Good News, Bad News

Had my appt. with the PA this AM...

Good news: nothing wrong with my knee
Bad news: nothing wrong with my knee

I'm not really all that surprised, actually. The PA manipulated my knee, sort of twisted my leg both directions with knee bent, applied pressure, bent and straightened my knee, and really couldn't find anything structurally amiss or any signs of knee weakness or instability. He's in agreement that what I'm dealing with is almost certainly an overuse thing in the form of "runner's knee" or perhaps some sort of bursitis or tendonitis (which he admitted can take months to heal, especially if one is still continuing with the activity that caused the issue). I asked if ITBS could be an issue, but he didn't think my symptoms fell quite in line with that.

The fact that I am able to do shorter runs without any problem and am pain free at least half of the time and really only have pain after 6 miles or so on longer runs had him believing that I'm irritating and re-irritating something, not that I have any meniscus issues...an injury like that would have me in pretty much constant pain and would prohibit running entirely. He doesn't think running with the pain is doing any sort of damage, other than making me really hate my knee and dislike running for a few hours each week.

He's recommending that I scale back on the miles I had been doing (which I already started doing as of this past week--I printed my RA log for the past 3 months and showed it to him), continue with the quad work, bike if it's not causing pain, and consider having my gait/shoes reassessed and considering seeing what a different shoe does (though he thinks it's not likely a shoe issue, since I've been in essentially the same shoe for 9 months and only had issues for the past 2.5), just to exhaust all possible causes.

He also said that he would refer me to a PT if I wanted, but that there's not likely much a PT would have me doing that I'm not already doing. He'd also schedule an MRI, but that he really doesn't believe it's going to show anything amiss, which has been my suspicion.

So...I guess it's mostly a good prognosis. I'll continue to train to the best of my ability and if it gets to the point where things are not getting any better even with more conservative training and cross-training, then I will probably suck it up and take as much as a month off...and forget the marathon for now. He didn't recommend that I stop running entirely or forget the marathon goal, so that's promising.

I also had a dentist appt. today.  Man, I hate having fillings.  My mouth is finally regaining some feeling, but I've felt little control over salivation much of the afternoon.  I have a 4 miler on the schedule, but I'm waiting just a while longer so that I don't drool all over myself while running.


Damn Enablers!

Several of my friends around the web have created Facebook profiles...I fought the peer pressure for so long (I have MySpace, Twitter, and this blog...do I really NEED another bit of online presence?).  But my HS buddy Liz invited me, then a bunch of the RA gals started discussing their profiles, so I succumbed.  

Here I am.  I need friends, so add me to your list if you also have a profile (or create one and join me in yet another online profile addiction).

This week I officially picked-up on week 8 of Hal Higdon's Intermediate I marathon training program.  It bums me out to do this, but I think this is the only way I will have any shot of making it to the starting line in Oct.  My best friend did her first 18 miler this week...while I will be doing another 15 miler this Tues. (and she gets faster on her runs, while my pace is getting slower and slower--I can't do any speedwork at this point).  And I am already dreading it.  I had 2 nice 4 milers this week...felt good.  But last night's 7 started to hurt for the last 1.5 miles or so.  Like clockwork the knee starts to fight me around the 5.5-7 mile mark--every time for the last few months.  

Makes no sense.  I can go for days with no pain, take most of a week off, then as soon as I do a longer run the knee complains.  It sucks.  Tomorrow I have an appt with the PA at my doc's office.  I'm guessing I will be referred to a specialist and/or have an MRI scheduled.  I am really hoping that it might be one of those things like arthritis that will respond to cortisone steroid injections every few weeks to get me through the training and race.

I've come to the decision that if I am advised to stop training and not run the race that I won't--I would still go to support my best friend, though, just as she would if she were the injured party (she has done this for me already).  In the next month or so bike shops will be putting '08 models on clearance, so this may end up being the time where I switch from running to cycling--I really wanted to wait until DS was large enough for a junior road bike to do that, though, so the 3 of us could do rides together.  I would still run, since biking in the Winter isn't particularly safe or pleasant, but this would maybe spell the end of training for anything much longer than a 25k.  

I'd be OK with that.  I like race distances of 15-25k (9.2-15.5 miles) and the training for these sorts of events doesn't require nearly the time commitment that the marathon does.  Too bad I'm not a swimmer.  I could even see doing some triathlons.  Perhaps even as much as a half-Ironman.  I know I'm more of a cyclist than a runner.  Short, stocky legs and big boobs lend themselves more to the bike than they do a pair of running shoes.


Hrmm...so much for that...

