Breaking up and moving on

I could tell by his words that this would be the last time I’d be seeing him. Like most break-ups, I felt a bit sad. My physical therapist was dumping me.

“So, I don’t need to schedule any more appointments?” I asked, knowing the answer but, still wanting to double check.


He was excited for me but I felt uncertain.

I know I should be happy to not have to go to PT anymore. I know this means that I am getting stronger and that I am getting closer to being my “normal running self” again.

After all, I did run a trail 5K a few weeks ago (and came in second!)

But, even with that, I don’t have the confidence to run on my own again.

What if I continue to slowly increase mileage, do my PT exercises and massage out my stiff knee but the pain still continues or becomes worse? What if I re-injury myself? How will I know when I’m ready to tackle a half-marathon and then a marathon?

I suppose after more than five months of PT, I just need to take the plunge and try.

I swam, biked, walked and hiked during the early stages of my injury when I couldn’t run at all. I took some yoga classes. I joined a gym for the first time in my life! I consistently went to PT (and actually did my PT exercises at home on my own). I even got to run on the Alt-G treadmill at PT several times! I patiently waited and waited until I could run again. When I could run, I painfully did my “Return to Running” program that involved a lot of run/walking.

It’s been a long year — or, year-and-a-half? I stopped counting! — of recovery.

I’ve clearly done all of the work. Now I just need to believe and have trust in it all. I need to believe in myself as a runner again.



First race after 20 months of injury: A success story

It really couldn’t have gone any better than it did.

I was nervous — about the weather — as the four of us drove from Seattle to Whidbey Island in mixed snow and rainfall Saturday morning.

“She better be right!” Phyllis, my friend, who will also be my maid of honor, yelled from the back seat. Her husband, Andrew, sat next to her.

The “she” Phyllis was referring to was our wedding venue manager. Our wedding is going to be on Whidbey this summer and the venue manager has told us several times that even if the weather is crappy down south/at the ferry dock, it is always nice inland on the island.

This fact proved accurate on race day. I really hope it proves accurate on the wedding day as well.

I bumped into a few friendly faces at the Fort Ebey Trail Race before the start, so that was a nice surprise. Though everyone I knew, including my friends and Bryce, were all running the 10K. I had about 15 minutes of waiting by myself in the extremely cold wind for my 5K to begin. This is when the self-doubt kicked in.

What if lots of people pass me? What if my knee starts hurting really badly? What if I have to walk a ton?


Finally it was time for us 5K-ers to line up at the start. As the group of us stood there practically shivering, I reconsidered my choice to not wear gloves and my earwarmer headband.

We started the race with a small loop along the bluff, which was annoying but helpful since it helped disperse runners before we got to the narrow single-track trail. Once running in the forested trail, I felt warmer not being out by the water and the wind. My fingers and toes were starting to thaw out but my nose was a running mess.

I leaned forward to attempt a snot rocket — without it hitting the runner right behind me. This was a mistake. I (thankfully) did not hit the runner behind me but in an awkward maneuver to move forward while shooting a snot rocket, I lost my footing and tripped on a root in the ground.

Now my left ankle really hurt. I sort of limp-jogged, wondering if I should step to the side of the trail to let those directly behind me pass. Because at this point we had only been running for about five minutes or less. Nah, I’m fine, I thought. Channeling all the Olympic figure skating I had watched in the past week, I figured if skaters can land jumps awkwardly on their ankles yet continue their routines flawlessly, I can continue running on a rolled ankle.

After a few minutes, the throbbing ankle pain went away and it just continued to be sore, which was fine by me. Plus, my lungs were getting a beating — from my lack of being in shape — so, I eventually forgot about my ankle pain.

As I continued, there were a few runners directly in front of me. The woman immediately in front of me had a windbreaker tied around her waist that kept obstructing my view ahead of the trail. After running through a pile of mud that I could have easily avoided had I been able to see it, I decided to run ahead of her.

After I passed her, I continued on and passed one or two other runners. Overall, I was feeling pretty good. I was running!

Halfway through, I’ll be honest, I was getting tired. I started doubting my fitness and was worried that the people I had passed would catch up to me.

