics Illustrated.

Canada Running Series finishing video, longer.
iRun finishing video, shorter.

La Presse (French) 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Toronto Yonge Street 10 km

Toronto Yonge Street 10 km - Almost a Hat Trick!

I hadn't scored a hat trick since playing hockey with the Guelph Gryphons a few years ago so today was my opportunity to do it again, but as a runner. I had my Around the Bay 30 km win followed by my Harry's Spring Run-Off 8 km victory a week later, then today's Toronto Yonge Street 10 km race to seal the deal. Three wins in three weeks would be sweet. Amazing, actually. And mission was accomplished for 9.5/10 km until Rachel Hannah just flew past me, throwing down a big hammer for the big win. How on earth she managed to beat me by 8 seconds in the final 1/2 km is really mind-boggling. She likely made it look like I was standing still! What a fast last km for her! My shout-out obviously goes to her this week!
In our cool down together after, we had a nice chit chat. We are dietitians and really enjoy each others company so our topics ranged from food and racing to jobs and family life. Felt bad for winner Eric Gillis who joined us in our cool-down amidst our big quinoa discussion. We dietitians can be quite nerdy! Anyway, Rachel recently suffered from an IT band injury but stayed in amazing shape by cross training and only doing quality running. Like me a few years ago, she has been consistently training and racing, steadily making her way up. Today was a huge advancement in her running career as far I am concerned; she was more than a minute faster than her time from last year! Rachel ran a great race, right in my back pocket and made a perfect move to break the tape on a course she knows very well. I started the race as a rookie, at a good clip around 3:10/km, which is to be expected with a start that's also downhill . Throughout the race I had a few parts where I thought I was on my own. I kinda let my mind wander and was cruising then would hear, "Go, ladies". Ladies? So, I'd surge a bit and get moving a touch faster. Only for it to happen, again and again!. In the end, only running 32:41 for a 12 second PB on a downhill course after a season devoted to strength and speed was a bit of a downer but I guess this race was more of a fartlek than anything. My "Go, ladies" surges were reflected by inconsistent splits that ranged from 3:10-3:19.
Alas, I am certainly not displeased with the race. Honestly, I don't know when I've ever walked away angry or pouting at any race. Just not my style I suppose. There is always something to be learned, a positive take-away. The glass is always half full. And I always have so much to be thankful for. As my dad would say, "You always win if you can lose with a smile!".
Today's race was the end of my low mileage (120 k/wk) spring/strength season. Coach Rick will start to ramp up the mileage and we'll return to longer interval sessions, lengthier tempo workouts, and more consistent 35 km+ long runs. I have certainly enjoyed the frequency and fun of racing, easier recoveries after racing and training, and a few less workouts here n' there. But to be honest, I'm ready to get back to my marathon thing. I'll always race 10 km's and the such but I am more suited to the mental and physical balance that comes with marathoning. Those "shorter" races are great and certainly necessary but I don't seem to find a rhythm and I recover so easily that I sometimes wonder if I tried hard enough while racing! I think my Canadian Marathon partner Lanni has recently found the same thing. She ran a 32:29 PB at the Stanford Invite last weekend. It is most certainly a respectable time especially given her high mileage training for Boston but the only thing that bothered her after was a sore tricep! She said her legs just wouldn't turn over and her engine was set for the marathon. I don't know all the stats but I don't think many athletes can race at top level over a range of distances. Mo Farah, a multiple Olympic and World Championships Gold Medalist for the 5,000 m and 10,000 m debuted in the London Marathon today in 2:08 for 8th place. Amazing. Truly outstanding. But not the best that day. I think it takes years to master one distance.
Now that spring is here, I look forward to logging more kilometers outside. After that crazy winter, it's just nice to have footing that is free of snow and ice! I have a long, two-week break until Montreal with Easter in between race weekends. Not sure yet what my goal time will be but with winner, Rachel Hannah and 3rd place finisher, Erin Burrett racing,  I'll certainly have to play my A game!

All smiles with Rachel Hannah after eating her dust in that final stretch.

Here's that, "I think I'm on my own, I'll let my mind wander" moment.

And you see that arm behind me. That was one of the,  "Go, ladies" moments.

Other than the end, this is the only time I actually saw Rachel and it was for a very brief moment. If you can't hear your competition's breath or footsteps that are right behind you, they are smooth. Real smooth. Beware.

Great recovery food - Liberte Yogurt.
Little bit of East vs West competition before racing.

