The Slow Comeback
It’s time to rewind. A blog that used to be filled with stories of 20 milers, long trail runs, and 60 mile training weeks is going to look very different for a while.
Chemo is over. It’s time to run.
I have been “wogging” (I can’t honestly call this running) 4 miles most days of the week. My plan is to stay at 4 miles and increase the time I run until I’m running the entire distance.
Once again I’m reminded of how great “just” walking is. I walked as often as I could during chemo, but it wasn’t far because of the extreme fatigue. It’s taken me two full months to run half a mile without stopping, but all those weeks of walking have made me strong enough to even attempt it.
Since I finished chemo I’ve been very impatient, expecting to get back into shape within a few weeks and pick up right where I left off. It’s not going to happen. This body was beaten down pretty hard and it’s taken longer than I thought it would to return to running.
I’m okay with that. There’s no hurry. Really. I’m happy just to be moving again. Right now I don’t feel that old urge to push myself further and further. Maybe it will return one day, but for now there’s no training spreadsheet or running log calling my name.
My first goal is to run a mile without stopping. One mile seems like a million right now, but at least I’m halfway there. My next goal will be to run the full 4 miles of my daily distance, and within the next two months I hope to loop White Rock Lake (9 miles) with some walk breaks included.
Though I feel stronger every time I run, it is very, very hard to come back from being sedentary for six months. And I wasn’t just sedentary, I was being poisoned two weeks out of three from chemo drugs. It’s a serious understatement, but I’m glad that’s all over with.
One thing I noticed right off the bat when I first started running again was that I was keeping my old pace on my short run segments. I could only run for about a block before I was completely out of breath and wanted to die, but I wasn’t shuffling along. Alas, the brain remembers but the legs doth protest. It took me a few tries, but I finally figured out–just like when I first started running eight years ago–that I have to slow down to build up my distance and work on endurance first. Speed comes of its own accord.
Speaking of speed, my husband told me the other day that I have to start all over with my PR’s, as in “pre-cancer PRs” and “post-cancer PRs.” I cry foul! Nobody else has a cancer-imposed PR moratorium to deal with, so why should I? Husbands can be so irritating.
I almost always have marathon dreams a few weeks before a race. During those long months of chemo I inexplicably had recurring dreams of running in the snow. I could hear the crunch of the snow underfoot, feel the cold air on my face, and taste the overwhelming freedom of running. I have no idea why it was always snowing in those dreams, but I loved feeling that I could still run, if only in my dreams.
Now that we’re having an unusually cold winter here in north Texas (and I LOVE it), the snow has disappeared from my dreams, though I still have dreams of running effortlessly, breathing easily and without pain. Kind of like I used to.
I’m looking forward to running that way again, in real life. Soon. Very Soon.
Sometimes it’s good to take a break. Sometimes you don’t have a choice. I had meant to post this two weeks ago, but life had other plans for me.
Up until ten days ago, I didn’t run much, but I did a lot of other fun stuff.
I ran a trail marathon and got injured. I stepped in a hole and fractured my third metatarsal. It happened at mile 3 and I continued on to the finish. I was more scared of the lightning during the race than I was of damaging my foot. Apparently I don’t even have to fall down to break something.
I went to the gym and tried to workout, but I hated it. I always hate working out at the gym. I did discover, however, that I LOVE the Stairmaster. I had to stay off my foot (or wear the Ugly Boot of Shame when I didn’t), so I watched a lot of movies and knitted. Yes, I am dorky enough to knit.
I had jury duty and got picked as a juror for the first time ever. It was only for two days was a really interesting experience. My daughter came home for a short visit, and my son and his girlfriend have been living with us until he’s needed at his new job site in Brazil. I’ve loved having the twenty-something energy in the house.
I signed up for two road marathons two months apart (a first): Marine Corps and Route 66.
I drove to Ohio and back for my husband’s uncle’s funeral. We drove 18 hours straight through, and I will never do that again. I love road trips, but I do have my limits. And we almost hit a deer at 12:30am on a dark Ohio country road at the end of those 18 hours of driving, which was not a fun experience. I got to drive through parts of the country I’ve never seen before, like Kentucky and a part of Missouri.
I went camping and hiking in Utah. I went on another road trip with my son and his girlfriend, this time to the opposite side of the country. The desert southwest, which I find beautiful, seemed amazingly brown and drab after the lush greeness of the Ohio Valley. That all changed once we got to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. They are spectacularly amazing.
