Friday, November 4, 2011

Decisions and Incisions: Let's Party

Making decisions is probably one of my least favorite activities ever.  I think this has something to do with the fact that I generally tend not to enjoy things I'm not very good at, and logical deductive reasoning happens to be one of those things.  Somehow I always seem to derail somewhere.... which usually results from the creation of some alternate reality where everything works out perfectly.  Because I'm really good at that.

A few weeks ago, I decided to jump into the Los Pinos 50k.  Given that I am in no shape to give an honest effort at another 100 right now and my knee likely couldn't handle it anyway, I wanted to get at least one more race in this year.  I thought maybe I'd feel fulfilled.  Maybe I wouldn't feel so bad about myself if I could run really fast.  Maybe I could prove that the pain in my knee isn't that bad.  Maybe I just need to get over it.  And so I registered on Wednesday morning.

On the Los Pinos trail (aka "Beast") the week before.
By Wednesday night, I felt altogether off and threw up when I tried to run.  Thursday, I had a fever and it felt like someone was stabbing me in the ear.  Friday, I missed work and spent the day in bed drinking water, telling myself I'd be good in the morning.  Saturday morning, I woke up and knew instantly I should not run.

I ran anyway.  

I felt winded in the first easy mile.  By mile 2, I was soaked through with sweat and shaky all over.  Around mile 4 I tried to take a hit off my gel flask and immediately threw up.  For the next 2 miles I was dizzy, had a migraine and was now absolutely positive there was a small creature repeatedly shanking my ear canal.  As such, I was forced to end my day at the first water-only aid station, where Steve Harvey told me to sit down.  Now.  I waited for the rest of the runners to go through, cheering my friends on and trying to gather my senses, and we hiked the 3 or so miles out and back to the start/finish area.  Later that night I noticed that my ear was actually bleeding.  Turns out by running hard in the mountains with a nasty ear infection can actually rupture your eardrum.

This is an example of a poor decision.  

Portrait by Dom
Now, lucky for me, oftentimes a bad decision can influence other decisions in a decidedly positive way.  This was the case as I sat and talked to RD Keira Henninger about my experience at Angeles Crest and the frustrations of the yucca setback.  Keira recently had arthroscopic surgery on her hip and for the first time in a great long while is running without pain.  Like me, she was extremely hesitant to have any sort of surgery and hoped that she could heal it via other methods.  But at the end of the day, she's finally making real progress now that she's had the procedure.

Physical therapy has done absolutely nothing for me at all.  In fact, it was more annoying than anything given that the woman was dead set on proving that I had a biomechanical issue and had created this injury myself.  It was almost as if she just could not accept the fact that I was literally stabbed in the knee by a plant.  Instead she was first disappointed to discover that I don't pronate.  Then she told me I should be striking on my heels.  No jokes, people.  For her third and final trick, she wanted to know what sort of running shoes I wear.  That exchange went a little something like this:

So Katherine, what type of running shoes do you wear - do you happen to know the model?
OK, well do you know the brand?
Nope, I have no idea.
Hmmm, well I sincerely hope that it's something with good cushioning and proper support.  
This is exactly why we are not having this conversation.

Taking matters into my own hands, I employed Dom for a session of digging his thumb into the lump of nerve infested devil tissue in an attempt to end it's reign of tyranny.  This resulted in absolute hysteria and near passing out, even after a shot of Maker's.  Also, it didn't really make a difference.  On the brink of hopelessness, I had to consider the recommended option presented to me.

As such, I will be having arthroscopic surgery on November 9th.  They will go in, remove the damage caused by the yucca (and possibly running 100 miles on said injury), stitch me up, and I should be good to go by the first of the year.  It's minimally invasive - the doc makes small incisions and goes in with a little camera rather than slice through a bunch of shit I need.  He said a week of no activity, then probably a month before I can get back to my training.  Sure, I'm going to have to start back quite a few blocks with regards to my physical training.  And to be honest, that is frustrating as hell.  But it definitely won't be at the beginning with regards to the mental side of things, because I now know what I'm capable of.  At the end of the day, I'm damn proud of the work I put in this year.  I turned myself into a pretty descent climber, handled some consistently high mileage weeks, got faster, stronger and ran through some really hard challenges.  Though I don't have a specific race to prove it to all of you, I know this and really that's all that matters with regards to having the confidence to build myself up again.  It will be hard to regain speed.  It will be difficult to climb mountains with ease.  It will hurt to run at altitude.  But now I know that if I can just endure a little more than seems reasonable, I will  achieve great new heights.

