However Long It Takes…

Hey guys! I hope everyone is having a great Tuesday.

I have had two conversations in the last few days which have severely altered my expectations for what the next few months will hold for me running wise. So far I’ve been on crutches for about six weeks, with the hope to get off soon and at least walk normally and cycle. We’ll see how that pans out, but I’ve been reasonably successful in keeping busy with other things in my life and have no cause to believe I wouldn’t continue to do so.

I do miss running, but I know it will be there whenever I can return. The thing I miss the most is running with my wife. It’s hard to explain; it’s not that I miss spending the time with her. We spend a ton of time together in our daily life. It’s that running was a chunk of our collective experience. It’s something we shared, and through that we shared joy, hope, ambition, adventure, pain, sorrow, regret, anger, frustration, vindication, exhaustion, victory, and satisfaction, and all of those things made us stronger in life. I always have the feeling that I’ve lost something or forgotten to do something, and today I finally put my finger on it: that shared experience is not part of my life right now. That’s the thing that’s missing.

Anyway, it’s a temporary condition and not the purpose of this blog, so let me redirect!

Last week I emailed the guru that’s been coaching us and asked to discuss a long term plan for my recovery. I realized that not only have I never come back to running after a several month injury, I’ve never even broken a bone before! I laid out the races which I’m signed up for and asked what he thought was possible.

This is a portion of his reply:

“I would strongly suggest not considering anything longer than a half marathon for 4 months.  You’ll be starting from zero and I’ll have you on a 6-8 week program where you’ll be running in a tight heart rate range, every run, all the time.  Not to mention, we’ll be doing 2 weeks to start with simply walking – walk/jog – slow jog before we even get to the 6-8 week period I mentioned before.”

I didn’t know he even had a plan, though obviously he’s put some thought into this. I’m glad to have some solid direction, but the timeline is longer than I had originally hoped for.

The other conversation I had was with a local running buddy who called to see how I’m doing. He has a close friend who sustained the same type of fracture as I did and in the same location. That guy is on his third hip replacement. His leg is now a full inch shorter than the other.

He tried to return to skiing too soon and broke it further, requiring screws to hold it together. When the screws backed out, he needed a bracket put in. He got an infection and a series of surgeries resulted.

That’s not a path I want to experience.

No matter how long it takes, that’s what it will take. I expect up to a year to be required to safely build to the kind of running I was doing before, and it’s worth every minute to avoid the caliber of problems which can arise later if I don’t act wisely now.

I’m looking forward to crewing Laura in some crazy adventures.

Run happy and healthy, friends.

Kynan

Advertisements

Strength Stories – Cassandra

It’s funny how happiness is less connected to events than it is to attitude. Some people are miserable despite having everything they’ve ever worked for. Some are constantly beaming sunshine in the face of hard times. It’s all in one’s outlook, and one’s outlook depends on how each and every thing in life is handled.

“A happy life consist not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.” –Helen Keller

I first heard this quote a few months ago, and I haven’t been able to shake it since. It is just undeniably true. Fighting for a purpose develops focus, determination, and toughness. Overcoming obstacles fosters pride, perspective, and humility. Through dealing with challenges and loss, a person grows. It’s not something that can be phoned in. It’s dark. It’s painful. It’s real.

Cassandra is a friend and a notoriously bubbly personality in our Auburn-to-Bay Area trail race scene. She is always smiling and cracking jokes, as she undertakes bigger and bigger challenges. She is one of the running junkies who uses races as a way to tread new ground, both on earth and in her life.

On October 15, 2012, Cassandra was diagnosed with IDC-Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, a common type of breast cancer. She has battled it ever since, undergoing chemotherapy while steadfastly refusing to compromise her lifestyle and goals. Cassandra has gone through every emotion a person can feel, and has used the challenge as a springboard to accomplish more, find love, and live life more fully.

She carved out a little time from her insanely busy schedule to give us some insight:

How did you feel at first?

Shocked. Numb. Pissed off. I found it difficult to believe that someone like me who lives a healthy lifestyle and runs long distance could be diagnosed with cancer.

Did/do you feel any sense of loss or grief?

Yes. I went through the ‘why me’ stage when I was first diagnosed. For the first five months I didn’t go public with it. I only told a small handful of people because I didn’t want to deal with the questions, pity or emotions that the questions may evoke.

What has been your lowest point emotionally?

When I realized the chemo really was going to take my long hair and my eye lashes. My long hair was part of my identity for most of my life, and to lose it felt like I was losing a part of myself.

Was there a specific turnaround moment? If so, what triggered it?

When I completed a trail half during chemo and saw all my old buddies again. I felt strong and I felt loved. I realized that I CAN live life on my terms. I went public with my diagnosis after that race in March and felt stronger for it.

Do you feel as if you are running toward something or away from something?

Both. I’m running towards the bling at the finish line (as always) and running away from my fears, leaving all the garbage behind me.

Is it difficult to maintain your determination? Are there times when you feel overwhelmed?

It is only difficult when I am not working out or running. When I am not active, my thinking gets muddled and I lose focus and perspective on everything.

Yes, there are times when I do feel overwhelmed. Right now I am trying to plan my wedding, which may be 18 months to 2 years in the future. Being this young in my diagnosis and trying to look that far ahead is quite a task for me and can be very overwhelming at times.

How do you motivate yourself? What kind of goals do you set?

I keep races on my schedule, volunteer at races and keep in contact with all my running friends. I draw off their energy and enthusiasm from their races and training. I am trying to pick up where I left off last year when I was diagnosed. Always having a race to work for keeps me training and working towards something, instead of just aimlessly running.

