That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Sunday, April 15, 2012

the waiting game

I am still waiting for my knee to feel better. At this point, it hasn't been close to ready for running again.

Two weeks with no running. Nearly a week with no cycling. Yesterday I did put the bike on the trainer and spun, fast, in the easiest gear for 40 minutes. I was thinking maybe that would loosen things up. It didn't seem to help, but it didn't seem to hurt either. At any rate, it helped my mood. I was so stoked to be on my bike, even on the trainer. I put on the fastest techno/rap music I have on my ipod and was dancing like crazy. Yes, dancing. On the bike. It's possible.

Not running makes life a little harder. It's like, if happiness is a horizontal line, when I don't run I permanently hover just below the line. I can't QUITE be happy, ever, if I can't run.

But I'm hanging in there with it. I've actually been so busy that I can't imagine how I had so much time to train before. My theory is that subconsciously, I've managed to fill my schedule because I'm just that type of person that needs a full schedule.

So I've done some fun things. I went to one of the practice 5k's for Girls on the Run and helped out and took some pics for them. Holy cow, that was FUN. I was initially bummed because I was planning on running with the girls, but handing out rubber bracelets (to count laps, how clever!) and taking pictures and cheering them on was every bit as much fun. I got some pretty good pics, considering I don't have a super awesome camera. And the girls' enthusiasm was infectious. They were hilarious. The fastest girl ran it in 24 something - yep, faster than I've EVER ran a 5k! But they all cheered each other on, and when the slowest girl - who walked a lot and looked rather discouraged at times - crossed the finish line (they were holding out crepe paper), the other girls all made a tunnel for her to run through!! I got a good pic of it, and I totally wanted to cry when they did it. It was totally the girls' idea. LOVED it.

I still can't seem to get a straight answer from anyone as to WHY my knee is still driving me nuts, so my best guess is a bad case of tendonitis. At least, I'm told by health professionals that it's nothing serious, nothing broken or torn - it just really hurts and nobody is sure why. It feels super stiff most of the time, especially if I've been spending much time OFF of it. Today, I took a tactical shooting class with my husband, and I was standing for about four hours. The knee felt better than it has in the past week. But as soon as I sat for a while, it was all stiff and painful and unstable when I tried to stand on it again. It gets stiff and painful if it's in one position for too long, period, which means I wake up several times a night to change positions.

I'm trying to make it better. I stretch. I massage. I do exercises that seem like they may help. I ice. I'm taking herbal supplements and rubbing arnica on it. I've tried taping and bracing (with two different knee braces) and compression. And it's not better.....yet.

Honestly, my plan for the Pig now is that, if my knee is well enough for running at any point in the next three weeks leading up to the race, I will still run it. I will run it for fun and for the big old party that it is. That's really why I wanted to run the Pig - it's my hometown race and it's known for its massive spectator support. I'm bummed that I probably have to ditch my original plan - to run it for time and get the best time I'm capable of doing - but maybe at this point in my training, I shouldn't be so hardcore about marathons. I'm getting to the point where I can push myself and my training for half marathon, and I totally want to continue to do so (sub 2, here I come!) but marathons can be a fun adventure thing for now. At least until I figure out why I get hurt every time I try to train for one.

Oh yeah, back there I did say tactical shooting class!! It's funny, I realized that I got into shooting guns - a little - last time I was laid up and couldn't run. What can I say, it's something of a substitute adrenaline rush. Anyway, I never got REALLY into it, but recently my husband bought a handgun and so I took a concealed carry class with him. Primarily, I did it because his gun still intimidated me a little, and I wanted to make sure that if it was in my house, that I could be more confident with it and know that I could handle it safely if it came down to it.

I loved doing the ccw class. I loved it so much that, in addition to applying for my ccw license (which is on my 30 by 30 list, actually) I got a gun of my very own and decided to take a more advanced shooting class with the huz. That was today, and it got me out into the beautiful weather, which was good for me too.

So that's where my life has been lately. Not a lot of training. I should be swimming more, but it's so hard to motivate myself to swim when it's not part of the swim/bike/run package, if that makes sense. Swimming has been frustrating me as of late, since I've hit a plateau and my attempts to improve aren't doing a whole lot. Hopefully I'm not losing too awfully much fitness here, but I was training hard for a while and as long as the knee is better SOON, I'm not worried. Yet.

Can't wait until I can blog that I'm back to running again. Hopefully it's soon!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


UHF is one of my favorite movies of all time. If you haven't seen it, you're missing out!!

