There is something that happens when you become a regular runner. You believe less in luck, and more in training. Run any half marathon or marathon, and train seriously for it, and you begin to believe that with the right nutrition plan, training plan, pace buddies, shoes, gear, clothing, and attention, you can control how and when you finish that race.
For about 10 years, that’s how it went for me. If I ran a bad race, it was usually on me – I either hadn’t trained enough, or hadn’t thought through the course. If I got hurt it was on me. I didn’t stretch enough, or I didn’t stop when the pain told me to. In 2009, when plantar fasciitis reared its head while I was intermittently running (and still training), I didn’t listen up and slow down, and I paid in the end, with a two year condition that only recently healed after two bouts of PT and finally, a quick surgery.
Those of you who read regularly know that I moved to London from Chicago in 2011. It was 10 weeks after surgery, and those first few weeks, months in London were tough. I was in trainers every day, and the pain was still pretty regular. By summer, it was getting better. By September, it was gone. I felt strong, and I had lost some weight, and I started to run again. It was awesome.
I ran on the common by my house, and on the road when I traveled. I ran so much when I was home in Cincinnat and Chicago at Christmas that I felt like I would never stop running again. I felt the kind of joy that I remembered from those first days of running. And so when, in mid-February, it snowed here, I felt like a kid who’d won the lottery – lucky, lucky, lucky to get to run on one of my favorite vistas – a park in snow.
I laced up my trainers and went out for a run. It was a bit squishy – a bit slid-y. A bit wet. I caught up with my brother and nephew building a snow fort, and we had a great time. I ran home, and all was well. And three hours later, I left my house to go to a Superbowl party, slipped on a patch of ice in front of my apartment, and felt my knee slam into itself in a way that wasn’t good. I held up, and held on, for a minute. Then I kept walking to the train. By midnight, mid-way through the game, I couldn’t go down the stairs without it locking up. The next day, I compounded the mistake in a pair of heels at work.
Six weeks later, I have the diagnosis. I’ve been benched for that time, icing, resting, ibuprofening away here, and it’s not gotten any better. Well, technically, that’s not true. I can now go down the stairs without flinching (but not without a rail).
I’ve managed to tear the meniscus in my knee in two places. One on the inside left, one on the center of my left knee. One would likely heal. The other, not so much. The doctor tells me that there’s an easy procedure to clean it up, a keyhole surgery where they trim down the cartilege or something and that makes it better. I’m working out the logistics of a second opinion, a schedule, and a plan.
In the meantime, I’m pondering luck. Maybe I’ve been lucky all these years to have so few injuries. Maybe I’ve been stronger, and maybe now I’m just old and out of shape. I don’t really know. I do know that this makes me want to throw things at a wall, and that’s not so good. So I’m going back to the original plan – to have one. Get a doc. Get an opinion. Get the surgery. Get back out there.
Lucky as I may have been, I never saw that patch of ice, and I had no chance to adjust. I was unlucky. It happens. So now it’s time to get to the pool, and walk while I can, and bottle the frustration of living in this lovely city which makes cycling a bit too dangerous and swimming a bit too inconvenient. The excuses will have to go for awhile, while I try to get the groove back.
Luck’s a bitch. But she’s got nothing on me, and my plan.
See you on the path….