Saturday, August 22, 2009

mishaps, perhaps

Challenges often present themselves to us in a sort of dragged out sequence that is as surreal as a nightmare. That has been the story of my running life for the last three months or more.

Running is challenging in itself. Any number of factors make it hard sometimes to remember the energizing and enjoyable aspects of running that make it so worthwhile!

So my personal litany of woes started about two weeks after the Mississauga Marathon in May. I developed sharp pain and swelling in my left knee. My chiropractor probably correctly suspected that it is a torn meniscus. Then began my journey through the medical system to get a definitive diagnosis and that is not yet complete!

In the meantime, I've been following a conservative path of treatment including lots of rest, ice and stretching all while trying to otherwise strengthen the knee joint and maintain my level of overall strength and endurance.

In the process, I've learned that although I love playing in the water, I don't enjoy the long solo aspect of swimming as an aerobic activity. Maybe if I could swim for longer sustained periods, I'd get into what some have told me is a great meditative opportunity. I will probably never know.

I've also learned that even though I don't always carry on a long conversation with fellow runners, I very much appreciate their companionship along the run, and even more, after. And I've learned that the best support system is my running gang who encourage my journey to find answers without discouraging me from running (unlike the supposedly "best experts" who usually believe running is probably a mental disorder and running marathons outright deranged!)

Gradually, as the swelling and pain have subsided, I've begun running shorter distances again. But I've struggled with feelings that I've lost ground, that I've gained weight, that my stamina is not what I imagine it was before all this and my ability to stay motivated is dwindling away.

Weather has been a factor. Summer's heat and mugginess is upon us, leaving me feeling lethargic anyway, much more prone to want to siesta instead of running!

Finally feeling like I might be up to a longer distance (ie 20 km or so), last Sunday, I made the decision to go out on one of my longest runs since all this started. A combination of drinking too much the day before, foolishly getting a blistering sunburn on my legs, getting up too late and so missing the coolest part of the day, meant that I ran in the muggiest weather of our whole summer feeling somewhat under the weather. I ended up walking at least half of my planned route.

Oh! I almost forgot! On that miserable Sunday run, I also got bitten by a dog. A mama beagle, to be exact. Other than this bruize, no harm done. At least I'm not foaming at the mouth any more than I usually do...

Some shorter runs this past week in the cooler hours of early morning had me feeling a little better, a bit more optimistic regarding my plans and preparations for my next marathon race.

But then, to add to this comedy of errors, on Thursday afternoon this past week, in my excitement at the plan our "gang" had made to do a trail-run along a route I had not done before, I stubbed my toe on my bed! The immediate result was great chagrin over very sharp pain in my left toe! However, being as eager as I was to head out for an exciting run in new territory, I did stuff the offending toe into my shoes and headed out for my run anyway.

It was hot and steamy. It was also a little buggy, mosquitoes displaying their usual preference for my blood as opposed to some others in my company! Footing was treacherous at times and a couple of people tripped or stumbled and took a fall. It was quite the adventure. But as a sure-fire distraction from all other aches, pains and hazards, I'd highly recommend stubbing your little toe as hard as possible before a trail-run on a summer afternoon!

Feeling our efforts deserved a sweet reward after our run, we watched musicians set up for Music in the Park, as we each enjoyed a double-scoop of Kawartha's finest ice cream at "Here's the Scoop" in Brooklin. The clouds rolled up from the west for one of the most boisterous stormy nights of our summer and as we headed home, it looked to be one of the worst storms to hit south-central Ontario all summer.

When I got home, I took off the shoes and discovered to my horror that the toe was looking a little black and the foot was somewhat swollen. Knowing that not much aggressive treatment is usually done for a broken toe, I nevertheless got curious as to whether I actually had a broken toe or not.

This involved a three-hour wait in the emergency department on Friday to be seen, have the toe x-rayed, then pulled back into alignment after the most excrutiating experience of all, that of having a local anaesthetic injected into the area.

So my next question is, how long will it take for my toe to heal?

The doctor in my local Emergency Department suggested I keep my toe buddy-taped for two weeks and strongly discouraged my running for 2 weeks at least! He also figured that it would take about 6 weeks for the toe to heal.

This, from the BWH Orthopedic Trauma Service is even less encouraging!

How do I handle that? Keeping in mind here, that I plan to run the New York City Marathon in November, this is all cutting deeply into my training plans! Obviously, I have to accept whatever happens now. My trip to New York City is booked. What I'll be doing there remains to be seen!

All I can do is laugh.

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