I hiked a death-defying trail (Angel’s Landing) that I was too chicken to hike twenty years earlier. It was a great feeling to face my fears and do the hike. The view from the top was worth it, but the hike up was the best part.
I was surprised to realize that I was still pretty strong on our hikes, despite being injured. I guess we don’t lose our conditioning as quickly as we think we will, and working out on the Stair Master really did help.
I discovered there’s no way around feeling the altitude at 8,000 feet, especially if you’re from North Texas, elevation 450. Even. Walking. Meant. I. Talked. Like. This.
Eventually, I returned to running. Coming back from an injury just plain sucks. I can’t say it any other way. It just takes time.
I’ve run two full weeks now since being given the green light by the doctor and it feels great to be back. I really missed running, especially with my friends. In all honesty, it was kind of nice to take a break, to change things up a bit, especially when it involved two road trips and spending time with my son and his girlfriend hiking in Utah.
Life really is good, my friends, and there is a lot of world out there to be played in and explored. In the meantime, it’s back to the hot, steamy, Texas asphalt for me.
Hope is a Four Letter Word
For the first time since getting sick, I feel hope. Even though last week I thought there was no way possible, I’m going to go ahead and try the Palo Duro 50K next weekend. After today’s run, I’m really looking forward to it.
Despite a lingering cough and very sore ribs, I ran last weekend. I was slow, my legs were dead, and I was as sore afterwards as if I had run twice the distance. It felt so good to run again. I ran 9 miles on Saturday with the group, and on Sunday I did an 8.6 trail run.
After the two weekend runs I felt like I had run a marathon. My legs were sore, really sore. I was amazed at how much conditioning I had lost from just two weeks of complete inactivity. On the flip side, I was still strong on the hills, especially on the short trail hills, so at least there was that. Even if my legs didn’t have a 50K’s worth of running in them, I could at least go out and see how far I got, taking a DNF if need be.
Palo Duro Canyon
I lost seven training runs during weeks 17 and 18 of a 20 week training plan. I lost 55 miles of running two weeks before the race. Never having been in this situation so close to a race, I’ve really had no idea how to salvage these last two weeks. I decided to go by feel and run a little more mileage than the training plan calls for this week, and do yoga like crazy to loosen up and gently regain some lost strength.
Yesterday I ran 6 easy miles with Liz and Hari, and this morning I did a 6 mile tempo run with Liz, Hari, and Bill. Yesterday was good, but today I felt great. Yes, the ribs still hurt, but Liz and I ran fast, and it felt amazing. I know speed doesn’t equal endurance, and I certainly won’t be the setting any speed records in Palo Duro, but it was a good enough run to give me some hope.
Even better, I saw on the race website today that there’s a 12 hour cut off. I’m pretty sure, barring a fall that cracks more ribs or something dire like that, I can finish within 12 hours. As long as I can still move my legs, I’m pretty sure I can finish.
So today I feel hope again, and am very excited about racing in Palo Duro Canyon next weekend.
50K Training, Weeks 17 and 18: Betrayal
We think we are in control. We schedule, make a plan, eat healthy, and put in the time. We pound hours of our weeks on pavement and trail, preparing for a race that will prove to ourselves that we’re almost invincible. Almost.
After 17 weeks of training and a second 26 mile trail run, the taper begins. You look forward to running only a short trail distance of 10 or 12 miles the last few Sundays before the race, and you have your first 20K trail race to look forward to as a precursor to “the real thing.” It’s all coming together.
Only sometimes your body betrays you. Your legs and mind are strong, your heart is ready for the upcoming challenge, but something goes wrong. What you thought was invincible gives in only too easily.
It has no other choice.
What starts out as asthma turns into a incessant dry cough, the kind that keeps you up at night and you find yourself running at 5:30am on two hours of sleep. You cough so much and so hard that you crack a couple of ribs, and the pain stops you in your tracks at mile 3 of an easy run. You realize you have a fever, your body is fighting back, and you forget your body’s only doing what it was made to do: protect itself.
For someone who spends the greater part of each day working their body and getting stronger, you realize how quickly everything can change. Even when the mind may be willing, you can’t always talk yourself into doing something your body can’t. If the body isn’t on board, all your plans come to a complete standstill.
It doesn’t have to be anything life threatening. It just has to be something bad enough to knock you off your feet and land you on the couch for a few weeks.
It’s not the end of the world. But it might be the end of what you’ve trained for.
MON: Rest Day – Ouch. Feeling very sore from yesterday’s 26 mile trail run, but not half as sore as I’ve felt after running a marathon. I feel such a sense of accomplishment today. Yesterday’s run was really good, and though I’m still nervous about running a 50K, for the first time my brain knows that I can do this. More than anything, I’m amazed at how much I enjoyed the run. I was very tired, and it was hard to keep running towards the end, but I did it, and I did it well. (It doesn’t mean I’m not still looking forward to the taper!)
TUE: Run – 4 mi- This was a very tough run today. Yesterday was nothing but a huge cough fest, which continued through the night until 3:30am. Since I had to get up at 4:30 to meet Bill, I essentially got no sleep. When the alarm went off I prepared a text for Bill telling him I wasn’t going to make it for the run, but decided I’d rather be running than sitting home beating myself up for missing my first run of the week. Even more alarming, all the coughing yesterday caused either a muscle pull in my abdomen or some cracked ribs! I know this is possible, I’ve cracked ribs before, and the pain made the second half of the run very painful. I will try to put some ice on the area, take Advil, try a cough suppressant, and see if anything helps.
STATS for WEEK 17 and 18: Run – 4 miles, Broken Ribs – 2, Discouragement – a lot
Running: Interrupted, or What Happened to My Motivation?
This morning I was feeling lazy. VERY lazy. I generally like to ease into my morning. I am not a morning person, but now that I don’t have to be at work at 7:00AM, and the days are mild, there’s no excuse not to get up and get my run in and get the day going.
Easier said than done.
I have already declared this to be the year of NO EXCUSES, and my friend Hari said he’s going to hold me to it. I generally prefer to run in the late afternoon/early evening. When I was working, running was always a nice way to detox from the day’s stressful events. I love my early morning long runs on Saturdays with the running group, but there’s something in me that resists starting my day with a run any day of the week except Saturday.
It seems tougher to run first thing in the morning than in the evening. I’m sure, like most things, it’s all in my head.
I finally managed to get in that 7 mile run around 10:30am (I know, I know), and it was a good marathon pace run (9:12 pace) with lots of long, gradual inclines. I was disappointed that my pace was exactly the same as last Monday’s MP run, but it did seem easier and I enjoyed it more than last week’s run.
So why do I struggle with motivation? I love running, really, I do. Why is it so hard sometimes to motivate myself to run the morning?
Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! (Sound of needle being dragged across an old, broken record)
That post was started almost a month ago, the day before my visit to the ER. It’s been sitting there, staring me in the face every time I sit down to write a new post, and the topic is even more relevant today than it was a month ago. MOTIVATION.
All I can say is, getting started is the hard part. Keeping it going is the icing on the cake.
This past month has been one trial after another. First there was the ER visit, then two weeks of broth, soup, applesauce, and mashed potatoes, and two different antibiotics that made me extremely dizzy. After two weeks of recuperation, when all the medication was gone and I was feeling stronger, I pulled a calf muscle at mile 2 on my first attempt at running. And last week, when the leg felt better, I came down with a nasty stomach flu that kept me grounded for another few days.
Cue the violins, right?
I spent most of the first part of the month beating myself up for not being able to run. My mind tried to rationalize everything, and somehow made getting sick something I could have prevented (not true) or been tough enough to run through anyway (no way). I was disappointed because my training had been going so well, and I felt like I was starting to get my speed back up to where it used to be.
When I realized it might take longer than I expected to get well again, and I might not be ready to run a marathon, I freaked out first and then got a little depressed. Piriformis syndrome and recurring ankle tendonitis derailed my plans to run the last marathon I signed up for, and I couldn’t believe it was happening again.
Then, when I pulled the calf muscle, I got mad. I hadn’t been pushing the pace at all, and I’ve never, ever had issues with my calves. Upon investigation, I discovered one of the antibiotics I had been taking causes tendon damage during and after use, and I think the medication was a factor in the pull. Argh.
Finally, when the stomach flu hit last week, after enduring two runs on a hotel treadmill after the calf muscle healed, which should have been penance enough, I let it all go and gave in. I surrendered. Out of my control. So done with the pity party.
All of this has pretty much derailed my plans of running the Eugene Marathon at the end of April, but I’m okay with it now. There’s no way I can pick up the pieces and be ready to run 26.2 miles in ten weeks. It looks like, once again, it will be a half marathon instead of the full. It’s okay, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it’s once again just not meant to be, and I’m looking forward to at least being able to run half the distance.
I’m just happy to be running again.
So this morning I got up and ran 4 miles, and it was good. Part of feeling sorry for myself has been knowing I’ve been missing out on the best weather to run in, which is winter in Texas. It makes up for all the months of summer misery. This morning was perfect, with overcast skies and a temperature of 50 degrees.
I’ve made up a new half marathon training plan for the next 10 weeks and am looking forward to running consistently again. I haven’t seen any of my running friends for a month and I miss running with them.
It feels like I’ve been quarantined from my tribe.
As for motivation, the hardest part about not being able to run for so long has been getting out of the routine. Once you miss so many runs, it’s really, really hard to get back on schedule. It’s easier to look back at everything you didn’t get done and feel defeated, but harder to leave it all behind and start over again. You can be stubborn and feel sorry for yourself for things not working out, and boo hoo about all the time you’ve missed, or you can move on and start where you left off.
That’s why making a new training plan is going to give me the motivation to keep up with my training. I’ve lost some stamina and speed, but I can still get out there and put in the miles. That’s more than a lot of people are able, or willing, to do.
And the best motivation right now: there’s nothing more satisfying than highlighting a completed run green on the training spreadsheet. I’m a real running dork that way.
A Step Back Kind of Year
Looking back on this past year of running, I realize it was a step back kind of year for me, sort of like how Stella lost her groove. While other people and blogs are celebrating running 1,000+ miles, I barely cracked 886. In retrospect, this was the year I ran less, got slower, had a few minor injuries, and overall didn’t enjoy running as much as before.
Kind of like not seeing the forest for the trees, I couldn’t see the joy because of the pain.
The year started with a marathon in Death Valley in February. Even though I was excited to be running in the desert, I barely slogged through the training. Mostly I remember my friend, Hari, dragging me on 9 mile tempo loops around the lake after work, cursing him under my breath for making me run faster than I wanted. The race in Death Valley was one of the highlights of the year, as tough as it was, and it made me realize how much more I enjoy running smaller races in scenic locations than huge marathons in big cities.
After Death Valley, however, I truly lost my running mojo. Without a new goal race in sight, with no training plan, I became untethered. I ran sporadically, making excuses for my lack of enthusiasm for all things running, and just kind of checked out for awhile. This coincided with the decision to quit teaching, and I’m sure a general lack of direction was the culprit. It was all mental, but the body didn’t have any trouble following the lead.
Then there was the summer. The summer of unrelenting heat. The summer that almost swallowed up the rest of the year. The summer that nearly killed all desire to ever run again.The hottest summer on record in Texas history.
I decided to run the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa and rounded up a few friends to go with me. We started training in June and trained right through the hottest temperatures any of us have ever run in. I avoid summer races like the plague, but a bunch of us let Steph talk us into running a 15K in July, the Too Hot to Hold. We knew it was crazy, but we ran it anyway, just for fun (and the hat and the tech shirt). We made friends with the heat for that one morning, and were surprised that it really wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. Little did we know how much worse it would get.
At first it was a game: let’s see how hot it gets before it kills us! Eventually it became nothing more than depressing. Day after day after record breaking day of temperatures too crazy high to run in, we kept on running anyway. There were days I simply couldn’t talk myself into running after dark when it was still in the 100’s, and I think I reached my temperature limit at 105 degrees. Speed work and hills were out of the question for me. It was hard enough just to raise my foot off the ground for an easy run. Long runs at 6am when the temperature was already in the 90’s made me want to cry. The summer became an ultramarathon of heat, and the finish line kept getting pushed farther and farther out of reach. There was never a break, month after month of heat, and no one complained louder than I did.
Letting the heat get to me led to wildly inconsistent training, which probably caused two minor injuries that plagued me until the end of the year: ankle tendonitis and piriformis syndrome. One week I would pull it together and run 35 miles, the next I could barely rouse myself to run 10. The ankle tendonitis is an old friend, greeting me whenever I ramp up the miles too fast, kind of like shin splints. The piriformis was a completely new ailment, and reminded me a lot of plantar fasciitis because of its tenacity in holding on.
In the end, I decided to run only the half in Tulsa, which was a good decision for me. The weather was cold, the race somewhat small, and I ran the entire 13 miles with Heather, and with Bill, Hari, and Liz always close by. Afterwards, I felt as if I had been kissed by the running prince, waking me up from a long slumber of running malaise. I don’t know if it was running in the cold, running only a half marathon, or running with my friends, but suddenly I looked forward to running again.
