Injured runner: On being hopeful

For the past month, I have been holding onto a glimmer of hope.

I scheduled a second opinion and last month, the appointment was one month away.

My second opinion is now tomorrow.

I’ve been oddly looking forward to it because I’m hoping I will get concrete answers or a concrete plan for when I can return to running.

Maybe this doctor will tell me that I can start to ease back into running. Maybe this doctor will tell me to give walk-jogging a try. Maybe this doctor will say my two MRIs were mis-read and I do not have a stress fracture. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe I’m on the mend. Maybe it’s nothing at all. 

One can hope, right?

I haven’t run in 11 months.

I’ve been injured for a little over a year.

And, I’m still hopeful that things will turn around.

I’m running on hope — even when not running.

Injured runner: Are you running yet?

I’ve gone silent again.

Maybe it’s the “extreme Seattle heat” — we hit the 80s over in the Pacific Northwest, folks! — or maybe it’s because I haven’t felt like writing that I am still injured. Maybe it’s because I’ve been busy doing other things.

I have been swimming a lot (but more on that later). And, have spent a lot of time both in and out of the pool reflecting on this whole, um, experience.

While the past year has had its low moments (due to this darn knee injury), I have to remind myself that running has provided me with so many wonderful experiences, proud moments and life-long friendships.

Last night I went to the Seattle Reign soccer match with one of my friends, Ragan, and her group of season ticket holder friends. I feel like I have been friends with Ragan longer than the four or so years I have known her.

We met because we both worked together about two-and-a-half years ago. But, it wasn’t the “fast friends” type situation. I actually walked over to Ragan’s desk one afternoon and straightforwardly asked her, “Do you want to be on my Ragnar team?” In that moment, I really didn’t know much about her. I knew she was nice and smart and was in grad school for something science-y while also working. I didn’t know she played soccer and had several half marathons under her belt. Once I explained what exactly Ragnar was to her, she was quickly on board to join my team and filled the last spot on my 12-person team.

Since then, we’ve done two team relays together and have another one on the books — the upcoming Ragnar Rainier which I will most likely not be running, but will still captain and hang out. We obviously also hang out outside of running and I’m so thankful for her friendship.

This morning I went on a walk at Discovery Park with Mo and Leah. They are both high school friends and we all ran cross-country together in our teenage years. Since then we have trained and raced many marathons together. Mo currently lives in Seattle and Leah lives on the East Cost. A few years ago their living arrangements were reversed with Leah living here and Mo on the East Coast. Throughout geographic differences, we have remained close friends. Walking around Discovery this morning — on the same trail we have run together countless times — I was reminded that I have been friends with these extraordinary women for more than a decade.

All thanks to running.

So, to answer your question …. No, I am not running.

And, yes, it is still sad and makes me mad and anxious all at the same time. But when I really think deep about running, I cannot be so mad. It has brought so many new people into my life and has strengthened so many of my relationships.

So, kudos to you, running.

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.

Status: Did Not Start

DNS.

Is it ironic that my second DNS (did-not-start) race was a 10K? (A 10K that was the same course even though a different race!)

I decided not to walk the Tenacious Ten 10K on Saturday. I decided not to volunteer at the race and cheer on my friends and teammates.

For me, being around runners who are pushing their limits, setting PRs and finishing races with smiles on their faces isn’t the sound of a fun morning for me in my current state.

I do support them. I just choose to do so from afar and through social media.

Because, I’ve been having a lot of ups and downs in terms of “being OK” being injured.

Instead of doing anything related to the race, I went with Phyllis to a journal meet-up at a coffee shop with other like-minded crafty people. Phyllis encouraged me to buy a Traveler’s notebook last fall and I have been using it as another hobby since I can’t currently run. She’s tried to convince me to go to these journal meet-ups with her in the past but I always (kindly) declined. This time I went though.

unnamed

It was fun seeing how other people use their journals and the different supplies — and washi tapes! — they own. It makes me want to focus more on getting the pages of my journal to be more aesthetically pleasing rather than focus on my bum knee.

