Take a Knee

23 Apr

“Take a knee,” they said.

We obliged. In our track uniforms, sweaty and gross, red track gravel sticking to our knees, we listened as our coaches praised us, inspired us, patted us on the backs.

I fell in love with running my freshman year in high school: the combination of a free mind and toned body had me hooked. I ran the 400 and 800 meter “dashes,” sometimes as relays, other times just solo. My best time was a 2:05. I nearly passed out afterwards but it felt good. Ever since then, I’ve considered myself a “runner.”

Running has gotten me over break-ups, through craptastic days at the office, served as the perfect way to end a great day and above all, it’s made me healthy and kept me motivated.

When Nilsa suggested I train for the 10 mile race taking place over Memorial Day weekend, it was a no-brainer to say yes. I’ve done 5ks, I’ve run upwards of six or seven miles just for fun, so a race? I was so in. She was a dear and sent me a training plan, tons of advice, and we communicate regularly about our runs and how our bodies are feeling.

About two weeks ago, 48 hours after my first real long run, 9 miles, I woke up with knee pain and swelling. I iced it. Took Aleve. Hobbled around. Wore flat shoes. Kept an eye on it. Called the doc who advised me to use more ice and pain meds. I ran a few miles here and there after about seven days of rest and each time I was slow, my knee shot pain through my body and I felt like I wasn’t fully extending my leg.

Eyes filled with tears of frustration and pain, I’d limp home, tear off the knee brace, go back to ice and meds. Realizing that this is no way for a runner to live, especially one who is fortunate enough to have decent health care, I caved and called an Orthopedic Sports Medicine doctor.

The appointment was yesterday. After donning short scrubs (literally, they were shorts made out of scrub material), having 8 X-Rays taken in the matter of five minutes, I met the doctor and his very handsome (and very married, sadly), assistant. The results? Inconclusive but they are leaning towards a stress fracture in my left knee and in the right knee, I have, as the doctor politely said, “spacing issues with my bones,” meaning my cartilage is wearing down and my bones are a bit closer together than he would like them to be at age 26.

I go back on Monday for an MRI and then Thursday for the offical results and diagnosis.

I still haven’t made sense of what all of this means for me yet. The doc says there’s a really strong chance I won’t be able to complete my training for the race coming up in five weeks. That maybe I can run a race in the fall but that if I do, he recommends it be less than 10 miles to keep the training light to reduce the wear and tear on my right knee. (If you get close to my right knee, you can hear the sound of the cartilage as it moves. It’s called “Rice Krispie,” knee because of the literal crackle, snaps, and pops. Gross, right?) Half marathons and full marathons are pretty much not an option.  

I know that I’m doing what I need to do to preserve my body and keep from having a knee replacement at age 40. Arthritis runs in the family so I need to take precautions.

At the same time, I’m falling apart inside. I want to run this race and be able to run others. I don’t want to worry what the exercise I love and crave is doing to my body. I know there are worse things that could happen to my body, but for now, I’m disappointed. Stressed. Concerned. Now is the time I’d normally go for a run to clear my mind.


28 Responses to “Take a Knee”

  1. ashleyTIA April 23, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    So sorry for all that you are going though, Nora. Thoughts and prayers with you.

  2. Kyla Roma April 23, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    Oh Nora, I’m so sorry! This is such a hard thing- but take it all slow. If you can’t run you will find other passions, maybe something lower impact like cycling will be able to slide right in where running has been (if it comes to that).

    What a hassle though- I’m glad you’re having it looked into though, better to be on top of these things! <3

  3. rachieannie April 23, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    oh this wasn’t cheerful news to get on a friday :-( i wish i could wave my happy wand and make it all better, but unfortunately the poor thing ran out of gas yesterday. blurgh! i’ll be thinking of you – adjusting dreams/expectations/realities is always hard.

  4. mandy April 23, 2010 at 9:22 am #

    I’m so sorry Nora. I know how excited you are about this upcoming race. Maybe race walking or cycling (as Kyla suggested) can be an alternative? I am glad that you went in to have your keep looked at instead of just pushing through the pain and doing more damage long term.

    Sending positive thoughts and big hugs! Love you!

  5. Amber from Girl with the Red Hair April 23, 2010 at 9:34 am #

    The feeling of NOT being able to run after falling so hard for it – well, there’s nothing worse.

    I’m incredibly sorry and like I said on BBM last night I hope that there are options! I was actually thinking last night that maybe some sort of walk/run intervals might work for you? 2 minutes running and 1 walking? I know you probably don’t want to do that either but then maybe you could still complete your race. That is if it doesn’t cause you any discomfort!

    Anyways, I’m thinking about you friend! XO

  6. Megan April 23, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    My brother-in-law runs track in high school (he does the high jumps, triple jump, and hurdles), and I can only imagine how he’d feel if he couldn’t run (or play basketball)!

    I hope things go well and that you’re able to somehow complete this race.

  7. Ally April 23, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    Oh no, Nora! I’m glad you are taking ownership of your body and doing what is right, but I’m so sorry to hear this about your knee problems and that they are directly impacting what you love to do. I can only imagine the frustration and disappointment you have been feeling.

    Most of all, I hope bigger and better things are coming that you can’t even see right now. Thinking of you.

  8. alighthouseoperator April 23, 2010 at 10:37 am #

    Hey, I’ve come across your blog on IITGI and 20sb and this is just so sad to read. I can tell how much you love running. I have knee problems as well, the technical term is subluxation (meaning partial disclocation) and it’s kept me from truly embracing running, even though I really want to. Biking has been suggested for me… maybe it will work for you too? I hope everything turns out the best they can :-\

  9. Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks April 23, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    Big, collective sigh. And lots of virtual hugs to you.

