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Posts tagged ‘Search term sunday’

Search term Sunday: Broken arm? Can’t run?

For this edition of “Search term Sunday,” I bring to you a gem of a statement that someone entered to find this blog.

Someone found my blog by searching “broke my arm cant run” in the past couple days. I shouldn’t be surprised, since I so blatantly decided it was a really, really good idea to run with a broken arm earlier this year.

I ran a trail 10K and a half marathon with measurable pain from my radial head fracture earlier this year. I fell while trying to get in my 15-mile training run for the San Luis Obispo Marathon earlier this year. And I fell hard.

I went for two weeks without getting it checked out because I was convinced it was not broken. But when it didn’t get better, after wrapping and compressing it, I finally caved in and had it checked out.

And the damn thing was broken.

You can kind of see the faint little line from the radial head fracture that derailed my training and had me in pain for more than a month. At this point it was “healing nicely.”

The sports medicine doctor I went to wasn’t even surprised that I was still running. I just kept at it. I held my arm as close as I possibly could to my body. The first image in this blog is of me from my first race after the break. I looked awkward at best, but I got through the 10K.

Afterward that bad boy hurt like you don’t even know. All that jiggling around wasn’t doing me much good.

If it was posed as a question, which it was not, it would be: “Should I run with a broken arm?”

My answer is likely surprising.


At least not in races.


I had two very scary experiences while racing with a broken arm, ones that, had my arm been completely fine, I wouldn’t have even thought twice about.


During the Badger Cove 10K, again where the image at the top of this post comes from, I was doing fine on the uphill and downhills. I was moving along, knowing my body would be sorry for the impact I was putting on it in the long haul.

One descent, though, scared the hell out of me.

As we turned the corner down a hill, I realized I was going down much, much faster than I wanted to. I also realized that, if I was to fall into the bushes I saw at the end of the hill, I would have no viable way to brace myself properly.

It was the first time I had an “oh shit” moment during running. It was scary. I was going fast. I didn’t have momentum control over my upper body like I wanted to either. I was basically out of control.

To top it off, because my arm was broken and my husband wasn’t going with me to the race, I couldn’t wear my tighter, betting gripping, but harder to tie trail shoes. So I was wearing my regular Nikes.

I was scared. I’m glad I didn’t fall. Or go face-first into the bushes. It was definitely a lesson for me.


A week after Badger Cove, I ran the Oakland Half Marathon. My arm was feeling slightly better by then. This is one of the smaller, more spaced out runs I do. But it’s not small, small. It’s averaged sized. But the course transverses most of downtown and West Oakland, so the roads are large enough where people aren’t right on top of each other.

It’s also mostly flat, so I didn’t have to worry about uncontrolled descents.

As we ran through a particularly bland part of Oakland near the industrial area, and before the amazing sight that is Seventh Street and Mandela Parkway (really, if you’re never run this race, this area is my favorite part), another sideswiped me.

Now, I’ve done this myself. But the woman I ran into didn’t have a broken arm. When this guy accidentally ran into me, he hit my left arm so bad I left out a blood curdling noise that was similar to a baby dinosaur in pain. Maybe not so much a dinosaur, but I can imagine it would be.

At that point, it wasn’t so much pain as shock. Apparently my face showed it, even though I kept running.

The man literally stopped running, came back to me and tried to get me to stop running. He told me I looked white. I didn’t feel bad, though. Not until after the race, which brought me my first PR of the year.

I was, again, trying to keep my arm close. But I still was injured. Again.


At the Summer Breeze Half Marathon, I saw a woman in the “hiker” category with an air cast.

I have to say, I never thought of that. I realized that I should have taken advantage of that for the Brazen Badger Cove 10K. I’m sure I would have been allowed to run, an hour earlier, if I had asked and explained my situation. That said, I likely wouldn’t have avoided my scary descent that way. Outside of one stretch of single-track trail, the trails were basically wide open even with all the other runners. I never worried about someone running into me.

The first thing about running with a broken arm is that you don’t want anyone to touch it on accident. The second thing is that you don’t want to fall and get hurt again.

So why chance it?

I know that’s completely opposite to what I did. I’m not a doctor or anything, I can’t give out medical advice. Don’t take this as medical advice. It isn’t. Those two races weren’t my finest moments in running. Would I do it again? Probably not. Two scary broken arm experiences were enough for me. I think I had to experience those events, though, to make me see how ridiculous it was for me to run with a broken arm.

I won’t even get started on the fact that I ran a half marathon five weeks after gallbladder removal surgery. Truth be told, that was probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. But I didn’t want to forfeit my registration and reservation fees, or a girl’s weekend away.

That said, those broken-arm races got me ready for the San Luis Obispo Marathon, which was two weekends after Oakland. By the time I hit the start line at that race, I could swing my arm again. I was, basically, better. By May, I was even stronger.

Don’t let that be an indicator, though. I was in pain with all the body pounding during both those runs. It hurt. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it.

Search term Sunday: Waiting in line at portable toilets


A confession: I’m really bad at consistency lately when it comes to things I’m trying to make “regular” features. I have so much to blog about but haven’t had time. I’ve been working pretty steadily on some websites over the past few weeks. I started yoga (a blog post in itself, when I get to it). I meet with my students this Tuesday for a fall planning session. My grandmother had a 90th birthday celebration yesterday. I’ve just been a little bit overwhelmed.

And I’m running a half marathon next weekend.

But I thought this search term was definitely a funny one. Someone entered “portable toilets line waiting” and found my blog.

I know why, obviously. It’s because I’ve stood in my fair share of portable toilet lines over the past few years of racing.

I’ve also come to develop some “pro tips” for making the best of a bad situation.


This is especially a rule of thumb at big races. The Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego race is massive. And despite an ever-reaching line of portable toilets (see above), it seems like there are never enough to go around.

This year, the marathon started first. Even when my half marathon corral was ready to go, there were STILL marathoners waiting. I’m not sure what happened to them because, supposedly, the marathon course was going to be shut down fairly quickly after the first mile.

So I practice a simple rule: If you arrive early to a race, make sure the FIRST thing you do is go to the portable toilet. That way, even if you have to go again, you’ve at least gone once already. It takes away some of the line pressure.


Never wait until the last minute to make your way to the line. It will take you at least 20 minutes, in most cases, to make your way to the front of the line. This is especially true at bigger races. Smaller races don’t have a lot of issues when it comes to portable toilets, unless there are only a couple available.

Be willing to start your wait early.


This means what I think it means, but it also includes some strategic planning.

First off: If a race director tells you that you can “relieve yourself” in the bushes, do it. I’ve been at two races where men and women were told that they could use the brush to avoid the wait. I’m not kidding. And we weren’t in the wilderness. The first time it happened, we were in a major metropolitan park.

“Runners, please use the bushes if you need to!” a man on a bullhorn said. It doesn’t get more official than that.

That said, smart planning also can make your wait less.

At See Jane Run in Alameda, the start line is less than a half mile from the finish. And you know what all finish lines have? Bathrooms. So if you’re willing to walk a little, the likelihood is that you WON’T have to wait.

At the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon last year, my husband dropped me off near the finish there too. There were wall to wall portable toilets available. No waiting. The walk to the start was literally three minutes.

At this year’s San Francisco Marathon, a row of portable toilets was RIGHT AFTER the start line. Why? We’re in the corral for so long many people need to use the toilet right when they begin. I got there right after a corral was released and made my way into virtually empty and clean portable toilets.

I also have “rest stops” along the way to make sure I never show up to a race really having to go to the bathroom immediately.

That said, these plans didn’t actually help me the first year I ran each of these events. I remember waiting in those epically bad bathroom lines. That’s why finding out about each of these things really made the experiences the second time more enjoyable.


Very few big races offer real, flushing toilets. At the San Francisco Marathon, most “real” bathrooms are locked until after the runners move through the area (except for the ones by Stow Lake, those were open and people were using them).

I know some people have paranoia about portable toilets, but sometimes it’s best to hunker down and get over it. You’ll likely end up waiting twice as long for a toilet that flushes (maybe even three times as long) than a portable toilet.



I always anticipate that I WON’T be able to use the toilet if it comes down to it. That’s why there are ones strategically placed along the trails or paths or road routes. I never like to actually take the time to use those ones either, but it’s better than running for 13.1 miles or 26.2 and really having to go to the bathroom.

I will say this: Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised. In Portland, the photo above, there were only about 20 people in each line. We hardly had any wait, got in and out and made it our corral with about 10 minutes to spare. Those occasions are mostly rare, though.

Just know that sometimes, even with the best planning, you may not make it into one of those aqua-colored thrones.


This is likely how someone found this blog. A majority of the runners who do race reviews will mention something about the bathroom situation at the start or along the route. They’ll especially mention something if the situation isn’t very good. So I Google.

I also check Yelp.

I find that when the bathroom waiting or lack of portable toilets at a race is really bad, it ends up on Yelp. This is the race for race reviews too.

The second half marathon I ran was a smaller one, on a paved trail through San Jose. The organizers (a solid group) advertised bathrooms at specific points along the trail. Except those bathrooms weren’t there.

I knew I wasn’t the only one who noticed. The only bathroom I ever saw along the trail was one near the turnaround point. I used it really quickly because I knew there wouldn’t be any others on the way back.

Of course, when I got home the first thing I noticed was a negative review from a racer: “Bathrooms not as advertised” was essentially the jest of it.


The most important thing to note is that people won’t complain when the bathroom situation is good usually. You will hear about it when it’s bad, at least somewhere. With so many race organizations now on Facebook, one of the things I’ve seen people do is ask questions about what will be available come race morning.

Pose the question: Has anything changed from last year?

Good race organizers will accommodate and improve upon the previous year’s issues. And those are the races you end up doing again and again.

Introducing ‘Search term Sunday’

I’ll be the first to say I violated some pretty classic video rules here. First, my video is longer than recommended for the Internet. Second, I saw “um” a lot. Third, it’s shot with my iPhone 4s, so it’s not as well color balanced as it could be. The 4s also explains the orientation of the video, which is not widescreen.

Basically I’m aware that this isn’t my best work. That may be the understatement of the year. But on a whim Friday night I decided it was time to bring a feature I’ve been toying with for awhile to life.

Welcome to the first “Search term Sunday” where I talk about topics, some normal, many insane, that bring people to my blog. I would apologize for my general California girl dialect, but the semester I had voice coaching lessons in graduate school probably was a waste for me. I figured I’d never be in front of a camera, only behind it.

I guess I should have paid more attention.