Thursday, February 4, 2016

Running again!!!

Guess what???  I’ve gone running twice this week.  Well, trotting mostly.  And in short intervals.  Basically I’m starting over with the running, but it’s all GOOD!!! I moved at faster than a walking speed!  Wearing running clothes! And running shoes! I was running!

I’m not going to lie: my right foot is still not 100%. But it’s mostly recovered.  It doesn’t so much “hurt” as it’s still a wee bit sore. Does that make sense?  So I’m definitely taking it easy, and monitoring the way it feels as I go along.

Stylin' new running shoes! (Ignore unattractive grocery bag.  You can tell I'm
not a professional-type blogger.  Any "real" blogger would have moved that
crap or taken a new pic.  Not me!)

I went to our local running store to buy new shoes last weekend.  I told them about the foot, and they instantly realized I needed cushioning. I asked about Hokas, having heard about them from MANY running bloggers, and tried some on. Loved them, thought they might be the “one”. But then they brought out some Brooks Glycerine 13’s for me to try out. I'm not sure I've ever even tried out Brooks. Maybe back in college? Holy cow! They were even more cushioned than the Hokas! I felt like my feet were being hugged! So I went with the Brooks, though cheap they weren’t.  Still, I need to take care of my feet. No more pretending I’m 19 and can run in whatever I want, you know?

After purchasing said shoes, I went for a run with my oldest on Sunday morning. We’re once again doing the Couch-to-5K (C2-5K) plan, and we started on week 2, which was very doable.  We went a total of 3 miles, and it was really great to be out there again moving faster than a stroll!

We went again on Tuesday evening, but only 2 miles total, mainly because it was already dark, and my youngest had come along on his bike and decided he really wanted to go back home, so we called it at the 2 mile turn-around and headed back. 

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be running again!  My plan this time around is to only run three or four days per week - and absolutely NO back-to-back runs.  I want to make sure that my foot (and the rest of me) has plenty of recovery time between the poundings (see previous reference to not being 19 any more).  

I'm still nervous about the foot, but I figure as long as I don't get crazy with it and monitor it closely, I should be ok, right?  (That's when you say, "Yeah, right!")

Will keep you posted . . .

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

Wow.  I haven’t written in ages.  Guess it was largely because of the fact that I couldn’t run in December, so I felt like I was in limbo and wasn’t really in the mood to dive into some new workout, so I just figured I’d hold off on the fitness goals until January.  Plus, let’s face it – December is a busy month.  Three kids to buy Christmas for, along with all the family, food prep, school party stuff, school projects all coming due during December for the kids, etc.  I just wasn’t in a blogging frame of mind.

I’m happy to report that my little hiatus from working out on my right foot has helped TREMENDOUSLY.  It still hurts a bit, don’t get me wrong, but it’s WAY better than it was.  I’ve started walking again (for fitness – I never stopped walking for "life in general" type stuff), and am going to wait to run until I’m fully without pain.  Not sure when that’ll be, but it’s cool.  I have other options.

But before I get into my "options", I want to say that a major resolution for me this year is to get out of my comfort zone and stop being a chicken about trying new things, going new places, etc. 

Case in point?  The gym at my workplace.  I have worked here for nearly 2 years and while I’ve been pursuing fitness for much of that time I’ve never stepped foot in the gym here.  I had my “reasons”: 
  • Wasn’t sure I actually had time to get over there during the day. 
  • Wasn’t sure I had time during my lunch hour to work out and take a shower.
  • Wasn’t sure I wanted to work out in front of people I actually work with (i.e. fat shame). 
Really, though, those were just the reasons I allowed myself to vocalize (even to myself, sometimes) – in reality I was just kind of nervous to go check it out.

Yes, I’m one of those people who gets nervous about going new places.  Looking out of place. Looking like I don't know what’s going on.  And yes, in my rational brain I realize that this is completely ridiculous.

