I Just Keep Running

A while back, I broke my back. It's a long story, that I'll get around to getting into one of these days...but for now, we'll use the injury's recovery as where we start.

So, I'd suffered a fall and ended up with unstable compression fractures in my L1, T12 & T11 vertabrae. Fortunately, other than the bone issues, I'd suffered no paralysis or nerve damage. Recovery would be long, the future uncertain & limitations unknown. 

I had the surgery at OHSU in Portland, Ore. and was laid flat for a number of weeks. Life was tough. Inside my head was the worst. I didn't know what would become of my life.

X-ray of the hardware inserted to stabilize my fractures. April 2013

X-ray of the hardware inserted to stabilize my fractures. April 2013

After a follow-up appointment I was sent to see a Physical Therapist. And off we went. I found an off-site clinic closer to my house that I'd actually make appointments and go to instead of being deterred by the drive into the city.

I was told to start walking straight lines (no spinal rotation or bending) inside my house and to move it outside when I felt that it was aight to do so. My physical therapist was the best. About twice a week or so I'd head down to run through exercise, stretches and to get deep-tissue massage around the incision sites, which where the muscle area of most concern.  

Surgerical hardware after removal ( ed note:  the coins are for reference)

Surgerical hardware after removal (ed note: the coins are for reference)

About 6 months later, I had the hard wear removed. The incision sites still bother me today but to a much lesser extent - regular massage, exercise and stretching goes a long way.

For some reason, I signed up for the Freedom 5K on July 4th, 2014. I don't know why. I'm not a runner, never been a runner, have never had an interest in running. The first time I "ran" I remember it as if it was yesterday, because I couldn't make it to the corner before I had to catch my breath. That had always been my running experience.

But the good news was my body felt OK. This was only maybe just 8-9 months post injury and 2 months or so post hardware removal. The I started to run. I ran in the morning, I ran at lunch, I ran at home, I ran at work, I ran on vacation...pretty much if I was going somewhere I was running. ha.

I don't remember much about that first 5k, other than getting passed by a lady pushing a baby stroller toward the end. But, it was too late, running had got me.

Since then, I've collected a whole wall of race bibs & medals including. I've got the running itch.

  • Freedom 5k, Molalla, Ore.
  • Molalla River Trail Run, Molalla, Ore.
  • Rugged Maniac, Portland, Ore. (OCR)
  • Clackamette Cove Triathlon, Oregon City, Ore. (swimming's not my thing)
  • Vortex 10K & Vortex Half Marathon, Estacada, Ore.
  • Helvatia Half Marathon, Hillsboro, Ore.
  • Rock & Roll Half Marathon, San Diego, Calif.
  • My Muddy Valentine, Tualatin, Ore. (OCR)
  • Peterson Ridge Rumble, Sisters, Ore. (20-miler)
  • Cascade Lakes Relay, Bend, Ore. (132-mile relay)
  • Portland Fall Trail Series, Portland, Ore.
  • Coordinator, PNWSAR Trail Running Team

One thing I'm not is fast. One thing I am is mentally strong. I can trudge out long distances.  On my list now are some forthcoming ultras and then a re-evaluation of focus & travels for next year. I just keep going farther and farther. I look for more remote and longer runs, more distances. The trail running community is incredible, of which I'm still fearful & intimidated by. Each run it gets better.

Up next:

Oregon Coast 50K, Yachats, Ore. - October 8th, 2016

Orcas Island 50K, Orcas Island, Wash. - February 4th, 2017

It's been a slow, tiring journey, but it's been a blessing. It's been meditative and it's been frustrating. I often can't motivate myself to go run and more frequently I don't want to do anything other than hit the trail

For me running signifies healing. It helps me remember where I used to be and how I used to live. It reminds me to be grateful for every step.