Ten years ago, after my second knee surgery, I sat in my orthopedist's office and talked about my recovery. After discussing my physical therapy and examining the sutures, I hesitantly asked about my running future. He cleared me to run, but promised me a double knee replacement before I turned 50. And then he asked if I had a bicycle. And that was the end of my brief running career. I'd run through high school, finishing consistently in the middle of the pack, and sometimes even placing - usually when the races involved only two or three runners. I really liked running, but after the pain and hassle of two knee surgeries in three years, I was ready to hang up my sneakers and hop on my bike.
And I was really happy walking and biking and swimming. And then, last Sunday, I raced the San Francisco Marathon as a progressive marathon. I registered for the 5K, walked 23.1 miles prior to the race, and completed the end of the marathon on race day.
I woke up late Sunday morning, and raced to the bus stop worried I wouldn't make the starting gun. I made it to the sweats check with a few minutes to spare, and puzzled for awhile over the Hells' Angels crowd who seemed to be volunteering at the race. I was concerned I might not get my jacket back at the end of the race. I had hoped to meet a friend, but her helpful "I'm wearing a pink hat," statement proved useless in a sea of pink hats, so I made my way to the back of the pack and started to stretch. There were no pace groups, no stroller and walker sections, and no real countdown to the start. All of a sudden everyone just started running. And caught up in the crowd, I started jogging too. I slowed to a walk after a few minutes, and walked the first half mile while I watched the crowd around me. San Francisco is well known for it's zany foot races - events at which people run in costume, or push extravagant floats, or purposely run the race route backwards. Or run it naked. This race had none of the city's usual exuberance.
I quickly got bored with this flat course, and wondered how I would feel if I ran for awhile. So I did. I ended up run-walking most of the race, and I finished in 43:22. I took four minutes off of my best 5K time and finished about 10 minutes faster than I'd expected. And I felt great. I even got a finisher's medal, which was a first for me.
I continued to feel great, though a little stiff, over the next few days. I started to wonder if maybe I could actually get back into running. If maybe I could run, instead of walk, a few races this year. I even tried to run a little tonight. I was really optimistic. And then I kind of started to hurt. My knees were stiff and my back ached and I became a little concerned about an injury. I decided maybe running isn't the best idea after all. And maybe, now that I'm back in the pool and about to get back on my bike, that's OK. My surgeon's argument in favor of biking 10 years ago included my ability to go farther and faster than I could running. And he was right.
And this weekend, after a miserable seven month hiatus, I'm getting back on my bike. Provided I remember how to ride it.
This Week In Gratitude
3 hours ago