Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Path Diverged

Originally, when I was thinking about this post, I was just going to talk about my ankle injury and related issues. That idea was entirely shredded when yesterday's events happened. I will still get around to updating you on my own little world, but it amazing how quickly one's issues can be put into crystal clear perspective.

More than a year ago I joined a community of runners, and I didn't even know I was doing so. It took me months before I began to reach out on this blog and other social media looking for like-minded individuals to learn from and share with, and I now find myself entrenched with all of you. Yesterday's bombing at the Boston Marathon was an attack on that very community, and I think we are all feeling the ripples more than anyone else in the world. Sure, this was an attack against my country, a city I have visited, and innocent bystanders, but it was an assault on an event that bases itself around the communal aspect of running we cherish.

People from all around the world come to Boston to do the same thing. Sure, it is Patriot Day, but many who arrive on our shores aren't here to celebrate our history; rather, they come to compete in one of runnings toughest events. We come together in one place to do one thing: run. Running is like a universal language where we speak with our legs and our times. We have shared experiences in races and training. We can look at someone at a race and know that they have done and are thinking the same things. At the beginning, we all get and chip and a bib. At the end, we all get a finisher medal. What other sport is like that? What other event can a 78 year old compete again an 18 year old? Where else can a man from Africa compete against a woman from China? I would argue, as a single event, a marathon, especially one as large and iconic as Boston, is the most important in the world.

What I am getting at is this: this attack has shaken us in a way we may truly never understand, but we can already see how powerful a community we are a part of. Just look at the immediacy of the #runforboston campaign; who else could organize something like that? Who else would simultaneously wear race shirts in memory of an event? I saw an article about our communities power in USA Today, and I couldn't be more proud! We are all feeling like our families were attacked because of how close we all feel. We can all sense what it would be like to be one of those in the videos coming to the finish line, joyous, exhausted and proud, only to immediately have reality crash down around us. We can all feel for those who have lost or will lose limbs and possibly never run again. I know I am changed, but I will not let this damper my love for running and for my community, country and fellow man/woman.

I wish I could put more of my feelings into writing, but I am just not that talented. I just hope this post is a catalyst for some thinking, and maybe it will put a bit of a positive spin on an otherwise tragic day after so much evil. Spend today counting your blessings, and take a second to look around and be happy you are here, healthy and able to do something so many others cannot.

As for me, my issues are so incomprehensibly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but in case you were wondering, I thought I would still include a bit of an update. After a bone scan towards the end of last week, I was told immediately that I have a stress fracture in my left ankle. I was told that I am not able to run for 6-8 weeks, and that I need to stay off my feet as much as possible. I don't have a cast or anything, but I still need to see an orthopedist for more information. I will probably make an appointment right after this post, but right now my ankle feels pretty good. I am just icing it, keeping it elevated, and I use crutches when I can. My job keeps me on my feet a lot, so I probably won't heal as quick as I could, but it isn't so bad.

I am just glad I decided to get the scan because I would probably have started running again if I hadn't, and I would have just made things worse. I have some mild pain killers and anti-inflammatories, but beyond that, I just need extra calcium. The big thing, and easily the most heartbreaking personally, is that I will not be able to run in the Flying Pig like I had been dreaming about and working so hard to achieve. Last week, and before Boston, I was really in bad shape emotionally, but now I am just happy to be able to get back out there eventually. Will I try for another marathon? I don't know. It was an awful lot of hard work to come up short, and maybe I am just not built to do it. Maybe I will focus on shorter races and speed? Maybe work towards sprint triathlons? Who knows, but I have plenty of time to think about it.

For now, I am just doing some weights and light stuff at home. My diet is destroyed by plenty of stress eating, and I am a bit lost without a goal or a way to get in cardio. I may be able to swim at the YMCA if my membership is still good, but it just isn't the same - I want to be out enjoying the weather I waited so patiently for. In the end, I am lucky, but this is still a bit of a personal tragedy, and I just have to figure out how to move on. We all deal with issues, but I would be tapering this week, gearing up to truly prove myself as a runner. I would finally be able to call myself a marathoner, and now I can't even run for Boston. It is hard, but I am not alone. I will cope, I will heal, and I will be back.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Tale Of An Ankle

Sometimes, as runners, we deal with injuries. Maybe it is a knee (been there) or a foot (been there, too), but now I am dealing with an ankle. I ran my first half marathon on Sunday, and my ankle had been an issue before, but now it has become something that has me on the sideline.

