The I-didn’t-do-anything / I-did-a-lot summer

I’m still in denial that it’s September. (Even though September is about to be over).

I want to grasp on to summer for as long as possible because I feel like I “didn’t do anything.” I didn’t get outdoors as much as I would have liked. I didn’t go on a single camping/backpacking trip. I haven’t gotten back into running from my +1 year-long injury.

Sigh … where did summer go? What have I been doing? Because, the thing is, I feel like I was busy all summer despite not feeling like I did everything I wanted to do.

When I really think long and hard about it though. I had a pretty darn good summer.

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I experienced my first total solar eclipse. Yep, my family and I drove down to Salem from Seattle and was in the line of totality. I won’t gush on and on about it but it truly was unlike anything I had ever witnessed before. And, there is a huge difference between seeing a total solar eclipse and even a 90-something percent eclipse. If you ever have a chance to see totality, do it. Trust me. (OK, done preaching).

We celebrated my dad’s retirement! Couldn’t be more proud of his dedication and work with the Boeing Company. He spent his entire career there!

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We celebrated many friends’ new marriages.

I snuck in six hikes in a row in the last six weeks! (Yes, seven weeks ago I had an “Oh no! I-haven’t-gone-on-a-single-hike-freak-out-moment.”)

I fully participated in Ragnar Trail Rainier (even if that meant not fully running it).

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Saw the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors exhibit (!!!)

Oh, and Jury Duty. That was a new experience in itself.

Summer is officially over on Friday and I’m sad to say good-bye but at the same time, I feel like I had a very complete and fulfilling summer.

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Injured runner: Going back to the doctor

Not much going on at the moment.

I’ve been doing physical therapy for close to (or just about?) two months — yeah, I stopped keeping track — and am scheduled for my “last” PT appointment tomorrow with a follow-up appointment with the doctor on Friday.

I say “last” PT appointment because I have a strong inkling that the

doctor will tell me to continue with physical therapy. I’m not sure I have any other options, but we’ll see.

For those of you who have been following along closely, I’ll be seeing my second-opinion doctor — the one who referred me to PT — and not the first doctor I had been seeing who kept telling me to get MRI after MRI (after MRI). For those of you not paying close attention, I did get the first two MRIs and then went for a second opinion when I was told to get a third MRI.

I don’t really know how I feel. I still have knee pain every now and again. I’m still not running. I’ve been hiking a lot — my way of trying to hold onto summer — with no significant knee pain from the steep climbs.

Not much going on at the moment. Maybe that will change in a few days. Maybe it’ll just be the same. We’ll see.

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.

Yes, I’m still injured. But, I’m not broken.

As soon as I got back into my car after seeing my orthopedic doc, the tears started streaming down my face. I didn’t even know I was going to cry. But, cars always make you feel safe enough to just let it all out, right?

I don’t need surgery. (Yay!)

I still have a solid three to four months to allow my stress fracture to heal. (Boo!)

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The weather during my appointment reflected how I felt at the time. 

Going into the appointment I knew I would be getting some answers, some clarity on my knee injury. After all, I have been an obedient injured runner and have not run since the beginning of August — OK, OK, except for one bout in the fall when I literally ran for like five minutes and it wasn’t even continuous.

My knee pain comes and goes.

But, all I can do now is just give it more time.

I’ve been so quiet about my injury lately that people have forgotten about it. A colleague texted me a link to an upcoming trail race the other day. Others ask me when my next race will be. I just politely smile and say I still cannot run.

It’s frustrating.

I’m just glad that I mentally prepared before the holidays and told myself I would not be running any marathons in 2017. Now with the news that I must wait longer to be fully recovered, I know that at best I will begin to ease into jogging sometime during the summer.

Summer feels so far away.

And, what about the two races I have already registered for? What I thought would be my “comeback race” in April will now either be a DNS (Did Not Start) or I will have to just walk the 10K — if there is no time cutoff. I’m still holding out hope for Ragnar Rainier in August …

It’s frustrating.

A friend told me that my several more months of rest will be worth the wait. I have my whole lifetime ahead to keep running, she said. (“And, you’re so young — thank goodness you don’t need to start on the surgery route!” she chimed in.)

I know she’s right. I’m still injured, but I’m not broken.

New year, same injury?

I know, I know, it’s the 15th day into the new year and you haven’t heard a single peep from me! Where have I been? How am I feeling? What are my new year resolutions? What’s up with my running injury?

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I rang in the new year with my family in Japan and came back home last week. We visited my grandma and it was a nice, relaxing vacation. So, that’s why there has been no blogging from yours truly.

And, of course when you are away from home for more than a week, there is always all the laundry and grocery shopping that needs to be done upon your return. Not to mention, the added jet lag when coming back from Japan!

So, here I am, trying to catch up on my life.

I went in for my MRI — this time with contrast — last Thursday morning. Getting the injection for the contrast into my knee was a little more uncomfortable than I expected it to be. My hands were sweating profusely as I waited for the doctor to prepare. But, it was over quickly and I guess it didn’t hurt that much now looking back on it.

