A few weeks ago, I fell while running. It was the end of an 8-day stretch, which included a 15 miler, hill repeats, and some 2-a-day workouts. My body was tired and so was my brain. So I was lazy. I didn’t pick up my feet and hurtled into the asphalt full force.
I ran home on bloody knees (and hands and elbows) but was feeling okay. Then, 48h later, I ran a hilly, 10 mile race. Somewhere in mile 9, when I was pushing as hard as I could, I felt something shift in my body. And when I crossed the finish line, I could barely walk.
We hadn’t driven to the race (facepalm!), so I had to hobble back home. Uphill. We were moving so slowly, but every time I tried to run, it was like my muscles weren’t connected to my brain. My body simply would not do what I wanted it to do. Eventually, my husband ran home, got the car, and came back to collect me. At this point, I was in so much pain that I felt nauseous and dizzy.
Over the next 24h, my knee swelled up, and no amount of ice, rest, or Advil helped. So, I went to see the orthopedist. Two MRIs later, the prognosis is that my hard training and long distance running days are likely over. The meniscus tear I have will heal, but the disintegrating cartilage will not. There isn’t much left in my right knee, and arthritis is the next diagnosis when the cartilage is gone.
I have logged thousands and thousands of miles in the last 20+ years I’ve been a runner. In fact, running has been the one constant that has stuck with me through all the trauma and drama. When everything went upside down in my life, I ran. My first marriage broke up, I quit grad school, and I was hospitalized (twice). Still, I ran. Then everything went right side up again, and I also ran. I was married on the beach after my husband and I completed a marathon relay, and I was on a run when, 7 and half months pregnant, my water broke.
Running has been my companion in all of this, and it has taught me that I am stronger than I think I am. It has taught me that I have a deep reserve that I didn’t know was in me. For as long as I can remember, my mind has always told me I was weak, that I wasn’t good enough, and that I couldn’t do it, whatever “it” was. But running proved my mind wrong. Running showed me that I am strong, and I am resilient. I am powerful, and I can push through mental and physical pain and exhaustion and come out okay.
With my new diagnoses (chondromalacia, meniscus tear, full thickness chondral fissure), it’s the end of running as I’ve known it. No more marathons. No more long runs. No more hill repeats. No more track workouts. This is my new reality, and I will accept it (after a cry and a goodbye send off), and I will remain incredibly grateful for what running has brought me and who it has made me. In the words of Walt Whitman, “I am better than I thought,” thanks to running.
Some previous posts about running: