Island Fever … Well, Tendinitis

New York City’s Randall’s Island is not just home to two psychiatric hospitals, a water treatment plant and several homeless shelters. This small landmass in the middle of the East River has also been the backdrop to some of my finest moments as a New York City resident — and several of my worst.

  • The Good: This surprisingly lush park-strewn island plays host to the Governor’s Ball music festival each year, which is my favorite kind of music festival — the kind where you get to walk home to your own shower and bed after the festivities close down at a reasonable hour.
  • The Bad: Randall’s Island was where I spent the better part of four terrifying seasons pretending I understood that handballs in soccer were a bad thing. Given my dribbling skills, it’s amazing we ever made the playoffs.
  • The Ugly: It was on Randall’s Island at this year’s company picnic that I ate too much delicious free food and ended up tossing my cookies on the ferry-ride home. And by cookies, I mean moon pies. What a waste of moon pie.

With Randall’s Island carrying such a variety of memories for me, it shouldn’t come as a surprise the gamut of emotions that transpired there for me on Saturday. It started good: I was signed up for a local 5K that I thought would be a good chance to practice running marathon goal pace one week before the big day. Then it turned bad: I planned to do the 5K as the middle miles of my final 8-mile long run, and by the time I arrived at race check-in, my left shin was acting up. And then it turned ugly: Post-race, I could hardly walk, and no amount of icing or stretching or pumpkin pudding seemed to relieve the pain. To be fair, pumpkin pudding isn’t famous for being a pain reliever, but I thought it wise to do experiments anyways. You know, for science.

Damn you, supposedly easy fun run. (Source: Randall's Island Facebook Page, because islands also like social media.)
Damn you, supposedly easy fun run. (Source: Randall’s Island Facebook Page, because islands also like social media.)
Unfortunately, the pain persisted, so I did what any runner does the week before the marathon: I panicked. I started googling symptoms. I convinced myself I had a stress fracture. I debated skipping NYC altogether and registering for the Philly marathon in late November in order to give myself time to heal properly before putting my body through that strain. I cried.

Fortunately, I was smart enough to solicit a second opinion, which came from a licensed physical therapist friend who knows more than google. She examined me in her lovely apartment, diagnosed some mild tendinitis, taped me up and prescribed a stringent regimen of ice, ibuprofen, rest and supportive shoes. I may not like wearing sneakers in the workplace — Silicon Valley chic, as I’ve dubbed today’s output — but I have to admit I’m walking much better with the help of their support.

The hardest part of her prescribed treatment? An entire week off running. Normally the week before a marathon, I’ll log a few 3 to 4 mile runs just to keep myself same and keep my head in the game, but I’ve been instructed to stay off of my feet as much as I possibly can. If you thought my taper crazies were bad in past years, imagine the withdrawal I’m feeling ramping down to 0 with just five days to go. It’s maddening.  Might as well write me into a Brontë novel and lock me in the attic.

The good news is it’s starting to feel a whole lot better — so good, in fact, that I’m still expecting to toe the starting line at Sunday’s race. My legs might be heavy for not having exercised all week, but at least they’ll function. And whats race week anyways if not a chance for everything to go terribly wrong all at the same time? Builds character, right?

Here’s hoping. Four days.

How is your taper going?


4 thoughts on “Island Fever … Well, Tendinitis

  1. Two things, just off the top of my head (and you must consider that source): (1) If you’ve done your training — and you have — skipping the running portion of taper for the last 6 days before race day makes pretty much no difference, as long as you eat right, rest right, and do practically any kind of no-impact something-or-other (even the rowing machine will work) just to keep the muscles relaxed yet mindful that they have work ahead of them. (2) The EXACT same thing happened to me one year ago this month when I was training for Philly. I went to see my running Gandalf and he prescribed just what yours did, which was completely effective (it was my hamstring rather than my shin, you’ll recall, that doomed me on that one). You will have nothing to worry about Sunday. Except getting ticketed for speeding. Onward! — Vaughan

    1. Thanks for the wise words, Vaughan. Today I did 5 minutes on the arm bike (the gym goer who used it after me was easily in his mid 90s) then 20 minutes on the stationary bike. Not sure if that’s enough to keep me fresh, but if it’s mostly mental, at least I made it through the gym doors!

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