The reluctant runner

Honestly, I’m getting tired of not being 100 percent while running.

I still don’t think I have had a single run where my knee felt completely normal. There is always slight pain, or a minor ache.

It’s been two years since I first got injured. Shouldn’t my pain be 100 percent gone by now?

With all this being said, I haven’t been running much lately. I’d rather not run than run and not feel like my normal self.

It just doesn’t feel the same. I just feel worried that I am doing more harm to my knee. It isn’t fun.

I’ll try to get out to the pool since I haven’t at all yet this summer. And, I’ll continue my PT exercises.

But, maybe in a month or two I should go back to the doctor? Or, PT? Or, both?

Just feeling like a reluctant runner these days.

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Beat the Bridge race recap

This race recap is pretty uneventful.

I ran with friends. We beat the bridge. The weather was perfect (cloudy, but not cold). My knee felt wonky.

But, to go into a little more detail … this is how it all played out two Saturdays ago at the Beat the Bridge 8K.

Bryce kindly drove Joanna and I to Husky Stadium where we met up with Phyllis and Andrew shortly after 7:30 am. Our race was to start at 8:30. Luckily, it wasn’t too crowded yet as we got our bibs from packet pickup. (Yup, none of us had done packet pickup the day before!)

Then, it was just a lot of waiting around.

Phyllis and Andrew did a warm-up but Joanna and I proceeded to just hang around inside the stadium. Maybe a little stretching occurred? I figured the first mile of the race would be my warm up.

We waited until maybe 5-10 minutes until the race start to make our way to the starting line. It was really crowded and because there was a barricade along the start, the only way to “get in line” was through the start line, where all the elite runners stood, or all the way in the back … which, from where we were standing, was nowhere in sight.

We opted to just hover near the start line so that we could squeeze into the crowd once the gun went off. It worked.

While the three of us made no real pact to stick together, we ran together. Joanna was fighting a cold. Phyllis had a wonky-knee thing. You all know my deal.

We waved at Bryce as he stood on an overpass walking bridge, taking our photos — our own personal paparazzi.

At the beginning we were running steadily at 8:10 pace. Not gonna lie. This felt fast and slightly uncomfortable for me. But, I was running with my friends so, oh well!

We made it across the University Bridge, with plenty of time to spare, and continued up a steady incline. We chatted off and on.

Joanna pointed out a young kid, probably around 12 or 13, who kept sprinting and then walking. “He better not beat us!” she said.

I held the same thought but didn’t really care that much.

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We rounded our way back to the stadium and spotted Bryce again on the overpass bridge, cheering us on and taking photos. Even though we were outside Husky Stadium, we still had a mile or so, including an out and back, before the finish.

Our pace steadily slowed down. I wasn’t paying much attention to my watch. All I can say is that I didn’t feel too horrible since I had Joanna and Phyllis by my side.

Joanna finished one second before me and Phyllis a few seconds behind me. I don’t even remember my finish time but I think we averaged around 8:30 pace.

How do I feel? Meh — because the knee pain still persists.  Glad I got to run with friends though.

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Race goals for the reluctant runner

I’m racing, er, running — maybe jogging — an 8K tomorrow. I’m feeling a bit reluctant about it and I wish I was in a better mindset.

After all, I have three other friends who will be running, and Bryce will be coming out to cheer for us.

So, why the reluctance?

I have an ingrown toenail situation that had been affecting my running earlier in the week. It’s gotten better (i.e., it no longer hurts to wear close-toed shoes). But, because of that, I haven’t run much recently. And, when I have, my knee has been “acting up.”

With all that being said, I’m still going to do the race. And, here are my race goals:

  1. Have fun.
  2. Finish with a smile on my face.
  3. Do not worry about time/pace.
  4. Beat the bridge (but do not get mad if I do not).

I know, I know. Goal #3 and #4 are in direct conflict with one another. In order to “beat the bridge,” I think one needs to maintain 10 minute/mile pace. Or, a bit faster?

For those who are confused by this whole beating the bridge thing, this course has two bridge crossings and the second one is around the 2-mile mark. The bridge will go up at a specified time so a lot of runners’ goal is to beat the bridge from going up. If you get caught at the bridge while it is up, you will have to wait for a minute or so — and then continue on with the rest of your race.

But, my main goal is just to have fun.

Running but not running

I’m running again but I haven’t really been running much lately.

After a pretty successful 10K race last month, I haven’t been running as much as I have wanted to in preparation for my “real comeback race” — Beat The Bridge 8K.

I guess since I know I can run a 10K, I know I’ll be able to complete an 8K.

It’s just, running doesn’t feel completely the same since I still continue to have off and on knee pain and aches.

I ran into a former coworker last week and she enthusiastically said “You’re running again!” Yes, I guess based on my social media posts, I am in fact running again.

But, I still don’t feel like a runner.

I’ll take this upcoming 8K easy. After all, I also have this ingrown toenail situation I am trying to fix. Yesterday it hurt so bad that I couldn’t even run! I went back home after 30 seconds of running — yes, less than one minute! I immediately soaked my feet so that the nail would be softer to cut, and I attempted to “undo” the ingrown toenail.

Well, I made it worse. So, now I’m walking around my office in my Birkenstocks since it’s a bit uncomfortable to wear close-toed shoes.

Anyway, enough about my gross nail.

That’s the update for now … running, but not running, but sort of running.

