I was running and running, but at some point, I simply couldn’t run anymore. I didn’t think I could be injured. Not in an invincible sense, but there was no event, no precipitating jolt that signaled a malady. It was a gradual erosion. Something was off, had been off, but I was denying it with a stubborn power that only grows with time. The hurt wouldn’t wear off, no matter how hard I willed it to. I wasn’t psychic, just psycho.
Since February, I’d been training for a marathon, pounding the treadmill in the face of an unending cold snap. Something painful began to creep into my right leg, but I ignored it. The pain was temporary, I told myself, just a symptom of the treadmill belt and a bleak winter. Epsom salts cure everything, right? You can run through the pain, right? I wasn’t listening.
This was in the bone. I started feeling a bump on my tibia, sickeningly visible through my skin. I could feel it even more when it rained, like a soothsayer trying to block out all the signals. I didn’t want that particular information.
I kept building my mileage, dutifully carrying out the training plan I made for myself. I rose every morning in the arctic dark to run closer to my next goal. Here, on this piece of paper, was a plan that perhaps the gods wouldn’t laugh too hard at. But the pain in my leg built, too, no matter how hard I tried to ignore it out of existence. I wouldn’t even let myself consider the prospect of not running this marathon in June – no, never, not me! Running is what I have, what I aim for, the habit that gives my life shape.
The knot in my leg persisted. Falling further into delusion, I thought I could make it through the rest of training and the marathon, and then see about getting help. If I could only pretend to be okay for a couple hundred more miles, then I could acknowledge what my body was telling me. Then the low buzz of hurt turned into a bad garage band.