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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Adventures of Mrs. Aish: Halfway Home...

The Adventures of Mrs. Aish: Halfway Home...: I can't believe it's been ten weeks since my hip surgery. The old cliche of "time flies when you're having fun" seems ...

Halfway Home...

I can't believe it's been ten weeks since my hip surgery. The old cliche of "time flies when you're having fun" seems to come to mind when I look back on the past ten weeks.  I can't even explain how good my left hip now feels. It all seems so surreal when for so many years I thought I'd be living a life of pain.
Every week of this journey as been full of milestones, challenges, excitement, encouragement and yes- a few f-bombs when my hip wouldn't do what I wanted it to do. I've been biking 60 -90 minutes daily, floundering in the pool 3 x a week (it's humiliating) doing physio daily and I am eyeing a teaser run on the Alter G treadmill tomorrow..
For the first time in over seven years I know I'm rehabbing with a purpose and I know in my heart that I made the right decision to go through with this surgery. My old hip pain is gone, I can sit for hours on end without pain and I'm seeing glimpses of the new "me" as my hip is able to do things in physio I haven't been able to do since my college days, i.e.: touch my toes.. It's the little things..

Walking at week #3 in Vail to running on this sucker tomorrow! Feeling excited..

Many have asked if I miss my running-well of course I do. It's how I used to start and end my days, gossip with my girlfriends on Sunday mornings, keep my dog Gunner in shape and laugh with my husband Mike on the local trails as he tells his farfetched stories only someone who knows mike can appreciate.. It hasn't all been bad though-not being able to run. I've had more time to reconnect with friends and family, go to weddings and graduations that in the past I'd have to miss due races and most of all I'm missing "snake season" here in CO. I'm a magnet for rattlesnake sitings on runs..

 The thing I've realized with this injury is that running is something I do,  it's not who I am. I think so many of us get wrapped up in what we think defines us only to realize there is so much more us then just a generic label as that "runner".
Looking forward to hitting the roads this fall.. 

There is hurdle I have to get over before I can even think about running again-hip surgery #2.. I always knew that both my hips weren't firing on all cylinders . So it  came to no surprise when Dr. Philippon told me my right hip had the exact same issues as my left after viewing my most MRI. I was hoping he might do a two for one special, but he wasn't keen on the idea. So on June 30 I will go in for hip #2.

But before I go under the knife one more time, there are more adventures to be had.. Weddings, ultras, road trips and to top it off a trip to Vail as I cap off  of what we'll title my summer of surgeries.
We're off to California in a week and half as Mike will compete in the Western States 100 mile race. One of the most prestigious races in the ultra world. No, that's not a typo.. People run 100 mile races  all for the sake of winning a belt buckle and I guess to be able to call themselves bad asses. He's been preparing since January for this race running upwards of 200 mile weeks. I guess since I can't run he's running for the two of us!!!!! It's a totally different environment then the track and road running world Mike and I are accustomed to. Despite Mike and I having fairly good track times and other running credentials, in the ultra world they're irrelevant. If you haven't run a 50 mile race or more, they look at you like you're from another planet. We find it all fascinating and it's probably what has driven Mike to want to compete in these grueling events, the challenge.. The people in the ultra world are very kind though. It's been quite inspiring seeing what they put themselves through both training and racing..I still have no desire to do one though..

So stay tuned for more comical stories as I embark on another hip journey and watch Mr. Aish tackle the heat and trails in California next week... No doubt there will be Aish tales to be told from this next adventure. As my Aunt tells me, "Never a dull moment with the Aish family."
Onto hip #2!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Reality Check...

Small town comfort in a cup...

I love Vail so much that I've once again extended my stay another week. It all fell into place so easy that I couldn't pass it up i.e.: we got our condo for $50 a night and my physical therapists were able to squeeze me in. To be honest, I'm dreading going back to Denver. A big FAT dose of reality is going to slap me right in the face. The stress of finding a job, dealing with the buy out of our previous business, managing my rehab without Howard Head Sports med peeps, watching my athletic body turn to mush and being surrounded by the running world is going to make for mad adjustments..Here in Vail I can focus purely on my rehab and the only worries I have are do I want decaf or fully loaded Yeti's Coffee for my mid afternoon breaks and what am I going to have for dinner…It's like I'm in my past professional athlete life minus the running and paychecks..

