The end?

It’s been nearly a month since you heard from me last and for good reason. It’s kind of hard to write a running blog when you don’t run. And I haven’t run a step since October 13.

The last time I posted here, a few Charlotteans and I had just finished racing in Milwaukee. I’d just run my third Boston qualifier in a row and I was beginning to feel like I was finally figuring out this marathon thing. I was starting to believe that I was one good training cycle away from marathon PR shape.

Then a few days after the marathon, Laura and I jogged over to the NoDa brewery to run some easy miles with Melissa (who had run the Twin Cities marathon the same day we ran Milwaukee Lakefront). Somewhere during the run, I failed to notice that the sidewalk I was running on came to an abrupt stop so I took one of those hard, jarring steps down. I thought “Ow” but didn’t feel any serious pain so thought little of it.

The next day, my left knee hurt enough that I limped a little. Uh-oh. “No need to panic”, I thought. “Probably still sore from the marathon. I’ll just take a few more days off.” Which I did.

Nearly a week later, it felt like most of the soreness was gone, although somehow my left knee didn’t feel quite right. “Iffy” is how I described it to friends. But there was minimal pain, so on Tuesday, October 13, I decided to go for another run. And for most of it, I felt completely normal and fine, until about four miles in. Then the iffiness returned. It didn’t really hurt – it just felt funny, “iffy”. I continued on and ran a little over six miles and felt mostly fine.

Until the next day. My left knee hurt significantly and was swollen. I limped around the entire day. That’s when I knew things weren’t right. And my left knee felt eerily similar to how my right knee had felt years earlier when I had torn the meniscus. No, no, no, no, no!

The torn meniscus is a weird injury. It doesn’t hurt when you run. But you’re destroyed the next day. When it happened to me years ago, I kept trying to convince myself there was nothing wrong – after all, I could run without pain. I tried to talk myself out of it for months before I finally went to the doctor. This go around, I had no such delusions – I was pretty confident this was the same thing. And there is only one fix that I’m aware of – surgery.

I did some quick time calculations in my head. If I hurried, I could have surgery and recover in time to still be able to adequately train for Boston. So I put this thing on the fast track – I got the first appointment I could with Dr. Cook, the ortho doctor who had done such a great job helping Laura recover from her non-union hip stress fracture. Then I had to wait a week to schedule an MRI. Then another week before I could get a follow up. When the MRI confirmed our (the doctors and I agreed on the torn meniscus) suspicions, Dr. Cook sent me to his assistant to schedule the surgery. My first question was “When is the earliest possible date I can have the surgery?” When she answered, “Monday, November the second” I responded with, “Done, book it.”

So here I am six days after surgery, with a little less knee cartilage and a lot more drugs. I had to promise Laura I would not refill the oxycodone no matter how badly I want to – after a few days of taking these, I better understand Dick Beardsley’s story. The other day when we left the house, I was feeling no pain as I had taken a couple oxycodone, aka Percocet, tablets and I said to Laura, “Are you seeing the irony here as I venture out, high on painkillers, wearing a Dick Beardsley jacket?” (I call it my $8000 jacket as it’s what I got for fund raising for the Dick Beardsley foundation so I could run in the 2014 Boston marathon.)

This is my left meniscus before surgery - see the fraying/torn section?

This is my left meniscus before surgery – see the fraying/torn section? If not, follow the big, black arrow.

And here it is after surgery. Smoooooth! That's worth 5 grand, right? God how I dread the bill!

And here it is after surgery. Smoooooth! That’s worth 5 grand, right? God how I dread the bill!

When I had this same surgery on my right knee back in 2006, it completely derailed my running – it was two years after the surgery before I consistently started running again. Unlike Chad (the only runner I know who seems to PR immediately after coming back from injury) and Laura, who are both great at cross-training their way through injury, I suck at it. Part of the reason I’m a runner in the first place is that I hate all that other shit – ellipticals, bikes, pools – please shoot me. But I’ve vowed not to get derailed this time. I did my first post-op exercise on Friday – 30 minutes on the recumbent bike. Success!

I thought about shutting down the blog completely – it seems so perfectly symmetrical, a nice matching bookend to the blog’s beginning as I started it shortly after the comeback from my right-knee surgery. It just felt like a fitting end. But then I thought, “You know, maybe if I work really hard and come back from this thing and run Boston again, this will help somebody else get through a similar setback.” So the blog lives on. Here’s to you, future guy/girl coming off surgery and about to give up on running – don’t quit! Follow along and know that if this old fart can come back and run Boston, so can you!


One Response to “The end?”

  1. Paula Pridgen Says:

    So sorry about the injury but glad to hear that you aren’t giving up on running or writing! Hope you are back at it soon!!

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