Monday, July 23, 2012

Four Weeks Out

It's been a solid four weeks and knee healing is going well. What I wanted to do was make my doctor sit down and write me out a get-back-to-training schedule complete with when and how to transition back to my single track trails. Sadly, that is not quite his job. I'm likely to err on the side of caution for a while and then suddenly jump back in so I need to be careful of that.

So I started with just a bit of running (my allotted two miles at a time)and all was well. I also started biking to work again. I biked to work a couple of times this spring and loved it enough to invest in good commuter tires so my mountain bike is now my commuter bike. I quit for a time, though, when I realized how dead it made my legs and this was soonish before Fargo so I didn't want to mess anything up. Really, though, it's amazing how fast it took for my legs to NOT get tired. I can now bike almost every hill involved (there's a couple of nasty hills between me and work, including getting up to Skyline) and while my legs are tired, they aren't completely done in by the time I get home. I don't bike every day, yet as Kyle and I carpool a some days, too.

Last week, I ran a 5K! Nothing too serious - just an uptempo pace from what I had been running but not too hard. I told Lisa I wouldn't go around her and she yelled at me a few times but kept me to what I said :) I'm getting sick of tiny runs, though, and getting I-haven't-run-long-in-ages grumpy and so upped to a whopping 5 miles on Saturday, which turned out to be just over 5 miles and even better - all on trails. Started out on ski trails and moved on to a fairly non-technical single track (for the SHT) and it all felt fine.

Voyageur is this weekend. I won't be running it, in the interest of not re-tearing things and messing things up more. My goal now is Wild Duluth 100K. I will be working Voyageur, though, so good luck to everyone and I'll see you out there.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Went to my followup appointment today and had good news! Dr. Sudoh thinks my meniscus is healing itself! There wasn't any bad pain today after my run yesterday, which is great. So the focus now is to make sure I don't mess anything up since I can still tear it worse if I give it another good yoink right now. I'm allowed to hit the crosstraining hard (which I guess means biking at this point . . .) and ease back into running, keeping off technical for a couple of weeks. If the pain doesn't keep going away or increases, then it's back in for an MRI. I've been kind of . . . proud isn't the right word but maybe happy? Anyway - about this injury not being something that I really caused. Even though I hate random acts of injury since there's nothing you can do to prevent them and I like to have control over my body, it was nice to know that I didn't personally mess anything up. But, turns out that there's something I can do to help it not happen again, so I guess in a way, it was sort of caused by myself. I have muscles that are very weak, which I've KNOWN and I need to be vigilant about working on strengthening them. My knees want very badly to turn in a lot and I need to get various muscles strong enough to keep things straight. So, that means my thoughts of Sawtooth are on hold until next year but it should mean that I can finally earn that coveted hoodie on October 20. The big question - is it silly of me to be thinking about the Voyageur 50 mile in two and a half weeks? The thing is, with the flooding damage and Jay Cooke State Park being closed, the course is different this year and only for this year and I want to be part of that. However, it's probably not worth messing up my knee, requiring surgery, and being out for several months, right? I'm already registered so perhaps I just wait until closer to the race and see how my knee is then.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Down for the Count

So, two weeks ago, I did a recon run with a small group to check out how the Voyageur trails fared after the Duluth flood. The answer being not great in many places but just fine in others and we had a great time checking things out and having our minds blown at the destruction in some places. However, since it took us 5 hours to go 14 miles, a few of us decided to head up the shore Sunday and get a long trail run in that would allow us to actually run for most of it, as opposed to slogging through knee deep mud :) The four of us arranged a point to point run and headed off. So there I was, running along behind Marcus. We just finished a technical downhill, bouncing between rocks and roots and I was at the bottom, coming off of a boardwalk into a small mud hole. Where my left foot went down, slid, twisted and just like that I felt things move in my knee that shouldn't be moving and watched my trail running flash before my eyes. I ended up clutched to a small Popple tree on the side of the trail while Lisa tried to convince that I should try taking a step. No way, I said! Steps not necessary! I'll just stay here with my new best friend, Mr. Tree. She did eventually convince me to try a step. I could move so nothing was terribly out of place (say, a torn ACL or the like). But I wasn't moving well or quickly (ie, very gimpy and painfully). After 30-40 minutes of walking, I knew I wasn't running out of there but at least there was a place for me to bow out early and head to Tettegouche. Of course, that ended up being an additional 8 miles, but there wasn't really another feasible way out. Happily, after that initial bout of walking, I could do a sort of ultra-shuffle for most of the rest of the way and Shane was nice enough to hang out with me in what was probably a painfully slow but too fast to walk pace. We also managed to botch where we were supposed to cut down off the trail and did a few more miles than was probably necessary. Oops. I iced it a ton on the ride back and stuff seemed okay. I was barely limping by the time we headed home. And then came Monday! I couldn't bend my knee the entire way (turns out that was due to lots of swelling) and things just felt wrong so I was easily convinced to make an appointment to see a specialist (Dr Kenji Sudoh is amazing, by the way). Fearful internet googling had me convinced I had a meniscus tear and I was not excited to head in to a doctor but knew it needed to be done as this was something that trying to push through could make drastically worse. Dr. Sudoh confirmed that nothing super, crazy serious was wrong (no ACL tear, no broken bone from the previous weeks fall that was exacerbated by the twist, yay!) but also said the best bet was a meniscus tear. First prescription was for rest, a fancy hinged knee brace (surprisingly comfortable), and some strengthening exercises once the swelling was gone. I had permission to try running in a week IF the swelling and pain were both gone and then no more than 2 miles. We made a follow up appointment for two weeks. If a tear is small enough and in the right place, it can heal itself and show significant improvement in that time. If not, other things like surgery could be required but we didn't talk about that much and he said he wasn't ruling Voyageur out for me quite yet. Of course, I was just about to head on my week long vacation in Bozeman. So much for all that glorious trail running . . . He didn't specify, but I presumed that my 2 miles was to be more on a flat, even surface rather than a mountain trail. Bummer. I did get a decent amount of hiking in, though. Nothing over 4 miles at a time (or was the longest 5? I can't remember) but we went out a couple times a day. I elliptical-ed once for just over 10 minutes before the knee started feeling weak and I decided to call it there. The one time I "ran" (maybe a quarter mile down the trail during one of the hikes) it did bad things so I didn't try again and stuck to hiking. It turns out swimming also makes it uncomfortable. I didn't get to try biking since the bike rack wasn't behaving with the rental car. I'm pleased with my ability to not push it too much (even if that meant I couldn't carry my favorite nephew much!). So I have my two weekend appointment tomorrow. I did try running today and that went well! I did my full allotted two miles with basically no pain. I stopped a few times to adjust the tightness on the knee brace (which is sort of awkward to run with so it'll be good when that's gone) and once to stretch my crazy tight calves. It's as though I haven't run for two weeks or something . . . So we'll see how it feels tomorrow morning and what the doctor thinks. Running today seems like a good sign. I'll let you know what I find out!