Monday, March 02, 2015

Surgery! It has been a LONG time coming!

I can't wait until I get to do this again!
Funny. A few weeks ago I realized that I hadn't blogged an update since August and I was shocked! Over half a year ago!! Seriously!!!  Lots of wonderful and amazing things have happened in half a year yet I seem to have gotten stuck on just one issue....my foot and this damn achilles tendon issue that I've been dealing with for one too many years now.

So to back up a bit....... the tendon problem has hung over my head since 2009.  Well actually, that was the year when I did the initial trigger for what would lead me to where I'm at now. That year I ran the Rock and Ice Ultra up in Canada's North. Motivated by a $10K diamond to win but loosing by a mere 20mins after the 6 day stage race, I should have stopped and took care of the partial tear that I felt in my achilles on day #1 of the event. However, I raced through and then raced more through 2010 and 2011, never fully stopping and letting the injury heal. I'd run and bike, race and race some more, ice, more ice, more therapy....a cyclical pattern that I called "management."  With opportunities to keep racing year round springing up, how could I miss out?  So I'd go and race and adventure....always in some kind of pain. I'd podium or meet my goal (to some degree) but I knew, I still wasn't running to my potential. 2012 though was the tipping point. I had full adrenal fatigue and a super sore achilles. The bump on the back of my heel was getting larger (calcification) as my body was pulling out all its tricks to stop the tendon from actually rupturing.  I raced Leadville that Summer and had one of the worst 100milers of my career. I was bloated from destroyed adrenals, in pain, limping and hating running.  What I actually enjoyed the most about that time period was living in Colorado and playing in the mountains. I fell in love with the 14-ers and so the experience of playing over shadowed the disappointing 6th place race finish.  I was such a mess after Leadville though I put the breaks on and healed, somehow managing to revive my adrenals.  Quick healing oddly enough led to pregnancy in late December 2012.  What I should have done for those next 9 months was full rest I suppose but instead, I had a super active, healthy and amazing pregnancy, it was hard to sit still.  I returned to running 6 weeks after giving birth (C section) in late 2013 and raced 4 months later at a 50miler in Argentina, early in 2014.  Total pain but it just felt SO good to be back out there.  So 2014 came and went, racing a bit, some epics, some running and biking and doing pretty good when I toed start lines. Always in pain however, my "management" strategy no longer worked. I knew I had to stop.  So in September of this past year, I went down to Tahoe for 3 weeks to pace a friend at the Tahoe 200miler.  I got to play in the region for 2 weeks and then run a good 100km of the course. SO MUCH FUN.  But I had promised myself that when we returned home, I would take the rest of the year off and not run until I was better.

So....committed to that plan and after months and months of waiting, my day arrived to see various specialists including those at the UBC Sports Med Clinic. I was pretty much told I had bursitis. Simple. Stop running and it will heal.  So I started to pull everything active from my life. I was down to swimming and water running. For 3 months this is all I did, for once I surrendered. However, at Christmas time I did a little 15min test to see where I was and KABOOM - no improvement, still at square 1.  UGGGGGG!!!!! Seriously!!!!!!

1hr Post Surgery
So many wasted months with no progression. Finally, the appointment to see another specialist arrived at the FAST clinic at St. Pauls Hospital.  An easy x-ray revealed it all. Massive bone growth named Haglunds Deformity. No amount of rest was going to heal the bursa at the achilles attachment site. The bone had to be shaved away.  The tendon would always be impacted and the bursa inflamed until the bone was removed.  I actually felt relief to just know and see what the real issue was.  The bad news however was that I'd be waiting a year for the MRI followed by another 2 years to get the surgery!!! WHAT??!!  Nope.  My life has been on hold for so many years now, this process needed to be expedited. So I bit the bullet and went the private route, paying for the MRI, the surgeon appointments and then of course, last week, the big surgery!

