Sunday, January 10, 2010

They Shoot Horses Here Don't They?

This morning - for the first time in too many days (six) - I answered the alarm clock's ring by gearing up and going for a run. I wish I could lay the blame for my week's inactivity at Mercury's feet (or at least at his reluctance in aspiring to any more dizzying heights than 1 or 2 degrees above zero) but it is laid more properly at my own. More pointedly, at my left foot (has anyone seen Daniel Day-Lewis by the way?) and the lower half of my left leg.

I know not what I did to those two apparently interrelated parts of my body but clearly whatever it was I wish I could apologize for it and move on. When one is not a runner but merely someone who runs - such as me - the activity itself provides enough of a challenge without the joy of having an appendage decide to go all Fort Sumter on my ass. Yet for reasons not entirely clear to me that is what has happened.

As far as I can tell, the problem first surfaced slightly more than three months ago. Because the searing pain in my left leg would recede below the tree line within an hour or two of the cessation of all running-type activities and because I share my father's lifelong fear of all things related to the medical profession (except for those little baby tomahawk things they use to test your reflexes, which are super cool!) I started 'treating' it as I have every other medical problem that has confronted me during my adult life: popped the top on the bottle of Advil and dispatched a quartet of those little knights to slay the dragon for me.

Laugh if you must at my admittedly severely abridged version of the PDR but for years Advil has been my magic bullet. I am starting to wonder however if I have now sent it into battle against a foe who it cannot defeat. What started as sort of a mild discomfort several months ago has morphed into a full-fledged pain. The thought occurred to me this morning - as I limped my way through the first 1/2 mile of my 3.1 mile run - that my time in the recent Resolution Run might have been impacted by a similar gait. Approximately one month ago in the bitter cold I ran 26:54 on a hilly course in Metuchen. This morning - again in the bitter cold - on a very flat course through my neighborhood I ran 29:02. Since I have no specific recollection of having ingested any amphetamines immediately prior to the race in Metuchen I am thinking that the explanation lies elsewhere. I suspect - as I look down at my barking left leg - that I know where it lies.

This morning as I was running through our quiet, still-asleep neighborhood I could not help but think of the old joke, "Q: What goes 'Bang! Bang! Clop! Clop!'? A: An Amish drive-by." And I also thought of how happy I am that I run in the wee small hours of the morning - cloaked in the darkness and kept company only by the sound of my own breathing. I wondered for a moment what would happen if a neighbor saw a visibly gimpy man "running" (remember - think broadest definitional sense) all alone. I wondered if he would respond as humans do at race tracks when they observe a horse with a bad leg - ride up behind me, shoot a tranquilizer dart into my rumpus and then "put me down" (the conversational point of intersection between equine science and euphemism). Is it just me or have you ever thought that if the Barclay's English Premier League kept a veterinarian on site for every EPL game - prepared to administer just such an antidote to a "seriously injured" player - that the number of ludicrously embellished reactions to minor contact that invariably hold up the game would drop perceptibly?

At some point I might in fact break down and seek a bit of medical advice - or at least an explanation - for my disagreeable left leg. But for present purposes, excuse me won't you? I have a bottle of Advil with which I need to renew my acquaintance.


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