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.

 

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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: 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?

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.

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.