IN the Vegas:  Lights, Smoke, Sin and Zombies
ABOVE the Vegas:  ...
Last weekend, Dom and I went to celebrate some of my college friends' 30th birthdays in Las Vegas.  (They had flown out from St. Louis and Chicago.)  After dancing all night in smoky casinos, our bodies literally craved the fresh air that only the high altitude of the mountains can bring.  So we drove up to 7,500 and set out to climb up over 11 in the Mt. Charleston wilderness.  Encountering snow already at the trailhead and unsure of what we might find, we grabbed some jackets, water and gels and headed out into the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, about an hour or so outside of the Vegas.  Immediately, we were consumed by the thick scent of rich pine and humbled by the sheer faces of rock that rose intimidatingly up from the canyon where we started.  (Kyle Canyon, to be exact.)  It was freaking beautiful, and after the last few weeks of being sick and fearing the impending non-running future, it was exactly what I needed.  As we climbed, we were both amazed at the great footing of the well-maintained trail.  Just about every step of it was runnable, and it was a nice change from some of our recent adventures in California - such as the insanely steep grades on Gorgonio and the boulder hopping up Jacinto, via Cactus to Clouds.  Apparently Nevada knows what's up.

 We were also both amazed that there were hardly any people on the trail on a seriously PERFECT day.  I'm not kidding… the weather, the trail, the scenery was absolutely amazing in every regard.  This might have had something to do with the fact that it was really hard to find any info or maps on the area.  I'm guessing most people who live in or frequent the Vegas are probably not interested in roughing it in the wilderness, but my only response to that is 'wow, what a shame.'  This forest was seriously one of the more beautiful places I've ever seen, and I am so grateful that our random weekend lead us there.  In many ways it was a difficult run, because I felt like I had begun a countdown of the amount of steps I get before next Wednesday.  But in others, it was incredible, because I didn't take one of those steps for granted.  
Vegas. Always a party.
Dom getting ready for TNF50 showdown

So, that's that.  I go into surgery in less than a week and I've basically been running myself retarded over the past week.  My knee hurts worse than ever.  But before I go away for a little bit, I've got one more last minute, objectively bad decision to make.  As such, after work today I'm leaving to do one of the following:  hop a train and do R2R2R at the Grand Canyon, head to Wrightwood and lose myself in the high country or I'm throwing around the idea of driving to the King's Canyon/Sequoia area... or maybe something else.  This all depends on schedules, transportation and most notably, weather. A big storm is on the way and we're supposed to get snow down to 4,000 feet!  Whatever ends up happening, I'm pretty sure my knee will be nice and ready for surgery.

Listen, you can say whatever you want about my decision making process, but my life is awesome.  I leave you with additional proof:
 Dom in the classic NB 574's.  Me in the Dolce Vita 5"-ers. 
Goal for the Day: Griffith Peak at 11,000 in the background.

On the ascent out of Kyle Canyon

Sneaky kisses for my best friend

Ninja skills are always appropriate

And a triple salchow from Brian Boitano

Oh yeah.... the Cards won the world series.  BIRDS!!!!


  1. You are so awesome Katie D! I will be thinking of you and sending good vibes for your upcoming surgery! I always love reading your blog. I miss you and hope to see you sooner than later! xoxoxoxox - Keren

  2. Girl you need to get on twitter so we can chat more!! So what do you eat during a 50K? Same stuff you eat in a marathon? HELP

  3. p.s. I love all your *headwraps* where did you get them.

    p.p.s I carried 2 bottles in my last marathon b/c I saw you do it for ultras ;)

  4. Dorothy! I just responded to your blog on my 50k nutrition. And I am totally on twitter.... @kdesplinter. I'll find you:)

    PS: Most of the headwraps are "Buff" brand - I get them at REI. Some I get at various ultras in my race bag. I love them, and they also double as face masks/neck warmers when running in the mountains/snow.

    PPS: you will be surprised at how strong your arms get from carrying bottles all the time. awesome side effect!

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