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A (downer)date

For the last week, I’ve stayed (mostly) off of the internet.

And for that, you are welcome.

After raining some optimism on the blog about what’s going on with my body, things got worse. Much worse. As did my ability to whine, complain and feel sorry for myself. So again, you’re welcome for my absence.

Unfortunately, I am back. I apologize in advance for the ugly that you are about to read. You might want to just click that “x” button in the righthand corner of your browser now and save yourself from the next several paragraphs of “omg my life is over, I haven’t run in a WHOLE WEEK”. I won’t be offended.

Since I last checked in, I tried running, since you know, the doctor told me I could.

I stumbled through 3 very torturous miles on Wednesday afternoon where every stride left me wincing in pain.

I signed up for a Turkey Trot, not to race, but to be able to spend a morning running with friends. Because, you know, the doctor told me I could…provided I run slow and shit.

And it (insert choice expletive) sucked.

Not the friends part, THEY were great.


And ran great. First races ever. Fastest races ever. Longest races ever. All great.


But the excruciating pain…not so great. THAT deserves more than a few descriptive curse words.

The race itself was 6.2 of the worst miles of my life. I kept trying to tell myself “be thankful that you’re allowed to run, you could be totally sidelined. Enjoy this!” But then I would move an inch, or a centimeter, or a millimeter and my body would offer me a harsh reminder that nothing about running was fun at that moment.

It’s pretty rare for me to feel that way about running. In fact, I’m quite positive that was a first.

By the time I crossed the finish line, it felt like my rib was violently battling my side to escape with every weapon known to mankind and winning…by a lot.

The rest of the day was ugly. I limped through post-race mimosas with my friends. I stumbled home and collapsed in bed (flat. on my back. since everything else hurt, or more accurately, hurt worse). I called my mom and complained to her because while the internet might not have to feel sorry for me, I can usually count on her to dole out some sympathy. Moral of the story, EVERYTHING hurt. Breathing, moving, sneezing, moving. All of the things hurt all of the time.

A friend picked me up for Thanksgiving dinner and I sat in his house with a heat pack glued to my left side and a stiff drink in my right hand. It was far from the happiest holiday moment in the history of my life.

The next morning I called my doctor. It’s exceedingly rare that I question medical permission to sweat, but on Friday morning, my body was counting down the seconds until her office opened so I could do just that.

She was instantly concerned with the escalation of my symptoms and sent me off to the emergency room to undergo a bunch of tests.


As I’m sure you can imagine, it was super fun morning. And also super inconclusive. They (/my doctor) were baffled as to why things were so bad, so gave me a handful of prescriptions for heavy doses of heavy painkillers, retracted the green light to run, and sent me home to lie in my bed and do nothing.

And that’s what I did for 5 straight days.

I barely moved. I certainly didn’t exercise.

I did watch every program that On Demand offers. Gossip Girl, Top Chef, Nashville, I am all caught up on all of the shows that you never need to see.

I read for fun. Books about marathoning and ultra running. Which is actually not really fun at all when you can’t run.

I didn’t do laundry. Because for the first time in months, I don’t have a laundry basket overflowing with sweaty shorts, socks and sports bras. 

I did go to the movies because that seemed like a harmless activity. Argo. One of the highlights of my week-o-injury. So good. Go see it immediately and then come back and thank me. I’ll wait.

I thought about never leaving the extraordinarily comfortable movie theatre seat since it was the best position I’d found for my ribs all week and flirted with the idea of watching every movie that the Georgetown theatre was showing. My friend eventually got me to part with the seat with the promise of holiday cocktails.


I did cry. Twice. Once when my doctor told me to go to the ER. And once when I couldn’t take the pain from laughing while consuming aforementioned holiday cocktails (my friend would make me add to the story “at my own joke”). I’ve never felt more awesome (or hotter) then when I sat in the bar, clutching my side and simultaneously sobbing and cracking up. I’m sorry you couldn’t all be there to see me in my finest moment.

I did go out for my friend’s birthday dinner which was conveniently located a block from my house. And I didn’t wear sweatpants for the first time in days since she threatened to end our friendship if I showed up in spandex. I did, however, go home uncharacteristically early so I could reunite with my bed, painkillers…and sweatpants.

