“On a scale of 1 to 10, how badly does your ankle hurt?” the nurse asked.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t have anything to compare it to,” I said, knowing that I sounded slightly foolish. “I’ve never really been hurt before, so I don’t know how bad pain gets. It doesn’t make me cry. I limp, but I can walk on it. I’m aware of it, but it’s not the only thing I can think about. Does that mean 4?”

With that, a 28-year streak came to a close, part of an otherwise unexceptional drizzly Tuesday morning in Cambridge. It was strange to get checked out when I hadn’t scheduled a doctor’s appointment. It was unfamiliar to have a doctor say, “Does it hurt when I do this?” and to respond in the affirmative. And it was really strange to feel relieved to get an air brace and say, “I’m glad it’s just tendonitis and not something more serious.”

The “I’m glad it’s just tendonitis” was my polite way of saying, “Oh COME ON! I’m trying to train here and why is my body BEING SO STUPID?”

The good news is that there’s a good chance I can still run my road race next week. I won’t do well, I won’t be speedy, but I could still make it across the finish line, which is all I want at this point (having already signed up for the entire season, I want to follow through on my investment). I merely have to play it smart. And this isn’t my opinion – it’s the doctor’s.

The physician I saw at the hospital clinic was also a runner, so he understood my frustration over not exercising and offered suggestions to things I could do until the pain goes away and I can resume – slowly – my running program. Elliptical should work, as long as I try to favor my other foot. Cardio that won’t aggravate things. Hello, ab work. But at least it’s something – which is why I enjoyed a return to my gym this evening for a short workout and felt like a million bucks as a result.

In other words, I’ll take whatever I can get, as long as it means I can keep things at 4.

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