After spending the first couple days home mostly asleep, the past three days Kira has been more awake, pretty much like she would be normally. She’s slowly starting to put weight on the surgery leg, first just toe touches, then walking on it for spurts of ten seconds or so. When she goes “fast”, she hops on her back leg and keeps the other one up. But mostly she lies around.
Of course she wants to do more. She doesn’t understand why we won’t let her on the couch, her favorite spot, or the armchair. She doesn’t understand why, when she gets up from the dog bed in the living room, I walk her into the kitchen to lie down under the dining table. I can tell she is getting bored. But she’s a good-natured girl and very smart. I think in some way she comprehends it’s for her own good. Still though it will get worse as she gets better.
We also left her alone on Friday and Saturday. For a little over an hour and half an hour tops the first day; about three hours yesterday. She seemed to do fine. I’m tempted to set up my laptop on the kitchen counter pointed at the bed she’s on and film her the next time I have to run an errand. I’d love to know if she cries or barks and if she tries to move to a different part of the house. If she seems to just chill, we may be able to not have to crate her at all. It will be helpful to know for when I want to leave her to go for a run.
So far, so good! Also she has managed to avoid the Cone of Shame. I let her lick her leg, just not the part where the wound is. She seems to be mostly fine with this arrangement, though I’ve been warned that after a week or so, the wound starts to itch. We will cross that bridge eventually.
I gave Kira a sedative at bedtime last night in addition to her pain pills. It knocked her out so hard I couldn’t get her up to pee until 10 am. Even then I had to force the issue. She slept pretty much the rest of the day, and when she wasn’t sleeping, she didn’t seem too stressed out. Mostly calm and out of it.
Her leg is swollen, something I was warned about and should resolve in a week. She put a bit of weight on her leg this morning at potty time, but not the rest of the day. Her appetite is not great. She will eat a little dog food if I make it more interesting with some cheese or cold cuts. I’m not too alarmed. Camp was absolutely obsessed with food and the drugs would occasionally make him lose his appetite. I don’t want to acquire any bad, picky-eating habits, but I figure it is more important right now for her to just eat something, especially when she gets the upset-tummy pill. She is drinking normally. She has avoided the cone of shame for another day, probably because she was simply too zonked to lick.
I get my first COVID shot tomorrow morning. YAY! But it will be the first time she’s left alone. If tomorrow morning is anything like most of today, I won’t be too worried. I can always put her in the crate, but I kinda think, especially if I give her a sedative before I go, that leaving her under the dining table will be fine.
We got Kira almost three years ago, right before my cancer diagnosis.
She was kind of an impulse adoption. We always knew we’d get a second dog; we’re not meant to be a one-dog household. Camp loved other dogs (loooooved), and we thought he’d benefit from a sibling. We also always knew we’d adopt. Stuart had been combing the local rescues’ webpages for a while, but I was dragging my feet for whatever reason. If memory serves, every dog we liked the looks of and were good with other dogs weren’t good with cats. We had four cats at the time, so that was definitely an issue. Most likely I was just content with my nice simple life and wasn’t ready to upend it by adding a new dog to the mix.
Scout came home for a visit in April, and she was obsessed with us adopting a dog while she was here. I got caught up in the peer pressure, so I started looking at adoptable dogs too. There was a pittie-looking guy at the St. Matthews Feeders Supply via Kentucky Humane Society. Scout and Camp and I went that Friday afternoon to look at him, but he had an issue. I think he had a hold on him because of an illness or injury.
In the spot next to him was a year-old black lab-shepherd mix named Kira. She seemed friendly enough, rather sweet even, definitely more lab than shepherd. However we really were more interested in a pit or another pit mix. Can’t stress enough—a lab mix was not on my to-do list.
Camp had other ideas. The KY Humane rep brought Kira out to say Hello and she and Camp hit it off immediately. I called Stuart to tell him there was a nice doggie here and Camp seemed to like her. Not a shock, as Camp has never met a dog he didn’t love. I was expecting Stuart to say Hell Nah to a lab, but he wasn’t busy at work and he had dog fever longer than I had. He said he was on his way. Kira, we were told, was surrendered because her original owners didn’t have enough time for her and she spent 12 hours a day in a crate. She was given to friends who also didn’t have time for her, even though both owners said she was a good girl. I am, if anything, a sucker for broken toys. The idea of this sweet brown-eyed girl not getting the forever home she deserved killed me. Long story, short, we brought Kira home that day.