I did start my Christmas shopping. Online. Both for my family and for myself. When I can’t run, I buy myself running things. Because in some crazy part of my mind that helps me cope and makes me feel like I’m doing something productive for my fitness.

I did choose a new goal marathon. Actually I chose 3 new goal marathons. TBD which one my bitch rib cage will decide to cooperate for.

And that brings us to today. Still in pain. Still not running. Still miserable.

I know life could be MUCH, much worse. Believe me, I do. But when you’re sidelined and in severe pain, it’s easy to forget that. Dramatic? Yes, absolutely. But also a little true. Especially when you don’t really know what’s going on or how much longer you have to cope with it.

As much as I joke about being Type Z, I don’t do well with the unknown when it comes to running. I want someone to be able to tell me “three more weeks and you’ll be better. Six more weeks until you’re back at the track. Nine until you can run another marathon.” It’s frustrating to hear my doctor remain stumped about why it’s taking my body so long to heal and why the drugs aren’t kicking in faster. And going to bed every night hoping I’ll wake up feeling better, and then not waking up feeling better (or rather, waking up from the pain frequently throughout the night) keeps me in a pretty depressed state.

My sincere apologies for the downer of a post. Sometimes a girl just needs to whine and vent in a very public manner. I promise I’ll try to cut it out (at least over the blog, sorry mom, no such luck for you) effective immediately.

Cross your fingers, toes, legs, arms, eyes and shoelaces for faster healing and I hope (/optimistically promise) that next time I check in, it will be less woe-is-me-my-life-is-so-hard-because-I-can’t-run-and-also-I-hurt-a-lot complaining, more running.

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46 Responses to A (downer)date

  1. I broke a rib last year, during a Tough Mudder race, and was in very similar pain. Laughing and coughing would bring tears to my eyes and I couldn’t take a deep breath. At first I thought it was just a pulled chest muscle (and smoke inhalation), and I went around for about 2 weeks holding my left boob because it hurt less when I did that.

  2. I am so sorry Emily, I hope it get’s better very, very soon. Have the doctors not found out what you have yet?

  3. I’m so sorry it’s not getting any better. I’m sure the unknown is so frustrating. You shouldn’t apologize for this post – we are all human and shit happens. It’s okay to be sad about it! I know you are going to start feeling better very soon, but in the mean time take care of yourself (by doing what you are doing!). Hugs.

  4. Ugh. Emily, I am so sorry to read all of this :( I can’t imagine anything more frustrating than being in pain and no one being able to tell you what, when, why it hurts and will stop hurting. Thinking about you and hoping you get better ASAP, my friend.

  5. I wish I had some fun words to help make the pain go away. Whine away with some wine and cheers to a speedy (hopefully) recovery.

  6. Yuck. Seems like an MRI would be a good thing to get done, but it seems like they (being healthcare professionals) are so stingy with those. Then at least they could see any soft tissue injuries that they can’t figure out just by poking you or whatever.

  7. Interestingly, the little red “x” is on the top LEFT corner of my browser. I didn’t click it though. Still here. <3

  8. In feel your pain. I’ve been sidelined by Achilles tendonitis and heel bursitis since early October and am going crazy. I’m sending healthy vibes your way!

  9. I wish I had some advice on how to make it through this incredibly crappy time, but I don’t. I hope your docs figure out what’s going on with you soon though! And stop apologizing for the way you feel, it’s your blog you get to write whatever you want. You should know we’ll still read it and support you!

  10. I had a pain in my rib cage/lungs . hurt every time I took breath. Turns out I have a pulmonary embolism in both lungs….and now pumped full of blood thinners. there goes marathon training.. .i am cleared to jog for 20 min this week…..oooo

  11. Just wanted to say that this sounds very similar to something that happened to me a couple years ago. I was T-6 weeks from my second marathon and when I was swinging a kettlebell in the gym I felt a slight twinge. Within 5 days it escalated to an ever-present ache, and then in the middle of a 20 miler I had to call it quits and drag myself onto a train to get home, where I proceeded to lay in my bed and take massive amounts of codeine for 5 straight days. At the time I was in Australia on a working holiday visa and about to embark upon a month of traveling up their west coast, so I didn’t really have access to any healthcare. I self-diagnosed with a pulled intercostal muscle and babied myself as much as possible. It took 4 weeks of absolutely no physical activity before I ran again. I did end up running the marathon (6 weeks post-injury, when running no longer hurt), but I ran/walked and took 46 minutes longer than my goal time just to be careful.

