Showing posts from October, 2014

Learning to run again

After the third and hopefully final knee-flexing session with my doctor today, I was given the go-ahead to start running again, as well as encouragement to "ween" myself from dependency on a rigid brace while riding bikes. Lots of miles in the saddle and very few on foot have disrupted the balance, and I've noticed old overuse nags that I haven't felt in years — hints of patellar and Achilles tendonitis. I either have to reduce the cycling miles or slowly increase the foot miles. I'd planned on walking after the appointment, but after the encouraging assessment, decided to leave the trekking poles in the car and try a slow jog. Four miles on a flat gravel path at an average of 12 minutes per mile, and the knee felt surprisingly strong. I would probably be more excited about that, except for the rest of it felt discouragingly tough for a four-mile, 48-minute jog. It's going to be a long road back. It always is.

On Wednesday I rode in the Headlands with Leah.…

Ridin' the range once more

As soon as I figured out that turning pedals no longer aggravates my knee during or after bike rides, this renewed sense of health opened the floodgate of suppressed cycling mania. Strava tells me I rode 172 miles with 22,150 feet of climbing this week. I realize that's not defensible given I'm trying to rehab an injury, not push its outer limits. But none of it seemed like much at the time. I did a little ride here, a routine ride there, and joined a friendly day trip on Sunday. Just like that, 18 hours on a bike. Where does the time go? 
 It's funny to contrast a big cycling week with my current walking efforts. Today I was carrying my trekking poles across the access bridge at Rancho when a man who was having professional photos taken with his wife and young son turned to me and said, "You going skiing?"

"Skiing?" I was confused.

"Yeah, skiing. What are those for?"

"Oh, these? These are walking sticks. For walking with a hurt knee. I …

Learning to walk (and fly) again

It's been a relatively productive week ... a couple of articles finished, newspapers out, interviews conducted, a few thousand words added to the book project, a second week of tedious indoor strength-training and knee rehab exercises completed (next week starts balance. Eek.) And I started walking again. This feels like a big step in recovery. While I did go for a few walks in Utah two weeks ago, these walks are now goal-oriented and pain-free, with fewer tentative steps and unproductive knee-locking. They aren't the most exciting workouts. My id just wants to run, and knows it would be so easy to start. I'm just so close, with my shoes and my trekking poles on a real trail. It takes a big lasso from the super-ego to reel it in. I Strava'd my walks just for #proof (that I may need to show Beat) that I didn't cheat and jog a little, and then named my Strava activities after lyrics from the Foo Fighters' "Walk:"

Learning to walk again
I believe I've…

Pedaling through the flaws

On Saturday Beat ran the Coyote Ridge 50K, one of our go-to autumn trail races. I'm still at least a couple of weeks away from tip-toeing back into running, but I do feel comfortable riding a road bike for six hours, so I headed up to the Headlands to tour along the coast for the duration of the race. I was both looking forward to my first long ride in two months, and dreading it. I keep hopping on my bike expecting to feel like I felt back in May, when miles and elevation gain came easy and I didn't return from rides with a foggy brain and stiff legs. I suppose a month-long break from most activity is ultimately a positive thing, but there's just no lying to myself about this rapid decline in endurance.

 I brought the road bike specifically to avoid dirt routes, which in the Headlands are usually steep, impossible to climb without standing out of the saddle, and swept with loose gravel that can prompt jerky joint movements if not crashes. But soon after I left Muir Beac…

The time it takes to heal

Every injured active person probably fantasizes about a magical moment of recovery, when they can release all of their pent-up energy into the activity they love, and have their body respond with pain-free, powerful bursts of unhindered motion. Funny how there's no way a clean line can exist between "injured" and "all fine, 100 percent, no fitness lost and no remnants of injury at all." And yet we still sit around anticipating the moment we can cross this imaginary line, and feel frustrated when instead we find ourselves mired in gray areas.

After examining my knee and warning me about some ongoing inflammation, my doctor gave me the official okay to ride my bike. Surprising no one, I took this permission slip a little far over the weekend, logging close to a hundred hilly miles over three days on the road bike, which I justified because:

a. My orthopedic knee brace allows me to all but immobilize the joint, making the side-to-side movements that aggravate the…

Still Grand, even from a limited perspective

My plan for Fall Grand Canyon 2014 was to drive around the big ditch with my mom, who serves as the support crewperson every year, and often doesn't have any company for this thankless task. I thought it was a great plan to spend some quality one-on-one time with my mom, and still catch some glimpses of this geographical marvel from the rim. Like my Lonely Highway Drive, these trips sounded like great choices until I strung them all together, and realized I was setting myself up for A LOT of car time in the span of six days. (2,773 miles. Google Maps says it's 45 hours worth!) All of this sitting in one position aggravated my knee substantially. I'd been working daily on my range of motion, and every time I stepped out of the car, it felt like I had been set back two weeks at least. I was able to get my flexibility back after short walks, mostly, but some soreness and stiffness persisted.

 My dad hiked across the canyon with his friends Raj and Chad. Raj is an Ironman tr…

Taking the lonely way home

Injured is a strange, somewhat hollow place to be. It's not a crisis and it's not even sad, really, but it does feel like losing a form of expression — like a painter who's been temporarily stripped of her palette of colors. I've become accustomed to expressing myself with movements through the world — I leave footprints on the trail, therefore I am alive. When I'm limited in my movements, there's a quieting in my voice. I become less of a participant and more of an observer.

After I hurt my knee, my parents assumed that I wouldn't join them for the annual trip to the Grand Canyon. I assured them that Fall Grand Canyon meant more to me than just another rim-to-rim hike — it's always been about spending time with my family, in a setting that feels more intimate and natural than the typical craziness of the holidays. So I set out for Salt Lake City on Wednesday, after rejecting reasonably priced plane tickets in favor of the long drive. Even in my own m…