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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Running but not running

I’m running again but I haven’t really been running much lately.

After a pretty successful 10K race last month, I haven’t been running as much as I have wanted to in preparation for my “real comeback race” — Beat The Bridge 8K.

I guess since I know I can run a 10K, I know I’ll be able to complete an 8K.

It’s just, running doesn’t feel completely the same since I still continue to have off and on knee pain and aches.

I ran into a former coworker last week and she enthusiastically said “You’re running again!” Yes, I guess based on my social media posts, I am in fact running again.

But, I still don’t feel like a runner.

I’ll take this upcoming 8K easy. After all, I also have this ingrown toenail situation I am trying to fix. Yesterday it hurt so bad that I couldn’t even run! I went back home after 30 seconds of running — yes, less than one minute! I immediately soaked my feet so that the nail would be softer to cut, and I attempted to “undo” the ingrown toenail.

Well, I made it worse. So, now I’m walking around my office in my Birkenstocks since it’s a bit uncomfortable to wear close-toed shoes.

Anyway, enough about my gross nail.

That’s the update for now … running, but not running, but sort of running.

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?

Last-minute tenacity

I’m not sure what overcame me. Maybe I was still riding off a high from the Boston Marathon. Maybe I didn’t want FOMO because it was all abuzz on social media. Maybe it’s because the weather is actually supposed to be nice this weekend.

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But, whatever the reason, I registered for a 10K yesterday after work. The race is tomorrow.

I kept seeing post after post about how everyone is excited for the Tenacious 10 — a race presented by Oiselle. So, clearly a lot of friends and teammates will be there. I had registered for the 10K last year when the race was brand new. Unfortunately, due to my injury, I couldn’t participate. Last year I was too sad to even go and cheer or volunteer. I forget what I did but I avoided the race all together.

This year is different.

I obviously have not been training for a 10K these last two-ish months I have been running. But, I have been running so I know I can at least jog a 10K. (Although to be clear I think the longest I have run is five-ish miles). Time won’t be the game plan for this race. I just want to go out there and absorb all the wonderful energy and see smiling familiar faces — and run.

I’m a little bit nervous. But, mostly excited! There shouldn’t be much pressure when the only goal is to have fun, right??

Injured runner: Hiking it out

I have a new goal.

If I’m not going to get any running miles in this year, well, I’m going to get some hiking miles in!

My doctor and physical therapist both have no objections to hiking. Doc said maybe wear a brace just so it will mentally make me feel stronger, if nothing else. So, for the past several weekends, I’ve been going on a hike nearly every week.

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My goal? To hike at least 30 times during my 30th year.

My birthday was in June and I have already gone on 10 hikes. (I didn’t officially start this goal until like September with my first hike of the season being in August). Seeing that I have eight more months until my next birthday, I’m pretty confident that I will be able to surpass my goal of 30.

Maybe this is the “silver lining” of being injured from running.

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I get to hike.

When I’m marathon training, my whole schedule revolves around running. Since there’s always a long run that needs to “get done” on weekends, there is never time — or energy — for a hike to fit into my training plans. My priority has always been running.

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I got some great hikes in during the summer with friends and family. Now that it’s cooler — and snowy — Bryce and I have done a few “winter hikes” already. I’m pretty lucky that even though I’m injured from running, I am still able to climb to the tops of mountains, see water falls and witness the Cascades in all of its glory.

Of course, I still miss running every day.

At least now I can have my weekly hike to look forward to.

Injured runner: The start of PT

I had my first physical therapy appointment on Monday and I’m excited and super motivated (right now!)

To note, I did self refer myself to PT last summer when I thought my knee injury was “just an IT band injury” but it actually was a stress fracture so the PT wasn’t doing anything.

Once I was diagnosed with a stress fracture, the orthopedic doctor I had first been seeing told me to stop going to PT because I just needed to let the stress fracture heal. I needed to rest and give it time.

So, I did.

But, during that time I also apparently developed “runner’s knee” so when I got a second opinion last week with a sports medicine doctor, he referred me straight to PT.

My focus this week is on single leg bridges (with one ankle crossed across the other knee), side plank clamshells and supine active straight leg raises. I’m doing three sets of 15-30 reps daily. (Well, the suggested number of times is five days a week so I am aiming for daily).

My PT can really tell I “have serious work to do” — my words, not his — because I can’t even do a single legged squat without wavering and wobbling around. I clearly need to work on stability and strengthening my muscles again.

For now, they have me scheduled out for one PT appointment weekly for six weeks. I’m hopeful that during those six weeks I’ll be able to incorporate some walk-jogging into the mix. But, we’ll see.

My PT also told me to stop kicking my legs when I am swimming laps and to lower the resistance when I am on the stationary bike or elliptical. (This is because I told him that sometimes I experience pain while doing these workouts). He told me that my cardio exercise isn’t meant to get me sweating or raising my heart rate. It’s to get my knee functioning properly again. So, if spinning on the bike for 30 minutes at zero resistance is what I need to do, I need to do it.

It’ll be hard.

So, maybe I will just focus on my PT exercises for now.

Good luck to me.

Injured runner: On really being hopeful

My second opinion went just about as good as I could have hoped it to have gone.

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The “TLDR” version is that this doctor has no concerns that my stress fracture hasn’t healed. That issue is basically no longer an issue we need to be worried about.

So, what’s with my off-and-on knee pain then?

He suspects I have “runner’s knee” — the clinical term being patellar femoral pain — which may be due to mechanics of leg strength and improper muscle activity. AKA, my body has not been running for nearly a year and now my muscles are all out of wack leading me to have this knee cap area pain.

“You’ll be running again. I’m not here to tell you, you will never run,” The doctor said, adding that my cartilage and meniscus look great.

 

Hearing this was such a relief. It sounds cliche, but it felt like a big weight was lifted off my shoulders. The unknowing-ness of what was going on with my knee for the past several months was making me annoyed and anxious and angry.

Now I do not need to get a third MRI (that the first doctor recommended).

I kind of wish I had gone for a second opinion sooner but c’est la vie. It is what it is.

I was lucky to snag a cancellation PT appointment tomorrow so at least my comeback journey can begin soon. And, this doctor I saw is a sports med doc so I got a referral to one of the “good physical therapists” who works with a lot of runners.

There’s no concrete timeline on when I can actually lace up the running shoes again. It all sort of depend on how PT goes.

But, that’s OK.

I’m so, so ready and really, really hopeful.