Monday, October 31, 2011

I'm Okay

Where I left off, just about 5 months ago was disappointed, but proud of my accomplishment at the NJ Marathon, and looking forward to hard work and BQing at my second NYC Marathon, which is now just over a week away. I concluded my last post full of cautious optimism, but fairly certain that if I did the work, I would run this marathon with a sub 3:40 time.

And then, I didn't have much to say. After all, if you have nothing nice to say don't say anything, right? For quite a while, I didn't have anything nice to say. Running was HARD. I was having a really tough time recovering after 3 marathons. I constantly had little aches and pains and nagging injuries. The most frustrating part was that it was seldom the same injury two runs in a row. One day, my ankle would hurt. The next, my quadriceps. I felt like I was complaining constantly to my running group and whining to Josh all the time. I found that I was not looking forward to running and wondering if my performance in NJ meant that I had reached my peak and wasn't going to get any better from that point on. For two months, I did nothing but bitch, moan and complain. And then, at the beginning of August, I had a breakthrough. One night, everything felt good. I set out with Josh, and a few other members of Team Sasquatch to do mile repeats in Central Park. For the first time ever, I broke a 7 minute mile. I ran a 6:48. I couldn't do it a second time, but I felt fantastic. My mind and body were in synch again. I was back on track and ready to begin training hard for my Boston Qualifying race in NYC.

And then, I hit a bit of a snag. Or, rather, a snag hit me. On two wheels. Really hard.

While running with a friend on a part of the West Side Highway green way, often shared by runners and cyclists, I got struck from behind by a cyclist. I really can't even tell you what happened, it was so fast. All I know is I looked over my shoulder to see if I was clear to move to the left, and I did not see anyone. I moved and a second later, I felt a tremendous impact on the left side of my body and I was on the ground with a bicycle and a large man tumbling over me. He fell to the ground, too and I heard him land with a thud. I picked my head up and asked him if he was okay. He gave me a dirty look. I asked him again if he was okay and he just kind of looked at me and said, "I think you got it worse than I did." Only then did I look, first at my hands which seemed okay... then at my elbow, which was scraped raw and bloody, at my calf which had tire marks cut into it, and then at my knee, which was a mess. Immediately, my knee was bruised and swollen, with a deep wound that was bleeding pretty heavily.

My friend, Claire, and a few bystanders helped me to my feet, and I stood there for a moment not knowing quite what to do. Claire asked if I thought I needed to go to the hospital, but I thought I was alright. I told the cyclist and the bystanders that I was going to clean myself off in the bathroom by the ferry station, just a few yards away. A security officer saw my wounds and took me into his office where he got me antiseptic wipes, band aids and ice.

When I got home later than evening, my whole body was hurting. Still, though, I went to bed thinking, "Eh, a week or two and I'll be back on my feet and good to go." The next day, I woke up to a knee that was twice it's normal size and I could barely bend my leg at all. I went into full freak-out mode and sent Jeremy and Josh a bunch of panic-stricken texts throughout the day. Barely able to get off the couch, poor Jeremy bore the brunt of my insanity, as I was fairly helpless and terrified about the extent of the damage done to my knee. Once I could walk, a few days later, I went to the doctor who assured me that I had good range of motion, so there likely wasn't any significant damage. However, she cautioned, had the impact from the bicycle been 1/2'' to the right, I'd probably be dealing with a shattered kneecap, or other catastrophic injury.

A second doctor confirmed that I had done some damage to my meniscus, and probably had a few minor tears, which as long as they didn't cause me pain while I ran would be fine for now. While I may need to "clean it up" at some point in the future, for the time being it's okay.

I felt pretty good after that, thinking I'd make a full recovery in no time. A week later, things got worse when I woke up in the middle of the night with terrible chest pains. A trip to the ER revealed no cardiac or pulmonary issues. The doctor did a chest xray and said that in spite of the fact that there were no visible breaks, it's likely that I fractured a rib in the accident. I wasn't satisfied with that answer. Why would it just manifest itself a week later?

The knee continued to improve, but a second round of terrible chest pains sent me to the ER again, and then finally to a sports medicine specialist who diagnosed me with costochondritis - an inflammation of the cartilage in the rib cage. When I explained to the doctor that I was training for the marathon, I started to cry. Torn meniscus. Inflamed ribcage. Every breath was uncomfortable. He gave me a large dose of anti-inflammatory meds and told me that my symptoms would resolve themselves in a few weeks, and walked out. But not before smiling and telling me, "Good luck in the marathon."

And so, here I am. Six more sleeps until I run my next marathon. I will not be BQing. I will not be trying to run my best time. I will be grateful that I am running. Even with my injuries, I tried to continually remind myself that this could have been so much worse. At the end of the day, I lost a month of training. I may deal with some issues later on. But on Sunday morning, I'll still be taking my 26.2 mile running tour of New York City. Last year, as my first marathon, I had so much to prove to myself; that I could do this, that I could do this in spite of loss and doubt. This year, I have nothing to prove. I know I can do it. There will be more marathons and training cycles and mile repeats and personal bests. My feet will keep moving forward.

This year I'm just going to have fun.


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