We immediately took her and Camp on a walk and out to dinner on the patio of an Italian restaurant in the neighborhood. Scout, now that she had accomplished her mission, was back out with her friends. My first impression of Kira was that she had a strong bladder—girl could hold her pee forever. Also she was a puller. Such a puller that she was making herself cough. Well she kept coughing through the night and into the next day.
I took her to the veterinary practice that KY Humane runs and we learned she had a bad case of kennel cough. Poor girl. So she spent her first week with us sicker than sick. Fever, listless. Of course just after she recovered Camp started coughing. And right after that I found out I had breast cancer.
So much for my nice simple life.
Well, we all got better and our home was again a two-dog household. As it should be. It was that summer we learned Kira did not like other dogs. Like, at all. She was fine with Camp, but I wonder if the reason she didn’t show any reactivity toward him when they first met was because she was in the early stage of a serious illness. Or maybe she knew she would be spending a lot of time in that cage if she acted out. I wouldn’t be surprised—she’s whip smart. She’s also an attentive, anxious, sensitive honey and we love her.
So fast forward to now. Dr N called after surgery yesterday and said it went well. She had a chronic partial rupture in her right cranial cruciate ligament. They did a medial meniscus release and a tibia plateau leveling osteotomy. Basically they cut the knee apart and reposition it so the joint is stabilized. She regurgitated a bit of fluid, but the vet said it happens and she still had a trach tube in, so it shouldn’t be a problem. A small risk of pneumonia or esophageal irritation, but he wasn’t worried. He’d be calling between 10 and 11 the next morning to tell me how she did through the night and when she could come home.
This morning Dr N called at 8:47. He said Kira did not seem to be showing any ill effects from the regurgitation. He also said she was super stressed, shattered a baby gate in an overnight rampage, and we could come get her—the sooner the better. Stuart had already planned on taking a long lunch to help me pick her up. He came right away.
$4K* later, we had our girl back. We also picked up Camp’s ashes.
*Y’all, if you want to pay for baby’s new shoes, go into the manufacture and sale of surgical plates and screws.
The drive home was fine. Stuart sat in the back seat with her to keep her from freaking out. Typically on any given car ride, she dances around the backseat like she’s a lip sync assassin. I was worried that she would hurt herself, but she was calm. Mostly busy bothering the bandage on her front leg where the IV had been placed.
We got her home and settled in her new spot. I had moved the dining table around and set Scout’s unused mattress underneath. It’s a comfy, confined area (her leash is tied to a table leg) and hopefully she will be relatively content to stay there. It will be her main living space for two months. She for the most part rested comfortably most of the day. I can tell she’s not happy, but she’s hardly the drama llama that Camp was. She had to be bribed with ground beef and cheese to eat her dog food, but her carprofen can cause stomach upset and so the food boycotting that she’s been doing since Camp died would not fly.
I took some photos of her wound, so that we can monitor how it’s healing. The wound is like Frankenstein Crazy Horror Movie and her leg is quite swollen, but oddly it doesn’t make me upset to look at it. I guess I was expecting worse. Maybe after all the trauma of epilepsy, something that doesn’t cause electrical storms in the brain seems like no big deal. The sutures are internal so there’s nothing to chew, and I’m hoping we can avoid the Cone of Shame. She’s on three different medications, two pain pills and a sedative. She goes back for a recheck in two weeks, then imaging six weeks later to see how the bone is healing. I’ve been assisting her walking by using a towel as a sling for her back end, just to take some pressure off her good leg. It is really common for the non-surgical leg to get fucked up because it bears all the weight during the healing process. So the less time she spends on her feet the better.
Currently she isn’t putting any weight on her bad leg, but of course, as expected, she thinks she can freely move around the house. She’s mostly being cooperative so far as I limit her to potty in the yard and chilling under the table. But you all this dog has no chill. This will not last. I’m just wondering how long it will take for the boredom to remove the luxury of her cooperation.
Day One in the books. I am going to spend the night with her on the mattress under the table. Not expecting much to be different tomorrow; hopefully nothing worse. Some pix:
So again, it’s been forever since I did a damn thing here.
Quick update: last year for me, like so many, was not a good year.
Right after Christmas 2019, Camp Randall, our pit mix, had a seizure, his first. In January 2020 he had more and started medication. Then more seizures, higher dosages, more seizures, new meds, more seizures, hospitalizations, more seizures, rinse, repeat.
It was horrifically awful. We said goodbye to him a week ago. The neurologist who was treating him said that sometimes it is helpful to think of difficult-to-treat epilepsy as having a brain tumor. It did help, but it did not make the end not the saddest thing we’ve ever had to do.
