The Bad, the Ugly, the Tearful, and the Silver Lining – Post River Bank Run

Posted: May 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

Becca, me, and Rachel - tanks, headbands, and sisterly love

This past weekend was finally the big day—the day I had been training for since the end of February, the day I actually stuck to a training schedule for, the day that has helped me get a better hold on my eating disorder, the day that has had people rallying behind me and cheering me on through the variable weather conditions—the Fifth Third River Bank Run. 25K. 15.5 miles. I had been training with my two sisters; this was going to be our big thing together. They finally turned me into a runner.

Long story short: I didn’t end up running.

Rewind to last weekend—I moved apartments. Lots of stairs, but I felt fine. In fact, I ran 9ish miles on Sunday. But my shin, knee, and calf on my right leg were bothering me. So I stretched. Then my calf got worse. But I still ran 4 miles and played a very running-intensive softball game on Wednesday night. Thursday it hurt to walk. And I mean, planting my foot to get up to walk hurt, followed by more pain when walking. I knew it was more than a tight calf. After some emergency emailing with my ACL PT inEast Lansing, he feared I had done one of two things: a strain (which involves tears in the tendons) or a stress fracture in my tibia (shin bone). Crap. What do I do? Should I run on Saturday? Questions ran through my head as I tried to get through the work day.

That night I drove back toGrand Rapidsand straight to theUrgentCareCenterfor x-rays. They came back clean—all we could see was the screw in my knee. So… what do you think? I asked the doctor. He gave me prescriptions for muscle relaxers and some Motrin/Vicodin pill for pain. Oh, and physical therapy, too. He said to take them and rest. For how long? I asked. A week or so, he said. Hmmm… I was skeptical. My studying for the AFAA Group Exercise Instructor exam taught me that all spasmy, potentially torn muscles should be rested for a few weeks. I left frustrated—at this point I almost wanted a stress fracture so I knew what was wrong and could get to work on recovering. I didn’t cash in either prescription and returned to my parents’ house in a puddle of tears.

Friday morning I went to a local physical therapist for a free consultation. I explained why I was there, what previous injuries and PT I’ve had, where it hurt, and all that jazz. She was really nice, but thought it was my lower back. Hm. Interesting. True, I’ve had low back pain for a while now, but I always thought that was just my poor posture and weak core. Turns out some of the stretches she had me do (back bends and what not) actually lessened the pain in my calf… until I started walking longer distances than just the length of the room. She didn’t think I tore anything and recommended PT and gait evaluation (someone who tapes me running, breaks down my stride and form, and helps correct it). Cool. Kinda. Again, I was frustrated. I didn’t have a clear-cut answer on whether or not I should run. But my leg was still in a lot of pain. Balls.

It’s late Friday morning and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’ve shed more tears by this point. Of frustration. Anger. Sadness. Pain. Disappointment. All the work I put in… all the stress… all the things I worked through—bad blisters, being sick, weather, knee pain… it was all going out the window 24 hours before the race. I accompanied my sisters downtown to grab our numbers and bags of goodies, just in case. Plus, I started this with them, I wasn’t going to give up no matter what. After we bought some sweet sweat-wicking headbands with witty sayings (Rachel’s: “Kick Assphalt”; Becca’s: “In my dreams I am a Kenyan”; and mine: “Shut Up and Run”), we ran into Becca’s PT. Before she left I asked if they had an office in GH because my sister loved this PT so much. No, but inHolland, she said. (Hollandis close—next town over to the South.) She intro’d me to the PT at that clinic and before I knew it I was spilling my guts about what happened, where the pain was, and what I’d been through. She sat me down, played with my legs and smiled. You’re fibular head is jammed, she said. Say what!? X-rays and two PTs working with me to no solid conclusion and she plays with my leg for two minutes and figures it out!? Amazing. God moment. Sure enough, my right shin bone wasn’t as free-moving as the other. Want me to get it out? she asks. Um, yes, please! Can you do it right now? I ask. Sure, she said. Some moving of the leg, pressure around the bones, pain behind my knee, and some grinding noises, and boom! my fibular head is dislodged with much less pain than I had anticipated. Can I run tomorrow? I ask. She shrugs, If you feel okay. Do you know how to tape it? No… so she tapes it for me, teaches me some stretches, and gives me her card. I hug her. Thank you, thank you! I instantly in less pain. Now it just genuinely feels like my calf muscle is tight and sore. Holy cow. My sisters stand in shock and awe. She fixed it? they ask. She fixed it, I said with a dumb smile.

