Friday, July 17, 2009

So That Little Mystery Is Solved

More than 12 days ago, I was wondering if I would lose my mind while sitting around.

The answer - pretty much yes.

I am thankful the surgery went just fine on Tuesday. And got some great photos to take home. :} He removed the loose body (cartilidge), a lovely bone spur and some arthritis. After surgery was a breeze and felt pretty good that day. Even Wed wasn't so bad.

And then the novocaine wore off in the middle of the night on Wed night/Thursday morning. OMG! Shock to the system. Tuesday and Wed I could hobble around pretty well with no crutches and not much pain. Thursday was miserable. I finally broke down and took the codeine. Ewwgads. How do people take that stuff? I was completely out of it AND my knee hurt.

Last night went a little better and it isn't quite so awful today - but damn does it still hurt.

All my visions of being up and zipping around by Saturday or Sunday without crutches are now a crazy thought. I am having difficulty walking on that leg, much less not limping.

So, I will sit some more. I have already watched 4 movies and read 3 books. So now, it's time to spend some time on line and catch up. I am doing my best to enjoy it - but it is disconcerting to feel my back end spread out and get larger each moment I sit here.

But, still I will try to be thankful that everything went well. That I have my family to hang out with me and keep me company. That I will be walking/running soon enough. That it could always be worse.

Here is a quick "On The Run" video from the comfort of my big red chair today. It should be labeled (Not) On The Run.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

12 days to go

I am starting the countdown to surgery. Not so much because I am looking forward to it or dreading it but because I just realized that I need to get some stuff done before I am have limited mobility for a week.

I rarely sit. I rarely rest. So, how will the week go? Will I lose my mind?

I am also trying to build up some strength. Seems like I only have a small amount of time for walking and biking - work is taking up way to much time.

I have found one advantage in all this walking. It is something my husband and I can do together. We have been talking a few walks together at night - it is a nice change. A chance to catch up - that never happens.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Time Flies, Time Changes Everything

Not sure which cliche to quote - both are true.

The days have been a blur between work and home stuff and so much as changed since my last post. Last Monday I had my second opinion with a orthopedic who actually knew what he was doing. He sent me for an MRI Tuesday night and by Wednesday I learned that I didn't have a degenerate knee - instead I had a loose body under my knee cap as well as arthritis.

The solution - scope to take out the loose body and smooth out the rough patches under my knee cap.

I was escatic! This means that runner isn't out of my future indefinitely but instead for just a few more months. I should be running again by Sept 1st.

Surgery is scheduled for July 14th - should be a quick one with about 1 week recovery and then 5 more weeks of walking/biking only.

I am now trying to put as much in as possible the next two weeks to be in decent shape for the surgery and crutches. Do you think it is possible to drop 10 pounds in 2 weeks? Yeah, me neither. But I will work on dropping a few and building my core strength.

Last week exercise:
Sunday - 2 mile walk
Tuesday -3 mile walk
Thursday - 3 mile walk
Saturday - 15 mile bike, 2 mile run

This week so far:
Monday - 4 mile walk

Friday, June 19, 2009

Trying to find a track

It's not so much about just getting back on track, it is also about finding a track that works for me and gets the miles in.

Sunday - bike 15 miles
Monday - walk hilly 2 miles and exercises with Tucker
Tuesday - walk 2 miles with kids on bike (is it possible to do a walking fartlek? If so - I did.)
Wednesdsay - walk 3 miles (90 degrees) ugh. and exercises with Tucker
Thursday - nothing

So I guess I shouldn't complain - I did get 7 miles in and 15 miles on the bike. If I can get my "long run" of 8 in tomorrow morning - I would consider this first week of reformed running ok.

My knee is still acting up. Just when I think that it is "all better" and I can go back to running, it "goes out" and reminds me that all is not well. At the appt with the orthopedic, he told me my right knee was really swollen - which I had the intelligent response of "oh, I thought it was just a bunch of fat there." I mean, come on, I am getting to middle age and I am finding fat building on the oddest places. yuck. Well anyway - so last night I am doing some gardening and only as I am bending and reaching do I get a good look at my knee and realize that it is really swollen. I think I finally saw what he was trying to describe.

Sure, it is hard to bend at times and even trying to stretch it is tough - but again, I thought it was just because I was old(er).

I am looking forward to Monday - my second opinion is scheduled at 8 am on Monday with a sports med knee orthopedic guy. My hope that he can either give me different news that is really good; provide better options for the bad news or find a way to reach me to help me deal with it.

I am already talking with myself to try to keep it together. As you know from my post from my last appt, I fell apart into tiny little pieces. I need to be more logical this time so I can ask better questions in addition to keeping my cool to be ready to do back to back presentations at work starting at 9:20 am. This will be interesting.

I think I am coping better with the thought of never running again. I decided that I will take it day by day and week by week. Just like I didn't go from running 1 block to 20 miles - I can't go from full time runner to nonrunner. Little by little I need to work through it.

