Monthly Archives: December 2016

Back on the Slopes

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I have been following in my father’s ski tracks my entire life. Not much has changed. My father put me on skies when I was three years-old; then I spent winter mornings in ski school until I was able to ski blue runs fluently.

So many ski trips are burned into my memory. Packing up before dawn and heading out toward the mountains. A pack of licorice and the ski cassette tape of classic rock, so used that it began to unravel. Aching ankles, sore legs, and full body chills into the nap on the way home.

I haven’t skied in YEARS. The last time I attempted to ski, I never even saw the slopes. I was pregnant with my (now two year-old) son and had debilitating morning sickness. I puked the entire drive up to the resort, on the side of the road in heavy Denver traffic. Then I spent the day vomiting in the lodge. The entire day. I passed out on the table then stumbled into the bathroom to lose the sips of water I had taken. The sickness, puking, and cramps were so serious that I was honestly concerned I was going to lose my baby.

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This time, I brought my five year-old daughter for her first time skiing, and, just like my father before me, I deposited her in ski school in the morning. Establishing and continuing family traditions.

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The day did not start out well for me. After my daughter was all squared away and I launched off with my father and sister, I found my ski boots very uncomfortable. I had them before my two children and apparently my feet changed substantially in that time. When I wrestled all the bindings closed, they pressed on my ankle in some way that was just excruciating. My toes went numb; it felt like the side of my foot was tearing.

I tried to power through. I told myself to breathe through it. I told myself it would loosen with time. I popped a couple bindings. Yet, on the lift, I had to counsel myself out of how much it hurt.

On the first run down, I found skiing to be very difficult, harder than I really remembered. I wobbled. I was slow and cautious. It was just unpleasant. I did not feel like myself at all. I thought perhaps it had been too long and I had forgotten my technique over the years. By the bottom, I decided to just go rent new boots.

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New boots were like a whole new world. Without the pain, everything became easy again; muscle memory returned. My mind even cleared and returned. After months of dealing with the constant hamstring pain, I simply could not process additional pain signals; I could not deal. Yet without the pain, skiing was awesome again! Even with my gimpy hamstring, I blazed down after my family, carving around moguls and bouncing over powder.

I forgot how good it felt to whip down a mountain, to hear the snow compacting under me, to feel the flakes in the winter air on my face. I felt that familiar euphoria and remember why I loved it so much.

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We laid down some good runs in the morning. The Loveland win bit hard on the high lifts, but otherwise, we rode the mountain under clear skies and high sun. The hamstring only balked when carving through ice or deep powder and only when turning left when I really had to lean down into that left leg.

We took lunch and then back to the slopes. Somewhere in the afternoon, we accidentally ended up on a black run. Black runs are not out of any of our ability; however, with my father’s spinal stenosis and disk cyst and my 5 months injured hamstring, it was not in our plan for the day (I wonder where I get my tendency to ignore pain and do whatever I want in spite of my body). We all survived, but the run pretty much winded down our day.

We migrated from the Basin back to the Valley to have some drinks waiting for my daughter to be done with ski school. I was curious to see how she did, but she loved it and did fantastic.

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We took her on one final run to end the day. She did so well. I was impressed at her ability after one short day and amazingly proud of her. For a child who often whines and attempts to get people to do things for her, she was calm and determined and brave, even after 5 hours of ski school. She wanted to keep going; she outlasted the adults.

In the end, it was a great day. Plenty of exercise that reminded me of why I love the sport and another opportunity to introduce my daughter to an activity I enjoy. It will definitely not be years before I return to the slopes.

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Jingle Bell 5K

It is that time of year again: the time to freeze our bells off running a 5K in the variable Colorado winter weather.

On the morning of the Jingle Bell 5K, I woke up feeling rather awful. My head was splitting; my stomach wound in agitated knots. I felt hungover without the benefit of getting drunk the night before. I also dressed for a balmy 40-50 degree run and was instead greeted by a penetrating frosty bite on the air.

In short, I was simply not feeling it.

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My daughter and I began with a visit to Santa, where I asked for a healed hamstring for Christmas. Then the kids’ race was first. My daughter again asked to run without me, which left me feeling some combination of proud and a little hurt. I know she ultimately does not want me to run with her because I push her, don’t let her stop, don’t indulge her crying. Maybe I’m too hard on a 5 year-old.

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But she does great without me. Without me, she ran the full distance at a good pace. Maybe I bring out the whiner in her.

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After the kids were whisked away to the warmth by grandparents, Trisha and I settled in to run our race. We decided to just stick together and just run. No striving, no PRs, just running.

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And we just ran. We chatted about nothing. We watched a fight ensue over headphones versus stroller running (like really? Merry Christmas, guys). I didn’t think about pace or if my muscles were burning or if I could breathe right or if I was keeping up with other runners. I didn’t think.

I floated the majority of the first half. Just floated right along, which is extremely strange for me in the opening mile. A little exertion warmed me right up, and I was shedding layers in no time. My hamstring had ached in the morning yet felt better on the run. It would balk from time to time, twinge at a certain stride, yet overall, it hurt less to be running.

We ended up laying down a great race. At the Great Pumpkin 5K (October), I ran a 37 minute 5K. At the Turkey Trot 5K (November), I ran a 35 minute 5K. At this Jingle Bell 5K, we did a 34 minute 5K. So, even though my injury persists and my running regiment has gone to hell, my pace is steadily improving. Perhaps thanks to all the cross training. Whatever it is, I will take it!

