Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Finishing with a flourish

Tami, Emily and me before the race.

Did I ever say I like to keep things interesting?

Well, my performance in Sunday's 10-mile Broad Street Run in Philadelphia attests to that tendency.

I ran it with my high school friends Emily and Tami and Emily's husband, Mike, along with more than 30,000 other runners in the largest race of its kind in the country.

I had run three miles several times at home and figured I could do that plus another two in a combination of walking and running. My feet felt OK at tennis Wednesday night, although when I started the race, the outside of my right foot felt iffy. The heel pain from the plantar fasciitis is much improved; this new problem seems to result from an over-correction to my gait, which I will need to investigate.

I began running slowly and made it easily through the first two miles. It's mostly downhill with some small uphills, so I never got winded. My foot, though, hurt right away, and by the second mile was increasingly painful. I could still manage, so I ran to mile 3, then walked much of mile 4 with a little running.

Many runners passed me, and I lamented to myself, "I used to be fast."

(Well, I was never really fast, but I was respectable enough.)

My sensible voice pointed out, "Yeah, but you also used to be almost dead."

I reminded myself that doing it at all was an achievement.

The beginning of the race goes through a bad area, and although race organizers sent me an e-mail saying that shuttles would take stragglers to the finish, I saw hardly any such vehicles, and I didn't think that stopping around that point was an option. Only a handful of spectators lined the route.

From mile 4 to 5, inspired by bands now playing along the way, I actually felt that I was running in an almost normal stride. I began having fun. I got used to the pain in my foot.

I told myself that I should stop if I wanted to play tennis this week, but since at that moment it was about the race, I kept going.

Philadelphia's impressive City Hall, with its statue of William Penn on top, grew closer, and with it the downtown part of the race and the promise of more activity.

So I went from 5 to 6. I started to think I might even make it to the finish, even if I walked...and even though I had told myself, and told Ken Holt (the orthotics guy) that I would stop at 5.

Tami had given me some jelly beans that were supposed to have added ingredients such as electrolytes, and I reached into my pocket for one. In that instant, I took my eye off the road and tripped on an uneven patch of pavement. I landed on my left side, hitting my face, my arm and my knee.

Some runners picked me up, asked if I was OK, and sat me down on the curb. An ambulance materialized. A paramedic gave me ice, bandaged my knee, and called for a ride to the finish.

She couldn't locate a van, so I had to take a police car. I got deposited at the finish, where I found my friends, who had all finished. As soon as I stopped running, my foot began to kill me. I now have a black and blue mark on my cheek and chin and a growing swath along the inside of my wrist.

It took a good part of yesterday to change my thinking from: "I ran six miles but I fell," to, "I ran six miles and I fell." Forget about the "but." So what if I'm a little crazy and a little klutzy?

Plus, the weekend wasn't just about the race. It was most of all about being with good friends.

My friend Margaret put it in perspective: "Compared to what you've been through, that's kind of like stubbing your toe."

Yesterday, I hobbled through my Dana-Farber appointments. First I saw Dr. Laura Goguen, a very nice head and neck specialist. She said she will need to remove the spot on my tongue under general anesthesia in the operating room, probably within the next two weeks. (Sigh.)

Next I saw Dr. Alyea, who said my counts were stable. My platelets went up a tiny bit, to 77, which is still way below normal, but with everything else OK, he is not concerned. My liver enzymes are down a little, so he said I could decrease my prednisone slightly, alternating 7.5 mg. with 10 mg. every other day instead of staying on 10 mg. daily.

He congratulated me about my run, saying with a smile, "show-off!" He didn't make a big deal about the fall.

When we had finished, he said my first doctor, Daniel DeAngelo, would want to say hi to me. As he turned to get Dan, he said, "Don't forget to tell him about the jelly bean!"

Whatever you say about my falling, it is kind of me.

In Sunday's mishap I scraped the same spot on my left shoulder where I have a scar from a jogging incident maybe 15 years ago. It was during the summer at Atlantic Beach. My kids were young, and my mother had taken them to the beach while I went for a run. I tripped and fell on a crack in the pavement, in front of a house where friends of my parents' lived. I knocked on the door and they gave me a bandage for my bleeding shoulder.

Instead of accepting their offer for a ride, I jogged back to finish my run and find my mother and the kids, all the while holding a paper towel to my shoulder to stem the bleeding.

And I'm the one who, in a break from chemotherapy during my first round of treatment, tripped and fell while lunging for a tennis ball during a doubles game, and, trying hard not to fall on the Hickman catheter implanted in my chest, fell even harder. A trip to the emergency room followed, and I checked back into the hospital the next day with my arm in a sling, having separated my right shoulder.

When Dan came to see me in my hospital room after my admission, he said, "What did you do now?" During that hospital stay, I took more pain meds for my shoulder than I did for any side effects of the chemo.

As I wrote in the "About Me" description of my blog, it's about falling down and getting up, falling down and getting up again. I meant it metaphorically, but I guess you could take it literally, too.


Elayne said...

well Bravo for running your race, no matter the distance or how you got to the finish line :) ( stupid jellybean :)

Ann said...

Congratulations on the run! Now, take it easy and allow yourself to heal so you can get back on the court sooner rather than later. Great news about the steroids.

PJ said...

Glad you weren't seriously injured. I'm very klutzy since my ordeal and constantly worry about falling, tripping. sometimes I do. Thankfully nothing has broken. Congrats on the race.

pam said...

Runderful Ronni,

Hurrah! after all of the milestones, what's a stumble?

You never cease to amaze me...


Nelle said...

I applaud your accomplishment. Sorry about the fall, but you gave an impressive performance and that cannot be diminished by anything. I am so impressed.

Gary said...

Impressive performance, complete with defining character traits-doing more than prudent since it's good to push yourself and then the requisite spill. After all you don't want to slow down to extract a magic jelly bean. Keep it up, next year the whole 10!