Monday, April 20, 2009

No Boston Today

Baseball is such an important part of my life these days. I am married to an American, whose team, the Phillies, won the World Series last year. Over the past week, the city has been mourning Harry Kalas, one of the team's announcers and a legend whom those who grew up away from here can't truly understand. His passing has made grown-up men cry for days and left the city and its region like an orphan, lost and in disarray. On Saturday April 18, Kalas, the man who had recounted the Phillies games play-by-play over the radio and on television since 1971, filled a stadium of fans who came to pay him tribute. I can't think of an equivalent, apart perhaps what it might have been being an American after President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

And then there's A-Rod, Alexander Rodriguez, who plays third base for the Yankees baseball team. In February, he admitted having taken steroids in 2003, when he was playing for the Texas Rangers. He's also known to non-baseball fans and perhaps people living overseas because he's been linked in tabloids to Madonna, something she denied. And there's Chase Utley, a Phillies second baseman, who helped his team win its second World Series after 28 years. A-Rod, Chase Utley and I have another thing in common, besides baseball: an injury. On Monday April 13, an MRI of my left hip showed a tear of the labrum, a cartilage in the socket of hip joint. According to my doctor and what I read online, the main cause is the result of twisting movements and is more common among soccer, baseball and hockey players. After I complained of hip pain ranging from very mild to severe throughout my training for the Boston Marathon, my doctor said a labrum tear was not high on his list of possible injuries. Two sports doctors told me running a marathon would not make the tear worse. ``It's already there,'' one of them said. A-Rod had surgery at the beginning of March to repair some of the damage to his torn labrum. Chase Utley played the entire season with the injury last year and had an operation after his team won the World Series. He said he wasn't sure his injury could be called a tear, but he could play with it and ``there were some days where it was bad and some days where pain-wise it wasn't bad,'' the New York Post reported March 7.

I felt that way after the diagnosis. I can probably handle the pain, even if it gets bad. I had trained hard all winter, through the pain, and I really wanted to run that marathon. I was also just relieved it wasn't a stress fracture. A torn labrum seemed no big deal compared with a cracked bone.

Unlike A-Rod and Chase Utley, I'm just an amateur runner: I don't rely on my athletic performance to get my paycheck. I'm running because I love it. Running a marathon is in itself a painful experience because you push your body to its limits, then you push harder, and when you reach the point where you have nothing left, you push even harder -- for more than three hours. Getting to the start with an injury would be pointless. On April 16, four days before the Boston Marathon, I sent back my entry to get it postponed to next year. I canceled the train tickets and the hotel room. Today is Monday April 20, marathon day. I'm at work, rooting from afar for M., with whom I had planned to run.

The cancellation also meant that my husband stayed at home this weekend and could mourn the passing of a legend.
Paix a ton ame, Harry Kalas.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Boston Marathon Countdown

The Boston Marathon is 14 days away.

``If you take a chance and run a marathon when injured or ill, the odds are high you'll be a double loser. You'll likely run poorly and make the condition worse, laying you up for several weeks.''
Page 270 of ``The Competitive Runner's Handbook'' by Bob Glover and Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover.

If ``you are no longer able to participate in the 2009 Boston Marathon, you may defer your time to 2010, provided that you notify us in writing no later than April 20, 2009, by returning your pick-up card with an explanation.''
Boston Marathon's Web site.

An explanation may come this week in the form of an MRI. If it shows a stress fracture on my left hip, I will drop out of the race.
In 2003, while training for the London Marathon, I over-trained and suffered from a stress fracture at the right hip. I never ran the race and couldn't run for about 10 months.
If I drop this year, I'll find solace in the good advice I have received over the past weeks from friends, family and runners as I struggled to train with a hip pain -- on the left side.

``I will urge not to run the race if you are injured. Biggest mistake I ever made was racing a marathon with an injury.''
M., who runs the Boston Marathon April 20.

``26.2 miles is a long way to run if you are not 100% into it. There are plenty of marathons to be excited about.''
``Do not let your past haunt you. Just be a lot smarter about it. Go get the proof that you will not hurt yourself if you continue to run on it. There are only a few things (like a stress fracture or fractured ankle) that will stop you from running. All the other stuff you can work around. Do not make yourself miserable, running should be enjoyable.''
C., a marathon runner currently on crutches because of an ankle fracture.

``You'll have many opportunities to run other marathons.''

My mother, who has run 15 marathons.

``Be careful, your health is more important than anything.''
My father, who has run 16 marathons.