I tweaked my right hamstring last October 27th. It didn’t seem that serious. I stopped immediately, then took it easy for two weeks leading up to the Grand Prix 5K, on November 13 which I essentially did at a fast jog. I have a great PT and working together we’ve seen the recovery progress, then regress, then progress again. At a fundamental level, it’s frustrating. But it serves to bring home the fact that with age recovery happens in new and mysterious ways. As is important at any age, we go one step at a time and take what the body gives us.
I had no idea three and half months later I’d still be dealing with this issue. My training runs are slow, yet I feel the hamstring with every step. Some days it’s better than others but always there. Now, I’m looking at the first 2023 Grand Prix race this Super Sunday, a 5K in Cambridge, knowing I am not at my best. It will once again be akin to a fast jog. But I decided to go ahead. It’s always good to see the array of club colors and catch up with folks who live four hours away from the reaches of northern Vermont. I’m better understanding the adage of “just showing up” as we age. For sure, many (most!) of those I’ve run and raced with over the past 30 or so years won’t be there. The cohort keeps shrinking. And it frankly feels a bit hollow. Many of these fellow competitors became good friends, even if they ran for other clubs. We shared a lot about our lives outside of running. There’s a camaraderie that is tangible, even if it’s hard to describe. In a strange way, I feel like I’m representing that cadre and I suspect if they still follow the Grand Prix series, they wish they were there.
Another reason I’m doing the race is it’s the Race to Kick Cancer. Ten years ago, in February 2013, I lined up and raised my hand when Alain Ferry asked who in the crowd was a cancer survivor. On December 17th, just seven weeks prior, I had my prostate removed. I had learned in October about the condition and did a flurry of research and consultations about the options. In the end, I didn’t want to worry about how fast the cancer was growing and opted for a complete removal. Fortunately, my surgeon, Graeme Steele at Brigham and Women’s, an accomplished runner who knew of my passion for the sport, gave me the green light to start running (easily to start!) three weeks post-surgery. I remember just before going under thinking – “I’m running (the 5-Mile version of that race) in seven weeks!” And it happened – not at a jog but a respectable 6:30 pace. So, this year, at the start I can raise my hand as a 10-year survivor, which statistically means the cancer has been beaten.
Getting back to the current hamstring woes, there is an element of patience that must prevail as we age. We can remember when such injuries would resolve in a few weeks and then we were back full bore. Sometimes that still happens depending on the injury. But I know at least two other senior (age 60+) runners who have had Achilles and plantar fascia injuries that have been going on for many months.
So, we inch along. Taking baby steps, perhaps, to return to full action. But hope springs eternal – and return we will!