STUPID!!!! That's what the voice in my head is yelling at me right now.

So I couldn't run last week. Since I've dealt with the ups and downs of training, I deal with that better than I used to. A little. I still get mopey and moody when I can't run, but I don't freak out about future races and future running like I used to. Last week, the weather was beautiful, so I looked at it as a chance to do some extra biking.

Monday I did 25ish miles on my own, mostly in an easy gear - except when I got in an impromptu race with this guy who passed me. There I was, riding easy on the flat bike path like a good little injured triathlete, and this guy flew by me. Sooo, I decided to challenge myself for a minute and see if I could catch him. I shifted into a harder gear, and not only did I catch him, I passed him. What's he do? He gets up behind me and absolutely sucks on my wheel for a good 2 miles. As soon as I slowed down for a second, he flew by me. I tried to catch him again but got stuck at an intersection and couldn't do it.

Stephanie Tanner says, "HOW RUDE!!"

That led to a discovery.....I'm a much stronger cyclist than I was last year. (Thank you, hours on the trainer!! UHF was one of the movies that got me through a boring trainer ride!!) I can ride in a higher gear (err...lower? I still get the terms mixed up!!) Two days later, I met up with a new(ish) biking friend - I remember her from a few group rides last year but never really talked to her much - and we did an easy 25. It felt awesome.

So, since that felt great, and since most of my Pig training friends were doing 20 mile runs on Saturday and I was madly jealous, I decided to bump up the mileage a notch. Saturday, I did 40. It was one of my faster rides ever. I kept it above 17 mph for most of the ride, and it felt easy, until I ran into some hills. (Yeah, I planned a ride that was half flat, half hills, on the wrong half!!) Since I rode from home, I had a 300 foot hill climb toward the end, which is unavoidable when you live uphill from most everything. My knee felt a little sore, but no biggie.

The next day was a group ride. I hadn't totally planned on it, since it was Easter and the group didn't figure out the time or route until pretty much the last minute. But when it turned out I could make it, I jumped on it. I miss group rides SO MUCH. They were doing an hour out and back, but it was a flat flat route (those do exist in Cincinnati!) and most of the cyclists are also runners who had ran 20 the day before, so nobody would be pushing the speed. I could do an easy ride, right? Oh, and since they were meeting up 6 miles from my house, I could ride there and back, too. Sure!

The ride was NOT easy. Well, the out was easy. Super easy. Because we were on the nice end of 15 mph winds. The 17 miles back was pure hell into that headwind. My legs were shot by the end of it; thankfully I got a ride home (in a car, not on a bike) because I was too fried to ride uphill back home.

So, two decently hard 40 mile rides within 24 hours. And three days later, I feel like Nancy Kerrigan. My left knee (left leg is also the site of the muscle strain) feels like someone took a baseball bat to it. It HURTS. And all because I was too dumb to realize that amping up the cycling could probably lend itself to an overuse injury as well. I'm all kinds of hobbly and I can't quite be sure which injury is causing it more. I tried to swim - to freaking SWIM - yesterday, and swimming hurt.

The plan now is to go back to the massage therapist today - I booked an appointment with him before all the knee stuff, to give him a chance to work on more of me than just the left leg (he spend an hour and a half on it last week), and now he'll probably have to focus most of his time on that leg AGAIN. Then I'm going to see a doc at the local running store's free injury clinic.

I'm still decently optimistic - my self-diagnoses are either patellar tendonitis or bursitis, and I'm half hoping that this is one of those things that a shot in the knee might relieve. I soooo want to get back to running!!

I'll be careful from now on. I promise.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New mantras

The world is not going to end because my leg hurts. It's just a freaking muscle strain. I can still swim. I can still bike. I have done an awesome round of both in the past 24 hours to get this funk out of my system. (Including my longest swim ever - 3000 yd.) I don't think it's the worst thing that I got injured and got so freaking frustrated about it; it's the worst thing that for a day or so, I contemplated just giving up on training for everything and allowing myself to settle into "this is too hard" pity partyland. I barely ate, I sat on the couch doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself; I caught myself sitting there staring at my toes.

EFF THAT NOISE. I am training for an Ironman, not an Ironwhinylittlebitch.

This cracked me up. Not just because the cat is swimming, but because I have an orange cat with one permanently flat ear and this soooo looks like him!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

blah, not again

Peroneal tendon has been feeling near 100% again. Last week was my longest run since the Air Force Marathon - 18 miles. It went pretty well. I was a bit bored by the end, and naturally a bit tired, but I did it at the prescribed 30-45 seconds/mile slower than marathon goal pace, and I felt like I had more left at the end.

