Monday, April 25, 2011

Me and the Knee

Warrior Dash was a blast, again. I'm not sure I can articulate why; it's partly the crowd, which has huge variations in age and physical ability, and partly the course, which has obstacles of different degrees of difficulty. It's just fun to run, and fun to hang out after, watching the crowd and its costumes while listening to the music, watching the people dance, and drinking a few celebratory beers

I got down on myself in the days before the race and decided I was going to fail miserably. Then I performed better than I expected, as usually happens when I get down on myself. I didn't meet the 32-minute goal I set after the last time I ran it, but I came pretty close. I ran the entire way without walking and finished at just over 34 minutes. I ran it with Biggest Brother again, and this time I didn't feel like he was holding himself back to stay with me. In fact, I think I might have impressed him with my performance a little bit. Making your big brother say, "Wow, that was great!" is something every little brother wants to do. I'm proud of him, too, since he managed to make the guy with the top time for men 40-44 scoff when he told him what age group he was part of and declare, "I'm on the 10-year plan to be like you!" It was just a great time all around. I love that my brother is a youthful, active, athletic man who wants to do these things with me.

I still don't know what to do about the knee, though. Maybe the knee pain is just a physical manifestation of my lack of motivation and boredom with running. The knee felt better after Warrior Dash than I feared it would, but the next day, it was sore again. I skipped workouts all week to give it a chance to heal, then Saturday I stepped off a curb that was higher than I expected, landing awkwardly, wrenching it again, and putting myself right back where I was at the start of the week. Today, I returned to the gym since I have The Bun Run coming up this weekend. I tried an elliptical instead of the treadmill, hoping a "no impact" workout would help, but I couldn't make it work. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, or maybe I'm too tall with too long a stride, but it just didn't feel right. It felt like I was trying to run while staying a good foot or more shorter than I actually am, putting a huge strain on my thighs. So I returned to the treadmill. I walked, instead of running, at the steepest incline and fastest pace I could manage. Then I did weights. Maybe the squats were a bad idea.

So, I don't know. I hear about Brandon Roy and his cartilage-less knees and I think, "Maybe I'm grinding bone on bone after years of my weight putting extreme stress on my knees." Or maybe I'm arthritic. And what am I going to do, and how am I going to find my motivation, if it's not as a runner finding 10Ks and 5Ks and obstacle courses for which I must train?

But more or less, I think I'll find something. My weight loss has stalled at 240 pounds, but I think I can ride it out until I can make it start falling again. Aerie walked in on me naked, getting dressed after a shower, and asked me if I am lighter than I've ever been. No, but I'm 7 pounds short of the lightest I've been in two years, which was lighter than I'd been for 10 or 15 years before that. Considering the fact that I met her when I was around 200 pounds, I'll gratefully take "are you lighter than you've ever been?" Maybe I'll keep running, or maybe I'll start riding my bike more, or maybe swimming laps at the neighborhood pool. But my diet has greatly improved, and athletic performance (such as it is for an overweight 39-year-old) has become important to me. I think I'll keep on keeping on. Or keep on hobbling on.

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