A PSA and the Chronicles of the Bum Knee

The “big fall” was just about 10 days ago. You know… the fall during which I literally bounced off of my precious patella. I have a PSA for the 5 people out there that actually read my blog: Pick up your darn feet and pay close attention to urban sidewalk potholes. While I feel like I should take some of my aggression out on the City of Chicago and it’s lack of attention to pedestrian walkways, I think a faster solution is probably just to keep my eyeballs peeled for craters in the pavement. Ahhh, the tough realities of an urban runner (On a related note: I’m not sure I would be cut out for trail running…).

So, there’s your advice of the day. Avoid one clumsy moment and you’ll forego a lot of pain.

The fall happened so quickly I don’t even know exactly how it happened. Man, I wish I could see video footage of that. I’m sure it was truly graceful.

The good news is that since the BIG FALL on Sunday, July 20th, I have made considerable progress. Every morning I’ve been able to wake up and think to myself, ‘hm, well the knee is moving better than it was yesterday!’.

Sunday: World of pain. Spent most of the afternoon crying and watching Orange Is the New Black. Enter cry baby status.

Monday: Mantra= “suck it up and get on the damn plane, Jenny!” I had a 4 hour flight to endure but I’m thanking my lucky stars for an available aisle seat. I spent the flight trying my best to bend and straighten my leg (you know, within the inches of leg room that we’re allowed on those metal cans flying through the air). I was in a considerable amount of pain while sitting and walking. I just couldn’t get comfortable. I had a hard time straightening my leg and pulling it backward. I attempted to do a normal quad stretch but the knee was definitely not ready yet. It was tough to really complain once I arrived in LA – “secret” trip, more on that later! 

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Tuesday: “Ok, let’s try to move this thing a bit more.” I woke up early and, while friends went out for a fun run/hike, I resigned to trudging to the hotel fitness center to rotate my knee on the bike. And this is how it went:

Moving…Kinda! #bumknee

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No, that video is not in slow motion. That’s the fastest my knee could go on Tuesday. It hurt but not so much that I felt like I should stop. At the end of my 32 minute workout “rotation”, the bike said I had literally moved 0.0 miles. It didn’t feel great, but hey, I considered any type of movement a good sign. I spent the rest of the day being goofy with a few teams from Saucony 26 Strong. Can’t wait to share some goofy pics!

Wednesday: A crazy busy week continued with a 3:30 AM alarm and a trip to the airport. This time to fly to San Francisco for work. By the time I arrived, I was feeling all sorts of weird from a few short hours of sleep. I had a full day of work but tried my best to keep my knee mobile. Any time I spent more than 30 minutes sitting in one position, my knee would tighten up and walking normally would begin difficult again. I didn’t have an opportunity to ice it during my work conference (excuses excuses) but plenty of hydration and ibuprofen throughout the day seemed to help.

This was Wednesday’s “LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!” moment:

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I wasn’t able to bend my knee this far since the fall. Small wins!

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Because bruise pictures are all cool and gnarly. Here you are. It looked much worse on Wednesday but felt considerably better. Woot woot!

I collapsed into bed around 8:30 pm and felt like a brand new person when I woke up the next morning.

Thursday: Lonnggggg day of work. Again, I tried to keep my knee mobile throughout the day. Same as Thursday, it was fine once it was loose but really cranky if I left it in one position for awhile. I capped off the day with a bit of wallowing with Robin over beers and food. The running family is the best, ain’t it? I really wish we could have gone on a planned easy run but beer and food is always a close second.

Friday: Today was the first day since the BIG FALL that I felt like I could walk normally and sitting for longer periods of time didn’t seem to bother my knee as much. CUE HAPPY DANCE! The distraction of a long week full of fun and work was definitely welcome. 5 days of no sweat-inducing activities and I was starting to get a little antsy. The day ended with another long 4 hr flight homeward. And again, I thank my lucky stars for an available aisle seat and an empty seat to my left.

Saturday: All the sleeps and lazies. In a matter of 5 days, I had averaged just 5 hours of sleep each night. It definitely showed. I slept like a rock on Friday night once I got home and couldn’t be bothered on Saturday. I spent the morning sipping coffee and watching TV shows in bed. I doubt I’ll say this many times, but today was one of those days when I was happy to not have a long run. I’m not interested in running through pain and I was mentally & physically ready to sit on my a**. So that’s what I did.

