Squatters Challenge: DNF

Failure and Success

I barely made it through the first week. Sometime during the final miles of my very first long run I noticed that my left knee was whining. I had slightly twisted the same knee on the Thursday run; however, it took me a few more days until I finally put my knee trouble in the context of possible injury, since the pain didn’t start until two days later.

The first long run in Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 program is six miles, but I did a little over seven instead, because I wanted a 10K time on the books for me to aspire to beat later. I also ran my fastest average pace yet and set a new PR for fastest 5K.

I don’t learn squat from nothing. I set out to do something, promise myself that I will take it easy, slow and deliberate, just as I am told, and then go head over heels, balls to the wall, fire lit under posterior, all-out, do or die. But that’s me. I can’t help myself. And most of the time, that is exactly the sort of behavior that holds me back over the — pardon the pun, long run. I am stubborn and deeply competitive with myself (when I lack proper competition). Did I mention perfectionistic tendencies and the gentle touch of OCD, perhaps a smallish dose of insanity? Yes? I thought so.

I don’t like to “live and learn”, the way I roll is “crash and burn”.

Research online and self-diagnosis led me to conclude that the MCL (medial collateral ligament) of my left knee is acting up. Time for some RICE, which is some needful knowledge I also picked up by traversing an eclectic selection of reputable medical sites and runner’s forums. RICE stands for Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Personally, I like to get RICED and add drugs to the mix, because someone has to support the pharmaceutical industry or else those poor bastids go broke (note: heavy sarcasm).

Ditched: Two Runs & A Race Weekend

I skipped two runs, including the long run, and stopped lifting weights (or the bar the weights would go on, if I had any). I didn’t go to Talladega to race either. The promised rain and thunderstorms for the weekend gave me plenty of excuses to stay home and “rice around”. Sitting under a canopy in the rain all day, peeling myself out of wet leathers and freezing my tush off, because the mercury is so lazy it won’t even climb into the 60s, is not my idea of a good time. Windy, cold, AND wet? Tempting, but I’ll pass. You’ll have to pay me to race in that shit. Seriously. Not to mention that if (when?) I wipe out, I get to fix my own crap, too. I have no sponsors, I really don’t have to show up if I don’t feel like it. That’s just one of the perks of being a member of #TeamBrokeAssRacing. I know those missing points are going to come back to haunt me, because that’s the way it works. If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all. I’m not one of those people who catch breaks. I have to earn every glossy leaf on my puny laurels. “We want… [dramatic pause] …a shrubbery!”

High Performance Rubber

I went to Fleet Feet in North Augusta, SC and had my final drive and suspension analyzed. Seems that everybody looks to the shoes first when encountering knee and foot problems. I had guessed, after reading up on the subject, that I was a mild over-pronator. WRONG! I am what the extremely helpful sales dude called a “supinator”, I under-pronate. He said it was mild, so he opted to put me in a “Neutral” shoe. He’s probably right, since I spend a lot of my time standing around bored on the outsides of my ankles.

He asked me what features I was looking for in a shoe or if I had a brand preference. I shrugged, I really didn’t know enough to be picky. He also asked me if weight was an issue, and I blurted out: “Yes. Lighter means faster!” Another guy, who was helping the lady next to me, looked up and grinned like the Cheshire Cat. I felt totally stupid at this point and added: “Not that it matters, that was the racer in me talking.” I feel myself turning a nice shade of blush. Dude smiles and nods appreciatively. We are all mad here. I’m mad, you’re mad. It’s all good.

My guy disappears to fetch his first two selections of specialized foot rubber. After trying on several pairs, I ended up with the Montrail Bajada in construction-worker orange trimmed with can-you-see-me-now neon yellow. They are the ugliest set of athletic footwear I have ever laid eyes on. But I promised myself not to be a girl about it and choose based on color or style. Function over form, please. This is, after all, a performance upgrade, not a fashion statement.

Women's Montrail Bajada

The Women's Montrail Bajada: A hybrid trail/road running shoe that is lightweight, runs a little narrow and is ugly as hell. But my feet seem to like it so far.

Fleet Feet Gets My Vote

I really enjoyed my shopping experience at Fleet Feet. I felt so out of my league walking in there carrying an old pair of sneakers of known make but unknown model, feeling like a complete poser hanging out in Running World. They made me feel welcome, listened, and wished me the best for the Palmetto Half-Marathon in April. They also didn’t flinch when I mentioned that I hate running, but jumped into it solely for enhancing my endurance. “That’s a common occurrence for athletes who are made to run or are into team sports; they tend to look at running as punishment.” He just called me an athlete, didn’t he?

Their return policy also took the stress out of the decision making process. I can bring them back, no matter, if something turns out to be less than ideal after putting some mileage on those soles. Their prices are the same as can be found online. I’m out of 7% tax by shopping locally. A markup I am more than happy to pay for this kind of service. And here I thought excellent customer service was dead in this country. They’ve earned a new customer.

Now What?

I will re-start the Squatter’s Challenge after I have determined that the shoes have remedied the knee problem. If it’s something else, I better go see the Medicine Man and stick my leg in an MRI machine before I continue. For the time being, I have sworn abstinence from Overhead Squats and Snatch Lifts, but have taken it upon myself to knock out the occasional push-up and maybe an inverted sit-up or two.

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