Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

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I fell only once

This past Saturday, I completed the Winter Night Trail Marathon–Quarter Marathon (6.55 miles). And earned my first legit medal! I did get a belt buckle at the Huff, but this one was a medal. With a ribbon to hang around my neck. Now I’m wondering why I’ve done any race that doesn’t provide a medal at the end (that’s three so far with no medal: two tri’s and a Thanksgiving dash).

I think I found a new favorite hobby. To be clear, it’s collecting bling.

Medal from the Winter Night Trail Marathon 2016.

Pretty awesome addition to the (newly started) bling collection.

I had been looking forward to this race since I signed up two months ago. And it didn’t disappoint. I had a ton of fun. I think my race partner did, too, because we were already discussing the next race(s) to put on our calendars as we were running this one.

The race was at a city park that has a lot of nice trails in it, and it was close enough that I was able to scout out the trail beforehand. I ran it the wrong way during my scouting mission, though, so I was pleasantly surprised to know the hardest part wasn’t at the end like I thought.

I think the part that made me most excited was that it was at night. I had to buy a headlamp! (Then I decided I needed to practice having the headlamp as my only light, so I walked around my home with all the lights off a few times.)

The race started at 6p. Winter finally came to Indiana, so it was a cool 24 degrees during the race (way better than the following day when the high was 17). But there was very little wind, so the conditions were pretty good. The only bad part was that it had rained all day Friday, so when the freezing temps hit on Saturday, sections of the trail froze.

Some of it was frozen mud. Some of it was a layer of ice on top of the dirt. Both were slick. At one point, we came to a long downhill slope, and I heard someone up ahead of us say that it was slippery. I turned to tell my race partner that it was slippery, and I promptly fell on my ass. I had trouble getting back up because it was slick, and it was downhill. I’m glad it was at night because there were a number of other people who saw me go down. There was a chorus of, “Oh my gosh! Are you ok?!”

I was fine (except that I don’t usually do the splits, so that was kind of uncomfortable). Even if I wasn’t fine, I would have said I was fine. Color me embarrassed.

The rest of it was fairly uneventful. There were spots we had to slow waaay down to keep from slipping on the ice, and there were a few others we had to walk slowly because the trail was full of downed trees and roots.

At one point, the trail narrowed to where we weren’t comfortable passing the folks in front of us, but it turned out fine because they gave us the down low on some races with cool bling.

The hashtag for this race was #BrutallyAwesome. I think it fit for the most part. I don’t know that it was what I would call really brutal this year, but I’m not complaining!

I have a race scheduled for the end of February, and I’m looking at two for March. But now I’m quite excited because, thanks to the trio on the trail, I heard about Run the Bluegrass. Runners weave through thoroughbred farms in Lexington. How cool is that? Throw in some after-party Kentucky bourbon, and it sounds awesome!


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Happy holidays

I’m freshly back from a whirlwind of holiday traveling, and I’m trying to catch my breath in the short lull before the new year. I’m not complaining though. I’m blessed to have family and friends to visit during the Christmas season, and I try to enjoy as much of it as humanly possible.

My sister’s kids (the niece and one ‘phew) received a Twister game. Despite not having played it in over two decades, my inner competitor determined that I need to school the six and eight year old. I’m not sure my PT would approve the moves I made in order to secure a win, but what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

My sister gave our nine-year-old nephew (one of my older brother’s kids, if you’re following along) a catapult. I mention his age only because this particular catapult was for ages 14 and above. An important note on the box that my sister apparently overlooked. My ‘phew asked for my assistance in putting the thing together, and I happily sat down at the table to get to work. The happy lasted for about five minutes. There were SO MANY PIECES. I spent nearly two and a half hours putting that thing together; the nephew bailed after about an hour, but there was no way he could have done it himself anyway.

