Earth Day!

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IT’S EARTH DAY!   I celebrate Mother Earth every day, but today is her special day.    You can celebrate it by going for a run and then doing some gardening!  (Please don’t wear your running shoes while working in the garden.)

I, myself, overdid it with the gardening this weekend and apparently set my recuperation back a little.  I was just at the therapist’s office, and I had to confess to her all that I did in the garden this weekend.  Obviously, toting bags of shredded leaves and spreading them throughout the gardens for about five hours is not good for the hip and leg.   The pain in my hip came back full force.  So we just spent the session stretching and talking about what I shouldn’t be doing in the next few days.

That is where I am with the nonrunning.    I’m still walking a mile every morning.  That seems to be going well, although I am getting bored with it.    It is bright by 6 a.m. here, and it’s hard to resist the urge to go out for a long run, but it will only make matters worse, so I just walk.     And really that’s all I can say about it.  It’s driving me crazy to see other people running.  I watched what I could of the Boston Marathon on line.  It was wonderful to see those amazing runners logging such great times.

In the garden this week more and more plants are coming up.   The meadow plants are coming in nicely.   I have thousands of tiny little seedlings sprouting in the meadow and the walkway through it.  I’m anxious to see what plant decided to drop all those seeds.   There’s going to have to be some serious thinning going on, once I can see what plant they came from.

Sunday, as I mentioned, I did spend a lot of time in the gardens spreading the shredded leaves from last autumn as mulch.   It looks so pretty out there right now.   We had rain that night, so everything is pretty much staying in place.   I took pictures of where I need to get more daffodils in next fall.   It’s nice to have bulbs out there, so I have flowers to cut and bring in the house for the springtime.   The hostas are starting to emerge in the hosta bed, and I plan to add more of them this year.   There’s so many different hostas to choose from now, whether it’s the minis, the variegated, and, my personal favorite, the giants.   The colors and leaf forms have come such a long way from the old-fashioned hostas you would see in your grandmother’s garden.

 Finally, some words of wisdom:

When we recognise the virtues, the talent, the beauty of Mother Earth, something is born in us, some kind of connection, love is born.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Happy Running and Gardening!

Jane

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She’s pulling my leg

Well, I’m still in physical therapy.    The area of the pain and muscle problems is getting smaller and smaller.  It is now centralized to my inner thigh.   So what, you ask, is the therapist doing for me.    Well, along with the aspirin and ultrasound modalities and some easy exercises, she’s pulling my leg.  That’s right.  She’s grabbing hold of my shin and calf and stretching my leg out.   You may think how can this help, but I can feel it getting better the more she does it.   She’ll take a break from pulling and move my leg up and towards my body by bending my knee.   I am getting more and more range of motion from it and less pain.

My hip is feeling just about 100 percent better.  As I progressed with the therapy, the pain just kept moving inward and now it’s at the point it’s at now.   I feel a sharp pain if I turn my leg or foot the wrong way with too much pressure on it.  I think I’m getting closer and closer to the end of not running.  YAY!!  I am going out for one mile walks, which I’ll continue to do this week.   I hope to progress  to two miles next week.   In the weeks after that, I hope to incorporate some running too, until I can get back to running full-time.

The therapists did convince me that I should not run Covered Bridges Half Marathon.   I am going to take their advice and eat that entry fee.   Although I really wanted to run it again, I know I will get back there one day and run that lovely course again.   I would rather get better now than run that race and have problems for the next 20 years.    And that is where my running game is at.

The gardening situation is much better than my running.  It is finally warming up here in the northeast, so I’m doing some clean up chores in the garden.   We cleaned up the last of last fall’s leaves out of the yard and along the fence.  It was a nice warm day, although a little breezy, but we got it done.    Now it’s time to get all those leaves I mulched from last year on the gardens.

The mound before mulch.

The mound before mulch.

The mound with the leaf mulch.  Isn't that pretty??

The mound with the leaf mulch. Isn’t that pretty??

The mound was looking very dry.  I may have to rethink some of the plantings here, especially the coneflowers, which are situated at the top of the mound right below the Maryland dwarf holly.   Although you can’t see them now, they are there.  I saw the very beginnings of them pushing through while I was putting the mulch down.   I’m going to give them one more year to improve.  If they don’t thrive this year, I will find something that can take that dry area.