I don’t know why I’m this way, and I’ve fought it some over the years, and mostly hid it – pretending to be an adventurous badass.  And, in all fairness, I used to be much more likely to step outside my comfort zone – back when I was a teenager and when I was in college – because I wanted people to THINK I was confident and adventurous etc, but as I got older I guess my “give a crap gene” kind of toned down.  But that isn’t a good thing!!! It just kept me hiding in my normal routine! It’s pathetic is what it is!!! It’s held me back from seeking out groups to join, places to see, hobbies to develop, and even restaurants to go to over the years. 

How I'd like to be perceived!  Oooo-Raaaaahhh!

Reality?  Me, when I need to do something outside my comfort zone.  LAME!
So, while I didn’t make this resolution until after New Years, I’m making it now:  I resolve to step outside my comfort zone. Whenever I feel like being a chicken is holding me back from trying something I’d really like to do, I’m just going to MAKE MYSELF DO IT!!  I’ll let you know the next time this comes up.  Wish me luck!

Happily, in the case of the gym at work I’ve recently had assistance with my wuss-gene from my friend Allison. She is a “serious” weight lifter. As in “going to compete in a power lifting competition in April” serious. She gets up a 4 am to go to her gym and get her workouts in before driving an hour to get to work by 7 am. Girlfriend is at home in a gym. 

So shortly before the holidays she announced that I was going to join the gym at work with her and we were going to start going to the M-W-F lunchtime yoga class. I was all over it. When I have someone to hold my hand, I’m all about new things! (Not literally hold my hand, BTW, I'm not that pathetic!)

Today I went over for the first time with Allison. And you know what? It is an awesome little gym.  WAY better than the lame gym in my neighborhood amenity center. More treadmills, a couple of recumbent bikes, an upright bike, weight machines, free weights. And not busy, at least when we were in there. Showers and a lovely locker room. It was really, really nice. And as per usual, I’m kicking myself for not investigating sooner.

The old saying is so true:  It may be uncomfortable at first, but you almost never regret it if you actually allow yourself to step outside your comfort zone. 

So what does this mean for me?  It means Bike workouts and Weight Training, that’s what it means!!!  And I am going to try the yoga with Allison, probably next Wednesday.  But my main priority now that I’ve seen how awesome and convenient this gym seems to be is to develop a plan for incorporating non-running type workouts into my life. 

Having been slapped down by the running gods for going out too aggressively in my goal for a ½ marathon last fall, I’m going to change gears and work on developing bike skills and even swimming skills while the foot finishes healing. I’m not giving up the running, though! I love it too much, and I’m confident that my foot is healing up nicely and I just need some more time. 

Who knows, maybe a triathlon will enter my life sometime in the near future!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bridges Freak Me Out. A little.

My morning commute over the St. Johns River via the Shands Bridge was gorgeous this morning.  See the photo below.  Yes, I took it while driving, but I didn’t look at what I was snapping.  Basically, I held up the phone and just clicked about 5 photos, hoping that some of them would be focused and not show too much of my car door, etc. 

Shands Bridge, morning of 12/10/2015.

That said, I drive over this bridge twice a day, and as pretty as it is, it always freaks me out a bit.  See the barrier wall in the pic above? It’s only about 4-feet high.  And where I took this pic, you’re only a few feet above the water, but there’s a spot where the bridge goes up (to allow taller boats to pass beneath – there’s no drawbridge) and at that point, you’re a wee bit “up there”.  And people have died when their vehicles went over the side. 

I remember one incident a few years ago when a woman in an SUV was on the phone with her daughter and I guess a ladder had fallen off a vehicle in front of her, so she had to screech to a stop (a bad thing on this bridge – it’s only two lanes – one in each direction).  They say her last words to her daughter were “Oh my God, he’s going to hit me!” And she was slammed into from behind by a dump truck and her SUV flew over the side and unfortunately, she didn’t survive. Gulp. That goes through my mind when I drive over this thing. Especially in the evening when it’s already dark when I’m headed home. It’s winter, mind you. In the summer it’s still daylight when I’m commuting home.

