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.

Injured runner: The thing about PT

I don’t know if PT is going well or badly or if it’s just flat-out doing nothing.

I go weekly to my PT appointments. I do my PT exercises regularly at home. Yet, my knee pain still off and on/comes and goes. What’s your deal, knee??

What I do know is that every time I am at PT, I am literally the sweatiest person there. The other people there don’t look like they are even breaking a sweat. Meanwhile, I am dripping!

For the past few weeks, my PT has had me doing these hip/leg lifts using one of those big balls. I have to lie on my back and have the ball at my feet. Doing 2-3 reps of 15 has even my face sweating. Yes, my face!

Why am I so bad at PT?

My physical therapist and I agreed to give PT a few more weeks and if I wasn’t seeing significant improvements to my knee, I’d go back to the doctor and see what he says.

I really hope I start to see progress.

The 40-Miler

I have no intention, no desire, no dream at all to run anything more than a 50K. But, if other people have that goal, I will support them. I will never understand them, but as a runner, I sort of get it.

Bryce trained throughout the spring into July for his first 40-mile race. This would be his longest distance after completing a few “lesser” ultra distances. The race was around Mt. St. Helens in mid-July. I went with him but wasn’t sure how I was really going to spectate since I couldn’t run.

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I ended up just watching him start and finish the race. The hours in between? I drove an hour-and-a-half to Portland (and back) to meet up with my cousin who lives in Salem. We did a lot of walking and market-hopping and eating. It was time well spent because even though Salem is “a short-ish drive away” from Seattle, I hardly see her.

I wanted to make sure I timed my return right so that I would be back at the race to see Bryce finish. He anticipated he would be done in about eight hours. When I arrived back to the race, slightly over the eight-hour mark, I was worried that maybe he was already done.

Nope, only two runners had finished thus far.

I sat around waiting with other friends and family who were waiting for their own runners to finish. Finally one man came sprinting — yes, sprinting! — through the finish. He was yelling a woman’s name. I assumed he was calling for his wife or girlfriend. No, he was looking for the race director.

Apparently there was a runner down who was not doing so well. (I overheard someone say the race number and was relieved that it was not Bryce).

And, it was the same scene when runner after runner finished. They all gave an update on the fallen runner. Someone said he had checked the runner’s pulse. Someone else estimated how far away on the course he was. He was coherent but probably dehydrated and needed help. It was touching to see how all these people who freaking just ran 40 miles were all concerned about this other runner. Before they even went to get a drink or sit down or anything, they were all talking to the race director and updating her.

Trail runners are a good people.

A few runners even stayed with the runner, I later learned.

It started getting cooler — after being in the high 80s all day — and I had no idea how long I’d be waiting for Bryce. But when he did show up, I couldn’t have been prouder or happier.

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He looked strong. He was smiling. He did it! The first thing he said to me was an apology for being late. Usually I’m annoyed when he is late for things, but not this time.

He was on time in my book. He finished in one piece!

I’ve always felt that road races are my bread and butter. But, the more time spent at trail races — even if I’m not running — and the longer I’m injured, the more I think maybe I’ll totally convert to trail running when I’m healed.

Trails are easier on the knees, after all. But, enough about me.

Huge congrats, Bryce. What’s the next race?

 

Being OK with being injured

When I reread some of my past entries about being injured, I think, “Wow, was I really that mad?”

Just as I’m sort of becoming used to the dull knee pain I experience every so often, so is my status as an injured runner.

It’s been nearly 13 months of not running and about 15 months of being injured.

I’ve cried three times (that I can recall) during this whole “injury period.” Once was after one of my doctor appointments. The other two times were actually at races.

Bryce and I were in the Bay Area in May for a friend’s wedding. We spent the weekend in San Francisco and Bryce was in the middle of training for his upcoming 40-mile race. It just so happened that we were in SF the same weekend as Bay to Breakers. Bryce did a recovery Sunday run in Golden Gate Park while I went for a walk. I stopped mid-way through my walk to watch and cheer on the Bay to Breakers runners. It was pretty entertaining with so many people in various costumes and get-ups.

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Then without realizing it, my eyes started welling up. I was overcome by a feeling of sadness that I could not do what all these people were so easily doing. I quickly pulled myself together though. And, focused more on the man dressed up as the Pope who was “blessing” all the runners that went by.

Then, the same thing happened at Bryce’s 40-miler! By no means was I jealous that I couldn’t run a 40-miler. The longest distance I have run is a 50K and I have no desire to do anything longer. So, it was weird that I started producing tears at the start of his race.

We arrived at the race with plenty of time for him to get ready. As most races go, the porta-potty line was long. While Bryce was using the restroom, the race director started making announcements to runners about the course. I walked a little closer to the huddled group of runners to catch anything important to relay to Bryce. As I stood there in the back of the crowd, again that deep feeling of sadness hit me again.

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Emotions can be weird.

Yet, through it all, I have tried to remain calm and positive.

Ask me again tomorrow or in a week, but, I’m OK with being injured.

It’s all part of my narrative.

Injured runner: Checking back in (again!)

I ghosted again without meaning to. Apologies.

I feel like I blinked and the month of August — and summer in general — has passed!

A lot has been going on, so let me try to recap as quickly and succinctly as possible so I can get to writing more detailed posts about some of these recent happenings.

  • Still continuing with PT — No significant improvement with the knee but my physical therapist isn’t concerned. I am trying to stay calm and not get worked up about the fact that I’m not out running and the dull pain still comes and goes on my knee.
  • Participated in Ragnar Rainier the other week!
  • Haven’t swam in like a month but have been very diligent about doing my PT exercises nearly every day and going to the gym after work each day.
  • Trying to go on as many hikes as possible as I hold on to summer.

OK, no more ignoring the blog. I promise.

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.