Saturday, March 18, 2006

Crappy shoes, poison oak, and a wannabe NCAA B-ball player

Today was a much better day. I felt 100% with all the rest I've been getting. I had my fill of pancakes for breakfast, and, after I digested, I set out for a canyon run. Rain was in the forecast but the sun was brightly dominating over the diminishing thunderheads. The weather was a calm 58. Plus, I had downloaded a new mix on my Shuffle so I was all set. I put on my lighter pair of running shoes that I use for racing. I've only worn them a dozen of times since I do most of my training in my tried-and-true, supportive Brooks Adrenaline shoes. Alas, this blessed pair had been mistakenly left at lab. Determined to run despite this setback, I laced up my racing flats and set out. This was to be the beginning of my demise.

I ran on the dirt trail that led through the Rose Canyon. The trail was packed from the rain we had received the night before. Perfect. I settled into a pace and relaxed, enjoying the green, flowering view of the canyon, replete with rain. The smell of some sweet, unamed flower filled the air, mixed with wet eucalyptus and grass. I hadn't planned on running very far but I was enjoying myself so much, I decided to reach the end of the path before turning back, which would be a 5-6 mile round-trip run. No sweat. I'd take it slow.

Right before the end of the path, I glanced to my left and discovered a sign to an adjacent canyon, the Marian Bear Park. Delighted with my new discovery, I darted over the train tracks at the bottom and began on the narrow, dirt trail to explore this new territory. About 15 paces down the trail, I halted. The rain had stimulated new growth on the bushy branches, which reached my waist and nearly covered the path. Gray and dry, I had mistakenly thought these sticks were dead. However, catching sight of the new leaves, I gasped. Three-leaved clusters glistened with their deadly oil in their evil bright greens and red. Poison oak.

This species had plagued me as a girl. I had never-ending cycles of poison oak allergies, leaving scars all over my body. I had poision oak and chicken pox in conjunction during the final week of 6th grade. I used to be so allergic, I had to take steroids to prevent my airway passages from closing. I didn't even have to touch it to get it. If it was a breezy day, and I was sweaty (sort of like today), all I had to do was linger near enough to the plant to spot it, and it was too late. Oh, and the sticks are still thickly contaminated with the deadly poisonous oils. I carefully backed up, trying not to touch a thing. I was about 3 miles from home. It would be at least 30 minutes before I could get home and try to no avail to wash the poison from my legs. I don't remember touching it today but I was certainly VERY close. In my past experience, this would have been enough to receive a whopping rash. I guess we'll find out now if my immune system built up any sort of defense to this irritant, and if my body remembers one of its arch-nemeses.

As I headed home, it was about this time my knee began to hurt. It had been aching on the left side of the knee during the run but I had ignored it, figuring it was stiffness. Heading back, it began to get worse. And worse. Stabbing pain shot through my entire knee, causing me to limp. I limped to a walk and stretched a bit. After 15 steps, the pain came back. I tried running on grass. No use. I tried walking for a few minutes. Nope. I had to walk the entire way back. God, that sucked. To keep my pulse up, I swung my arms, tightened my abs and glutes, and fast-walked the whole way back, looking like an idiot. I checked my pulse: 130. Not bad. At least I got a cardio workout in.

My knee felt a little better when I got home and washed up. I have been following March Madness a little, and it made me nostalgic for my glory days on the court in high school. I grabbed my ball and headed for the park adjacent to the apartment. I stunk it up on the court for the next 40 minutes but it was way fun. Every now and then, I get a basket, and it was elating. Funny, how such a little thing like watching a basketball swish through the basket fills me with such satisfaction. My legs and arms started quivering so I decided to head back. I had underestimated how much shooting hoops would take out of me. It had been about 10 years or so since I'd even been on a court. It was really fun but a lot harder than I imagined. Talk about plyometrics! I know I'm supposed to do those things on the track and skip rope and jump up stairs and do jumping jacks to build up explosive power but with all the other things I have going on, I just never do. This was something I wanted to do, and it was all about explosive power. I tried to rebound every ball I missed, which really upped the workout anty. Anyway, it was so much fun. Maybe Jason will join me next time, and we can suck it up on the court together.

After going home and taking a shower, I laid down for a deep coma-like nap. I woke up feeling well-rested but unable to walk or move my left leg sideways. My knee hurt SO bad! I promptly took 2 Advil and put an ice pack on it. It feels much better now but I don't think the b-ball was such a good idea. I may have pushed it. I'll have to focus on biking and swimming for the next few days. Doesn't matter. I'm so out of shape, it may be good to be limited to fewer activities.

I know what the problem is: my shoes. They suck. Not enough support. I won't do that again. Every time I have ever bought a pair of shoes different from Brooks Adrenaline, I have gotten a knee injury. Well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Duh. Guess I'm paying the price. After last week's race, I had a deep-tissue massage Monday, and my IT bands were unusually tight. I know my IT band is acting up. I totally know what I have to do. Number 1: wear the right shoes. Number 2: no more slacking on the stretching. Number 3: Be consistent with the right type of weight lifting, especially hip abductors (outer hips) and quads. Guess I learned my lesson. Again.

Hopefully, tomorrow, my knee won't be a balloon, and I won't be itching all over.


Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Sorry to hear about the knee and the poison oak sighting. I hope you escaped unscathed. I have a cousin who was highly allergic to poison ivy and it seemed we could traipse through the same trails with me never getting a welt and she ending up simply covered!

BTW, I'm a Brooks Adrenaline gal, myself!

Cliff said...


I know about the shoe situation..i have that too. They discontinue my shoe and I can't find them anywhere. Do u watch Sienfield. There is one episode where Elaine has to go to every pharmacy store to scour for a discontinued birth control pill that she takes. Anyway, she find it and she bought all of it...that's one big box....hmm i guess I should do the same thing wiht my shoes :D..

jameson said...

yeah... i hear you about the shoes. i have a new pair of racing flat that i have worn a couple of times that i am not sure about. i used that at a track workout and the next day i could feel shin splints coming on. so i started icing my shins in the evenings and have not worn the shoes since. no more shin splints.

it's all about the shoes!

Anonymous said...

Trail running is awesome. I went out yesterday in the face of looming rain as well (bike ride). Hope your knee is better. Last year, I was on a 4 mile run at Venice Beach after an ocean swim. Around 100 yards into the run, my knee had a dull ache. I should have stopped right there. Around 2 miles into the run, I got a pain that said: "Dude, uh, you're soooo walking back." Turned out my shoes were worn. I could swim and cycle, but I couldn't run for 3 weeks. Advil, ice, rest, and some physical therapy on my IT band got me going again along with new shoes.

Fizzgig said...

You poor thing, poison oak and chicken pox at the same time? I couldn't imagine!!!!
My allergy to poison ivy isn't nearly as bad as it was when I was younger, I use to get covered, now I get it here and there, and it's easy to control. Good luck!!!

Erin Nicole said...

my chiropractor is working hard on my ITB every time i'm in there. he gave me some good stretches and i was able to conquer a 10 mile run saturday with no knee pain!

i'm also a strong believer in perscription orthotics. my podiatrist gave me some and said it will benefit any running shoe i buy. my asics gt-2100's are wonderful, but the orthotics make them that much better.