Running a marathon is the epitome of today’s gluten-free, protein-shake, active lifestyle zeitgeist. In Duluth, marathon culture seems magnified. Anyone remotely active cannot escape the excitement and phenomenon that is Grandma’s. Common conversations include:
“Are you running Grandma’s? How’s training going? What time are you targeting? Want to get together for a long run?”
It’s nearly impossible to escape this hype. It’s addicting. It provides community, pride and identity. I may not be fast, but gosh darn-it-all, I’m going to run Grandma’s! I am a Duluthian! Hear me roar!
If you aren’t running the full marathon, there are many alternatives: the half-marathon, the 5k, working a water station, or talking about your loved one that is running. If you’ve completed a half or full Grandma’s, you are in the club for life and can join these training conversations guilt free.
All of this preamble is just to explain- I was really, really, really excited about running Grandma’s. It took several months to build up the courage to commit to signing up, but once I did I was all in.
Run club? Check.
Diet plan? Check.
Training regimen? Check.
Accountability partners to train with? Check.
And then it happened- a knee injury. It was sudden and oddly inexplicable.
DENIAL, knee injury? WHAT knee injury?
I repeated mantras while running like “lighter footfalls” and “DO NOT LIMP, DO NOT LIMP.” I refused to let my knee interfere with my training plan. I was going to train through this! I bought a foam roller! RICE was LIFE! I did all the exercises you are supposed to do when you have runners knee. I discussed possible reasons and solutions for said knee injury with all my friends in training. I was painfully positive, as in high-school-cheerleader slash Elle Woods level POSITIVE. I WOULD BE FINE!
ANGER- i.e. the I HATE MY FITBIT phase!
I am generally not an angry person…but I was pretty annoyed. I asked my friends to stop inviting me to fit bit challenges. Then I stopped wearing my fitbit altogether. All those steps were coming at a painful price and the fitbit no longer tallied my good days, but rather it seemed to tally up the bad. I emailed my accountability partners and asked them to stop emailing me about their running plans because I just couldn’t cope with their progress while my progress stymied. I looked at their fun-run pictures and snarled. I didn’t respond to any of their training snap chats. Oh ya? You just ran 7 miles ‘like a boss’? and I bet it felt great too, didn’t it!?!
Next up- BARGAINING. I came up with a BRILLIANT solution! I would just get a cortisone shot so I could train pain free! Whatever was wrong could wait until June 21st, TAKE THAT KNEE INJURY!
Current status- the pity party.
Guys, this is not a pretty phase. I cried when the Dr. explained to me that a cortisone shot is not a great option for a 29 year old, particularly when said 29 year old has already been putting off an inevitable (and pretty crucial) ankle surgery. I pulled it together in the exam room and went out to schedule my MRI. “Wow, double MRI?” the polite woman said with a raised brow, “Do you need a hug?” The tears came unabashed. I tried to cheer myself up with a fancy coffee from the fancy co-op, I made it out the doors and into my car where I broke down again.
I cried while watching Fixer Upper last night.... Fixer. Upper.
Oh for crying out loud, now I’m crying as I type this up.
Arguably, receiving bad news the Monday morning after daylight savings time and a very long trek into the wilderness on an injured ankle and knee may not have been the best timing. The frustrated tears were just a little too close to the surface.
Waiting for it- ACCEPTANCE.
I know that acceptance will come. I keep telling myself things like, “Amanda, GET IT TOGETHER! YOU DON’T HAVE A BRAIN EATING AMOEBA! DONALD TRUMP DIDN’T EAT YOUR BABY!” but so far, these pep-talks have done little to propel me out of my pity wallowing existence.
Last night I taught yoga. One of the cool-down songs was “Everybody Hurts Sometimes” by R.E.M. Even I had to giggle at the self-indulgence. Maybe that was step one toward acceptance.
So why am I posting this? I guess mainly just to get everyone in Duluth on board with my current training hiatus. I am probably not going to be able to run this year. I am not dealing with it particularly well and I am feeling like a capital L Loser. If you see me at Evolve or the grocery store, now you know. I guess also to say that I am normally a pretty positive person and I’m kind of in the dumps right now, and I think that is okay to acknowledge.
For all the people with very real problems like chronic illness, sick little ones, lost loved ones, cancer, etc- I am really sorry for posting about this menial problem. I can only hope that my stupid little experience may help me be a better friend to you in the future.
In the meantime, I am going to be sure to enjoy the days I can run- carefree and pain-free. And on the days I cannot run, days like today, and many days I am bound to face in the future, I will try to find alternative conduits to joy... like Michael Jackson dance parties, coffee brewed in a percolator, page-turners, and funny people.
Before you ask: I don’t know much more than what I posted here. I will learn more after MRIs. I will fill you in when I learn more.
P.S. A pic after Grandma’s half last year. This will be my reminder that, at least by my own standards, I’m technically part of the club for life.