So it happened. I finally got injured. I’ve managed to run injury-free for three years, and during the second half of the Brooklyn Half Marathon yesterday, disaster struck. I’d texted a handful of friends in the morning and said, “If I don’t make it through this race, you can have [insert item here.]” I’d even Tweeted that I was pretty confident that the next 13.1 miles of my life were going to suck.
I hadn’t wanted to run, really. But I figured that if I got up and did it, I would feel better. It was a stunning day; the course was amazing. If I was going to get the feeling back, it might well be at the Brooklyn Half.
One of my arches had been bothering me for a while — but that wasn’t extraordinary, and it didn’t bother me when I ran. It was just a familiar ache/pain — a consequence of living in a big city; walking a lot; wearing flats with little support; wearing heels that stretched in the wrong ways. A few days in supportive shoes and the nagging was typically gone.
Yesterday, however, was the day that my body had had enough.
What I’ve discovered, and tap-danced around, but refused to FULLY admit until now is that a few months of taking a toxic chemotherapy drug is actually akin to a catastrophic illness. There is no “mind-over-matter” here. There is no amount of cross-training, or light training, or weekend running that will undo the effects of that.
It will wipe out everything you’ve done for three years. It will, however, make your non-working thumb feel a whole lot better.
So. There’s that. And I have finally internalised that.
Somewhere around Mile Seven or Eight, my right foot just…gave out. I’ve never had something “give out” during a race, so that was a strange feeling.
I stopped at the Mile Nine medical tent for some ice. All I wanted was to remove my shoe from my swelling foot. At that point, I thought I might be able to walk the last few miles. But after I got back out on the course and made it to Mile Ten, I had to stop again. GAME OVER.
At least at Mile Ten, they had donut holes. Contrary to all of my healthy eating, I love donut holes. I never eat them — and I particularly love those sprinkle-encrusted ones that are impossible to find on the East Coast, but that are abundant in my parents’ town in California. But even still, give me a Munchkin any day. So while I wept, and consented to be “swept” (which is the term for when you pull out of a race, and they pick you up in a bus because you can’t finish), the medics plied me with donut holes.
This story is not that exciting. What gets marginally more exciting is that I have to get on a plane in eight hours for a whirlwind bit of travel. And when I mean whirlwind, I mean, three countries in five days; 13 hours of meetings a day; lots of walking.
How does one manage this?
One crutch. A bag with a cross-body strap instead of a rolling suitcase. Fed-exing documents in advance so I don’t have to carry them.
Hoping for the best.
I guess the thing that gets me is that I pride myself on never quitting; never giving up. I don’t think I take the easy way out of things. Admitting that I physically could not go on; being unable to even walk to the finish was humbling, frustrating, but in a way liberating.
I wear a necklace that says “no” to remember to set boundaries with people…but sometimes I think I completely forget to set boundaries with myself. I run roughshod over my own needs. I am so obsessed with being perceived as a strong woman, or, at least, as not being taken for being weak, that I manage to hurt myself, or screw up the easy stuff in efforts to get the hard stuff right.
So, no, I did not finish — contrary to my constant bragging about how I “always finish.” I did not get a medal. (The Evil Hamster of Self-Doubt in my head is gloating about that. Have I ever written about The Evil Hamster of Self-Doubt? That’s another post for another time.)
But, in the overall scheme of things, getting a medal seems small this allows me to properly rest and heal and run another day. And let’s not kid ourselves — who needs a medal and you can have donut holes?