Sunday:  Hey! Look! More progress! After my “spin” the previous Tuesday, I didn’t find the idea of getting on the spin bike all too appealing. BUT the inflammation in my knee had gone down a bit and I thought moving it for 30 minutes could only help it recover. And here’s how it went:

Tiny bit of progress! The bum knee can rotate easily on a spin bike with only a wee bit of discomfort now.

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I was SHOCKED that I was able to move my leg that “quickly” (and I had to capture it on video, duh). It wasn’t painful but it was a wee bit uncomfortable so I stopped at 30 minutes. Like night and day to Tuesday’s “spin” session! So, 60 minutes of rotation and 0 drops of sweat for the week.

This is one glorified recovery week! It’s not exactly how I envisioned Week 2 of training for Monumental, but I remain optimistic about my fall goals. It’s just going to happen on a condensed timeline.

That brings us to this week, folks! I’ve been icing my knee for 20 minutes several times a day and taking ibuprofen regularly. I can now bend and flex my leg with only some slight discomfort. I did 30 minutes on the spin bike (very low resistance) on Monday and 45 minutes on Tuesday. Everything is moving in the right direction and I’m really happy that I’m no longer in pain. If you had told me on Sunday that I seriously damaged my knee and I wouldn’t run normally for awhile, I would have believed you. Now, I know that’s not true and I’m recovering just fine. It’s just going to take some more time.

I was able to see a sports doc this morning and the verdict is: prepatellar bursitis. Basically, the top of my knee cap is inflamed. She suggested that I continue to stick to spinning (or elliptical if it isn’t uncomfortable) through the two-week mark, which would be this Sunday. After that I can go for a test run and see how it reacts. Between now and then, I just need to keep icing it and taking ibuprofen to keep the inflammation down. I had a feeling that it wasn’t anything serious considering how much it’s improved in 10 days, but I feel relieved now that a professional has taken a look at it. The doc said that if the inflammation doesn’t go down in a week, we can try a steroid injection (but she doubts that will be necessary).

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It’s tough to tell in this picture, but my right knee cap sticks out further than my left. Inflammation be gone!

Conclusions:

1) Avoid urban potholes, you urban runners!

2) Rest, ice, and ibuprofen sometimes do cure all. (Well, that and puppy cuddles.)

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On the up and up!

– J

A Fall and a Big Bump

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This isn’t exactly how I saw the first week of official training going. In fact, I was pretty excited about the work I put in last week and I was going to cap it off with a 15 miler. I started late after a lazy Sunday morning. The Man and I have been running the 2 miles to the lakefront together as a warmup before our own long runs. It makes the trip to the lake more fun. There’s a section of this street that I’m always careful on. I cross a small set of train tracks, being careful with my footsteps. And, after that, there’s this section of gnarly pavement. It’s been this bad as long as I’ve been running this section (which is about 1,500 times in the past 3 years). I wasn’t paying attention this time. I’ve run it so many times that my brain must have switched off.

My left toe clipped the ledge of this “sidewalk pothole” and, with 100% of my weight, I fell straight down on my right knee cap. Cue immediate pain and lots of tears. It hurt like hell and I was just sitting there howling. Manny said I bounced I fell so hard. And thank goodness he was with me. With all the adrenaline after falling, I thought the best thing to do was to loosen it up… by jogging slowly the 4 blocks back home. I had blood running down my leg and I couldn’t stop crying.

I spent the rest of the day being a big baby, icing my knee, and watching episode after episode of Orange Is the New Black. An hour after the fall, it was really swollen and I had a very, very limited range of motion. Bending it or straightening it didn’t feel good.

Two days later and some of the swelling has gone down. I can bend it very slowly (still painful and uncomfortable) and it feels better when I keep it loose. If I sit in one position for awhile, it gets cranky. A 4 hr flight on Monday was less than ideal.

So, what do I do now? I am traveling this entire week and won’t be home until late Friday night. If it’s still this painful, I’ll head to the doc. I’m encouraged by the fact that my range of motion has improved from Sunday-Monday. I’ve been icing it every couple of hours and taking Ibuprofen regularly. I can’t help but wonder if it’s something serious but I’ll take it day by day and see how I feel at the end of the week.