After I got it together, I flipped the lever, and… the thing barely flopped over. I was completely annoyed after spending all that time (also, the instructions were extremely difficult to follow because there were no words, only pictures). Then, I realized, PHYSICS. I had misplaced the fulcrum. I had to enlist the help of another adult to get a few pieces off and then re-positioned. We tested the catapult with a gum ball, and we nearly took out a window. Holy crap. There was serious fire power in that “toy.” Again, for ages 14+.

I sadly didn’t get a picture of the catapult, but I did snap a few others.

Upturned Christmas tree.

Manning knocked my tree over. Granted, it’s fairly small, but he should not have been jumping on it. This is why I can’t have nice things!

Pic of kids.

It would take a miracle for these two to look the same direction and smile for a picture. There was obviously no Christmas miracle.

Swinging at the nearby park.

Playing on the swings at the park with my niece. What else do you do when it’s a whopping 50 degrees out? Definitely no white Christmas this year. I’m not disappointed.

Picture of the moon on Christmas morning 2015.

The moon about 7:00a Christmas morning.

Cats in front of packages.

Manning (grey) and Mowgli (b&w) think they’re master wrappers. They’re not. They’re a nuisance when it comes to paper.

Cat and remote controlled dinosaur.

An epic Christmas morning battle between a cat (ironically, in this case, named Zen) and a robotic Velociraptor (the new interloper). My money was on the orange beast. (Also, I think it’s important to note that Zen isn’t mine, lest you think I’m a crazy cat lady.)

December has been a busy month. It’s a good end to a long year that had a lot of ups and downs. I’m looking forward to starting 2016 off on the right foot and seeing what the new year has in store. Perhaps, if I’m lucky, there will be a few mistakes.

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” ― Neil Gaiman

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Burn, baby, burn

I wrote a few months back about trying new things this year, and for the most part, it’s been fun. So when a friend of mine asked if I’d like to meet for a “hot yoga” class the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I was all for it.

First of all, the class was not “hot yoga.” When I went to sign up, it was called, “Burn.” Perhaps I should have caught on at that time that it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, but the name of the class barely registered. The class turned out to be an odd mix of Pilates mat moves, cardio and what might have passed for yoga had I never taken an actual yoga class.

Ten minutes in… ok, I’ll be honest, it was more like five minutes in… I knew I was in for it. This is the first time that I can honestly say I did not have fun in an exercise class at all. It was awful because I couldn’t do several of the moves. I realized during this class that there are simply different kinds of fitness. I can go slog 8 miles up and down trails, but I can’t do this class. I can bike 30 miles, but I don’t ever want to do this class again. I can lift weights for an hour with my gym buddy, but I can’t “Burn.”

I’m not sure that there was anyone in the class who was able to do all the moves, but that doesn’t make me feel any better.

On the flip side, I was sore as heck the next day. Clearly, something got worked. My triceps, glutes and abdominals all had a wake-up call.

I’ll stick to my regularly scheduled programming for now, thank you very much. At least until after my race in… t minus 19 days.

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I did the dash…

I did the Drumstick Dash*.

Pictures from the Drumstick Dash. Thanksgiving 2015.

(clockwise from top left) On the shuttle. With my colleagues. With a fun group of women. With my first foil blanket!

This Thanksgiving, I’m most thankful for my ability to put one foot in front of the other for a sustained period of time. (I’m thankful for an awful lot of other things, too, and you can read about them here and here.)

When my intimidatingly athletic friend first texted with a query as to whether I might be interested in doing the Drumstick Dash on Thanksgiving morning, my reaction was, “Did you mean to text me?” Like, me. The person who is in no way a runner? But I said yes in about the same breath because I was so excited someone thought of me when they signed up for a run.

(On a side note, when I was online signing up for the dash, my mouse slipped, and I accidentally also signed up for a trail race in January. I don’t know what’s gotten in to me!)

