Patience, Injured Runner!

It has been two and a half weeks since I fell during my 20-mile training run and broke my arm in four places.  My broken arm will take three months to heal and I will miss five races I was looking forward to running.

The universe has an interesting way of reminding me that I am on injured reserve.  I still get e-mails about my upcoming races.  I see my friends’ posts on social media about their training runs and I wish I was out there with them.  Each time I read one of those e-mails or a post about someone’s excitement about a race we planned to do together, I get the same lousy feeling that I had the moment I fell.  My friends should not let my injury prevent them from enjoying their upcoming races. I just wish I was going to be there with them.

I enjoy running more than anything and it is the one thing I can’t do right now.  When I hit a particularly low point last week, my friend, Buzz, suggested that we go to Children’s Hospital and visit the patients there.  She put things in perspective; I stopped feeling sorry for myself.  All I have is a broken arm.  Many of the children in the hospital have bigger problems.  Those big races will still be there next year.   Some of those kids might not be.

I can’t say that I make a very good patient. Patients need to have patience with the healing process.  Unfortunately I am not a very patient person.  Three months sounds like a long time to me. I was frustrated one day and I asked my husband how many more days I had to go for the three months to be up.  At the time he told me it was around 75 days. Now I have a number in my head and can check off each day as it goes by.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.

I have been trying to come up with ways to keep myself somewhat in shape as I recuperate. The pain from my arm and shoulder, though, prevents me from even taking brisk walks right now.  I can only do two activities that I enjoy but are not aerobic – reading and watching films.

This weekend I watched the film “Ride the Divide”. It is an interesting documentary about the 2008 Tour Divide, a self-supported bicycle race that follows the Continental Divide from Banff, Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico at the Mexican border.  At over 2700 miles, it is the world’s longest off-pavement bicycle route.  The climbs are the equivalent of going from sea level to the top of Mount Everest seven times – on a mountain bike.  The riders cover all sorts of terrain including snow packed areas and water crossings. They can encounter black bears, grizzly bears, and wolves along the route.  There are no entry fees and no prize money.  I am still trying to figure out why one of the riders was doing the race for the sixth time.  Wouldn’t once be enough?

As you would expect, the attrition rate during the race is pretty high, between injuries and extreme physical and mental fatigue.  While there was a group of four riders that stayed together the whole race, most of them were alone.  Being alone in such harsh conditions depressed some of the riders to the point that they quit. It reminded me of solo around-the-world sailing races and how depressed some of the sailors can get being all alone at sea for weeks on end.  The 2008 race had the first female participant.  She was in last place and the race stopped being fun for her. She dropped out of the race but then had second thoughts.  After a few calls home to her husband and a visit from her twin sister, she got back on her bike.

Yes, I’ve had a setback in my marathon running career but I’ll be back in my running shoes soon enough.  In the meantime I will catch up on my reading and find more interesting and inspiring films to watch.

If you would like to read more about the race, check out the Tour Divide web site.  I hope you find the film and watch it. It is amazing what people will do for adventure.