Saturday’s run with the Savannah Striders started out to be promising. No wrong turns with Pat or anyone else. No 6 AM view of the wrong end of Hopecrest when we thought we were headed to Dutch Island and the turn around fountain that keeps the poor folks from viewing the rich folks houses in the exclusive island gated community. I hate fences and locked gaits. They make me feel inferior to the people that live behind them, like I am somehow a nuisance and too disgusting to be accepted as one of them. It doesn’t take much to hurt my feelings as you can tell. I am a bit of a drama queen in that department. I not only wear my heart on my sleeve, I rip it off and toss it under people’s feet so they cannot miss the hurt and pain they cause me.
The same cannot be said of physical pain. Unlike my emotional pain, which I pour out freely with a heaping serving of guilt, I tend to hide my physical pain. I’m not sure why. Maybe I view it as a sign of weakness, or maybe I just refuse to acknowledge it in the hopes I will take away its power to put an end to the things I enjoy doing.
My body has taken years of abuse, primarily from riding accidents and the lack of insurance and proper medical care. I’ve had a horse fall on me, trapping my right leg under the saddle and damaging my knee, been dragged, kicked, thrown and trampled; twisted and snapped all the metatarsal bones in my left foot and had a pair of run-a-way draft horses bounce me around between them before stomping my right hip into the concrete and running over me with the carriage.
By all means it is a miracle I am still walking, much less running and training for a half marathon.
I have been feeling pretty good the last couple of weeks, picking up my six mile run to eight miles, then nine, then one tenth mile shy of ten. This week I am determined to do eleven with no walking.
I have reached mile eight and feel my bad ankle, a result of smashing my foot into a mailbox while riding a three wheeler (who knew the ankle could swell up bigger than a grapefruit or that the single fat tire on a three wheeler has such a strong resistance to traveling in the direction you are frantically pulling it in AWAY from the brick mailbox it seems destined to destroy).
No matter how I rearrange the wrap, the ankle is not happy. I feel a sharp pain in the back of my leg, just below the calf. Too low to be the calf muscle, too high to be Achilles, or is it?
In horses, when a bandage is wrapped too tight and a horse injures a tendon, it is called a bow, because the tendon bows out noticeably. Horses are said to have high bows and low bows depending on which part of the tendon sheath is inflamed. I felt like I had a high bow.
I stopped to rub it, rewrap again and run more on my toe, then on my heel, then flat footed, but it still hurt, now less sharp, like someone punched me five inches below the insertion point of the gastrocnemius, the big muscle that makes up the calf.
I thought about thumbing a ride, but thought maybe walking would help. I didn’t want to walk. I had three miles to go to get back to the Lake where we started and all on heavily trafficked roads.
For some reason I don’t feel silly running on the side of the road, but when I walk, I feel even poorer than I already am, like people are looking at me and thinking, “poor homeless woman in the baggy ill fitting clothes. She probably can’t afford bus money.”
I think this is one reason why the bike riders wear such brilliant colored tight fitting clothes, so no one mistakes them for someone who can’t afford to own a car. If you pay $200 for a biking outfit and look good in it at the same time, you can obviously afford to take the car instead if you want to.
Yes, well, I have issues. Like I said, no matter what I do, I never feel good enough. I am not sure if I get that from my mother, my father, or from me, but it is a constant battle to keep the feelings of superiority and inferiority in check and balanced so that they do not control me and my actions toward myself and others. I suspect I am not alone in these feelings, though often I feel I am one step away from the mental asylum when I admit them in public.
Still, I can hobble. I feel the back of my leg stiffening up and cramping, so stop to stretch. It feels better. I walk and jog a few hundred feet before limping again and hoping I have not torn my Achilles.
I am hoping it is just a minor interior muscle that was strained from the tight wrap on my ankle, which tends to pop out of place where the fibula joins the ankle. It has also been known to pop out of place where it joins the knee joint. I am not sure why and can’t afford to find out, but the last time it went out of place at the knee, it took nearly eight weeks to heal and I am fearful this may be my last run and no half marathon in my future.
A runner comes up behind me and asks if I am okay. I tell him I have pulled something but it doesn’t hurt that bad. At the moment it doesn’t and I think maybe I should try to run on it again.
I do, but the pain comes back again and I tell myself to buck up and quit pushing or I may make matters worse. There is no shame in being cautious and no shame in walking the now two miles home.
When I get back I get in the truck and drive to Walmart to purchase a proper ankle brace. When I get out of the truck, I cannot put weight on my foot. A sharp pain shoots midway between calf and heel and walking is excruciatingly painful. I hobble in and buy a brace and hobble home to nurse my injuries, afraid to tell anyone.
I have signed up for the YMCA Heart of Savannah next Saturday and fear I will not recover to run in that race or any other.
I resist the urge to get depressed and say, “just my luck” and accept that God wants me to fail in life to punish me for trying my best to be good, but falling far short of the goal. I am angry at God, but he is used to it by now and largely ignores me.
I am spoiled. I want things to go as I planned. I wanted to run eleven miles and brag about it on Facebook. I wanted to run five days a week to build up my stamina and muscles and run a personal best in the 5K on Saturday so I could win a first place in my age division and make the Striders proud of how far I had come, but instead I sat on the edge of the bathtub rubbing arnica gel on the back of my lower leg, taking NSAID pain relievers and icing my leg until I nearly cry from the pain. I am not happy and realize my injured joints and fickle muscles are like my own private gate that keeps me from entering that elusive community I so wish to join, to be one of the elite athletes that make progress and improve times and distance instead of give up and feel like failures. There will be no bragging rights for me this week, but there is always next week if I can make it there with no more injuries.