Speaking of mulch, I know you’ve heard me say it before, but please don’t use that bark mulch on your gardens.   It sucks up all the nitrogen out of the ground while it’s trying to break down, leaving your plants with nothing to eat.   Better to use shredded leaves or I even go to our local compost facility and get compost and use it as mulch.  It works.  Besides, do you really want that dark stuff all over your gardens?  Don’t the leaves look much prettier?   I think so.

That mulch can come from mulched up wood from the housing industry.  In fact, that’s where it first started coming from.   When the housing boom started, they were using the leftover odd lumber pieces and grinding them up and putting it on all the landscaping in the housing developments.  Imagine!  Worse, it can harbor shotgun mold, which will shoot tiny, black spores onto your siding and cars and anything else that’s in its path.  It has gotten to the point where insurance companies will no longer pay for the removal of damaged siding on homes from that icky stuff.    YUCK!

Finally this week, I’ll leave you with some native bee stuff.  I’ve already seen some ground nesting bees – NOT YELLOW JACKETS — in the yard.  These are native bees.  They go about their way without being aggressive.   The queens are going underground to make their nests.  Please leave them alone.   They are harmless, and we need them.   There are also some cavity nesting native bees.   I made some nests for them from the stalks of my Joe Pye weed.   One of the varieties that I have is Little Joe.   Don’t be misled by the name.  It gets to be about seven feet tall.  I merely cut some stalks into smaller pieces and bundled them together.    I attached the shelters to my fence with some leftover twine that I had.  Nothing fancy, but I’m going to see if I get any takers.

The queens will lay multiple eggs inside one tube.

The queens will lay multiple eggs inside one tube.

Nothing fancy here.

Nothing fancy here.

Plants are starting to emerge, and the meadow is growing.   Except for the rabbit damage to the smaller shrubs, it looks like it’s going to be a great spring.   And before we know it, the flowers will be appearing and so will all the bees and butterflies.

Happy running and gardening!

Jane

Lesson Learned

The biggest lesson I learned from not running while I heal has been that I’m a runner.  It’s taken me eight years to really believe it.   Every day that I can’t run, it bothers me more.   I love the feeling of going out in the cool spring mornings, with the moon still visible and the birds that have returned for the year singing like they’re trying out for The Voice.   I love when I’m out running and seeing people in their cars, going to their jobs, while I’m enjoying a good workout.  I’m thankful to be able to get my early morning runs in.   Those runs help me get a good start to my days.  I love the feeling of getting back to my home after a run.   When I get there, I do my stretches out by the garden, followed by three sun salutations, being thankful for the day that’s about to begin.   I love that that feeling carries over when I come back in the house for breakfast, and then I make good choices for something to eat.   Whether I have a good run or a mediocre run, I still remember that I was out there, and I can carry that with me through the whole day.

Today I went out for a short quarter-mile walk.  It was wonderful!  It was only the second time I’ve been out purposely to walk.  I haven’t been released from the PT to run yet, but I tried to run just a few steps on my short time out there.   It didn’t feel bad until my last few running steps, so I stopped.  It’s only eight weeks to my first race of the year, and I don’t want to have any setbacks on my road to recovery.

I have another PT session tomorrow.   These sessions have mostly consisted of stretching exercises.  This Monday I really had a breakthrough with a new stretch she showed me.   I feel like my right quad is finally starting to feel less tension in it.  My hip is extremely better.  That’s the reason I finally went out again today.  I want to try, but I don’t want to overdo anything.    My regular therapist will be off tomorrow, so I’ll see a different one.  It will be interesting to see if he has anything more that he can show me.  I do love my current therapist, but I think it’s good to get a fresh perspective, too.  Besides, I hear he’s a runner and a cyclist, so I’m interested to meet him and get his view.

In the garden this week,  still not a lot going on out there.    Daffodils are showing themselves more.   I put some pansies in pots and the window boxes.   When I attended the last lecture at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, the speaker from the Xerces Society encouraged us not to disturb the leaves left over in the garden from last year until we started seeing insects flying in the air.  The reason for this was that the native bees that nest underground will still be hibernating under the leaves until it gets warm enough to get out and fly.   So those piles of leaves will stay there yet.   It looks messy, but that’s okay.   We need the bees more than we need to clean up!

Happy running and gardening!

