I didn’t think I would make it home. I clutched my phone, ready to call for back-up in case I collapsed. The ache in my legs was tear-worthy, matched only by the disappointment I felt in myself–in my body for letting me down.
It was a perfect night for running. Clear skies, bright moon, upper 60s, low humidity. My heart was set on achieving the milestone I had been racing toward (see what I did there?) for the past few weeks: my first 5k.
I didn’t get very far. About a mile in, I decided nabbing my first 5k on this particular night just wasn’t worth the injury my legs were warning me about. And let me tell you, they were screaming. It wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling, but it was one of maybe three times I’ve ever experienced it in public (and the first when running).
Ten years ago, I broke my back in a fall*. The EMTs were certain I had broken my left leg, too, but x-rays didn’t show anything. While my mobility has never suffered as a result of the accident, I do get these weird, very painful shooting spasms in my legs–mostly the left one. Sometimes, it’s like a white hot lightning rod coursing from my hip to my toes. Others, it’s centered mostly behind the knee with a sensation like a charley horse. I can’t predict when they will happen or how long they will last. As I’ve gotten older, they’ve gotten worse, but they are still quite sporadic so I just soldier through.
There was no soldiering through on this night. I had invested too much to ignore my body and push it too far, risking major injury. I had read the warnings from seasoned runners: it’s better to cut your run short if you suspect something isn’t right rather than sideline yourself for weeks as you nurse an injury. Lesson number 5 in my “I’m not a runner” diary.
I hobbled home, nearly in tears (of pain? disappointment? both?). As I stewed in my angry juices, I realized that the reason I was so pissed off was because not only did I pine for the 5k milestone, I believed I could achieve it. Me–the girl who struggled just a couple of months ago to run a mile. The anger cooled, turning into a renewed, icy resolve. Though I conceded this particular run, I haven’t given up my goal. I’ll get that 5k before the end of June.
* Full story on my accident to come in September.