Saturday, 27 October 2012

Marathon day.

Today, 28th October, was the day I was meant to have completed the Auckland marathon. Instead, I've spent the day feeling utterly wretched. No Saucony trainers have been laced up, no 4am ferry to Devonport caught, nothing. Instead, I read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. I drank some coffee. I felt a bit lost. No finishers medal will adorn my wall.

The trouble all began back in June. Actually, scratch that. It began back in 1998, when my right kneecap dislocated during a game of lasertag. And again in 2001, stepping over a low bench in a night club. In 2008, reaching for the final hold on a climbing wall problem I'd been trying to complete for a few weeks. And finally, in June 2012, when it popped out of its track  doing a turnaround toe stop. I wrote at the time that normal walking and running were fine. That wasn't strictly true.
On the final k of the Whangamata half marathon, 1/9/12.
I made the error of thinking that by seeing a physio a couple of times and resting it a bit that it'd be fine. What I didn't bank on was, as the kilometres increased, the knee would become more swollen and painful. I bought Voltaren and ice packs thinking that if I treated the symptoms the cause would also go away. I prescribed to the "she'll be right" attitude of injury management until I couldn't ignore the grinding I (and others) could feel when I straightened and bent my knee, the "give" of the patella after 18k or so, the near-inability to drive home after my half-marathon in Whangamata (at least I can say I completed one of those). With just under two months to go to the marathon and my excuses not to make my runs wearing thin (no, it's nothing serious, just work/friend's birthday/neighbour's cat's funeral) I realised that attempting to run more than a half marathon distance could be Very Bad and bit the bullet.

The doctor was concerned. She agreed that knees don't do what my knee was doing. I was sent for X-rays. And an ultrasound. Then more x-rays (to discount a possible fracture of the kneecap). Then an MRI. An orthopaedic specialist. Surgery was mooted.

I went from the 28th of October being my D-Day, my focus, to having nothing. A kind of medical limbo. I cycled. I swam. I waited for appointments. I didn't run. I felt out of control, helpless. I felt angry with myself for going to the doctor at all (it would be fine if I just carried on!), and angry for not going sooner. I felt like those times when the marathon seemed to hard had come back to bite me harder than I felt I deserved. The feeling of letting people down and some other, totally unrelated things in my personal life tipped me into a pretty dark place for a while. If I'm honest, I'm not out of it yet.
right knee, skyline view. 

Five days before I should have been lining up in Devonport, the specialist came back with the diagnosis. Fissuring of the cartilage under the kneecap. No surgery needed immediately (thank god) but I may need some to loosen the tendons on one side of the patella in the future. Rock climbing was off the "things to do on a weekend" menu. Cycling and swimming were on. Gentle jogging was acceptable. I didn't ask about distance, I don't think I wanted to know.

I'd managed to get my head around not doing the marathon before today. I've moved house, joined a new gym, got a road bike and started cycling to work (a round trip of 42km, amusingly). I've got a new job starting next year. It's been a sunny weekend.

Today though, today's floored me. Waking up this morning to a beautiful sunny day, knee actually aching (which it does nearly all the time), well, it's not been easy.

I feel like my body's failing on all fronts. My lower back still hurts from popping a disc in 2009 (weightlifting, as you do), so I quit weightlifting in case I hurt myself again. My ankle still doesn't have full range of motion from the accident, and I quit skating. Now I'm told I can't rock climb, and have to carefully consider things like hiking as descents can cause permanent damage. I don't know what to do next.

So yeah, that's what happened. This blog seems to have had it's fair share of triumphs and failures and I leave this update feeling very lost. I don't know what to do next, if in fact I should set myself any sort of physical challenge as I just seem to injure myself out of them.

Thanks for all the encouragement, aroha and support both on this blog and IRL. Thanks to those who donated money to the Red Cross. I'm sorry I couldn't see it through.

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