So like so much of the rest of the world wrestling with depression and anxiety about COVID and lockdowns and corrupt, worthless politicians and anti-mask assholes, I was also consumed with worry about my poor dog. I had stretches of too much drinking, too much eating, barely sleeping. There were bright spots too and, after a week of mourning, I feel like I’m coming up for air.
So I’m coming back to this blog because Kira, our lab mix, is getting knee surgery tomorrow and I want to use this as a way to record her recovery. From the reading I’ve done, this will not be fun for anyone.
The surgery has been a long time coming. She first started limping spring/summer of 2019. Probably from launching off the deck after a squirrel or goofing off with Camp. We rested her for weeks and months, basically going for walks around the block and that’s it. She didn’t get worse, but she didn’t get much better. She had a orthopedic consult that late summer/early fall. We were told she would probably be a candidate for surgery eventually, but it was not necessary at that point.
So I started taking her for walks again, short at first and getting longer. Then we started running with her. To say she is a fan, would be an understatement. Spouse would take her summer early mornings, trying to beat the heat, and I would take her on the weekends when I went out with a few of my running friends. She did a 5K on Halloween with me, both of us dressed like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and we did a 5 mile Thanksgiving run together. She was my perfect running buddy, even though I never went fast enough for her.
Sometime in early January the dogs were chasing each other in the backyard and she came up limping again, barely setting her leg down. It didn’t get better with rest. We finally had another orthopedic consult last week, and she was put on the schedule for surgery. The recovery period is 6-8 weeks of as little activity as possible, then gradually increasing. She can go pee and poop and that’s about it. This will be torture for my very busy dog. But if it means she can go running with me again at the end, it will have been worth it.
This race is part of the Polar Bear Grand Prix, a three-part race series that lasts through the winter, with each race increasing in length a bit. It is also part of the Run 502 series and I totally signed up for this because I need all three races to get the big Fleur de Lis hanger medal. Not just bling, completist bling.
Back sometime this summer or early fall, there was an email that the deadline was approaching to register for the series and get the extra swag. I asked Spouse if he wanted to do this series with me. Arguments for: 1) in our neighborhood park (literally a 15 minute walk from our front door) 2) nothing longer that 4 miles 3) extra swag Arguments against: 1) running
Spouse is not a runner. He does but does not enjoy cardio. He far prefers lifting weights while understands cardio is necessary a few times a week. So he does cardio a few times a week and hates every minute. For whatever weird reason, he said “sure!” when I asked him if he wanted to do this series with me. The morning of the race I asked him if he was drunk when he agreed to this, because he looked so regretful.
At least the swag was good! The race shirt was a long-sleeved grey tech shirt, men’s and women’s styles, with a small logo. I have so many ass-ugly race shirts—loud colors, huge and hideous pictures—so this was welcome. A bunch of my shirts I have turned into tank tops, with varying degrees of success. Long sleeves are fine, but regular t-shirts tend to not get worn. Any runner who signed up for the three-race series got a zip-up tech jacket, which is pretty decent quality and, again, not ugly. And any runner who signed up by the cut off got a red and white stocking cap. I don’t really wear stocking caps, but they’re nice to have around for cold-weather dog walks.
Our biggest discussion pre-race was whether to drive or walk and when to leave. I prefer to be early. It lowers my general anxiety level about parking and random snafus when I know I will be leaving with lots of time to spare. I don’t mind just sitting in my car for a bit before a race. I also tend to get a good parking spot, which makes getting out easier. Spouse is typically a very On Time person, but he did a 5K downtown with me in February and was not a fan of the waiting around for the race to start. I didn’t blame him—it was cold as fuck that morning and that particular race had a DJ playing loud pop music, which neither of us enjoy.
When we got there, I chatted with people from my running group, but I missed the group photo because I waited too long to make a decision about getting in line for the portapot.
The race start and end is at the top of a hill. The first at least quarter mile is downhill and we didn’t do any walking intervals, so that mile was pretty speedy. Then I became aware of my poor clothing choices.
I had gotten a Lu Lu Lemon gift card for my birthday back in April, and I had just used it to buy a fancy new warm jacket for cold-weather running. My North Face jacket is past its prime and I figured I should replace it before it died all the way. I had a few doubts about how warm the new jacket was, so I figured this 30ish degree morning would be a good test. Again, don’t ignore the wisdom of “nothing new on race day”. I need to either wear fewer layers under it or straight up save it for actual cold. I started overheating shortly after the first mile and had to do intervals the rest of the race.