To sum up my life, I only wish that this surgery had happened about 3 years ago, the year of Leadville.  I could have rested and healed during pregnancy and then been back to pain free running and sport last year.  However, I can't dwell on the past and I have to deal with the present. The surgery has now happened and I just have to focus on getting myself back to 100%.

I'm so motivated to get better that I actually scare myself when I think about it!  I have big plans for 2015 that can only be executed as a healthy Jen.  New sponsors this year and a new team behind me, I want to do well for them, I want to do well for myself.  I'm forever grateful for my therapists here in Squamish who didn't give up on me and kept treating me every single week to keep the tendon healthy. In fact, I fully believe that it's because of them that the tendon didn't actually rupture. Regular massage with Britt and Di at Garibaldi Active Wellness combined with the healing hands of Laura Miller kept me in one piece.  Amber Kirk's chiro at SkyHigh Lifestyles brought my body to a new level of movement, moving joints and bones that had been stuck for who knows how long. These ladies as a team allowed me to keep adventure in my life!!! Thankyou!!!!!      

So in a nutshell, that is my story of the surgery and the path that I have been on.  I don't let my athletes push through injuries, we address things right away.  My achilles has been chronic for so long though, it was just like it had been ingrained in my DNA to run and tolerate it. Not again though, never again. Im taking this recovery road seriously, not only did I just pay a lot of money for the surgery, I don't want to rupture the achilles and be out for a year. The surgeon feels very optimistic about what he was able to do inside my foot so Im anxious to see if in 2 weeks I will be allowed to hit the bike and the pool.  Fingers crossed.

Check out all the recipes listed at www.manitobaharvesthemp.com 

I'm struggling with my own set of challenges daily as I adjust to single leg movement.  My crutches are a total pain, I prefer to hop about. Lifting Kiel is hard and I can't carry him around (although he running about like crazy too and I can't catch him.)  Simple tasks just take longer. However....things could be a lot worse and I know this is all temporary.  So head up right! I'm being creative in the kitchen, trying out all kinds of new smoothies and recipes to reduce inflammation and promote healing.  I'm having fun cruising through the Manitoba Harvest Hemp recipe page looking at tasty new treats to create. I 100% believe that diet is everything in this healing process and will rely on food to be my medicine.  Norm and I are so grateful for our friends here in Squamish who are helping in so many ways to make life easier and pull us through this bump in the road.  Im catching up on work and putting lots of energy into our newly formed Run Squamish race series as events are quickly around the corner. My incredible team of coaches at CBC are leading the charge and doing a great job in my absence.

I'll be back on my feet in no time.  I'll be posting about my road to recovery here more frequently...the good and the bad!  Im also posting my kitchen recipe experiments on
Instagram: JenSegger.  Look forward to connecting with you there!

Adventure Onwards!!!!
Time with little man eases the surgery pain!


Thursday, August 07, 2014

It's only sort of about the bike!

Finally some breathing room. The pace of life has slowed down and for that I'm very grateful.  One of my good friends told me that she was taking the Summer off to spend with her kids and that really resignated with me.  I'm realizing that Kiel is growing up much faster then I ever expected and that I can't get these years with him back. As such, I made a conscious decision to only just do what I needed to work wise and to start saying no to the extra's.  I turned down several magazine writing articles, have kept social media time to a minimum and have tried to de-clutter my life somewhat. Feels good. I stopped stressing on the fact that I couldn't run anymore and focused on the things that I could do to keep fit and maintain my mental edge.  This alone relieved so much pressure.

Life on the road!

In saying that though, I coached a very successful and fun running camp in July for 4 days. I had given myself permission to still run and be on trail for this and trust me, I enjoyed every single step I took out there, never taking one ounce of trail for granted. Being on the trails, especially up in the alpine, is incredibly special to me. We had a great group of runners to explore and experience our coastal BC beauty with.  The achilles wasn't too happy with me but I was pleasantly surprised regarding my fitness seeing as I hadn't run for months. My motto has been well I shouldn't run so I might as well bike and so, bike it has been.

