Friday, September 09, 2005

Betrayed ... and out

After the extraordinarily good run Sunday morning, I thought I could do no wrong. I hadn't pushed the mileage or speed up in any drastic increments. I kept the build-up at a smart and safe level. I had done a nice 8-miler the previous Saturday. I would have liked to go a little further at this point but eight was fine. A success at the Distance Run on the 18th was "in the bag."

What I didn't count on was what was "in the cart." The Cart being Bonnie's beach hauler contraption, which suspiciously resembles an overgrown collapsible shopping cart; the kind old ladies use downtown. When loaded properly, this wirerack wheeled wonder can hold: 3 beach chairs, two and a half Boogie boards (Mariel's kid-sized one only counting for half), two Playmate coolers, one beach bag, one beach blanket, three towels and a large bagful of beach toys.

Getting this cart on and OFF the beach is an ergonomic nightmare. It has small, skinny wheels, which tend to plow into the soft sand, rendering an incredible amount of resistance for its weight. This requires the operator - herefore referred to as "mule" - to either lean forward at a 45° angle and pull, with his arms behind his back nearly dislocating his shoulders; or to lean backward at the same angle, pull with all his might and hope that his feet maintain some sort of traction in the sand.

One of mine didn't.

My right foot skidded out from under me and further to the right. My knee took the weight which should have gone to the foot. The pain was not excruciating, there were no crackles or pops, I was pretty sure I hadn't torn anything. It was more of a "I knew that would fucking happen" experience.

"Daddy, are you okay??? Did that hurt??? Did you know your knee bent the wrong way??? I heard a crunch!!!"

I took it easy the rest of the day. There was no swelling, no discoloration, no tenderness. When I got home, I put a neoprene wrap on it. I kept the wrap on Sunday night and all day Monday. Tuesday, it started feeling better, but still hurt when going up the steps. Wednesday and Thursday were pain free.

Friday was Mariel's second half-day on Kindergarten. With no after-school program the first week, Donna stayed home with her Thursday; I stayed Friday.

I had a plan. Drop Mariel at the bus at 8:00. Put some laundry in, stretch, be out of the house and on the road by 10:00 or so, do an hour trot, shower and pick her back up at the bus at 12:45.

Stretching was fine; no pain. The weather was warm but not hot, humid but not oppressive. Everything looked good.

Until I got about a 3/4 of a mile from the house. Something began to go wrong.

The shock of each footstrike began to focus itself within the center of my right knee. My foot began to wobble outward, placing more stress inside the joint. It began difficult to keep it moving in a straight line. I took a moment to wait for the stop light at the Pike. I took off again. I didn't get more than a few hundred yards along, just across the railroad tracks - one mile travelled, total - before the pain came back.

"We're done. It's not happening."

I shuffle-trotted back home, as best as I could, trying to look like I had planned to go for only a mile.

I took the 2005 Philadelphia Distance Run course map off the refrigerator, and congratulated myself to have had the foresight not to send the race application (and $60) in yet.

Epilogue: For all the training I had done from May through September, I had only burned down 40 beers. I had reached a low of 146 pounds. We will try again after a six-week rest.

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