On November 3rd of this year I will hopefully be finishing my 2nd full Marathon. I say “hopefully” because my training hasn’t exactly gone as planned. It never does. On October 3rd, exactly one month away from the race, I finally felt like I was in prime condition. With only a month left of training and riding high on a good group run the night before, I set out on my Wednesday night run. The plan was to do 8-10 miles FAST! I got off work, biked home, jumped in my brightest Brooks Nightlife gear, and took off. I remembered to grab my driver’s license and debit card. I always carry these when I’m running a course that takes me over 4 miles away from my home. Especially at night. I breezed through the first mile in just under 8 minutes. During my mental checklist, I realized that I wasn’t wearing my trusty compression sock for my right ankle. I usually wear it on longer runs to keep my peroneal tendonitis in-check. I thought to myself, I’ll be ok, I’m on the road not trail. Besides, I’ve run this route a million times and I know where watch my step. You can probably tell where this story is already heading.
Mile two split: 7 minutes, 10 seconds. Man, I’m feeling good, I thought to myself. The ocean breeze is at my back and I’m running along one of the most historical places in America, the Charleston Battery. The stars were out, the waves were breaking, and the lights were on in some of the most colorful houses in the country and I was tearing up the road with lightning speed. Mile 3 split: 6 minutes, 43 seconds. I found my groove and decided to back off a bit and settle in to a 7 minute/ mile pace. This is my goal marathon pace if I want to qualify for Boston. Which I do….eventually. Everything felt great so I decided to push ahead toward East Bay St. I usually stay on the road if I can as its flatter, but a car was heading in my direction so I jumped to the sidewalk. I saw an opening where I could get back on the road after the car passed, so I took it. I was turning left and jumping from sidewalk to pavement. I mis-judged the height of the curb and planted with my outside foot (my weak ankle). Two mistakes that proved to be devastating. I immediately felt my ankle give way to the sound that rice crispies make. This was followed by by left knee taking the brunt of the fall and a “very manly” yell that I’m sure woke everyone in Charleston. I looked around to see if anyone had witnessed this awkwardly violent fall and too my surprise, no one saw and I still get to keep my man points. At the time I remember experiencing a lot of emotions at once.
This is the moment fear can take over. Not fear of pain. Not fear of how will I get home , but the fear of will I be able to race in a month? Fear of will I be able to run in a week? Fear of losing everything I’d worked so hard for all summer long. All of those summer runs in 90 degree weather with 90% humidity. All of the long runs I’d completed in the weeks prior like the half marathon, the 14 miler, the 16 miler, the 20 miler! All of those runs were now meaningless if I couldn’t bounce back from this. At that moment, I didn’t even know what “this” was, and that was the scariest part. What did I just do to my ankle?
I could feel the swelling immediately. I knew from previous ankle injuries to keep the shoe on to try and control the swelling. I stood up to see if i could put any pressure on it. I could, but only in my heel. My knee was in pain and blood dripped down to foot and stained my favorite T7 Racer’s. It was nothing urgent, so I started walking. I knew that there was no way that I was going to walk 3.5 miles back home so I flagged down some guys walking toward me and asked them if they minded calling a cab for me. The dispatch needed an address he looked around and found 5 East Bay Street. If you look at the picture below, I fell just at the turn in the road by the fountain. 5 East Bay St. is the second houses down East Bay on the left.
As I was standing in front of the the large pale pink house, a car began to pull up. I asked the driver if this was 5 East Bay St. and she replied, “Yes it is, why”? At that moment, someone from the side porch behind the driveway gate yelled, “Who are you and what happened? Are you hurt?” I explained to them what happened and they told me to go around to the front of the house. There, a nice woman greeted me at the bottom of the stairs, assessed the damage and went back up stairs. While I was waiting in the foyer of one of the most expensive houses in Charleston, a middle aged man in a pink polo shirt with his collar popped walked downstairs and asked me what happened. Bruce was his name and drinking was his game! In his old Charleston drawl, Bruce told me that he used to run…A long time ago….While shaking his head and sipping on a cocktail, he followed that statement with the word, “girls”. Just….”girls”. Being the southern gentleman that Bruce is, he offered me a drink several times. I and I kindly declined at first, but after several minutes of extremely awkward silence I looked at Bruce and said, ” You know what Bruce, I’ll take you up on a beer! I don’t want to be a burden, but after all, who know’s how long this cab will be right”? At that point, the kind lady returned with band Aids, hydrogen peroxide, and everything else that you would find in a first aid kit. She doctored me up and Bruce returned with a Bud Light. I cracked the beer, took a sip and the cab pulled up at that very moment. I thanked them greatly for their hospitality and and told them that if they every needed any shoes to come visit me at my shop and I would take care of them. Not wanting to be rude, I chugged the Bud Light, thanked Bruce and the kind lady again, and hobbled to the cab.
When I returned home, I immediately began to R.I.C.E. and assess the damage. The fact that I could still put pressure on it was encouraging and I knew that running anytime the following week was completely out of the equation. A week went by and the bruising began. I’d never seen bruising like this before as it was isolated to my outside ankle bone. This spooked me in to going to get an x-ray. I planned on taking a week and a half off to let it heal but wanted to make sure nothing was broken before I started running on it again. Fortunately, the x-rays came back negative. I had a level 2 sprain and the Doc prescribed me some anti-inflammatories. I asked him what the normal healing time was for an injury like this and he said 3-4 weeks. I told him my situation and he replied, “You runners will ultimately do what you want to, but just take it slow and be very careful”!
The anti-inflamatories helped tremendously and I was running on it in a week and a half. During the week and a half off I focussed on strengthening my core by doing endless push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and wall sits. I knew I would lose some speed and my goal of finishing in 3 hrs is most likely out of the equation now. After taking it slow for a week and altering my routine by adding more rest days, I was finally ready for a long run. I knew I had to squeeze in another one to assess the situation of my ankle and give me confidence in simply finishing 26.2 miles. With only two weeks to go, I set out on a 20+ mile run and it couldn’t have gone any smoother. I ran an easy 22 miles in 3 hours 7 minutes and some change with no problems. This was the result I needed and now I’m extremely confident in finishing the race. After the long run, I cut my mileage down and began to taper. With only three small runs left this week before the Marathon, I can finally say that happy with my training results and although I realize I’m not going to get a BQ this time around, I’m definitely due for a huge PR. My new goal is to finish with the 3:15 pace group and to crush my PR by 30 minutes.
If I could sum this roller coaster ride of summer training up in one word (other than hot), it would be “Surprised”. Surprised that I met so many new friends in my weekly beginners running group we started at the store. Surprised that I encountered so many injuries this go around and surprised that my body was able to roll with the punches and bounce back from these injuries so quickly. Surprised that I kept my disciplined diet even with the newly added TCBY in the shopping center I work in. And the thing I’m mostly surprised about is the fact that I did all of this and kept my sanity without my best friend, girlfriend, and training partner, Diana by my side. After being such a catalyst in my own transformation and encouraging me to fulfill my goals and dreams, July 5th of this year, she flew around the world to Micronesia to fulfill her own goals of traveling and teaching. Even through the distance, she has been incredibly supportive and continues to surprise me from the other side of the world. Although she won’t physically be able to see me cross that finish line in a week, I know she’ll be worrying and thinking about me the whole way to the finish! Her positive thoughts and words of encouragement will be enough to push me through to the end in hopefully a “surprisingly” fast time and I’m extremely grateful to have her in my life!
On a less mushy note, I’m excited to be working with Brooks at the Expo for the Rock n Roll Savannah Marathon and I’ll be sure to send you a Run Happy Pre-race report from Savannah later this week! Wish me luck and as always,
Run, walk, bike, drink, trick or treat and smell my stinky runners feet, debate, vote, and debate again…….happy!
Michael’s “beer of the month”: Bud Light…..
Yup, I never thought it would end up on my snobby beer list, but hey, “Life is full of surprises” and this bud’s for you Bruce! Thanks for the watered down refresh-ness!