The Lions. Day #2 Run Camp

Just for fun, I participated in the 160km Grand Fondo in Penticton mid July. This would have been my Hardrock weekend (booooo) so at least challenging myself in some capacity filled the void. Kiel's Aunty Sheena and I ventured for a great weekend of training, racing and camping to the hot Okanagan. I hadn't actually swam in Skaha Lake since my Ultraman 10km swim a few years ago. Gotta say, much nicer to float around with Kiel in it as opposed to swimming it from one end to the other.  I had a great day on the fondo course, hanging with the chase pack and riding at a nice fast pace. 75km of headwinds wasn't so much fun though and it was a hot day.  I hadn't entered with any expectations and had just planned to ride with friend and biking bad ass Barb Sweeney.  However, thinking she was in front of me, I chased her all day only to discover that she had dropped with an injury.  I ended the race with a crazy sprint that just about sent me into cardiac arrest at the finish shoot. Having not spent much time in the saddle, I was super stoked on 3rd female across the line (but finished 5th by milliseconds due to chip time.)  Is road racing for me? Not sure.

However, building upon my 4.5hr fond time, my good friend Robyn accompanied me down to Oregon this past weekend so that I could ride some sweet single track at the Cascade Cream Puff 100mile mountain bike race.  I've had this event on the radar for many years, mainly because I wanted to see what Oakridge riding was all about.  So, why not go when a race was happening right?  The course was incredibly hard, lots of climbing (18,000+ft) and super hot but had some of the most amazing single track to balance it out.  I was on my hard tail and clearly had not put enough time on it. Great for climbing as it was super light but my hands were killing on the descents due to lack of absorption.  Anyways, I had no expectations out there. Apparently I left my climbing legs back at the campsite on race morning as usually I get stronger as the race goes on but maybe due to the heat (?? hmm still not sure)  I was off my game on lap #2. I led the race for females until about 60miles and then was passed by last years winner. She was climbing well and put time in on me. I made up for it on all single track sections but just couldn't close the gap.  In the end, after 100miles of riding, I finished in 2nd, 6mins behind the winner.  I've dedicated my 2nd place to all the ladies in Squamish who I ride bikes with. It's been awesome hitting roads and trails with several woman who are phenomenal riders and who always push me to be better.

No time to be nervous! Other things take precedent over race prep.

My take away from the Cream Puff has been a few things. Firstly, I've done anything but train seriously  for bike racing so overall, I'm happy with how I have been doing. Majority of rides are chariot pulls (1-2x a day) and that does actually develop some nice leg power.  Secondly, I've been relieved to see that I still have my ability to dig deep and hang in there when things get rough or when I feel like crap. I don't ever want to loose my edge to suffer and through a few races this year I have proved to myself that it's still there post pregnancy.  Thirdly, patience to heal is something that I'm still dealing with daily and that's ok.  My last check in with physio showed good progress so I'm on the right track for the pro-lapse reversal. And lastly, I've been having just a great Summer adventuring with Kiel, riding when I can and just enjoying nature as opportunities come to me.   I'm content. I'm surrounded by great people who are supporting me to get back out there and who are a big part of Kiel's life.  It takes a community to raise a child and I have that for sure.  Thankyou friends, you know who you are.

Relaxing post race, the best part!
Lowdown on my current gear. I thought I'd share this seeing as I haven't updated on my favourite items since taking a break from the running!

Bike:  Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon HT
Glasses:  Ryders Shelled
SportsBra:  Icebreaker Sprite Racerback Bra
Shorts:  Shredly (wicked for trail play)
In My Bottle: One bottle with just H20, the 2nd with Nuun (grape)
Post Recovery:  Shaker cup of vanilla hemp milk, Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 70, Udo's Oil and 1 banana
Training Partner:  The Chariot of course!

