It’s six days until the triathlon (Chula Vista Challenge – Olympic distance). Under the bright blue noon sky, I head out on my last tune-up run. The plan — an easy 3 or 4 miles to keep my legs sharp. The route is familiar — up the hill to the asphalt running path, down the path to the shopping center, along the dirt path for a mile, then back up the road to the office.
In spite of an inconsistent training season, I feel good. The sore legs from over-doing it in Yosemite (Another Epic Yosemite Hike) are long gone. And for the past two weeks, I’ve tuned my cycling hitting my highest average speeds in a year. With the mild 70 degree weather and a spring in my step, I bound up the hill to the asphalt path, smiling and singing, “I feel good”.
Turning down the asphalt path, I straighten my shoulders and think “form”. The short run is about staying sharp and remembering my form. I feel like Flash moving quickly and freely until my right foot finds the broken asphalt raised by an overgrown tree root.
My eyes open wide as the entire incident slowly unfolds. There is no right foot to land on the path. My left hand reaches out to the wooden fence attempting to support my tumbling body. Failure. I keep falling. My right hip finds the ground followed by my right elbow. Next, the right shoulder roll, and I’m staring at the sky. I shout, “*&%!!#$*”.
Rising slowly, I check damage control. It’s not too bad — few cuts and bruises, road rash, and a slight limp. I consider running it off until I remember that a tune up run isn’t really necessary. Walking back to the office, I reassess the damage with each step. I can’t walk it off. There is thickening blood on my elbow, and my hand shows a stripe of scrapes and cuts from the asphalt and wooden fence. I begin to wonder if my race is over before it starts.
The shower stings and I begin to swell. I want to pray for a miraculous healing, but somehow it doesn’t seem appropriate. I know God cares, but racing is really not important in the grand scheme of life. I do pray that the pain stops.
Ibuprofen and ice get me through the night. In the morning, damage control says that I can’t swim; I can’t raise my arm above my head. I must have jammed my shoulder in the fall. The hip isn’t much better. I can’t walk up stairs normally, and I’m sporting a bruise mark larger than my hand. How do the guys in the Tour de France get back on their bikes and ride 60 miles after they fall?
Each day begins with a new damage report. Can I run? Can I swim?
Each day is better, but not the answers are still “no” and “no”.
Tomorrow is the race and I can’t walk without the limp. However, I can finally get my hand all the way over my head. Maybe after one more day of healing I can race. The internal debate goes something like this.
- Dumb Self: Race! You’ll be better in 24 hours.
- Smart Self: Don’t be Stupid, You’re not young and can’t heal that fast.
- Dumb Self: Imagine the glorious blog post when you race through pain?
- Smart Self: You’ll be sad when you can’t race like you want.
- Dumb Self: Don’t lose the registration fee.
- Smart Self: Your health is more important than $150.
Arriving at race registration, I know what I must do. Sadly, I withdraw.
Somehow, I thought there would be an outpouring of sympathy at race registration. Maybe they would ask about the glorious fall and my injuries. Instead, I get a puzzled look and a cold, “I guess you don’t need a timing chip.”
But, that’s okay. I really wasn’t looking for sympathy, just my very, very expensive t-shirt.