Through all of this, I am so thankful for my RL partner, friend and coach of Tom. There are very few people who can so completely understand the challenge and sadness of not running as well as take on the feel feeling. Tom has been so kind to "get it" and offer suggestions. And more than anything, offer the chance to talk it through. I have wonderful family and friends, but they don't know the right things to say or how to help me work through it. This is where it is so important to have running friends - they know.

Let's hope next week this time all of this is just a bad memory. :}

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Quick log - Run and Bike

Sometimes I forgot to use my blog to actually record my running. That is a little funny.

And I am using the term "running" here loosely as I have officially kicked off my "no running" running training for my half marathon.

Saturday - 3 miles. I walked the first mile and then somewhere around mile 2 I realized I had been running for at least the last mile. Can't even tell you where or how it happened, but my body just started running. When I realized it about mile 2, I thought about stopping but decided it really wasn't worth it to blow a good thing. After all these years of running, it was only Saturday that it became crystal clear that my internal cadence is set to something like a 10-12 minute a mile run. Anything slower than that doesn't jive with my mental pace and doesn't give me the mental refreshment I feel when I run.

Knee went out twice on Saturday.

Sunday - 15 mile bike. Back on the bike. I won't lie - it was nice. I like going out and stomping on those pedals and just letting it go. I do love speed. Ok, my knee was a nag about the entire ride. It kept groaning and whining when I really laid some pressure into the pedals. I just wante d to slap it and scream, "get a life, get in line and just cooperate." It was a reality check to make me realize that it isn't just running that may be a problem in this training.

Knee went out twice on Sunday - at Walmart - it was painful enough that it made me sit down quickly. I grabbed it and moved it a bit and it went back into place and all was good.

Tentative plan for half marathon training is a 3-2-2 in 5: 3 "cross training days" which is one long bike, one short bike and 1 medium walk (3-4 miles); 2 running days - one long (6-10) and one short (2 miles) and 2 strength training days - but all packed into 5 days with 2 rest days.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Another opinion

A bit of emotion in that last post, no?

Well, I guess it is good to get it all out. Monday night's post was one long rambling tirade of nonstop typing. Looking back at today, I can see all the typos, grammer issues, etc - but I have decided to leave it just that way. It captures the moment of Monday.

Tuesday was a day of distraction - I couldn't get anything done.

And today, I am starting to think more clearly.

I have decided, as of this moment to do the DSM half marathon in October, the Living History Farms in November and a tri or duathlon in Sept. I have pledged to run just once a week - and make it count and make everything else a cross training. It will make the runs challenging but I hope I can maintain some fitness.

And then the bigger decision was to buckle down and lose weight. I spent A LOT of time online going back thorugh the doc's words and there are two things in my control - when/where I run and weight loss. It's not that I am gigantica, but I do need to lose 15 pounds. Every pound lost means less pounding on my joints.

Only time will tell if this is a good decision.

I am also getting an almost second opinion. My son goes back to his world class PT for a foot review and PT update and I trust her with my son (which is more valuable than my own life). I am going to review the x-rays, progress and doctor's opinion to see what she would do - would she get a second opinion.

At least I have a plan. I know what is next.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What do you call a runner who can't run anymore?

I am a runner. I have taken great pride in making myself into a runner and in allowing myself to call myself a runner. It took years to start running, more years to keep running and at times an entire life time to run a race. I am a runner.

I have taken even greater pride in helping others become runners or rather unleash their inner runner. Helping runners see that they were a runner all along they just had too many rules they created before allowing themself to be labeled with "I am a runner."

So here I sit, now, and wonder what I will become if I can't be a runner. The visit to the orthopedic surgeon is over and their are really no options for me now except to stop running. Degenerative. Arthritis. Cartlidge is gone. No real space in the knee. Just a matter of time before knee replacement. We have no good way to fix this problem with a knee. How old are you? All the things I would tell you do you have done but you are still here. Activity modification. No pounding. No jumping. No running. Elliptical. Bike. Swimming. Soft trails. Running will make it worse. If you can't take it - cortisone shots - but it doesn't fix it. There is no fix for it. You are running right into a knee replacement.

I am 38.

Now what?

It took all my will not to cry in front of this doctor - a stranger. He was helpful, but I knew he wasn't a runner. He wouldn't fully understand. Especially since I am not an elite athlete or a local superstar. I am a mom runner. A weekend athlete. But I am a runner.

My PT came with me today - bringing a summary of her treatment as well as herself. No other options she said. Just keep working on balance and strength to keep the symptoms away. Won't get better, will get worse. No other options.

So I come home tonight to think it through. I go to change my clothes and realize that every "after work" outfit is a running shirt from some race. All my shorts have been purchased with a run or after a run in mind. I go slip on shoes and stare at my closet of running shoes, all purchased with a specific run or season in mind. I look on the shelf of the hallway and see my GU, my spibelt, my winter running wear and my water bottles just waiting for another run.