Spouse on the other hand was doing fine. He powered up the first big hill, where I was cursing and paranoid about my wonky hamstring. Apparently not skipping leg day paid off for him. I was mostly fine though until the last hill. It was rough. So rough. Spouse was ahead of me and I told him not to wait, but he said he wanted us to cross the finish line together.
I managed to not die and finally the end was in sight. There was a woman just ahead of me, and she and I had been passing each other most of the last half mile. I wanted to finish ahead of her. I’m apparently a petty, competitive bitch. So I sprinted at the end, but didn’t tell him to keep up with me. So I finished a second ahead of him. After he specifically told me he wanted to cross the finish line together. He was irritated with me. I felt bad.
I can’t remember our finish time; the pace was around 10 minute mile I think. A bit skeptical because on Garmin, Strava, and Map My Run, the distance was longer than 2.4 miles. Yes, I use three gps trackers. I have a Garmin Vivoactive 3 that seems the least accurate in the park, where I mostly run, but it’s fine everywhere else and it gives me cues for intervals, as well as other features I appreciate. I started using the Map My Run app years ago and I’m not even sure why I still turn it on, as I don’t really look at the data all that much any more. I guess I like the audio announcement of mileage, total time, and split pace. I’ve used the Strava app for a while now and find it accurate, and I get what I need from the free version.
After the race we were offered fruit snacks and rock-hard granola bars. We stuck around a bit for awards then went home. It was a fun race with good organization and free race photos. My wonky hamstring didn’t bother me as much as my recent lack of running hills regularly. I need to let it heal, but I also don’t want to lose the training and fitness I’ve managed to claw back in the last few weeks.
This race was part of the Run the 502 series, where you run at least 8 races and get a special big medal. I probably wouldn’t have signed up for it otherwise, but I’m glad I did. It was organized fine and a nice wake-up call for me. I had to go looking for information on packet pick-up and the correct start time, though it wasn’t hard to find. My only complaint is that the shirt was fugly.
It was a chilly morning, in the mid-to-upper 20s. The sun was shining bright though and there was no wind. I dressed in a warm, wicking long-sleeved shirt with the race long-sleeved t-shirt over it, with a lightish jacket with good pockets and my new fleece-lined Skirt Sports Toasty Queen leggings. It was the first time to wear the leggings, maybe not too smart to wear something new on race day, but it was just a 5K. So if I’m miserable, it’s only for half an hour tops.
The starting and ending point was at Barrett Middle School, and the pre-race was in the gym. It was nice to not have to freeze waiting around. Santa was inside, met up with people from my running group, talked to some neighbors, got the group photo. Then everyone went outside for the start of the race.
This was a hard race for me. The course was flat and fine, down Frankfort Avenue, which had been closed to traffic for the duration. I started out at a comfortable pace, skipping intervals for the first almost mile. But the cold air was like breathing fire. I did not have a neck warmer to pull over the bottom half of my face, which would have helped, but I knew it would make me warm after not too long, so I elected to skip it. Probably not the smartest decision but whatever.
The last two miles I mostly did my usual 2 minutes run/30 seconds walk intervals. I felt somewhat better, my lungs were no longer going to explode, but it was rough. The sun was right in my face and my sunglasses kept fogging up. I think my main problem is the “it’s just a 5K” mindset. I hadn’t really hydrated or eaten well in the days leading up. I drank beer and bourbon and red wine the evening before—an unholy combination of poor choices. My training had slowed way down while I rested my stupid hamstring. I just felt unprepared in general.
I finished with several women from my running group, so that was cool. We took some pictures afterward, then went back into the gym. They had coffee, bagels and cream cheese, and donuts for participants. After indulging in a really delicious bagel and chatting, I went home. By that time, I was melting. My new leggings are heavy and warm and probably only appropriate for very cold mornings. It would have been better to wear something lighter and been chilly for a short quarter mile, but live and learn. Those leggings will be great when it’s for-real cold and I’m looking for excuses to skip a run.
Later in the day, the race results went online, and I was surprised to find out I took third place in my age group. That was somewhat gratifying, but I feel like I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to get back to where I was in October and keep improving. I’ve got a race tomorrow morning—the Reindeer Romp 4K—a short race in the neighborhood park and the first race in the Polar Bear Grand Prix series. I somehow convinced, without much arm twisting, my husband to sign up too. Now I just need to decide if I’m going to run the course with him and chat and have fun…or push it and see if I can stay in the top 3 of my age group.