    If it makes you feel any better, yesterday I saw my friend who is also supposed to run in that race. She hasn’t yet started training. And she doubts she’ll be able to run the whole thing.

    BUT … she may do it anyway. Run a little. And walk the rest. And not really worry about a finish time. So, just keep an open mind to what the doctor says. I know your heart breaks not over this one race (there are always others), but about the long-term implications of this diagnosis. Maybe walk-running can be in your future instead.

  10. Holly April 23, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    I’m sorry to hear about your knee :( Like others have suggested, maybe you can do walk-running or cycling or swimming or something else low-impact. I know it’s not the same, though! I tore my ACL about 4 years ago and the doctor told me to stop horseback riding because of it (jumping = high impact on the knee) – I love it too much to stop, so I wrap my knee before I ride and ice it after and haven’t had any *major* problems with it. I don’t jump as much anymore, I do dressage instead, but yeah. I found a way to work around it :)

  11. Rachel @ MWF Seeking BFF April 23, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    So sorry to hear about your pain! I know the frustration of not being able to run a race you’d trained for. Last year I was supposed to run a half marathon and a week before the big race my father-in-law fell ill and I missed the race to go see him. It was one of the best decisions I ever made, though at the time I wondered if maybe it was a mistake. He would probably be fine, we were probably being melodramic. He wasn’t, and we weren’t. And to this day I’m thankful for making the decision I did.

    This is all to say that in the present it can be devastating not to see something through that you’ve worked so hard for. But in the long run you’ll be glad not to have compromised your health for a race. All that said, again, I know how hard it can be in the present… Good luck!

  12. Amy --- Just A Titch April 23, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    Last summer, I was really on track for working out and losing weight and was saddled with a knee injury…I understand how painful it can be. I’m sorry you have to cope with this, friend. I’m hoping for a quick and easy solution and recovery time. Be gentle with yourself. Love you.

  13. Suburban Sweetheart April 23, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

    Oh, my dear! Please take it easy. I know it sucks to go slow & steady, but it’s the only way to ensure that you don’t do permanent damage to your body. Lots of love.

  14. Lisa from Lisa's Yarns April 23, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    Huge, massive le sigh about this. I wish I was there to give youa hug. It sucks when our bodies get in the way of something we love to do. I know it’s scary and sad to think of not running. It’s such a part of you. It’s something you enjoy. It’s your ‘drug’ in a way.

    Hang in there and keep your chin up. Maybe the run/walk will be an option for you?

    It just sucks,though. Really, really sucks.

  15. Caz April 23, 2010 at 11:14 pm #

    Oh no! This is so hard I know. You obviously need to take it easy for a while, and hopefully you can incorporate some lower impact exercise into your routine. But can you look into getting a second opinion?


    This girl was told to STOP running immediately and that she’d never be able to run again. Alas, she’s still running marathons!

    While every injury is obviously different, maybe a second opinion will at least give you more options?


  16. Her April 23, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    How disappointing! I know how much running means to you, and I’m really hoping that this is something a bit of time can heal. I’m obviously not a runner, but I understand how it feels to have to put something like that on hold.

  17. Amanda April 23, 2010 at 11:50 pm #

    :( snap crackle pop? Ouch!

  18. hannahkaty April 24, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    Hold your head up love! I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.


    Hannah Katy

  19. E.P. April 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    Oh, Nora, I’m so sorry to read this and that you are going through this now. I know how much you were looking forward to the race. It’s good that you ARE taking care of yourself, though.

    My boss in Hburg was 50 and had 5 knee replacement surgeries before I met him. He had three more while I was there. … If you can avoid stuff like that, it would be a good thing.

    Here’s to hoping you get good news on Monday and can continue to run!

  20. kilax April 24, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    Oh, Nora. I feel so bad for you. There is nothing worse for a runner than an injury… and one like this? With so many consequences down the road? I hope they discover it is not as bad as they think.

    This inspires me to get my knee checked out. It does not hurt, but it pops all the time.

  21. uberfrau April 25, 2010 at 2:53 am #

    That really sucks. I too am having knee issues and have been hobbling around with a crutch for the last three weeks-joints are overrated. Ps. have you seen a physical therapist?

  22. ria April 25, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    oh no! i’m so sorry that you have to deal with this. it’s so hard to mentally want to do something and physically not be able tol *hugs

  23. Jessica April 25, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

    Oh my god Nora. I’m so sorry!!! I can only imagine how frustrating and disappointing this is but please DO NOT push yourself. Listen to your body and take it easy.

  24. Habbala April 26, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    OMG! Nora, I know how much running means to you. Everything will totally work out. Luckily we’re young enough that we can bounce back after some down time.

  25. little miss obsessive April 26, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    :( I’m really sorry you are going through this. That sounds so frustrating not to be able to do one thing that you really love to do. I hope that you find out it is not as bad as they initially thought. Regardless, I know you will overcome this and be back running as soon as you can. Hang in there. xo

  26. Ashley D April 26, 2010 at 9:19 pm #

    I know I haven’t been the best blog friend lately, but I’m so sorry to hear about your knee troubles. I hope you got some good news today with the MRI and can get back to running soon! If not, we’ll all be here for you as you work your way through this! Hugs!

  27. Kim April 27, 2010 at 10:51 am #

    Sorry you’re going through this! Knee problems really suck the life out of a person.


  1. When Good Knees Go Bad | In It To Gym It - April 29, 2010

    […] I’m having some serious knee troubles. Possibly stress fracture (going for an MRI onApril 26th, official results on April 30th) and significant wear and tear on my right knee. If you want to read all about it, because really, it’s so fascinating, you can do so here. […]

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