More news….Dr. Philippon reviewed my right hip MRI on Monday. I kind of already knew that my right hip was just as damaged as my left so the diagnosis of a labral tear and hip impingement wasn't shocking. I remember feeling an odd sensation in my joint when I debuted in the 10,000m on the track in 2002. Dr. P believes that the increase in intensity and volume during this time is what triggered my hip problems. He says if I was a couch potato I would never have been symptomatic. The perks of being athletic! They scheduled surgery for June 30, two days after Mike hopefully wins the Western States 100 mile race in Cali…As my friend Brooke Wells says, she's bionic before 30 as she's had both hips done at age 29. For me it's bionic before 40!

For now I will enjoy my last week here and make the most of being in my rehab bubble. I get to lose the crutches in two weeks so a life of normalcy isn't far away.  The physios tell me I'm progressing quickly and I may get to "jog" a bit before I go under the knife this summer!!!! I continue to visualize running free and without the constant pelvic pain I've had for so long. I used to tell my past physios that my main complaint with this injury was that my "crotch"was always on fire, figuratively not literally people.. Whenever I'd try to run fast my adductors would light up like the 4th of July and I felt like they were going to explode. Compensation at it's finest!!!
Freihofers 5k 2002 Finished 4th in 15:50 PAIN FREE Days..

One last note as I finish out this week in Vail. Big shout out to Mr. Aish for being such a rockstar of a husband throughout this adventure.. Not only is he taking care of his crippled wife, he's juggling training for a summer of 100 mile races, supporting us financially as I'm "jobless" and is taking care of the current "crapola" in our life.. He's priceless..
It's been a turbulent 2014 for Mike and I. I'd just like to send a big ol' thank you to all of our friends and family. You've been there for us through  thick and thin and listened to my melt downs as I battle being somewhat of a head case...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Rehabbing with the Rich and Famous...

Four Seasons Vail…Enough said..
One week into rehab at the Howard Head Sports Medicine (Steadmans)  clinic is starting to feel like home. Two sessions of physio a day +  two pool workouts a week  have lead to the clinic becoming my home away from home and the patients that fill it my family. I've befriended a few familiar faces for example; A movie star (Kurt Russell), a Colorado Rockies player, a producer for ESPN and a crazy Venezuelan  girl that wears the shortest shorts I've ever seen. Met a guy today who just had his knee done after being in an avalanche while skiing in Alaska. Most of the patients have flown from out of state to receive the best care for their ailing injuries. I realized early on that I'm probably the poorest one in the room i.e.: most are staying at the Four Seasons ($1100 a night) and they tell me how they vacation yearly in the Swiss Alps. Quite the contrary to The Aish Family staying in a quaint dog friendly condo and who call a big get away a trip to Leadville for the weekend. The one thing we all have in common is that we are here because we wanted to get treated by the best and get back out there doing what we LOVE!
Favorite line from the movie "Tombstone". "Tell them I'm coming and I'm bring hell with me." 

Kurt Russell is such great guy. Most celebrities request to be put in a private room during their stay, but he prefers to be one with the masses! We've talked about the Masters Championships, his numerous surgeries due to him doing his own stunts back in the day and he continues to encourage me regarding my own hip rehab, priceless! The Rockies player tells me he's 29, but I tease him and tell him he looks more like 19. He told me he watched the entire "Breaking Bad"series while rehabbing his previous hip, that's like 40+ hours of TV watching. There's a few professional hockey players, a dancer, a guy who is the producer for the NFL, NBA and tennis for ESPN Some friendly and some not so much…I hope to win the unfriendly one's over by the end of the week.

Hip crew brunching it on Easter Sunday...