I’ve in the past been against Thanksgiving runs, in theory and in practice. I mean, why would you get up early to run in the cold on a holiday, especially if you got drunk with people you went to high school with the night before or if you have a turkey to emergency defrost?
Obviously a lot has changed for me. I am now a runner who likes to run with people. I wasn’t exactly planning on doing a Thanksgiving run this year—I hadn’t ruled it out and was kind of assuming I’d probably do one—but I saw the shirt for the Iroquois Hill Runners Thanksgiving 5 Miler and was smitten. So many ugly shirts from races I’ve done this year made me a sucker for a cute shirt and this one was adorable.
A word about Iroquois Park. It’s part of Louisville’s Park System and is located south of the city. It’s kind of a heavily wooded, big hill, with a path/road of rolling hills around the outside and an interior road going more or less straight up to a scenic overlook of the best views in the county. I’ve done the loop a few times. It’s a fun place to run. I’ve only done the inside road up to the top once, and it was amazing. Hard, but the view and sense of accomplishment was worth it. The route for the 5 mile race was basically up a hill for two and a half miles, then down the same distance.
I ride shared with a couple friends from my running group. We got there plenty early and found other people in MRTT/SRTT. Always good to see running friends. Lots of fun costumes in general—turkey hats, autumn-colored tutus, even a guy dressed up like a pilgrim. It was chilly, but the energy from everyone was infectious. Everyone was so happy! Yay Thanksgiving!
I hooked back up with the friends I came with and one of their close friends, and we started together with an easy pace. About a mile in, we started doing intervals. Lots of laughing and joking. I was having such a good time. After what seemed like not very long, a truck with loud horns started coming toward us, signaling to everyone to get over because the leaders were on their way down. Amazing how fast they were.
Soon we were at the top, where we took a break for a group photo in front of the beautiful view. Then it was time to go downhill! We kept our easy pace and skipped a few intervals. At the last mile, one of my friends held back, I think because of a cramp, and another friend stayed with her. The other guy and I wanted to get it over with, so we just kept going and went faster. He finished a few seconds before me, then a minute or so later, the other two friends crossed the finish line. I got my fastest split ever on that last mile, 8:44. It was almost all downhill, but it was the fifth mile after almost 300 ft of elevation gain. The race was so incredibly fun. Running it with friends made it the best, and I can’t wait to do it again next year. Hopefully I can get my husband to do it too.
After a week off to rest my wonky hamstring, I finally felt
like I could run this morning. I had
three group runs to choose from. The
first was a five miler that will be the same course for the Thanksgiving Run I
signed up for. I was planning on going
until I noticed that it was at 3pm. I am
much more of a morning runner, so when someone from the Beginner Trail Running
Group posted a morning run at Cherokee Park, I switched my plans. That run would start at 7:30 and if trails
were too muddy, then it would turn into a road run. Then, one of my running friends asked if
anyone would like to join her in Cherokee Park at 8:30. An extra hour in bed? Sold!
I picked out my clothes the night before, so this morning went
smooth. Of course I forgot my hankie and
I forgot to put on lip balm but whatever.
The “feels like” temperature was 30 degrees. A little colder than I prefer, still it was
I ran the .80 mile to the designated meeting spot and
realized how fucked I was. It’s really
sad how much stamina and conditioning one can lose in a short amount of
time. In the two months since Urban
Bourbon Half Marathon, I had only run 38 miles, 13 of which were one run. Not too good.
And it showed. Ragged breathing,
tired instantly, absolutely hating everything about running. My first mile is usually an exercise in
telling myself it gets easier. This almost
mile was pure trash.
My friends (there was another running friend with her dog)
got there right at the same time as I did.
The first thing I did was confirm that this would be with intervals and an
easy run. One of my friends hadn’t run
much since she completed the New York City Marathon, so she reassured me that
yes, we would do the usual 2 minute run, 30 second walk intervals that we often
run together and yes, no one was looking to set any records.
It ended up being great.
It was nice to chat (or try to chat as I suck at running and talking)
and have company. The hills were hard,
but I didn’t die. The organization that
manages Cherokee Park has just started this program where they make Cherokee
Park pedestrian only on the last Sunday of the month. It was a little early and quite chilly, so
there weren’t a bunch of people, but I have to say not having to worry about
cars was nice. This will be awesome when
it starts getting closer to spring.
Hopefully the program will still be going then.
When it was time to part ways, we stopped to take a group
photo and chatted a bit longer about marathon running and training. I haven’t decided to upgrade Kentucky Derby
Festival Mini to the full marathon, but I think in January when the Norton Health
Training Program starts, I will train as if I’m running the full. See how it goes before committing.
After that I ran home, for a total of 5.2 miles, average
about 10 ½ minute mile. Nice easy
morning run that felt hard as hell, but I know I can get back to where I was
two months ago if I keep at it. My
hamstring was fine during and afterward.
Got home and stretched and was really pleased, but over the day it started
getting sore again. I was doing chores,
lots of up and down stairs, but I’m not sure if it was that or the running that
did it. Unless it gets worse, I’m just
going to keep on. Maybe do a short run
Tuesday if it feels right, join some trail runners on Wednesday, and Thanksgiving
five miler on Thursday. Friday I’m
volunteering at an Irish Dance event, so that will be a non-running day. I’m happy to be back in the saddle.
So I started running for real last summer. After a while, I found out about Trail
Running. I thought there was only running
running, not running in the woods or running offroad. Trail running seemed amazing and awesome and
kinda forbidden, like it was only for the cool kids. Then I realized that at least in my running
group, there are no cool kids. There’s
just a big sand box where everyone is welcome, no matter what. Occasionally someone from some other sand box
may wander by and tell us we’re doing it wrong, but we resoundingly tell them
to leave our toys alone and go back to being miserable with the other
Two Sunday races in a row and so different. Last week I was dreading the Louisville Half
Marathon like a root canal. I hadn’t had
a decent run in weeks and was worried about lack of training and healthy living
in general and sad hamstring specifically.*
The night before the Harrod’s Creek Trail Bash, I was excited to get back
*it went okay—I finished with a better time than I
thought possible, but I could barely walk afterward
Yesterday morning I went out with the Alpha Run meeting of
my women’s running group. I ran three
Seneca Loops (1.2 miles per loop) with the other people (mostly post Monumental
Marathoners) who wanted to take it easy.
I wanted to run, but not aggravate my stupid hamstring. We had a fun lovely run. I adore my running group. My wonky leg did not seem to be any worse after
a little over three and a half miles at sexy pace. I decided I would be just fine for the trail
Harrod’s Creek Park is in Prospect Kentucky. It’s a hidden gem of trails and a creek, snuggled
in a subdivision. I ran there several
weeks ago with a few other women from my trail running group. The trails were rocky and full of tree roots,
which were all covered by a thick blanket of leaves. Kinda scary but I managed to not fall. I am not the most experienced trail runner,
and even though I grew up in a rural area and spent a lot of time in the woods
as a kid, I am as an adult still pretty intimidated by the thought of falling
in the woods.
The race this morning was a 5K and a 10K. It’s the first in a three-part trail bash series. The next race is in late December, half and quarter marathon distances. I signed on with the short series. I hate cold weather and did not want to commit to training for a longer race if there was a chance the temps were frigid. This Wisconsin girl left all her cold tolerance up north. This was my third trail race; the first two were a five miler in May (it was muddy and crazy and incredibly fun) and a quarter marathon in mid-July (it was a million degrees but still so fun).
It was quite chilly, but I was dressed for it. I’ve got a North Face jacket that Spouse gave
me for Christmas years ago. I wore it
some over the years, but it has become my best friend for winter running. Caught up with friends from the running
group, including a few women I hadn’t seen in a while, so the pre-race chilly
standing around was really nice. Got the
group photo, off we went!
The race was fine and fun. I felt my hamstring almost immediately, but it was never what I would describe as pain. It didn’t slow me down at all, not that I was going fast. Those leaves that scared me a few weeks ago had scattered or been broken down, so the obstacles in the path were clearly visible. Some good hills, slippery bridges, frosty ground. It was a good time. Three miles went by quickly, then I hung out and chatted with my running friends for a while after. The morning was sunny and it was just overall a fabulous day for an early run. Each finisher got an awesome mug to take home. The race t-shirts were cute. Age group winners’ prizes were super cool bird houses. Really neat race.
I had signed up for 2019 Indy Women’s and Urban Bourbon Half Marathons months before those races. They were long-term goals that I set for myself last year. I signed up for this race on a whim a few weeks ago mostly because a bunch of women from my running group were running and pacing it. FOMO is apparently a motivator for me nowadays.
So Urban Bourbon Half Marathon was three weekends ago. As I wrote about in an earlier post, it was a great time, so fun, so perfect how prepared I was and how the things I couldn’t control turned out just fine. This race was a bit different.
I’ve had left hamstring soreness since UBHM, though I noticed it several days after, so I’m not sure it was because of that race or something else. Could be too much sitting; could be my obnoxious pulling dogs. Consequently I had only run a few times in the past three weeks. In addition, I hadn’t been keeping up with cross training like I should, eating a lot of shitty food, not drinking enough water. So in the week leading up to this race, I just generally felt not great and was full of ambivalence.
I simply didn’t want to run it. Mostly because it could potentially be a shitshow, for above reasons. Also I didn’t want to make whatever was going on with the hamstring* worse. The icing on the Meh Cake was a friend’s fiftieth birthday party at a local bar the night before the race. This party would be full of close friends and people I like whom I hadn’t seen in a while. I knew I would either leave before I was ready or stay longer than I should.
*back of the knee, feels more like weakness rather than pain; gets worse throughout the day, especially after a dog walk; consulted dr google and got more confused; had a different chronic hamstring injury 12 years ago and would really like to not deal with that bullshit ever again
Also the weather forecast was annoying, specifically the temperature. I know how to dress for 50 and above. I know how to dress for when it’s actually cold. The 40s though. It’s not rocket science, but the right number of the right layers continues to baffle me. Especially in a race, where there’s a bunch of standing around in the beginning. When home, I just leave and I’m warmer in a couple blocks, and I typically only go for 30-60 minutes. Being chilly before the race, then overdressed for more than two hours of running is not fun. So Saturday evening I picked out some clothes and spent the rest of the night second guessing myself. Like I lost sleep and had stupid Dressed-Wrong Dreams. The amount of bourbon I drank at the party didn’t help, and in general I don’t sleep well on the night before a race.
The dogs got me up earlier than I wanted, but I wasn’t asleep anyway. Coffee, English muffin, half a leftover Cuban sandwich; pooping happened. I got dressed in what I had originally planned and left. The Parklands of Floyds Fork is this huge and beautiful park system in eastern Jefferson County. It’s really four connected parks, about 4000 acres, with woods, trails, creeks, roads for biking and running and walking. I wish it were closer than the 30 minute drive. I’ve run and raced here before. It’s nice, though the concrete road isn’t the friendliest for runners. This particular race is actually marathon, half marathon, and 10K distances. All start together, run the same direction, and have different turn around points.
I thought about downgrading to the 10K in the interest of my sore hamstring but decided not to. Probably because it was not horrible all the time. If I had been in constant pain, I probably would have downgraded. I would like to say I would have not run at all if the pain was that bad, but in reality I tend not to do that. I didn’t pay $80 to not run dammit!
Once I got there, I found M/SRTT (Moms Run This Town/She Runs This Town), my running group. Greeted people, talked about goals, injuries, clothing, pooping, snot rockets–ya know, runner stuff. Got in the group picture. I had a friend pacing the 2:20 finish, and she encouraged me to run with her. I had my doubts about keeping up that fast. Even though I had just finished with 2:06 a few weeks before, I did not feel good enough that I could get close to that. A couple other women from the group were pacing 2:45. I was planning on running with them and having a good time, but when it came time to corral, I was kind of in the middle of both pacers. I decided to just stay put, somewhere between 2:20 and 2:45 and see what happened.
We started off pretty tightly packed. I started slow, testing to see what my hamstring would tell me. It told me I was stupid. But! It didn’t tell me I was fucking stupid, so I just kept running. Finally the crowd started to thin a little, and I settled into a rhythm around mile 2. There happened to be a hill right here. More or less straight up. Like you see it and think it’s a joke.
So one thing different about this race is intervals. Normally I do intervals. When I started running last year after surgery, I needed to start slow and also I really wanted stick with it. I had done Couch to 5K the year before (didn’t stick) and my favorite part of that program was the middle weeks, when you run for several minutes, then walk for a minute, repeat. I read up on the Galloway Method, a run-walk-run program designed to prevent injury, and decided to try that. I used it for the last few weeks of June, when I was being gentle on myself during recovery. It got me through the early weeks of running, when historically I would have quit. It got me through the heat of summer, when a short break to walk help me calm down enough to keep going. I played with frequency and length of intervals and settled on 2 minutes run, 30 seconds walk as my goldilocks spot. This training got me through my first half marathon, and even though I’d recovered from surgery and seemed to have integrated running into my lifestyle, I felt like if it was working for me, why change? This fall I started skipping intervals, especially if I was running down a hill, and shortening them. So I was doing like a 18-26 second walk and correspondingly longer run. It was all fine. This race…not sure why, I hadn’t planned on doing it this way, but I didn’t run intervals. The first mile of a race, I often don’t do the walks. It’s crowded, my heart rate is fine. All good. Same for this race, but then I ran the second mile. Maybe because my pace was slower I thought I should go for it. Then that hill. If there was a time and place to start walking intervals, it was looming in front of me. But I kept running. I ran up the hill. And didn’t die! So I ran the third mile and kept running.
