You can watch a video of my limping across the finish line here.
I showed up to Dodger stadium nervous but determined. I didn’t know how my ankle was going to feel once I started going, but I was willing to try it out. For about 14 miles, it was good and so was I. I was on pace for a personal record and beating up the LA course the way I wanted to last year.
But then the adrenaline wore off, and I began feeling the discomfort in my calf. Tendinitis in my ankle, as well as a burgeoning case of shin splints, and persistent tightness in my calf all began screaming out their warnings that I should stop. I waved on the members of my pace group, whom I’d been pacing up to that point, telling them to go on without me. I removed the athletic tape I’d applied to my ankle and tried to assess the situation. Self-diagnosis: lots and lots of pain. I put my shoe back on, did some stretches, and tried to get started again. The pain was worse.
I succumbed to the idea that I wouldn’t be able to do it. No way. I’ll have to call someone to pick me up here in Beverly Hills.
I walked off the course in two spots between miles 14 and 16, both times realizing there was no way I’d be able to direct someone to a nearby street that wasn’t closed off for the race. The Leggers had a support tent at mile 16, so I resigned myself to walking to the tent and getting a ride back to Santa Monica that way.
Then I spotted some Leggers friends who were also walking. They’d walk with me, they said. At some point they’ll switch from walking to walking 1 minute, running 1 minute. My pain had reached more tolerable levels, so I said I’d give it a shot.
We passed by the Leggers support tent at mile 16, where we received some additional encouragement. We continued forward, run-walking every other mile, and walk-walking the others. Each time we ran-walked, my pain grew in intensity. We passed another Leggers support tent at mile 23. More encouragement. 3.2 miles left to go. Lots of pain.
The angels who’d taken me under their wings continued to offer encouraging words, and I was also joined my a member of my own pace group who’d run many times with us during the training season. They all did their best to help, but my motivation was dropping quickly. By the time we turned onto Ocean Ave and entered the final stretch toward the finish line, my entire lower right leg was hurting in a myriad of ways. If I adjusted my gait one way, it hurt in one spot. If I adjusted the other way, different pain in a different spot.
Even when the finish line was visible some 50 yards or so ahead, I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to make it. It simply hurt too much. Someone would need to get me a wheelchair to get me over the finish line.
But then it was 25 yards, and then it was 10. We approached a Legacy runner – someone running the LA Marathon for their 29th time – and he was moving more slowly than we were. We urged him on, and the four of us crossed the finish line and collected our medals.
By 6pm yesterday, I was convinced that I’d be on crutches for a couple weeks. I made my way to the Dr’s office sans crutches late this morning, not really understanding why they didn’t grasp my sense of urgency about going directly to PT, like right this moment. However they put in the request and I went on for a deep tissue massage, which helped.
I’m still limping, but I’m limping more quickly at 3 in the afternoon than I was at 9am.
One tip for any friends who run or take up running: when presented with the opportunity to do a race while injured, “no” is a perfectly acceptable response. While it often costs more to register during the weeks leading up to the race, I think that $180 spent during race week when I know I’m not nursing an injury is much more cost-effective than $135 on October 1st, having no idea what my physical state might be come March 9th. Something to consider…
All the comments and support I received yesterday were quite simply out of this world. If I told you I teared up a little thinking about how awesome my friends are, it might undermine my masculinity a little bit. However, I just ran 26.2 miles on a bum ankle, so I’m gonna go ahead and say I’m secure in my masculinity and cop to it: Y’all made me cry. Assholes.
So will I try once again to best LA in 2015? Maybe so, maybe not. Maybe I should save myself for 2016, when the LA Marathon will take place on Valentine’s Day. My opponents would then be not just the city of LA, but love itself.
We shall see.