In just over 2 years of solid running and race training, I’ve never missed a race due to illness or injury.
Actually, I’ve never been injured, and with the exception of one bout with pneumonia, I’ve never been sick enough to even modify a training plan.
So I’m due.
Last Sunday, I bent over to pick up the laundry basket, as I have done approximately 3 billion times since 1992, and broke my back. Okay, I didn’t literally break my back, but that’s essentially what I called out to my husband as I gasped, tears in my eyes, shaking my hands (if you know me, you know my “rapid handshake” pain response), bent over.
“I broke myself.”
I have never dealt with lower back pain. Upper back pain I am intimately acquainted with; I have a 20 year history of a stress-induced pinched nerve in my right shoulder area, causing me, 1-2x a year, to seize up and walk around like Joan Cusack in Sixteen Candles. But with my upper back pain, as long as I move carefully and don’t turn from side to side, I can alleviate the pain.
There is no escaping this. It hurts to walk, it hurts to talk. It hurts to lie, it hurts to sigh. I don’t feel good here, I don’t feel good there, I cannot feel good anywhere.
Suffice to say, I have not run since Saturday, which is the longest I have gone without running since roughly August 2013. I’m stretching, and cautiously foam rolling, and in tiny increments, my back is feeling better each day, but it still hurts pretty much all the time.
Then, because God has a really funny sense of humor, I wiped out trying to step over our dog gate coming down the stairs on Thursday (which clearly I could not do given the broken back), and smashed my knee on the tile floor. My Osgood Schlatter’s lump is double its usual size, and my knee is turning a lovely bluish purple. So now I’m gimpy in my left leg.
I was due. I’d like to think I was due for a runner’s injury, an injury due to my hardcore athleticism, but no, apparently I was due for old age and klutziness.
Which is all to say that the Houston half marathon that I was planning on running in 5 weeks is not going to happen.
I was already feeling behind on my training. I switched to a 3x a week plan for this half, given my burnout, but was really feeling the difference in my training. I told myself that all the other cross training I have been doing (steady regiment of swimming, cycling and 2x a week strength sessions) was compensating, but I was already second guessing my choice to spend money on a destination race at less than optimal conditioning. When I signed up for the (always quickly sold out) race back in June, I thought this would be a PR goal race, my first half marathon in 10 months. Realizing I’m just not there mentally and physically, I’ve been feeling guilty and anxious about spending the money for a weekend away for a race that, while I know I would finish, I felt in my gut wouldn’t be a PR.
I feel like this week was a sign that canceling was the right decision. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure I would even be in a strong position to run the race between my back and knee; I have no idea what the recovery time on this is. Right now I would be super happy to sit down and stand up without wincing, never mind run 13.1 miles.
So, I deferred my Houston half registration to 2017, and am focusing on getting back to 100% for my March 20th Dallas Rock n Roll half. I’m hoping to be able to start some slow jogs next week, with a new 12 week training plan starting right after Christmas.