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.

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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 say. I feel like friends and family who I’ve seen for the holidays are more upset with how long my recovery is taking.

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

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Ready to really run

My coworker flailed her arms in my direction, trying to get my attention. Well, she got it. We work in an open office. I thought it was something urgent related to one of our current projects, or maybe something to do with one of our meetings for the day.

“Will you sign up for Seattle Rock ‘n Roll with me?” she asked me from across the room.

She probably thought I was quick to answer “no” but for a split second I did want to say “yes” (and pay the consequences later).

But I’m not playing that game again, and again … and then again.

The game where I think “I’ll definitely be running XX months from now” and I sign up for a race. That got me into a wasted Seattle Half Marathon race entry in 2016 followed by a wasted 10K race registration this past spring. And, we all know what happened with Ragnar Rainier — at least I could still participate through mostly walking/hiking!

Not only is the money I waste on a race I end up not being able to run frustrating, it’s exhausting to get your hopes up time and time again — only to still not be able to run.

I really do want to register for the Rock ‘n Roll half marathon with her. It’s in June so that’s six months away. And, there’s a “special deal” today so race entry is only $59 or something pretty cheap (for a big name half marathon) like that!

It’s not like I would do it to PR. I would do it to finish, to just run.

But, I can’t set myself up for failure again. After all, six months will come quickly and right now I am still on “Phase 6” of my Return to Running Program.

I’m ready to really run again.

Injured runner: What I’m proud of

It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go the way you want them to, the way you think they should go. It’s easy to get annoyed when someone says or acts in a manner that is the complete opposite to what you view as correct or right.

It’s easy for those negative emotions to “turn on.”

I’d always run them off.

In my current state though — slowly returning to running  — I’m doing my very best to not get annoyed or frustrated or mad or sad.

Every run, even if it’s at three-minute intervals, is a victory. If my knee is not in pain, it’s a victory.

I’m currently at stage 5 (of 7) for my Return to Running program from my PT and I’m proud to say that every single run/walk I’ve done, I’ve done outside. I have not done a single one on the dreadmill. This has meant run-walking in complete darkness after work. This has meant run-walking in the cold and rain on the weekends.

I would never run on a treadmill when I was fully healthy so why would I run-walk on one?

Life as a (temporary) spectator

In all my ~12 years of running half marathons and marathons, I had never spectated a race until last Sunday.

I’ve never spectated because I’ve aways been the runner. Or, there were some times when I “just ran the half” and cheered Bryce or other friends into the finish as they completed the full marathon of the same event.

Joanna was doing the Seattle Marathon and as my partner in marathon training and pain, I wasn’t going to miss cheering her on for the 26.2 miles of post-Thanksgiving festivities.

This was my very first time as a race spectator!

It was so heartwarming to see all the runners out there — well let’s be honest — suffering as the rain rolled in. Some managed to grimace as I cheered them on. (Even with a cowbell it was darn tiring!) Some just looked forward with blank stares as they ran on. Some even cheered for me, the spectator!

I identified with each and every one of these marathoners.

It made me wish I could just jump in and run alongside all of them.

Joanna fought hard and had a really strong finish. Friends like her motivate me to work hard at PT, to work hard at my “return-to-running” program, so that I can be back out there and cross many more finish lines.

I won’t allow myself to be a spectator forever.

Getting back to running, sort of

My “Return to Running Program” from my PT consists of seven stages. As the stages increase, so does your running time and overall time on your feet. For example, stage one you are active for a total of 20 minutes and only five of those minutes are running (and not even consecutively). By stage seven, you are at a total of 60 active minutes, with 40 of the minutes being running minutes.

I’m on stage three as of right now, where I am only running at two-minute consecutive increments. However, for Thanksgiving, my PT gave me a pass.

Earlier in the week at my appointment, we talked about the upcoming holiday and what we had planned. I told him that every year my high school cross country friends and I meet at 9 sharp at Discovery Park to run together. It’s a tradition we’ve continued for now 15 years! Last year, being injured, I walked with a few friends — one had just had a baby — and this year I figured I’d be walking again.

“If you want to run, you can run. And, then go back to your running program next week,” my PT said.

It was like music to my ears.

I know I’m my own person and I can do what I want. But, it was nice to hear from a professional that I was “allowed” to run (if I wanted to).

So, I did.

I managed one Discovery Park loop with no major incidents. It was a total of 29 minutes of running the 5K loop (with one quick break to take in the sights of Puget Sound from the bluffs).

It felt fantastic to run with my old friends. It felt fantastic to be on our old stomping grounds together, despite the rain.

My knee did not feel fantastic but it also was not in pain, per se. It just felt like it was maybe going to start being in pain. What was most painful was my breathing. I’ve just gotten so out of shape over the course of more than a year of being injured from running.

But, the victory in it all is I did it. I ran.

And, most importantly, I ran with friends.

Injured runner: An exciting week (but not for running)!

I don’t know why this has turned into the year Kristin became a bad blogger. You’d think that all the extra time I have from not being able to run, I’d be able to at least crank out one post a week. Nope.

But, I have exciting news!

Two-and-a-half weeks ago I got engaged! And then a day later I found out I received a promotion at work! And then a week after that, I was able to successfully purchase tickets to Hamilton (for the Seattle show next year!) And then a day after that, I fainted and fell in public!

So, I guess my attention has been elsewhere …

 

Not to get off topic, but I am fine (from the fainting). I tend to faint once or twice a year so I guess I was due for this year’s episode. I went to the doctor just to make sure everything was OK and all blood work returned normal.

Hopefully, a positive running update will soon follow all this other happy personal and professional news!

Injured runner: Return to “running”

At the end of my last physical therapy appointment, my PT asked me if I had any questions.

“Sooooo … can I start running a little bit?” I asked.

His response was yes followed by him away from me — to get me a Return to Running Program handout.

It’s happening! Er, well, it has happened!

I went on my first “run” last Friday. It was a warm, crisp, sunny day so of course I wasn’t going to have my first “run” be on the treadmill.

I considered it a “run” because this is the current regimen:

5 minute walk
1 min. run, 1 min. walk (5 x)
5 minute walk

So, really only five minutes of running was involved. And, really, it was a slow jog.

I broke out my fancy Suunto that I received as a Christmas gift last year. My pace ranged from 9:30 to upwards 11+. For someone who typically runs comfortably around 8 to 9-min/mile range, it was painful.

My body felt so heavy. (I guess justified since I have gained weight in the more-than-one-year-long hiatus from running). I was also just being overly cautious because while my knee did not outright hurt, it didn’t feel completely strong either.

The workout was exciting and sad all at the same time.

It’s exciting because this is progress.

It’s sad because I can only “run” at 60-second intervals.

My schedule has been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to go out on another test run, but I’m hoping to get a few more in before my next PT appointment next week so I can report back that all is well.

I’d cringe to call myself a runner now, but maybe soon I don’t have to call myself an injured runner?