I even walked some parts of the last mile. Yes, I admit that I walked during a 5K! But, there were a few steep parts on that 5K course!

In the last quarter-mile, I could see that there was another women close behind me. With every wide turn, I could either see her out of the corner of my eye or hear her.

My competitive nature, which really only comes out while racing, kicked in.

I will not let her beat me. 

Why this particular person? Probably because the entire race, no other female runner had passed me — just two or maybe three guys did.

Once I was out of the woods and the trees started to clear, I knew I was close to the finish. Eventually the finish line became visible and I could see and hear spectators cheering.

This is it. Time to finish this. 

I sprinted the last few (or several?) meters with a smile. As soon as I got out of the finish chute, I realized that not many people were standing around. I walked over to one of the aid tents and asked a volunteer if any of the 10K runners had finished yet.

“Nope. Just a few 5K finishers so far. You’re early!” she said.

Her comment made me feel pretty darn proud.

I hit the portapotty, got some electrolyte drink and posted up near the finish to watch Bryce, Phyllis and Andrew finish their 10K races. Bryce came flying in, beating the guy behind him by a handful of seconds. Phyllis and Andrew later arrived running side by side looking very happy and cute.

Overall, it was a great day of running for everyone.


And, to my great surprise, I finished second overall in the women’s division! (Bryce won third in the 10K, too).

“And you say you’re injured?” everyone kept saying to me as I held my “second place” mug I was awarded that I had filled with popcorn.

Maybe it was just luck, or the fact that only about 50 women ran the 5K race, but I did podium. And, while my knee did feel achy after I had completed the race, it really wasn’t that bothersome during the race.

I guess I’m officially not injured anymore?

Injured runner: I’m “racing” tomorrow!

I’m signed up to do a trail 5K race tomorrow at Fort Ebey State Park on Whidbey Island.

My only goal is to finish. I don’t care about time. I don’t care about pace. I don’t care about place. (Well, actually, I wish I could say I don’t care about coming in dead last, I do care, but I’m going to try to not think about this).

Oh, also, no matter what — no crying!

I’ve never done a trail 5K so I guess whatever time I finish in, it’ll be an automatic PR.

The funny thing is, exactly five years ago, I ran this same race — although, I think at the time, they didn’t have a 5K option, so I did the 10K.

I remember being nervous and not knowing what the whole trail running craze was about. Five years ago, it was my first ever trail race. I had been a seasoned road runner but the trails were unknown to me.

I came out of it on the other side, loving the trail running scene. I wanted to improve on my road race times, but I also wanted to be out in the mountains. I tackled longer trail running distances. I even successfully trained and completed a trail ultra marathon! 

Yet, here we are.

Not starting over, but being nervous to run a trail race again. Heck, I’m just nervous to run any race! The last race I ran was nearly TWO YEARS AGO. Since then, I’ve dealt with multiple MRIs, a second opinion and lots of physical therapy — self reflection. Oh, and the knee pain, duh. I secretly registered for this first race post-injury to be on the trails instead of the roads because if I have to stop and walk, it won’t be as awkward or noticeable … hopefully.

Also, it’s just a 5K, right?

Am I a runner still?

“So, what do you do when you’re not here?” she asked me, not knowing how much of a loaded question that is for me right now.

I was at the office conversing with someone I had just met for the first time. Asking someone what they do when they are not working sounds like an easy question to answer. You respond with your hobbies or outside-of-work activities, or something about spending time with your family.

Run. I run. 

I wanted to say I run but it was difficult to get the words out.

Is someone who has been injured for almost two years considered a runner? Even though I have now been running a little bit for two months, can I still call myself a real runner even though I often still have knee soreness/pain during it?

“I run a little. I’m getting back into running after being injured,” I responded.

“That’s awesome! So, you run like marathons?” she said.

“Yes, I run marathons — just not right now.”


Injured runner: The new normal?

I’m running three to four times a week — anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes.

I dusted off the pretty Suunto I was gifted for Christmas (of 2016). I’m still getting used to the device and am learning all its features but the main reason I am using the GPS watch is because I need to know how far I am running.

