I signed up for Laurel Valley a few months ago, but as the time drew closer, I began to have second thoughts about the wisdom of running it when my ACL wasn't yet 100%.
First: If you've ever had any knee issues, you know that stairs are not your friends. There's A LOT of stairs at LV. Has anyone ever counted the stairs? There's no way to describe all the sets of stairs, their steepness, narrowness, slickness, never-endingness. Pictures don't do them justice, but here's some from fellow LV runner, Chris Knodel:
Second: I push myself a lot at LV. I made the mistake once of running 7:52 and so I think that I can do that again (which I haven't). If I was stubborn and pushed it this year, I would only get frustrated with the fact that I can't run like I did a year ago (or especially the year of the 7:52).
Luckily for me, the very wise Bill Keane invited me to hang out with him as he ran with Claude Sinclair at a more enjoyable pace. I would be going easy on the stairs and not pushing myself too hard.
But, the day did not go quite as planned. Claude took a really bad fall and was forced to turn back, so Bill accompanied him while I was given the job of helping sweep. That was probably the best thing that I could have done. I relaxed and enjoyed the day, met new friends, caught up with old, stopped and looked at the scenery and generally felt terrific. At an easier pace, I felt strong and fresh and really enjoyed being helpful, rather than just running for myself. Instead of coming out of LV demoralized, I felt confident for the first time in over a year.
This is Emily. I spent most of the day with her and enjoyed the experience of running with someone, rather than solo as I usually do.
Bill came back in towards the end (with a surprise hamburger) and for the first time ever, those stairs climbing up Whitewater Falls did not seem all that bad. Okay, they were bad.
But the knee did not hurt. And that's a milestone (or 35.7 of them).