Setbacks and Life’s Little Inconveniences

Four weeks off.  That’s the prognosis I received last week from my orthopedist.  As a runner and an athlete, I know these days will come.  You can’t push your body to the extent I push mine and expect that nothing will ever go wrong.  Fortunately, these times are very infrequent for me but when they come they tend to be HUGE.  Last time I sat in that chair, I was looking at a fractured hip and 8-12 months off of ALL activity.

Truthfully, I had expected worse news when I entered the orthopedist’s office last Friday.  Two and a half weeks ago, in the middle of a Hurricane workout (don’t ask) I was no longer able to put weight on my right leg.  My lower leg became extremely unstable and it felt like my shinbone was breaking.  The pain was eerily familiar and I knew in an instant that I had a stress fracture- there is simply no mistaking that feeling, once you’ve felt what a stress fracture feels like you never forget it.  A thousand thoughts ran through my head.  How am I supposed to coach the 20 runners in my beginner’s 5k training program if I can’t run?  How am I supposed to launch a running club in three weeks if I can’t lead the weekly group runs? I have a bunch of races this Spring that I can’t transfer out of.  And on and on and on.  There simply could not be a worse time to be injured.  I felt my 21 Promises slipping away.

I immediately set up an appointment with my orthopedist who promptly ordered an MRI and a week later I was back in his office to hear the news.  Dr. Hampton walked in, shook my hand and asked when my next race is.  March 15th, half-marathon…nope! Okay, next is March 16th, 5k…nope again! April 12th, 17.75k…eehh, probably not.  May 4th, 10-miler..DING DING DING!!! Diagnosis- severe bone bruising on my tibia. It’s a stress-related injury from (over)use.  Before a bone cracks it “bruises” and becomes very weak. Apparently, my shinbone is so bruised that one more jump, one more mile, could (literally) be the straw that breaks my tibia. It means 4 weeks of no running, jumping or impact of any kind.  If there had been a stress fracture, I would be off for 6-8 weeks.  I had caught it just in time and saved myself 2-4 weeks.

Whew!!

What does it mean? It means I have to scrap four Spring races I’d planned to run, three of which I had already registered/paid for, one was my guaranteed ticket into the Marine Corps Marathon.  It means that I am going to have to fight extremely hard to come back from this injury and salvage the rest of my Spring race season. It means that it’s going to be way more difficult to keep my 21 Promises. It means that I am going to lose a ton of ground and momentum so I will have to think very strategically.

Think. Think. Think.

In life, there will always be setbacks and inconveniences.  For every goal you have, there will be a hundred obstacles in your way.  There will be many moments where you’ll have the wind knocked out of you.  If you let it, the universe will hand you a thousand excuses for why you couldn’t reach your goals and you’ll never run out of reasons for throwing in the towel.  But the object isn’t to never get knocked down, it’s to never stay down.  Bottom line, I made Promises and I intend to keep them. ALL OF THEM.

After the hip fracture 3 1/2 years ago, I promised that I would never take another run for granted because it could all be gone in an instant.  I vowed to come back stronger and faster and that’s exactly what I did.  This time will be no different.  Accomplishing all 21 Promises was going to be challenging if everything went perfectly, now it will be borderline impossible.  Sure, I could curl up in a ball and scrap the list OR I could work my tail off doing what I have been cleared to do (bike, swim, weight train), maintain my fitness and allow the bone to heal so that, come April 1st, I am ready primed and ready.  In truth, I know it will be a very steep uphill battle but if I can pull it off, it will make for a really awesome blog post.

That’s my motivation.

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