The sound that escaped my mouth wasn’t the chilling howl of pain I expected. Instead, what came out was an almost child-like screech that you’d associate with a skinned knee. One second laughing at myself and how I’d practically careened into a pile of snow, the next clutching my left arm ready to expel the fast food breakfast of nearly 4 hours before onto the fluffy white flakes. While four strangers and my husband desperately were trying to get me to respond, there was nothing I could do or say. Any attempt to communicate or move meant that my stomach sloshed itself upward and my world started spinning. I was pulled upright out of my curled position on the ground, and someone tried to move my arm. I yelped with any attempted range of motion. We slung my arm into a scarf, and sandwiched between my husband and a stranger with a peppermint candy in my mouth (for nausea), we began to walk.
Hours later I would be alternating between sobs and waves of nervous laughter recalling the 1.5 miles hiked to a Fire & Rescue vehicle, the gurney journey across a sheet of ice, and how it took two attempts to set my ulna back into place. By the next morning, I was crushed by the weight that possibly months of inactivity would have on all my efforts to improve myself.
It’s been difficult trying to pin down how I’d resume updating this space since my injury on New Years Day. My return to regular activity has been relatively bumpy and the current ratio for demotivating moments to promising moments has tipped in an undesirable direction. The attempts to describe the process have been embarrassing because it doesn’t seem from the outside that something like this would so completely derail a life. However, it did significantly hinder mine.
Immediately, the effect of having a cumbersome brace on my arm for five weeks meant under no circumstance was running going to be possible, let alone my upcoming half marathon. I attempted to run again two weeks after the brace was no longer required, and was utterly crushed by my glacial pace and the sharp painful jangling of my left elbow with each stride. The bluebird sky on this day seemed to taunt me while I gasped and tears began to hotly surface and roll down my face. Injury will humble you with reckless abandon, and it does not care how much you want to be running.
After two months my physical therapy sessions allowed for venturing into regaining strength. My first (and to date, only) visit the gym in 2018 was as equally devastating as the attempt to run. I had a plan: stay on the stairclimber for as long as I could stand (I hate machines), do my PT exercises with heavier weights, and test out my stability with a few of my regular movements. After 35 minutes all seemed to be going to plan. Until after hunting for a 2 lb weight, standing next to the other huffing and hefting gym goers, and I caught myself in the mirror. I felt completely ridiculous. I tossed the “shameful” light purple weight into a bin of similarly cheerfully colored dumbbells, yanked my gym bag out of a locker, and grumped right back home. This was one of the only moments I gave into a flash of anger at the whole situation, and I’m not proud of it.
Though, I did make attempts to enjoy the forced “relaxation” that recovery mandated when not agonizing over my lack of advancement with training. I signed up for lecture classes with The Mountaineers, joined in on instructional gatherings with my favorite outdoor women’s groups, and devoured books. I fell solidly in love with Mirna Valerio’s new book, A Beautiful Work in Progress, which I cannot recommend enough, whether you’re a runner or not. This period meant a lot of stillness and sleeping, two things which I’d been pushing past and ignoring as priorities.
I’m working towards regularly updating this space with more images and words as this process continues. Starting over is daunting, but it is a necessary process for moving forward. For six months to a year, I can expect to experience pain and stiffness. Moments still exist where I feel as though my left arm is made of glass and certain activities raise my heart rate with anxious anticipation of reinjury. Fear of pain cannot stop the desire to venture out indefinitely, but it’s worth noting that it is real and worthy of acknowledgment and understanding.
Expect to see more updates while I navigate the next significant, weird, unknown steps this journey will take!