Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Call me a crazy, stubborn old dog if you will, but...
I was out on a walk with my dog again this morning, taking the direction towards the next town, till we were on that very same spot where that stabbing pain hit my right foot eight weeks ago. That pain sent me home limping, not really finishing my fartlek, and eventually passing on a weekend race that would have been my first for this year. That pain, which I thought at first was only due to a pinched nerve but which an x-ray later showed was from a stress fracture on a metatarsal in my right foot, had me sidelined pretty good - foot in a cast for four weeks, unable to do the thing I loved doing most: running.
Being passionate about something does get you into trouble sometimes. I wanted to do well in that weekend 17k which some close friends asked me to run. They got me registered and all, and I wanted to give back by doing well. Winning was way out of the question of course, but a great finish is a good way of showing gratitude. I put in the fartlek as a final speed workout, and on that last fast stretch before I end with an easy final kilometer, BAM!
Walking on that very same stretch of road this morning, I told myself it most probably was the combination of my speed, the downhill, and the banked road that caused that stress fracture. I pushed myself, my fatigued foot muscles faltered under the pressure, the bone gave in.
I remember the doctor telling me, "We sometimes forget we are not as young anymore." I heard the same thing from a few others who learned of my injury.
I know. At 56, I don't have a body as fresh and as strong as it was two decades ago. But at 56, I had just experienced the best year so far of my second wind as a runner. A year that was perhaps even better than any single year I had in my whole running life. I posted PR after PR in almost all races I did. I ran my 5th marathon with close to half a dozen killer hills without walking for the first time, breaking my previous best by 30 minutes, topping my age group by finishing 10th among male runners. And I was able to do all of those because I didn't let my age hold me back from pushing myself. I faced my fear of going fast and conquered it. I learned to live with the discomfort of oxygen debt and the difficulty of going against gravity when running up hills and made these my friends, the same way I befriended the fatigue that came with every single long run and just went the distance. It would have been easier and less stressful to my ageing body if I stayed within my comfort zone. But I wouldn't have discovered a better me, I wouldn't have felt more alive, and I wouldn't have been happier.
I don't have any regrets for doing that fartlek. The injury would have happened on any other day if it indeed was bound to happen. It would have happened on that weekend race if it was meant to. And when I am finally able to really run again, I wouldn't be totally throwing caution to the wind, but I don't think I would be losing even just a wee bit of the passion and the desire to always do better either.
Call me a crazy, stubborn old dog if you will, but I wouldn't want to be any less happier.