My running budget (new kicks, clothes and race entries) may quickly all go towards purchasing expensive crafting materials.

We’ll see.

Learning to become a run-commuter

For the first time in my life, I am a bus commuter. It’s great not having to be stuck driving in Seattle traffic and making sure those crazy Seattle drivers don’t rear end me on I-5.

But, waiting for the bus that is 5 and then 15 minutes late, is not so fun. Countless evenings I arrive home annoyed and frustrated because I get home approximately 65 minutes after I’m done with work.

View from work — the balcony, not my office :)

View from work — the balcony, not my office 🙂

A bus being 15 minutes late may not sound that bad. But, sometimes the bus arrives close-to-on-time and it’s so full that the driver will not let any new passengers on! This has happened to me on more than one occasion. Also, my bus home has never arrived on time! King County Metro, are you listening??

I could just rant about Metro and just be upset. Or, I could just run.

Yes, I’m going to start running home from work. According to Google, I live 5 miles away from the office. Because of the lack of parking, driving isn’t an option. But, 5 miles of running is doable!

My thinking is that rather than get home angry and tired — and still needing to get my run in, I should just run home.

It’s all up hill because I’d be running from the south end of Eastlake to Maple Leaf, but I am signed up for two trail races in September, so it’ll be good training!

I also invested in a new Osprey pack that has space for a bladder and has a convenient compartment for your phone on the outside of the strap. (It’s also removable if you don’t care about your phone being right there). I’ve done three short runs with the pack — twice to class from work and once to the Mariners game from work — and it didn’t bounce or rub the wrong way or anything! The runs were all three miles or less but I think the outlook on this pack is good! I’ll have to take it out on a long trail run one of these weekends though.

I match my new pack!

I match my new pack!

I’m excited to run home from work starting this week. It obviously won’t be every day because the “off day” will be used to haul all my work clothes and belongings home on the bus since I won’t be able to carry everything home on my back when running.

I’m also really excited to hopefully get home faster than if I were to wait and wait and wait and ride the bus home.

The past few weeks (of eating)

People sometimes ask me what I eat as a runner or if I watch what I eat.

I mean, if looking at the food on my plate before it goes into my mouth counts as “watching what I eat,” then yes, I suppose I do.

My whole thing with running and eating is I eat as much as I feel like when I am running a lot — which is eating a lot. And, if I am not running as much, I do not eat as much.

This past week since coming home from vacation, I still haven’t been running as much and my body notices. I pack the same size lunches as I do normally (as in, normally when I am training for a race,) and I finish half of the food I bring! I just feel full quicker!

So, no, I don’t watch what I eat because apparently my body “just knows.”

That being said, I did eat quite a lot while on vacation.

Ikura donburi

Ikura donburi

I’m a vegetarian but I eat seafood so getting to eat real Japanese food is a treat.

There weren’t enough hours in a day to consume everything I wanted to.

Real matcha softserve

Real matcha softserve

But, I did my best.

Futo-maki

Futo-maki

Oshogatsu (New Years) feast

Oshogatsu (New Years) feast

And, of course enjoying all this good food with my family made it even better.

Lunch in Tokyo

Lunch in Tokyo

I’m looking forward to begin training for the Eugene Marathon (and to actually be hungry and eat more again!)

Because let’s be real, it’s all about running to eat, right?

Marathon training update: 4 weeks away!

Last week my coworkers made fun of me for filling up two water bottles before even logging into my email.

This week I am going to make an even better effort to stay hydrated. (I guess drink more than just the two bottles?)

This week I am going to treat my life as if it is race week.

On Sunday, I’ll be doing 20 miles with Joanna, the very last of our long runs before the Portland Marathon in October.

And, if I’m going to train like I’ll race, then I may as well train my body for the preparations too, right?

I’ll make sure to eat enough. I’ll force myself to go to sleep early. I will not overwork my body.

I’ll probably make myself a few EmergenC cocktails. (Is it just me or do you also freak out that you are “coming down with a cold,” the week before a big race?)

Twenty-miler, you don’t scare me! You’re just a part of my training — just like all the other runs.