A few weeks ago, Mamma N and Old Man Winter got together and decided to curse runners with a dreadful winter: wind, snow, “something-stupid” below zero temperatures and, most recently, ice. Now I’ve been able to handle most weather that’s been thrown at us but ice? That is another story.
I am terrified of ice. Two years ago, while running to the Rec Centre to meet some friends for our Wednesday night workout, my left toe hit some frozen slush on the road; I went flying, my jaw hit the ground and, as my friend, Amanda, likes to say, I broke my face – in four places. I spent 6 weeks off work and developed a near paralyzing fear of ice. So now, when there is any sign of it, I simply don’t run.
Last week, Mother Nature gave us three days of ice and unpredictable footing so I had to modify my training plans. On Monday, I went to yoga; on Tuesday, I gave in and visited the treadmill at the Rec Centre for the first time in over two years (yes, I was that desperate); on Wednesday night, I napped. By the end of the week, the thermometer reached temperatures in the low teens and I was thrilled. The only problem was the warmer weather led to rapid melting; that, combined with the next day’s drop in temperatures and freezing rain, left us with even more icy roads on Saturday morning.
My friend, Monica, and I agreed that we should run with our club, Toronto Olympic Club, in The Six. There, we had a choice of workouts: intervals with the Juniors or a distance run with the Seniors. We opted for a long run along the waterfront trail, a pedestrian/cyclist pathway that the city always clears of snow and ice, and joined the guys who were heading towards the downtown core. It wasn’t long before the men pulled ahead, Monica ran behind and I pushed to keep her in sight.
When I got to Ontario Place, about 4 miles from our start, I watched the guys run away from the main road towards Lake Ontario. I followed them, not really sure where they were going and not wanting to be alone. “Hey!” I yelled in my head as there was no one around to hear me. “It’s icy here!” Of course, it was icy. We were right next to the lake and that was frozen. I slowed down, watched my footing, making sure that I stayed on concrete, and tried to keep my eye on Monica’s black ponytail in the distance. Just as she turned out of sight, a piece of ice jumped from the sidewalk, grabbed my toe and pulled me into the ground – hard. Somehow, I managed to roll onto my hands and knees; then, I sat down and wanted to cry. I was angry. My knees were sore and I could already feel my thigh starting to throb. Monica heard me fall and came back. I got up and started to run, then stopped and cried, not because I was hurting but because I was so mad about my fall. I went to Toronto so that I could escape the ice and there I was in the middle of it, desperately wanting to click my red Mizunos three times and go home.
Instead, I regained my focus, and Monica and I started to run. Even though my leg was sore, I really had no choice as it was minus something-stupid and there was no other way to get back to our car. I think that was actually good for me as the run forced the blood to move through my legs rather than pool in my thigh. Wearing my winter tights which had compression, something that is always good for injuries, likely helped too.
By the time I got home, I felt fairly confident that I just bruised the muscle; any type of fracture would have made running 5 miles back to the car impossible. The bulging egg-shape surrounded by what seemed to be blood travelling to my thigh to protect it told me that my body was looking after itself. Under the advice of many, I went to the hospital the next day, where a doctor confirmed that it was “just” a bruise.
A friend once told me “Don’t get upset about the things you can’t control; do something about the things you can.” Falling was out of my control. It was my bad luck and I am angry about that, especially since I did try to control the surface conditions that morning. But this did not break me. It might slow me down for a while but it will not stop me. “Fall seven times; stand up eight.”