A big scare... but a false alarm

I'm currently taking my 2 weeks off from running, as is typical of most runners at the end of the season. After a long past few months of training and racing, my body needed some downtime. Also, after Bay to Breakers my knee was bothering me, so it seemed like a logical time to take a break. Out of the blue, my knee had become swollen and painful. I was concerned but didn't worry about it too much, thinking that by taking some time off of running, the knee pain would dissipate and anything lingering injury would heal itself.

However, after a few days off of running my knee was still bugging me, even while walking around and especially when going up and down stairs. After consulting with the trainers at USF and a doctor at St. Mary's, I was suddenly faced with the possibility that I'd torn my meniscus. I went from thinking I had some fluke knee pain that would go away on its own to hearing that I might need surgery and would be out for 4-6 weeks. News like that sure does knock the wind out of you, in a kick-you-in-the-stomach, turn-your-world-upside-down kind of way. My vision of a perfect summer of training quickly vanished, replaced by nightmarish memories of last summer, which I spent recovering from gallbladder surgery. The thought of going through another surgery (and the subsequent long recovery, break from running, and lost fitness) was almost more than I could bear. I got an MRI on Saturday and then spent the rest of the weekend waiting for Monday to arrive, when I'd hear the test results.

Thankfully, on Monday morning I got the phone call saying that the MRI showed no sign of a tear - THANK GOD! False alarm - phew!! Of course, I was tremendously relieved. The MRI did show some inflammation and fluid in the knee, so I do need to do some rehab to take care of this mini-injury, but the prognosis is MUCH better than it could have been. The wonderful trainers at USF are taking good care of me and with ice, stim, and anti-inflammatories, I should be clear to start running again very soon.

There's nothing quite like a scare and the threat of having running taken away from you to make you realize how much you value and love the sport. At times this year I've questioned whether pursuing a running career is the best choice for me. Should I be going to grad school? Should I have moved to Cleveland to be with my boyfriend? Or what about fulfilling another dream of mine - to live and work in Washington DC - is that the life path I should be on? 

When faced with the possibility of losing my ability to run (albeit only for 4-6 weeks, but for a runner that's a lifetime), I realized that while there are many opportunities available to me, right now I'm right where I'm supposed to be. There's nothing I'd rather be doing than living in San Francisco chasing this Olympic Trials dream. Grad programs will still be accepting applicants after the Olympic Trials, planes continue to fly to Cleveland, and Washington DC isn't going anywhere. For right now, I'm a runner.

While this injury scare made for a stressful weekend, it's also reinvigorated my passion for the sport, heightened the intensity with which I pursue my goals, and reminded me to always, always run joyfully, because you never know when things can change in the blink of an eye.