Friday evening turns into a should-I-shouldn’t-I game. Both my sisters, bless them, entertain my thoughts and dreams of running with them. But their wisdom and better sense urges me to think long-term. Think of everything you want to do this summer. Think of wanting to teach. Think of what could happen if you do run and something happens. Neither of them said it in a I-am-mightier-and-wiser-than-thou way, but in a concerned, please-think-about-this-as-a-big-picture way. My leg did still hurt. The muscle felt like a big ball of weak-tight-spasmy-ness. It was still uncomfy to walk. Granted it was better than it was, but it still hurt. My knee ached. My quad muscles and IT band were tighter than all hell. Lace up your shoes and jog around the block, Becca told me after dinner. So I did. And though I could walk without a limp now, I couldn’t run without one. I gimped for a block or two before realizing that I couldn’t do it. Maybe, MAYBE I could gimp a 5K, but not a 25K. Not 15.5 miles. I wouldn’t do that to myself or to my sisters. I officially sidelined myself by 7pm on Friday night, a mere 12 hours before we left for the race. I cried a little more before putting on my sports bra and going in the basement. Don’t freak out, I told my mom, I’m going to lift. I need to lift. She knew I needed to. She didn’t say anything except, Go. I took half a muscle relaxer that night to sleep. Worked like a charm.

Saturday morning I woke with the anxiety and anticipation of a coach. Despite not being able to run, I told my sisters that I was going to finish this with them, and that meant still going downtown when they did. Heck, now we didn’t need to check our gear! Positive sides. Our ride downtown was uneventful and we found a parking spot pretty easily. My calf groaned, which I have to say was kind of nice because it reaffirmed my decision. We crossed streets between 5K runners (we saw a woman running in a white tutu and tshirt with a veil—she was getting married that day!) and found our way to the starting line. It was chilly (low 50s), cloudy, and drizzly. Not downright pouring, but sprinkling. My poor sisters shivered as we stood under an awning waiting for their race to start. A few pictures, tearful hugs, and some positive affirmations later, we parted. I saw them take off and shouted “You got this!” through tears. I took a few deep breaths before finding a way to meander through the crowds to meet up with my family. Thank goodness for my niece and nephew—their hand-holdings, hugs, and questions got me through the tough parts.

We cheered on 10K and 25K runners and watched the 25K winner finish in 1:15. Wowzers. All of the top finishers were these picturesque runners—thin, lean muscle machines with short shorts and tank tops. Some of the winners just had sports bras on. Bold. We positioned ourselves near the finish line and as my sisters got close I yelled out and with tears in my eyes snapped a picture of their backs as they neared the finish line. They crossed in 2:02 J I was beaming with pride. They did it. And they did it fast!

After another half of a muscle relaxer and three hours of on-and-off napping, I talked to both of my sisters. I told them how proud I was. And they both told me how proud they were of me and positive attitude. I told them both what I told everyone else and what I kept telling myself: We learn and grow and are defined by how we react to adverse situations. I already knew I wasn’t going to be able to race, so what was the point in being a whiney, tearful bitch? As soon as I DQ’d myself, it wasn’t about me, it was about my sisters. They were still running. They had done all of the training, too. The race was their moment, not mine.

The conclusion of this emotional weekend? Even though I couldn’t run, I still did it. I trained and ran distances I never thought I could. I would’ve finished. Maybe not in 2:02, but I would’ve finished under 2:20. I pushed through pain and sickness, weather and sore, tight muscles. I became a runner and I made one of the hardest decisions an athlete has to make that no one else can make from them—I had to pull myself out after all I’d been through in order to protect my future endeavors. I want to run more long races; I want to start teaching classes at the gym; I want to travel and play and be active this summer. I don’t want another surgery. I don’t want to go to PT three days a week for three months. I learned to listen to my body, even though I really, really didn’t want to and I even tried to fight it (on Friday afternoon I bought that KT tape and watched the videos on how to take up shin splints and knees). But in the end I gave in. And I’m glad I did. I don’t know if I’d be able to walk today if I didn’t.

Where does this leave me? More motivated than ever. I will be going to some PT to fix the problems I do have. I will work on stretching more. I will work on giving myself more breaks and training smarter. But I won’t back down. I won’t give up. And I won’t lose hope. Ever.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s