I’ll be back to a runner when …

I’m still waiting for that moment when everything clicks and my knee is 100 percent pain/ache-free and I’m done worrying about whether or not I’m still injured.

It hasn’t happened yet. But, I’m very close to it.

I thought it would happen after my first race back. But, it was a trail race. So, even after I conquered that, I felt that I was not fully back.

About a month ago, I started doing short run-commutes. From work to the eye doctor. From work to downtown to meet up with a friend. Both of these equated to about two miles. I still haven’t built up the confidence to run from the office back home — which is five miles all up hill.

Two weeks ago I ran my first road race back and it went as perfectly as it could have!

But, I still don’t feel 100 percent back to normal. I’m still waiting for my knee to feel 100 percent ache/pain-free. Because if I were to be truly honest, sometimes my knee aches even when just sitting at my desk at work.

Is this the new normal?

Will I be a worried forever now?

When do I stop calling myself an injured runner and merely a runner?

10 years of time, remembering, grieving, celebrating

The sentiments are still the same since I wrote this post two years ago. Although, I have grown a lot in the past two years. I overcame a year-plus running injury. I excelled at my job. I got engaged.

Sometimes when I go through life milestones, I get sad because it means I’m leaving behind my childhood friend.

Natalie will always be 17 years old. And, I think a part of me will always be grieving.

The grief just changes over time.

I ran Green Lake today and it was the sunniest and happiest I’ve seen it all year. I didn’t cry. But, I am now.

Ready, set, KO!

Two days ago marked exactly 10 years since Natalie’s passing.

It’s weird to read those words: 10 years since Natalie’s passing.

One entire decade has passed since I last had someone in my life. And not just “someone,” but a dear friend. 

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Each year I think it will get easier.

I don’t know if it has.

It gets tougher for different reasons.

Do I still remember exactly what her voice sounded like?

Am I still recalling events that happened with her exactly as they happened?

Because, that’s the thing with events — even important ones — they become memories that eventually fade.

And that makes me feel uncomfortable.

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But, what I do know is that if it weren’t for Natalie, I wouldn’t be running marathons. And, running marathons has been the greatest gift I have given myself in my adult life. So, I have her to thank. She is…

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Back to racing: Tenacious 10K

I couldn’t have asked for better weather. I couldn’t have wished for better company. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better race result.

For those of you who do not read this blog religiously, I signed up for a 10K just two days before the race, without any real 10K training.

Sure, I’ve been running again. I now have about two months worth of running under my belt. This means running anywhere from three to five times a week. But, prior to the race, my longest run had been about five miles. My plan all along had been for the Beat the Bridge 8K in May to be my “comeback” road race.

But, I got anxious and antsy. I was also getting major FOMO as the excitement of race week built for Tenacious Ten. I wasn’t going to miss out this year like I did list year (due to my knee injury).

My Oiselle teammate and friend, Rebecca, and I carpooled together to Gas Works Park early on race morning. I was feeling super excited. A little tired, but super excited. It was cold and windy while we waited for the race to start. But, I ran into some other teammates, whom I haven’t seen in quite some time so that was fun!

Even though I wasn’t planning to “full on race the thing,” I still wore my Oiselle singlet and shorts. As I waited in the crowd of runners waiting for the race to officially start, I was questioning my wardrobe choice. I was cold.

Once we started running, my legs felt light. I had a huge sense of warmth and happiness: I was road racing! After nearly two long and hard years since my last road race, I was back again!

Although I was wearing my GPS watch, I paid no attention to it. (Also, I haven’t figured out all the settings on my “new” Suunto so it doesn’t beep at mile marks, which I guess is a good thing for now). I trotted along, with lots of smiling runners around me. Or, I was smiling so I just figured everyone else was too!

But then some thoughts started popping in my head.

This feels a little slow. 

I started making my way past other runners as we ran up a short incline to get on the University Bridge. It was from that point on that I continued passing runners … for the duration of the race.

Every time I’d settle into another pack of runners and feel like I was at a good pace, I’d think to myself “I can go faster.” So, I did.

My knee felt off-and-on achy but nothing new and nothing painful. I kept on running. In the final two miles, I really started picking up the pace. Even though I wasn’t racing for time, now I wanted to definitely beat one hour.

(At one short point, I was running 7:27 pace!)

Within the last mile, I looked at my watch and told myself I had a good chance of breaking 55 minutes.

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After crossing the Fremont Bridge, I dug deep. I started breathing harder.

I’m actually racing now!

The sun was shining brightly. Since I hit that part of racing where things are feeling uncomfortable, I even had a moment of “When will this be over?”

Once I was back at Gas Works Park and about to leave the Burke Gilman Trail, it was all or nothing. I saw a handful of people in front of me, and I began chipped away at them.

I full-on sprinted into the finish — so fast and mindless, might I add, that I didn’t even notice Lauren Fleshman or Sally giving high-fives to finishers.

I did it!

Rebecca greeted me right at the finish line and said, “OK, ready to go?” (I had told her earlier that I wouldn’t have time to hang out after the race since I had a bridal shower to go to. Actually, I had my bridal shower to go to).

I reached for a cowbell medal from a nearby table, since I also somehow managed to sprint right by the volunteers handing them out.  I also grabbed a water bottle. Despite half the race thinking I had to pee, now I no longer had to and was extremely thirsty.

My official time was 54:21.

I couldn’t be happier.