January 30, 2012

Rode hard and put away wet

On the NYC subway, a man who is wet, shivering, and bleeding from knees and hands won't attract much attention. Just another ornament on the city's dusty shelf.

I ran a team workout the other night. It was rainy and cold in Central Park. We were doing a 5-mile tempo at a pretty good clip, and I was thinking about how I've been running an awful lot of slow miles and how it's mysteriously boosted my speed. The body is an eternal stranger.

I was jockeying with a teammate in a windbreaker, which he wore off his shoulders and it billowed as he ran. We were working hard together, and he stayed mostly just off my shoulder. He'd race ahead a little and I'd focus on relaxing and pass him again. As we turned a corner he rounded close and accidentally clipped me. I flew.

I found myself sliding on my left knee along the wet asphalt before I howled to a stop. Windbreaker was horrified and helped me up. He really couldn't have felt worse, poor kid. "OMG, I owe you at least a couple of beers!" I tested my knee and got ready to go again. I told Windbreaker to go on, he could buy me a beer at the end of the workout. (But it'll have to be at The Four Seasons.)

My hands, elbows, and knees were scraped raw, and my clothes were torn. But I was frigid, wet, and far from all the places I wanted to be, so walking was out of the question. I ran the last couple of miles carefully, but not easy. Despite the bloody hole in my running pants, the knee ran fine. The burning in my knees and hands seemed superficial. I never got my groove back, but I ran straight.

I ended up with a decent workout, though not as good as I wanted. My mileage, while hardly Lydiardian, has been high enough to give me some saving stamina. Running cures most ills caused by running.

It's when you stop running that things get hairy.

I arrived at the subway platform shaking more from cortisol than the chill. My knees were still smoldering and the lines of my right palm were irrigated with blood. I drew deep breaths to cancel the shivering as the train came and commuters raced me for a seat.

I didn't want to sit. I felt like a total badass. Except for, you know, the uncontrollable shaking, the gasping, the stooping, and the look of deranged pathos I surely wore. I attracted only a few cautious glances. A man across from me with kindly eyes was reading a worn Bible in French. A woman bent blankly over her biology textbook.

In the days since, I've had to nurse some inflammation in my knees. At least it's distracted me from the inflammation in my feet. Actually my plantar issues seem to be on their way out. The training goes on and on, with a very good 21-miler yesterday. My legs, apart from the bruising, feel better than they've felt in over a year.

Running taketh away and running giveth back once more.

1 comment:

  1. "Running cures most ills caused by running." Nice!