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Alive and kickin'

Hi, LJ! This is the first of at least three posts that I've been meaning to make for a couple of months now. I traveled to Kentucky in February, and I have some interesting pics from that. Then I went to New York in March, where I got to hang out with bewaretheides15 and tebtosca, both of whom are as awesome in person as online (not that you had any doubts, right?). Next week, it's up to Chicago for my annual super-sized academic conference (6,700 papers are being presented in 5 days), and then the semester will be almost over, whee!

As I've been telling everyone, I expected that my knees would start giving me trouble once I got over 40. I just didn't expect it to happen THE WEEK AFTER I TURNED 40. In early January, I was training for the New York Half Marathon, which I had gotten into by lottery, pounding out 10 miles for the first time since Detroit in early November. My knee was bothering me, this kind of dull pain right above the kneecap, but I ran pretty gingerly and finished the whole 10 miles.

Which I probably shouldn't have done. It hurt even worse the next day, and the Internet in the form of Runner's World told me that I had the symptoms of runner's knee. (And that I've now knocked off 4 of the 7 most common running injuries; only 3 to go!) Prescription: rest, ice, exercises to strengthen the hips and thighs because that's the most common cause of runner's knee. And I do run like a girl, meaning I use my calves and ankles more than the big muscles of my upper legs, so when I started to do some of these exercises (like leg lifts) where you're meant to do something like 10 reps, 3 times each, and I could barely manage 8 reps, it was pretty good confirmation that yep, my hip and thigh muscles are that weak.

So I didn't really run for a month or so, just used one of the good ellipticals at the gym. Then I slowly, slowly started running on the treadmill, and then the track, and once I managed 9 miles I thought, heck, I can do 13.1 even if I have to walk a bit. So I went to New York, figuring I would honestly be happy just to finish. I didn't look at my time the whole way, just took it easy at the start. It was a really nice course, starting in the southeast corner of Central Park and going up to the top of the park and back down, then down 7th Ave. right into Times Square, which was freaking awesome. The only other time they close Times Square to traffic is for New Year's Eve, so this was pretty special. I had this huge dumbass grin on my face running right through it, and when I looked at my Garmin watch after the race, that mile was the fastest I ran on the whole course. Totally worth it just for that.

But that was only the first half of the course, and the second half was kinda boring, down the West Side Highway, under Battery Park at the very tip of the penis Manhattan, and then ending on Wall Street. My knee hardly hurt the whole time, but my foot on the opposite leg was killing me, and around mile 12, just for variety, my Achilles started to hurt. I told it very firmly to shut up, and it grudgingly subsided. I finished the race and almost started crying right then and there, because in January and February, I'd really been thinking that I wasn't going to be able to do it, and what if I couldn't run again anymore ever, and maybe this is the beginning of the inevitable decline of my body, and I was generally a grump about the whole thing. So when I got my finisher's medal (which was absolutely amazing; see below) handed to me, I really had to bite back tears.

The kicker? This was indeed my slowest half out of the six (six!) I've done so far--but only by 30 seconds.

One of my good friends from college who now lives in Boston just started running, too (hey, it's better than buying a midlife-crisis car), and we met up the day before and then he waited for me after the race. Both of us were pretty round when we started college, and we agreed that if you'd told us that we'd end up running a half marathon someday, we'd've said you were nuts. But we did!

My knee hardly bothered me at all. My foot, though, bore the brunt of my odd gait meant to keep my knee from hurting. So I'm only now starting to run again, a full month later, and going 3 miles is a chore. I've lost a lot of fitness, my knee twinges most days, and while I can feel that my hips and thighs are stronger, everything's not all better. I'm as slow as I was when I started running three years ago, so I really feel like I'm starting all over. :( It's really frustrating, especially when my college friend managed to go 20 MINUTES FASTER than his first half last fall, and I get slower almost every time I run a half. I feel like the only way I can get faster is to lose some weight, and we all know how hard that is to do.

