valentine’s day morning in the garden

We went in search of a little pink, and we found some. Mostly inside – the outdoors are still brown and rainy.

It was great to stretch our legs a bit, and catch up after missing each other yesterday. I have another long day ahead of me, but then we’re halfway to the weekend.

Excited to keep looking for signs of green and signs of spring. She looks so tall in these photos – those boots and raincoat are getting smaller and shorter by the day. Everything grows faster in the spring.

Anticipation is high. It’s coming!

pain in the (sort of) butt

I wrote an email to a friend in response to her question about how things were going with my minor running issue. As I neared the end of that email exchange, I joked with her that I might just copy and paste it into a blog post. Anything to break the silence here. I just can’t seem to get ahead these days.

But it’s not a bad idea, so I’m running with it.

If you follow me on Instagram, I mentioned back in January that a nagging pain that had started in December on some of my longer runs was still sticking around, despite having rested for several weeks during the coldest and darkest days of winter. A couple of miles into a run I start to experience a sharp pain on the outside of my left knee that doesn’t let up as I continue to push through it. After running, the pain continues for a few hours – not while walking around, but I notice it when heading up and down stairs.

I self-diagnosed it as an IT Band issue, and when it still persisted through the end of January, I decided to tackle it head on before spring running weather rolls around. I made an appointment for my routine physical, and my doctor agreed with my assessment, and wrote me a referral for PT. I contacted the PT that my dear friend (of earlier referenced email fame) recommended with “1000 stars”, and I saw her for the first time on Monday where she confirmed the diagnosis.

Turns out I’m really lopsided in how I engage certain muscle groups. My right (dominant) side is fine, but on my left side I’m using other muscles to do the work for me, and my left hip flexor muscles are way weaker than my right. So it’s time to target and build those up. As I’ve increased my strength training in my Body Pump class (if you have access to Les Mills classes, I highly recommend them), my larger muscle groups have been worked, but those smaller muscle groups can start feeling neglected. I didn’t ask this during my first appointment, but I have wondered about it since – I’m curious if always defaulting to starting with our right side – in Body Pump or Power Yoga or PiYo – means that the left side (then more fatigued) defaults to engaging the larger muscle groups over the smaller ones when doing the same work. I think I’ll ask that at my next appointment.

Other contributing factors? I cross my legs while sitting, and often sit with my left leg tucked under my body. In December I probably spent 100+ hours in that position while working on holiday cards (outside of the hours I sit on my tush in the office). Now I’m using a small platform for my feet, and catching myself every ten minutes on my leg positions. Breaking bad habits is so tricky.

I learned something else new – did you know that there is an ideal angle that an ankle bends to for running? I didn’t. That angle is 20 degrees. One of my ankles is three degrees, the other is zero. Zero!! This is why my heels never touch the ground in downward facing dog! I know I’ve got problem feet, and the rods in my feet probably aren’t helping here, but building some more strength and flexibility in my ankles will also help. That will reduce the stress on my upper legs as well when my feet hit the ground.

Next week I’ll have a running analysis, and I’m pretty sure that my Hoka days are numbered. (Also might have helped contribute to this problem.) I’m glad that I decided to get in front of this and talk to someone specializing in running health and strength, rather than throwing a bunch of ideas and gear towards the problem. I’ll let you know how it goes. And how exciting it is to do a zillion reps of strength building exercises while focusing on ONLY engaging the correct muscles. It’s a lot more thinking about my butt than I generally care to do!

Onward, upward!

garden inspiration

It’s starting to thaw out a bit here, and the days are stretching a few minutes longer each day. I’m ready to be back at the garden on Wednesday mornings – we draw the line at temperatures in the thirties or below. I don’t mind a brisk walk, but it’s also been nice to linger in coffee shops with F for an hour or more in lieu of our garden strolls. Much warmer too!

But I’ve got gardens on the brain, specifically our own. Our yard has been really neglected for ages – it’s just not something I’ve wanted to invest too much in once we knew that we wanted to add onto the house. And things are looking hopeful for that this year (please, fingers crossed, everyone together now), and so I’ve been collecting my thoughts on it while the weather is still cold and gray.

Our new front gate was delayed in production, but I received word on Monday that it’s done, and installation of the gate and missing panel should be happening next week! Other than the long lead time, so far we’ve been really pleased with Classic Metal Craft. I had one of the owners come out last week to measure the sides of our front yard so that he could work up a quote for replacing the sorry looking chain link fences there. Our plan this summer is to remove the front boxwoods, erect scaffolding for repairs and repainting, install new windows, and then we’ll have a blank slate in the front yard.

Before we implement a landscape plan there, I want to install those side fences, so it’s nice to have a quote in hand.

And then we’ll have our rear yard as a blank slate too, once the construction is done. I want continuity between the two spaces, and I want to also green as many spaces (even vertical ones) on the house as possible. Because our yard is small I’d like to keep it simple. Greens and whites and silvers against a backdrop of charcoal and existing brick. Some purples as well. Pea gravel and salvaged brick in areas for walking or sitting.

The roof gardens will be a good opportunity for some vegetable growing, and a cutting garden as well. I see those being a little more colorful, and will likely take awhile before we get them laid out and planted. They are listed as “future” on the house plans, and we just might be broke and exhausted before we get there.

Having a “new” courtyard garden with a nice fence on two sides and a glassy dining room on one end and carriage house on the other is beyond exciting to me. It feels like we’ve been dreaming about this for ages. My patience is waning. I wish it was here, done, ready for weekends of playing in the dirt.

For now there are pictures, lush and green for a gray January day. A few more months – I can do this. I think.