from mile to marathon

The journey of a thousand leagues begins from beneath your feet.

Friday, August 23, 2013

the fall

Once I got happy about my ultra, I started increasing the weekly mileage and making plans. It's always kind of fun, zooming in on a race, in a way more fun than the race itself. I also had to decide what marathon I wanted to do as a training run, besides Duke City in October, which is so close to my house I could almost jog to the start line.

One morning this week, when I went out for a normal run, on my usual route, my foot caught some irregularity in the pavement and I fell. If you run for years, sooner or later, it might happen, and it's no big deal, you just pull yourself up, pull yourself together, and keep going. I have fallen before - but not like this.

I slammed in the pavement with my right knee and with both my palms. Putting my hands out must have been a reflex; I didn't have time to think about it. Later I understood the particular eloquence of the expression "nose-diving" - I was coming down face first, and got lucky I didn't break my nose. My face was an inch away from the back of my hands. And it's the upper half of my knee that hit the ground - a big bleeding scrape. Then came the pain, the bruising, and the swelling, in that order.

The most worrying part was how would I train? I ran home that day, once I absorbed the shock, already concerned about mileage. But once the knee got big, running was out of the question, I couldn't bend it. I couldn't even cross-train properly. Swimming wouldn't work because the awkward scab wouldn't heal if I spent time in water. Biking was not easy either, because I couldn't hold on properly to the bike - my palms were bruised and swollen, and I couldn't extend them, nor could I make a fist.

My mind is circling back to that moment, the obstacle in the pavement, the flight through the air. There is not much I could have done differently. There is no sense in agonizing about it. It just happened. I fell. Here I am, with my knee as big as a honeydew melon and my hand like a goalie glove, hobbling around, planning for a 50-miler.

Okay, so I am exaggerating - my knee is not as big as a melon. More like an oversize peach.


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