If all had gone according to plan, this would be the beginning of Week 16, my first of two taper weeks, for the Marine Corps Marathon on October 26. Unfortunately, when I dealt with some agonizing pain during my 18 miler in my hip, things had to be adjusted for my own bodily safety. I took a week of rest and when that didn’t absolve me of the pain totally, I saw a PT, who believes me to have trochanteric bursitis (my hip joints were taking a beating because I have week G.O.G.O. muscles, especially in my right hip because I have bad posture, so a big ol’ sac of fluid built up to press right on my joints and send sharp shooting pains through my leg whenever I land on that leg).

My PT taught me how to adjust the way I walk so that I wouldn’t be limping but would be utilizing my calf muscles more to push forward instead of pulling my knees up with my hip flexor. He gave me a number of short exercises to do to build up my G.O.G.O. muscles, advised me to hydrate often, rest easy, use the recumbent bike to keep up my cardio but have support for my back, and most of all, relax and trust and be patient.

This last be patient part has been the hardest. Today marks a week since I’ve seen my PT. It was rough there for a bit this week. Around Thursday it was still hurting to walk and trying to remember to walk in a way that my brain isn’t used to was mentally exhausting. I was depressed and frustrated and losing faith. I was worried about medical expenses fixing the hip, depressed that prime fall race season was passing me by, and stir-crazy that I could barely walk anywhere, much less run even a few meters.

So I don’t have very much to update in the way of physical fitness activity this week. A lot of time was spent doing this:

laying_down_readingI tried to remind myself that I often wish I could just get paid to read and that I want to read every book ever whenever I step foot inside a library or a bookshop. The forced rest time provided the perfect opportunity to stay still and read for pleasure guilt-free, kind of like when you get your wisdom teeth out. And while I love reading in bed late at night, and not running and training hard gave me a lot more energy to read at night instead of falling asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was still getting stir-crazy.

I decided I needed to find alternative activities not only to keep me busy after work, keep me feeling like I’m not a total waste of space, activities I’ve always wanted to learn how to do but running and grad school took up so much of my time after work that I never did. One of those things, especially since I don’t have calorie-burning exercise to fall back on anymore as an excuse for eating junk, is finally teaching myself how to cook food so I can eat cleaner. So on Friday night I faced my severe kitchen and grocery-shopping anxiety and looked up a few recipes that only called for 3-5 ingredients. “I can do this,” I said to myself. I checked our pantry for the basics – flour, salt, pepper, cooking oil. Communal, basic stuff. It was already there. Just keep that stocked and you’re halfway there, I learned. I bought a few things at Safeway based on the simple recipes I looked up and started with the easiest one, one that didn’t involve the oven.

Hummus and Cucumber Crostini
Hummus and Cucumber Crostini

Another thing I learned about cooking: names of recipes make them sound a lot more complicated than they actually are. This is an easy snack. I substituted in pita chips instead of bagel chips, but was excited to dress up hummus a little. Buying fresh produce always makes me nervous that I’ll forget I have it and it will go bad and I’ll have wasted not only perfectly good money but perfectly good food. So I started with buying a single cucumber – each serving of this dish uses a quarter of the cucumber so the pressure was low. After that all I did was slice it up real thin, cover my pita chips in hummus and pop the cuke slices on, drizzle it with oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. It was delicious, perhaps more delicious because I knew I had taken the initiative to add a fresh vegetable to an otherwise easy snack, and totally filling.

By Saturday, I was feeling better enough to walk a little more without wincing with every step, but I didn’t want to overdo it. It was depressing to know that Saturday was the day that my plan had called for the big 20-miler last long training run before taper time. I had so been looking forward to that final 20 miler before easing into taper to repair and rest and get excited for race day. Instead I literally have no idea at this point what I’ll be doing come October 26. I could be hiding under my covers depressed I’m not out there with the other MCMers. I could be triumphantly crossing the finish line. I could show up and have to pull off at like mile 5. Literally no idea at this point. So I just breathed, tried to relax, and enjoy the day.