The piriformis pain was still an issue, though, and I decided to start doing yoga again to see if that helped. I had done yoga almost daily years ago before I started running, and it was my favorite part of the day. It was the same this time as well. I do yoga almost every morning now, and sometimes after a run. It’s made a huge difference in alleviating sore muscles, I don’t feel as stiff in the mornings, and I feel more relaxed–and stronger–in general. I also realized this week, for the first time in months, that I hadn’t thought about my piriformis once during or after my last 10 mile run, and that it no longer hurt.
Yesterday I ran the Bold in the Cold half marathon in Grapevine with around 13 of my running friends. Heather, Hari, and I had already decided that it would be a training run for us, so we kept it at training pace for most of the race. At mile 7, though, at the top of a hill, I suddenly felt great, and Hari and I stepped up the pace for a few miles. It was good to know I still had some speed in my legs, and I loved that feeling of flow that only comes when you run fast.
Next up: the Eugene Marathon at the end of April. It looks like there will be a Dallas invasion for the marathon, and I am so excited. For the first time in a very long time, I’m actually looking forward to training for and running another marathon. I’m determined not to let the heat get to me this spring.
Looking back, it wasn’t that bad of a year after all. There were challenges, but nothing I couldn’t handle. This summer may have turned me into a madwoman, but we all suffered through it together, and it made us that much tougher. I got to run a marathon in my favorite setting, the desert, and I rediscovered the benefits of yoga.
Even though it was a step back kind of year overall, it eventually led me to a renewed excitement about running and reminded me why I run in the first place: because I love it, and because it’s what I do. Nothing more, nothing less than that.
Route 66: Counting Down to “Only” the Half Marathon
Usually, five days before a marathon, I’m a mess. I’m checking the weather forecast every hour, obsessing over every slight twinge in my legs and feet, worrying about what to pack, wondering if I could’ve done anything differently in my training, not feeling like I’ve done enough, and having marathon nightmare dreams in my sleep. This time, since I’ve had to switch to the half marathon due to injuries, I keep having to remind myself that I’m actually running a race on Sunday.
What a difference minus 13.1 miles makes.
Running a half marathon when you’ve trained for a full is strange. I feel relaxed and not worried, knowing I won’t be alone. My plan is to help pace the friends I’ve trained with through the first 13 miles of their marathon, then I’ll peel off to the finish line and be done with my “race.” I’m not going to push the pace and race with the bum ankle and sore piriformis, and will try to stay with everyone around a 9:30 pace–which is about what we usually keep on our long runs.
Still, thirteen miles is nothing to sneeze at. Once you’ve run a few marathons you start to think in terms of “only” a half marathon. Ultra-marathoners probably say the same about marathons. It’s not snobbishness, it’s just that when you consistently do really long runs, half the mileage you’re training for really does seem like an “only.”
I can’t even say that I actually enjoy running marathons. They’re hard, really hard. And long. I think I prefer the training, especially the group long runs, to the race. At least that’s been my experience so far. I do feel an incredible sense of accomplishment when I’m done, and I love the total experience, no matter how miserable I am the last six miles, but I wouldn’t use the words “enjoy” and “marathon” in the same sentence.
Maybe this is because of the way I tend to race. Usually when I run a race of any distance, I start out too fast and try to hold on. Sometimes it works, usually it doesn’t. This time, I’m looking forward to keeping a somewhat comfortable pace for half the distance I’ve trained for.
Who knows, maybe I’ll actually enjoy the race this time because of it–even if it is “only” the half marathon.
After a strangely tough 16 miler on Friday, I woke up Saturday morning with a very sore left ankle. Again.
Tendonitis above the inside ankle has been a recurring problem of mine for years. I even had it years ago when the only exercise I did was walking and yoga, so I know it’s not solely a running thing. Sometimes I get it when I ramp up the miles too quickly–kind of like shinsplints–and sometimes it flares up when something else hurts and I change my gait.
Which is what happened on Friday.
I got busy during the week and missed a run, so I decided to make it up on Thursday night, the night before the 16 miler. Dumb idea. Usually 5 miles the night before a long run wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but for some reason this week it was.
The second half of the run I started to feel my right piriformis muscle aching all the way down into my hamstring. It got so bad I felt like I was almost limping the last few miles of the run and I think this affected my gait. My ankle was fine until the next morning, and I was surprised at how tender it was.
So much for wanting to run on Sunday. Or Monday.
This is why we RICE.
Stats: 16 miles @ 9:42 pace
A Short Vacation from Running
8/27/11 – 15 MILES
Last Saturday’s The Most I’ve Ever Walked in a Long Run run, combined with this never ending heat, broke me. My nagging tendonitis worsened and I decided to take a Short Vacation from Running to get rid of it once and for all. Our record breaking temperatures continued and I barely left the house all week. Tuesday rolled around, then Wednesday, then Thursday, and not a day did I run. I’ve run long enough to know that a week off won’t significantly impact my marathon training, and might actually do some good.
I was right. Even though I still had some soreness above my left ankle, I had a good 15 mile long run. We decided to start at 5:30AM, 30 minutes earlier than usual, to stay out of the sun as much as possible. It was a good tactic and we all ran much better than last week. Bill and I resolved to keep our pace slower at the start so we wouldn’t crash and burn the last few miles like we have been doing. It’s taken us all summer to figure this out the hard way, but we really do have to slow down more than usual when the temperatures
There was a tiny sliver of moon in the sky, which meant it was a dark start to the run. Even though it was projected to be 79 degrees at the start, it was 84 when we started and fairly humid, and we were drenched by the time we got down to the lake.
Our route took us the reverse of an old DRC route we used to run, but we still had the privilege of running up through Lakewood and down Swiss. I’ll take running down Swiss, as opposed to that long, gradual slog uphill, any day. Next we ran through ‘da hood’ over to McKinney and Turtle Creek, then through everybody’s personal favorite, Highland Park, aka The Bubble– scene of many hassles in the past from the HP police because they demanded we run on the sidewalks, not the street, stalking us in their police SUV’s, and generally looking and acting like they didn’t have enough to keep them busy other than hassling predawn runners. (I only mention this because their behavior really was quite ridiculous.)
I needed a good run and I got it. Genevieve, Bill, and Heather really kept me going. I celebrated with an ice cold 9AM beer afterwards–a first for me.
For the rest of Saturday I was pretty much wiped out. I tried to nap but, as usual, it just didn’t happen. Later that night, as I rolled over in bed, I was aware that my quads were sore. Really sore. Like I-just-ran-a-race sore. This surprised me since we had purposely kept the pace very conservative. Sunday I hobbled around and realized my week off did have some repercussions, and my sore quads were the small price I paid. I used it as a good excuse to spend the day lounging on the couch with my Kindle.
The tendonitis, however, is gone. I only wish I had spent my Short Vacation from Running someplace a little more scenic, a little more beachy, and a lot less hot.
Stats: 15 miles @ 9:56 pace – 84 degrees and humid at the start
Tire Tracks and a Sore Back
Every runner has stories to tell about falling down. Sometimes they’re spectacular, like cracking a few ribs on a trail run in the Tetons, and sometimes they’re minor, like tripping over an uneven sidewalk. None of them are fun. Falling down as an adult, from a higher elevation than childhood, just plain hurts. In my own experience running with groups of friends, women seem to fall more than men. I don’t know why this is (and it has nothing to do with women talking more than men because I have several male friends who can out-talk any woman on a run, honest). Speaking for myself, my knees have seen many Bandaids, and they have since I was a kid.
Worst of all, my favorite white tech shirt had tire marks from the road that made me look like a truck had run right over my chest. I even had a tire mark from the pavement where my face hit.
Like the unstoppable (or is that stubborn?) woman that I am, we continued on and ran the 9 mile loop. I wore my tire-track shirt and bloody knee with pride around the lake, and got a few sympathetic looks from other runners. My head stopped hurting, I made sure to drink lots of water and monitor my jaw as I ran, and we finished our run. Poor Hari felt somehow responsible, and I toyed with the idea of guilting him into post-run dark chocolate reparations, but it was no one’s fault.
A few days later my back started to ache, just below the shoulder blade. It wasn’t severe, but enough to be irritating when I stood or sat for long periods of time. I did get quite a few sympathy back massages from Michael, who kept telling me a good massage would fix the problem, but I just couldn’t seem to shake the pain. I moved stiffly around my classroom, and after two weeks I felt like I was a million years old.
I finally went to the doctor, who took a few x-rays, told me no ribs were cracked, gave me a muscle relaxer and an anti-inflammatory, and told me to curtail all physical activity for the weekend. The pain moved down to my lower back and up to my neck so I decided to stop running completely until it went away. Not surprisingly, taking some time off was exactly what my back needed.
In the past, not running for three weeks would be cause for a total meltdown in my life. Maybe it’s a sign of running maturity, but I made my peace with the situation and didn’t fight taking time off. An injury coinciding with the last two weeks of school was actually perfect timing, since I was too tired at the end of the day anyway to do much more than stretch out on the couch and feel sorry for myself. I guess it was a blessing in disguise.