(Also, turns out the Great Pumpkin was also my 50th race; that happened when I wasn’t paying attention.)

I was extremely pleased with the run overall. Our time turned out awesome, but it did not even really matter. It was running with a friend for the sake of running, and the simplicity was so enjoyable after so many months of over critiquing myself.

It felt free.

 

**Hamstring update**

I finally folded and went to the doctor for my hamstring. These near five months later. The pain had escalated to the point that it hurt to sleep, hurt to sit in a chair, hurt to stand up completely straight. That constant pain started to affect my mood and irritability levels, which in turn got taken out on my family, so steps needed to be taken.

In all honesty, I went to the doctor just hoping for some Vicoden or any other pain killer that would make it stop just for a little while. Just one night of being able to roll over without whimpering. Just one day of not cringing and hobbling around. The doctor, not too surprisingly, decided on a different course of treatment.

Rather than pain killer to mask the discomfort, he gave me anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the inflammation and hopefully promote healing. The first couple days, it felt like a cure. My leg felt completely like mine again. My flexibility returned. My body felt normal. I could have vibrated out of my skin with relief and excitement. It took every ounce of my considerably weak self-control to not overdo it and leap directly back into full force exercise. I wanted to run a marathon and climb a mountain.

Yet, as the dosage of the medication weaned off the nine day burst, the pain returned. First, it was just twinges again, just the wrong movement or wrong angle. Now, completely off the pills, the leg is slowly creeping back to where we began. It is still better. My flexibility remains vastly improved, but it is worsening by the day.

My ultimate gauge, the line I had in my mind to mark where I was, had been if I had the painful hitch when I stood all the way up. Until today, I was short of that. Today, it started to hint. That stab in my buttcheek as I step out of the car, that hiccup in the fluidity of standing.

I hope I’m not regressing fully. It was so nice to taste recovery. If nothing else, it gave me a little hope, reminded me of what it will be like when it doesn’t hurt every day.

I am scheduled for an MRI next week, so we will know more then. Though my money is on, “hey it’s torn or whatever, just let it heal and do some physical therapy. Oh and pay us $1,000 for the MRI.”

Either way, I can run, and my fitness feels on point lately, so it’s good enough for me. I have found a way to make myself sane around the injury, and at some point, it has to get better.

 

Christina Bergling

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Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

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Annual Turkey Trot (Year 4)

I have now entered my near fourth month with the hamstring injury. Overall, it has improved, yet day to day, I move forward one step then back two to six. The pain moves, migrates. It has traveled over the length of my hamstring, lingered in the attachments on the side of my knee and deep in my buttcheek. It has even crept up into my sciatic nerve. Once I adjust to the new manifestation, it mutates again. More or less, I am just in constant discomfort.

Yet, beneath the constant, nagging pain, it is slowly improving. My flexibility on that side is returning, working to match the healthy side. It feels better when I’m active. Actually, it feels better during and after activity than it does any other time. The absolute worst is while I am laying down and sleeping. Turning over is an instant of sheer agony.

After working with my chiropractor and personal trainer over these months to rehab the injury, I finally folded and went to the doctor. The doctor seemed rather impressed with the severity and persistence of the injury. He sighted so many points of inflammation and compensation. I wanted pain killers, something to just ease the pain as I healed, especially while I slept, yet I walked out with anti-inflammatory medication and an order for an MRI. Physical therapy is coming. I guess I will take it. I’ll try anything at this point. The resting pain is getting brutal.

But, like I said, activity is getting better. Which includes running! After months of skipping my own runs and focusing only on training Michelle at run club, I decided at the Turkey Trot, I would try to actually run for real. I did so at The Great Pumpkin Run, but that was the only other time, and that was rough.

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So I went for it. I ran like I had no injury, and strangely, I felt like I had no injury. I also felt like I had not run for months and my cardio was absolute shit, especially in the blasting icy wind. But I didn’t have hamstring pain during the run!

This Turkey Trot is always a challenge. The opening mile is painful, rolling incline. By the time I finally reach the returning decline, I am usually sputtering and roasting to death in my own exertion. This year was no different than the previous, only with the inclusion of my lack of training and the wind blaring off the prairie.

I went back to basics. I just kept pushing. I just kept running. I forced myself not to obsess over my pace or gauge myself against the surrounding runners. I made my focus the lack of pain in my hamstring and not stopping. I didn’t stop. I just ran, sloppily wogging at best at points. I scarcely found a float at any point, and I dry heaved with vigor at the end, but it was worth it to feel something like myself again.

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I even pulled a pretty average time for me. Happy Thanksgiving to me!

I’m hoping it is a step back into running. A cautious, slow step. An attempt at moderation and compromise with my body. Because my mind is not taking this no running business. The insanity is flaring up on all sides and screaming for the outlet. Just not at the price of the flesh. I think I will always tear myself apart, even trying to be healthy, even fumbling for balance.

In addition to my own 5K, my daughter participated in the 1K kids’ run.

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And she ran the whole thing. All by herself with her friends. She was so excited and proud of herself. And so was I.

It was a good run morning. My favorite way to start the holiday. I crashed when we returned home, of course. My sinus infection flared up; my hamstring tightened. I just drank mimosas until I didn’t feel feelings, and it turned into a good day.

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling

SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com