Tag Archives: 2016 Ragnar

Once Upon a Time…

Once upon a time, there was a girl who just wanted to be liked.  In grade school, she was teased and always picked to be last for recess and P.E. games.  In 8th grade, kids teased her and called her “UNCORD” for uncoordinated (it wasn’t her fault that she was 5’9″ at age 13).  In her freshman year of high school, her basketball coach announced in front of the entire team that her “season was a disappointment to all.”  She bottled her hurt and poured herself into academics, became a straight A student and got accepted into U.C. Davis.  Her freshman year of college, she met a boy.  He ran Cross Country.  There was that damn sports thing again, she thought.  She wanted this boy to like her, so she ran.  The first time they ran together, he stopped and immediately criticized her.  This was nothing new.  Being stubborn as she is, she kept running, even in her Keds.  She finally splurged on a pair of running shoes; a luxury very dear since she was putting herself through school and working three jobs.  She ended up majoring in Exercise Science.

Through the years, she became kinda good at running (well, for her).  In grad school, she did a couple half-marathons, then progressed into triathlon, which is where she found her niche.  For eight years she was a serious recreational triathlete who pushed to often place in her division, which was a big deal for races held in the triathlon mecca of the world.

Then hip pain…infrequent. She blew it off. No pain, no gain.  Then it became like the neighbor who drops in unannounced and is always super annoying.  She tried to dodge this neighbor, but he caught up with her.

She retired from racing triathlon on a high note in 2008, placing first in her division at a local race.  It made sense: work was getting busier, and it was time to do other things…

Five years later, in 2013, her college roommate and long time friend and her made a pact to do a Half-Ironman by the time they turn 40.  Five years off  from racing was enough time to be excited about a big athletic goal again.  She started training.  It was that spring that she took the step that would forever change her life….

Hip dysplasia diagnosis, two PAO (periacetabular osteotomy) surgeries in 8.5 months, months of rehab, and relearning how to walk, she wondered if she could ever run again.  Even if she could, should she?  Is running even a good idea post-op with mild hip arthritis and having the pelvis sawed apart in six places and rearranged to a better configuration?  What if the six 5-7 inch screws in her pelvis will cause pain while running?  Disgusted with her weight gain due to chronic pain pre-op and inability to move, she knew she had to do something. Run/walking it was.

In late fall of 2015, a fellow PAO Warrior posted on the Facebook PAO group that she was putting together an eight-person team to do the Ragnar Trail Relay in Snowmass, Colorado the first weekend of June.  Each runner would run the 4, 3.8 and 6.7-mile loops and about 2000 feet total elevation gain through the Rocky Mountains in the course of a maximum 36 hours, and 116 miles to be completed by the entire team.  Mountain running, trail running, night running…seeing bears?  sleep?…. camping, friends, laughter, fun!  An incredible challenge, she told her friend “give me three months to train and I’ll let you know if I can do it.”

***

The rest is history.  Team “All Screwed Up” completed the Ragnar Trail Relay this past weekend in just over 25 hours.  Six of us had PAO surgeries and our other two teammates had major surgeries. Aside from Colorado, our team members hailed from Reno, Boston and Cincinnati to come to one of the most beautiful places in the country to partake in his adventure.  We ran on trail through the mountains, laughed, camped, ate, got very little sleep, and fortunately we did not see any bears.  We talked about all things running and PAO recovery, which included the obligatory post-op stories of poop and swollen labia.  I made life-long friends and we are bonded not only as Warriors, but Ragnarians.    For me, this race was the big middle finger to everyone who in the past had teased and criticized my athletic abilities.  I may not be fast, but I can endure.  And I will continue to enjoy running for the rest of my days.  Next year, I’ll be back, better than ever!

Team Photo at Camp
Team Photo at Camp
Back of our Team Shirts
Back of our team shirts
Jen finishing the red loop
Jen Finishing the 6.7 mile run, “Red Loop”
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To All The Naysayers….

In December, I saw a Facebook post from my fellow local PAO friend that she was forming a PAO team to do the 2016 Ragnar Trail Relay in Snowmass, Colorado; which is held over the first weekend in June.  Now, I have not ran steadily since I started having some pretty gnarly pain in my hip flexor area, which was in 2012.  I was forced to quit running on a regular basis as the pain was debilitating.   Since 2012,  I gained 34 pounds due to inability to exercise and I had my pelvis sawed apart in to 6 pieces (3 pieces for each surgery) and screwed back together, a surgery called a periacetabular osteotomy (PAO), all with the hopes that I could have a better aligned hip joint and be able to 1) not live in chronic pain and 2) be able to do the physical activities I love, one of them being running.  That is a big selling point of PAO surgery: it has no activity restrictions compared to a hip replacement.

So, when I saw this post about being part of a team with fellow PAO Warriors to complete three loops of 3.8, 4, and 6.7 miles on mostly single track trail in the Rocky Mountains over 36 hours, I was intrigued.  I posted on my personal Facebook page asking opinions of those who have run this race if it was doable for me with six months of training and most people said “yes!” but there were a few naysayers.  For those who know me know its the naysayers that are the most motivating  for me as I am very stubborn and determined to prove naysayers wrong.  Plus, I needed a goal.  At the time, I was one year post-RPAO and I was struggling with losing weight, and I was depressed since losing my fur baby of 14 years and losing a contract on a new home.  Something needed to change, I was in a funk!  I told the team captain, “give me three months to see if my hips can handle running.”  I started running, well – more like walk with some short jogging intervals – several times a week.  I was happy to complete a 20 minute walk/jog session!  My hips did fine.  My lungs burned, my muscles ached, but my hips – those newly aligned hips – were fine.

From December to March, I progressed my mileage carefully, gradually increasing the run time and decreasing the walk time.  What I was consistent in was doing my sessions: I ran 3 times a week: rain, shine, wind, snow.  I remember bundling up in 10 degree weather and putting on my YakTrax (devices that go on the bottom of running shoes that have metal spikes to provide better traction on snowpack/ice) to do a 30 min run.  By mid-March, I committed to our Ragnar team, which is aptly called “All Screwed Up.”

Fast forward to now:  yesterday I completed a 10 mile run in the wind, cold, and GI distress (note to fellow runners: do NOT eat Mexican food for dinner the night before a long run! Another piece of advice: know where your toilets are along your route!).  I had to tough talk myself through miles 5-9: “Jen, you are doing this because you CAN!”  “Jen, you would have no problem running this if it wasn’t for your stomach ache!” “Jen, this is a piece of cake compared to PAO surgery, remember how much pain you were in at the hospital?”  In under 2 hours and 15 minutes (which included about 40 minutes walking due to my poor nutritional choices) I got the 10 miles in and my hips were fine!  It was the first time since 2006 that I ran 10 miles, 15 miles in a 25 hour period, and 28 miles for the week.  And as far as my last weigh in, I have lost 14 pounds.

So, my advice is: do not let the naysayers keep you down.  Rise above negativity, work hard, and prove them wrong!

My next post will most likely be a race report of Ragnar: the ULTIMATE PAO WARRIOR GATHERING!!!  Its going to be a hell of a party!  Onward!