I had the best run of my life six weeks ago. Training with some new friends, I hit my fastest intervals ever and experienced a bodacious endorphin high — the stuff of running legend. Giddily jogging back to my car, I failed to notice the slight dip in the grassy knoll and stepped ankle-deep into a rabbit hole.
When Alice (of Wonderland fame) fell down her rabbit hole, she cried, “Curiouser and curiouser!” Yeah ... that's not me. When my left leg lurched forward to brace my fall, the sudden shooting pain in my upper hamstring triggered a string of expletives I didn't even know I knew. Perhaps at that moment, on some primal level, I realized my training for the October marathon was over. I was, to use Alice's family-friendly euphemism, in a completely curious state.
This wasn’t my first rodeo. I’ve had a few injuries over the years: an aching back; a strained shoulder; a pulled hamstring. The treatment was basically the same: rest, ice, compression, elevation. I’d keep the culprit limber and baby it a bit, bribe it with ibuprofen, and within a few weeks, I’d be back on the road.
Not this time. After weeks of unsuccessful at-home treatment, sleepless nights and constant pain, I acknowledged it was time to drain our bank account and try professional therapies. Acupuncture? check. Massage? check. Chiropractic? check. I even tried Hot Yoga. Imagine 90 minutes in a sticky, sauna-like Petri dish, stretching to the barking orders of a competitive yogi. Curious. Satan could sue for copyright infringement.
My initial medical consultations all started with the same admonishment: “At your age …” Listen, Doc, I just handed you a $50 copay — I know how old I am. I know I am not getting younger. I know it will take me longer to heal now that I’m in my 50s. Must we go there? I'm just curious.
True, my body is slower to heal and quicker to ache. It has served me well, planting gardens, shoveling snow, shelving books and producing two remarkably wonderful kids. It completed a marathon, a few halfs, and countless 5k races. But it's not ready to stop.
Most people, upon hearing of my injury, immediately suggest biking or swimming as alternatives. While I appreciate their concern, that’s like encouraging the grieving widow to check out Match.com when the calling hours are over. I'm mourning the loss of my best source of serenity. Please be patient.
Yes, I might need to shift my focus. I realize I might not be able to run as long or as fast as I once did — if at all. I'm just not going to give up yet. For those athletes who understand, no explanation is necessary. And for those who don't, no explanation will suffice.
Page 2 of 2 - So I'll keep you posted as I spend the winter healing, stretching and cross training. After all, I'm older and presumably wiser. And as Alice told the Mock Turtle, ‘...it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
West Bloomfield resident Teresa Keyes has been running since 2006. At age 50, she is considered a Masters runner, which makes her laugh. She lives by the motto, “Run the mile you’re in,” and acknowledges that while she may never set any course records, she is still faster than everyone sitting on their couches. She can be contacted via Facebook.