But I signed up for a half in Seattle in July, which I'll do after visiting some fangirls in Vancouver, so we'll see how that goes...


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 17th, 2015 04:51 am (UTC)
I wish you the best of luck with the running. I can't even run on a treadmill -- my ankles hurt too badly. But i can walk for miles and miles and miles. :D

When in July will you be in Seattle?
Apr. 18th, 2015 12:14 am (UTC)
Thank you! Walking is great, too. The longest I've ever walked is 16 miles, when Mr. Z and I underestimated just how big Minneapolis was.

The 7th through the 13th. Are you in the area?
Apr. 18th, 2015 01:03 am (UTC)
That is where my family lives. I was thinking of going to Banff for my birthday around that time, but if that doesn't pan out I may go to Seattle instead. If I do, maybe we can meet up.
Apr. 19th, 2015 03:43 pm (UTC)
Let me know if you do! I'll be with my parents, so I won't have a lot of free time, but it would be cool to try and meet up.
Apr. 17th, 2015 09:52 am (UTC)
Are you running to make a specific time? Is it a personal goal you're trying to meet? Serious question, I know nothing about this. It seems to me that just DOING it is a feat to be accomplished and celebrated.

Also, you are amazing.
Apr. 18th, 2015 12:18 am (UTC)
At first, it was to get in better shape. I'd done 5Ks in my 20s, and I wanted to get back to that. Then I thought, "I bet I can do a 10K," and then, "I've walked over 13 miles in a day, so I bet can do a half marathon." I don't know if I can ever do a full marathon, though. Right now, my goal is to beat my time from the first half I ran, which is still my fastest.

Really, I need to be training for something, otherwise I won't exercise. Which is kind of hard when I can't push myself right now because of my still-healing knee. :(

Apr. 17th, 2015 01:11 pm (UTC)

Awesome job...... Whatever you do just have fun!

Thank you for sharing.
Apr. 18th, 2015 12:19 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I try to remember that having fun part; it's one of the nice things about being able to travel to races in different parts of the country, that I get to do things I wouldn't otherwise do, like run through Times Square.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 19th, 2015 03:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

Yeah, it can certainly be hard to listen. But worth it once you figure it out. :)
Apr. 19th, 2015 11:35 am (UTC)
I'm right there with you, bb. It's so disappointing to see gains you've made trickle away when you haven't trained for even just a brief hiatus. /o\

I'm training for the Chicago in October again (eeep.) and I'm definitely starting from scratch. Went out for a "long run" this morning, in fact, and 26.2 seems absurd.

Everyone tells you not to run hurt, though. So TAKE IT EASY. *sternface*
Apr. 19th, 2015 03:54 pm (UTC)
Right? Though I went running at the track today and got in 4 miles at my pre-injury speed, so I'm ecstatic.

Go, you! Did you already get a spot? I haven't ruled out Minneapolis-St. Paul yet, but I still feel like I need another month or so to be sure.

Yes, ma'am.
Apr. 19th, 2015 07:20 pm (UTC)
The lottery doesn't close until next week, announcements go out on April 28. So I'll let you know at the end of the month if I'm committed!

I wish M-SP wasn't so far away. I'd have to fly in order to do that one, and I'm not sure I'm willing to shell out quite so many $$ for so much self-inflicted pain.
Apr. 19th, 2015 07:50 pm (UTC)
Well, if you get in, I will definitely come up and cheer you on. :D

And if you don't, maybe you can run the Twin Cities with me if I run it? Mr. Z has pointed out that if I have a goal in mind that keeps me exercising, the cost of travel is worth it. But the Twin Cities race has a sentimental value for me that it doesn't for you, so there's that too.
Apr. 20th, 2015 12:16 pm (UTC)
Twin Cities has a 6 hour time limit! They probably don't enforce it, but that's out of my realistic finish time. (I'm closer to 6:30, maybe even a little slower. *pinkface*)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )