Thursday, May 26, 2011

Surveying my routes.

We have some friends who are crazy about games.  They have taken us through all sorts of games through the years, from Settlers of Catan (ugh!) to Dominion (one of my faves!) to Rummy Cube and even a little No Thanks.  But my favorite?  Trains, or more appropriately, Ticket to Ride.

In TTR, you start with 3-5 train routes and some colored cards that represent train cars.  As the game goes along, you collect different colored cards to build trains to your different destinations.  Managing 3 or 4 different train tracks, collecting cards, and paying attention to what trains the other players in the game are laying keeps my mind well occupied.  I'm gathering yellows so that I can get from New York to Washington DC.  I'm gathering some blues and blacks because my route from Dallas to Duluth is mostly gray- meaning that I can pick any color, as long as the points between destinations are the same color card.  But at the same time I'm  thinking of the 1 red card I'm trying to get and wondering if I should just take the wild (and thus only get 1 card during the turn, instead of two) just so I don't have to wait for the red to show up.  I'll feel relief with every route I complete, while at the same time wondering if I should take more routes to either help my ending score or completely blow it.  It taxes my brain.  There is often a point in the game when I get completely overwhelmed, when the mental effort of planning three different strategies at once gets to me.  I feel like I can't get to my turn fast enough to either pick up that just-barely-appeared needed red card or to lay the track that everyone seems to be gunning for.  I almost feel out of breath trying to hurry-hurry-hurry to get where I want to go.

This is the point I am at with this year's Ragnar Relay.  The game board looks like this: I volunteered to be team captain, so I feel like I need to watch out for everyone, keep them informed of things like getting safety vests now instead of waiting until the middle of June when the whole valley will be empty of them (well, unless you go for the construction worker Home Depot specials, which are incredible stylish out on the course!)  They need to have a headlamp and a tail light and I should probably remind them of that fact. Also, we have to look good during the daytime, so I collected orders for skirts and long running socks.  And, oh, you know, I figure our team should probably know when Ragnar suddenly changes their mileages on their runs and alters the course with a new start and finish line.  All this while trying to digest the 3+ miles Ragnar added to my route, changing it from a doable 14.9 to a "I think I'm going to pee my pants" 18.5. 

Now I feel exactly like I do when I'm playing trains.  I feel like I need to be running every second between now and June 17.  I'm supposed to be doing a few multiple runs per day; last year, I did 2 or 3 of them and felt awesome.  But I also didn't do a half-marathon 4 weeks before last year's Ragnar.  I need to be at my peak right now, doing some endurance runs each week and mixing them up with multiple run days so that I can feel without a shadow of a doubt that I am ready for Ragnar.  Which is 180 degrees from my reality.

In an effort to pretend that my knee didn't bother me that much on Saturday's run, I ran on Tuesday.  It wasn't anything fast or hard; just a slow 2 miles on the treadmill to get me moving again.  The result was an aching knee all day long yesterday which caused an ever-growing anxiety.  What do I do?  The thoughts that swirled around my mind included:

- See a doctor, who would tell me to stop doing what I need to do, the old "don't do it some more and it will feel better" idea.  Not acceptable.

- See a physical therapist.  Because somehow I think there is a magical something they can do to make my knee feel better.  But even if there is a magical thing, my insurance won't pay for any of it, so I won't go that route.

- Lay off running for a week.  Seriously?  Not do exactly what I need to be doing right now to prepare for 18 miles?  This option goes against everything inside of me.

- Change my leg with someone else.  My sweet husband has offered to trade me, but I don't know if my pride will allow it.  Last year my leg was the second shortest route; I felt like I wasn't pulling my weight as much as others, so I had purposely picked a leg this year that would help me feel like I've gotten stronger.  I also picked the leg right after Amy's so that she can hand off to me after each of her legs - something I've been looking forward to.  I just don't think I'm ready to call "uncle" just yet on my leg. 

I'm probably just thinking too much about it.  But I know I can't get through my three legs if my knee hurts like it did on Saturday.  Mentally I just can't do that again.  I do have the advantage of knowing I need to bring some ibuprofen with me to alleviate any pain I encounter (had I had one last weekend, I would have finished in a much better state.)  That is a good thing.  But waiting a week to start training is like waiting for the turn that will never, ever come, while watching everyone else in the game laying track exactly where I want to go.  It's beyond frustrating.

So I'm looking for a new strategy.  I've seen the routes that are closed to me, so I'll start collecting cards to reroute.  It might take me a little longer to get to my destination that I had thought, but I'll make every effort I can.  Which today is resting, apparently.  I'll wait to pick up my cards until Monday when hopefully things will be a little brighter.  Maybe Monday will be the day I start a streak that will get me exactly where I was supposed to go all along.  Until then, I'll sit back and watch the game impatiently, hoping I'm playing the best card in my hand.


Amy Sorensen said...

Just a thought. When I went to my PT, I paid a $30 copay every time. I think an appointment is about $50. Maybe call a few PTs and ask them how much they charge? It might be worth just even one visit. I hope I don't sound all pushy and broken-record-y, but it might be worth it if it gets you through the race. You could find out while you were there if there is a way to tape it so it feels better? I don't know.

Also, I think you can remember: you're the captain, sure, but everyone else who's running can be responsible (or not) for his/her own stuff. If the rest of us don't get what we need it'll be our fault, not yours I promise!!!

But I still think you should rest for a week. Do yoga or pilates every day to keep your muscles strong. The rest of you will be OK!


Amy Sorensen said...

ps, I'd be happy to switch legs with you if that helps. Although that last steep downhill might not be the right thing for your aching knee! Would it work if we swapped the other two legs?

Anonymous said...

We call it "trains," too. I'm pretty sure that's a cool people thing.