Saturday, September 5, 2015

Cuboid Stress Fracture

So I have alluded to the fact that I'm injured. Its true. #Noinjury2015 was short-lived. Or half-lived. Mostly lived?

(PB - never.gets.old.)

After I ran Gold Coast Half, I had some foot pain in both feet. It lasted only a couple of days, and I felt nothing after I took a full week off exercise. I then proceeded to run for two weeks at around 24-24 miles each week. All easy miles.

The only thing I did differently was try to break in my new trail runners, which I attempted to do intelligently: short runs, and using my trusty Mizunos for every second run. Admittedly, my new shoes were not very cushiony, and I didnt use my ordinary insoles. But I reasoned that my other measures were sufficiently cautious.  

The Monday before the hike, I ran an an easy 6-miler (after two full days off hanging out in Melbourne!) and pulled up with some pain in my left foot. It felt suspiciously familiar. Like, really familiar. Like, I told my husband that it felt the same as when I had my cuboid SFx in the other foot.

But you know, I had a hike in Italy to do. I rested until the hike, and figured that if it was soft tissue it would be ok in a few days. If it was bone-related, hiking wouldnt be toooo bad because walking is a much lower-impact activity than running.

So. Turns out that neither of those calculations took into account (1) the mostly vertical nature of the hike, nor (2) that I would get reasonably competitive with several of my colleagues and race them up some of the mountains.  Basically, I didnt factor in my own wilful ignorance and incorrigible ego. Mum and Dad, aren't you so proud?

After returning from the hike, my doctor said none of this story "sounded" stress fracturey (totes a medical term). And I was negative on all the bone manipulation tests, (which is a fancy way of saying they poke your foot until finding the bit that hurts, and then poke it as hard as possible). 

But given my history, and my type A-MUST IMMEDIATELY KNOW WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME personality, the kind doc gave me a script for an MRI. 

A few days later at 9:30pm (because he is unfortunately all too aware of my need to know thing) the doc emails me my MRI result. 

A cuboid effing stress fracture. Thats right. Another one. In my left foot this time. Almost exactly the same place.

Here they both are in all their weak-ass, stress fractured glory:
Harden the eff up, cuboids.
My doctor couldnt quite believe it. This injury is really uncommon. Last time he was so excited about seeing it (once) he was going to write it up in a medical journal. Heaven knows what he'll want to do with this one ... a travelling circus? In any event, Im trying to convince him that I should get some sort of medal and/or serious discount for being such an exciting sports-med patient.  

Frankly, the most frustrating thing about this injury is how difficult it is to pinpoint the causes of it. If only there were a medical practitioner whose practice was exclusively devoted to the cuboid bones! In my completely non-medical opinion, it seems to be a weird area of the foot to be landing on as an over-pronator. Its possible my shoes/insoles suck (and yet I ran many 50+ mile weeks in my Mizunos with no problems). Or my training sucks (I was running half my usual mileage - all easy -  after a full week off!) Or my bone density sucks (low-normal as a lovely gift from my eating disorder days - but not too bad for the most part). With my other injuries, I can point directly to mileage/speed increases, or nutrition problems that appear obvious with a bit of hindsight. But here, nada.

Because no single factor looks like the primary culprit, my doctor wants to get me a blood test for Celiac disease. Celiac can apparently prevent one's body from absorbing calcium and other nutrients. Sounds a little hippy dippy to me, and heaven knows I reeeeeally dont want to have to have to join the "gluten free" crowd, but Im kind of tempted to try it out, if only to get some answers. 

Whatever the reason, it could be worse. It was diagnosed quickly, and its a very small crack. I narrowly avoided having to wear a boot, and I only have another two weeks off it until I can try running. I am able to lift weights and cross train (though my motivation to do either is at an all-time low - which Im fine with).  

And going forward, maybe Im just gunna have to be a low-mileage (gasp!!) runner..?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Two Days in Venice

After the hike was done, the first-finished group piled into a bus for a two-hour journey back to Venice. The firm had put us up in the Venice Hilton - on its own little island - which was very nice, but we were too tired to enjoy it that night. A buffet dinner was put on, where we downed some delicious pasta and vino, and then rocked out to bed almost immediately!
The following two days were a different story. Apart from my increasingly-evident foot injury, none of us were sore and so we utilized every minute to enjoy Venice and hang out with our big group.
The first day we just wandered around the city, taking in everything and enjoying the novelty of getting boats everywhere we went.
First stop was to purchase pretentious fedoras that we would don for protection from the hot sun for the remainder of the two days.
Then a colleague and I trapsed along to see the Palazzo Ducale.
 It was fascinating to learn about the Venecian courts and the Council of Ten. You could really picture men in long red robes meeting between the pillars or looking out over the court yard and plotting to quash unrest or purported treason.

 Like most structures in Europe, its impossible to capture its beauty/magnificence on camera.
Once we'd done our cultural duty, we spent the rest of the day wandering, and eating pasta and drinking all the Spritz Venezianos...

...before meeting back up with the entire group for pre-dinner drinks at the Aman Canal Grande hotel (where George Clooney and his wife were married!)  It was built in the mid-1500s, with only 24 guest rooms and beautiful common areas. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of it, but here is where we were:
Can't be bothered with attribution. Someone else took this photo. Its on the Googles.
After drinks we took a water taxi back to the hotel (taking some pics along the way of course) for the "formal" dinner and after-party.

Shhh, don't tell anyone back at work that we're having fun. And not billing.

The following day saw us attending the buffet breakfast at around 10:00 am then heading to Murano, the island in Venice devoted to glass-blowing. We looked in on a few shops before determining that it had been at least two hours since we last ate, and we should probably do that.

Then we headed back to Venice to wander and get gelato.

When I first got gelato, I was going to sit down to eat it. Because I hate to eat and walk. I like to be truly sedentary while consuming my food. But then I was encouraged to continue wandering.
One of my favorite photo-bombs here. This guy is so happy to be in the picture!

And then I realized I had been doing walking for my entire life ALL WRONG.  Walking should ALWAYS BEEN DONE WITH ICE CREAM. And so I got another ice cream straight away.

Unfortunately, my walking/ice-cream plans were bigger than my tummy, so I could only eat half.  Its an important lesson for life though. Walking --> ice cream. Live and learn.

We finished off the day with another spritz in the main square, listening to music and people watching, before heading back to the airport for another long journey home.

We took a water taxi to the airport, and watched silently as the sun set, the water wooshed beneath the boat, and Venice got smaller and smaller on the horizon.


All in all, simply an amazing trip. I can't quite believe I got to do it.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sesto Dolomiti e Venezia

Contemporaneous recaps are clearly not my thing. Lets just be ok with that and move on, shall we?

So this hike. TL;DR version is that it was amazing. Amazing! An experience that I'll remember forever.

After we took off from Sydney we had a shocking layover in Abu Dhabi with a further delayed flight (six hours). It was time to check into an airport lounge for some food, showers...

...and silly shorts.

We arrived in Venice after 30 hours of travel. All looking and feeling a lot like this:

We were staying the first night in a beautiful mountain village called Cortina. 

After checking in (the Aussies were the last to arrive) we were pounced on by a bunch of our American and Euro colleagues, and *forced* to go out for beers and dinner. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we didnt last long, and made our escape for bed at a civilised, if not somewhat geriatric, time of 9 pm. 

We did not escape flack for this. 

My redaction skills are off the chain. 

The next morning we arose veeerrry early and got on buses to head to the starting point of the hike.

I was completely disoriented throughout the entire journey. I think I showed you the map and elevation chart on my last post and thats about all you're gunna get in the way of navigational specifics. Stop complaining. 

Lets just say the hike started up. And kept going upwards for quite an extended period.

The first part of up.

 It wasnt long before the superfit 10ish people of the group had taken off, a "reasonably fit" 20 of us set off at a good pace, and the remaining 130 usually desk-bound lawyers spread out to bring up the rear. We were quite a sight to behold. 

Still liking up, but below the cloud line, so a lot more upping to go yet.

Beautiful, but upping is becoming marginally less appealing at this juncture.

A few hours of hiking and about 1 gazillion switchbacks brought us to our first "summit". It was quite a good place to put our bags down, eat and take some photos... and pretend we werent totally gagging for a break already. 

The next part of the hike involved a lot of loose rock, scree and some near vertical scrambling up hills, that had us sending rock avalanches into each others' faces. 

It was also here that we started mixing up the group a bit and adding people who would hike with us the rest of the way. Its possible we also lost a few people in some of those rock avalanche situations. Thank goodness our firm made us sign some concrete-ass waivers. 

Death-defying over for a brief moment, we were a motley but jovial crew!

This is one of the "happier" scree climbs.

Throughout the hike, we would come upon various huts that served as rest stops. Some were even mini cafes. Nothing like being offered an enormous beer and bowl of spaghetti at 8000 feet.

The rest of the hike was honestly a bit of a blur. It was just stunning sight after stunning sight, that will be wholly inadequately captured by photo.  

For those crazies out there, who might want to do this one day, we followed the 107 trail most of the way... making all the hardest (and stupidly most dangerous) detours possible, and taking the "easier" 104 trail only when it was the sole way forward. Its hard to figure out whether our firm wanted to make us stronger, or genuinely kill us in a really bizarrely drawn out and expensive manner.

I did the remaining quarter of the hike with a new friend from our Paris office, and a colleague I have been working with for 15 months from our DC office... and hadnt yet met! I had heard his voice around the corner of a bunch of rocks, and recognised it immediately from all the late night and early morning conference calls we've had. He, of course, had the pleasure of meeting my sweaty self in person, half limping from a foot injury (more on that later) but somewhat high on endorphins and annoyingly coaxing everyone to keep moving and clambering up them hills. As you might imagine, he was super happy to be subjected to my bossing. 

(While he had a map, preventing us from getting completely lost out there, I maintain that my "encouragement" got us to the finish line and on the first bus back to Venice.)

In any event we were a triumphant trio finishing together. 

So thats it. 150 lawyers, 25km, about 7ish hours of hiking, 8000 feet. And then two gorgeous days in Venice (for another post. A girl can only be on top of her recaps one month at a time).

Monday, July 27, 2015

So I'm off to climb a really steep mountain. In Italy.

There's things that you do that are ill-advised.

That vodkatequilarum concoction that could have served as a starter for either the bonfire or the punch-bowl at your first uni/college party.

Text-msging while driving. Always a no-no.

Using the sun as a compass in the absence of a preliminary examination as to your knowledge of whether the sun rises in the east and sets in the west... or vice versa.

Going to Karaoke with your boss.

Going to Karaoke.

Googling your medical symptoms. You'd be amazed at how many career-ending running injuries I have suffered, that have cleared up within 48 hours. 

Calling your ex, ever. Ever ever ever.

Buying the family-sized package of peanut M&Ms. You know you will consume the entire thing, and you know you will regret it.

Doing a long-run hungover. Or worse, still eeeever so slightly intoxicated. 

Lending money to a relative (just give it over and be ok with never seeing that cash again).

Quoting Ayn Rand.

As a general proposition, eating a fish eyeball. Just trust me on that one. 

Admitting to ownership of an Ace of Base CD.

I could go on, but you get the gist. 

Then there are things that are simply bat-shit crazy. And I am about to do one from this category.

About 150 of my closest colleagues and I are making our way from all corners of the globe to the Dolomites, Italy where we are taking on a one-day firm hike. 

Sounds pleasant enough, right?

Except for the fact of the actual course and elevation:

At present, the four lawyers from our Sydney office attending, have done anywhere from zero to nil training.  It should be great. 

I mean, we're not entirely unprepared. I did a big ole shop for energy bars and trail mix and pretzels for the four of us. Divied up into cute little bags with our names on them - care of our receptionist. 

have some new (but worn in) trail runners rearing to go: 

And I leave behind this photo from the Gold Coast - my most recent, to be used for my memorial:

Nahhhhh, we'll be fine, right? 

We're all smiles leaving from the airport (after a cheeky pre-boarding whiskey):

The "way back" picture will be telling. I'll update you all in a few days time!

~ Penny