New Year, New Hamstring, New Team!

My surgery is in the past – 64 days to be exact.  I am fighting to put it behind me even though my return to running remains far in the future. This year will be a challenge, but a challenge I will do my best to embrace.

  • I WILL find joy in the healing process.
  • I WILL learn to celebrate the small victories.
  • I WILL enjoy the journey.
  • I WILL never try to get back to “where I was.”
  • I WILL always be grateful for my team!!

I am so indebted to those who have stuck by my side – my true crew –  and am humbled by those who have joined during this time of uncertainty.

Team TBone: Coach Terry Shea (AKA TBone) had 13 athletes run at the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. Need I say more?!

New York Athletic Club: The New York Athletic Club was founded in 1868 in order to bring structure to the nascent world of amateur sport. In its journey through the ensuing decades, the NYAC has evolved to become an athletic powerhouse, globally renowned in sports such as wrestling, fencing, judo, water polo, rowing and track and field. Concurrently, the NYAC has become a part of the cultural fabric of New York City. Through it all, the NYAC remains steadfastly committed to its roots, supporting athletes at the highest levels of Olympic competition while providing world class facilities at its two locations.

Skechers PerformanceSkechers Performance strives to create a unique partnership between the athlete and brand, with a solid foundation and philosophy of listening to the athlete. Their award-winning footwear and apparel are designed and engineered to the athlete’s standards. Skechers is proud to have many accomplished and elite athletes representing the brand, like marathoners Meb and Kara Goucher; pro golfers Matt Kuchar, Belén Mozo, Colin Montgomerie, Billy Andrade, Russell Knox, and Ashlan Ramsey; and many other runners and triathletes. Skechers is also  the proud sponsors of the Houston Marathon and the Skechers PerformanceLos Angeles Marathon.

GLUKOS: GLUKOS founder Mark Jensen, a former collegiate runner and Ironman competitor, realized there was a gap in the energy product market. This led him to extensive research and development to find the optimum source of energy that was both healthy and effective for athletes, similar to an oral IV. GLUKOS is similar to an IV because it contains the same basic ingredients, including water, glucose and electrolytes like potassium. Glucose is the only fuel the human body can use to produce natural energy unlike other energy products that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup, which actually creates lactic acid, and triglycerides in the muscles that hurt performance and recovery, caffeine which artificially increases the heart rate and causes dehydration, and artificial sweetener. GLUKOS is available in five different products, including gel, powder, tablet, gummy and bar.

Wiivv: Wiivv is a bionics company that creates 3D printed, custom gear using 3D-mapping technology, accessible by everyone from a smartphone. Wiivv is building a better foundation for every step you take with made-to-fit-you insoles and footwear.

CEP Compression: CEP offers a collection of shorts, tights, shirts, short socks, knee socks and sleeves for running, biking, triathlon, soccer, basketball, handball, ice hockey, riding, golf and a wide variety of other sports. CEP products enhance performance and recovery through the targeted use of compression to improve blood circulation and speed up lactate metabolism. CEP offers the right product for every athlete to achieve a perfect balance between health and performance.

HSS Sports Rehabilitation and Performance Center:  Back in the game and better than ever! The James M. Benson Sports Rehabilitation Center and Tisch Sports Performance Center specialize in the treatment and prevention of orthopedic and sports-related injuries, and offer the most advanced performance services available today. Whether helping a high school basketball player or an Olympic swimmer, sports-related physical therapists and performance specialists help athletes of all ages and abilities get back to doing what they love-and do it better than ever.

T-143 days until I take on the Tusk Safaricom Half-Marathon in Lewa, Kenya. Please help me support Tusk’s efforts to use wildlife conservation as a catalyst to alleviate poverty, reduce conflict, and improve education and livelihoods in rural areas rich in biodiversity by donating here!

Beyond the Brace: 2017 Safaricom Half-Marathon

After spending six LONG weeks, 24/7 in a non-weight bearing brace, I am finally free! Today I got the green light to ditch the brace and transition to crutch-assisted walking. Now the hard part really begins! I start physical therapy three times a week at the HSS Sports Rehabilitation and Performance Center on Monday. A gradual return to running will follow at four months post-op.

Before wrapping my head around the rehab timeline, my first order of business was to strap the brace on the nearest family member and laugh and take pictures as they struggled. Clearly my entertainment threshold has dropped in the last couple of months!   Next up: enjoying little novelties like sleeping comfortably/at all, putting on my own clothes and shoes (!!) and sitting.

For the first two and a half weeks post-surgery, I was at my apartment with Mom, Dad and/or Sister alternating live-in aide duties.  This helped me retain some delusion of independence! When it was time to get back to work, the logistics of the situation forced my hand.  I moved in with my parents and was there for three weeks.  My stay was nothing short of amazing and I am SO lucky they were willing and able to drop everything to care for me, but I am so excited to finally be HOME!

