Friday, April 16, 2010

Surrender To The Universe (The Sequel)

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Three
04/12/10 - 04/18/10 - Week Total: ZERO MILES (or 1.5 miles that is pretty much zero)

In general, my long runs are the source of my writings, and as an important part of them comes the blog title. I like the titles to say in a few words the summary of my running experience for the week. I like them to be creative, and of my own. I love when I come up with something that means a lot to me, but this week I purposely stole the title. And I dedicate this blog to the owner of the original title: Petra.

This week I started my tapering and had plans for running on Sat 4/17 a Pikermi (former Half) in Wenatchee, a little town in Eastern Washington. It happens that Wenatchee was the town where I came to live when I immigrated in 1999 to the United States with my two younger children. We lived there for a year and got interesting memories of our initial experience in the US.

The race was going to be along the majestic Columbia River, my river, as I call it.
The first complete run I had after I moved happened there in the summer of 2000, with my adorable daughter. There were water fountains in the park along the west bank, not being the case in the east bank where orchards border my river. At some hot point we were so thirsty that stole one delicious and juicy apple from one of the orchards. We always remember that day as the day we stole!!!

Before even running the Pikermi in Wenatchee, I already knew the title of my blog for this week: An Apple, An Orchard, My River, My Daughter. But then something happened. In my last race on 4/11, the Seahawks 12K, while sprinting before the finish line I had to dodge a 5K walker in front of me with a stroller. I had to do a very brusque movement towards the right and I felt how my left knee accommodated my leg to avoid falling over the woman. I finished strong.

It was not until 24 hours later that I felt a pain in my knee only while walking. It didn't hurt while sitting, or bending, or squatting, or pressing on it... Nothing, only while walking. No problem, is Monday, I don't run on Mondays....let's RICE it, ibuprofen, and move on!

On Tuesday the pain continued, I continued the RICE, and tried to walk/run on the treadmill just to see how it felt. Couldn't run but noticed I could walk uphill without pain, so I walked 1:30 miles with a 12% incline.

Wednesday, same status. RICE, ibuprofen, and started to get concerned. This was not a runner's knee, or that kind of pain that we know how to treat, manage and go through. Should I run Wenatchee? Would I aggravate the injury? Would I be able to run my big race, Eugene Marathon in 2.5 weeks? A race that I have been preparing for the last 5 months?

A physical therapist saw me on Wed and after an evaluation she thought I have bone bruise. She had very hard time to find where it hurts (as I said, it doesn't hurt at all, unless walking). She pressed several times on all knee areas, and at some point, she got it...that little soft spot between the patella and the tibia. She thought the bruise is in the tibial plateau.

At home I googled some of this and couldn't find anything that could lead me anywhere. I called about 5 orthopedic clinics and found a doctor that had an opening the following day, Thu. After the visit I was in the same place. The doctor moved the knee in every possible direction, I bent, did squats, she pressed every spot and could not provoke the pain. Total absence of pain. I felt like a hypochondriac going to the doctor for no reason, but, you make me walk and the pain is there in a 5-6 level out of 10. X-rays showed nothing. MRI on Fri. Follow up with the doctor on Monday the 19th.

When I got home I felt so good (of course, I have been sitting in my car for 30 minutes) that I laced my running shoes, and went for a run. After 0.2 miles the pain went to 8/10.

Shoes off. Decision made. Wenatchee off. Eugene a concern.

My wise daughter knowing how I get attached to things, told me: "Mom, David Beckham can't play the World Cup, and that's every four years. I bet you can find another marathon as soon as you can run again." She was right. After this conversation I didn't care anymore about Wenatchee, and felt from my inner self that I was already letting go Eugene.

On Fri the 16th, my possible Eugene cancellation was pale compared to what I learned. My dear friend Petra was stranded in London in her way to Boston.

Petra ran Berlin in 2009 with the only goal to qualify for Boston. At mile 17 she had to enter the medical tent, got nauseas, goosebumps, shivering, but with that determination proper of long distance runners and a blanket on her, she continued running to avoid a DNF. She pretty much thought she ran the worst marathon she could ever run, and she, amazingly, converted a DNF in a BQ.

As a methodical and disciplined runner, she was ready for Boston but had some doubts about herself. Then, she realized that she couldn't control everything and wrote "Surrender To The Universe" (the original). She received an overwhelming amount of support; my comments to her were "enjoy the most amazing 26.2 miles than anybody can run, it is Boston, you earned it, smell the roses, no matter what your time is.. who cares?". And with all the support she got, she put behind any bad thought and left her UK town to London to catch a plane to cross the Ocean....She was running Boston!

And a volcano erupted in Iceland.

Petra was
planning on leaving on Friday 16th at 11, and be in Boston around 2. We were planning on talking on the phone this day, as the time difference has been always in our way. But her flight was canceled, like most of European flights, the biggest halt in air traffic since 9/11. The cloud of ashes could cause aircraft engines to fail.

Petra still had some optimism when her flight was re-scheduled for Saturday, was also canceled. Next option available was Monday. Race day. Too late.

I thought of Wenatchee and Eugene. These races are there every year, for every one to run. There will be more marathons this spring that I can join, but Boston is Boston.

I feel so sorry for Petra; I have to recognize there are no words right now to console. Though I know there are worse things in life like a serious illness or a family loss, this is still an adversity hard to swallow. When we run and train for a marathon we invest a lot of ourselves in the process. It is a physical, mental and emotional challenge, it is not just running, it goes beyond that. I am in disbelief, as she is.

This proves again, that life is a challenge, and we have to play the cards we are dealt with. There are things we can control and we have to do our best for those. But there are other things we have no control over. And for those things, we just have to go through the process, assimilate the fact, and simply Surrender To The Universe (The Sequel).

Dedicated to you, my dear Petra.

PS: A ray of sun. Petra will be able to run in 2011.


Petraruns said...

Ok. So now I AM crying. Truly. LizzieLee - you are lovely and kind and generous. You, who of ALL people know there is more to the world than not getting to run your race. But you who also completely understands why this is SUCH a disappointment. Thank you for your kindness of undestanding and your generosity of spirit. I don't feel I deserve but man - does it feel good..

And as for you. Rest. I am assuming you do not have the MRI results yet? It is very strange - as you say it really does not sounds like runner's knee or anything like that. Take care of yourself. Take time off. Hal Higdon always says it's better to arrive at the start undertrained than overtrained - rest will give you a better chance of getting to Eugene than pushing it right now. Am now crossing my fingers for you. Big hug, big kiss. Let's talk this weekend anyway.

peter said...

You have a good grip on life, and it was a nice thing to dedicate the post to Petra's travails. Running is life, but life isn't running and life happens.

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