The St. Johns River in Florida is a big boy, as you can tell from the photo.  What you’re seeing is only about half the width of the river at this point. It’s really wide. It flows from south to north, with its headwaters being WAY down south near Vero Beach and its discharge into the Atlantic Ocean up in Jacksonville.

In the aerial image below, you can see just how wide the St. Johns gets up here in NE Florida.  And since Jacksonville is a big city (biggest in land area in the United States), we have 8-ish bridges.  Technically the Shands Bridge – the one I drive every day, is south of Jacksonville proper, but I’m counting it here because it is close.

The Buckman is another bridge that has vehicles going over the side every once in a while.  It’s one of those LOOOONNGGG bridges.  And an interstate bridge, so there’s a LOT of traffic.

Buckman Bridge.  It's long!

Also the Buckman. I'm pretty sure I'd crap my pants if that was my car and I lived through whatever caused this.  Luckily, they're near the shore, so at least it's probably pretty shallow in this area!
The Matthews Bridge, which is downtown, had an incident in which a woman and her son were in a jeep and when they had an accident, she was ejected from the vehicle and flew over the side.  Wear your seatbelts, people!!

Matthews Bridge.  Yes, it's kind of ugly.  As is the shoreline around it.  It's a port, not a recreation area.
But the big-boy here in Jacksonville is the Dames Point Bridge.  It’s the closest to the ocean and because Jacksonville is a major port, it has LOTS of big ships (cruise ships, container ships, tankers, etc) coming in, so this bridge is tall. It’s also really pretty.  And even though I don’t recall any stories of people going over the side, it does freak me out some, just because of it’s height. 

Dames Point Bridge.  Pretty, right??

Dames Point. Up, up, up.  
Of course, the Queen Mother of bridges here in Florida is the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, over in Tampa (on the gulf coast, for those of you who are geographically challenged).  This photo doesn’t make it seem all that freaky, but I swear you feel like you’re being launched into space when you drive up its fairly serious incline.

Sunshine Skyway.  I know it may not look that high in this photo, but I swear when you're driving it, you feel like you're going to launch when you reach the top!
And of course, there's the Seven-Mile Bridge, which connects Miami to the Florida Keys.  I've heard about it, but never driven this one.  It's on my list to take the kids for vaycay one of these days, though.

Seven Mile Bridge. Makes the Buckman look crazy short.  According to, it's one of the longest bridges in the world.

I don’t feel like I have a debilitating phobia about bridges.  I guess I’d call it a “healthy concern”.  Fact is, there are a lot of idiot drivers out there, and even if you’re driving safe, bad things can happen.  Even a blow-out could be catastrophic on one of these bridges.  So whenever I drive over, I kind of hold my breath until the other side.  Well, I guess I wouldn't do that on the Seven-Mile Bridge - too long!!

Though I admit, now that I’m driving the Shands twice a day, it doesn’t scare me as much as it used to.  Except when there’s a massive thunderstorm or something J.  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Crappy Last Few Weeks and Other Recent Goings On . . .

Yes, I haven’t blogged in a while.  To be honest, the last several weeks have been fairly sucky and I just wasn't in the mood to put it out here for all the world to read (or at least the 20 people who stumble across my corner of the internet). 

The week after my daughter’s hamster died - in mid-November, our dog took a bad turn and we were told we’d have to put her to sleep.  For those not in the know, she’s always had a bad foot.  We adopted her in July 2014 (Just a year ago! She was only 3!), and were told by the shelter folks that she had been in a fire when she was a baby, so her right front paw was kind of weird and misshapen and had no fur.  Well, just this past August, I noticed a swelled up spot on that paw, which had shown up quickly and out of the blue.  The vet said it was possibly cancer, and they amputated her toe.  Well, fast forward to one week before Thanksgiving and my oldest noticed when he got home from school that she wasn’t putting any weight on the bad leg. Even though we’d been through the amputation a few months ago, I still wasn’t really thinking it would be something terrible.  I guess I thought if her previous problem was cancer and it came back or spread then she would gradually get sick and we’d have time to come to terms with it.