So what is the title of this post about?! On the advice of Michelle Meyer, fellow elite runner and hamstring surgery buddy, for whose support and guidance I am eternally grateful, I decided to set a goal so there would be “light at the end of the proverbial injury tunnel.” Just prior to my surgery, I was asked to be a part of Team BlackRock for the Tusk Foundation’s 18th annual Safaricom Marathon & Half-Marathon at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Isiolo, Kenya.  My answer: YES! I don’t know what kind of running form I will be in when I arrive at the starting line on June 24th in Kenya, but I will be there running for a reason: to raise money for the Tusk Foundation and I ask for your support in doing so.

Across Africa 100 elephants are killed every day. Illegal poaching claims the life of one rhino every 10 hours. At this rate, these iconic species will be gone from the wild within your lifetime. Tusk’s annual fundraising marathon and half-marathon is a source of critical funds for conservation, community development and education programs that are providing hope for the future of Africa’s wildlife. The impact of the event has been huge and the benefits are very tangible. Since its inception the event has raised over $4.2 million for projects across Kenya. Tusk and Lewa have always shared a common goal to use wildlife conservation as a catalyst to alleviate poverty, reduce conflict, and improve education and livelihoods in rural areas rich in biodiversity.

My fundraising goal is $5,000. Help me reach it by donating here! Every dollar counts and is greatly appreciated.

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Stay tuned here for more updates on my post-surgery journey (to Kenya!). Thanks for the support! xoxo Sarah

Cheers to Two Weeks!

Today I am two weeks post-op! Yesterday I had my first in home PT session. Friday I returned to HSS for a post-op appointment with Dr. Allen. My stitches were removed and my brace extended from 60 degrees of flexion to 30! I will be getting back to work this week, but before I do I quick how-to guide:

How-To Trick Amazon’s Recommendation Algorithm Into Thinking You’re a Senior Citizen:

Did you think I was going to teach you how to rupture your hamstring?! In all seriousness, there are very few resources available online to help prepare for a hamstring repair: before, during hospital stay, and after. I was lucky to find a few good ones here, here and here, and am so grateful for extensive and ongoing communication with surgery veterans Michelle and Heather. Hopefully these ridiculous lists serve as a resource for others facing similar procedures!

Shopping List:

  1. Amazon Dot/Alexa
  2. Heavy Duty Crutch Tips
  3. Crutcheze: Crutch Pads + Crutch Bag
  4. Slippers/No-Slip Socks
  5. Body Pillow: essential for sleeping in the brace
  6. Slip-On Shoes/Hickies
  7. Elevated Toilet Seat with Arms
  8. Hip Replacement Kit: 26″ Grabber, Contoured Sponge, Sock & Stocking Aid, 18″ Plastic Shoehorn
  9. Shewee
  10. Ischial Tuberosity Pillow
  11. Baby Wipes
  12. Dry Shampoo
  13. Bed Pads 
  14. Nathan Power Shower 
  15. MedMobile Bathtub Grab Bar
  16. Safety Grab Bar 
  17. Side Snap/Velcro Thongs
  18. Thin Tapered Workout Pants: make sure you really like these because you won’t be taking them off for 10 days. Wear/bring these to the hospital
  19. Walker/Crutch Cup Holder
  20. Razor Extension
  21. Backpack
  22. Side Snap Warm Up Pants
  23. Waterproof Band Aids

Note: These are the need to haves. Nice to haves not included!

To Do List:

  1. Archie Bunker Chair (Couch)
  2. Line up six weeks of assisted living (babysitting!!)
  3. Move everything you might possibly need to high shelves/cabinets
  4. Clean
  5. Do Laundry
  6. Mani/Pedi
  7. Grocery Shop
  8. Do Hair: you won’t be washing it anytime soon!
  9. Wax/Shave: same concept as above
  10. Prep ice packs
  11. Cancel all outings/trips within six weeks of surgery date
  12. Make a work from home plan
  13. Brace (yourself!) for the visuals below
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10 Days Post-Op

 

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24/7 with this rib to ankle monster for four more weeks!

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The long crutch is the new long run!

Hanging on by a Hamstring

As usual many months have passed since my last blog post and unfortunately this time around the update is a lot more like this than this. WARNING: In the interest of keeping this short and (relatively) sweet, an excessive amount of GIFs will be used. So here we go…

Where have you been? After a great experience at Grandma’s in June,  I was eager to get back into the swing of marathon training with a full build-up. Chicago was close but seemed like a solid bet. I set my sights on a PR and got to work. My body had other plans. Training felt like this. 

Then what happened? This kind of email arrived in my inbox on September 3rd. It was from Susan Dun the USA Team Manager for the World 50k Championships offering me a spot on the team. I excitedly accepted and booked a ticket to Doha, Qatar. How could I turn down a spot on Team USA?!