Took my 5 full days of no running...and my knee was no better, today.  Granted, 15 miles was probably a bit much (my 5 yesterday felt OK--the shorter runs always have since the knee started up), but it's obvious from the typical pattern (first 6 miles fine, then the dull ache gradually set in, increasing in intensity) the pain took that 5 days did little to heal the knee.

So it's obvious that my nearly full week of rest wasn't enough...

My biggest mistake from the get-go was in not doing a "reverse taper" after my 25k in May. Aside from the asthma issues I was physically doing so well until about a week after that race. I tried to get right back into a 30 mile training week immediately after doing that race, which was stupid. My knee started acting up about 6-7 days after the race...coincidence? I think not.  In hindsight I should have limited myself to 20 miles that week and only 4 runs, instead of my usual 5.

Second mistake was in not taking the next 2 weeks after the initial knee twinges started-in off--and avoiding starting my training plan off with an injury. I am 99% certain if I had not been a moron then that I'd not be battling this chronic, nagging shit now.

Third mistake was in stubbornly trying to stick to a plan that I designed for use in good health.  After a few weeks of dealing with the knee I should have been willing to reassess things and scale back (instead of waiting until my 7th week of training to do so).

Live and learn. 2 years of being a relatively bomb-proof, consistent, cautious runner made me overly confident in my ability to avoid injury--and now it's biting me in the 
ass knee.

Instead of the plan I was originally planning to do (cobbled-together from a variety of similar plans, then customized to my schedule) that peaked at 50-52 mile week with 3 20 milers (perhaps one as long as 22 if I felt up to it) I am now planning to do Higdon's Intermediate I plan, which peaks at a 42 mile week (it works out to 43 the way I have to lay out the schedule) with only 2 20 mile runs and mid-range runs of no more than 8 miles (originally I had planned to do a 10 miler mid run to go with the 20s).

*sigh* at this point I have pretty much sacrificed any goal other than to make it to the starting line and across the finish line.  At one time I was certain I could finish in under 4:30, but now I think I'd just be happy to finish in under 5.  Heck, I think I'd just be happy to finish before they start sweeping the course.


Day 3/5

Here I sit...on forced rest.  5 days.  A few weeks ago I made myself take 3 full days off from running, but it wasn't enough, apparently.  This both sucks and blows.  Overtraining can cause sleep disturbances, but so can being on the bench.  Not running and stressing about injury is not conducive to restful sleep.

After my Tues. 12 miler not only my right knee hurt, but also my left big toe and peroneal tendon, so it seems to have gotten to the point where I have likely been compensating in some way that is transferring stresses to my left foot.  Not good.  Toe and foot feel better now (toe is still a little cranky, but improving), but I definitely don't need to add tendonitis in my feet to the mix.  BTDT and I could easily expect 3 months of problems with PT.

I also wonder if the foot/toe issues could be related to the shoes I have been wear-testing.  I know from past experience that shoes that are too long and/or too stiff can lead to sore midfoot issues and cause my toes to work harder.  I wore my wear-test shoes on my Mon. evening 5 mile run.  So even though I feel bad about it, I won't be wearing those shoes again.  It's not my fault that NB has been messing with the sizing on their shoes and making them run long.

After my Tues. run I was pretty convinced that my knee issue was patellar tendonitis, as I had a very sore-to-the-touch area immediately below my kneecap.  Though that resolved pretty rapidly and I think it was due to irritation from the particular knee strap device I was wearing (first time I had worn that one for a long run--I usually wear a different one).  By the following morning my pain was back to a more general soreness/stiffness surrounding the entire front of my knee, with no specific pin-point location of pain, with nearly all of the classic symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome.  

This is somewhat relieving, as rest and continuing to build my quad muscles and stretch (concentrating on the backs of my thighs and calves) several times/day should help the knee issues.  Tendonitis can be a death sentence to running at all for months.

Today I had considered getting out on my bike for a little bit (partly to test out my new saddle and squishy Pearl Izumi "Sugar" shorts), but I'm going to take this forced rest thing seriously, especially after a couple of nights of not sleeping particularly well.  Plus the humidity is ghastly and my breathing has been pretty rough.  Hubby is taking a half day, so we're going to go catch a matinee of "The Dark Knight," and maybe grab dinner at Logan's.  We have several coupons for appetizers that we need to use up or give away before the end of the month.


1/3 done -- phew!

6 weeks of my 18 week marathon training plan are officially on the books (42 miles this week--highest mileage week since I started running).  I'm surviving...and would actually describe the process as mostly "pleasant," were it not for my right knee continuing to act up.  It doesn't seem to be worsening and sometimes I think it's actually improving (likely due to the quad work I've been doing pretty consistently to help support the kneecap properly), but it still tends to be fairly annoying on my longest runs.