I've also gotta give a few shout-outs to some people who are working so hard to get me better and keep me going. Di Adams, Laura Miller and Britt Jonat's amazing massages!  If I was really rich and could afford massage every single day, this is what I'd spend money on!!!!  Chiropractor Amber Kirk for the much needed adjustments when I hobble in with whiplash from falling off my bike. To all my friends who give me that little break and watch Kiel so I can go to appoints and do work when Norm is out of town.  And lastly, to all my athletes and clients in Squamish and around the globe! You inspire me daily and I thank you for that.

Adventure Onwards……and we will do the same!

Ps - are you on Instagram? Lets connect!  Find me at #JenSegger

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Our New Path

So stoked that July is here and I finally feel like the waters have calmed a bit.  May and June were out of control busy as I had the addition of 2 running events to my already jam packed plate.  I hadn't felt so stressed in a long time and it's a part of my life that I've been really trying to work on. However, thanks to all my wonderful volunteers, we pulled off yet another successful Loop the Lakes Trail Race (8km,15km and 21km) up at Alice Lake at the end of May and then just an AWESOME new sold out race, the Skyline Ridge Run presented by Manitoba Harvest Hemp 10km/19km on top of Squamish's new Sea to Sky Gondola in June.

Skyine Ridge Run Race
Sometimes I have NO idea how I even got into events and race directing.  As anyone who puts on events knows, the prep time and back end hours is insane, never mind the event day itself!  I suppose I am a detail oriented person though and I find with running races, its a great way for me to give back to the running community that has given me so much over the last 10+ years. I tell ya, I never show up at a race anymore without thinking about how much hard work went on behind the scenes prior to everyone showing up at the start line.  The Skyline Ridge Run was a unique challenge to take on as there was no template behind its organization. It was fun though to create something totally new for runners to enjoy. The trails up on top of the Sea to Sky Gondola are incredible and I highly urge everyone to get out and explore them this Summer.  Stay tuned for our 2015 plans!

On the racing front, I've had to face the hard reality of where my body is at these days. I returned from pregnancy with a settled achilles tendon but I knew it was far from perfect. I decided (against better judgement) to return to 2 early season races - La Mision 50miler in Patagonia and the Zion 100km.  Despite winning both of them, my performance at Zion really upset me. I was in so much pain from start to finish that it was hard to enjoy the scenery and trails that I had fallen in love with over the past few years.   I didn't feel like a runner, my stride was off and technique ugly. More recently I've been seeing physio for a post partum set back, finding out that I'm at risk for a prolapse if I don't take care of re-strengthening my pelvic floor correctly RIGHT NOW.  I thought at first that I could fight my way through that one, doing all my exercises to correct the issues while still running and preparing for Hardrock 100.  I quickly learned that my body had other plans for me and finally, I succumbed to the reality of my situation. An irritated achilles and a potential prolapse was not going to set me up for the race that I wanted at Hardrock this year.  I was miserable when I emailed the RD at Hardrock a few weeks ago to decline my entry but knew that the sooner I did it, the better for the next person in line to have more time to prepare. A Hardrock entry only comes around so often which made it that much harder to give up.  But, it was the right thing to do as I knew that I would not be competing against the top females like I wanted to do.  I sadly also had to let Nikki Kimball know that I wouldn't be able to pace her at Western States this year. Again, totally bummed out. I've never experienced the WS atmosphere and I was psyched to be apart of Nikki's team. She was to pace me at Hardrock and I was stoked to have the most bad ass female in ultra along me as I took on the big mountains. Anyways, another year, there will always be another year :)  Hardrock is just going to have to wait.


So with my body not co-operating for running this year, I've pulled my schedule back to just a few key must do's, the next of which is my High Alpine Run Camp next week. I'm looking forward to hitting my favourite routes above the treeline with a great group of runners.  After that, I return to my physio protocol of rehabilitating this silly achilles with the hopes of a wickedly awesome 2015 and some adventures that have been brewing for wayyyyyy too long!  I need to get better so it's a Summer on the bike to maintain fitness and keep me mentally sane.