Well, I was wrong. 

I took her to the vet the next morning, and after the x-ray, they confirmed that the cancer had spread to her elbow joint and had apparently made the bones soft (??? - I didn't know this was a thing!), and she had apparently suffered a hairline fracture.  She wasn’t a candidate for amputation for several reasons, and frankly, the fact that the cancer had already spread just meant we would be postponing the inevitable.  Still, it was shocking and traumatic for our family.  Even for me, to my surprise.  You see, I’ve always considered myself a cat person. Don’t get me wrong, I like dogs just fine, but Sky was supposed to be my kids’ dog.  Well, turns out I was wrong, there, too, because Sky ended up as my dog. I fed her. I was the only one she really wanted to walk her – when the kids tried to walk her, she wouldn’t want to go unless I was along. She usually slept in my bedroom. So of course I got attached. And she was the first pet I’ve ever personally had to make the decision to put to sleep.  Which we did on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.  Very sad day for us, and my kids are still struggling with it.

Sky having some fun in the outback.  Frolicking in the weeds.
Well, as much as a seriously overweight dog with cancer can frolic.
Actually, I think this was during a needed rest-break.

The kids and I with Sky.
Other than the trauma of losing a member of our family, my running is also not good.  Basically, it’s at a standstill.  You recall my right foot was giving me grief???  Well, after resting it for the better part of two weeks, I tried to run the day after Thanksgiving (same day we were taking Sky into the vet for our last good-byes). My foot hurt, same as before and with equal discomfort.  Yep, the rest didn’t seem to have done much good. And afterward, the foot was sore (just a little - just enough to notice it) for the rest of the weekend - and still is, frankly.  So after much reading and researching, I'm now actually thinking it’s a stress fracture. The injury (whatever it is) appears to be in the 2nd metatarsal (bone) on the right foot. At work I typically wear low-heeled sandals and even that amount of pressure on the ball of my foot seemed to exacerbate the soreness. I know I may need to see a doctor, but due to insurance stuff, I’d really rather wait until after New Years. (BTW, thank you sucky American medical insurance system – I WISH we had a single payer system like Canada and every other civilized country in the world – but don’t get me started on how the insurance industry and their lobbyists have duped so many Americans into thinking a single-payer system is communist or something!!!!).

Ahem.  Now, where was I? Oh yes, possible stress fracture. Since it’s been bothering me for weeks, I've done a LOT of reading and according to every single website I looked at (WebMD, Mayo Clinic, American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society etc), the treatment for a minor stress fracture is the same as for a plantar plate injury and many other foot injuries: immobilize the foot and do RICE (rest, ice, elevation) and basically stay off it (no running) for about 6 weeks. So, that’s what I’m doing. I decided to be proactive and obtained a boot and have been wearing it most of the time since last Thursday. From what I’ve read, most runners who have stress fractures screw up - they don’t realize it’s something serious because it doesn’t hurt too much at first, so they keep running with it, and then it gets way worse. I'm going to totally stop running until after New Years, and if it's still not healed at that point, then I'll see a doctor. I could get lucky and the foot will heal itself by New Years (that’s a month away, and I’ve already been resting the foot for a while, other than the attempted run on Black Friday). 

To not be a complete Debbie Downer, I just joined the gym at work and will be doing the noon yoga class 3 times a week – starting tomorrow (making sure to take care of the bum foot).  Otherwise, I've decided to not freak out about things.  It’s the holiday season, and my primary goal is just to not lose control and gain back the 10 pounds I lost a few months ago.