The MRI part was the same as back when I had my first one in August. This time I was smart and decided to listen to music when the tech offered. I opted for classical music because it seemed like the type of music they would play in the movies when the lead actor is going in for a medical procedure — and yes, I understand that mine wasn’t “a procedure” but a mere MRI, but I run this show here!

I felt more relaxed this time (probably because of the calming music!) and know so because my quads were not sore the next day like they were after the first MRI!

I’m scheduled to see my doctor Tuesday to go over the results from this MRI. I really hope I have concrete answers that are along the lines of, “Kristin, it looks like your stress fracture will take one more month to heal. The pain you have been experiencing is just phantom pain. In another month, you can ease into jogging and then running again.”

That one month I threw out is just arbitrary. I’d like to be able to run sooner but my whole desire at this point is that I want a concrete timeline. If I know it will be one month or even three months until I can run again, at least I will know and can mentally plan and prepare for what’s next.

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However, if I am given news that the stress fracture is worse than we thought and that I have to have surgery, well, I’m not sure how I will handle that news. So, I’m not going to worry and stress about that until I absolutely must.

It’s a new year and I’m hoping with all my heart that my injury is a thing of the past. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed. 2017, give me something good to talk about!

2016 Running Year In Review

This year’s Running Year in Review is quite different from last year’s post.

Seeing that I spent more months this year being injured than actually running, maybe I should rename this post to “2016 (Not) Running Year In Review” …

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Anyway, let’s take a look at what happened in 2016.

This year I completed:

My first ultra marathon, a 50K!
1 marathon
1 10K
Yup, that’s it for racing …

It’s pretty hard to reflect (and be happy) on a year where I was at my highest of highs (AKA running my first ultra marathon!!) to being at my lowest of lows (getting a stress fracture and not running at all).

The ultra was in March. I went from that major accomplishment to training for the Anchorage Marathon with Joanna and Team In Training while fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was great training with a group of dedicated people who were all working towards a common goal, helping blood cancer patients and cancer research.

But, my last healthy run was the last weekend in May, while training for the marathon.

I quickly altered my training and tapered a week early. I thought I had an IT band injury. (Note: I have had an IT band injury before and it felt the same). I started going to physical therapy and ran the marathon in June (still thinking it was my IT band). It was my eighth marathon and slowest time to date, but I was proud to just finish. Little did I know that two months later, I would learn I had a stress fracture on my knee.

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So, yes, I basically ran a marathon with a stress fracture. I guess I have a high tolerance for pain.

August to present day have been not-so-great.

I’ve literally been running since I was 14 years old doing cross country in high school. I am now 29 and this is the first time I have been out from running for an extended period of time.

It sucks.

I’ve gained six pounds and am worried I will gain more weight. People say they can’t tell but I know they are lying. My mom said I looked like I’ve gained weight and moms don’t lie.

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I miss run commuting home. I miss running with friends. I miss my time alone when all I hear are my foot steps.

It’s also difficult to be around your friends and teammates who are going on fun running adventures. It’s hard to put a smile on your face when they tell you they had a great race. It’s hard to hold back and not yell at them when they complain about not wanting to run in the rain or cold. It’s hard to scroll through your newsfeed and realize everyone you know runs — except for you (right now).

I’m mad that this injury has overshadowed my big accomplishment of the year, completing the Chuckanut 50K.

Deep down in my heart, I do want to break 4 hours at the road marathon. And, seven month ago, I thought it would be easily attainable. Now, I waver back and forth if I want to even try again. Will I just keep getting injured now?

Let’s just see what next year holds.

 

Moving forward

As an inured runner, I have never wanted to run more than I have wanted to today. (Maybe tonight will be my comeback to running?)

As an American, I have never been so embarrassed and ashamed of my country.

I went to bed just before midnight (Pacific time). I didn’t want to wait for the election to be called. I wasn’t going to watch him give his acceptance speech.

When I woke up this morning, I had an ever-so-slight glimmer of hope. Maybe something changed? Maybe the ballots got counted incorrectly? Maybe Florida had a recount? Maybe there was a miracle?

No.

I scrolled through my Facebook feed and read through countless posts from friends, former classmates and colleagues, mutual friends, teammates and family members. They all had similar sentiments. They are heartbroken. They are deeply saddened. They are scared for communities that this man has specifically targeted. They are scared for our country as a whole. They don’t know how to explain this to their children, to their students. They are angry. They are furious. They are confused.

I cried multiple times getting ready for work.

Then I called my mom and she (sort of) put things into perspective.

Nothing will change in the immediate immediate future. We cannot be sad for the next four years. 

And, she also reminded me that here in Seattle, we live in an unrealistic version of society. Seattle is very liberal. I do not know a single people who voted for this man. But, for the rest of the country, people have drastically different opinions. They are uneducated. They will therefore buy into the scare-tactics that were dished out to them. In a sense, this man provides a different kind of hope for them.

How do we reach these people? How do we come together? How do we move forward?