One year of being injured – and counting

I had my last injury-free run the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend of last year. Granted, I didn’t find out I had a stress fracture until three months later, I still have been injured for now a year.

I had scheduled an appointment with my ortho back in January/February for June 1 as a precaution. After all, he told me that he expected me to be pain-free and starting to run again come May/June. He added that if I was still experiencing knee pain, to come see him again in June.

Well, it’s June. And, I am still experiencing off and on knee pain.

What’s the verdict?

Still, it is to wait and see — a bit more. He was surprised I haven’t healed. He checked both of my MRIs again— the first from August and the second from the beginning of the year — and told me again that the fracture is just taking longer to heal than we expected. He said mid-July would be the furthest out it would take for the injury to heal so he wants to wait until then to do another MRI.

What if I continue to have pain after July though? What if the third MRI still shows that I still have a bit more healing left to go?

I feel like I am going through the longest marathon ever where every time I reach a mile mark, the finish line gets pushed further and further away from me. I keep thinking I will see that finish line banner off in the distance with each passing month of not running, but now I just don’t know.

I don’t know what to do. I mean, the doctor says to keep exercising so we can tell if my knee is healing. (Right now I still have off and on pain during and after exercise so the hope would be in the next month-and-a-half, that will go away completely).

Do I get a second opinion? I feel like a new doctor to me would just tell me to get another MRI as well.

I feel defeated because unlike running, where I am in control of everything, I currently have no control.

I can’t control time. I can’t control how much longer my fracture will take to heal. I can’t control my weight gain or that so many of my dresses are so tight or do not even fit me. I can’t control how sad it makes me feel that I haven’t had a healthy run in one year and that I haven’t been running at all in TEN WHOLE MONTHS.

Think about that one thing that brings you joy, that keeps you sane. Think about how you would feel if you could not do that.

It’s a frustrating, lonely, confusing place to be.

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.

 

The comeback I’m too scared to talk about

I went in to see my orthopedic doctor hoping for “good news.” Maybe he would say that my knee pain is just runner’s knee (I know, despite not running) and that I just need to work on strengthening specific muscles again. Maybe he would tell me to rest another month and then I would be good to go on running.

He told me that he is concerned that I am experiencing pain now when I hadn’t been prior to a month ago. He wants me to get another MRI — this time with contrast so that he will be able to tell exactly how much longer my injury will take to heal or if it is something more significant that will need “screws put in.”

And, of course this visit was Thursday morning and the MRI office didn’t get authorization from my insurance to schedule the appointment until later that afternoon. Now I have to wait until after the new year to get the MRI done because I will soon be out of town.

The wait continues.

More doubt ensues.

What if I’m not healthy enough to run my “comeback race” that I registered for a month ago?

Yes, I had signed up for The Tenacious Ten. 

The race is being put on in partnership with Oiselle, so, how could I not knowing many of my teammates and friends would be getting their race on together on April 22?

Now, this race seems like a long shot.

I have no idea when my comeback will be.

I’m too scared to talk about it.

 

Every step counts

For the past 20 days, I have walked at least 10,000 steps per day. It actually isn’t as easy as it seems. On a low day, my steps were at 10,065. On a high day, I was at 14,317.

Here are a few actions I’ve taken to ensure I reach my step goals while being an injured runner:

  • Going to the mall on a Friday night just to walk so I wouldn’t have to walk in the rain and darkness.
  • Walking circles in my tiny apartment (for the remaining 3,000 steps!)
  • Waking up earlier to get ~20 minutes of walking in before the start of my work day.

My plan is to continue with this step goal until I am running again. And, into the new year I will need to do more or something else because I went to the doctor on Friday to get my hand evaluated — everything is fine! — and was horrified to find out I have gained 6 pounds.

Now, I know that I’ve gained some weight because I’ve beeb feeling pudgy. But, seeing an actual number that is more than one or two or three pounds is kind of alarming. I mean, even though my last run was four months ago, the last time I was actually consistently running was about six months ago. So, I guess gaining one pound a month kind of makes sense? Ugh.

I’m going to ponder this on my next walk. And, try not to get too worked up about it.

 

I am here, still

You know the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”?

It’s precisely why I’ve been MIA from this blog.

