Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

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Motivation is hard to find sometimes

I am no closer to not resembling a couch potato than I was when I last posted after a 5k in March. I did do the 5k I’d signed up for on April 2. Despite the BLOWING SNOW through the whole race, I actually made my best time yet, but it was also my first road race (read there were no real hills). Regardless, my current strategy of running exactly once a month–at a race–is clearly working.

Not really.

But sort of.

Seriously, who does this? Not smart people, that’s for sure. A friend of mine was incredulous after I told her about the last race, “How do you even do that? Just go out and run  5k?” I think it may simply be my stubborn streak.

I decided after the last race (yes, if you’ve been reading, it’s like the fifth time I decided) that I need a plan. For a variety of reasons, I’ve stopped doing pretty much anything active for the last four months (aforementioned one race a month doesn’t count), and I know I need to get back to it. I feel the need to get back to my PT exercises now more than ever because the knee is aching on days when I do nothing. I think the down time was good for the knee for a while, but even it has had its fill.

I made it my goal this year to do one race per month–12 total. I’ve managed to do the first four by the skin of my teeth. Now, I’m going to plan a bit better. I have the next two races planned–a 5k in May and a quarter marathon trail run in June. I’ve done both distances already this year, so I’m not worried about finishing. I am, however, worried about finishing with an intact knee. I can’t blow it now after all the blood, sweat and tears that I’ve expended rehabbing it over the course of five years.

So… I spent time this past weekend putting together a plan to get back to doing my PT exercises. I also ordered a Bosu ball and helped a friend make me a slant board so that I can do some of my most important exercises at home. Not completely sure why, but actually getting to the gym feels like such a burden right now. But it doesn’t (read shouldn’t) matter because I can do nearly everything from home. I also found a good online yoga practice, so I can start doing yoga at home, too. I’ve done it twice already, and, um… I’ll be easing back in to that. I’ve lost an awful lot of strength while sitting on my butt.

I also ordered a new pair of running shoes. I tried them on in the local running store, and they felt like I was seriously walking on clouds. I couldn’t stop smiling while I was wearing them around the store. But the price was a bit steep for me, especially for a pair of shoes that might not get all that much mileage. I had to leave them in the store. But then I found them online for nearly $50 less. I ordered them immediately, but I have yet to receive them, so we’ll see if that deal was too good to be true…

I hope I’m headed in the right direction. I certainly feel more motivated than I have in a long time. Maybe it’s because spring feels like it might actually arrive this week, and that has me feeling pretty happy.


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I literally cannot help myself

I posted a week ago that I couldn’t do another race until I actually prepped for it. I’d signed up for one in June, and I thought that was plenty of time to get ready (since it’s another quarter marathon, and I’ve done two this year with no prep).

Then the very next day, I signed up for a race that happened last Saturday. I can’t help myself!

This one was only a 5k, so I felt ok about it (since it’s less than half the distance of the one I did in February), even though I haven’t run at all. It was at a state park less than an hour away from me, but I’d never been there before, so the course/terrain was unknown. I asked a friend who grew up in the area if it was hilly, and she reassured me that it was definitely not hilly. I was feeling pretty good about it the night before.

I text her after the race. “What the hell?! No effing hills? The entire park is made of hills!!” Seriously, there were more ups and downs than in the HUFF, which was more than three times as long. Up and down and up and down and up and up. It ended with a never-ending flight of stairs.

This one was rough for me. I think part of it was that the course was so unfamiliar. The others have been at a park I frequent, so I know the course very well. It was also very hilly (let’s be real, they weren’t major hills, but they felt like it to me). I was near the back of the pack for most of the race. It was only in the last mile that I was able to pass anyone. I was super happy to pass the 9-year-old running with his dad and the guy who power walked the whole thing. When I managed that, I wasn’t going to let them pass me back. No sir. I was going to finish with some dignity.

This one didn’t hurt the knee too much, but it sure made me realize I need to actually work out to get in shape. Right now, I generally resemble the shape of a couch potato.

Oh, and I signed up for another 5k the first weekend in April. I can’t be trusted.


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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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Slogging (my version of running)

Slogging. Short for “slow jogging.” It’s what I actually do when I tell people I’m going on a run. I never go fast enough to legitimately call it a run, but I do go slightly faster than a fast walk.

As soon as I crossed the finish line at the Little Miami Triathlon, my tri partner and I started making plans to do the HUFF 50k trail run in December. Not sure why since I barely made it across that particular finish line… It’s fine. You can say it. I’m nuts.

I’m not going to defend myself. I tell myself I’m nuts every time I step out on to a trail to start a training run. But I’m not totally insane! I will be doing the relay version of the race. It’s 50k split three ways, so I only have to do roughly 10.8 miles. Since I did basically half that in the triathlon, I figured I could work my way up to be ready by mid-December.

I am not now nor have I ever been a runner. I don’t really know that I enjoy running all that much, but I do enjoy the feeling I get when I get to the end of a training slog. I feel like I’ve accomplished something. Not sure what, exactly, because I have nothing tangible to say I did anything at all (MapMyRun app stats aside). The only thing motivating me at this point is the finisher medal that comes with completing the race. I made it a goal to earn a finisher’s medal this year, and this is my chance to make my goal. Yes, I could have picked something a bit easier (read shorter), but that’s not really how I roll.

The tricky part to training for an actual race is how to do it without angering the knee. I sat down and hobbled together a training plan that incorporates sage wisdom (don’t start by running 5 miles at a time 5 times a week), my PT exercises (keep doing those leg presses and deadlifts) and cross-training (just keep swimming, just keep swimming). I’ve never had a training plan for running before, and I don’t have a coach now. It’s on me to figure this out, and it’s been a little rocky so far. Lots of stretching, rolling and icing that I don’t regularly do anymore. Until now anyway.

The one problem I didn’t foresee was the pain I experience in my “good” leg. Pain right down the shin and to the outside of the ankle into the foot. Problem is, you see, I don’t have a perfectly even gait when I’m walking, much less when I’m running. I put a lot (a LOT) of pressure on that leg when I’m going up/down hills, so I’m currently working on how to even out the load and not cause any real damage to my one good leg. It’s a work in progress. But it’s forward progress! I managed to do four miles on hills in under an hour last weekend. It’s not record-breaking pace, but all I’m hoping to do is complete the race. I think I can. I will.

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The Barre Code

I’ve been all about trying new things this year. Testing my limits in new spaces. With new activities. One thing I tried is barre class.

A friend of mine asked if I was interested in accompanying her to a barre class. I was interested, but I didn’t really know anything about barre class. I don’t really do group exercise classes other than yoga. I prefer to work one-on-one with a trainer or on my own.

For those of you who have about as much knowledge about barre as I had, it’s an exercise class that combines elements of ballet, Pilates and yoga. Here’s a pretty in-depth description of the history, benefits and possible pitfalls of barre from Greatist.

I went to a studio here in Indy that appears to be part of a larger chain–The Barre Code. It was a super nice studio. Not off-putting for a germaphobe like me. That’s a great start.

I admittedly walked into the studio with a bit of a laissez-faire attitude. I didn’t think it would be all that hard for someone who is a regular in the gym and enjoys 20-mile bike rides on a week night. We used super simple equipment. Obviously, the ballet barre. We also had light hand weights and a circular resistance band. None of this made me lose the idea that this wasn’t going to be much of a workout.

I walked out with a different appreciation for the barre. The class definitely made me sweat. There were many, many small movements that I’m certainly not used to making, so they were difficult. I also had some difficulty with the poses because of the knee, but I was able to adapt fairly well.

I’ll probably go back because it was fun to work out with friends. I don’t think that this will replace any of my current activities, and it certainly won’t replace any strength training that I do. I was kind of tired after the class, but not the same kind of tired that I am when I finish up a strength training session. I can barely make it to my car to sit down after strength training. This was not that way at all, even though I did manage to make my legs shake during the class.

I haven’t yet, but I plan to take a Pilates reformer class. My PT used to have me do exercises on a reformer, and I always thought it was kind of awesome. I want to take a formal class and see if I still think it’s awesome. I think I need to work on my flexibility a bit more before I do that. I seem to have time to only do so much. If I focus on the strength training or gaining miles on the bike, the stretching and rolling suffer because I don’t have time for everything. I really need more hours in the day.

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Stick (to) it

Due to the infection that ruined my holiday weekend, I’m on three different meds. Two are to be taken twice a day, and one is to be taken three times a day. Two have to be taken two hours apart, and both have to be taken at least an hour before the third one. This makes sticking to a schedule difficult. I feel for the people who are on meds that require this kind of discipline for long periods of time, and I’m thankful that I will be done with this in only two more days.

The (tiny) silver lining to being laid up for the last week or so is that I’ve had time to jot down a few updates that I’ll post here soon. Life has been busy and full this year, and I’m very grateful for all that I’ve been able to do.

For now, I’ll leave you with this #tbt picture. Can you tell which kid is me? Probably not. My mother thought it was a good idea to give me the same haircut as the boy down the street (ok, not just the boy down the street; we were solid friends).

A picture of me when I was maybe four or five.

That’s me there on the left.