"Lord, thank you for letting this happen. I wish it hadn't. But, I know I'll learn something" - David Horton (side note: man, he gave best hugs at the finish line, no modern days RD's can reproduce, in fact, these days not one even pretends to try and embrace a finisher - sad times in ultrarunning)
It's been wild, and I want to slow it down. I am not kidding. I found joy in little steps. 9.5 weeks...
I think I did my first "jogging" steps Sunday morning on the Treadmill. 🤫 Don't tell my doctor. I am not supposed to for another 2 weeks at least. I went from "Whoa, unlocked brace" to going "free", starting to rebuild my lost quad and testing ACL/knee flexion. I celebrated (with friends!) 8 weeks with a 14 mile "trail half marathon" with 1700 ft of gain (though I did wear a brace there). I got a full bike rotation on the knee, and quickly got to "over 50% of healthy" on quad strength. This past week the progress seems to be firing rapidly and daily, with power walking pace closing towards my "used to", my weight training and yoga classes nearly all ok (oh, how I wish to sit on my knees though). I have a chart to follow for "doing more" now, instead of timed deadlines, and this sets me up well to chase some goals. In a way, I am grateful for this shit to have happened. It rearranged my mind, got me out of a rut of chasing ultras, again. Nothing wrong with ultras, but common, I have 20+ years and 120+ finishes! How many more do I do to feel I can? What if it's no longer important or fun? It's just become "something I know how to do, pretty much the only thing I know how to do well".
"What's the point - if I'm not finding personal satisfaction in what I'm doing" - Scott Williamson
I want a different return to running, even running long. I absolutely want to be back in the mountains, moving free, all day, doing hard and beautiful things. At the same time, I want to stay humble, with a healthy dose of "can't" on the horizon. Life's a spiral, and with every single coil, I am not necessarily going higher, but different and exactly where I need to be.
I've approached this experience (technically negative) with lots of weird gratitude, and now I'm looking forward relearning some old things, but also trying some (not quite new but surely rarely utilized) ones. I don't care for ultras (or their results, anyway) anymore. The accident is almost like a blessing in disguise. OTS happened when I got stale mentally and emotionally with ultras, piled on a lot of life's shit. After a long 6+ years lay off the racing scene, when I did get my running back, training for ultras was the only thing that popped to my mind, comfortable and "there for me to take on". While I explored fast backpacking long distances - and loved it, and succeeded with it - signing up for an ultra justified "an official return", and before I realized, I was back full speed. This ACL thing came as I got wrapped back into ultras too much (12 in a year, hey, not good!), and was "running thin" on desire anyway. I dream of hard long heavy backpacking in the mountains. Losing belly flab. No matter how many bouts of exercises I do, I can't get my HR to the point it's billed as even aerobic, yet along better. I should train for a 5k! ;)
I want to revamp the winters: no pressure for training to race, include snowshoe and cross country skiing instead, less downhill skiing (it doesn't do fitness anyway). I do want to return to downhill skiing, no season pass, to overcome the PTSD - and to finally truly do it for fun, without trying to go "double diamond" improvement. In the summers, add that scary bicycle thing. Explore Colorado on foot and by car. Have fun, not collect numbers in Ultrasignup! Slow the hell down, the years are rolling on the "other side of the hill", and I've got so much to do and see, still!
I don't have a clear end to this recovery process. You do the internet search, and the outcomes vary as much as there are people who had had similar injuries and surgeries happen to them, and that includes every single of those diligently doing the right work. You chose: it might be fully restored to capacity of doing all you ever wanted and then some - or it might snap again, or simply never feel the same, and everywhere in-between. I'm doing my part. I haven't had set-backs (yet), though I had side-steps, overdoing some things and underdoing some other (every rehab has merits). It'll likely continue like that. I'm ok with the process.
"Endurance is about trusting the invisible voice you believe in, even if nobody else does. It's not the ability to overcome pain; it's the ability to embrace it with no end in sight." - Jennifer Pharr Davis
“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” – Doris Lessing