End of the Road

I haven’t posted in over three weeks, not since the fateful day when I felt a twinge in my knee.  Well, it was more than a twinge.  And sadly it has spelled the end of my pursuit to finish a marathon before my 50th birthday.  The week it happened…well, let me stop right there.  I experienced no “it,” really.  There was no fall, no dramatic moment of injury.  I was simply running up the stairs and felt a pain in my knee which I took to be a momentary thing I could shake off.  But I couldn’t.  I tried resting it for a week, assuming it would be fine the next week.  Then another week of no running in the hopes that my trip to PA to visit my daughter (and to attend a Penn State football victory) wouldn’t be ruined by my lack of mobility.  It’s possible the miles and miles of walking (rather, limping) around Happy Valley didn’t help the situation, but I wouldn’t trade it–and don’t think sitting around that weekend would have changed this final result.

After three weeks of no running, I decided to check it out, and I was diagnosed with “Runner’s Knee.”  Not very glamorous, but there you have it.  The good news is that it will heal eventually with rest.  After a pretty extensive series of range of motion exercises that didn’t hurt, they seemed fairly confident that I didn’t have any tears or major problems, that I just needed to let my knee recover in its time and help it along the way with rest. ice, etc.  As I was told that, I stubbornly said “I have a half marathon on September 24 and a full marathon on October 9.”  She just shook her head at me, which is truly the first moment that I let myself believe I wouldn’t be able to do it.  I had previously been concerned what the lack of running would do to my time, how it may have killed my chances of finishing under the 6 1/2 hours I’d hoped for.  Now I had to face the grim truth–that I wasn’t going to be able to do it all.  I cried a little on the ride home, more when I came home and had to announce aloud to Mike that I was done, but I’m coming to terms with it.  I’m sure the moment that Mike and my brother Rob take off in Chicago (my niece also has knee problems and won’t be running), a few more tears will emerge.  But I’m starting to look ahead, consider this a dream deferred instead of a dream dashed.  Right now I just want to be able to walk without limping!

Thanks to anyone who has read these posts.  I wish I could have provided a triumphant final chapter next month, but the story isn’t over yet!

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Possible setback

I’m feeling a little bummed at the moment, though in my usual backward thinking I hope that by fearing the worst this will prove a minor obstacle.  We went out for our run today, and though I was a bit slower than I had been (much slower I’d be running backwards!) I felt fine.  My back has been bothering me a bit, along with my knees–but I was pretty sure that wasn’t from running as much as from too much time spent in the car of late.  A trip back and forth to Rochester NY a couple weeks back (which is about 500 miles each way plus a side trip to Jamestown for Lucy’s birthday celebration on the way home) followed by an  unexpected trip to Chicago last week with the long rides on Saturday and Sunday.  I was certain all that time folded up had left me achy, and a day spent on my feet at work Saturday hadn’t helped.  But overall I felt good during the run it self.  After my shower, I prepared to leave for work when I had to make a quick trip upstairs to retrieve my keys.  I got halfway up the steps when a terrible pain gripped my left knee.  I wasn’t so much that the pain was intolerable but that my knee seemed paralyzed by it.  I could barely move and had to catch my breath before hobbling out to the car and off to work.  Aside from a bit of gimpiness on the job, I was able to ignore it for the most part, but it hasn’t gotten any better and seems to be sprained.  I think it should be okay in a couple days, but this is the first time–either last year or this year–that something has rattled me a bit, made me worry about my ability to proceed.  Hopefully a couple days rest will help it, though of course I’m already hoping I can manage the short 20 minute run on Thursday.  Saturday is supposed to be 18 miles though, which I already figured I wouldn’t be able to accomplish.  The Chicago trip disrupted our schedule so we never got the 16 miler in and I wasn’t able to finish the full 14 miles before that.  I’m so behind–and now this!  Frustrating.  But I will persevere–this is too annoying for me to give into it now.

Psychological progress, physical regress

I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that our marathon is only 7 weeks away.  Wait a minute….yes, I do know how I feel about it. AAAAAAAAAAARRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHH!  Yeah, that felt about right.  It’s really starting to dawn on me that 26 miles is a long way to go.  And you know what?  When I see the 26 mile marker that day (assuming I’m still alive or at least not on a stretcher as I pass it), I’ll STILL have .2 miles to go.  I think of that .2 a lot.  I think “As long as I go one mile every 15 minutes, I can make the 6.5 hour goal!”  Not so fast, sister–or not so slow, I mean.  Because that .2 means I have to go a bit faster than that.  I swear, I do more math than running these days.  I was contemplating various run/walk intervals last night–everything from 4/4 to 10/5 or the gradual tapering one suggested in our program.  She suggests 30/1, 25/1, 20/1, 15/1, 10/1, 5/1…and then building back up the other way.  What I like about all that is the fact that if I get caught up in my watch and these little games of timing and intervals, I may be less focused on mile markers and how much further I have to go.  And that would have to be a good thing.

The Tuesday runs have been good.  Last week’s 30 minute jog was a surprisingly easy effort–I couldn’t believe how fast it went.  Oddly though, the Thursday run–just two 10/1 intervals–felt much harder.  Saturday “long runs” have turned into long hikes instead, with me pooping out early in the running effort.  So I’m not sure what all of this means, but I’m glad to know that, even as panic occasionally sets in, this will one day be here so I can just do it and stop thinking about it so much!

Getting faster?

Today’s run was done in humid but much cooler temps, for which I was grateful.  Two intervals of 20/1 today, which we have done often enough that I know what ground we have to cover to make it work and get me home so I can shower and leave for work on time.  Today’s first 20 minutes felt like an eternity, and we covered more ground that I had anticipated–which made me suspicious.  The second 20 minutes we were much further along, a couple blocks closer to home than usual which sealed the deal.  Mike HAD to have set the watch incorrectly.  Because I was running very slowly today, I could tell.  It felt like I was losing ground, getting tired faster.  What was wrong with me?  But he showed me the watch to prove it was set correctly, and we did return at the time we were expected to.  He said that we were just running faster this time so we covered more ground more quickly.  So why did it feel like I was running so slowly?  I suppose my own expectations of my slow run have just adapted to a slightly quicker pace.  (And I do mean slightly–Mike still circled back several times to keep from getting too far ahead.)  So maybe my legs were tired because I was running faster?  I still find it hard to believe, but all evidence seems to suggest it’s true.

I’m pulling out the Sonoma cookbook this week to plans meals for next week.  I’ve been thinking that I never feel better or more energetic than I do when I follow that eating program.  I feel peppy, healthy and it encourages wine and chocolate.  Olive oil is my friend.  Quinoa is a grain staple.  What’s not to love about all of that?  And tomorrow we’re heading back to the Parkview Fitness Center, which we loved but haven’t seen in over a week because of our vacation.  We triumphantly return tomorrow, and I’m going to do two sets of everything.  I’m suddenly feeling inspired!

Two months from today is the marathon.  I’m filled with dread and excitement. That sounds about right…how else should I feel about the prospect of 26.2 miles?

A little break…

Took a trip to my hometown, Rochester NY, this week.  It was short but very sweet, with time to visit family and see a few great things.  Highlights included the Susan B Anthony House and Buffalo Bills training camp which is held at St John Fisher’s campus.  My first experience at training camp so I’d like to thank the players and owners for wrapping up the lockout business in time for me to see it while I was home!  The Susan B house is unbelievably inspirational, and I would recommend it to anyone who visits upstate NY.

We had planned to move our Tues/Thurs/Sat runs to Mon/Wed/Fri and did manage the Monday run the day before we left.  But our drive on Tuesday was interrupted by an unexpected event–a blown tire just 30 minutes from my sister’s doorstep.  Two hours were spent dealing with that situation, and though we finally managed to get a spare tire on there to complete our journey, it was a temporary fix and a new tire was required.  That ended up replacing our Wednesday run since that morning was taken up with finding a place and then waiting for them to fix it.  But we did get in a great run through Scottsville on Friday and the Genessee path very similar to our Greenway but unpaved–which feels pretty good on the joints.  What felt even better was that the temps in Rochester were significantly lower than here.  One day the high was 72!  While not all days were that cool, it was still a breath of fresh air.  Literally.  I could breathe freely on our run for the first time in weeks and even jogged a bit longer than required, which absolutely never happens.  It just felt good.  And it felt encouraging that once the heat finally breaks (and it has to by October, doesn’t it?) I will be able to complete this mission.  I feel renewed confidence anyway, despite my dismay upon returning to Fort Wayne and being slapped with the weather reality.  But I now remember what it can feel like and look forward to the end of this summer heat!

A brisk hike through Pokagon today before the rains so now we’re ready to face another week which will culminate in a 16 miler on Saturday.  Oy!

New Habit

I’m pretty pleased with myself.  We headed to the fitness center again today, and I did two 15-minute stints on the recumbant bicycle (my new favorite toy!) and two sets of the 10 weight machines in between.  I feel great!  Well, my legs are a little noodly–I can definitely tell I’ve worked them more this week.  And short-term that may be a problem since we have to cover 14 miles tomorrow.  But I’ll run what I can and walk the rest–and long-term I think these extra sessions will help tremendously in the months ahead.  Plus after the marathon, it’ll be easy to not do anything, which is what I did after the half marathon last year.  But this new habit will serve me well beyond that, especially when the snow and ice prevent even our occasional hikes.  And it’s even fun (did I just say that?)

Muddling along

That pretty much sums up the last two weeks.  Heat continues to plague me, not only during the run but the rest of my day which leaves me feeling a bit uneasy.  My stomach doesn’t really want food when it should (but then demands it later when I’m at work–having to make allowances for that) and my whole attitude is sagging.  Last Saturday, our 14 mile run was postponed because my back was acting up again.  Seems to be a 2-day routine which then goes away on its own if I don’t further aggravate it.  We still have some leeway in our program so we’re repeating last week–14 miles await on Saturday.  Not enthused.

On the plus side, we had our first workout at the Parkview Health & Fitness Center Tuesday and even got to work with a trainer.  We get three sessions with a trainer, and Lindsey was really awesome.  We did one circuit on the weight machines which means we worked all our muscles.  It’s a great set-up, and we figured out what weights work for each of us to start out.  We also did some work on cardio machines, and I discovered the charm and beauty of recumbant bicycling!  I have to say that every Saturday as we chug down the Greenway (well, Mike runs–I chug) we are passed by dozens of bicylists, and I always say “Don’t they look like they’re having fun?”  They do!  I kinda resent it.  It just looks so much more pleasant than running.  And those suspicions were confirmed when I bicycled at the gym–with one very key upgrade.  Air. Conditioning. Oh, and fans. It’s a blissful double whammy.  I think working on my strength and endurance in comfortable temps will help me tremendously in the next two months because I just feel like I’m losing ground as I run in this heatwave.  Blending the two situations should bring progress.  Heading back tomorrow for more weights (this time 2 circuits) and maybe the elliptical?  Could be!

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