2 days ago I did my longest run since training for the Riverbank Run 25k back in May.  It actually felt quite good, even with the warmer, more humid weather.  Around 6 miles in my right knee started to complain a little and it continued to talk to me for the remainder of the run, but didn't really start grumbling loudly until the last 3 miles--especially after I stopped at the library to potty and refill my water bottle.

Yesterday my knee felt pretty good and I ran 5 easy miles.  Last night and this AM the knee was crabby, again, but during today's nearly 7 miles it felt strong and only a little stiff, not really very sore.  Tomorrow is a rest day, and this next week is a scale-back in miles for me.  I plan to do 30-33, depending upon how the knee feels.  Instead of 5 days of running I will do just 4, since it seems that more full days of rest really seem to help every few weeks.

So far this Summer's weather has been pretty conducive to marathon training.  It hasn't been too ungodly hot, which makes a lot of difference.  I've also been hydrating better, which makes a huge difference in my comfort level.  Last week I only took a single 20oz. bottle of Gatorade on my 15 miler, which wasn't nearly enough fluids.  By 12 miles in I had to stop to keep from puking and I felt weak and dizzy.  

Weather conditions for this week's 16 miler were nearly identical, but I felt strong and comfortable for the duration of the run.  In contrast to the 20oz. bottle of Gatorade I also attached the two smaller 10.5oz. bottles on my Amphipod belt and filled those with water.  I figure I probably drank ~50oz. during that run (3 hours).  I never felt like I had to "ration" my fluids and I drank when I was thirsty, instead of waiting until I started to have intense cravings for fluids.

So I may look like a pack horse on my runs, but I feel strong and happy, instead of weak and miserable.  Fashion for fashion's sake is dumb.


My kid is weird

So, even though all 4 of our cats are strictly indoor pets we have become victim to a flea infestation.  While I was at the vet this AM taking our eldest kitty in for a blood draw (to see how her hyperthyroid meds are working) I mentioned to our vet that we discovered in the past week that our cats all have fleas.  I figured maybe it was from hanging out in windows or by a door.  He believes the more likely scenario is that fleas and/or flea eggs were transported into our house on our shoes or pants legs--especially with all of the squirrels we have in our yard.  Or we had dormant eggs leftover from last Fall when we brought Chase in (apparently flea eggs can hang around unhatched for close to a year).

Onto the weird kid part.  Dane has become obsessed with combing our cats with a flea comb, then drowning the fleas in the toilet or bathroom sink.  It's almost as strange as his near obsession with pill bugs (roly poly bugs).  Kid is terrified of spiders, but pretty much any 6-legged insect holds some fascination for him.

Man, I hope our Frontline flea treatment ampules I ordered online arrive very soon.  I find myself scratching and feeling like I have bugs just from thinking about the nasty critters!  Thankfully our mostly wood floors should mean that all we have to do aside from treating the cats is wash bedding, vacuum, and maybe use some aerosol sprays on upholstered stuff.


Is it Friday, yet?

For some reason this week seems to be dragging.  I think last week's holiday craziness wore me out, now life feels like it's at a stand-still.

I'm in week 6 of 18 weeks of marathon training.  In some respects I feel like the weeks are flying, but part of me looks at my 12+ remaining weeks and finds it very daunting.  My right knee is still giving me fits...it's maybe a teensy bit better, but still far from fully healed.  Some days and some runs it doesn't bother me in the least, then other days--like today--it feels stiff, a little weak, and achey.  If it does bother me during a run it usually kicks-in by about the 6-7 mile mark...like clockwork.  But I'm pretty certain it's a tendonitis thing...and after dealing with 3-4 months of tendonitis in my right foot during the Spring of last year I know this sort of thing can take a LONG time to heal with seemingly no progress.

I'm continuing to do my quad strengthening exercises which I really believe have kept the knee from getting worse.  I still wear a patella strap during runs, too.  This coming week will be a bit of an ease-back week for me, so I may try to be brave and do that P90X legs workout that I've been sitting on for months.  I'm just chicken.  I know it's gonna hurt, but I need to get my quads stronger faster and the simple PT exercises I've been doing are starting to not feel like they are challenging the muscles as much as I need.

Today was supposed to be my 16 mile long run for the week, but I didn't sleep well (stuffy in our room and I got maybe 4 good hours of sleep before I woke and started tossing-and-turning...then the 5am asthma attack out of nowhere), and then it was very muggy and the forecast for t-storms made me think 3 hours out in the boonies wasn't such a great idea--especially since my breathing has been pretty poor all day.  So I did my 9 mile run for the week today and will do my 16 on Thurs. when the forecast looks much less humid (and no risk of electrical storms).  