Later that day, my left leg was way more sore than my right, and I had to limp to get around. My calf especially felt very tight. Strange, but I chalked it up to, well, running 18 miles. I mowed the grass the next day (with a push mower, uphill, which seemed to loosen things up a bit) and did yin yoga. The day after, I knocked out 6 miles at marathon goal pace. After the first 2 miles of suck (calf was tight and the first 2ish miles of my route are a net uphill), I felt AWESOME. Wednesday was speedwork, and I killed it. Thursday I did a brick, and though my leg was a little tight, running was still ok. One bad moment came when I stopped to pet a friendly cat and had trouble getting up off the sidewalk, but I foam-rolled that night and felt better the next day.

Yesterday, I ran 15 miles with the group, again at marathon goal pace + 30ish seconds. After the initial tightness subsided, I felt fantastic. I felt like I could run forfreakingever at that pace, and I was telling other people in the group how AWESOME running felt that day. It felt great. If only it had been a 7-8 mile run.

...because at that point, the tightness started coming back, but it was bearable without changing my pace or gait. Then it started getting worse, but only when we stopped. If we stopped for water or traffic, it would lock up and take a few minutes to feel normal again. That's when a coach noticed that I was favoring my left side, but my stubborn butt decided to test it out a bit longer, and a few minutes later, he said I seemed to be back to normal.

Around mile 12 it started to affect my running when we hadn't stopped. Grr. Running got a bit harder at that pace, but still far from impossible, and I wasn't limping that I could tell. Two miles later, while running downhill, the leg locked up. I had to hobble to keep it moving, so at that point, I walked the rest of the way - just a mile or so. Walking was a little owie but overall fine.

Got back to the running store, wasn't thinking too much of it other than I need a massage ASAP. Stretched, gave myself a charlie horse in my thigh that had me screaming all sorts of foul things, hobbled to my car. Hobbled around while running errands. Booked a massage for Monday.

Later that day, things got worse. After I sat on the couch for a while, I seemed to lose all ability to walk. Putting weight on my leg activated a screamy spot on the inside of my leg, not quite at my knee, about at the top of the calf muscle. My husband actually carried me to the bathroom at one point. I fell asleep on the couch and I had to crawl to get to bed after I woke up.

Next morning, still way gimpy. Couldn't walk without leaning on something. Could only stand with the majority of my weight on the other leg. After agonizing about what to do and talking to the PA on call with my doctor's office, we ended up at the ER. The not being able to walk thing was freaking me out a bit - not to mention that I can't go about my life being immobile!

After 4 hours in the ER....I got nuthin'. I am walking better now, and I discovered that wearing shoes helped that quite a bit. (Yeah, I know, duh.) I think it may be muscular, but my bloodwork came back a bit funny. There's something called a d-dimer that indicates the presence of a blood clot, and my levels are 3-4x higher than normal. It can also indicate other things, including run of the mill inflammation/injury and pregnancy (so I got to pee in a cup to rule that one out for 'em.) When they came in with the cup, I thought maybe they decided I was acting crazy and wanted to drug test me! So now I have to book an ultrasound in the morning to make sure that isn't it. (A blood clot, I mean, not pregnancy. That has been ruled out. Pregnancy would also not be an explanation for leg pain.)

Ugh. Not how I wanted to spend my day, and running is all a bit up in the air for now. The doc said no marathon...then again, so did my podiatrist a few weeks ago. He was also in the "running marathons is bad for you" camp and was telling me about cardio studies of marathon runners and how it can damage your heart and so on. So is it bad that I want to take his advice with a huge grain of salt? Especially since he couldn't tell me what IS wrong if it's not a blood clot? Our first 20 mile run is scheduled for next Saturday and I'm not super hopeful about it. Best case scenario, I'm thinking of maybe running with the run/walk group that day, and that's not likely, considering how craptastic my leg feels now. At least there's another 20 on the schedule 2 weeks later. If I can get that in, I'll be good with the idea of the marathon. If not, maybe I can do the half...that's assuming I can run.

Arrgh. My husband said to take it one day at a time but I'm sooooo not good at that sort of thing. And I'm dipping into my HSA/Lasik fund once again to pay for the fact that my body apparently does not agree with my brain that distance running is an awesome thing.

35 days until the Pig. Heal, body, heal.