I ran a race this morning. It's a race I haven't missed in over a decade. And it was the first time I've run the 5k, not the 15k.
Chiropractor (New Chiropractor. The one who's dissertation was on runners ankles and knees, and who specializes in "runner.") sat me down in his office on a recent visit and laid out two choices for me.
His Option A was "I can get you back to where you were. I can get you back to Boston if you want." (Of course there was a great big "but" accompanying that.) "But it will be painful. Your knees will be swollen all the time, far worse than they are now. You'll have to have them drained on a regular basis. You'll see me more than any family member or friend you have. You'll most likely be looking at surgery within 5 years or less."
His option B was "You can run for the rest of your life. You can run three or four days a week, nice and easy. You can run races. Even Big Race in the spring. And you can fully accept that you'll never ever run that fast again. But you'll run. And it will be virtually pain-free. And you'll run. And you'll do other things. And it will be fun. And you'll run. For the rest of your life."
There was a long pause, not in hesitation, but to just breathe for a minute, before I said "Option B, please."
He smiled, then laid out his rehab plan. (And just that he had a rehab plan made me feel better. No one's ever given me an actual plan.)
Until October, I can run two days a week, no more than three miles. There is an optional third run day, but if I take that option, I must run less than three miles. I must use a compression brace on my knee when running. I must do specific strength training exercises twice a day, every day. Come October, I'll be running just one day a week, with the focus turned to strength training.
He said "Yes, run the fall 5ks that you haven't missed in ages." Then he said "And go ahead and register for Big Race, if you want. You'll be fine for it. It'll be fun."
So, I'm running a few days a week. I'm expanding my yoga practice. I'm doing a freakish amount of strength training. (What's going to happen when that's the "focus?") I'm reacquainting myself with the elliptical.
And this morning... I'm running in the mass of people, heading toward the 5k/15k split. And I was sooooo tempted. I sooooo wanted to go straight, off into the hills, with the 15k runners. I was almost seriously considering it. And at the exact moment when I needed to force myself to turn with the 5k crowd, into my ear buds shuffled - wait for it - Rehab by Amy Winehouse. And I laughed. And I turned. And I ran the 5k. And it took me forever. And, for the first time in a long time, it didn't hurt.
Looks like I'm committed to rehab.