Hi. It’s been a while. Since we last talked, I broke my leg, switched jobs and wrote a history of downtown Oklahoma City for a magazine that was worthy of a masters degree. Yet I still have no masters degree and now I can’t even run the marathon. I’m not sure what feat of superhuman proportion I can now work toward. Without that masters degree the Nobel Prize is still probably not an option. And I really just don’t have it in me to go back to school. I like to learn. I hate school. So until I can figure out how to defy humanity next, I’ll just tell you what my last superhuman endeavor was.
It was a cold, dark and rainy Sunday. Our house was quiet and calm. The rain dripping from our gutters cast the shadow of a waterfall onto our walls. If the morning was a color it would have been white. I think our kitchen was even clean. It was as if the Mayans were saying this is the last March 10 that will ever happen and you should embrace the solitude of the moment and exploit the last few hours of overnight babysitting with a blanket, the couch, a cup of coffee and Yard Crashers.
It was driving me crazy. I was laced up and ready to go. I had 16 miles to run and had been looking forward to it all week. But here’s the deal: I don’t do cold and rainy unless I’ve paid a $110 registration fee and that happens to be what the weather is doing that day. I’m fine with running in rain. I’m even fine in the cold. But I will not willingly submit myself to both.
The hyper Oklahoma weathermen were all saying it was about to blow over … every commercial break … for like 3 hours. But it didn’t. So finally my run went from something I couldn’t wait to do, to something that had to be done. My plan was to go to the gym, watch Yard Crashers while I ran on the treadmill and then run some on the indoor track. Then maybe go back to the treadmill for some No Reservations and I’d be done before I even realized how freaking boring running 16 miles inside was.
And I was right for the first 7 miles. Then I moved to the track. I really don’t mind the treadmill. I know some people can’t imagine something more boring. For me that is the indoor track. What are you supposed to do while you run on an indoor track? Look at the same walls over and over and over and over and over and over — that’s 6 times in case you lost count — before you’ve even run 1 mile? It is horrible.
Because you have to make 6 laps to equal a mile on the indoor track the turns are kind of sharp. When I first started I noticed the smallest hint of pain. But you kind of expect that after running 7 miles. When I took my first turn on the track that pain went from a hint to a billboard. But I mean you hurt when you run so I kept running. And it kept hurting.
I thought if I could just get through 5 miles on the track that would only be 4 more miles on the treadmill. I could do that. So I kept running and I kept thinking this pain is going to go away any minute now. But I’d never really had a pain like this one. This pain was in an exact spot. I mean it radiated down to the bottom of my foot and it kind of felt like someone stabbed me in my shin with an icepick. But I could pinpoint the exact spot to the centimeter where that pain was radiating from. Shin splints and sore muscles cast a wider net that is less pain more ache.
The thing about training for something like a marathon or a century cycling event or just being a very active person is that you have a very close relationship with your body. You know it through and through. You know what it needs. You know how it will react to what you give it. You can identify pains. You know what is causing them. You know how long they are going to last. What will make them stop. But this pain was foreign to me. When I finished my fifth mile on the track I mashed around under my tibia hoping to find a knot. Maybe this was the mother of all shin splints. I searched for some other soft tissue in my ankle or foot that hurt. There was none.
So I finished up my run on the treadmill hoping the change in surface was all I needed. It wasn’t.
I hobbled back to my car to go ask my med student husband to diagnose my injury. Mostly because it is cute. I already suspected and was in denial that it was a stress fracture He asked me to move my foot around then went to find a book. He pointed to a page and asked me does it feel like the pain is right there. I looked and then nearly puked right on his $350 book. I didn’t realize he was going to show me a real live dead human dissected foot and ankle. He went and found a book with illustrations and asked me again. He suggested tendonitis. I think he was being nice.
The next day I had a 5 mile run on the schedule. During the week I usually run at night after I put the girls to bed. That may sound hectic and it sort of is until I get there, but I really enjoy it. I can watch TV without seeing dust on the bookshelves or feel like I should be folding laundry. I get to have an hour all to myself, guilt free. But I couldn’t think about any of that during this run because I was in so much pain I thought I might throw up.
Tuesday I had a 6 mile run. It didn’t hurt as bad. So I thought that confirmed that it was a soft tissue thing from the 16 mile run. And maybe if I just took off until Sunday when I needed to run 10 miles, I’d be good as new.
Sunday was a beautiful spring day. I love running through Norman early on a spring morning. It is different than the morning before so anywhere you look something new has bloomed or sprouted. The birds sing and the train chugs. You can smell washing laundry and frying bacon coming from people’s houses. And it feels like it is all yours.
I suited up and head out. The very first step I took hurt like someone had heated that icepick to 400 degrees and then jabbed it into my shin. So I ran 5 miles. I kept thinking it would go away. I wanted my Sunday morning spring run dammit. By the end of 5 miles I was 2 miles from both home and my sister’s house and I couldn’t decide which one to call to come and get me. Jay would have to load up the girls and my sister is pregnant and it was early. So I decided I could just run home. Then I’d have put in 7 miles and that was close enough to 10 to not feel like a loser.
When I got home I was ticked and Jay said something that was intended to make me feel better I think but I got pissed at him. I could barely walk. Monday I could really barely walk. Tuesday I decided that I could ride my bike on my trainer and that would be OK. And it didn’t in fact hurt. Also I’d eaten a pazookie at BJ’s Brewhouse and it needed to be exercised.
Fortunately I had an appointment with an orthopedic doctor the next day. Because at this point I had put 30 miles on my leg after it started hurting and 30 minutes on my bike. Yes I am bragging. I am absolutely certain it would not have taken more. As certain as I am that I would have tried to do more.
The doctor told me that if I had a stress fracture I needed to wrap my head around the fact that I wouldn’t be running the marathon. He sent me for an MRI. Thursday afternoon my ankle was as big as my head and by Friday I was in a boot. Tibial stress fracture.
And do you want to know something? I can’t do anything. He told me he didn’t want me walking for exercise. Didn’t want me going out the zoo. Didn’t want me going to the mall (I think he threw that in there because I’m a girl, but it kinda made me laugh), didn’t want me wearing high heels (that one really made me laugh), avoid second hand smoke.
This was all sorta funny cause I was flying to Vegas two days later. Vegas is famous for walking and smoking. So he wasn’t too thrilled about that. I asked how long and he said 1 month. But he interrupted before I could finish the sentence and the end of it was “before I can do any exercise again.” And I assume he thought I would understand that was the same answer. He doesn’t know me very well. When I was pulling out of the parking lot, I realized I had forgot to verify this. I called. They laughed.
I think if you are injured and you can’t do anything they should at least give you a cast people can sign. And for the record, I want everyone to know it is a TIBIAL stress fracture. Not my foot. I’m sure stress fractures in feet hurt really really bad. I don’t mean to take away sympathy from the feet. But I broke my leg. I have never broken a bone in my 33 years. Not once and I want full credit for the bone that is broken. TIBIA. BROKE. OK well stress fracture, but whatever.