Jane

Less on the Run, More in the Garden, II

Well, I’m still not running.    I’ve had about four sessions of PT.   I only worked on the machines and exercises for two sessions.   The other two sessions I had ultrasound and Iontophoresis therapy, which both helped a lot.  I feel like most of the pain is moving from my TFL and onto the front of my quad.

A little story — Before I started running, I never had one problem with my feet.    I would go barefoot everywhere.  I hated to wear shoes.   I would have a lineup of shoes by the doors, b/c as soon as I would come in the house, I would take off my shoes and go barefoot.   When I started running, I developed plantar fasciitis.   It was so weird!   I swear it was wearing traditional running shoes, with the padded heel that was throwing my natural gait off.   I knew I needed to wear something else for running, but wasn’t sure if I should go barefoot or minimalist.   I was wearing Brooks Ghosts at the time.  I suffered through trying to make my situation better, because I was still a liitle afraid to go the really minimalist route.  Luckily, Brooks came up with the Pure line.   Since wearing these, I’ve not had one problem.

Which leads to this little story – Tonight I went to my favorite running store’s grand opening of their second location.   I was due for a new pair of shoes, so I decided to think positive and buy them now, knowing I would need them.   Guess what?  I don’t see a Brooks Pure shoe in the place!!    I see all kinds of shoes, even Hokas that have that huge sole on them!   So I ask for my shoes.   Oh, sorry, we’re not carrying them.  We can order them, but we’re not carrying them in the store anymore, because we’re starting to get away from the minimalist shoes.   Well, I did place my order, because I do feel you should patronize your local running store, but, hey, if you’re going to carry those shoes with the huge soles then carry my style that really aren’t all that minimalist.   Right?     Note  – if you wear Hokas, good for you.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, I just know I would fall right off of them!

These are my faves!
These are my faves! 

In the garden this week, of course, there’s still not much going on.    The daffodils are starting to push out of the ground.   I filled one of the birdbaths for the incoming robins.  They’re always the first to line up for a good rinsing off.   They sometimes line up on the fence to wait their turn in the bowl.   I swear I can see little flip-flops on their feet and a towel slung over their wings!

Last year's leaves become this year's mulch!

Last year’s leaves become this year’s mulch!

My 10+ bags of leaves from our trees made it through the winter.   I’ll be using the leaves as mulch for the garden.  It is so much better than that ugly mulch you see everywhere on people’s plantings.  In the fall, I vacuum and shred the leaves and bag them up for the coming year.  It is so pretty to open up the bags and put the fall colored leaves on the spring gardens.   Plus, as the leaves decompose even more, it’s great for the worms in the soil.   And we all know that if you want healthy soil, you want worms in it!

Happy running and gardening!

Jane

Less on the Run, More on the Garden

Well, as you may know, this is week two of being forced into not running.  I was at PT today, and although I have improved a little bit, I’m still not allowed to run.   I was told if I wanted to walk, to only walk a quarter of a mile.   CRAZY!!  I am to continue my stretching exercises and return next week for two visits.  Hopefully by then I’ll be working on doing more exercises on their machines.

I’m so frustrated, I really can’t talk much more about it, so I’m going to talk about my garden instead!

On a side note, I was at a beautiful resort this weekend with my sisters in New York.  It was called Mohonk Mountain Resort.  What an amazing resort and spa.   It was situated near the Catskills.   We ate and drank, enjoyed the spa, outdoor mineral springs, indoor pool, and solved the mystery that took place during their Murder Mystery Weekend.    They offered all kinds of activities, including show shoeing, ice skating, and cross-country skiing.   Needless to say, I couldn’t do any of the fun stuff, but one of my little sisters pushed me around the ice rink on a chair made especially for people like me – injured!   Check out their website – www.mohonk.com

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Ellen pushing the injured Jane.  SHE got a great workout!

On to what’s happening out in the garden!   Without jinxing anything, we got probably our last major snowfall last week.  Things are melting rapidly.   A lot of birds have come back into the garden and are gobbling up any leftover seed heads left on the remnants of the meadow flowers.  I’ve cleaned out all the bird boxes and await the arrival of the male wrens, so they can begin making their twig-filled nests and call in their mates.

The snowdrops are peeking out of the snow.

The snowdrops are peeking out of the snow.

The native honeysuckle is already breaking its dormancy!

The native honeysuckle is already breaking its dormancy!

