Lower Back Pain – The Fix

Over this past year, I’ve struggled with lower back pain.  I noticed when I get out of the car or stand up from sitting position, that I have to give my lower back time to adjust before standing straight up.   Then I begin walking in a way to stabilize/isolate the lumbar region which is similar to a “duck walk” waddling back and forth for a few steps.  What is happening to me and why???

Lower back pain.  I’m sure it’s in part, one of the outcomes from our move back in August.  About a year ago, I remember moving a heavy computer desk.  It was part of the de-cluttering phase to get our home ready to sell.  The desk was closer to the door initially which made the room look smaller.  Therefore, I took out the table on the other side of the desk and moved it back closer to corner of the room which made room look larger.


As I lifted up on the desk, something happened in my back.  I felt the sharp pain and then tingling. Never had that before.  For the days, weeks and months following, my back was a major issue.


To get through the move with all the lifting and bending, I purchased a back brace.

It helped some but was terribly annoying because each time I straightened up, had to readjust my pants and such.

It’s now become such an issue that I am forced to take action.  I looked online and found that it’s probably a bulging disc or discs.  I’m seeing my doc this week and will talk to him about it but also going to correct some things myself.


Use lumbar supportive cushion in desk chair, sofa and car seat.  

I’m sitting in my desk chair now with a pillow behind my lower back and feet planted square of the ground.  This is helping immensely.  When I get up out of the chair, I turn it to the side, brace the arms of the chair and life up to standing position.  There’s no pain.


Do exercises that force the lower back to arch in correct position.

I found this graphic below which is a great outline of the exercises that help reduce lower back pain.


Work on posture with stomach tucked especially while walking/running.

Also, I notice my back hurts while lying in bed.  Check out the helpful images below of how to position pillows to help with such.


This is my plan.  I let myself get so out of shape over last 2 or 3 years, that things like this are popping up now.

Hoping to get back to better health soon and with it, a stronger back for better support.


My Marathon Journey, 10 Years in the Making…Now Finished

St. Louis Rock and Roll Marathon for 2012 is now history.  According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, 10/22/12, Shane Logan who finished 2nd in the Men’s Division said, it was the hardest course he had ever run.

Mine was a journey that began with a desire ten years ago to run a marathon. I had just turned 40.  As a former smoker – previously thought it to be impossible.  I took my first step towards such in January 2010 with training for my 1st half marathon.  It was a brutal race with constant rain, cold and some participants treated for hypothermia.  Then after finishing 4 half marathons finally (Feb 2012) clicking the marathon (not half marathon) registration button for the fall race.  Following that action I stared at the computer screen like a deer caught in headlights.  “Did I really do that?”

Then out of fear of failure, started a diet/exercise program losing 20 pounds so I would be a lighter runner reducing the health risks of running such a hard race (April thru June).  Also, got checked out by doctor and had a stress test since I’m going on 51.

The shirt from the October 2011 picture below was a large.  In other 2 pics I’m wearing a medium.  The April 2012 pic was just 1 week after beginning diet.

After finishing that effort I began official training for the marathon –  Hal Higdon‘s Novice 2 Marathon Training Program (June through October).

1 Rest 3 m run 5 m pace 3 m run Rest 8 Cross
2 Rest 3 m run 5 m run 3 m run Rest 9 Cross
3 Rest 3 m run 5 m pace 3 m run Rest 6 Cross
4 Rest 3 m run 6 m pace 3 m run Rest 11 Cross
5 Rest 3 m run 6 m run 3 m run Rest 12 Cross
6 Rest 3 m run 6 m pace 3 m run Rest 9 Cross
7 Rest 4 m run 7 m pace 4 m run Rest 14 Cross
8 Rest 4 m run 7 m run 4 m run Rest 15 Cross
9 Rest 4 m run 7 m pace 4 m run Rest Rest Half Marathon
10 Rest 4 m run 8 m pace 4 m run Rest 17 Cross
11 Rest 5 m run 8 m run 5 m run Rest 18 Cross
12 Rest 5 m run 8 m pace 5 m run Rest 13 Cross
13 Rest 5 m run 5 m pace 5 m run Rest 19 Cross
14 Rest 5 m run 8 m run 5 m run Rest 12 Cross
15 Rest 5 m run 5 m pace 5 m run Rest 20 Cross
16 Rest 5 m run 4 m pace 5 m run Rest 12 Cross
17 Rest 4 m run 3 m run 4 m run Rest 8 Cross
18 Rest 3 m run 2 m run Rest Rest 2 m run Marathon

Here are some stats:

  • My Longest Run (3 weeks before race): 20 miles
  • Most Miles Logged in One Week: 42
  • Fastest Pace I Ran While Training: 8 minute mile
  • Hottest day of training run: 102 degrees
  • Cross Training: Cycling sometimes to and from my office
  • Average Pace During Training: 13 minute mile
  • Race Day Breakfast: Protein Bar, Banana, Coffee, Water, Vitamins
  • Total Miles Logged  Since April Pre and Official Training: 526
  • Illnesses During Training: 2 colds, 2 UTI’s, exercise induced bronchial spasms after 18 miles.
  • Injuries: 0
  • St. Louis Rock and Roll Finishers: 1,900 Full and 9,500 Half Marathoners.
  • Women’s Division Marathon Finishers that were 50+: 79
  • Number of Estimated Steps to Finish Marathon: 42,000
  • Race Recovery: Best yet.  Very little swelling.  Sore/stiff – toes took a beating, but went to dinner night of race. 
  • Marathon Fun Fact: Your foot hits the ground with 4 x your body weight with each step when you run.
  • Favorite Mantra/Scripture: Anything is possible through Christ Who Strengthen’s Me
  • Money I Raised for Charity: $3,345
  • Grand Total Raised for Charity by Team: $52,000

Program for LIFE Runners Pre-Race Banquet

2012 National LIFE Runners Team

I ran 13 minute miles all the way through to the upper teen miles.  Then it began to get really hard.  I struggled with my breathing – that feeling of not getting enough air came over me again.

I used my inhaler once before race and twice after mile 18.  Three bathroom stops with one that had a wait/line.  I walked maybe 3 miles after mile 18.  Then dug deep and ran the rest.  It was hard.  The last 6 miles were very difficult I prayed a lot.  I wore my LIFE Runner Rosary and my Dad’s wedding ring during race.  After the 18th marker… they became the spiritual miles.

Official Race pics can be seen at my website. Click here to go there.

This was also Alex’s High School’s Homecoming weekend…

Alex is the lead percussionist in the band.  Below is video of the drum-line in the parade on Friday night.  Alex is in the middle of the three snare drummers in this video Jim took.  Later they played at the game and then afterwards drove to St. Louis to make the race which was very early the following morning.  It was a full weekend.

Carrie came to St. Louis to run her first 5K.  She almost didn’t make it to the race because of road closings due to the marathon.   Sometimes the hardest part, is just getting to the starting line.  We are really proud of her.  She did great!  I was so moved that she wore her LIFE Runner shirt while helping at Camp Barnabas this summer as well as during her race in St. Louis.  Carrie has run her own marathon with all she has gone through in life.  She is a marathoner Mom.

Alex and Carrie before her first 5k

Gathering at Cathedral before Mass and Pre-Race Banquet

At our pre-race banquet we Skyped in our Singapore Chapter of LIFE Runners.  They lead the group of 250 LIFE Runners and their families in the LIFE Runner Creed.  This occurred at 7:45 pm CST Saturday night.  It was 9 am Sunday morning in Singapore…amazing!

Jon Lim leading the Singapore Chapter in the LIFE Runners creed as they were Skyped into the LIFE Runners Pre-Race Banquet in St. Louis.

Some of my family was able to come down and be there for the race.  It meant a lot!

With family after race – it was hard to get up from sitting position – so I stood.

Jim and Alex drove in after Alex’s Homecoming Game night before so they could be at race.

It was an awesome experience and one I will always remember.

Thanks also to my awesome sponsors who helped me raise over $3,300 for charity  Click here to see the list.

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To my family and friends/team mates who got me to this finish line…you are the best!  Thanks for walking with me on this journey and being there at the end.

Marathon Training and the Long Run

So with my wrapped ankle (for extra support) and my water plan that I handed off to Jim and Alex, I was off for today’s 11 mile run.  I always warm up with a half mile walk and then turn on my “Mapmyrun” app that tracks pace, distance, etc., as I start to run.

I was feeling a bit unsure of myself.  Physically kind of sub par (another night of migraine/nausea/loss of sleep) but determined to dig in and get it done.

Alex and Jim met me at the first pit stop and refilled water bottle.  That was about 5 miles out.  After that I’d see every once in a while a glimpse of Alex driving by to check on me – Jim had to head off to work.

The next pit stop was on Capital Ave by the VFW hall.

At this point I began walking – had an apple and traded off water again.  Then headed back towards Memorial Park.

I walked the last 3 miles but I actually felt pretty good up through mile 7.  So I’m making progress.  Mile 8 was a struggle.  The temp was 77 but humidity was still really high.

So, it’s done.  Thanks to my great team Carmichael for seeing me through again.

St. Louis Rock and Roll Marathon Course Map – Suggests Hill Training Needed

Here’s the newly announced course for the St. Louis Rock and Roll Marathon.  It was just released yesterday.

If all the ink on this map isn’t intimidating enough…check out the hills.  Steepest is at mile 1.

Yesterday I did my 3 miles (according to Hal Higdon‘s plan for Novice 2).  I knew better than to do this, but I kept moving back and forth from black top to shoulder due to traffic – instead of just staying on rocky shoulder of road.  Well, after 2 miles I started to move off of the road again to allow a car to pass and rolled my ankle.  At the time it didn’t hurt but just scared me.  Later in the day pain started in my heel and then moved to just under the ankle bone on  right side of right foot.  I did the ice, rest and Ibuprofen routine (got some advice from Coach Castle) and it’s much better today.

Fortunately today is a rest day in preparation for tomorrows 11 mile run.   I’m downing lots of water/sports fluids/complex carbs today for fuel.

Will catch you on the other side!

Barefoot Running

I ran 3 miles today in my Vibrams.  Felt light on my feet.  Focused on landing on the ball of foot and not heel.  Tried to keep hips square over feet and shoulders over hips.  Had plenty of energy too.  Kept a decent pace (for me) – under 12 minute miles.  Temp was 66 and humidity was 79%.  I could have kept running but will save up for tomorrows 6 miles.  No weird aches and pains.

I wish I could run in my Vibrams all the time, but that would bring on injury due to the different muscles used when wearing them.  You have to ease them into your work out.  Also, no banging against my toes that bruise the nail beds. There are many benefits to these shoes.

Now off to work.  Have a great day!

The Tarahumara, Chia Seeds and St. Louis

Jim, Alex and I just got back from a few days in St. Louis.  Even when traveling, I always get my training in that is now a top priority.  Monday was cross training with one hour of bike riding – I did this in the gym at the Chase Park Plaza – St. Louis.  Then the following days were runs in temperatures a little more than 85 degrees/ heavy humidity and here is the data:

Both days humidity was so bad you could cut it with a knife.  I never felt the runs were easy or getting easier.  However, todays 5 miles was tolerated better and maybe because of my new found essential…Chia Seeds.

The only time I am able to really read a book is when I’m away from home.  Otherwise there is always too much competing for my time.

Alex loves going to nostalgic book stores so while in the Central West End of St. Louis…there we were – at what else, but a nostalgic book store.  There is were I found “Born to Run.”  Not nostalgic but captivating.  I have a hard time putting it down.

So funny in parts I laughed out loud.  Seriously!  If you haven’t read it…do so.  If you have and don’t like it…don’t burst my bubble.  I love the book.  I had never heard of the Tarahumara people from Copper Canyon in the Sierra Madre‘s.  If you haven’t, Google them and be amazed at their abilities and wonderful disposition.  They run 200+ miles per week at tremendous speed along very steep mountain peeks and with very little in their stomach or on their feet.

Also, never heard of Chia Seeds.  So many benefits.  The Tarahumara down  these as a source of energy.  Aztec Indians chewed these going into battle.  Hopi Indians downed these seeds for their epic runs from Arizona to the Pacific Ocean.  After calling a local health food store which told me they were a “staple” of the stores, I  bought a bag of the seeds and they are pretty interesting.  If you mix a couple of tablespoonfuls in a glass of juice or lemonade, they have a gelling component that surfaces.  When you drink the juice it has kind of a tang.   I drank a glass with some today.  I didn’t feel the jet propulsion described in the book, but I also didn’t get tired today as I normally do following a 5 mile run.  Even in the car for 2 hours – not tired.

I read portions of the book out loud to Jim and Alex on the way home.  A first.  Jim loved it – Alex…I think he was listening to Itunes.

Jim and I both laughed so hard at parts and so intensely interested in what the next page held I race-read through some of it to find out – what happened.

I read straight from Chesterfield to Jefferson City, MO (2 hours) and have the wraspy throat now to prove it.


What I thought was a hard run is not even a warm up for the Tarahumara.  Also, there are other ultra-marathon runners around besides the Tarahumara – but astonishingly though – this group runs at an unbelievable speed, with minimal foot protection and with very little in their stomach.

I get asked all the time, “don’t your knees ache?”  The Tarahumara knees don’t.  They run differently than us…barefoot running.  Running like what the Vibram Five Finger shoes shift us into through their technology.  I have started wearing mine about once a week.  Love them!! Run faster too.  It will take a while to transition completely.  Don’t want to risk injury.

I am not finished yet with the book but will be soon at this rate.

Thanks to my sister MJ for taking care of things while we were gone.


Another Great Race…Waddell & Reed KC – This Time as a Member of a Rockstar Team

Done!  Another 13.1 mile race.  Training began for me…July 30th.  My pace…still over 3 hours.  I walked the hills, and mile 10 and 11.  The weather was perfect.  It started out a little cool but that was okay.  There were 8,200 that registered for both the half and full marathons.   In the end,  4,800 half marathoners and 1000 full marathoners finished.  Here’s a news clip about the race.  And another news clip from NBC affiliate.  Here’s the KC Star Article.

It was a great day.  Jim and Alex were there along with two of my  sisters, Dolores and Mary Jo and Dolores’s granddaughter, Hunter.  Having them there made it that much more special.

Here’s some video Alex took as we approach mile 3

Here’s video of me approaching the finish line and passing by my family.

See pictures that Jim and Alex took during the race at my website.

This race had so much more meaning/purpose as I ran on the LIFE Runners Team.  We all raised money for two pregnancy care centers.  The total raised from the team was $35,000.  Thanks to all those who sponsored me and others!  Your sacrifice will save a lot of lives and change many hearts and minds.  Also, thanks to the Knights of Columbus, St. Thomas More and St. Catherine’s parishes for the meals and hospitality.  It was wonderful and meant a lot to all of us on the team!

One of my LIFE Runner team mates who was from Little Rock, Arkansas, waved at and thanked every volunteer and police officer he passed.  What stunned me was that I found out later he was in his 70’s.   I still finished in back of the pack…but I finished and am a better person for doing so due to my mental, spiritual and physical training.

Training for the next race…starts in 2 weeks.  I plan to run in the St. Louis Half Marathon in October 2012.  Also…the date has been set for next springs More/fitness Magazine Half Marathon – April 15, 2012.  I love that race – it runs through Central Park and is the largest “women’s” half marathon.  Who knows…if I begin training now I may be able to improve my pace for that one plus the St. Louis race in October.

My feet, ankles and legs are a little swelled, I’m still really tired today too.  A few hours after the race I developed a migraine and severe nausea set in with the exhaustion that I experienced after the last race.  The kind of exhaustion that you feel when you can’t keep your eyes open.  I kept trying to send emails and would wake up holding my phone and an unfinished email would be staring me in the face.  The migraine and nausea did finally subside after about 6 hours.  My toes were spared the banging they took in the last half marathon, but I really taped them up.  I also used some K tape on my knee which helped keep it in place.  Some of the tape came loose but I just pulled that off and left the rest – worked well.  It took me most of the roll to get it on correctly or at least close to such.  It caused me to run late so I didn’t make the 6:25 morning prayer and team picture at Union Station. 😦  I still made it to the start of the race at 6:35 for the 7:05 start.

I didn’t run with my Camelbak – instead used a water bottle and refilled it with the help of a very nice volunteer.  I prayed through out most of the race and offered up exhaustion and pain for pregnant women in need, the children they carry and my family.

I am so thankful that I am able to cross a finish line and will continue doing so as long as my body will cooperate.

Thanks to my family, friends, sponsors and team mates for the great support!  It was another wonderful experience and I look forward to the next.

Have a great day!