However, there is a silver lining to everything!!  Norm, Kiel and myself are now extremely excited and stoked to have partnered with a brand that we believe defines everything of who we are as athletes, adventurers and where we are at in our lives.  We couldn't be more stoked to have come on board with Icebreaker, a company who is as natural in their products as they are in their company values. It's a fit that feels right. For years, Norm and I have been wearing Icebreaker for our base layering, especially in the winter. But now, after experiencing how amazing wool feels in the Summer too, how breathable, lightweight and natural it is, my love for merino based products just rocketed through the roof.  They make products that work for virtually every activity that we do, from running to SUP, to hiking to travel and casual wear. Check out their website and have a read on what Icebreaker is all about.  Norm and I are committed to integrating Kiel into our life of adventure, outdoor play and experiential education. Icebreaker makes the perfect products for us to do this in comfort, style and most importantly, performance.

Adventure Onwards........we are!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Adventures in the Great Bear Rainforest

For years now, Norm has raved about May in the Great Bear Rainforest.  It's a special time up on the remote North Coast when the forests and waters are alive with wildlife, the days are typically sunny and the people living in the special community of Hartley Bay are busy down at Kiel harvesting traditional food, drying seaweed, fishing and preparing for the year ahead. Kiel is their Spring harvesting camp and this is the place that we chose to name our little man, Kiel (pronounced Key-L) after.

I've been to Kiel several times now, almost always in the Fall when Norm and I are guiding SUP expeditions in the area. I was excited to visit in the Spring and see Kiel alive!  Most importantly too, we were very much looking forward to bringing Kiel to Kiel so he could see where his name came from and what the area means to us. With the threat of oil tankers on our coastline, Norm and I both felt it important to get Kiel there sooner then later as all the beauty, the wildlife, the pristine nature could be instantly wiped out and never the same.

Also exciting, Norm had just purchased his first boat and he was eager to get it in the water!  After months of searching and non stop "boat talk" I was equally as excited for him and couldn't wait for Kiel and I to be on board.  We made the drive from Squamish to Rupert (17+ hrs) and survived the coffee hole of death (aka - it's bad coffee from Prince George West until you hit Smithers) yet again!

A highlight on our drive was stopping in to see Norm's good friend Roy Henry Vickers.  Being that Roy is my favourite artist of all time (growing up visiting his gallery in Tofino since I was young) and now owning several of his prints, it was a real honour to meet him.  He recently just published a new children's book and surprised Kiel with a signed copy.  Thank you Roy!  It's a special gift that we will cherish always. We also got to spend a bit of extra time in Smithers with our friends Walt and Amy before finishing the drive and launching Norm's new ocean vessel from Kitimat.

A special gift for Kiel from Roy Vickers.
Confident in Norms boating skills, we made our way down Douglas Channel from Kitimat to Hartley Bay.  Like all adventures and expeditions, this one certainly had it's moments and challenges.  We had to cut our trip short due to some unexpected health issues's of Norm.  However, we managed to see some great wildlife, spend some hours on the water with Kiel and enjoy time with the Hill family.  Following are some of the photo's from our week on the Coast.   If I can recommend one place in the world you must get to, its the Great Bear Rainforest!  Norm is busy planning Fall expeditions and private charters to the GBR all Summer but I sadly, wont' be able to return this year.
Lots of gear means fun times ahead.  
Proud moments, Norm's first boat. 
Norm builds Kiel a boat to participate in the annual Hartley Bay boat race.
He didn't win. 
Enjoying ocean time, waiting for a bite. 
Lots of catch and release. 
Kiel arrives to Kiel. 
Teach them young and let them learn. 
Tide reading and sharing ocean knowledge.
Deckhand.
Captain.
Halibut drying, incredible process of food harvesting. 

Sea Lion rock.
Best way to experience Sea Lion rock is via the SUP.
Evening exploration.
Grizzly bear sitings. 
My first catch of 2014.  Gave to Eva and Cam as a Anniversary gift.