Injury and Identity Crisis

I’m one of those lucky runners who, for whatever reason, can put in lots of miles without getting injured. I try to be smart about it — not building too quickly, strength training regularly, listening to my body if something hurts — and it works. At least that’s what I thought.

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A few weeks ago, for no apparent reason, my left butt cheek started hurting in the middle of a fartlek run (insert butt-and-fartlek jokes here), and the pain didn’t stop, despite my stretching and slowing down. I have no idea why this would happen now, when I was running less than half the mileage I run when I’m training for a race, but the pain was there, and it was persistent.

Some Internet research told me I had hamstring tendinitis, and I found stretches, strength moves, and general advice on how to treat it. I’ve been doing it all religiously: stretching, strengthening, foam rolling and rolling on a tennis ball, taking short walks to keep it loose, taking several days off running and resuming with short and easy runs (no hills or speed), and even getting a massage, but still the pain persists. I can run 4-5 miles, but 5 is the most I’ve run in over a month. Frankly, it’s starting to mess with my head.

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I know I should be grateful that I can run at all, and that this happened when I don’t have any races on the calendar. Plus, I’ll be so busy soon with moving and starting a new job that running long shouldn’t be my priority anyway (but I will have this new town to explore…).

But there’s a huge part of my identity that is distance runner, and even though it’s been only a few weeks, I feel like that part of my identity is misplaced. Sometimes I toy with the idea of just moving on from that identity — becoming someone who works out purely for health reasons, with less cardio and more strength training and yoga — and for a minute, that seems like a great idea. After all, I’m certainly not a professional — it’s not like I’m paid to run long. There’s no logical reason for me to keep doing it. In fact, it would probably be healthier to go the other way.

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But then I see an ad for a race, or a post in a Facebook group about an epic trail run coming up, or my trail shoes sitting by the door, looking sad because I haven’t taken them out lately, or even the “4.00” on my watch at the end of yet another short, slow road run, and I think, “No, the just-for-health exerciser is not who I am.”

I realize this post is a complete pity party, and if you’ve made it through my word vomit thus far, thanks for sticking around. I feel like I should end this on a positive note, especially because I know, in the grand scheme of the world, that this is not that big of an issue and probably doesn’t even warrant its own blog post. But I feel grumpy and negative right now. Here:

Commiserate with me: Tell me about an injury and how you recovered/are recovering. Or give me a magic piriformis-healing bullet. 

 

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Mountain Adventures Photo Dump

If you’ve read my blog long (or if you know me in real life), you know that I’m a mountain girl to the core. This summer, unfortunately, has had a serious dearth of mountain time — selling and buying houses and getting ready for new jobs is time-consuming — especially for Jordan. His new job is at a brand-new school, so his summer has been full of meetings and trainings. Finally, last week we got in some mountain time. I took a lot of pictures.

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I need more quaky trees in my life. 

I went to the Western slope for Fourth of July weekend; J couldn’t come because of the aforementioned working, but I knew that if I didn’t go, I wouldn’t see my grandparents until Thanksgiving (my parents will come see me, but my grandparents don’t travel anymore). While I was there, the weather refused to cooperate, but we hiked a little anyway.

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Super rainy, but super green!
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The wildflowers were gorgeous!
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The rain made a cute little waterfall. We were soaked by the time we finished, but it was fun! Thank goodness my mom had an extra pair of waterproof pants; all I packed were running skirts, and I would’ve been freeeeezing. 

The Thursday after the 4th, Jordan and I went camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. A few weeks prior, we had looked at the calendar and realized that if we wanted to camp at all this summer, it had to be that day. So we booked a campsite in RMNP’s Glacier Basin campground (the last site available!), and we headed up bright and early Thursday morning.

We started our day at Lumpy Ridge. It was really ugly.

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Hello down there, Estes Park!

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This is Gem Lake, not quite 2 miles up the trail. So pretty. So filled with tourists. We didn’t get a very early start on our hike, since we had to drive from Fort Morgan, so we got to hike with all the tourists who do things like sit in the middle of the trail to take breaks and feed the ground squirrels. Too bad there are no “Don’t feed the wildlife” signs in Rocky. Oh wait, yes there are. EVERYWHERE. 
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Around 3 miles in, the tourists tend to disappear. Ah, peace!

