Bad, Good, Ugly

The Bad = My Shin
Or my calf. Or whatever else might be going wrong in my lower left leg. Whatever it is, it’s still a mess. I’ve felt a similar pain/weirdness before, but there’s always been something that would make it feel better — either it would ease up over the course of a walk or run or feel better after an ice bath or release after stick-ing or something. This time? Nothing. It still feels the same as it felt on Wednesday.

Of course, I’ve worked myself up into a frenzy believing it’s a stress fracture. I can’t even count how many times I’ve thought I had stress fractures over the years. (Pete probably could, because he’s heard me freak out about every single one of them.). And if I wanted to let the record speak for itself here, it would say, “Remember how not a single one of those things was a stress fracture? And how usually the doctor you saw responded to your concern with some variation on ‘BWAHAHAHA, no. You’re fine. Maybe stop googling so much?'”

It could be a bazillion things, really, and the internet is only confusing me more. I’ve done the hop test, and it doesn’t hurt…except when it does, sometimes. I’ve felt the pain go away within a few steps of walking, but I’ve also felt it come roaring back halfway down a block. And as for the whole “is the pain on the bone or along the bone?” question that some people somewhere apparently think is useful — well, if I could see into my leg, I’d have my answers by now, wouldn’t I. Is there a sore spot? Maybe. Sometimes. But way less if I move the muscles out of the way. And way more if I’ve been poking at it. This is one of those cases where having a high pain tolerance really doesn’t help.

Obviously, there’s a way to answer these questions, and it’s to see a doctor, which I’m going to do, MOM, so don’t worry. But the first appointment I could get is February 7. So until then, I’m going to act extra-paraonid and not run — and that means no Kaiser half.

It would be different if Kaiser were my A race or the end of my season; instead, it’s a bonus race I tossed in at the start. By skipping Kaiser, I lose — what? $60 and the hours I spent running some distances I would have run anyway? But if I ran Kaiser, if I made things worse, I could lose a lot more, including a chance at training for Berlin the way I want to. Getting to the marathon start healthy is my top goal for the year, and hell if I’m going to do anything in February to sabotage that.

Maybe this will turn out to be a huge overreaction. I hope it turns out to be a huge overreaction. If I’m overreacting, I’ll still get to do my triathlon group training, and I’ll still get to take all my silly Crunch classes, and, hell, maybe I’ll go sign up for the Oakland half. But if it’s not a huge overreaction, I will be so glad to have been cautious right now. So I’m going to bide my time till the 7th. I’m going to swim a lot. And I’m going to spend some time convincing myself that focusing on the big picture is never the wrong choice.

The Good = My First Solo Bike Ride
I didn’t intend to ride alone this weekend. I didn’t want to ride alone. But partway through making plans to ride with Pete, we realized a key piece of the plan was missing — namely, his bike, which was stranded at the Caltrain station from a commute last week.

So there was my choice: Girl up and ride alone, or don’t ride at all. And with running already out of the picture for a while, I was going to ride.

Riding in the park on a Sunday is an exercise in which scares me more: the kids on wheels where the road is closed to traffic or the cars in the sections of the park where they’re allowed to be. After this ride, I can say definitively: It’s the kids. But my terror actually encouraged me to ride faster — all the better to get around that [girl learning how to skateboard/guy riding his bike with his dog on a long leash/family animatedly debating directions]. I even felt comfortable enough to tack on an extra mile along the ocean, up and down the rolling hills.

Even better: For the first time, I think I understand why people like biking. For a few fleeting moments, I was able to relax and breathe and just fly. (Of course then I heard a car start and became convinced that it was going to pull out in my path and then walked across an intersection rather than turn left. But: baby steps.)

The Ugly (But Delicious) = This Spaghetti Squash Recipe
I was going to take pictures of this dinner and put it on the recipe blog, but here’s the thing: It’s one of the ugliest dinners I have ever made. I tried it in different bowls, in a variety of lighting conditions, and all of the photos were just unappetizing and sad. But it’s twice as tasty as it is ugly (which is good, because it’s really damn ugly). It’s the third time I’ve tried cooking spaghetti squash and the first time I’ve been happy with the outcome, so if you want to give it a shot, here’s the deal:

Spaghetti Squash with Mustard Butter, Broccoli, and Romanesco
1. Preheat the oven to 375. Slice the spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the pith and seeds, and drizzle olive oil in the insides.

2. Bake the squash cut-side-down for 45 minutes. Let cool until it’s comfortable to touch.

(At this point, I took an hour-long break to go to spin class. I don’t know if that helped anything, but I do know the squash was incredibly easy to handle when I got home.)

3. Using a fork, scrape the “spaghetti” strands out of the squash and into a bowl. Cover and keep warm.

(The rest of the steps are loosely adapted from this recipe)

4. In a food processor, combine 4 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, and a chopped leek (white and light green parts) or a couple of shallots.

5. In a large skillet, saute a couple of cups of whatever vegetables you have around — I used broccoli and romanesco — and then add the butter mixture to the skillet and toss everything in it until it’s nice and melted and saucy.

6. Pour the veggies and butter sauce over the spaghetti squash and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper as desired. I also remembered at the last second that the recipe had called for sun-dried tomatoes, so I chopped up a couple; the flavor was good, but I think their main benefit is having something in the dish that’s actually a color.

This is best with parmesan grated over the top and makes somewhere between four and six meal-sized servings (it remains to be seen how long it will last).

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5 thoughts on “Bad, Good, Ugly

  1. Naomi says:

    Ugh, I empathize with the lower leg pain. I had something that sounds similar in 2010. I had people telling me it was shin splints, calf strain, tarsel tunnel syndrome, etc and I feared a stress fracture too. I had a lot of ART done on it and was still able to run the Portland Marathon. Miraculously, it just went away on it’s on. I attribute it to “growing pains” – it’s takes the body awhile to adjust I guess. Hang in there – hope it works itself out!

    • Kimra says:

      Ahhh, I like success stories — thank you! If my history is any guide, the very fact that I made a doctor’s appointment might be enough to make it go away.

  2. Linda says:

    Focusing on the big picture is always the right choice. Sorry that you won’t be running this weekend but hang in there. And Googling will drive you crazy, so try to resist (says one who never follows her own advice!) Happy biking!!

  3. I’ve been there — I think I badgered my podiatrist on & off for 2 months about some sharp pains in my shin. He’d always come back with, “Can you hop on each leg without excruciating, blinding, soul-wrenching pain? Can you run farther than a quarter mile at a time? Can you tap those spots with your fingers without screaming bloody murder? Yes? IT’S NOT A STRESS FRACTURE STOP CALLING ME.” But it’s always smarter to be cautious when something’s bugging you & you don’t know what it is.

    • Kimra says:

      Ha! I was just thinking, hooray, now another doctor gets to find out what a pain in the ass I am. I’m a “tester,” meaning if something hurts, I’ll keep doing that thing over and over to see if it still hurts. So I’ll poke, and I’ll poke, and I’ll poke, and then no shit, my calf hurts because I JUST POKED AT IT ALL DAY. Smart one, that’s me.

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