One of my biggest anguishes I've had about getting hit with a herniated disc has been my inability to participate in my town's annual half marathon. But as I recovered from this affliction and started to run again I began to think that perhaps my fears on that front were premature and I could at least try the race this year. So I decided to register for the event next week and give it a shot.
My running performance hasn't been anywhere near before my injury. I jog slowly about 4 or 5 miles depending on my condition every other day and I've learned to be satisfied with that. Running 13.1 miles has been such a distant goal that I knew I was deluding myself about running, let alone finishing, this race.
Then to add insult to injury I got hit with another blow to my back yesterday. I must have over-extended myself lifting heavy bags after grocery shopping. Those with back pain know what I'm talking about. As you begin to straighten up you feel the dreaded pop in your back followed by the pang of sharp pain. It's unmistakable and it's the beginning of yet another bout with extended back pain. After muttering a few expletives under my breath I realized that this was the kiss of death for next week's half marathon. Just my luck! Oh well, perhaps this was a sign that I should accept my condition and avoid strenuous activities.
Yet there's that stubborn part of me that just won't capitulate. So after a painful night, I popped two Advils today and decided to pay a visit to the half marathon course to evaluate my condition. I planned to run the course as far as I could and then quit at the 7th mile or so, if I could get that far.
Right from the start the back pain kicked into high gear and kept hounding me to stop. "No way," I thought to myself and I kept on going with pain piercing my back and pins and needles radiating down my legs. I wasn't about to let the pain force me to quit. As I passed every mile marker already painted on the course, I said "one more mile" and pressed on. As I reached the 7th mile, I had a sudden realization that I've made it this far, might as well finish the darn thing. The temperature was mild but humid, pain was my only companion, and there were no water stations to get hydrated, but finish I did.
When I incredibly passed the finish line, I continued for another fraction of a mile as a sort of a victory lap. Dehydrated, exhausted, and pain-ridden (and not just in my back anymore), I got in my car to drive home, dazed at what I had actually done. I hadn't stopped even once. It was one smooth jog from beginning to end.
I'm not sure if this was a case of mind over matter or just a foolish act to defy my own body and prove a point. Whatever the case, I learned that the human body can sometimes be pushed beyond its perceived limits. The jury is still out on whether I can repeat the performance next week at the race. On top of that I might have aggravated my condition today. But even if I can't, I know I ran the half marathon even before the starter pistol's trigger will have been pulled.
*UPDATE: Herniated Disc - 4 Years on - Mar. 2012