Note: I find it somewhat hilarious and ironic that a Chicago pothole has caused this fluke injury.

-J

The Beginning of a New Cycle – Monumental 2014

I’ve debated a bit about whether or not I want to post training updates this time around. This seems to be a normal part of a new cycle for me – do I want to share how my workouts are going, even (and especially) on the days when they’re not going well? Am I posting for myself? I’ve certainly had different answers to these questions in the past. And just as before, I’m a bit conflicted. For now, I’ll update when I feel like it. I like being able to look back on past training cycles. It helps put things in perspective, especially when you consider the training-LIFE balance that anyone training for a marathon has to deal with. I’m toying with the idea of posting monthly updates – surely, few people (if anyone) would read them but at least I’d be able to process what the heck is happening running-wise.

Thoughts? Do you read training updates or do you scroll them? What do you think are the advantages or disadvantages of sharing?

So, the weekly update!

Last week was a transition week into my training for Monumental. I’ve been ramping up my mileage a bit in the past 6-7 weeks and I am happy that I was mentally ready to start a new cycle.

Monday: REST + taking care of those sniffles

Day 1 of training (although 16 weeks out was officially Monday, July 14) and I woke up feeling like absolute crap. I fought a cold/cough/sore throat over the holiday weekend but thought it had run its course. Turns out Monday was the worst of it and I spent half the day working in bed. I spent the rest of the day being lazy. But hey! I spent 30 full minutes foam rolling and using the roll recovery that night!

Tuesday: [8 easy with 8 x 20 sec surges (7:44 avg) – paced between 5:50-6:10 min/mile] 

After 10 hours of sleep, I woke up feeling human! I took plenty of meds and hydrated on Monday so I’m sure that helped a lot as well. The only time I had to run was during lunch so I ran 8 easy in a nearby park and ran straight to Potbelly for lunch. I took the long way there :). The surges felt great (turnover seems strong lately) and it was a good ‘light speed’ workout, considering the lingering congestion I was dealing with.

Wednesday: [10 miles easy (7:40 avg)]

Easy 10 on the lakefront this morning. It was a “cool” 72 degrees out, so it was pretty enjoyable. Seen on my run: Mr. Bean’s doppelgänger. I’m curious to see how these longer mid-week runs impact my training. Still a bit of lingering congestion, but much better than Monday!

Thursday: [Bastille Day 5k! 20:32 + 1.67 mi warm-up]

One word describes this race experience: woof. I jumped into a 5k just to see where my fitness is at before officially beginning the training cycle. I thought I could get to low 20s without blowing up. I’ve PR’d at this race the past two years and have liked racing it. This year, the congestion was terrible. The 8k starts 15 minutes before the 5k and they finish together on an out-and-back course. I was on target through 2-3k & felt pretty good – just starting to hurt but knew I could push for another 2k. After the 3k mark though, staying on pace was pretty much impossible. They didn’t put a race official at the turnaround to even let people know that a race was happening. There was plenty of traffic on the lakefront because it was such a beautiful evening. (The course is never blocked off but it’s never been a big problem in the past. In fact, I don’t even really remember any congestion last year.) This time around, there were cyclists on both sides and down the middle of the path – I was basically surrounded by bikes on both sides. And then, you run into the 8k runners that were running a much slower pace by the time the 5k runners were at the turnaround. There were more people running in the grass during a 5k than I’ve ever seen before and you could tell some people were frustrated. At that point, I literally had to stop and walk for a few seconds because it was so bad. Total of two stops probably totaled 15-20 seconds.

Soooooo yeah, it didn’t go well. But I guess it was a decent workout. I haven’t done any structured speedwork since before Boston so at least I know I have a little bit of pep in my legs these days. I doubt I’ll be able to squeeze in another 5k in the next few months, but damn I really want that sub 20 goal knocked down this year. I know I can run a sub-20. I ran 20:05 at the same race last year. It’s gotta happen!

The highlight was definitely hearing some familiar voices with 200 meters to go. Corey, Chanthana, and Manny were definitely the loudest spectators at the finish. We grabbed some burgers and beer after the race. NOMS!

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Pre-race optimism 

Splits: 3:52, 4:03, 4:07, 4:18 (darn traffic), 4:09
9th female
4/113 age group
32/861 overall

Friday: [5 easy + 5 x 8 sec hill sprints, (8:11 avg)]

My legs weren’t sore or tired from the 5k at all. Derp. It felt good to move at the end of the work day.

