Back on the saddle

Earlier in the week I was cleared to ride my bike and this morning I finally seized the opportunity and went out for my first post surgery ride. Just four and a half weeks ago I had arthroscopic surgery, notchplasty, and a hardware removal procedure preformed on my right knee and this morning I was riding my bike on the streets. It was amazing.

Being a new cyclist, I am still a bit weary of the road and the drivers that zoom by me. I am still learning cycling etiquette, and the feel of my bike. Despite being a novice cyclist, I am finding that each and every ride I go on I have a new sense of confidence on the bike.

This morning, I did a fun and easy 9.05 miles on my bike.  There were some small rolling hills and one gigantic overpass that seemed like it would never end. However, I steadfastly kept pedaling and eventually make it to the top. I got stopped by, what seemed to be, the longest train ever, coincidentally while I was on Railroad Road. On my way back home, I rode down the above mentioned overpass hill and hit 27.1 miles per hour before slowing it down a bit. It was such an exhilarating rush going that fast, but I had to slow down. Maybe in a few months I will be much more comfortable at speeds like that.

Overall, it was a great ride. I rode 9.05 miles and averaged 13.6 miles per hour with my fastest speed topping out at 27.1 mph for a brief moment.

Uppin’ the ante in PT

Rehabilitation in physical therapy is going better than
expected so far. I am amazed at all that I can do, and I even feel like my
right quad is getting stronger by the day. My therapist even gave me more
exercises to do. Now, I also do the leg press, leg extension, hamstring curl,
and butt kick machines at therapy each visit. When those are combined with my dead
lifts, calf raises, squats, bird dips, and leg lifts, and 20 minute bike ride
warm up (that I really push myself on), physical therapy is more of an actual
gym session. I love it! I’ve even upped some of the weight resistance on those
machines since I started doing them last week.

While I said that I am feeling stronger, my right leg is
still noticeably smaller than my left leg and does not have as much muscle
definition, but that is more than a year of atrophy, so it will take some time
to get back to normal.

In the meantime, I have been looking at some bike tours in
the area. I am cleared to ride my road bike and I really miss the race
atmosphere that accompanied marathon running. I found one bike tour in San Diego in August that
looks especially promising. It is a 26 mile bike ride and it looks fabulous. I
really want to do it, and I hope it is my future. Eventually, I would love to
do a century ride, but just like with running, I’ve got to start small.

Finally some good news

Yesterday, I had two follow-up appointments. I had one with my surgeon and one with my primary care doctor and my appointment with my surgeon couldn’t have gone better. He evaluated my knee and said that it was looking good. He cleared me to ride my bike and to do more stuff at the gym. I am so excited. I feel like I’ve been waiting for a good appointment forever, well, at least since February of 2010. The only negative thing about my appointment is something that I am already coping with….no running. Even though I’ve already accepted my no running fate, my doctor thought he needed to emphasize that for me. He said that pretty soon my knee will feel like running and that I cannot do it. He warned me that if I run, I will most likely need a knee replacement surgery in 15 years. While I loved running and it was such a big part of my life, I have to say no to it. My overall health is so much more important to me than running. Just the thought of a knee replacement at the age of 42 is enough to keep me away. Yes, I miss it terribly, but life moves on and there are more exciting things I can do. For one, I plan on pumping up my bike tires and riding my bike a lot more now. I am also looking into outfitting my bike with a clipless pedal system.

I feel like it is about time that I finally get good news at a doctors appointment.

Physical therapy

Today was my first day of physical therapy. It took quite a
while for it to be approved through insurance and of course there were a couple
snags throughout the approval process, but I am glad to be in PT and
rehabilitating my knee.

As usual, my first therapy session began with an assessment
by the therapist. He was impressed with my range of motion and knowledge of the
medical terminology regarding my knee’s history. However, I do not believe he
was impressed with the strength of my right leg. To be honest, atrophy took a
pretty big toll on my right quad, hamstring, and calf. My right leg must be at
least an inch and a half or two inches smaller than my left leg.

My first physical therapy session of 2011 started off with
the anticipated warm-up on the bike, but this exercise bike was like no other
one I had ever ridden before. This bike had a monitor in front of it that
displayed a bike path in scenic ocean bluff setting. The handle bars on this
bike turned and it was like a simulation game. After the warm-up, I was
pleasantly surprised with some exercises that I did not think I would be ready
for. I did half squats on discs,
these things called bird dips (oh those really did a number on my glutes and
hamstrings), dead lifts with a 20lb bar,
an exercise called the clam, and lateral leg lifts. I was not anticipating the
squats or the dead lifts and it was pretty exciting to jump right into those
exercises this soon after surgery. Hopefully it won’t take too long to get my
right leg’s strength back to where it needs to be.

Surgery is over


I had my surgery 10 days ago and so far things have been going great. Compared to my previous knee surgeries, which have all been some sort of ACL reconstruction surgeries, arthroscopic surgery is a walk in the park!

Zac and I arrived at the hospital and they shortly took me back. I got dressed in the ever-so-fashionable hospital gown that was ten sizes too large and was hooked up to an IV. It was all pretty standard, but I remember having the nicest nurses. They were sweet and funny ladies.

My surgeon and anesthesiologist came in to talk to me and ask me questions. While talking with the anesthesiologist, I gave him to okay to give me the femoral nerve block, which is administered through a long needle in my groin region. This, he told me, would numb my entire leg and take away all of the pain. While on the way to the OR, the anesthesiologist gave me some sedative that I forgot the name of and everything from there is a blur. Luckily, I don’t even remember the nerve block.

Upon waking up from anesthesia, I recall being the most coherent and feeling the best that I ever had after surgery. I was upbeat, happy and chipper. I chatted with my nurse and then he wheeled me to recovery where Zac was able to join me.

Several minutes later, the doctor came in and spoke to us. He said that the surgery went well, but that my knee wasn’t in good shape. I asked him if he would have performed the osteotomy had the insurance company approved it, and he replied, “yes.” The doctor went on to say that I only had about two percent of my medial meniscus remaining, which was shredded. He had to clean it up, which left me with only about one percent. Additionally, he said he started to see some wear on my articular cartilage because of the lack of meniscus. (This is what the osteotomy would have helped. It would have prevented further damage to this cartilage and possibly would have saved me from experiencing arthritis in the future). Furthermore, he told me that the bad placement of my ACL from my previous surgery was in such a bad spot, that the impingement actually rubbed so much that it caused microscopic tears in the ACL graft. However, he was able to shave down the area in my knee causing the impingement and he cleaned it up to be the best that it can.


I was walking a couple days after surgery. I still experience some stiffness and pressure caused by the swelling, but I think I am doing unbelievably well. I have a request in to start physical therapy, and I should be starting that hopefully next week. Surprisingly, the part of surgery that was the most painful so far was the area where I received the femoral block. For a few days after surgery, my groin was in pain and I could painfully feel the line where the long needle travelled. It doesn’t hurt anymore though.

Surgery is today

Today is surgery day. It is just before 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday and Zac and I are gearing up for our drive to the hospital. I think I am more excited than nervous for this surgery because I have hope that this will all FINALLY be over after this procedure, and that I will also be able to get on with my life without pain. I’m looking forward to recovering and working out again. I am looking forward to riding my bike. I’m having the arthroscopy and a notchplasty. The notchplasty is where they will shave down some of my bone where the ACL impingement is catching and the scope is also going to remove the screw that is sticking out of my tibia that I can feel. Eeeww! Bye bye screw!

Still waiting

I’m still waiting for the new insurance company to approve my surgery, which was scheduled for last Wednesday. The procedure was previously approved, however the insurance company changes and now I am the one who suffers because of the terrible process that is worker’s comp. I am beginning to worry that if I need the osteotomy, I will not be able to go back to work when school starts up. School starts the beginning of August. Yikes. Hopefully this process speeds up some time soon.

Reasons Why My American Pit Bull Terrier is Like a Child

Before we adopted Zoey, we did a lot of research on her breed. Unfortunately, the media has given American Pit Bull Terriers an unwarranted stigma that even I was wary of before we adopted her. After just a bit of research though, I learned that these dogs are actually quite remarkable animals that do not deserve the negativity they receive. While researching, I remember reading something about the intelligence of an APBT. I read (and I do not know where I read this) that these are smart dogs with very humanistic traits and qualities. Now that Zoey has been a member of our family for eight months now, I could not agree more. She really does act like a human child and sometimes I think she thinks she is one. Here are the top five reasons for why my American Pit Bull Terrier is like a child.

1. She loves to play dress up

Zoey loves bandanas, her collar, dressing up, and looking pretty. In fact, when we take her collar off for baths, she hates it. She gets so excited when she wears bandanas that she prances around the house in them. One day, she even got out her pink bandana, brought it to Zac, and put it on his chest because she wanted to wear it.

2. She pouts when she does not get her way

When Zoey does not get her way, she pouts. She will lay either on her bed or by the sliding glass door and curl up in a ball facing away from us. She will then begin her series of loud, exaggerated sighs showing her frustration. This lasts for at least several minutes.

3. She gets upset when she is punished

If Zoey does something she isn’t supposed to do, we correct her by saying, “wrong,” or, “OHHH, wrong.” She hates this. She hates being punished more than not wearing her collar. She sadly hangs her head in shame and slowly begins to glance up, as if she is looking to us for approval. She will then continue to be sad until we show her that we are no longer mad at her. Once we reassure her, she is back to her spry self.  

4. She loves running through the sprinklers

Kids love running through sprinklers on a warm summer day, and so does Zoe. We’ve only had her since October, so now that the weather is nice outside, we are truly seeing just how much she loves running through the sprinklers and chasing the water stream from the hose. Running from sprinkler to sprinkler, she circles our back yard vivaciously chasing each sprinkler head when we water the grass. Also, she loves the jet stream from the hose. She will chase it, jump up to get it, and even stand on her hind legs to reach it.

5. She loves hideouts, forts, and exploring mysterious spaces

One thing I learned from my little brother growing up is that forts and hideouts always make things better, and Zoey could not agree more. Zoey has made her own fort in our house. She will crouch down low and go behind our couch. She will also hang out and nap behind our couch and in between our couch and recliner. That space is her space – her secret hideout.


Give Old Shoes New Life

My tried and true running shoe for more than six years was the Asics Gel Kayano. I do not know how many of these shoes I went through during my glory days of running, but it is safe to say I bought at least three or four new pairs of these bad boys each year, especially when my mileage increased significantly.

For feet, nothing beet trying on a new pair of Kayanos. It was always like slipping my feet into a cloud. It was amazing. Getting a new pair of running shoes was electrifying. I could not wait to get them on and get them dirty. With my new kicks, I would explore the roads and the trails and feel so free.

But seeing as how my running days are in the past, it is time for me to fully let go of my running shoes. I am not saying to forget about running altogether, but it is time to move on and contribute my shoes to the greater good of running. It is time to donate them. Since my February 2010 injury, I’ve been holding on to them as if having them would let me run again. I’ve even held on to the ones I planned on donating early last year. However keeping these shoes lined up in my closet only serves as a daily reminder of what I can no longer do. It is time for my shoes to get new use.

When donating old running and athletic shoes, people have quite a few options besides just dropping them off at the local donation center.

Here is a list of potential places where you can donate your old running shoes.

Give Running

This organization serves the greaterLos Angelesarea serves the underprivileged.

Recycled Runners

This drop off organization provides an online network to find local running shoe donation spots.

Soles4Souls (This organization’s name reminds me of a Shakespearean pun in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar)

This organization is based inNashvilleand focuses on giving them to people in need. Soles4Souls has a worldwide reach and helps people inKenya,Thailand, and other places.

Nike ReUSE a Shoe

You can donate athletic shoes of any brand to this program to recycle them into new athletic surfaces. Nike grinds the shoes up and uses them for playgrounds, tracks, and even new shoes. I also believe that Nike and Nike Outlet stores have in-store donation bins.

There are also many other places to donate your shoes. This is just a small list. I haven’t decided where I will donate mine yet, but right now I am thinking about donating them to my local Nike Outlet store to save on shipping.

Sigh…..Next Summer

As a teacher, I have ten weeks off during summer. While I still work during the summer putting lesson plans together, gearing up for the next year, and improving my old lesson plans, I do it all on my own time. Two years in a row I’ve needed knee surgery over the summer, which is not a fun way to spend my summer vacations, but I know I am very fortunate to have these ten weeks off to recover before stepping foot in a classroom filled with 38 teenagers.

Next summer will be different though. I am fully optimistic about the outcome of this surgery. I have a doctor who is looking out for me and my best interest. Furthermore, my doctor is an avid cyclist, so he knows how much endurance athletics means to me. Even though I am switching from running to cycling, I still yearn to be on the road and cover many miles. Now, I just get to cover those miles even quicker. Anyway, next summer will be different and will be amazing for two reasons. First, I should be fully recovered by then and I will be able to spend my summer mornings on my road bike. I should be able to log in significant mileage and hopefully train for one of my first long-distance tours. I don’t want to set a goal on a specific race and date yet, but I know I want to complete a century ride. In addition to my amazing cycling schedule next summer, I will have the freedom to go to the gym for weight-training and yoga whenever I want. In my opinion, it is the perfect way to spend the first part of the day.

Secondly, next summer will be different because Zac and I are planning our summer vacation now. We are going toOahuduring the summer. I cannot wait because we were not able to do the kind of activities we wanted to do inMaui earlier this year. We are hoping to get in some decent hikes and possibly some zip lining. Next summer also is the summer for my 10 year high school reunion. I cannot believe that it is already here. Hopefully the reunion is not the same week as Oahu.

Where we will stay in Oahu. It isn't on Waikiki beach, but a bit further away. Beautiful!