This is something that dates back a few weeks, and I think it is related to a previous issue with my Achilles. I don't know if I had simply subconsciously altered my form whole struggling with that, if my barefoot running just increased to dramatically, or if my minimal shoes are too worn down, but now my left ankle is shot. During the half, where I managed to finished at about 1:57, it started to hurt after the first few miles, but I just pushed through because I am stubborn. I didn't want to be that guy being carted back to the start, and I just wanted to get my finisher medal like everyone else.

As the race went on, I had an inkling that something was wrong, and I really started to feel it after I finished. By the evening, I could barely walk on it, and by Monday, I almost didn't make it to the shower in the morning. I made it to work, but I was able to get an appointment with my doctor, so I took the afternoon to get things checked out. He looked at the ankle, and judged by the location of the damage that my ankle might be broken. I got a cortisone shot, an x-ray, some painkillers and anti-inflammatories. The x-rays came back negative, but the doctor wasn't convinced, so he ordered a bone scan for today.

I just got back from part one of the scan, and I will go back in a out an hour. Hopefully I will have some answers by the end of the day, but right now I am on crutches, but I feel much better. I am not ruling out a hairline fracture of some sort, so I am glad I am getting the scan, but I am also becoming more hopeful that this is something I can recover from quickly. The key here is that I don't want to miss my marathon in May, but I am not going to push myself to do so. I am going to heal 100%, and if that happens in time to run it, then great. If not, I will just have to reassess and move on.

At this point, even if I heal in time, I will probably not be trained enough to straight up run the marathon through and through, but I'd like to at least shiw up and run/walk it. Time will tell, and today's scans will give me a lot of information. I am just going to have to keep icing, elevating, compressing and using anti-inflammatories. I will just monitor my progress and take it easy - what will be, will be!

I am still proud of myself for my half-marathon time, and endurance-wise, I was fantastic. In fact, the last 3 miles were fantastic because I had so much more left in the tank than a lot of people around me, so I was passing people left and right. If I were healthy, I can only imagine what kind of time I would have put up. This is just a step in the right direction with a little pause in my overall goals.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Farewell And A Return

Everyone faces tragedy in their lives; it is as inevitable as the sun rising or the leafs coming back in a few weeks. Regardless of inevitability, nothing can prepare you for some phone calls. This was the case, as I was teaching 2 weeks ago, and this is really the first time I have the time and mental-state to talk about it with anyone beyond those immediately affected.

With that being said, I want to start out by talking a little bit about mental illness/severe depression and my understanding of it. Most of us go throughout our days in cruise control. Somethings may take us out of our near zombie-like composure, whether it be something good or bad, but generally and in a short period of time, we are able to go right back to the way we were before. For those suffering from depression or mental illness, bad news or even any news, can put them into a downward spiral that they may not get out of.

For a friend of mine, I believe that moment happened several years ago, and he was never able to get out of it. Although my friend had support, I don't know if anything would have brought him back from his declining mental-state. No one knew how far down into darkness my friend was, and I believe this is the case for many, so when I got the call that he was gone, I was shocked. Sure, I knew there was something wrong, and that there were signs, but no one had prepared for or thought about the possibility that someone we loved would leave us.

So now, we are left wondering why? What could we have done differently? Did we do something wrong? Who is at fault? In the end, I don't think we will ever truly know, but what I do know is that I am left with a void in my life that will never be filled. I lost a great friend, and the world lost an even better person.

With all this in mind, I have now begun to refocus my individual efforts to better myself. I will continue to become better physically, but I also want to increase my mental strength and conviction. During the last few weeks, I allowed myself some slack, and my training suffered. This last week I attempted to get back into things, and I managed my first 20 mile run. Still. I could tell I wasn't as in-shape or prepared as I would. Hopefully, I can get totally back on track this week, especially in terms of my diet. This is all inconsequential in the grand scheme or things, but for my own happiness, I need the routine and normalcy. Hopefully I will be able to get back on a schedule with my blogging/writing as well. I apologize for my absence, but I am glad so many of you came looking for me; I was truly touched.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad