June thoughts

That thing has been happening again where time feels like it’s just slipping away from me. Today is officially the first day of summer. And, with that I get a little nervous and a lot more stressed because — non-running alert — the wedding is less than three weeks away.

I haven’t been running as much recently since 1) the thoughts I wrote about a few weeks ago still hold true and 2) it’s been super hot in Seattle as of late. And, yes, by “super hot” I mean low 80s but having lived here my whole life, low 80s is super hot for me. 3) there are a million things left to do for the wedding.

What I can report back on is that last Friday I played ultimate Frisbee for the first time since before I was injured. It was the first time in more than two years that I laced up my cleats, ran around for deep hucks and tried not to make a fool out of myself.

I’m playing in a summer mixed team so it’s with a bunch of people that are randomly assigned to be on a team together. And, it has a nice mixture of experienced and more beginner players.

I was really nervous that sprinting around for two hours would aggravate my knee. Oddly enough, I had no knee pain.

This may have been the first time I had absolutely zero knee pain during exercise since before I was injured!

At first I thought I just wasn’t “noticing” my knee since sprinting around for the first time in forever was really a struggle for my lungs. I felt very out of shape. But, after a few points when I really focused on my knee, I realized that it felt normal!

I guess running around on a turf field makes a difference. I just thought sprinting wouldn’t have been ideal for the knee. I guess not.

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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.

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.

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?

Onward to racing!

You may recall that last month I participated in my first race after being injured for 20 months. It was great, it helped build up some confidence. But, it was a trail race.

There’s nothing wrong with trail running. I love it. However, what knocked me out from running to begin with was the Anchorage (road) Marathon. Until I have raced roads again, I’ll remain feeling a bit — weak.

So, I registered for Beat the Bridge, which is a road 8K in May. I have lots of time to work up towards it and 8 kilometers is just under five miles so that doesn’t seem too daunting.

This is a race I’ve done a few times in the past. (Although, upon re-reading my 2011 race recap, I seemed to have not liked it too much?) The course will more or less be the same (since it needs to incorporate the bridges) and I’ll have a few friends who will be racing it as well. It’ll be a fun party, right?

As I type this, I’m excited for the race but I’m sure as it gets closer I will be more nervous. You all just need to keep me in check, OK? OK then!

(And, if anyone has any good 8K training plans, holler at yer girl!)

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.

“Nope!”

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.