I know I’ve spoken many times about those horrible, furry, little rabbits that infest my yard!   I tried to do what I could to protect my younger plantings from them over the winter, but their destruction is now evident.   You can see in the photos the sharp, angled cuts that their teeth make as they’re destroying the tender shrubs.

I caged this alinfolia, but the height of the snow allowed the little rascals to destroy it!

I caged this clethra alnifolia, but the height of the snow allowed the little rascals to destroy it!

An Ilex that the rabbits decided to eat the middle out of.

An Ilex that the rabbits decided to eat the middle out of.

I had planted some smaller Ilex at one end of the garden.   This one they just took out the middle of.   The real problem is they will just chew and leave the stems lying on the ground.  They don’t even like the taste of the ilex!

We’re supposed to have a lot of rain this weekend, so that should bring up some more perennials out of the ground.   I love this time of year, because every day I will go out and walk in my gardens to see what else is coming up.   I know it’s still early and I’m eager to get my hands in the soil, but it’s way too soon.  So everyday I walk out there and think about how lovely things were last year in the garden and what I plan to do this year.   It’s a great time to be a gardener!

Happy running and gardening!

Jane

I should have just run!

Just about every morning this winter, my rhododendron has been totally closed up.   This can only mean one thing – IT’S FREEZING OUTSIDE!   So the weenie runner in me told me, don’t go out and run, work out in the basement!   And I did tell you that I was working out to videos and doing some runs, but not a lot.

My rhododendron has been looking like this most of the winter.

My rhododendron has been looking like this most of the winter.

So after I got bored doing the videos, I decided I would do my deck of cards as exercises.  I put my guide on the wall, and as I turned over cards that would equate to what exercise I would do and how many of each, which equals out to about 85 of each move per session.  Now, even though I haven’t done jumping jacks in a while, I went at it with full force.   Guess what happened?   I hurt myself.

I know only three burpees for an ace.   They're hard!

I know, only three burpees for an ace. They’re hard!

The pain in my groin was excruciating!  I could barely lift my leg.   When I tried to get up from sitting down I was in pain.  I called the doc, got some x-rays, which turned out negative, and then I was sent to the PT.    The verdict – I have to stretch out my tensor fascia lata, three times a day.   And, there will be no running until the PT okays it.

Stretch it out!

Stretch it out!

If I had just put on my big runner panties and got out and did my regular runs, I would not be in the predicament I find myself in!    I have a half-marathon in June in Vermont.  I wanted to really have a good run.  So I’m going to be a good patient and do all I can now to fix my problem, so that I can start my training for June.   I ran this race last year, and I would like to redeem myself from my three-hour finish. (My worst ever!)  I was stuck in the back of the pack playing my head games with myself.

I knew, before this injury, that I would be coming into it stronger this year.  I’m going to keep my head in the right place and get this injury fixed and start training.   Until then, I’ll work on what I can to get ready for the race.

In the garden this week,  it’s a rabbit buffet!  They’re eating my blueberry bushes, my newly planted shrubs from last year, and even the ilex that they never touched before!!   Although I put fencing and chicken wire up, some of it was not high enough to prevent them from reaching over once all the snow fell.   So every time it snows, I need to go out and shovel out around the base of any shrubs that they’re eating, so they can’t reach up any higher.

I cannot wait for the snow to end!!

Happy running (or rehabbing) and gardening!

Don’t Quit

When I finally decided that I wanted to write a blog, I knew that it was going to be a place where I could put my feelings to words.   I also knew that I wanted to write about things that mattered to me.   I could tell you this week how much I ran or worked out, and I can tell you what the garden looks like in winter or what I learned in the latest lecture I attended at the wildflower preserve.   But this week is a little different.

I went to visit my cousin this week in the hospital who has been diagnosed with amyloidosis.   I don’t pretend to be an expert in anything, so feel free to google what it is.   Suffice it to say, that it is not a good thing.  She’s been struggling with this for months and is in a very depleted, weakened condition.   My heart is very sad.  She is a sweet woman who always had a kind word and a warm smile for everyone.   I want her to not give up the fight, but it’s been very hard for her and her family as well.

Before we left, I went over to give her hugs and kisses and tell her that I loved her and I whispered to her:  Don’t quit.

All I ask this week is that you don’t quit.  Whatever it is that you’re fighting for or against, just don’t give up.  You can do this.