Because I am attempting a 5K trail race at the end of the month.

I signed up for the race several weeks ago and with my PT’s “blessing,” I am encouraged to train for it.

But, what does training entail? It just means I am running three to four times a week and making sure I am at least hitting three miles.

I am slow.

I’m able to run three miles at just over 10 minute/mile pace. This is slow for me. It makes me frustrated and fine all at the same time.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be back to my “normal running self” again.

Will I comfortably be able to run sub 9s in my neighborhood for a leisurely run? Will I be able to knock out a 7-minute pace road 5K like I once did?

Will I ever be able to sub-4 hour the road marathon? Something I never accomplished before I got injured but that I attempted time and time again …

Or, is going out for 30-minute runs with some off and on soreness on my left knee going to be my forever? Will racing be “just to finish” rather than to fulfill a time goal? Will I just never be running or racing long distances again?

I don’t know.

I’m hoping all of this is not my new normal. I’m hoping it’s my new temporary.

Injured runner: New year, same me?

I’ve gone back and forth with “I have so much to update you on!” to “Meh, nothing new to write home about.” This constant up and down feeling with my recovery along with the fact that wedding planning has started to consume a majority of my time and energy, has now left me with frantically typing up my first post of the year on the last day of January.

What’s new?

My knee got cupped for the first time at PT today! (It kind of hurt).

Yes, I’m still going to PT but this was my first visit of the new year.

Basically, I have been keeping up with my PT exercises (more or less) and have been doing 20-25 minutes of slow running anywhere from two to four times a week. Some runs are better than others. (I did go on one 34-minute run which ended a bit painful).

So, my threshold is running no more than 25-ish minutes for now.

Oh, and remember how I fainted and fell last November? (No?!) Well, I hit my arm (inner elbow area) and at the time it didn’t hurt (after the bruises went away). But, “suddenly” now this month I am experiencing soreness and minor pain in the elbow area when I do certain actions like carry a basket of groceries or have my arm bent for an extended period of time. I went to the doctor just as a precaution and the doctor suggested I wear an arm brace (just below where the pain is) and come back in two weeks. The brace seems to help with the soreness (but is it just in my mind?!)

Needless to say when I walked into PT today, my physical therapist jokingly asked me if I was there to see him for my knee or my arm.

“My knee!” I said. “I don’t care about my arm!”

I just want to get back to fully running … I can do that without a fully functioning elbow, right? 🙂

2017 Running Year in Review

It was a tough year for running. Because, during this entire year, I can only say I ran twice.

You see, I’m classifying running as time spent outside with no walk intervals/breaks. So, the only time I did run was 30 slow minutes on Thanksgiving with high school cross-country friends and 30 slower minutes in snow with my cousin and Uncle on Christmas.


I first got injured Memorial Day weekend of 2016, a mere three-ish weeks before the Alaska Marathon. I ran the marathon (just to finish) and I did. A month later I was diagnosed with a stress fracture on the side of my knee — and it’s been a long road to recovery since then.

This year, running taught me to be patient and to be diligent.

I didn’t run at all during the first half of the year. I was told I needed to keep resting.

In the summer, since the knee pain hadn’t completely gone away, I sought a second opinion and learned that my stress fracture had in fact healed but that now I have patellar femoral pain (AKA runner’s knee!)

How does one get runner’s knee when she hasn’t been running? Because I’ve been staying active hiking, swimming and a little biking, but not doing proper strengthening — especially to my hips and glutes.

I was referred to physical therapy and have been going since August. Just as I used to wake up early or rearrange my schedule to get my runs in, I do the same for my PT exercises. Also, I’m at the point where I’m very very close to being done with my “Return to Running” program which means that in about a week I will officially be able to run without having to take any walk breaks!

Honestly, I’ve been not running for so long — more than a year-and-half — that sometimes it doesn’t even bother me. I’ve somehow gotten used to it. I feel like friends and family who I’ve seen for the holidays are more upset with how long my recovery is taking than I am.


But, I’m ready for 2018. I’m so ready to run.