Birthday week!

Howdy, y’all!

It’s my birthday week – Friday is the big day, ha ha – and I’m celebrating in many ways (extra piece of chocolate here and there? Check!), but one of the more important things I’m doing this week is to buy myself a new pair of running shoes. This is directly related to what happened on Saturday, which I can tell you started out as the tale of Kat and the Terrible, Awful, Horrible, No-Good Run. Pull up a chair, will you?

I was out of town for the weekend, but in a place where I’ve run before and have mapped out a couple of long-run routes. Saturday was my 9-mile run, and it dawned sunny and clear. I knew it was supposed to be chilly (about 40F by the time I headed out the door), so I dressed in pants and a single thin long-sleeve shirt, figuring I would warm up as I always do and be fairly warm by the end of the run. I stepped out onto the porch, in direct sunlight, and took 3 seconds to calculate that it was in fact too warm out for pants. So I went back inside and traded them out for shorts. I went back outside, and off I went into the beautiful morning. A little chilly on the legs, yes, but no big deal; I’ll warm up, right?

Here’s a very important lesson: Check the wind chill before you leave the house. Had I had any idea that the wind was gusting up to 25 MPH, I’d have definitely not un-pantsed myself, and probably put on a thicker shirt. But I didn’t, and so I trotted off into a maelstrom of misery!

Miles one and two were awful. Absolutely awful – I had tears streaming down my face because I was so cold. I got angry. I couldn’t believe the wind wouldn’t stop for more than 5 seconds at a time. I couldn’t feel my legs – as in, couldn’t feel the muscles working, couldn’t feel them between my ankles and hips – and I just wanted to scream every time the wind pushed me back in my stride. I was running into a headwind, with the sun at my back, and the route was flat but it felt like one of the worst hills I’ve ever been on. And then, somewhere in mile three, my stupid stupid knee started flaring up and hurting, with the pain shooting up my leg to my hip. I couldn’t believe it. I was striding correctly, with the balls of my feet as my landing points, and I was still getting the knee pain. Instead of hobbling along, though, I stopped to walk it off for a bit. That actually seemed to help, but I couldn’t not panic – I thought that I had figured out what was causing my knee pain, and now I was back at square one, still gimping along like some fool. What if something was actually really wrong and I’ve just been making it worse the whole time? It’s time for Plan B, but I didn’t have a Plan B, so now what? After a couple of minutes I took up a light jog again until I reached my turnaround point. The knee felt okay, but somewhat tenuous; I had my phone with me, and I thought, okay, if this doesn’t get better in the next half-mile or so, I’m calling for a pickup, because at that point I was a good 5 miles from “home” and wanted a way of getting back there just in case something went really wrong.*

I had to walk again for a few more minutes after my turnaround point, and once I got running again the wind kicked up and I realized that it was a tailwind. Sweet! Extra power! Except now the backs of my legs were being pelted with sticks and rocks and gravel and leaves – you have GOT to be effing kidding me, I thought, and crested the hill I was on and gritted my teeth and dug in. I was thisclose <-> to taking out that phone and stopping, and then it hit me – WARMTH. Holy crap, I was facing the sun, and it was wonderful. And wait, what’s this? My knee says ‘go on’? Ok, I’ll go on.

So I did. And damned if I’m not so glad I stuck it out, because the next three miles flew on by. I did have to turn back around to run back into the wind and away from the sun, but by the time that happened the wind had calmed considerably and I was all sorts of toasty warm – comfy in my shorts as I’d anticipated. I made another turnaround to run back into the sun, and was pretty hot by the time I coasted to my endpoint, at which point I thought, dang, do I have to stop now? I love that feeling, but I know I need to listen to it, so I did actually stop then and there. I went ‘home’, ate, iced my knees, showered, and went on with my day, SO glad I’d stuck it out and finished and not thrown in the towel when the going literally got tough. That’s a huge thing mentally that I think will serve me later; I’ve proven to myself that I can coach my brain through trying circumstances, and been so very glad after the fact that I let my mind do the talking.

But. There is still one small issue (well, okay, not at all small in fact): THE KNEES.

I told my roommate of my knee woes last night, and she instantly said “New shoes” – and then asked me how long I’d had them and how many miles I’ve run in them. That gave me pause: I bought this pair about a year ago, and have since logged, um, (gulp) probably 600 miles in them since then. That’s a lot! And that’s bad! And I didn’t really consider shoe type when I bought them; I bought them because they were a brand I like, and (AAAHH I KNOW) the colors were pretty. And the price was right. So, this week, I am going to my local running shop and getting my gait analyzed and getting fitted properly for a shoe that will not injure me, and (I hope) this knee madness will end and I will not damage myself any more. This half-marathon is five weeks from this Saturday, the 3rd, and I have worked too damn hard for this to have it all undone by one stupid joint, especially if what happens to that joint is something I could have prevented.

Aaaaaaanyway. I have big things planned for the end of this week! I am going to see my GI doctor on Thursday, and later that day after my 3-mile run I am going to give blood. There’s a mug or two of Hopslam in store on Friday itself, and I’m super-excited to try to break my 4-mile PR in the race I’m running on Saturday morning. After that? Fun times with friends, maybe a round of golf, probably some more Hopslam… we’ll see how it all shakes out. Gotta get through the rest of the week first, though!

*This idea came about when I went running along the same route the day after Hurricane Irene. There were a ton of trees and tree branches that had been taken down, and while I did my best to be cautious, I still ended up face-planting over a felled branch in front of a bunch of people about 2 miles into a 6-mile run. My face was fine, but my right knee got pretty badly torn up and banged up; I had no phone with me and thus no way of calling for help, and I didn’t really feel like knocking on strangers’ doors with blood streaming down my legs to ask if I could use their phone. So I ran the rest of the way back, thinking that a phone would be a pretty good thing to have with me next time, just in case. This 9-mile run wasn’t “next time”, but given my existing knee issue, I wanted the ‘out’ just in case.



One Response to Birthday week!

  1. bearrunner says:

    Happy birthday!!!!!

    Wine festival, that is my kind of festival haha… New shoes can be the answer to a lot of foot problems..> That and making sure they fit correctly..


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