The second reason I was nervous was because I had eaten chicken wings and drank a beer the night before with Andrew and Jenna at Buffalo Wild Wings. My stomach does not like chicken wings and beer. My love handles, however, they need them to survive.
The third reason was because after Tanner dropped me off, I was committed to the task before me: running 10.6 miles of wooded trail from Weatherford to Garner. Get a chicken-wing-induced, three alarm stomach flip flop? Too bad. Get attacked by a wild turkey? So sad. Break both your legs, fracture your arms, get a nosebleed and pop your eyeballs out? Oh well. No cell phone. Deal with it. Finish strong!
Well, I did finish. The first four miles of the trail were fairly busy, much to my chagrin. My overly excited love handles, just happy to be out and about, were wigglin' and jigglin' and waving "Hi, y'all!" to everyone they passed. After Mile 4, the crowd started to thin out.
I had my earphones in and my audiobook playing. It was a beautiful, sunny day. (I have the sports bra tan to prove it!) Reaching Mile 5 was a little bit of a bonk moment, only because it hit me that I was less than half way to my destination. But I knew in reality I could make it at least 8 miles, so I got over it.
At about mile 8, I was lectured by a cute, old cyclist man that Tanner and I have seen frequently on the trail about how I should have brought water with me. He pretty much insisted/forced me to drink some of his water, which ended up really being a nice treat for me because I was super thirsty. He then raced off to Garner and gave Tanner, who was waiting for me at the trail head there, the same lecture.
By Mile 10 my knees were killing me, but I still felt cardiovascularly great. When I saw Tanner waiting for me at the trail head in Garner, I even found a reserve to sprint gloriously to finish. When I was done showing off, I sat down and couldn't get up. Just kidding. Sort of.
I felt great, but I haven't run since then. The pain in my left knee lingered through out the week, and after some research, I'm almost 100 percent positive that I've developed runner's knee. No, this is not a cool, sexy, svelt knee that only the elite running crowd develop. Grossly oversimplified, it's chronic pain resulting from the knee cap not tracking correctly in its groove. There are lots of potential causes listed online that could weaken support around the knee cap or cause it to travel an irregular path, and they read like a checklist of all the reasons I should not be a runner: over-pronation (my feet roll in because they have no arch), wide hips (thanks, German heritage), and poor conformation of the groove the knee cap moves in (should look like a "V", mine looks like an "L" and my kneecap has dislocated three times).
So I took this week off, and hit the trail again this evening for a 6-miler. The knee started out creeky, but didn't give me too much trouble. I'm looking into options to manage/prevent the pain as I go back up in my mileage. Because I'd like run far. Far, far away. From my love handles.