Man, I am SO ready for Fall weather.  I know the heat is kind of nice...but I liked it better before I started running and struggling with asthma issues.  Now heat and humidity take such a toll on me.  As much of a pain as Winter running can be in terms of bundling up and tough footing, I almost never had breathing issues during the cold months (aside from those caused by viruses and infections).  We'll see how this Winter treats me.

Tomorrow Dane and I will take Lola kitty to the vet to see how her blood levels are after 3 months on meds for her hyperthyroid issues.  She definitely seems to be a lot better...still hungry a lot, but she no longer looks emaciated.  Her metabolism definitely seems a LOT better.


Oh, to be 20-something, again...

So last night after leaving fireworks at my MIL's place we felt a little like rubbernecking and drove out to Rothbury (10 minutes from our house). Most of the actual festival area (which has drawn something in the neighborhood of 40k attendees) is not viewable from any roads, but we could see the tent city from the highway. It looked like a refugee camp stretching for as far as the eye could see. The entire complex was illuminated by big floodlights. Made for a glow in the sky that looked like a small city, rather than a tiny town of less than 500 residents.

We drove to some dirt backroad on the opposite side of the interstate where DH thought there was a hill we might be able to see more of the complex from about a mile or so away. We really couldn't see much, but what we did get to take in was the midnight fireworks display. Holy crap...even from a mile or two away it was awe-inspiring. We and other locals had found spots to park along the road to take in the sight.

I really think that if there is a year when there are several acts we'd want to see (this year Primus is the only major name that caught my eye...and Snoop Dogg would have been pretty cool, simply for the out-of-place factor.  Apparently he thought he was in East Lansing--2 hours away--during his set) that we might consider getting tickets. This year the cheapest option was still around $260/person, but since we live locally we wouldn't need to camp and could sleep in our own beds and use our own showers (in my mid-30s I feel too old for that camping in a pasture and rocking-out at 3am business). The whole deal seems pretty impressive and so far seems to be going off without a hitch. I've already read predictions that they are expecting next year's festival to draw double the attendees. Wow.

The ONLY negative episode I have read about came the first night (Thurs.), when a woman apparently had to be rushed to the hospital after ODing.


Wine, it does a body good!

Remember those milk ads back in the 80s?  I much prefer wine to milk...oops. 

Sitting here with a big glass of my favorite dry riesling.  Happy happy.  Had a nice run with a new and local friend, today.  She is new to running, but a natural.  Won't be long and she will be running circles around me.  For now I enjoy our easy pace.

My knee is feeling really quite good (still wearing knee strap--just to be safe) and my lungs are OK.  Today I was out-of-breath a lot, but I just generally felt low on energy, so I think it's more a sleep issue than anything.  Haven't slept great the last 2 nights (last night I was doing well until 5AM when Chase-kitty decided to leap from floor to my butt with claws extended.  Ow.  I think I have puncture wounds.  Didn't sleep much after that) and am still recovering from bad 15 miler on Tues. and last weekend's rough 15k race, I think.

Tomorrow I plan to do ~7 easy miles (while the boys do the parade--best way to avoid traffic on the backroads this weekend), then go hang at the little lake cottage my MIL owns.  Fireworks at dusk and home to sleep by midnight, I hope...and 9-10 miles on Sat.  Phew.


Still going...

Like the Energizer Bunny, my string of crap runs and races keeps going and going and going and going...

Today's 15 miler turned into 12 miles of increasing misery (I finally stopped to walk when I felt like another step would have me puking in the ditch and/or passing-out), with 1 mile of walking and 1.5 miles of just wanting to get home.  Biggest issue was not having enough fluids with me--obviously 20oz of Gatorade is not enough for 3 hours, even though it was only in the low-70s and minimal humidity.  Add to that complete inability to find my groove, even after my typically awkward first 2-3 miles.

My lungs were also fighting, which is strange, given the low humidity.  I think they just joined the rest of my non-cooperative body.  My right knee actually felt pretty good DURING run, but not so great this evening.  I sat for a half hour with the ice pack on it whilst drinking a beer.  I just need to go to bed.

The only bright side is I loaded some WGN Radio's Kathy & Judy Show podcasts onto my iPod.  First time I've ever run with something other than music--I like it.  I think I need to start getting into radio show podcasts more, especially when I want to keep the speed down and am on LONG runs.  Nice change of pace from music.  I find that no matter how much I love a song or music playlist, eventually I get to where I can't stand it anymore.