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.

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This is 30

All names in this post are changed to protect the old and innocent.

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She felt bad that she kept having to leave me alone at the table. First it was to go get water. And then it was to go order ice cream.

No, she wasn’t extremely hungry or thirsty. She was trying to subdue her tastebuds that were on fire at the moment.

Samantha and I met up for dinner at a place that has take-out chicken sandwiches. She assured me that the tofu sandwiches (for this vegetarian) were also delicious. You can choose the level of spiciness of your sandwich and I ordered mine “medium” while Sam decided to go for “hot.” She said she ate there before and ordered medium but that she felt like it wasn’t spicy enough.

Well, folks, we’ve learned that there is a big difference between “medium” and “hot” at this place. While I was scarfing down my sandwich, she could barely eat hers.

“Kristin, what’s wrong with me? I’m in pain!” she said.

It’s one of those scenes that you want to be laughing at, but it actually didn’t come across as funny to me. I felt bad because there was nothing I could do to help her. (And she clearly was not in the position to be laughing).

“Do you want some of my sandwich?” I offered.

Sam said it was too late. Her mouth was already burning. She went back for more water at the self-serve station and left a little later again to order vanilla ice cream in hopes that the cold cream would off-set the burning sensation in her mouth.

“Is this what it’s like to get old?” she said while half laughing. Or, was it I who said that to try to lighten her mood?

Either way, maybe this is what getting old is like. Most of my friends and I are now 30, or about to approach 30.

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I have one friend, Brandy, who just got back surgery last week. Yes, back surgery! And, just like me she is only 30 years old! And, I have another friend, Maggie, who is about to get a colonoscopy because she has been having unresolved gastrointestinal problems.

Maybe this is the 30 that no one talks or writes (or posts on social media) about.

Except that I have been constantly writing and reminding you all about my year-long running injury!

We hear stories or see Facebook posts about Judy from high school’s new baby boy, or Agatha and her husband’s new million-dollar house or Angie’s elaborate wedding in the Bahamas.

We don’t hear the stories about the surgeries, doctor visits or that time your friend Sam could barely eat her dinner because she ordered it too spicy.

So, let’s be real. (I guess) this is 30.

30th Birthday

For the past 11 birthdays, I have had mixed emotions.

I’ve always felt a little sad, a little guilty.

Some people don’t like their birthday because they don’t like the attention, or the fact that they are aging.

For the past 11 years, I haven’t liked it because it means I am getting “further away” from Natalie.

I spent my 30th birthday earlier this month busy at work and then flying on an airplane with my BFF to Disneyland. I didn’t let myself stop and think about my sad association with birthdays for fear that I would get sad at the happiest place on earth.

But, today, I do.

Today is Natalie’s birthday. She would have turned 30 years old. But, I instead only have memories of a near-19-year-old. (Yes, she was only 18 when she passed away).

Sometimes I wish I even had videos of those memories. Because, as time passes, memories can change and even fade. I don’t want them to though.

I want to hold on to them for as long as possible.

Happy birthday, Natalia.

Injured runner: Are you running yet?

I’ve gone silent again.

Maybe it’s the “extreme Seattle heat” — we hit the 80s over in the Pacific Northwest, folks! — or maybe it’s because I haven’t felt like writing that I am still injured. Maybe it’s because I’ve been busy doing other things.

I have been swimming a lot (but more on that later). And, have spent a lot of time both in and out of the pool reflecting on this whole, um, experience.

While the past year has had its low moments (due to this darn knee injury), I have to remind myself that running has provided me with so many wonderful experiences, proud moments and life-long friendships.

Last night I went to the Seattle Reign soccer match with one of my friends, Ragan, and her group of season ticket holder friends. I feel like I have been friends with Ragan longer than the four or so years I have known her.

We met because we both worked together about two-and-a-half years ago. But, it wasn’t the “fast friends” type situation. I actually walked over to Ragan’s desk one afternoon and straightforwardly asked her, “Do you want to be on my Ragnar team?” In that moment, I really didn’t know much about her. I knew she was nice and smart and was in grad school for something science-y while also working. I didn’t know she played soccer and had several half marathons under her belt. Once I explained what exactly Ragnar was to her, she was quickly on board to join my team and filled the last spot on my 12-person team.

Since then, we’ve done two team relays together and have another one on the books — the upcoming Ragnar Rainier which I will most likely not be running, but will still captain and hang out. We obviously also hang out outside of running and I’m so thankful for her friendship.

This morning I went on a walk at Discovery Park with Mo and Leah. They are both high school friends and we all ran cross-country together in our teenage years. Since then we have trained and raced many marathons together. Mo currently lives in Seattle and Leah lives on the East Cost. A few years ago their living arrangements were reversed with Leah living here and Mo on the East Coast. Throughout geographic differences, we have remained close friends. Walking around Discovery this morning — on the same trail we have run together countless times — I was reminded that I have been friends with these extraordinary women for more than a decade.

All thanks to running.

So, to answer your question …. No, I am not running.

And, yes, it is still sad and makes me mad and anxious all at the same time. But when I really think deep about running, I cannot be so mad. It has brought so many new people into my life and has strengthened so many of my relationships.

So, kudos to you, running.

Letter to my future self

The spring of my high school senior year, I wrote a letter to myself. My peers and I were at our senior retreat and one of the activities was to write a letter to yourself 10 years from that current moment.