The giant hill was followed by a long less-steep climb, then a long wooded downhill with occasional flattening out spots. By this point the people in the lead for the 10K had turned around and were now running toward us. This is where I was less satisfied with the race organization, about which until this point I had absolutely no complaints. The road had narrowed and there were no cones. Tons of people not moving over, getting in each other’s way. I’m sure very irritating for the folks in the front of the 10K pack who were hoping for a top 3 finish or whatever. Several people were forced into the grass, others cut people off. Could have been ugly. I just hate seeing so little self-awareness.
Anyway, finally got past the 10K turn around, so there were no longer people running at us. I passed the 4:45 marathon pacer (2:23 half pacer for those not inclined to do the math) and saw my friend pacing 2:20 up ahead. I ran a little faster. I realized my hamstring was fine. Twingy, but not painful. I caught up with her and the other 2:20 pacer around mile 5. I was nice to run with pacers. It was also trippy to realize that this was the farthest I’d ever run straight, no walking. And I still had eight miles to go! I felt good for a while. Chatting with the other people hanging with the 2:20 pacers. Giving myself little pats on the back for not walking. Happy that problematic hamstring was not asserting itself. We got to the half marathon turn around! Only another six and a half miles!
And then, like clock work, the Mile 8 Struggle Bus showed up. For every half I’ve run, somewhere between mile 8 and mile 10, I want to give up. Whether it’s tired legs, tired everything, racing heart, hungry tummy, burning lungs, low energy, whatever, I find myself saying “let’s just walk, running is hot bullshit” It’s totally a mental game at this point. For Filly Women’s and KDF, it was low energy, so I experimented with adding runner candy (Honey Stinger Energy Chews). This worked for UBHM and a few long runs. This race though, I had been eating a few pieces every 40 minutes, which had worked for me before. It was less low energy and more just super tired legs. My hamstring wasn’t necessarily that bad; more like all of both legs were fucking done.
I kept going though! Around mile 10 we were back into the long wooded area, but this time we got to experience it going up hill. Joy. I walked twice, about 10 seconds each time, because I wanted to get my heart rate down a little. These were the only two times I walked the entire 13 miles. I caught back up with the 2:20 pacers. I stuck with them and their motivation really kept me in it. Around mile 11, the huge downhill, my knees started to hurt. Around mile 12, I needed a toilet. I was seriously afraid I’d shit my pants otherwise. Luckily there was a portapotty just a handful of yards off the course. I lost at least a minute, but it was absolutely necessary.
Back on the road! One mile left! It was not a fun mile. I was no longer running with my pacing friend. My legs hurt. I was tired. Finally the end. I did not sprint to finish, but I did manage to get my arms up like I wasn’t about to crawl the last yards.
My time was 2:22. Not the best, but way better than I thought I was capable of. Hell, I didn’t know I was capable of running for more than a few miles without walking, much less a half marathon. I didn’t see anyone I knew around the finishers’ area. There was Derby Pie as an end-of-race perk, but it was so sweet, I could only choke down a few bites. There was also beer (provided by Goodwood Brewery, a race sponsor), but at that point I think anything other than plain water would have made me vomit. I just wanted to go home and lie in a bath tub full of hot epsom salt water.
So that’s what I did. I was moving like a 90 year old. The walk back to the car was comical. Very stiff, very sore. My hamstring didn’t seem any worse than every other sore, agonized part of my body. I ate the other half of the leftover Cuban while the tub was filling up and had a bottle of water mixed with electrolyte replacement. The soak in the tub was perfect.
I ran three half marathons in six weeks, five this year. One was a PR and one was with no walking intervals, something I wasn’t sure I could do. I’m kinda proud of myself and my training. I look forward to all the shorter races I have lined up over the winter, mostly just fun stuff nearby, a few of which I’ve gotten Spouse to sign up to run with me. Lots of group runs with M/SRTT. I have some trail races coming up too. And a Thanksgiving Morning race, which I have always been opposed to in theory and, until now, in practice. I guess I’m a real runner, for good or ill. Now I just need to rest this stupid hamstring. At least it’s taken my mind off my stupid fat thumb.