Everything in my life, every habit has been built around the fact that I am a Runner. Maybe this is how you know you are a runner when you can't separate one part of your life from your running life. All of the sudden you wake up and realize that running has become intertwined with all other parts of your life. And it feels right. It feels so right you don't realize what has happened. It feels so right that you can't figure out how you would possible untangle running from your daily habits.

I grab the mail and pull out my medal from Drake Relays - it has finally arrived. I walk it over to my medal wall and stare at an entire wall devoted to my running medals and memories. Pictures framed to capture a moment. Running books stacked by my reading chair waiting for another read. Runners World dog eared for an article I wanted to read again. My bottle of Powerade Zero left over from my last long run flop in the chair.

The thought of what I would read in the place of all that material stops me cold. What next? What do I care about as much as running? I grab a cookie from my secret stash. My brain reflectively shoots a message back to not worry - we can work off these cookies in the next run. But wait. A deep breath. There may be no more post cookie binge runs to counteract the uncontrolled cookie feasts. Oh god. No more celebratory long run indulgences.

Or worse. No more long runs. Oh the feeling of the long, slow run. The feeling of happy exhaustion. Of joy in accomplishment. Of stronger muscles. Of feeling like and knowing that you are one of a small community who are able to do what you just did - and like it. The silent satisfaction the rest of the day or weekend of knowing "I did it". The confidence to know that you can push past discomfort or pain or mental weakness and keep going just to show you can do it.

Gone is the time reserved for you. To recharge. To detatch. To get lost. To find yourself. To learn something about yourself you never knew. Or sometimes to rememeber something about you that you had forgotten. To make lists. To get organized. To stop thinking. To give time to think. To praise God. To talk to yourself. It's the reward of being a runner. Time. Precious time for to make a mental -physical connection that seems to make the rest of the time not running so much more enjoyable.

So, now what?

Do I stop? Four doctors with the same four messages. The fourth doctor the most informed of all. The fourth doctor with the painstaking tour of my X-Rays to show that he isn't making it up. The pain and symptoms aren't in my head or imagined or overblown. It is the lack of black space on the X-ray which tells a pretty loud story. It yells back - yeah, it's real.

My brain keeps trying to shift to injury mode. Chanting, just a few weeks off and then good as new. So I keep showing it the X-ray and whispering back - this isn't an injury - this is for good. And it just gets worse. Resting, icing, ibrofen will not fix this. Not running won't fix it. Running will make it worse. 38, 39, 40, 45, 48 is too young for a knee replacement.

But my brain is rationalizing now. Squinting at the X-ray. Thinking...he could just be trying to scare you - does a few milimeters make a difference? Really. Come on - he's just a conservative. But a walk, a jog and I am reminded that it isn't just a picture - it is also pain. It is locking, it is grinding, it is the swelling. He didn't make it up. He just took a picture of it. And he was smart enough to send it home with me for a moment just like this.

So it's real. So it's not going away. So it's something I need to manage. So the best option isn't running. (for how long....) (do I start now...). I am bargaining with my knee. What if I run all my favorites this year and see how it goes? (Injury mindset talking....) What is I get it out of my system and then stop at the end of this year? (One last hoorah talking...) What if I just run until I can't do it anymore - how made could a knee replacement be? (emotion talking)

What I can't seem to ask myself is, "how can I stop running?" I am not ready to be rational and logical and an adult. I am too sad. I don't want to stop running.

Frayed Laces mantra pops into my head, "someday you won't be able to run, today isn't that day." Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit- TODAY is that day. It's here. Now what. No running blog tells you what to do when it becomes THAT day. There are posts about pre race, post run, taper madness, pregnancy running, EVERYTHING but this. No runner wants to talk about what happens on the day you can't run anymore. Ever. I remember Nancy going through this moment and talking about it on one of my favorite podcasts. The participants starting laughing because the way runners were talking it was like Nancy had died. We could laugh about it as a group, but the reality is - we all knew that losing the runner in you was like something had died.

This is a bad moment. And during bad moments, I run. And because I already have on my running clothes and running shoes - I could run. But I don't, I walk. I walk and cry. I walk and think. I walk and try to put together the answer to the question, "what do you call a runner when a runner can't run anymore?"

No matter how I try to answer, none of my responses are acceptable. I am a walker. I am a biker. I am a big, fat slob. I am a ...... I am a ex-runner. I used to run. I once ran. I did a few races. Oh my god. Those are not the way I want to be.

I stop and remember that this is small in a world full of bigger things. This isn't cancer. This isn't a heart attack. This isn't a brain injury. My kids are healthy. My husband is happy. I have a job. I am tremendously fortunate to be who I am doing what I do. I just need to find a way not to say....I am a runner.

So what to do? What's next? Do I keep running? Does running become the exception? Is running my cross training days? Will I wake up in a few weeks and find that running has untangled itself across my life and I won't remember the wonderful feeling of being a runner?

That I can't imagine because I am a runner. I will always be a runner. I won't stop running. I just can't. Not yet. Not now.