I received the letter today. (It’s actually been 11 years since I wrote the note). I remember writing it but hadn’t remembered any of its content.

As I scanned the letter, I recognized my handwriting. Then as I started reading and comprehending the words, I began to cry.

“I’ve accomplished nothing that my 17-year-old self sought out to,” I thought. “What have I been doing for the last decade??”

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The letter was written in April and I wrote about how I probably ended up going to college at Willamette University. It eluded to the fact that I now owned my own house with a nice kitchen.

I did not go to Willamette. I ended up staying in state and going to UW. I am nowhere near owning a house. I rent an apartment with a roommate.

But, another big part about my letter was asking me about how all my friends are doing. I’m happy to report that they are all well and good. One thing that has been a constant throughout my life are my childhood/high school friends. I’m actually waiting at the airport now, to go visit one of my friends all the way across the globe!

My life may not be like I thought it would be 11 years ago. But, I wouldn’t change anything. I’m happy.

And I’m happy that my former self was able to remind me of all the important people in my life. Thanks, high school Kristin.

Harry Potter and the reliving of the midnight book release

It was the summer of 2007 and I was reunited with two dear high school friends who had gone to college on the East Coast. We were all home in Seattle for summer break.

Mo, Allie and I took our last jaunt to Portland for the midnight book release party for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — plus tax-free shopping of the Nordstrom Anniversary sale.  (We had done the same thing two years prior for the release of Half-Blood Prince).

I really thought it was the end. I was sad that this would be our last midnight Harry Potter book event since it was the eighth and final book of the series.

And don’t get me started on how I felt when the last HP movie was coming out

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The three of us were in between sophomore and junior year of college. We weren’t even of legal drinking age yet. But the Harry Potter series had been with us since grade school.

Now, in present time, I’m one year away from being 30 — and I went to another Harry Potter midnight book release party. For those of you unaware, the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play script was published into a book and was released on July 31 (same day as Harry Potter’s birthday!) For those of you really unaware, Cursed Child is the story of Harry and the gang 19 years after the final book.

I even wore the same home-made shirt I made nine years ago. (Thank goodness it still fit!)

Bryce tagged along with Phyllis and I and jokingly made comments beforehand that included “What if we are the only ones who show up?” or “What will you guys do if we go and they have cancelled the event because there was not enough interest?”

Phyllis and I had high hopes though.

There were about 100 or so muggles at the Seattle downtown Barnes and Noble. The employees were dressed in house robes. I finally got sorted into Gryffindor.

But, yes, it was weird.

It was like being taken back to a part of my past. The majority of folks who joined the fun were about our age and give-or-take some years younger/older.

Phyllis also wore her homemade T-shirt from nine years ago. Mine said “Defense Against the Dark Arts Major” and hers “I play Quidditch.”

I don’t know if it is irony or what but while we were waiting for midnight to strike, a college boy walked past us wearing a grey sweatshirt with bold print reading “Yale Quidditch”and Phyllis immediately turned to me and exclaimed, “Oh my god, I don’t actually play quidditch!” We both burst out laughing.

Back when we were in college, saying you played quidditch was like saying you were majoring in Defense Against the Dark Arts. But now playing quidditch in college is an actual team sport.

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It was a weird experience, but I’m glad we did it.

After all, this was the very last Harry Potter midnight book release.

J.K. Rowling even says there will be no more new stories.

But, I wouldn’t complain if otherwise.

Making friends in the real world

The woman turned to Sarah and I and asked, “Are you guys old friends?”

Sarah and I, seated at our table mid-conversation at the cafe,  didn’t know exactly how to respond. Neither of us answered immediately.

“Yeah, we’re good friends,” I answered.

“She used to work with my sister, who’s in the bathroom now,” Sarah added.

“And the two of them are twins!” I exclaimed.

From this stranger’s perspective, the three of us acted as though we were “old friends.” Really, we had “only” been friends for about a year-and-a-half.

IMG_1429The woman laughed and said something about how it was just nice to hear the three of us converse and laugh and that we just seemed like we had all been friends since childhood. (I mean, yes, Emily and Sarah have technically known each other since being in the womb, but not me).

I don’t know how Emily and Sarah felt but I was kind of proud that a stranger would think we had been friends for so long. The two of them are my first post-college friends I have made. They are my first real world friends.

I am now seven years out of college and back when I was a recent graduate, I would have never guessed I would find friendship in the workplace.

But, it happens.

It’s not too difficult when Emily and Sarah are two of the most giving, caring and fun people I know. They have helped me in countless ways. They go above and beyond for me and for their friends. They are up for trying new things (like doing races with me even though they claim they dislike and cannot run!) They are super smart and hardworking. (And, I’m not just saying all this because they had birthdays yesterday!)

Back when Emily and I worked together, she walked over to my desk one day and asked me if I wanted to go to Disneyland together.

“Yes, I do!” I said.

“Great!” she said and walked back to her desk.

I wasn’t sure if she was being serious or not. After all, we had only been working together for three months at the time. Six months later, the two of us and Sarah were at the happiest place on earth together. I guess you could say my friendship with these two progressed uh, kind of fast?

But, they have shown me that real world friendships do and can exist. I’ve said in the past that I have too many friends. However, for people like Emily and Sarah, there’s always room for more friends.