I realize as I get to know many people in the hip world that my case is quite minor to what they've been through. Many have come to Dr. Philippon to have revisions done as previous surgeries failed with other docs. The 17 year old dancer is on her 3rd surgery and has been told she will no longer be able to do any high impact exercise for the rest of her life. Her cartilage is almost gone. Pretty gut wrenching news for someone so young to have to hear, PERSPECTIVE… Yes, my surgery was serious. I had a labrum that was completely torn, extra bone in my hip socket that was tearing my labrum and the head of my femur was completely bruised from the hip not sitting correctly in the joint . Basically every time I ran I was bruising the head of my femur and doing further damage in the joint. They showed me the pictures after surgery. If I would've seen them prior, my bum would've been on the bike rather then hitting the trails.

I've decided to stay another week for therapy and to get a consult with Dr. Philippon regarding my "good" hip. It sounds like I will be having that one done this summer. Add up the recovery time with both hips and I'm looking at lacing up my running shoes sometime in mid October. All good though. I'm embracing the rehab and am just so thankful to be where I'm at right now. I thought I'd miss running, but being so focused in rehab has taken my mind elsewhere. I look at race results from Mt. Sac and all of the Boston races and instead of being bitter or jealous I feel excited and happy for those I know that are running well. Gone is the bitterness I used to feel as I was so angry that I couldn't be out there toeing the line as well. Call it being at peace or maybe just content-I'm just happy being where I'm at right now; on the way back to wherever that may be…On that note.. HUGE shout out to Meb for winning the Boston marathon today.. As Mike says, "He has old man strength!" Congrats to all that ran today. You've given me a much needed boost as I head into week 2 of physio..

 In all honesty I'm welcoming the break. I've been running in pain for most of my professional running career. The thing with most competitive runners is that it takes a full blown injury or surgery to fully remove us from training and racing. We're just wired that way to run through anything.. I guess for me it took someone restructuring my hip to make me hit the brakes and realize I need to be mature about my rehab, the future of my running and being active for a lifetime.

The pain meds are kicking my butt

First pool workout with a float suit.. brrrrrr

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hips don't lie...

Two days ago I went in for hip surgery with the well known hip surgeon to the sports world- Dr.Marc Philippon here in Vail, CO. I loved him from the first time he called me personally from his cell phone to tell me the results of my MRI. He has been kind, informative, reassuring and non-egostical. Very uncommon for a doc of his stature.

Instead of being nervous or scared I feel an overwhelming sense of relief and optimism. The road to getting here has been a frustrating one full of tears, painful rehab and false hope given by many medical professionals that promised they would "fix me". I had many skeptics as I announced my surgery to the world. After seeing the pics of my procedure and the damage that was in my joint, I now know with even more certainty that this surgery needed to happen. 

On the bike 11 hours after surgery. Don't hate the shorts!
Chowing down after 24 hours of fasting..
Ten years ago I was at the top of my running career. I was running fast and one of the best female distance runners in the country. I was loving my life and looking forward to the next racing adventure. I was confident, working hard  and competitive until my debut in the marathon in the fall of 2005, the Twin Cities (2005 US Marathon Championships). The strange hip pains started creeping in during this training period and would continue to plague me for years to come. There was never a day that I didn't have some type of pain. I raced, trained and rehabbed throughout the years. I held onto every physio and Doctors words as they told me they would be the one's to "fix me" or figure out the route of the problem only to come up short each and every time. 

Winning Twin Cities marathon 2005..

2012 Olympic Trials 5,000m prelim.. Ran with so much pain

My Name is Nicole Aish… I enjoy a many good cups of coffee, love my two dogs and still run more than your average normal person. I heart Colorado more then any other place I've visited or lived..I used to be a professional athlete for Nike, won my first and only marathon in 2005, the Twin Cities Marathon, am married to a sarcastic New Zealander, my friends are like my family and I would rather hang out in my ugg boots than a pair of high heels. I believe that people should mean more than any amount of money and that trying to be a good person everyday really matters. I have celiac and hypothyroidism, but you won't hear me talk about it unless asked. I dislike being in the spotlight and still have a strong desire to lace up for 5th Olympic Trials in 2015!!