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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.