On Saturday I wandered around the library a little bit and got lunch with a friend.

image_6Just wandering around libraries fills me with peace. So much information and so many worlds to be discovered right at my fingertips – for free. Libraries are truly a blessing. A friend of mine new to the area can’t believe how many libraries are within 5 minutes of our houses in Rockville. For all my grievances with my hometown area, lack of resources is something I am never not grateful for. I didn’t check anything out, since I already have 4 more library books out I’m trying to finish before their due date next week (I can always renew but with my free time I might as well gobble down some reading), but just perusing made my heart happy.

Saturday was pretty relaxing. I even went to a friend’s birthday party, where I didn’t drink for fear of dehydrating my body and not helping my injury at all, so I left pretty early. It was a strong choice. Feeling okay with myself to be able to remove myself from a situation in which I’m not having a good time (it’s hard to be the only sober person in a bar, y’all) is an important lesson to learn and take ownership of. I got to be with my friend and celebrate her birthday, but I didn’t force myself to stay so long that I just left in a bad mood.

Sunday was another gorgeous day and my roommate (who is a newly minted Half Ironman [Ironwoman?] after kicking ass in Cambridge, MD on Saturday!!) and I hobbled over with our achey bodies to a farmer’s market to “see what we could see.” We brought her dog, Mollie, who I always marvel at how well behaved and friendly and good-natured she is. The only other dog I’ve ever lived with, my own dog Monster, may he rest in peace… let’s just say his name fit. I could never have taken him to a crowded farmer’s market. Thing I love about farmer’s markets?


image_1Seriously, what’s something fun you can do with eggplants? My roommate advised me against buying them since I’m new to cooking and am trying not to overwhelm myself, and she’s not a fan of eggplants anyway. But good gosh they’re pretty to look at all on display on a pretty autumn day.

Instead, I stuck mainly to stocking up on what I know, which, based on another recipe I tried Saturday (which was delicious oh my gosh it was like pizza on puff pastry), was cherry tomatoes. I also got some mixed leafy greens and green beans. Healthy eating!

image_2Before long it was almost 3:30 which meant that it was almost time for my beloved Orioles to take on the Tigers for an attempt at the sweep in the ALDS to move on to the ALCS. The best part about this game other than the fact that we won and are going to the ALCS for the first time since I was 9 years old is that my friend and I, since we don’t even get basic TV at my house, showed up to a sports bar about a half hour before the game started and realized we were definitely probably going to have a hard time getting seated where we could see the game, as we were in stiff competition with all of the Sunday football crowds. In deep recesses of my memory I remembered there exists a little dive bar that you barely see, tucked away on a side, almost residential street on the outskirts of my neighborhood. So we tried that, with me banking on the fact that it isn’t a big named franchise and the only other time I went there it was pretty low-key and everyone seemed to know each other.

Success! We got a prime viewing spot at the bar, ate chili cheese fries (okay, not healthy), and watched the game from the agonizingly scoreless start to the big nail-biting last inning. By the end of the game we were hugging strangers and high-fiving randos. I love Orioles fans. Best fans in baseball. And I am so, so happy to see my O’s finally make a strong run in a postseason. I was 9 years old the last time they had a shot at the World Series (as their brief flirtation through the wild card in 2012 ended pretty quickly). I’ve been going to O’s games since my glove to catch fly balls was blue and intended for toddler T-ball. Who knows what will happen but it certainly is making for a way more exciting October than usual!

image_4The weekend was capped off with a horror movie as any respectable Halloween fan does all October-long. It was Oculus and it was alright. I’m not picky about my horror movies, really. If it can make me gasp or cover my eyes even briefly, I’m happy. I was left feeling a little bereft of any kind of resolution, but it was clearly intentional to leave open the possibility of a sequel. Ah well.

So I’m trying to figure out my insurance to be able to schedule a follow up appointment with PT this week, and in the mean time trying to stay aware of my posture, do my PT exercises, and most of all, keep the faith. Sometimes it feels like even if I do my PT exercises 4 times a day, if it doesn’t get me better in time to do MCM I’m just not motivated. But that’s what separates the weak from the strong. Keeping the faith and believing that things will get better even when it feels hopeless. It may not happen on my timetable, but people get better. The body heals itself. The most important thing is preventing further injury, and that’s what these exercises are all about. So Brooks, however long it takes before you can run again, do those damn exercises so you don’t end up an “ex-runner.” I’d rather only be able to run 5K’s for the rest of my life than never run again. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

So for now, relax. Balance. Strength. Patience. Trust.

Happy Monday. ❤