Hope everyone else is doing well.  I’m just contenting myself to tread water until New Years, when hopefully I’ll be back and ready to rumble again!  And with that, here are some photos of other stuff that's been going on . . .

Connor's very first band concert.  Go flutes!!
After Thanksgiving, we had a sleepover with the grandkids and a neighbor friend.  These are the boys: Colin (mine - 7 - almost 8), Connor (mine - 11), Caleb (my grandson  - 11), and Will (neighbor friend 10)
Girl portion of the sleepover, after our bedroom dance party to Katy Perry and the Weekend. Jaylyn (12 - granddaughter), Cailyn (mine - 10), and Abby (8 - almost 9 - granddaughter).  Unfortunately, Jaylyn thinks my music taste is lame because I mostly like bubble-gum pop.  She's way more street.  At least I don't think they consider me an old fart.  
My kids finally reached the age where they put up the tree without much help from me.  I'd post a pic of the finished tree, but I just realized I didn't take one yet. Christmas fail!!
Last night Cailyn & I assisted Colin in doing his visual aids for his Winter Story Presentation at school.
"Fuzzy Rabbit Saves Christmas".  A classic, apparently.
We have to finish Cailyn's before Friday - she's doing How the Grinch Stole Christmas (easy peasy).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A bit of running, a lot of walking, and a birthday . . .

Before I dive into this little blog post, I'm just going to briefly say how much I'm saddened by the stupid terrorism that happened in Paris last Friday night. I'm not going to go off on a political rant, or say that I know what needs to be done to stop this crap from happening again. I don't pretend to know the answers. I just feel for those in Paris, Beirut, Kabul and other parts of the world that deal with this all the time. I'm actually going to try and keep this blog nice and light, but I had to at least acknowledge the events of last weekend, lest you think I'm an asshole. And I'm not. At least I don't think I am.

So back to my regularly scheduled blog post.  After my last post (which was last Tuesday), I bought some K-T Tape in an attractive fashion color of coppery beige and taped up the foot.  The kids and I were off work / school for Veteran's Day last Wednesday, so I decided to try out running on a soft surface and with the foot taped.  Connor and I headed down the Outback, and I had hopes we'd be able to go a couple of miles on the grassy trail. Alas, at the edge of our subdivision the powerline easement becomes completely overgrown, so we only went about 1/2 mile before going back into civilization. And that was enough time to realize that the foot still sucked. The tape helped some (maybe??), but it was uncomfortable enough that I was REALLY conscious of the foot the whole time.  So when we turned around we just came back along our usual route. Total Distance:  4.20 miles. Once I realized that running was probably a bad idea, we were basically just out for a stroll. We stopped to pet cats, take photos of spiders and butterflies, etc. It was a nice walk, though.

Connor, after we'd already transitioned to walking.

Giant banana spider right over our heads late in the walk.
These guys are really big (several inches long, when you include the legs).
And creepy, if you aren't into spiders. Which I'm not. 

Random butterfly.

After reading the experiences of another runner who was positively diagnosed with a Plantar Plate Tear (by a an actual doctor, not WebMD), I decided to order a metatarsal pad, which is placed under the ball of the foot and is supposed to position the foot to take some of the pressure off the bad areas. After the tape didn't really provide me much relief on Wednesday, I gave the metatarsal pad a spin on Saturday morning. Yeah, that didn't work so great, either. I didn't find the pad comfortable, at ALL. Walked most of the 4.35 miles.

Ducks, seen on the walk portion of my Saturday jaunt.

After my week or so of self-experimentation, I've decided I need to lay off the foot for a while. I still intend to get to the running store and check out some Hoka's, but that won't happen until next weekend at least, so I'm just going suspend the running until then.  It's not like I'm training for a marathon next weekend or something. And frankly, this week promises to be fairly busy in the evenings with homework, and other miscellaneous stuff going on.

