Thursday, September 25, 2008

What if?

What if my running days are over?

I don't want to sound melodramatic, but that is a reality that I have to confront. It's in the genes, my friends.

I have followed the doctor's advice dutifully this time. I've worn the brace (all show- no go) and tried to add the minutes gradually. As it is, after a mere five minutes of running, my knee cries. Loudly. I've never felt this kind of knee pain before. It's not something I can "run through" or even try to ignore. I like to think I have a decent pain threshold - but this is beyond what I can take. My body is trying to tell me something. I have another doctor's appointment soon. I'll consult further with him about my next steps (including visiting with a knee specialist).

I'm not going to turn this into a blog about my knees (I promise) so my injury updates will be limited. Besides, that's kind of boring and a basic downer.

Instead, I may find myself turning into an aquabiker. I can enter many of the same races as my buddies, take part in most of the training - and most importantly, remain motivated to stay in shape.

Yes - I'm sad my knees are misbehaving. But, I really can't cry about it. I've already accomplished athletic goals far beyond my dreams.

I'm also not giving up that my knees will heal. But, like the saying goes, "Plan for the worst, but hope for the best."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thank you!

Thanks to all of you for your support and advice re: my silly knees.

I was in panic mode last week when my doctor confirmed that my knees were just like my sister and dad's. But, I also really, really stressed them by running Timberman. And, being somewhat of a fool, I forgot that I needed to back right off after Timberman. I found myself forgetting that my doctor had very specifically said to build up the mileage ever so slowly.
When I didn't do that, my knees (rightfully) rebelled.

I admit that my knees are fragile. But, they may be able to handle a return to running if I do it wisely (for a change).

The knee has responded really well to my new oh-so-fashionable knee brace. (Perhaps I'll have a trigirl flower stitched on it).

The return to running is going to be super-slow. Case in point: I ran for 5 minutes on Tuesday. Yup - just five.
This morning, after some time on the bike trainer, I ran for 9 minutes. I plan to do a gentle trot of about 10 minutes after an easy bike ride on Saturday.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed (and my knee on ice) that I will be ready for a trail run in December.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


After reflecting a bit and most importantly, checking in with Mark & Grandison, I have a new attitude about the ol' knees:

1. I did not provide full disclosure to my doctor. He doesn't know that I did all of Timberman. In other words, he doesn't know the whole story of the abuse I put my knees through in August.

2. I have had these crazy knees all my life.

3. Perhaps if I allow myself to come back to running very, very slowly, my knees may be able to handle things a little better.

4. This fall is all about healing and maintaining fitness. I'd like to being indoor cycling with fresh, healthy legs.

So all is not lost. Ironman Lake Placid is still on my 2009 calendar.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I was really dreading this day. But, after what a doctor had told me 4 years ago, I wasn't surprised.

Four years ago, an orthopedic specialist told me that my knees had "issues." And that, under no circumstances, should I run any more long distance races. I knew my family history (both my dad and sister had to stop running due to major knee issues), so I resigned myself to sticking to shorter distances - and maybe looking into other sports (which is what initially enticed me to the sport of triathlon).

I really meant it when I promised myself to stay away from marathons. Ask Carmen. I told her when I first joined Trigirls that I was never running any more marathons. I only signed on to do Ironman Florida when Anna reassured me that "lots of people walk the whole marathon."

But a funny thing happened during training. I could run - and my knees really didn't hurt too much (with the exception of walking up and down stairs - red flag!)
When it came time to do the marathon in Florida, I felt fantastic (apparently, dehydration agrees with me). No pain at all - I was in a dream world.

I didn't feel quite so joyful while running the Richmond marathon, but I did somehow (miraculously) qualify for Boston - a dream I never thought I'd achieve (especially with my knee prognosis).

But, the doctor four years ago was right.

My knees are not built for long-distance running.

In fact, I have the exact same issue as my dad and my sister. Or - as the doctor described it yesterday, "Your knee caps are totally screwed up."

You see, my knee caps (otherwise known as the patellas) are simply in the wrong place. They are too high and too far to the outside. This causes them to track crazily - and eventually wear down cartilage. No cartilage = lots of pain....which can lead to major arthritis if you don't watch it.

It's not anything I've done wrong - and physical therapy really won't cure it. It's just the way my knees are put together. It was in the genes.

My sister underwent "patellar realignment" surgery - which is as bad as it sounds. It involves moving your whole kneecap and all that's connected to it. One can expect about 6-8 weeks on crutches plus months of physical therapy. She said the recovery was the worst. She was supposed to have the other knee operated on, but decided against it after the ordeal with her first knee. The doctor (in his honest way) said that particular surgery "just plain sucks."

It turns out that I am a good candidate. But I'd rather not undergo that surgery.

Instead, I'm taking the conservative approach (which included draining the knee, bracing the knee and a big ol' yummy cortisone shot). I'll stick to biking, swimming, strength training - and maybe pick up some new "stuff" (yoga? pilates?). I hope to eventually be able to run short distances again, too.

Maybe I'll just do sprint distance triathlons - or maybe do a lot of aquabiking. I really don't know right now.

To quote my favorite triathlete (Rick, of course), "Time will tell." Luckily, I don't define myself by the ability to complete an Ironman race or run a marathon. I enjoy those activities (and adore my training partners) - but there really is more to my life than just those activities. Thankfully.

Monday, September 8, 2008


to Ironman Wisconsin finishers: Dr Rick, Blake and first-timer Aimee G. It sure was fun to track you all!

And now our attention turns to the Chesapeakeman full (Karen B) and aquabikers (IMFLers + Molly) - as well as the Ironman Arizona and Florida people.

If memory serves me (and sometimes mine doesn't), you are now hitting your peak training weeks. The good news is you can eat a LOT. Of course, you'll be burning massive calories as a result of your major workouts.

Stay hydrated and rested!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hi there

It's me. Just wanted you all to know that I am alive and well.

I am currently in the "I am not training for anything mode" (at last) - and I love it. I absolutely LOVE training. But, I also love some down time. Yes - for the first time in two years (seriously), I can just be silly on a Friday night. Yum to the dirty martinis....

Belated congratulations to the complete stud IM Louisville finishers (honestly- WHY do people do that race???) - that would be the sweet Carlton, Som (who has now completed 1 million ironman races), and our beloved (and speedy) TG Joan. Major hugs and love to you all!

So very sad for the TGs who can't do the Patriot half tomorrow due to Tropical storm Hanna. Being a total psycho (at least i admit it), I would do whatever I could to sign up for another half this fall. But that's me - and I don't think I'm the greatest role model all the time.

"Why do you say that, Susie Q?" (or perhaps you've fallen asleep by now?)
Alas - I'm dealing with some unexpected knee pain (knee pain is not a typical issue for me - so I am a bit freaked out right now) ...which may have been brought on by my good/bad idea to do the whole Timberman race. matter how much my body is rebelling right now (why ya gotta be that way?), I finished an official 70.3 with one of my brothers. I will never regret that.

More later..

In the meantime...happy wishes for a great race to Blakey, Dr Rick and Aimee G (Milo misses you). Hugs to you, crazy kids!!! And hi to Sarah L. Have fun out in the heartland :)