Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Interruption of Injury

I’ve been watching the Olympics almost every night since they started. And while they are definitely inspiring, they are nerve-racking and exciting and heart-breaking at the same time. I’ve watched athletes with triumphant finishes and I’ve watched athletes with crushing defeats and shattered hopes. I’ve watched athletes with injuries and mistakes not make it to the finish, and my heart goes out for them.

Even though I want the US to win in everything, I can’t help but support other teams who have worked so hard to get to where they are. When the program does a spotlight on an Olympian, I start feeling like I know them and I want them to succeed.

From Liu Xiang, China’s hope for a track and field victory, to Lolo Jones who everyone knew had it in the bag, these stories broke my heart for these runners who had worked so hard only to have an injury or mistake that kept them from the gold in what should have been their finest hour.

And then I had a little mishap of my own that gave me a moment of panic and frustration last night. Not that I in any way compare to these Olympians, I don’t. But what we DO have in common is a goal of some sort that requires us to train hard, to push, to start even when we are tired, and to give it all we’ve got when the moment of truth arrives.

Tuesday morning I ran 9 miles, 4.5 with my friend Mimi, and 4.5 alone. I strategically placed Eastview (a murderous hill in Madison) in the midst of both routes so that I would have to climb it twice. The relay we are to run will have elevation similar to the hills of Eastview, and so I try to fit it in at least once a week, using Cecil Ashburn for the other hill-work day.

Even with 9 miles run already, I knew that for the relay I’d be running several times a day, and so a double or two each week would be a good idea. Jason was going to run the Cross Country Run Tuesday night, so I packed some clothes and planned to go too.

I hadn’t planned on trying to run fast, but it is hard to do when surrounded by other runners who are keeping a good pace. I gave myself a word of warning as we hit the trails. I haven’t been running trails at all, and while these are not the most difficult Huntsville has to offer, they are filled with rocks, roots, and plenty of uneven terrain.

I knew I should probably slow down, but I’d made up my mind not to let the runner behind me catch me so I ran as fast as I could, trying to watch my step as I went.

On the last mile of the run, my foot struck too close to the edge and my ankle turned inward. I yelped and corrected, still running. The pain wasn’t bad at first, just a little notification that something wasn’t right. As I ran, though, the pain increased slowing me down and letting the guy behind me pass (two guys, in fact).

By the time I finished it was throbbing. I looked for Jason trying not to panic. I wanted to cry, not from the pain, but because I didn’t have time for an injury and I had no idea if it was a bad one or not.

I told Jason and he looked at it. It had not started to swell and that was a good sign. He gave me strict orders to head home, shower, and get ice on it as fast as I could. I called my mom on the way home and she seconded his instructions. “Ice it until you feel like your bone is going to fall off,” she said.

I followed instructions and this morning my range of motion had improved. I’m icing it as I write. I’m planning to take today off, but tomorrow is Cecil Ashburn with Kristi and it has swiftly become my favorite run of the week.

Last week I ran a total of 57 miles. That is a first in the life of this running gal. I’m aiming for another 50 miler and then maybe a 40 before I begin to taper for the relay. I think this ankle will be fine, and for that I am extremely grateful!

Even though I’m no Olympian, I’ve still put a lot of time, training, effort, and hope into this race. I’m excited and I’m ready for the challenge, and whatever that brings along with it.

I think I’ll sit out any more trail running until afterward, however.

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