I arrived in Broad Ripple at about 8a this morning, via a shuttle. Because there were nearly 20,000 people descending on Broad Ripple Avenue by the 9a start time. I hate crowds, but this one actually wasn’t too bad. I did not hyperventilate. I’d recruited a co-worker/friend to slog the dash with me because I knew I wouldn’t be able to truly run it. We had forgotten safety pins for our numbers, so as we were trolling around to find some, we ran into another colleague who has made it his mission this year to do one race per month (overachiever!). As we waited for the start, we ran into a few more friends who stopped to take pics. How fun! I guess with that many people, you’re bound to know a few in the crowd.

We started off walking very slowly toward the start line. We’d positioned ourselves well behind actual runners, so it took us nearly 20 minutes just to make it to the actual start line. That means that some runners were done with the race before we’d even started! We walked for the first little bit and then decided to slow jog for a while. We kept running in to gobs of people stuck together. I need to learn how to bob and weave my way through a crowd, but this was my first road run and a fun day, so I wasn’t worried about it this time.

With two trail races coming up in the next two months, I’d decided that I needed a new pair of trail running shoes. Then I decided it would be a good opportunity to “break them in” this morning. Not a good idea to run the asphalt in brand new trail shoes. Eh. You live and learn.

Speaking of trail running, I decided today that I like it a lot better than running on the road. It’s definitely easier on my poor legs–there is some give in the dirt that I didn’t find in the asphalt this morning.

Anyway, even with the walking and all the people, I made it across the finish line three minutes UNDER my goal time. Woo! It was a very generous goal time for my first run like this, but I’m still going to own it. Boom.

As we were waiting for the shuttle back to our cars, I started looking up another 5k for December. I found a couple, but one was on the 19th which reminded me I’d better simply stick to the trail relay I’ve already signed up for on that weekend. See? I can control myself sometimes.

*The Drumstick Dash is a fundraiser for Wheeler Mission, an organization helping the homeless in Indianapolis. It’s not too late to donate to the Mission.

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The burrowers

Burrowers. Not to be confused with The Borrowers. Never saw that movie, but I know it’s out there.

The last few weeks–ok, about 10 or 11 or 12 at this point–have been a bit difficult. In a protective measure, I’ve unconsciously drawn in to myself. I’ve spent more time alone in the last two months than I have… ever, really. I can count on one hand the times that I had someone over or I went to someone’s home. Both scenarios on one hand. And I haven’t been out in all that time.

This is unusual for me. To spend SO MUCH time with only my own thoughts to occupy my mind. There are actually a number of good things that have come from this time, but what’s on my mind tonight are what I’ve decided to call the burrowers. Though, even as I write this, I realize that’s not the nicest sounding name/description.

What I’m referring to are the people who have burrowed into my life and who refuse to leave. Even when I’m disengaged. As I slowly start to actively engage again, I can’t help but be immensely thankful for these people. The ones who reached out and leaned in. The ones who sent inquiring texts and uplifting messages. The ones who told me my self-imposed hermitude (it’s a word because I just used it) needed to stop. Those who didn’t disappear under the guise of giving me my space.

It’s these people who mean the most to me. I’m humbled by the magnitude of their caring. And eternally thankful that they choose me.


Conspicuously absent

I don’t know where the time goes. I don’t know where this year has gone. I don’t know how it’s already March. MARCH. That means one-sixth of 2015 is already in the books. Yikes.

Good news is that my right knee continues to have incremental improvements. I’ve been focused on the patellar tendon exercises for… um… a long time now. Since December 9 when I last met my PT. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing fewer and fewer PT exercises as I add in more diverse strength training. The knee doesn’t seem to mind. I’m pretty happy with the improvements that have happened over the last three months, and I’m excited to see how much more I can get from the knee as I move forward.

One test will be a trip to Florida next week. I have not been on a plane since the surgery in September 2012. I have had trouble even riding in a car for more than an hour, so the thought of trying to sit in a crowded plane for any length of time has been less than appealing (read terrifying). But that’s going to be put to the test in less than a week. My need to see the beach and feel the sand between my toes overrides any lingering fear of pain. I’m sure there will be some, but riding in a car has improved significantly, so I’m not too worried.

For the last six weeks or so, I’ve been working out with a gym buddy who has pushed me more than any personal trainer I’ve had in the past. I feel as if I tell you that he’s ex-Army, that should explain a lot. I meet him at least three days a week right after work, spend an hour on strength training, and then do laps in the pool. This week, we’ve kicked it up to five days. My arms and abs hurt so much at the moment, the knee doesn’t bother me at all.

It’s mostly because of this added workout that I’ve been absent from this blog for a while. I’m too exhausted to type by the time I crawl through my front door in the evening. I’ve also joined a book club (my first book club; I’m so excited!), so my required reading takes up time, too. There is just not enough time in the day to do all the things I want/love to do AND work to support all the things I want/love to do.

I think I need to work on two things in what’s left of 2015. One is better time management. And sleep. So make that three things because the other is weight loss. I gained weight after the initial injury that I never lost. I’ve now spent literally years strengthening my leg and the last six weeks strengthening the rest of me. But I’ve continued to eat like someone who doesn’t need to count cupcakes. That has led me to some internal “discussions” about how I’m putting in all this work and should see the results in the weight loss department–that hasn’t happened because I still justify all the fro yo with various reasons from a good day at work to a bad day at work to a good workout to… you get the point.

I said I don’t make resolutions, but I’m making two now (yes, it’s March). Figure out how to fit in all the STUFF while still getting enough sleep. Then figure out how to gain/enjoy all the benefits of working out in the gym every day. I feel like there are SO many people out there who have the same exact intentions that I figure Google will help me figure this out (I’m sure there are about 1 million web pages devoted to these topics).

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Frohe Wiehnachten

That I’m managing to wish everyone “Merry Christmas!” only one day late is pretty good considering how far behind I get on here.

Display of Christmas lights.

My favorite lights display every year. Simple, but elegant and so colorful. I wish I had a better pic because it’s lovely.

I just got home from a whirlwind trip to visit the family, friends and farm. Much to do and not enough time to do it all. Good thing I have the next few days off work.

Confession. I think I’ve turned into a bit of a Scrooge. I sure wasn’t upset that it was 40 degrees and not snowing on Christmas. The older I get, the less I mind a not white Christmas. I’m also totally over the music that plays incessantly everywhere this time of year (since before Thanksgiving, in some places).

That is, unless, the Christmas carols are being sung (shouted) by my niece and ‘phew. I was treated to a whole concert in the car yesterday as we drove from one destination to the next. They went through all the songs they’d learned for their school’s winter concert. My nephew’s favorite seemed to be “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” (emphasis on WISH). There were some other tunes thrown in. The ‘phew was singing about how he wasn’t going to leave without some, but he forgot the figgy pudding part. Pretty cute.

I think I did pretty well with my gifts for the kids this year. My goal is always to buy the most annoying things to make their parents oh so happy with me. Most of the stuff I got this year had sound, but only one thing could be used as a projectile. Being the awesome aunt I am, I even remembered to buy batteries. Then I figured I’d go ahead and put the batteries in the toys because I recall when I was a kid, I just wanted to rip the present out of the package and get right to playing. I didn’t want to wait until one of my parents finally decided to help put the batteries in and get the toy going.

Since I had the remote-controlled helicopter I’d gotten for one of the ‘phews already out of the box, I couldn’t resist taking it for a test drive. I mean, I needed to see that it worked so he wouldn’t be disappointed. It worked. I crashed it into the ceiling and bookcases and the floor several times before I gave in and admitted I wasn’t a very good pilot. When I picked it up, I realized I’d managed to ding it in several spots, and the white, chalky ceiling stuff had scuffed it a bit. I texted his mother. “If J wonders why his gift looks like it’s been through a few wars… it’s because it’s authentic.”

He didn’t even notice because I had the batteries in so he could just start flying the thing. Smart aunt.

With Christmas now behind us, I’m looking forward to the start of the new year. We’ve scheduled the quarterly work day at the farm for January 1, so we’re starting off on the right foot!