How to Deal: Getting Injured During Race Week
This past year, I was lucky enough to be selected as a Nuun ambassador. Sure, I enjoyed the discount to my favorite hydration tablets, but I've honestly enjoyed how much the brand actually cares about their ambassadors, sending out swag, creating a runner Facebook forum, and so on. So, when I was chosen to be on their Ragnar trail team for a relay race in the Cascades, you could say I was more than excited. I was thrilled to be around people who loved running and fitness as much as I did, I was excited to meet a new community and I was really excited to camp and run beautiful trails up in Washington.
For months, I integrated trail running into my weekly training calendar...and subsequently fell in love with running more than ever. Flying along dusty single-track trails, surrounded by beautiful trees, birds singing and pretty creeks - well, it didn't feel like training; it was just pure joy.
About a week and a half ago, I was ready to pack up and go. I had my headlamp packed, my outfits prepped, my flights booked and my snacks planned. Cascades, here I come.
Around the same time, I started noticing just the slightest twinge of discomfort in my left hip. Presuming I was just hypersensitive to any pain in that region following my right hip fracture earlier this year, I took a few days off for peace of mind, absolutely convinced I was being a hypochondriac. But, when I picked up again...something just felt off. I felt stiff, the pain was worse by tenfold and it hurt to even put weight on my leg walking. What freaked me out the most? The pain eerily felt like my last fracture.
So two days before Ragnar, I took myself to Urgent Care for confirmation that I was just being sensitive - trying to ignore my gut feeling that something was seriously wrong. Well, after a four-hour wait, an X-Ray and an MRI later...I was diagnosed with a severe stress reaction (essentially, a precursor to a full fracture), along with a few torn tendons. I was placed back on crutches so I wouldn't turn the reaction into a fracture and referred back to my old orthopedist to get a full recovery plan.
The next morning (and the day before I was supposed to board my flight to Seattle), I tearfully typed an email to my Nuun ambassador letting him know I couldn't come. As much as I wanted to run in pain, I had to look long term and understand that running Ragnar would lead to another full-blown femoral neck fracture. Trust me, this took a solid 12 hours to come to this decision. It wasn't easy by any means.
I'm endlessly frustrated that this is my second hip bone injury in 2016. I'm having so much FOMO as I peruse through pictures of the race this weekend. I'm honestly in a lot of pain...and already sore from crutches. Looking forward, I am concerned about missing my November and December half marathons too.
But, despite all of this, I'm glad I was fully in tune with and listened to my body, knowing when to hand it off to professionals. I'm proud of myself for making the really painful decision to cancel my flights and drop out of the relay, fully knowing there may not be a "I'll do this next year" opportunity. I'm proud that I am looking longer term at my health and fitness.
I acknowledge this isn't a catastrophe by any means. But, as a runner who has busted her ass training for a race and hyped up meeting so many new people in a stunning location...well, this is devastating. There's absolutely no denying that.
This weekend, I've tried to maintain distraction, hanging out with friends and hobbling around sunny San Diego with crutches in tow. It's by no means the same...but it's teaching me to embrace where I'm at in the current moment and understand that is exactly where I need to be. I suppose the universe was trying to tell me to rest. It's all about how you control your reaction, right?
And a special shoutout to Nuun, who was quite possibly the most understanding organization when I had to drop out just a day before arriving.
Have you ever had to drop out of a race just a few days before? How did you cope?