Dan Way doing a bit of pacing today since he's racing the Boston Marathon next weekend. Go, Dan!

Team East gets the victory over Team West!

So excited about my involvement with the Kenyan Kids Foundation! Much more to come.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Harry's Spring Run-Off 8 km

Harry's Spring Run-Off 8 k and 5 k to Fight Prostate Cancer

Any event I race that supports cancer research and programs is very special to me. My parents lost their battles to the disease and currently my friend is recovering from her second mastectomy after many rounds of chemotherapy and radiation since her diagnosis last year. This year, $185,000 was raised to fight prostrate cancer. Great job again, Canada Running Series for a great cause at a great race!
Fortunately recovery from the Around the Bay 30 km race was relatively simple and straight forward. I did an easy 20 km run, Monday and Tuesday, and really focused on resting more than usual throughout the week. On Wednesday I completed a 8 x 800 m workout on the road around the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre where I train. Because I can't leave the building while my kids are in childcare, coach Rick and I have made it work the last few years. I can do workouts on the treadmill, around the building, on the outdoor track next door, or on the new indoor track so there are several options. It is not ideal but we complete the job. There is a great rubberized track in Brantford but it's across town with no childcare. We've done some key workouts there but making it a weekly event is just not realistic.
Like last weekend, I was again able to sleep in my own bed and do my normal routine at home the night before racing, which is ideal. Because I'm an early riser, getting up at 5:30 am was no big deal. I ate my toast with honey, drank my coffee (and took one for the road), got dressed and tip-toed out of the house at 6:40 am. I made it to High Park in just over an hour and again found a place to park and stay cozy in my van before warming up with Tarah Korir. It was so great to see her again, especially given my increased involvement with the Kenyan Kids Foundation that she and her husband, Wesley Korir founded. Not only do we share the same passion to help relieve poverty by helping with education, health and well-being but we are also moms that get to train, care for our children, and support our husbands that often get home late after busy work days. Tarah's second baby is only 9 months old and she's already back on the running scene. Impressive. We had a nice chat while warming up and trying to stay warm in the elite tent, before heading to the start line. Winds had decreased from 50 to 35 kph but with no sun, the near 0 C temp seemed really damp and cold. It felt like my coldest race yet this year out of four outdoors. Tarah wasn't sure what to expect; being even colder than me, having just returned from Africa on Wednesday, and racing for the first time this year. I gave the beginning a good go, which was a bit too much for Tarah who decided to take it back a bit. With the hilly course and blustery weather, I pushed hard to get the job done while paying a bit for the first km at 3:09. Finish time was 27:43, which was nowhere near my 26:59 from last year with Kate Van Buskirk on my tail in better spring-like weather. But a win is a win, and my effort was again solid.
I completed an easy 26 km run in lovely weather Sunday morning then enjoyed the rest of the day with Jonathan and the kids at church and home. I'll be sure to follow the same recovery routine as last week since I'll be racing again, a week later. Next up is the Yonge Street 10 km. Should be a good one!
This week's shout-out goes to twins and runners, Melanie Boultbee and April Boultbee. Not only do they provide great care for us before and after racing, they are busy,committed and very friendly women.  April was hobbling around after knee surgery, carrying an IV antibiotic bag on her back due to infection. And Melanie got up at 4:00 am to get her first run in before heading to High Park. Thanks, girls!

Jonathan taking 8 y.o. Micah, 6 y.o. Seth and 3 y.o. Leah for a training run for their Ottawa Race Weekend 5 km. Micah was pretty excited to use my Garmin for pacing purposes, as you can see. We went as a family in 2010 and 2012 and  I look forward to our 2014 return. I'll have some media/expo stuff to do in addition to again running the 10 km and commentating the marathon but with family and so much to do, Jonathan and the kids will stay busy. 
Resting more these days in order to recover from and prepare for racing means more time with this sweet girl. She insisted that we play, "chest".
Action shot at the half-way point. Photo: April Boultbee.

Digging deep. Photo: Canada Running Series.

Always an honour to break the tape. Photo: Canada Running Series.

Top 5 men and women at Harry's Spring Run-Off  8km. Photo: Robert Brouilette.

Post-race recovery. Last weekend I captured the mocha and peanut butter cookie picture. Here's one with my Liberte yogurt and trip to Whole Foods. What a treat!

Love the great variety of foods here. Each time it's something different and I am never disappointed.

Enjoying a lovely Sunday afternoon, watching the boys play some street hockey.