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We didn’t do the whole Lumpy Ridge loop because of our late start, but we loved the part we did. I’d like to run the whole loop (about 8.5 miles) sometime. (I didn’t do any trail running this trip, because I’ve been fighting piriformis syndrome, which is stupid. But at least I  could hike!)

After our hike, we headed down into town, ate the lunches we had packed, and did the tourist thing for a while — wandering into shops, stopping at a new-to-us brewery, etc.– before we headed back into the park to set up camp.

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This pretty lady was our dinner entertainment. She obviously had a fawn somewhere, but the baby didn’t make an appearance. 

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Not a bad view from the campground, right?

The next morning, we were able to start our hike earlier, of course, so it was quiet and peaceful most of the way. Our campground was just across the road from the first big park ‘n ride in the park, and a trail to Bierstadt Lake starts from that lot, so that’s where we began our day.

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Beirstadt Lake. No, I’m not wearing white knee socks. That’s my natural skin tone. 
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Mill Creek

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We were walking along and heard a noise behind us on the trail, and here came this fat bird (grouse?) waddling down the trail, clucking softly. Pretty sure he was saying “Pardon me, humans. Just passing by.”

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We went up to Bierstadt, along Mill Creek, and back down through Hollowell Park, where we caught the shuttle back up to the campground. We had originally planned to go up to Cub Lake, but were afraid that we wouldn’t make it back in time to break down camp before we had to be checked out of the campground. Sometime, when my butt is completely better, I’d like to start at Hollowell Park, run up to Cub Lake, and catch the shuttle back from Moraine Park. Any of my trail running friends want to come along?

Once we were back at camp, we cleaned up a bit (another baby-wipe bath. This seems to be a theme on my blog lately…), broke down camp, and headed back into town — just in time, as a typical Colorado afternoon thunderstorm rumbled through not long after we got to town. Before we knew it, our mini-vacation was over and we were driving back to the plains (and getting excited that soon, our drive will be less than half as long).

What’s your favorite hike/trail run? Bonus points if it’s close-ish to my new home.

When was your last mini-vacation?

 

Weird Places I’ve Changed Clothes Post-Run

Runners are a unique bunch. We’ll do almost anything to get our run in, and sometimes we finish a run with no time and/or place to properly shower and dress like civilized people. That means we have to get a little creative. Luckily for me, my teenage years in FFA taught me to subtly change clothes — once you can go from jeans and hoodie to full official dress (skirt, pantyhose, button-down shirt, scarf, jacket) in the back of a moving van without flashing the other occupants, you can do anything. Who knew my education would pay off so well.

Here are some strange places I’ve done the post-run baby-wipe bath and wardrobe change:

Decent public restrooms at:

  • Panera
  • Starbucks
  • McDonalds
  • A hotel lobby (of a hotel in which I wasn’t staying…)
  • Grocery stores
  • The school where I taught until last year
  • Jeffco Stadium
  • State park visitor centers

Sketchy public restrooms in:

  • Parks
  • Trailheads (outhouses, usually)
  • Gas stations
  • Campgrounds
  • A subway station in Boston

In my car:

  • At trailheads
  • In parking garages
  • In parking lots of race venues
  • On the side of the road (actually, I’ve never done this in my car. I did it once in Logan’s car, when I paced her at last year’s Hideaway 100, and once in my parents’ car, while they wandered up the road)

Other places:

  • In a tent on a high school soccer field (during Chase the Moon)
  • In a tent at a campground (not so weird)
  • Hiding behind a space blanket at a finish line
  • In the middle of the crowd moving from the Boston finish line to the family meeting area (not a full wardrobe change; I just had to get my sweaty shirt off and my jacket and sweats on because I was FREEZING)
  • On the side of the road, not in a car (this was also when I paced Logan, before my pacing shift. It was the middle of the night and really, really dark).

No matter how weird or awkward the post-run cleanup is, the run itself is always worth it!

What are some weird places you’ve changed post-workout?

What’s a weird “skill” you’ve learned?