On Saturday, I celebrated another trip around the sun; yes, my birthday is 11/14, in case you want to pencil it into your calendars for next year :-). I turned 45 years old. Gulp. The funny thing is, I still kind of feel like someone who's in their 30s. I guess I've gotten used to saying I'm 40-something, but I don't feel like "mid-40s". Oh well, as they say, age is just a number, right? It was a nice day, though. Had the run/walk in the morning. Took a long hot bath with a good book. We all went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner (yes, this is "fancy" for us), and then we watched the latest Terminator movie family-movie-night style. All said, a lovely day.

Unfortunately, Sunday we realized Cailyn's hamster was not in her cage. We found her later and our fears were realized. We think one of the neighbor kids must have either dropped her and not fessed up, or didn't close the cage well. It was unexpected, but she had basically lived out her anticipated life-span (she was over 2-years old), so it wasn't a complete tragedy. Cailyn was sad, but took care of burying Peanut herself next to their "fort" out in the Outback.  RIP Peanut.

Moving on, Cailyn has now told me she wants a guinea pig. I said no (at least for now). I'm tired of the kids getting pets and then they become my pet. Though purchased for Cailyn, Peanut was clearly "my" hamster. Same as Sky is now "my" dog. I just don't think my kids are up for the responsibility of a pet. Not to mention the fact that Sky apparently doesn't like any other small furry living things. Basically, her goal in life is to eradicate them from the planet.  She pretty much ignored Peanut as below her dignity, but cats? squirrels? Yeah. I think a guinea pig would fall under the "prey" category.

It's been a fairly busy week so far. Work. Had a site visit to our Fellsmere Grade Emergency Spillway Project yesterday. Lit the firepit and enjoyed the evening with the kids last night. Tomorrow my son has his very first Middle School Band Concert.  And I'm already looking forward to the weekend.  It's Humpday, everyone! We're halfway there!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My Right (@#$%*) Foot

Last night (Monday) I got home from work at about 6:15 pm.  Cooked dinner for the posse (chili and tacos).  Then, feeling motivated and empowered, decided to go for a run, since I hadn’t gone out since last week.  I ended up completing 3 miles, but I’m not going to lie, it was mostly walking.  My right foot is becoming a serious issue. 

Fast forward several hours later. Last night at about 2 am, my dog bounded into the bedroom and did a small bark to wake me up.  She’d had “digestive issues” earlier in the day, so, freaked that we could have an explosive digestive mess, I bounced out of bed and let her out back.  Turns out she was on a mission to chase something.  Intruder? Raccoon?  Wildebeast?  I don’t know. In any case, I was awake and not falling back to sleep. So (in what was probably a stupid move because I’m insanely tired now), I got on the internet and looked into my foot issues. 

After 2 hours of surfing the internet in the middle of the night, I’m now a “foot expert” and thus have determined what my problem is: A plantar plate sprain. All joking aside, the symptoms of this type of injury uncannily match my symptoms. The bad news is it’s kind of a pain to get healed if it’s really what I have.

Before I dive into the particulars, I’d like to take a moment to note that it is EXTREMELY dangerous to search for medical information on the internet. No, I'm not talking about the possibility of misdiagnosing oneself. It's WAY worse: the photos will curdle your blood!  There are some people out there with some seriously messed up feet!  I mean, really.  I’m not a hypochondriac and I rarely go to the doctor unless it’s a major issue. But by all that's holy in this world, how do people let their feet get to the state of decrepitude I saw in some of those photos last night without seeing a doctor????  It scared the bejeezus out of me, I can tell you. I'm not even going to post any of the really scary ones. You're welcome.

Me, looking at gross feet photos last night.
There are some things you can't un-see.
And now back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

A plantar plate injury refers to damage to the strong supporting ligament of a toe, located on ball of foot. 

Symptoms:  Runners will typically describe intense pain near their 2nd through 4th toes in the ball of the foot that gets worse while walking or running. (This is me!) If you have pain beneath your 2nd, 3rd or 4th metatarsal, and it gets worse with walking, jumping or running, you may have a Plantar Plate Sprain. 

