Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Joint is Jumping

The road - or roads I suppose - to training for this year's edition of the New Jersey Marathon took a bit of a detour for me this past weekend. Sunday is the day of the week on which I undertake my long training run. The training program that I am only kind of, sort of following this year (after strict adherence to it last year might have factored into my underwhelming performance on race day) only calls for one run of 20 miles in the ramp-up to the marathon. According to "the program" that run is to take place a couple of Sundays from now - on the 15th. Two Sundays ago I completed what I intended to be the first of four twenty-plus mile runs as part of my pre-race preparation. A bit ahead of schedule and damn happy about it.

This past Sunday, while I intended to go twenty miles, I failed to reach my stated goal. At or about the ten-mile mark I felt a sensation behind my right kneecap that felt like something akin to an explosion. Usually on a long run I dread the prospect of a cramp. Sunday morning I found myself rooting for that having been the issue. While I do not know what happened, I know that it was not a cramp. Given that I now run all over the highways and byways of not only Middlesex but also Bound Brook and Piscataway, armed with my trust Garmin Forerunner to guide me, I was a considerable distance from home when the "popping sound" first occurred. Not necessarily the best place to be.

Being about as responsive to overt expressions of pain from my body as I am to unwelcome sounds emanating from my automobile I did to my knee what I do to Skate when the latter makes a noise that I find troubling, inexplicable or both: I turned up the volume on my iPod and blocked it out. While being obstinate might not be the AMA's #1 recommended method for treating potential orthopedic injuries long-term, in the short run the results are quite stellar.

I chugged along for approximately two more miles - running as I have to taken to doing on Sundays through the Lackland Brothers' Birch Run development in Piscataway. If memory serves me correctly, this was the first construction project on which my brother Kelly - who has built buildings that have appeared on the pages of magazines such as Architectural Digest - worked as a young carpenter. There is an unmistakable '80's vibe to the design of the homes throughout the development. I remember Kelly telling some pretty humorous stories regarding things he observed on the job site. That memory coupled with the fact that the Lacklands are a family I have known most of my life and the fact that I count Dave Lackland (a/k/a "Carl's Scrivener") among my favorite people has made Birch Run an integral part of my long Sunday run. This past Sunday it also nearly stood as the point on my journey on which I telephoned Margaret to come and pick me up. Almost.

After half-hobbling, half-walking for a minute or two, I made the right turn onto Possumtown Road and powered towards home. As I crossed over the railroad tracks and back into the cozy confines of 'NTSG my right knee felt well enough that I considered bearing down a bit harder and making my intended mark. That spirit ceased to move me about three or four minutes later when my right knee sent a jolt upwards to my brain that - even on maximum volume - my iPod could not block. At that point, I opted to listen to what it was trying to tell me, popped the right turn from Seneca Avenue onto Decatur and headed home.

I have taken it easy since Sunday and my erstwhile vocal joint has resumed its vow of silence. I reckon that the real test of how well it is feeling will come this Sunday when it accompanies me on yet another planned run of 20 miles or more.

Marathon Sunday is only five Sundays away.


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