Well I said I'd post back here after I had a race under the belt, and I've got one, the Colorado Club Champs race up in Boulder last Saturday--only 4k long but a race nonetheless and a pretty good indicator of where stuff is at.
Initially this post started out as one of my, how shall I put this, Immediate-Post-Race-Emotional-Vomit-Rant...things. But I deleted that after I actually had time to mull it over and figure out it wasn't the end of the world (surprise!), and not even bad for that matter, and that maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to pick out the positives and--gee I dunno--actually be thankful for the outcome. I don't really know what outcome I was expecting in the first place, but I didn't really want to go into it with a "this is just a rust-buster" mentality, because I kind of feel like that's a ready-made excuse to pretty much run like crap and feel okay about it. I guess I just thought I'd pick up right where I left off, go right out there and run the race of my life and have it feel effortless like it does every time you have "the race of your life". Amazing how easy it is to forget that racing actually hurts, a totally different kind of hurt than you can give yourself from a workout. In any case, I came away with 11th place, a really hard-to-get-hunched-over-hands-on-knees-at-the-finish-line 11th place for that matter, and our team got 2nd, which I was admittedly feeling salty about.
So that said, I spent a solid 36 hours beating myself up in the following fashion:
"I didn't spend that long on the sidelines, I shouldn't have lost anything. This is inexcusable."
"I crossed-trained like a mofo, if anything I should be in better shape than before. This is inexcusable."
"I feel fat. This is inexcusable."
"Usually I'm (fill in the blank) number of seconds ahead of (fill in the blank), definitely not today. Not even close. This inexcusable."
"Usually I'm up there with (fill in the blank), but nope, not even close again. This is inexcusable."
"Umm helloooo I've done like 3 actual workouts in the last 2 months, I should be in like, PR shape right now today, this is inexcusable."
But later Taskmaster Cody presented to me the mind-boggling and radical notions that 1) You got knee surgery 12 weeks ago for s**tsakes. 2) You did, in fact, not run for a few weeks following. And this does, in fact, affect performance. 3) It was a loaded up field, and you were right up with people who are fit and ready to go.
Okay. So maybe he was just going all Dr. Phil on me in order to stem the crankiness and quell the oncoming tide of neuroticism that was rapidly impending like an inescapable wall of molten magma erupting forth from deep within the bowels of Mt. Vesuvius, threatening to engulf and destroy all in its path, leaving naught but death in its wake...but either way it did sound sort of completely sensible and rational and sound and reasonable and logical and basically like the opposite of anything that I normally come up with on my own on any given day. I was positively dazzled, and I ate it up.
And then, there is such a thing as being grateful that you're out there. Yeah yeah, I know. we've all heard it before: "It's okay that you're running like dookie*, at least you're out there!" That's not really what I'm going for here. For one, as mentioned above I am forced to concede to the fact that I'm actually not running like dookie, it's just kind of where stuff's at right now, and it's not so bad, it just needs to get better, which might not happen right now today because immediate gratification just isn't really part of the whole running thing, otherwise its popularity as a sport would be unmatched...which it clearly is not. But what I'm really getting at is that less than a third of a year ago, I felt like there was an angry little man with a pickaxe just going at it on the inside of my knee, every. Single. Run. For almost two years (how'd I even do that?!). And now it feels like nothing ever even happened, actually I think I forgot what normal even felt like. And for the record normal feels pretty neat. 3 months ago I was walking around like a peg-legged pirate, nevermind even thinking about running for 5 minutes, or even pool running for that matter. Just a few weeks ago I was pretty sure I wasn't really going to feel the same as I ever used to. And now racing on an absolute ankle-breaker of a cross country course and being back to doing what I was doing before and having no issues whatsoever? That's nothing to sneeze at...the body's a freakin' miracle. Sometimes you've really got to get off your own back, you actually are pretty ridiculously fortunate to be back at it.
So with that being said, that was a dang good starting point and there's really nowhere to go but up. And if we thought last Sunday's course was an ankle-breaker, by the sounds of things it was just a baby ankle-breaker compared to what's waiting for us in Bend for Clubs.
*If you're not sure what dookie is, refer to the following: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=dookie