Submitted by Rush 6/14/2022
Folks, don't ever play high school football. My senior year, the fall of '84, late in the season at practice, I was tackled from behind in such a way that it drove my left knee hard into the sod. I immediately felt a burning sting around the inside of of the knee, just under the kneecap. I hobbled back to the huddle and coach Tolley asked if I was ok. Told him my knee was burning like I'd never felt it do. That night my knee swelled up like a balloon. I went to a sports clinic in Asheville where they drew fluid off and through a series of painful manipulations, diagnosed me with a torn medial meniscus. I had no idea what that meant. I recall spending maybe a week in a knee brace, maybe some time on crutches. I'm pretty sure I played again before the season ended.
Fast forward 20 odd years and I started running the year I turned 40, progressing through 5k, 10K, half-marathon, marathon, and then into ultra distances. The knee almost never bothers me other than two instances that share some common characteristics.
In June, 2014, my friend Ken asked if I wanted to run the Rhododendron 10K in Bakersville. I put him off as I was focusing on my first 50K in the fall. A few days before the race, Ken pinged me again offering to pick me up and do the driving. I agreed and I ended up winning our age group in what was the NC Track Club road 10K championship. The race ended down a short steep drive, with a hard left turn and a 50 yard sprint to the finish. Rain had fallen during the race, the asphalt was just a little slick and I felt my knee open up pivoting in that left turn. That race was on June 21. In my running log on 7/9/2014, there is a note, "I think I hurt my knee at the Rhodo 10K." By early August, my notes say the knee is feeling much better.
Fast forward to late April, 2022. I haven't done an event in 2 years due to COVID, but the numbers are looking better so I morning-of register for our local spring 5K. I've been doing 25-40 mpw for 2 years but no specific 5k training. Likewise I've transitioned all my running off of hard surfaces. I made myself lay back until the last 3/4 of a mile which finished on a long gradual uphill then a sharp left hand turn to the finish. I noticed my knee throbbing after the race and it's been bothering me ever since.
Now, at age 55, its definitely slower to heal and for the first time I've had moments where my knee felt like it was locking up. I don't know if I have some floating debris or what but it's annoying. Some of my hip & core exercises seem to aggravate it, too. So I should probably stay off of it for a couple of weeks and see if it will heal up. Irritating as my recent stint of PT really helped my hip and I've been having some good runs. I'm asking myself, "would you rather run 100 miles or 100 years?"
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