Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My New Boyfriend

He's a prick. He's controlling. He's borderline abusive even. And worse yet, he makes me a slower runner. His name...Compartment Syndrome. This past fall I started having issues while running. Issues that didn't even make sense...mileage and pace that had always been fine turned into a nightmare.
I first noticed it while I was on the treadmill (which isn't one of my favorite places to be anyway). The pain started in the front of my lower legs, similar to shin splints but more towards the outside of each leg. It came on after about a quarter mile. In my head I thought I could just run through it so I continued on, wincing with every step. But then through the blare of my ipod I heard a thumping...now, if you've run with me before, you know I'm not one with a heavy footfall. I turned my music off and sure enough...it was my goddamn feet making that awful noise. But no matter what my brain told my feet to do, I couldn't control them, couldn't run lightly.
So now I'm about a half mile into this shit and realize there's no way I can keep going. I hobbled off the treadmill, my calves and shins swollen to the point that the skin covering them was shiny. The muscles themselves were so tight that just touching them hurt so bad that I thought they would snap. I made my way into the sauna just hoping that sitting there long enough would make the pain dissipate. After 15 minutes I was able to walk normally.
I chalked it up to just a bad day. Then for the next four runs it happened again and again. Those times I stubbornly pushed through, running a full 6 or 7 miles before calling it quits. Long story short (sorry, I've already gone on long enough) I went to the doctor, he diagnosed Compartment Syndrome in both legs (which led to the drop foot), told me not to run for a while, and told me surgery was the likeliest possibility if the rest didn't make it go away.
So I stopped running. And I stopped caring. And I started eating. The holidays were anything but joyful (for a myriad of reasons unfortunately) so I packed on some winter weight and hibernated for a good amount of time (those who know me well know the hiding I went into).
But I'm not good with wallowing. Nor am I good with being at a standstill. So after two and half months I ventured back onto the treadmill. Quarter mile and all's well. Half a mile and I'm still feeling fine. The gods are smiling down on me for once. Excited and impatient I end my run after a short 3 miles and get to making my plan of attack for my slow comeback and even slower return to distance running. I'm a sucker for the Cleveland Marathon. Most people hate that marathon, I personally love it. Its elevated and crushed me at different times and all I wanted was to train for it.
I've learned some things through getting back to this...when it comes to my times I've finally come to terms with the fact that I doubt I'll ever run what my old pace was. Every time I try to push it and run how I used to, my boyfriend speaks up, quite loudly actually. He wrangles me down and makes me submit to what I can only describe as a very lung friendly pace.
Adapting is hard...in every sense. But it filters out the fake. Only the things that are real rise to the top and its with great appreciation that I still feel capable to grab those things. No I'm not a fast runner anymore, but I'm still a marathoner.