I haven’t had anything nice — or positive — to say.

But, I wanted to let you know that I am here, still.

And, that I was able to get my appointment with the orthopedic doctor moved from January to now just before Christmas! This gives me a little hope that I’ll get some answers on my knee injury before the year ends.

I’ve been trying to keep busy. I’ve been trying to walk more. I’ve been trying to spend more time with friends. I’ve been trying to reflect on the past year.

Maybe I’ll write about all of that later.

For now though, I just wanted to let you know that I am here, still.

Injured Runner: Looking ahead

 

This is what I wrote back in July, before knowing I had a stress fracture on the side of my knee:

Over the weekend, I found a coupon code that reduced the Seattle Half Marathon price from the current $115 to $89. I jumped on it since it was such a great deal. (Less than $100 for the Seattle Half? Yes, please!) I also convinced Phyllis to sign up as well!

I know I may be jumping the gun a little since as it stands, I am not running regularly at all. But, I have hope. And, putting a race on the calendar for the end of fall helps me to be able to work towards something specific.

Actually, my first goal is to be healthy to run the Ragnar Trail Cascades race in September. That’s been on the books for more than a year (because last year’s race got cancelled due to forest fires).

I have time to rest and heal and be up and running this fall, right? It’s not like I’m expecting to PR. (I’ll be putting down PR goals for 2017 races).

I’ve always known running to parallel life.

Right now I’m learning to be p-a-t-i-e-n-t.

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That runner  was being so optimistic. So much so that she wasted that $89 because she was not able to run the Seattle Half, which resulted in Phyllis doing it on her own.

She didn’t get to run the Ragnar relay with her friends. She went, she captained, she volunteered. But, she did not run. September was still too optimistic.

Now it is December.

What does she do now?

A few months ago, she was optimistic because she wasn’t experiencing any knee pain because she hadn’t been running.

But now there is pain and she doesn’t know why. It feels different though. It’s kind of a dull pain that comes and goes. Sometimes she feels it on her knee cap — which is really weird, right?

She feels like a forlorn runner.

Her appointment with the orthopedic doc isn’t until January.

What is she supposed to do until then?

How is she supposed to stay positive?

She’s stopped thinking about “big races” in 2017. She’s even told herself that she won’t be running a marathon just so she doesn’t get her heart broken when she realizes she truly won’t have enough time to get fit, train and PR once she is healthy.

Right now she feels h-o-p-e-l-e-s-s.

When all you want to do is that one thing that you cannot do

For the past week or so I’ve been experiencing random “phantom pain” on my left knee.

Is it my stress fracture healing? Is it actual pain? Is it all in my head?

I’ve put off trying to go on a run because of it — until today.

I’ve been tired. And, frustrated. Not just with my injury. Not just with what is happening to my country. But, with everything.

Usually when I feel like this, I can lace up my shoes and just run. I take myself to a place where I don’t have to think. Or, where I can think as much as I want to.  Or, where I just hear my own breath and that is enough.

Tonight I really wanted all of that back.

I couldn’t find my headlamp (because it’s been that long since I’ve gone on a night-time run). I found an old flashlight and wore my reflective vest and called it good. I was going to go out for a little run.

I told myself I wouldn’t do more than 15 minutes. After all, this would be my first run back in 117 days.

But, my first step back was not a welcomed one.

I immediately experienced a dull pain on my knee cap.

“That’s new,” I thought to myself. Throughout my injured state, I had never felt pain in the front of my knee. “So, maybe after a few strides it will go away.”

It didn’t. And then the dull pain shifted to the outer side of my knee (where the injury is/was).

After one minute of slow jogging, I stopped. I debated just turning around and walking home. But, I walked on.

I tried three more times to run. All three times, I experienced some form of the pain, either on the front or side of my knee.

“At least it isn’t super painful,” I tried to reassure myself.

I’m actually surprised that I didn’t cry. Maybe I was too tired. Maybe too cold. My total time of running was four minutes and five seconds out of about 30 minutes outside.

If I had really wanted to, I could have pushed myself to keep running. But, what would be the point? To keep my injured-self off from running even longer?

What am I supposed to do now? I’m tired of being patient.

I’ve been resting for so long. I just want to do that one thing that I cannot do.

I want to run.