Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

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365 miles a year

This morning, I read that Mark Zuckerberg (aka the inventor of my biggest waste of time) had posed a physical challenge for 2016. He’s calling it “A Year of Running.” The premise is simple. Run 1 mile for every day in the year. Never mind that it’s a leap year, so there are 366 days in 2016.

I’d seen other challenges issued as the new year approached for 1,000 miles, 2,016 miles and more. Those all seemed unattainable to me.

This seems like a perfectly reasonable proposition. Not too much. Certainly something a beginner could aspire to do.

I don’t think that you have to run 1 mile every day. Or at least I can’t. I need several rest days between runs no matter the distance because I don’t want to completely anger my knee.

I like this idea. I’m going to give it a shot. Starting tomorrow.



Whisky Tango Foxtrot

We needed a team name when we signed up to do the HUFF 50k relay, so I suggested Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Because WTF am I doing running any kind of race, especially in the middle of winter… on the trails.

If you’re in a hurry and need to get to the point of this post, the point is… I finished. Done! The final tally was just over 11 miles for each of the relay team members (which, if you do the conversion and math, is actually more than 50k) on a course that was pretty hilly (I felt like most of it was uphill) on a day that saw a high of 27 degrees (thanks, Mother Nature, for being cold for the first/last time in December).

Huff 50k relay finisher medal.

See the flame in the back? That was one of the many heaters they had trying to keep the runners warm. This medal means I totally made one of my goals this year–earning a finisher medal.

I’ve been attempting to train for this race for about 10 weeks. Even as a newbie, I knew that it wasn’t near enough time to actually train, but I also knew at some point that I would be able to finish. It was simply a matter of how long it would take me to complete the course.

Training has been tougher than I imagined. But then, I’ve never done this before, so I don’t know what I imagined it would be like to train for a race. At the same time, it’s been very exciting. I’ve been having quite a lot of fun out on the trails. I’d never really walked/hiked the trails at my favorite park; I’d only ever ridden my bike out there. So it’s all new to me. I discovered I rather like it.

The race itself was pretty fun. The day–though super cold–was sunny and beautiful. The trails were very well marked and not too muddy (I’d read about a few years where runners struggled with the mud… and the waist-deep water). I’d heard about the aid stations on this run, and they definitely did NOT disappoint. They had water (with a light frosting of ice), Gatorade, peanut butter sandwiches, M&M’s, gummy bears, pretzels and several other things I didn’t take the time to explore. At the end, they had at least 15 different kinds of homemade soups (I think; I didn’t count) and all the goodies you could want. There were homemade cookies at the finish line that were the best I’ve ever tasted (I think; I don’t usually run 11 miles before I eat cookies).

I made it the first five miles with no problems whatsoever, and I was excited to note that I was within my goal time (which was completely arbitrarily set). About mile 6.5, I realized I was getting a bit tired. OK, a lot tired. And it came on suddenly. I walked. Then I started to run again. Then, around mile 9, I glanced behind me because I could hear someone coming up to pass, but I couldn’t tell how far away they were. As I looked back over my shoulder, I had a slight misstep that made my right knee hyper extend. It wasn’t too bad–just enough that it felt like someone jabbed a stick behind my kneecap (so kind of bad). Instant swelling. And a mental, “Oh, shit. I should never have done this in the first place.” I had to walk a lot after that. I still had a decent pace, and I finished only three minutes over my goal time.

The knee was pretty sore that night and the next day, but it was back to the new normal by day two. Surprisingly (at least to me), my left quad was what hurt the most in the aftermath. I’d had a bit of trouble with the left calf during the race because I over compensate with my left leg to make up for my right, but it was the quad that hurt for days after the race. It’s cleared up now, but it made me very aware that I have a lot of learning to do as I move forward.

By forward, I mean forward to my next trail race later this month. This time, it’s only a quarter marathon (6.55 miles), but it’s at night. No worries, though. I bought a headlamp!

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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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North Carolina and my ruined childhood

I set out last week to go to North Carolina to spend a few days with my brother and his wife. When I mentioned the trip to one of my friends, she excitedly asked, “Are you going to where they filmed Dawson’s Creek?” Having never seen that particular show, my reply was somewhere along the lines of, “Obviously not! That would be a boring/dumb trip.” But that’s exactly what we ended up doing.

This was the view from the Southport Ferry as we were on ur way to say hi to Pacey, Joey and Dawson.

My view from the Southport Ferry as we were on our way to say hi to Pacey, Joey and Dawson.

While we were talking about the numerous shows/movies that have been filmed in NC, my brother randomly said, “You know Andy Giffith was kind of a jerk.” Uh, excuse me. The sheriff of Mayberry was definitely not a jerk. He was one of my childhood heroes. On a related note, I also watched Matlock religiously because I had an eighty-year-old’s taste in television as a preteen. (Diagnosis Murder, anyone?)

Except then I asked Google if Andy Griffith was a jerk, and there were enough reports to back it up that now I’m unsure. I thanked my brother for ruining my childhood.

While we were in Southport, we went to a Christmas shop that is open year-round. It’s in an old house, and it’s packed to the hilt with all sorts of Christmas ornaments and other accoutrement. Literally packed in every nook and cranny. I ventured upstairs and turned a corner only to see Santa and Mrs. Claus in bed together. The whole tableau creeped me out. I think it was mostly the wooden faces frozen in smiles that didn’t quite meet their eyes.

Santa and Mrs. Claus dolls in a bed.

See? Creepy, right?

I haven’t seen my “little” brother (I use quotes because he’s younger but a good 7 inches taller than me) in over two years. That’s a travesty that I had to remedy! It was so much fun hanging out with him for a while. We’re still apparently two peas in a  pod. I’d never before met his wife’s family, but they were marveling at how similar we are in a number of different ways. For example, we both fold candy wrappers in to neat little squares and have an affinity for peanut butter cups. We both hate mushrooms. We both love James Bond. We share a sense of humor. We blush the brightest shades of red with the slightest provocation. The list goes on.

My brother asked repeatedly if I was ready to move south. As impressed as I was (there are trees everywhere!), he lost me when he told me that it gets to over 100 degrees and stays that way for weeks in the summer. Uh, no thanks. I’m a delicate flower, and I’d melt in that kind of heat. Especially since it’s a muggy heat. Ugh. I will, however, plan to visit more frequently. His in-laws have promised me a tour of numerous places they were outraged my brother didn’t show me. So much to look forward to next time!

***Edited to add… For anyone keeping tabs on my knee, it survived 22 hours in the car in a relatively short period of time. If you count the trip to the beach and back, it was really more like 27 hours in the car. That’s huge. I had so much trouble sitting in the car after the surgery that I was limited to a two-hour radius from home. It’s come a long way in the past year. I’m a bit sore today (one day after getting home), but it’s totally bearable.

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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.