Sunday, July 29, 2007


Man I was feeling great on my run on Friday morning. I was flying along two miles from home, six miles into my 3rd eight mile run in 4 days. It wasn't even 7 o'clock yet and I had polished off two miles of hill work and thrown in a 7:55 mile. I had physical therapy for my ailing hip coming up and I wasn't due in to work til noon.

As I bestrode the roadway, I isolated the pain deep in my left hip-joint which has bedeviled me since April. Back then I did a 10-mile race in 1:16:05 (fast for me) on a concrete roadway. Since then, my hip has ached worse and worse and I had worried that now that I'm 55, maybe that was my last good race forever. A good running friend had recently suggested that I had better complete the runs that I wanted to do soon. I didn't smile as she made her pronouncement in a room filled with younger running mates.

Joking, she later said. Not so funny, I thought.

The pain was still in the deep recesses of my left hip but boy, was it better. It used to be a large pain that was difficult to manage. Now it was a tiny pain and getting better, no doubt about it.

I'd taken five days off running a few weeks ago and I had chaffed at the bit then, but I was roaring back now. I'd missed my long run for the week last Sunday when I helped A move out of town that day instead of running sixteen miles with her as we had originally planned . Sometimes real life just happens.

But this run was going to put me over 30 miles for the week and my running was going good. Chicago was in ten weeks, where I'd be trying to keep up with A as I took aim at the 3:50 barrier. Man, I was back and my training was right where it should be. I'd done two fourteens and a fifteen already and I was planning on doing Riley's Rumble Half two days hence. As I cruised along I was thinking that I'd do my twenty next weekend.

I had just gone by a pretty girl running the opposite direction which had put a spring in my step. I looked down the front of my saturated technical shirt where it lay unmoving, wetly stuck to my chest and stomach. The clinging polyester material had crept onto a ridge or two and outlined them. Hey, was that a washboard down there? Well, no, but the plaster effect wasn't highlighting a lazy American's roundly mounded belly either. Boys love sweaty images, girls hate 'em. Ewwww.

Choices. Up ahead there was a short stretch where the roadway crimped down to twenty-four feet of width with no shoulders. Being a former cop, I always think of the worst that could happen and make a plan. There was no traffic around but a car could approach me from the front while another could drive up behind me and then I'd have to blindly trust the drivers' appreciation for the constriction if I was in the lane. I took to the hard concrete sidewalk for a brief bit.

The sidewalk ended against a four foot wide intersecting strip of flat grassland that led back to the resumed shoulder of the roadway. One step onto that grassy median would propel me past the curb and back into the widened street. The W&OD Trail leading, literally, to my back yard was a quarter mile ahead.

The top surface of the grass was both short and even. It had obviously been mowed recently. I quickly surveyed it while running up on it, choosing my spot of transition. There was nothing chancey about what I was going to do.

But my left foot didn't firmly plant on level ground under a quarter inch of crushed grass as I had anticipated. There was a hidden hole down there that was the size and shape of a cereal bowl, invisible under the even top level of the grass. I stepped right into it and my foot rolled. How bad, I thought as it happened.

I staggered like I'd been shot and almost pitched forward onto my face in the asphalt beyond. I have gone down once in seven years of running, when I had tripped over something in the dark. This was a close second.

My worst foot injury ever. I knew it instantly. I had felt the adhesion around my ankle give a little bit.

I was instantly enraged.

I hadn't been careless. It was just my turn. I flung down my water bottle with an expletive, thinking instantly of Chicago. The plastic bottle burst. So much for carrying that pound of water for six miles.

I walked home with an increasing limp. It didn't hurt yet but I knew hell-to-pay was coming. How many weeks, I wondered.

I cursed a blue streak aloud. Effen this and goldang that. Bicyclists passing me undoubtedly thought I was a runner spouting particularly virulent epitaphs at them. Runners gave the crazy man a wide berth.

I wouldn't look any passerby in the eye. Limping along, I felt oddly embarrassed, like I'd done something wrong. One runner, a woman pushing a child in a stroller, asked me if I was alright. Sweet mother! In forty years maybe we will still be an extant species after all.

So... Nothing is broken. Just ruptured blood vessels. And a slightly swollen, mottled and painful foot.

It didn't feel too bad yesterday but I think that was the 800MG Motrin talkin'. I haven't taken any meds today and it hurts. Although I can walk okay (I gimp around like Chester in Gunsmoke, perhaps only David in Florida would recognize that reference), my left ankle feels weak or tired.

I'm not anxious to rush out onto the W&OD and try it out. Meanwhile my proudly noted recently-felt conditioning is emitting a whooshing sound as it flows out of my body. Arghh.

I emailed to Not Born To Run that life sucks right now. She okayed me wallowing in self-pity for awhile. But only a short while, she said.


jeanne said...

yep, very bad luck. it happens. keep taking the ibuprofen, btw. it's not just for pain, it actually reduces swelling. and KEEP OFF THAT FOOT!

Too bad about riley's rumble. I know you were looking forward to that.

life is just not fair, is it? and i wouldn't worry about getting in all the runs you want to do soon ... doncha know that life begins at 55?

RICE. It works.

Just12Finish said...

Speedy recovery Peter.

Anonymous said...

A brave runner with a bit of a limp can be oh so sexy. It's the vunerable thing, you know?

Bex said...

Hi Peter, I'm really sorry about your ankle. I know it must be very frustrating. I'm exasperated that I didn't get to do my long run yesterday b/c my head cold came back with a vengeance, and it's only been several days since I've run. And as for the crack about being older - I think I was the one that said that, and of course now I feel terrible about it. I meant it as a joke, but some things just aren't funny. So, I apologize for that.

Dori said...

Oh, Peter! I'm so sorry. The good news is that nothing's broken. Don't try to be macho and start back too soon. Follow your doctor's advice and you'll have a better recovery and be able to race well into your 70s!

Have you figured out the hip pain? It might be sciatica. Stretching may help.

Mia said...

In all my years of playing soccer, I was ALWAYS the dope that so easily rolled her ankle and would be out for more time that I could bear.

I hear ya on the rage but hang in builds character. Right? Man, I must have a lot of character...

*Sending good vibes*