What or who has helped you along?

My mom, my fiance, a few close friends and RUNNING!!!!

In retrospect, what has been the hardest part?

Admitting that I have cancer.

What has been the most rewarding part?

Taking on the challenge of beating this thing.

What has brought you joy during the journey?

Having people share their stories with me about themselves or loved ones going through cancer, and finding out who my friends are and discovering that I have so many people who love me.

What have you learned about yourself and the way you handle things?

I am stronger than I even I knew. This is teaching me patience and how to rely on meditation and relaxation techniques.

What has it changed about you?

I have stopped taking things to heart. While I care about my friends, I am not changing who I am for anyone! Gone are the days where I worry about what others think about me. What other’s think of me is really none of my business. I have a life to live. I am focused more on living and getting the most out of each day. I have stopped rushing through my day and now appreciate the small things in life and believe in the song “Love Like Crazy”.

How has it affected your view of other things in your life?

I don’t take anything or anyone for granted.

Do you consider yourself a better or stronger person for having gone through the experience?

I don’t know about being a better person, but as I approach my one year mark (Oct 15) I know I am a stronger person. You can’t deal with cancer, chemo AND run an Ultra and not come out a stronger person! 

Cassandra recently completed her second 100 miler at Run De Vous here in Northern California, which is exceedingly appropriate in that the race is pretty much a gathering of friends who support each other as they all struggle to reach their goals. It is about loving the journey and living life on your own terms, with your own goals.

Life isn’t fair, and often it throws difficult things at us, but knowing that there are people in this world like Cassandra can serve as a reminder that it doesn’t have to rule you. It doesn’t have to steal your identity. You can find strength you were unaware of and deal with hardship with tenacity, hope, humor, and class.

Thank you, CC.

P.S.: I will supply her with a link to this blog, so feel free to leave any thoughts or reactions for her here.

Deja Vu!

BEERSPLOSION!!!

Ok, not quite. But I narrowly avoided one. Some of you may remember an incident which took place with one of my very first batches of homebrew, the “IPA Gone Wild”.

beersplosion

The crafty yeast threw me off with one day of showing no activity, then faked right, threw an elbow, and sunk a layup as I sprawled across the blacktop. I awoke the second morning to find my airlock clogged and launched, my clothes covered in grain bits, and my shoes and guitars soaked in an overflow brewpuddle.

That is one of the saddest words on earth. Brewpuddle.

Anyway, I transferred the batch to a larger fermenter, sopped up my own puddle of tears over the wasted beer, and the rest of the process went swimmingly. Since then I’ve done things a bit differently, mostly using a 7gal container for the primary to leave room for any rogue frenzies. However, this is the first time I’ve had two batches fermenting simultaneously, so I had to use a carboy for the second batch. Since it’s a relatively simple recipe, a Bavarian Hefeweizen, I just made the batch a tad smaller and planned to add more water later, probably just before kegging.

I checked on it just 12 hrs after boiling and it had already foamed up into the airlock and was spitting everywhere. Luckily I caught it before it blew the top off and really made a mess. I wrapped the carboy in towels to save the floor from drips, cleaned the airlock, cleared some foam, and set it up again. By that evening it had calmed down a bit, but That brew is still churning away under the surface.

That’s what I love about a glass carboy. It’s just plain cool to see bubbles and grain swirling in a yeast induced frenzy!

Anyway, crisis averted. For now…

 

 

P.S: I played around with the recipe a bit, adding freshly sliced orange, a splash of cinnamon and a few cloves into the boil during the last ten minutes or so. I likely taste it at keg time, and may drop a stick or two of cinnamon in the keg so the spicy taste grows as it ages.

Just One Blog About This Whole Injury Thing

What do you do when you’re a runner who can’t run?

You wake up excited to see what the plan has for you, then wake up a little more and grab your crutches in hopes of making it to the bathroom in darkness without impaling a cat.

You obsess over races a year away, researching and planning which lotteries to enter and which fallback races will be just as incredible.

You fill your time with more things. More guitar work, more experimental beer brewing, more movies, more texting, more reading, more friend visiting, more dog petting, more cat sparring, etc.

You work out everything you can. It all feels like substitution, but in the end it makes you a more well-rounded athlete.

You keep an eye on the big picture. You have to. The truth is that it’s a temporary condition. Whether or not there is a definite end in sight, a running injury doesn’t last forever. There are loads of people who suffer serious injuries and illnesses from which they’ll never recover, at least not to the same condition as before. If your only problem is that you can’t do one thing you love for a little while, your life is pretty damn good.

You settle into the rhythm of a journey, one in which you progress a little each day toward an eventual goal. You don’t need to live for the future; just focus on living now and one day it will lead to where you want to be.

You marvel at how incredible the human body is. It is a machine with thousands of parts working together to keep you going, and often all you need to do to repair it is to leave it alone. It repairs problems every bit as efficiently as it adapts to any task expected of it.

You pay more attention to other facets of life, because you have to. For me at least, the choice was not unlike teetering on a fence. On one side, there was complete immersion in injury. On the other, there was complete refusal to obsess. One or the other. The fact is the former reeked of self-indulgence, which is really not my style. I don’t even like it when people ask about my leg. I would much rather be productive and pour my energy into other things. I am constantly excited about running, but rarely linger on the thought that I can’t run right now.

All in all, this has been good for me. It’s given me a chance to step back and gain some perspective. Life is contrast, light and darkness, peaks and valleys, joy and sorrow, and each one illuminates its opposite. I don’t really think any of it is good or bad; the easy times make you grateful, the hard times make you strong. It’s all part of being human, which is a pretty fantastic journey in itself.