Saturday: [Long Run – 14 mi (7:52 avg)]

What a backwards Saturday. I woke up to a crazy downpour (think monsoon) at 6:30 AM and the rain didn’t stop until 11 AM. At that point, I was already preparing a late breakfast and debating delaying ’til tomorrow. After the rain cleared, Man and I headed out for our long run at 1 PM. Annnnnd it was sticky. And hotter than expected. If there wasn’t an annoying crosswind the entire time, I’m sure it would have felt much hotter. Ran easy 2 to the lake with Man and then ran 7:40-7:50 for the remaining 12. Stopped at plenty of water fountains and just took it mile by mile. Didn’t have much energy today despite 9-10 hrs sleep. Just happy to get it done and relax the rest of the weekend!

Sunday: [3 recovery (8:10 avg)]

Just a quick jaunt around the neighborhood in the evening. We drove down to 3 Floyd’s in the afternoon to pick up some friends that had biked the 35 miles there. We had a few beers and ate lunch – annnnd watched the World Cup on my iPhone. It turns out 3 Floyd’s has a policy against playing sports on their TVs (they always play movies?).

Totals: 

6 runs, 45 miles

Core x 2

1 “race”

& 1 cough/cold that went away! 

– J

Fall Training & Racing Plans

Fall racing plans are finally coming together. After a disappointing Boston race, I knew I wanted redemption in the fall (despite my best attempts at telling myself I would “only” train for a half marathon). I’m still chasing that sub-3:10 goal that I set for the year and I have a feeling I’ve found the perfect place to do it.

Today is Day 1 of training for…. the Monumental Marathon in Indy!

MonumentalMarathon

There are a lot of reasons why I think Indy is going to be a good race for me. I grew up in the Indy area and there’s a certain hometown advantage that I’m banking on. Having family members on the course will mean a lot and I am familiar with the streets (especially after pacing my friend through the first half last year). Plus, the perks of sleeping in a familiar bed and enjoying a home-cooked meal by my mom are pretty irresistible. Also, the weather tends to cooperate. It’s several weeks after the Chicago Marathon during the first weekend of November. I’m hoping for race conditions just like last year – cool and calm from start to finish. I like cool temps. 🙂 Annnnnd, the course is flat. Helloooooo pancake-flat course! I think we’ll get along well.

I’m planning on racing a 5k and 10k as part of my training for Monumental. I hope I can make both races hurt and PR, but I’ll be happy with a solid effort. The focus is on the marathon. As of right now, I don’t think I’ll race a half marathon this cycle. I normally like to race a half as part of my training but I don’t want to squeeze too much racing into a 16-week cycle. The half can be a confidence boost especially when I really feel like I’m in shape, but I’m going to try to be patient and enjoy the process of training again.

So, 16 weeks to race day and today is the day that I woke up with a horrible summer cold. (cue: whining) A sore throat and a stuffy nose aren’t exactly ideal when your motivation to run is high. I think I’ll spend a few days blowing my nose and consuming Nyquil before doing any tough workouts. (I can only imagine how much snot would flow out of my nose if I attempted to do speedwork today.) Let’s hope this cold goes away soon!

… The excitement doesn’t stop there, folks!

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I’m helping my sister to train for her first maraton this fall with Saucony 26 Strong. Our original plan was to run the California International Marathon in December. We were really excited about it! And then!… Saucony asked each team if they were interested in switching their goal race to the…. Honolulu Marathon. (I feel like I’m kidding, but I’m not.)

We considered Honolulu a few months ago, but thought we’d go with a race that typically has cooler weather. I wanted to find ideal racing conditions, especially for her first. Welp! It didn’t take much convincing to switch to Honolulu considering several other teams will be there with us and we’ll have some fun pre- and post-race activities. My sister has been building up her base for almost 2 months now and her training will officially begin the first week of August. I think we’re both still in denial that her first marathon is going to be in Honolulu.

Between the two of us (and the Man running his first 26.2 at Chicago!), we have a lot of miles to run this summer! I think the rest of 2014 is going to be pretty fabulous. I think today may be the one and only time I register for two marathons within ten minutes — but don’t quote me on that.

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-J