Referenced song lyric from the above tune, "Fools Gold" by the Stone Roses, a longtime playlist favorite on the iPod when I do solo long runs. The hill the band is walking down at the beginning bears a strong resemblance to the section of slick rock where I doomed myself for Boston.
So, there you have it. This was the blog post I didn't really want to write. It's taken a few days to process the news-I was in shock and didn't know what to think at first. Then I had a good cry about it. My trail running form used to be an awkward, hot mess. I started working in earnest at improving last year, and ran/worked with a friend regularly who offered some invaluable unofficial coaching that helped get me to a totally different place with my running. I used to flop and fall on trails all the time but never wound up with more than trail rash, or the hand puncture at Imogene ("it's just a flesh wound!"...this seems like a time to bust out some Monty Python). If I was going to get the phone call I did-the office manager actually said "It's kind of a mess in there (your ankle)" before launching into the list of injuries-it seems like it should have happened then, not now.
I could list off all the ligaments, but the long and short of it is that I've torn three of them, and also have what is called a marrow edema, or bruising/swelling of bones in the foot and ankle related to the ankle roll and fall. I suspected I was going to get less than excellent news because the thing still hurts and has minor swelling, but had NO idea that my pro-running doc's office would be relaying the message that "she really, REALLY does not want you running Boston, and not at all right now because of the damage you could do." She had said that if there was any way at all to have me go without risking further injury, we'd work toward that goal, but it was a total no-go.
On the slight upside, two of the tendoms appear to be partial tears. We're still waiting for her to talk to the radiologist because of a discrepancy in the report (I guess there have been some wonky reports coming back due to glitches in the voice-activated transcription software they use). One of the tendons is reported as a full tear in one place in the report, and partial in another. It doesn't matter, though-it would not change the bottom line that I will not be running the 2011 Boston marathon, and have not been able to run since I took the spill.
As I said in the previous post, I cannot say enough how much it's helped to have a soft place to land with empathetic friends and family, and fellow runners who have been there and done that, or know how they'd feel in my shoes. When I threw the bad news up on Facebook (since most folks who were wondering my results seem to reside there), it was of the "drive-by" variety. Kind of a cut-and-dried "I won't be running Boston in 2011" and saying I tore three ligaments. I was totally overwhelmed, though, by the ensuing onslaught of comments, and emails and messages from people with medical expertise, offering suggestions, or just general motivation about taking care of the injury now. Again, I almost felt a little sheepish because this is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. Still, Boston was my thing. Qualifying motivated me when I first laced up a pair of running shoes in late 2006. Getting there last year was an amazing experience. This year was to be the "run for time" after the run for fun year. Sometimes things just don't work out as planned, though. One of the previously unplanned good things to come out of this...
I did something I would not have done if Boston had not become a DNS. The day I heard the news, I was supposed to have a dance class but a)several people couldn't make class and b)I'm not really supposed to be doing anything weight-bearing, even modified cross training, until the swelling is all gone. So, it turned into a night of hanging out with the dance ladies.
None of them run, so I try to not be "running running marathon running marathon blah blah blah" all the time. I save that for the blog, hehe. They were SO incredibly supportive, though, and when I mentioned something joking about "Maybe I should use my guaranteed entry time from The Other Half to get into the New York City Marathon after all," this turned into a full-fledged campaign on their part to get me to register.
The more I thought about it, I HAVE wanted to run NYC all along. It just seemed like a bit much to do two major big-city marathons in one year. Still, the opportunity to run as a qualified runner at New York City was so appealing. For those who are unfamiliar, most people enter NYC via a lottery system, or by a system for local runners in which you run nine NY Road Runners races and volunteer at two. The other way to get in, though, is by time qualifying. They accept half marathon and full marathon times, and the standard is tougher than what it takes to get into Boston. I needed a 1:37 at The Other Half Marathon in Moab last fall, and had a dream race with all factors coming together, making that standard with 33 seconds to spare. Fellow area runner Kevin O'B, AKA "Blue Earth," has run New York City several times as a time-qualified runner (neat article and action shot here from our local paper about him). His excitement and enthusiasm for it absolutely sold me on what I already thought would be a great experience in running through all five boroughs of the city.
Time-qualfied runners also get to start ahead of the majority of the field, and are the closest runners to the elites...we're sort of the "regional class to sub-elite" range. And, I barely qualified for that bunch, but it doesn't matter. I'm in. Or, I've applied, anyway. I still have to wait for them to verify my time, but The Other Half is a USATF certified course with my time published in the online results, so it should just be a matter of a week or two before I get official word.
For now, it's "hurry up and wait." I did use the bike trainer a few times this week but was strongly advised to cut that out for now. According to the doc's office, I'm not even ready for physical therapy, but when I go she is sending me to the awesome local guy I saw the only other time I had a minor injury that needed some work. He and his wife met on the track team at BYU, where she was an all-American, and he's right off the riverfront trail where I do a lot of my running. He's out at tons of the running events (I saw him standing on a guardrail, cheering on runners at the Rim Rock Marathon over the Colorado National Monument in November). His wife was one of our Team Tiara/Girls on the Run charity team coaches when I first fundraised for GOTR, and did my last 20-miler with me before my first marathon in 2008. So, I trust he'll recommend stuff and have me do the kinds of things that will get me back and stronger than ever. Kind of nice to be RIGHT THERE where I run, too, and focus on getting healthy, and back out there running eventually. His injuries website is an excellent resource, by the way, for those of you dealing with injuries. Check it out. His other website, "The Better Runner" (here) has a lot of cool stuff about strengthening and cross-training, too.
For now, I'm going to focus on getting healthy, and not let myself get down in the dumps all the time about not running Boston. I'm sure I'll visit the dump a few times in the coming weeks, but I'm going to try to look at this as a small price to pay to get back into running sooner. It's not worth risking long term health just for one race. It could be kind of fun to be a race cheerleader for the short-term, too. I HAVE already run the Boston course. I'll still be going because it's all paid for, so I won't be longingly wishing I knew what it felt like to race there. I know a bunch of guys and girls who will be there, and they're gonna need support. So, that'll be my gig until I'm cleared to run again. Until then, I'm going to have to adopt the Deena Kastor approach as she went through a period of injury down-time and cross training in the training cycle just prior to her first major marathon win. Sometimes the moments that challenge us, define us. It's just up to me to be optimistic, and give my body proper time to rest and recover fully. I'm no clown, I won't back down, and I'll be running again when all is said and done.