I finally make a goal, set my mind to training like I’ve never trained before, and the universe laughs in my face then gives me the finger.
I love winter training. Truly love it. Running in freshly fallen snow, bundling up against the cold northern wind, navigating winter’s natural obstacles. I always say I’ll take -40C over +40C and I mean. I still do love it, even though winter is doing a damn fine job of rebuffing my affections. Winter, it seems, has foreseen me.
Since the start of November, i.e. the start of my favourite training season, it has been one step forward and two steps back. The highlights (lowlights): my first chronic injury of note in about 5 years (achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis), a calf tear sustained during a hilly trail run in torrential rain in trail shoes that are decidedly lethal in slick muddy conditions, a shoulder strain sustained during that same run, a course of the flu that involved multiple episodes of projectile vomiting all over my bathroom/self/Husband, an ice storm that made the city skateable but unrunable – confirmed by a misguided attempt at running that landed me flat on lame shoulder and my ass, and a polar vortex bringing air so cold my feet cramped and my eyes froze open. Still, I ran on, mostly uncomplainingly.
Friday was my biggest
setback scare yet. I went out for a nice group run in the morning and as were in the homestretch I got careless and sidestepped off the curb onto the road… this is the treacherous territory where cars park creating dangerously slick patches. Sure enough, hidden beneath the pretty dusting of snow was a thick slab slippery of ice. My legs fly out in front of my body, I fall back, and my head very lightly taps the car parked behind me. At the time I thought it barely enough of a bump to be worth mentioning. I did earn an 8.5 from my mates for the elegance of my fall. That’s a lifetime PB.
My arms were a bit sore from the impact, but overall no big deal, I took an aspirin and went about my very hectic day at work. That evening I wanted to unwind, so I headed out for a second easy run. Solo this time. The moon was shining, the street were clearer than they’ve been in weeks, and I was chugging along on the side of the road really enjoying the night, really enjoying running.
Before I even know what was happening or how it happened* I was flying head first through the air and just as suddenly, my side face whacked into the pavement. In a split second I’m on the road and I’m very confused. My face is on fire and it feels like all the teeth on my left side have been knocked out. I have a piercing headache and I’m literally seeing stars around my head, cartoon anvil drop style. I want nothing more than to nap right there on the road. I gently close my eyes, thinking I will just rest for a moment, but when I see headlights my survival instinct finally kicks in. I shake out of it and scoot out of the way. The car pulls up beside me.
Inside a lady, I’ll call her the Kindest Woman Ever, pulls over -she said she saw my super-reflective Nike ghost coat on the road- and asks if I’m okay. I’m rather disoriented and sort of manage a pitiful ‘I don’t think so’. She offers me a ride to wherever I need to go and I barely hesitate before saying okay and hopping in. Wise readers will recognize that hopping into a stranger’s car when you are already dazed and confused is not the wisest course of action. At the time, I was too shaken up to be my normal stranger-danger cautious self.
Kindest Woman Ever somehow gets me home despite my somewhat muddled directions and she chats enough to keep me awake and semi-focused, as I so desperately wanted to nap in her nice comfy car. When husband later asked what the car looked like, all I could remember was “fancy”. What kind of car was it, he asked. Fancy, I answered. You do not want me around as an eyewitness if a crime is in progress.
So I somehow got home, then promptly terrified Husband by announcing that I’d gone partially blind, had a raging headache, and was being followed by a keyboard (black and white striped aura that looked like piano keys, off to my left). I said a few other things that seemed logical and sensical to me, but also appeared to worry him. He took me to the ER.
I was secretly worried about the cumulative effects of the morning head tap followed by evening head crack. Because seriously, twice in one day? Are you kidding me? Actually, it was more like are you fucking kidding me? C’mon!
This was my first trip to ER since high school. Ugh. I only lasted 90 minutes in that waiting room. Surrounded by germ-ridden bodies. Waiting. Not my strong suit at the best of times. It was typical triage, and with more and more old folks/kids/ambulances pouring in I knew I’d forever be at the bottom of that list. So I convinced husband to leave. Before he would agree I had to prove to him my vision had returned by reading the scary flu poster across the room. As people around me exhibited every symptom on that poster, often all at once. I wasn’t being completely reckless by leaving. I have decent experience in the field of concussion and sport, and all signs pointed to concussion. I’m going back for the official word, ’cause I’m not kind of doctor, but basically, concussion.
I know to take head trauma seriously. I know what to monitor. I also knew sitting in an uncomfortable chair for several hours with every muscle in my body hurting while I grew increasingly impatient with the wait wasn’t going to do me much good. So I came home and followed typical concussion protocol for the next 72 hours. My post-concussive symptoms have been minor, but not insignificant. I can’t shake this bloody headache, but after 72 hours I’m otherwise feeling fine and optimistically expect to recover
The psychological part may take a bit longer. I’m already nervous at the idea of running, especially alone and/or at night and/or in icy conditions. Not a great outlook when the polar vortex is supposed to return this week and the unstable running conditions have no end in sight. This is no time to be skittish. It won’t be easy to get back on that proverbial horse. But nothing can make me run on a treadmill, nothing. Not even a yet to be named phobia of running alone at night on snow and ice.
To make a long story even longer, as they say, I’m almost back to normal and all’s well that ends well, but this whole ordeal sure did do one thing lasting. It really scared me.
I’m mad at myself for being so irresponsibly lax about safety. I didn’t have any ID on me. No phone. No money. Nothing to help me get home or tell anyone who I am in the even I was not able to do so. I know better. But I tend to be a bit minimalist when I run and I just can’t be bothered getting out ID to carry then remembering to put in back in my wallet instead of accidentally washing it my my sweaty running gear after my run. Too inconvenient (yes, you should roll your eyes). I’ve been meaning to get an ID bracelet for about 5 years. It’s just pure laziness. Laziness and that belief that nothing is likely to happen or that if it did, Husband would be there (he’s there for 75% of my runs). In theory I know something can happen, but I never really think it will happen.
In the grand scheme of things I know this was a rather minor incident. I’m okay. I’ve know I’ve given the whole episode more words than it warrants. But I also know I got lucky. I got lucky that I didn’t lose consciousness on the road. I got lucky that someone was there and willing to help me. I got lucky that the accident and the injuries weren’t severe. I’m lucky that I have a line-up of great friends willing to help me out when I need a helping hand. It’s nice to be lucky, but I also need to be smart. I’m going use this unplanned time off from running to order one or two or three of those awesome ID bands.
*I didn’t slip, I think my toe caught something and I tripped forward, but I’m not certain. It was dark and happened so fast. Up and fine, down and out.
Title: Lumineers – Stubborn Love. 2012.