And then? Everything about the experience was out of this world amazing except one teeny part: with about 10K left in the 50K race, my left hamstring did this. After 13 years of proximal hamstring tendinopathy that started during my years of competitive figure skating,  and continued on with me into my running career, my hammy was done.  I finished the race even thought it felt like this, survived the 14 hour flight home sitting next to this, and found out a few days later (MRI) that I had suffered a complete full-thickness tear of the left hamstring origin from the initial tuberosity with 3.1 cm tendon retraction superimposed on severe hamstring tendinosis.

Translation please!  I ripped my hamstring out of my ass and it needed to be reattached. Surgery would be the only way to reattach and reattaching would be the only way I would walk without a limp.

Is this a common injury? Nope! Usually happens to these types who do this or this.

How long is the recovery? #$%&?!

What is next? Returned home from HSS on 11/30 after a successful surgery performed by Drs. Answorth Allen & Duretti Fufa. Thanks to this superstar for getting me in with the best! Now lots of this, this and this!!

Stay tuned here for more (serious?) updates on my recovery!! xo Sarah

 

On to 2016!

This past year was one for the record books in good ways and bad. I don’t feel like this or this, but a quick reflection is in order before moving ON TO 2016!!

2015 By the Numbers:
Miles: 3,565
Days Injured: 77
PRs: 1
Athlete PRs: Marisa Cummings (4) John Cummings (3)
DNFs: 1
Races: 10
Wins: 3

The numbers don’t tell the story, but with the events of the year leaving me with much to (still) digest and process, I will have to leave it there for now. That being said, Athlete PRs deserves more explaining and celebrating! For the past couple of years I’ve had the honor of coaching my Dad and Sister. The experiences I’ve been afforded along my coaching journey have been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. I am so humbled and grateful for the opportunity to coach two amazingly talented runners. This past year I was presented with a challenge: coach while injured. By my own assessment, I failed. I can only hope I learned. One extraordinary and unforeseen silver lining was the opportunity to run workouts and races with Dad (Marine Corps Marathon) and Marisa (Hartford Half Marathon) during my return to running. These cherished moments and memories wouldn’t have occurred had I remained healthy through the summer.

ON TO 2016:
I am so lucky to have the continued support of my family, Coach Terry Shea + Team TBone, The New York Athletic ClubNuunUrban Wellness Clinic, and AthleteBiz  in 2016. Thank you!

After three great years as a member of the Brooks I.D. program, I’ve accepted an awesome opportunity to run for Skechers Performance in 2016! I’ve quickly become quite attached to these and these. I will also have CEP Compression joining me on my running journey in 2016. Can’t wait for what is ahead!

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A favorite shot from 2015: PanAm Games celebration!

 

Where I’ve Been!

Six months since my last blog post and six months since my last vacation… This is not the start of a new trend, I promise! Here is a quick recap of the highs and lows since February:

ONE Team USA Jersey!  

SIX Races: US Marathon Championships (9th; 2:42:20), NYRR Run as One (1st, 22:12), NYRR Brooklyn Half-Marathon (2nd, 1:15:33), Spring Lake Five (1st, 27:44), NYRR Healthy Kidney 10k (6th, 35:14), Pan American Games Marathon (DNF @ 18mi, Tibia Fracture)

EIGHT 100+ mile weeks

ONE Award: New York Road Runner (NYRR) 2014 Runner of the Year

THREE Injuries: Tibia Fracture (L), Acute Compartment Syndrome (L), Foot Drop (L)

TWO (New) Gym Memberships and 94 hours on the elliptical

ONE ElliptiGO! Thanks Jeff Caron!

ONE Awesome Watch Discovery-

I train with a GPS watch but race with an analog, deferring to course mile markers to take my own splits. My high school-era analog watch, neglected and almost ten years old, was in dire need of an upgrade.  Enter the Soleus Chicked! My new gadget made its debut at the Pan Am Games Marathon and almost helped me forget how scared I was to race (on a broken tibia) after not running for the preceding five weeks!! The display on the Soleus Chicked is awesome and the split recall is super user-friendly. The old watch has officially been retired. Can’t wait to get back racing with the Chicked!

ONE Hydration Success Story-

Half of the Pan Am Games Marathon field dropped out due to heat and humidity-related effects. Not entirely surprising with race morning temperatures in the 70s, humidity of 90% and an exposed loop course.  Thanks to my experience running in 80+ degree heat at the US Marathon Championships in Los Angeles and the Nuun Plus in my bottles, the heat was the least of my worries! The Pan Am Games Marathon was my first experience with Nuun Plus. Unfortunately a DNF reads next to my name.  Had I been in good health, I think I would have been in a position to capitalize on the tough weather conditions thanks to Nuun Plus! I will definitely be using it during my next marathon.

24,000 Airline Miles: TWO countries (Chile, Canada) & THREE states (Florida, New Jersey, California)

And last but not least…

ONE incredible vacation with my best bud!!

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Here’s where I’ve been. Don’t know where I’m going…. Next update when I do!