See that?  That's pretty much where my foot hurts, except on the right foot.

“During walking or running, your toes naturally flex upward. At the same time, your body weight – all of it – is supported by the bones in this part of the foot and the plantar plate. The plantar ligament is a relatively small structure, so you can see how easily it might be damaged. Injury to the plantar plate is usually caused by overuse, such as from running; obesity, which puts too much body weight on the ligament; or wearing high heeled shoes too often which locks the forefoot into a flexed position and requires the plantar plate to carry all of your body weight.” Text taken from this site.

Another site says:  “Most commonly experienced by middle aged women whose feet have a tendency to overpronate or roll in, a plantar plate tear is often a cause of persistent pain and swelling in the ball of the foot. It is also commonly associated with a bunion and a hammer toe.”

So you are at risk if you are a chubby, middle-aged woman runner who lands on your midfoot when running and who already has a bunion. That’s pretty much me. I don’t have a severe bunion, but ever since my mid-20s when I wore high heels, I have had some minor discomfort in the joint of big toe on my right foot when I run and walk (never been bad enough to freak me out). I don’t appear to over-pronate (which means landing on the inside of your foot), but otherwise this is me. What I noticed in my run last night was that because of the pain in my bunion toe, I tend to land more on the ball of my foot to relive the pain in my big-toe joint. I think this may be what has caused my problem in the past month or two. 

My feet.  Thanks to Grandma Pogue, they're wide.  They kind of look like hobbit feet,
don't you think?  But without all the hair / fur????  But note that my right foot doesn't
look deformed or swollen or bruised.  Deceptively normal, in fact.  Oh, and forgive
the pathetic pedicure.  I paint my toes myself, and I was in a hurry this morning.  

This, on the other hand, is the right foot of a woman with a seriously unfortunate bunion.
See, my feet don't look so bad now, do they??
The various stages of this injury are:
  • Grade 1 Sprain is a ligament that was overstretched which results in microtears and ligament laxity.
  • Grade 2 Sprain is defined by partial tearing of the ligament resulting in more severe pain and possibly, partial joint deformity.
  • Grade 3 Sprain is a complete tear of the ligament and results in intense pain with obvious joint deformity.
From what I can tell, I have a Grade 1 Sprain. It hurts when I run and walk, and sometimes at work when I’m wearing my low heels or stupidly rest with all the weight on the balls of my feet. I don’t appear to have any freakish deformities (yet).

At any rate, this may be something I ultimately need to see a doctor about, but from all of my reading (on maybe a dozen web pages, including the Running Institute of San Diego, which had a lot of good info), it appears that in the early stages of the injury it can be treated using "conservative" methods.  They say you’ll know if the injury has progressed if your pain gets worse or you develop a limp following activity.  (from

Note:  I’m nowhere near a limp.  I’m just at the whining stage right now.

So what do they mean by conservative methods? Basically "conservative" means "not surgery". And the following:
  • Icing the injured area
  • Anti inflammatory medications like Aleve or Advil to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Strapping the toe into a downward position to align it in order to help the tendon heal
  • Custom orthotics
  • Off-loading body weight via felt padding in shoes
  • Footwear modifications like purchasing new running shoes that are stiff and provide a LOT of cushion beneath the ball of the foot
  • If your case is severe, a special boot or shoe to keep weight completely off the ball of your foot
In the cases of severe tears, they advise stopping running.  For like 3 months. Sometimes longer. However, my case appears to be minor. I’ve identified the problem early.

So, my plan for now? 
  • Treat the injury myself and only go to the doc if it isn’t getting better.
  • Stock up on ibuprofen and start taking it on a regular basis for the inflammation.  This sounds simple, but I’m notorious for not remembering to take medicine (or vitamins) on a prescribed time-table.  Will probably need to implement an alarm on my phone to remind me.
  • Get some sports medicine tape and tape the toe as shown in various YouTube videos (I told you I was an expert - look out world!)
  • Get some new running shoes that are stiff and padded.  I may go for Hoka One One’s.  They’re renowned for being uber-padded.  They’re also renowned for being uber-expensive.  But my birthday is next week and I already have some gift money (thanks parents!) that I can use toward the cause. In any case, my plan is to hit the local running store (1stPlace Sports) and have the experts advise me.
  • Get some arch supports and something to support the ball of my feet.  I’m pretty sure 1st Place Sports can help me out there, as well. 
Right now I’m NOT going to stop running.  I want to see if I can help things with the above interventions first.  If after a few weeks, I honestly don’t see an improvement, then I solemnly swear I’ll stop running.  And if it still doesn’t seem better, then I’ll take the step to see a doc about it.

Stupid middle-aged foot.

Taylor Creek Reservoir

This is a "Work" post with a few interesting photos.  Well, I think they're interesting.  You might just yawn.  But in case anyone is interested in what I do, read on . . .

Last Thursday I went on a site visit to Taylor Creek Reservoir, which is down in central Florida, on the border between Osceola and Orange Counties.  Out in the sticks, but kind of close to the City of Cocoa. This is the main project I'm working on right now. This levee and reservoir were built by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) back in 1969 to provide flood protection and water supply to some of the surrounding communities.  Since that time, it's eroded quite a bit and is in need of repair.  My agency, which manages the levee, is tasked with rehabbing the levee to raise it to the original elevations it was designed for and to fix areas that have eroded, adding a couple of emergency spillways and putting in a levee toe drain.

I went on the site visit to just confirm some things in preparation for developing my next set of construction drawings (I'm at the 60% Design Stage).  I was hoping to see some cool wildlife - often I see some really great stuff on my site visits. Alas, this time the cool critters were apparently hiding or at a party somewhere else, and my photos are mostly scenery.  And some cows (well, bulls).

Smoke in the sky!  
When we got to the levee, we noticed a CRAZY amount of smoke in the sky.  It was really cool looking. We weren't sure where it was coming from at the time. Turns out it was smoke from a controlled burn our agency was doing on another of our properties in the area. Controlled burns (aka "Prescribed Fires") are used to burn the underbrush, which helps prevent wildfires, helps restore and maintain natural plant and animal communities (especially those which are fire-adapted and require fire as part of their life-cycle), and even helps control tree diseases. Here is a cool link to our website which talks about "controlled burns".

Another smoke view, along with a view southward on the levee with TCR to the west (on the right).
A levee is basically the same as a dam, though there are technically differences that have to do with the amount of water which is retained. In reality, this "levee" should be classified as a dam, but USACE called it a levee when they built it, so that's still what we call it. In this case, it holds back water from Cox Creek and Taylor Creek to form the Taylor Creek Reservoir.

Gopher Tortoise burrow.
Gopher Tortoise.
Note: I didn't see any actual gopher tortoises during my site visit.  I just thought you might like to see what they look like.
Photo credit: St. Johns River Water Management District
Gopher tortoises are endangered species here in Florida.  Unfortunately, it isn't a good thing when they build their burrows in our levees because it causes erosion and makes the levees less stable. We're in the process of relocating the gopher tortoises from this levee to other areas where they can live out their lives in gopher tortoise domesticity, without wrecking our stuff!

Bull in the house!!!
This levee lies in the middle of pasture land, and while the cattle aren't supposed to get up onto the levee, they do. Somehow Mr. Bull managed to push his way inside this structure (which controls the spillway for the levee). Happily, he moved on to greener pastures by the time we left, so we could close everything back up!

Nice view of Taylor Creek Reservoir.
And that was the highlight reel of my site visit.  I also have tons of photos from the day of unattractive bridges, culverts, wet spots, filled-in gopher tortoise burrows, etc.  But those aren't nearly as cool.  Hope you enjoyed the highlights of my day . . .