Friday, October 12, 2012

Survival...through an injured knee or vibrio cholerae

So I just swam my first mile in two years. While my mom was dying, before I ran my first competitive marathon time, I had a badly sprained ankle from soccer and was confined to swimming and biking.... I actually got recruited to be a spinning teacher because I'm so dang perky and excited at six in the morning. Strange... I know....  I was excited to do my first triathalon, but then I found out that I was really good at running. So decided to put my 100% into running. And then I decided that I could make the Olympic team trials for Brazil and swimming and biking suddenly seemed bleak. But then 2 weeks ago, I got injured, and I still can't walk down stairs without excruciating pain in my left knee.

So today I joined the YMCA and I swam my first mile, not using my left leg because it hurts to kick. With about 500m left to go a fat bald man got in next to me and passed me doing freestyle while I was doing backstroke. So I decided to race him. It was so much fun because we were both pretty pitiful and slow and he didn't know I was waiting for him to finish so I could race him for another 50m. And neither of us could do flip turns, so there were a lot of pauses.

But I left feeling like a hero because I was back to the mindset I had when I was taking care of my mom. My hero mindset, where I am my own hero. Where I can go swimming in the morning, work a full day, go home and be with/take care of/read to my mom, and get up and do it all over again. Where nothing could stop me, not my anger with the world that would mercilessly destroy my idol (my mother), and not an ankle that I couldn't really walk on.

So I left and thought of one of my old goals in life: to never have to drink my own urine. I made that a goal when I was 9 or 10 and read about a man who got trapped under his house during an earthquake in India. He drank his own urine to stay alive. My goal made me never want to live in California, or anywhere near a fault line (it may seem ridiculous, but the desire to not drink my own urine was actually a factor in me turning down some california colleges to which I was accepted). Recently this goal has been modified to never having to drink my own urine or my own diarrhea to stay alive. One of my professors mentioned how in third world countries if someone has a bad bout of cholera, you can feed them their own diarrhea to give them to fluid and electrolytes necessary to keep them alive through the bout of diarrhea**.

I realized today what it means that the goal  of never drinking my own urine has influenced my life decisions... It means that if necessary to stay alive (i.e. if I were in that situation), I would drink my own urine (and maybe diarrhea). That I am strong enough that I will do almost what is necessary to survive and thrive and be the best that I can be. Fortunately, in my life that has meant joining a swimming pool at 26 years old because I sprained my ankle and can't walk. Hence, I know that my knee injury will help me become as strong as I was became when I hurt my ankle and within months became an elite runner. This injury will help me become as strong as I was when I had to be strong for my mother and figure out a way to get her to smile even when she was crying. Because she could die at any second if her tumor felt like making that her last.

** Note that I will never endorse Urine Therapy:
This is NOT endorsed by the medical establishment. But if someone wants to get back to me on what spreading urea on their skin does to help prevent wrinkles or help get rid of their hemorrhoids, I am ALL EARS! Though I may giggle a little while listening.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Beckley Half Marathon 2012: My first injured race

As this is my boyfriend's birthday weekend, I flew out to visit him in Fayetteville West Virginia, home of the Gauley & New Rivers. There just happened to be a half marathon ~1/2 hour away in Beckley, so I figured I would try it out.

There were a few factors against me from the start. First of all I have runners knee and have barely been able to walk down the stairs this week. My knee started to ache after my 21 miler last weekend and got pretty bad after my monday workout, so I did crosstraining on the bike or eliptical for the rest of the week. As I lay in bed this morning, just the act of raising it made my knee hurt.

So if I can't walk down the stairs without limping, what kind of course is Beckley. Well it is an out-and back course that is up or downhill the whole time, except for ~1 mile loop around some soccer fields and a .75 mile loop around a school. Ha!

It was so steep that at ~mile 7.5 I was running down what I thought was a fairly steep hill, I realized while I was running up the other direction I had thought I was running on flat ground because it was so less steep than the rest of the course.

My knee gave out soon after this point. My quad starting cramping up painfully on my knee the way it hurt to walk down the stairs. I had to stop and stretch for the first time in my life during a race. This is also soon after the temperature dropped from 60 degrees to about 50 degrees with a cold rain and brutal wind. Also there was a complete dearth of powerade, electrolytes, or sugar along the course. Lots of water set ups with everyone having a big smile on their face cheering you on. At some of the water stops people even jogged along with you to give you water (so wonderful and adorable!!!!) But when doing this hilly of a half marathon in cold rain and having your quad cramp up on you, all you want is some sugar and salt... and there was none anywhere along the course.

At about mile 10 on a downhill my knee gave out on me again and I prayed that there would be some sugar and/or salt as I stopped to stretch my quad & try to elminate some of the pain in my knee. After that, I couldn't run down hill, it was just too painful. I had to kind of hop-skip down, but I could still run the uphills! so it was a weird kind of speed workout :) I was passed by men #3&4 at ~mile 12 and one of them turned around as I was hoping down the hill in pain and said "you can do it you're almost there." Just one more example of the great personality that pervaded this rural race.

I came in 5th overall and 1st for women with a time of 1:25:?. My boyfriend was there to help me limp to the car because I couldn't walk without support my knee was so angry and painful. I cried a little from cold, hunger, and pain. And then I laughed at how stupid I was for running the hilliest half marathon I have ever seen with a hurt knee. I hope to come back next year and reap revenge on the course that destroyed me. I will have lots of goodies and electrolyte pills in my back pocket though! The support was great, the route was beautiful and challenging and strength-building. There were lots of cops to direct you were to go and to make sure traffic didn't hit anyone. Other than having gotten my butt handed to me, it was an amazing race! But that's why I will be back next year without a hurt knee and lots to prove!