I went to the doctor yesterday--a sports medicine specialist--and the news wasn't great but, then again, it wasn't awful either. No tears, at least not that could be seen by X-ray. I have a condition called petello-femoral pain syndrome. This means the cartilage under my kneecap has been damaged, likely from overuse/overload. I need to rest right now and not run. I go for a re-check in three weeks and will also do some physical therapy at my workplace--University Hospitals Case Medical Center.
I went to Solon on Sunday, wearing a knee brace, and went out with the group hoping to get in 6 miles. I lasted only 200 yards before my knee became painful again and I had to walk back to my car. I then drove home feeling sorry for myself, as I'm still doing now. This is quite a fall for a guy who was logging 100-mile weeks, felt like a badass and was on track to break 18 hours at Mohican before my knee gave out on me.
It all makes sense now why this has happened. I was going at a breakneck pace all winter and into the spring. I about killed myself in December and January training for the Winter Buckeye Trail 50K, with a goal of winning it (which I did) while most runners had reduced their mileage and were enjoying downtime as they prepared for the upcoming spring racing season.
In February, I pulled back a bit to prepare for the March ramp-up for Mohican--a good thing. Then in March, April, May and early June, I was putting in 100-mile weeks, all while running PRs/all-out at the Spring Classic Half Marathon in April, the Cleveland Marathon on May 18, Blossom Time a week after Cleveland (I did the Blossom course three times that day, including once all-out), and then the Mohican 100 less than a month later. I never allowed myself any adequate recovery between those races, while at the same time not getting enough sleep after we had Noah. I was tired and so my joints took a beating as I continued to log 100-mile weeks with compromised strength.
It was arrogance. I thought I was immune from a breakdown because I considered myself indestructible. I mean, look at the title of this blog and that says it all..."no limits ever." I guess there are limits.
Now I'm paying the price for overdoing it--a bad knee. It's every runner's nightmare.
I am praying that rest and ice therapy will clear up the problem, allowing me to return to running and eventually racing of the marathon and ultramarathon variety. When I do return, I will do so gradually, spending a lot of time on softer surfaces and slowly building my mileage back up. If this means 20-30 miles a week for a few weeks as I restart, with some cross-training mixed in (especially cycling with my new Marin hybrid bike), I can live with that. That's better than the zero miles a week I'm currently logging. I'm going to try not to exceed 70 miles per week for the rest of 2008 and into early 2009 and will avoid speedwork until I'm back to 100 percent.
The Buckeye Trail 50K and certainly the Burning River 100 are now crossed off my 2008 race schedule. I am hoping to do the Columbus Marathon in October, but I seriously doubt a PR or even a sub-3-hour time there will be possible. I will likely pass on the JFK 50, too, and forget about the trans-Ohio run in November. My next ultra (not including 50Ks, which I don't consider ultras; they're just races over 26.2 miles) may be the Burning River 100 next August.
This sucks. I'm depressed and full of anxiety and worry. I'm mad at myself for overdoing it. I'm questioning whether my running days--at least my days of training at a high level--are over. Maybe I'm just a guy who had a decent run in 2007-2008 and then flamed out, only to be relegated to some has-been 5K runner.