For the past few years, my New Year’s Resolution has been to run the Grafton Gazebo Road Race. Of course running a race is not as hard is preparing for a race. I also tend to be a fair-weather jogger, so I slack off in the wintertime and then get motivated again when the warm spring weather arrives. Since the road race is always in early May, I’m usually not in any shape to run the race. The last time I ran it was in May of 2002. This particular year I was motivated early because Rich and I were planning to go to the Turks and Caicos for our 10th Wedding Anniversary. We hadn’t been anywhere for a very long time, due to sick children and financial problems, so this was a big deal for us and I wanted to be in shape in order to at least be comfortable in a bathing suit.
By May of 2002, I was in good shape. I was running 5 miles 3 times a week, so the race was easy and fun. But in July of 2002 on our wedding anniversary in the Turks and Caicos I had a freak accident. I fell into a ditch and on the way down, hit the right side of my chest on a sharp corner of a cement wall. Hitting that concrete knocked the wind right out of me, the pain was excruciating. I went to a small clinic on the island (there was no hospital). The doctor there had an antique x-ray machine. I thought for sure I had broken some ribs, but he said the x-ray was fine and I probably just bruise my ribs.
To make a long story short, I had actually broken three ribs and had a grade IV liver laceration. My liver was basically crushed like stepping on a tomato. I had no idea that I was bleeding into my gut. The pain was very bad, but I was trying to be brave, since I thought I only had bruised ribs. By the time I got home and to a hospital, the doctors were shocked that I was alive. The surgeon said that he had only seen this kind of trauma in multi-injury car accidents. Only about 50% of patient survive such a severe laceration and these patients are typically admitted the the intensive care unit! And here I was walking around! My liver enzymes were off the charts and I was very anemic, but apparently very lucky. The doctor said to me, “You actually flew on a plane like this?” He said, the fact that I was in such good physical shape probably help me to survive.
By the time I got back to the States and had lab tests, x-rays and a CAT scan, it had been four days since the accident. The doctor said that since I had survived for four days without any intervention, he would not attempt surgery. He thought it best to let my liver heal on it’s own, since the operation was probably riskier than doing nothing. He wanted me to be admitted to the hospital on bed rest, but I figured since I’d been walking around for four days, I should be able to lay in bed at home. The doctor reluctantly let me go home.
I was on bed rest for two weeks and could not do any lifting for two months (a challenge with my boys). It took a good six months before I fully recovered. I’ve never been able to get back to where I was physically in May of 2002, but running the Grafton Road Race again is a goal I wanted to reach and I finally did it on May 1st! I was slower than I was in 2002, but also 8 years older and in a new category (ages 50 to 59). I even got a metal for 5th place in my division! OK, so there were only eight of us old ladies, but still cool. Over-all, I came in 183rd place out of 220 runners. My time was 0:54:29 or 0:10:54 a mile. But really, I was only competing with myself. I’d like to do 10 minutes per mile next year. We shall see…it’s tough to get faster, while you are also getting older.
Five mile race course: