Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pitiful Pre-race Paranoia and a Terrible Tumble

It's now five days until the big day, marathon day.  It's the day I've been training for since Thanksgiving.  I've put in the miles.  I've done the long runs.  I've recovered from Runners' Knee with PT.  Now there's nothing to do but wait, rest, pray, watch the weather, and try to stay healthy until the race.  It all sounds so simple, doesn't it?

I floated around blissfully on Cloud 9 for several days after the Berry Half Marathon.  My knees were a little bit sore (shame on me for not stretching better after the race), but I knew I had two easy weeks ahead of me.  For some crazy reason, last Thursday morning I decided to go running around the neighborhood instead of running on the Silver Comet like I always do.  Turns out, that was a big mistake.

I didn't worry about speed as I started off.  I knew that I would be doing hills on this run, plus I needed to do some easy recovery running.  My plan was to run 8 miles that morning.  At about mile 4, I head up a steep hill, one that used to cause me to stop and walk every time.  That morning, however, I proudly bound up the hill without slowing a bit.  Just over the top of the hill was a speed hump.  Somehow my right foot underestimated the extra lift needed to clear the height of the hump.  I knew I was about to fall.  Instinctively, my right hand shot out to protect my knee from getting the worst of it.  With a hurt knee, I knew my race aspirations were done for.  My eyes were very close to my hand as I fell, so I could see them press the ground and then bend at an angle that I knew they were not meant to reach.  I felt like I was watching a Barbie doll whose fingers can bend in very wrong ways.  Even though my fingers broke the fall somewhat, I still hit pretty hard.

In a state of semi-consciousness, I lay there, sprawled across the street, taking mental inventory of my body.  Intuitively, I knew that I needed to move off the road, but I was not sure I could.  Finally, I made an effort and stood.  Even though I could see that my knee was bloody, I felt a small sense of relief that I could stand and even walk.  My hand, however, was in severe pain and I was almost a mile away from home.  I started walking and then I started running, trying to reach home to get my hand on ice.

Lots of swelling the day after the fall
As soon as I got in the door, my husband could tell something was wrong.  When he saw my hand and knee, he darted off to get some ice.  I had held off crying up until that point, but the pain and swelling was becoming severe.  I checked myself out and found that I had cuts and scrapes on my shoulder, elbow, knee, and both wrists.  My fingers started swelling a whole lot, and I started crying.  It was more than just from pain.  It was also from frustration over what I had done to myself.

By mid-day, I made another unpleasant discovery.  I was coming down with an unprecedented second cold of the year.  The tell-tale signs were there: a stuffy nose, chills, and extreme tiredness.  Emotionally, I took an extreme downhill turn.  Not only was it going to be hard to do normal things with only one hand, things like brushing teeth, washing hair, dressing, eating, etc., but also I was too tired to do any of it anyway.

...and gorilla knuckles!

Over the weekend, I was supposed to attend a 2-day choir retreat where a world-renowned director was coaching us.  I only made it to part of one day before I realized I did not have the energy to do more.  Everyone who saw my hand was alarmed, and many thought I should go immediately to the hospital.  It was all too much for me, so I went home and slept a whole bunch.

Today, five days after the fall and the cold, I am doing much better.  I am able to use my right fingers to type this note, and the swelling has gone down a whole bunch.  My hand ranges in color from blue and green to a lovely shade of yellow.  My knee still aches a bit, but I think I'll manage.

Five days after the fall

I do know there will be other races if this one does not turn out well.  It's just been a hard several days.  Now, I just wait and pray and watch weather and obsess, knowing that all I will do my best, and I will be proud of myself for undertaking this crazy mission.


  1. WOW your fingers were swollen! Are you sure you didn't break anything? Ouch. I'm glad you're starting to feel better, but I can certainly understand your hesitance toward the marathon. It's intimidating enough to run without a cold or a swollen hand or a bum knee. But I've got a feeling you're going to do just fine. You're a tough runner and you've put in some solid miles. If the going gets tough, just remember, "continual forward motion." Doesn't have to be fast!

    Hopefully you can see the irony of the speed bump slowing you down though... ;)

    And, did the choir director happen to be Joseph Martin? Just curious.

  2. I really like that mantra of "continual forward motion." It's either going to go great, or somewhere in the second half I will fall apart. Either way, I'm sure it will be an experience I remember!

    The director's name was Don Neuen. He started work under Robert Shaw way back. Here's his bio: http://donneuen.com/. He's a fiend for diction, and he made us work very hard. Our concert, in which the ASO accompanied us, was Sunday night. I had to miss the whole thing! I heard it turned out really well. This Spring, we are doing Hadyn's Creation. I sure hate when the things I love all happen too close together. This too often seems to be the case.