Saturday: I rocked my 6 mile pace run. The weather was perfect (if a bit breezy), the country roads mostly ice- and snow-free, the iPod was turned up loud and I listened to my Animal Collective playlist twice over. Following my successful pace run I spent three and a half hours listening to Anna Netrebko belt out high E flats (or at least she tried to belt out high E flats; she totally biffed it a couple of times but managed to pull one out at the very end of "Spargi d'amaro pianto"1) in another live broadcast of the Met in HD (Lucia di Lammermoor) at a local movie theater. I went home, whipped up a quick dinner of green lentil soup, slammed a beer, and headed back to Ann Arbor to hear yet another vocal performance, this one by tenor Lawrence Brownlee. He totally rocked his rendition of "Ah! mes amis"2 from Donizetti's La Fille du Régiment with its monumental nine high Cs (and then he did the cabaletta again as an encore). Thus, my Saturday was a perfect day, encompassing the four things I love most, as it says in my profile: running, opera, cats (because any time I sit down on my sofa, a cat jumps on my lap, and I was watching TV while I ate my soup), and cooking.
Sunday: I set out around 10:00 am for my 13-mile long run on my favorite country road loop. I intended to maintain an easy, relaxing pace of about 9:15 per mile and for the first 8 miles I did so successfully. I had my CamelBak on for hydration and Gu for refueling. 50 minutes in I stopped for my first Gu ingestion and when I began running again I felt...a strange twinge in my right knee. Ignoring it, I pressed on, and it faded. I had been farmer-blowing constantly throughout the run (that darn cold just won't go away) and somewhere around mile 7 I executed a full-body farmer blow (I felt like I lost half my brains) which caused a chain reaction of muscle contractions that resulted in my entire torso becoming a giant mass of knots and spasms. I tried every deep-breathing singing trick in my repertoire to ease the iron band around my ribcage but nothing worked. It felt like a fist twisting in my chest. I was well past the halfway point and was determined to finish though my pace was starting to fall off, drifting past 9:30. Then like an electric shock my knee just gave out, pain like a knife slice shooting up my leg, and I screeched to a halt, hopping on my left leg, hollering, "God damn what the hell!" I walked for a little bit and then started running/limping again. I had an opportunity to cut my run short and finish with 9 miles but I thought, "NO! You're almost done, just finish the damn miles!" (I am a slave to my training schedule.)
I plodded onward, intercostal muscles and diaphragm clenching, barely able to draw a breath, knee aching, grinding my teeth together. Miles 9, 10, 11 and 12 slid past as my pace continued slipping, 10:00, 10:15, 10:30...I was finally back in town with one mile to go and I was furious. I was mad because my iPod chose to play a song I didn't particularly like and I wasn't in a position to skip it, I was mad because my face was covered with errant snot-rocket residue, I was mad because I am not used to running that slowly and I could. not. make. myself. run. faster, I was mad because only the day before I had a really great run and now I was having the suckiest run of all time, and I was mad because my damn knee was in pain and I didn't know why. I was HOT, TIRED, and IRRITATED and I just wanted the whole stupid thing to be OVER ALREADY. The instant Garmy turned over to 13.00 miles I slammed the stop button and walked the rest of the way home. Actually, "shuffled" is a more apt description of what I did.
When I finally oozed in the door the only thing I could do was rip Garmy off my wrist, the headphones out of my ears, the CamelBak from around my waist, and lean wearily against the counter. The backs of my pant legs were splattered with mud from the glop on the roads, which I hadn't noticed until then. I felt like pond scuzz. Walking was difficult; my knee was singing in pain like Netrebko's high notes from the day before. When I finally made it upstairs to take a shower, I bent over to take my socks off and something in my knee went rrrrrrrrrrrip! and crunch! and I just thought, "Oh, NO." Hearing something like Rice Krispies emanating from one's body is never a good sign.
I crawled into bed and pulled the covers over my head and just laid there for a couple of hours, feeling beat up and bone-tired. When I got up my hair was a crazy nest because I had laid down while it was still wet from my shower. My torso still ached and the first couple steps I took almost brought me down as my knee sagged underneath me. Going downstairs was agony (I started hyperventilating from the pain) and I realized that I was probably going to have to...
...GO TO THE DOCTOR.
Which I will be doing on Thursday. I haven't been to the doctor for any reason since March 2008, and that was for a sinus infection. My preferred method of dealing with the various aches and pain I suffer as a runner is to ignore them. I figure they come with the territory. This is different. This isn't a black toenail (I've got one of those, too) or DOMS or frozen fingers. I've never had any knee problems. I do not need to tell y'all that I am terrified I will hear bad news. Like, "You have a partial tear of your lateral collateral ligament and you can't run for six to eight weeks" kind of news. Which would effectively kill my plans to attempt to BQ at Cleveland. I might still be able to run Cleveland, but that's all.
One day is wonderful, the next not so much.
Oh yeah, I found a wool Michigan hat lying in the road, amazingly free of dirt and mud, and I picked it up and brought it home and washed it. John thinks this is very strange and gross. I was like, "OMG free [awesome] hat!!" As long as I washed and dried it, what's the big deal? Thoughts? Have any of you ever found something on a run that you've brought home?
1: The aria in the clip is Natalie Dessay singing, not Netrebko. On a really good day when I'm fully warmed up I can nail the high E flat at the end. It's such a fun aria to sing even without the big glory note at the end.
2: That's Juan Diego Flores, whom I saw in that production in another Met in HD broadcast last April with the aforementioned Natalie Dessay. I know the subtitles are in German, but the text isn't the point. Just listen to the man (and look at him ;) ). My god!