    Anyway, my advice is basically to allow your body to heal. I can’t believe your doctor told you it was ok to run when clearly running causes pain — that should be your first indication that it’s NOT ok to run! The best thing you can do yourself in the longterm is to take the time you need now to let your body heal. And pulled muscles (if that’s what you have) take up to 6 weeks to heal.

    Feel better!

  12. omg Emily so sorry to hear… if it makes you feel any better, I can relate on so many points! i too have:
    – watched way too many movies/ shows on Netflix in the past month
    – only had to do laundry like every few weeks, since my basket isn’t constantly full of smelly running gear
    – discovered a lot of good running books/ material (see:
    ‘A Step Beyond: A Definitive Guide to Ultrarunning’)
    – gotten really tired of constantly tell people at work that I did not do a turkey trot, did not run last weekend, etc. even though I already told them multiple times that im injured

    Maybe this is natures way of telling us (forcing us) to take a break? Last thing you want to hear i know…
    Sorry again – I know it sucks :(

  13. I feel your pain…that’s not true, I guess, but I DO feel your mopiness as I’m doing the same thing in response to the influenza that will not end. I hope you get answers –happy answers — soon. In the meantime, let the people who get to live vicariously through your good times be there for you in the less good times.

  14. So after more tests they still think its costochondritis? Were you at least prescribed steroids?? Get well soon!

  15. I would check for things like Valley Fever, pleurisy, even pneumonia All can present as something else and cause incredible chest/lung pain.

    The Kidless Kronicles

  16. I’m SO sorry to hear that something you love is giving you pain, especially the thing that is easiest to turn to when things suck. I hope you feel better soon and the pain meds kick in!!

  17. Have you gone to a chiro yet? My apologies if you have, but I end up getting ribs out of place, probably too frequently. The worst time it felt like someone was stabbing me in the ribs/lung 24 hours of the day. If that’s not it, I hope it gets figured out and remedied asap, for your sanity’s sake!!

  18. Hi Emily, frequent reader, infrequent commentor but I found myself in a similar situation as you. First, I’m so sorry that you’re going through this! It really sucks. Second, my rib pain ended up being blood clots in my lungs that were pressing on nerves. Did they run a blood test to rule that out for you? I’m a young, healthy non-smoking runner so the only reason they checked was because I had just traveled internationally. Totally don’t mean to freak you out, just more of an FYI. (They attributed the clots to me being on birth control.)

  19. Get well soon, Emily

  20. Oh, I hate this for you! It’s okay if you need to vent on here and complain a bit. Actually, this may be a great time to finish your 50miler recap ;) Get well soon!!

  21. Oh I am so sorry. I definitely can relate to a mysterious injury that can leave you sidelined. I definitely would seek second third fourth opinions until you get answers. Trust me, I have been trying to figure out for almost a year why my running is not back to normal. It all started with a fall on my back while running. I slipped on some black ice !! I have even asked doctors to check me for awful illnesses like MS to rule things out. I am on my fourth doc right now. Luckily I am running but it’s at a snails pace which is better than nothing. i know you know it sucks when your brain says run fast but your body can’t follow that command. I really enjoyed your post cause I totally can relate to your misery. Fingers crossed that you will have a speedy recovery.

  22. Ugh- sounds like this is really frustrating for you! Not knowing the cause of pain or illness is definitely a really annoying situation, especially when in pain. I hope you’re back to feeling great and hitting the roads again!

  23. Agreeing with the Australia-visa-intercostal commenter…let it heal. Totally understanding the need for endorphins, can you bike or elliptical? My intercostal issues turned into a weird thing where my rib was separating from my sternum. Also, did they do a chest x-ray? Could be a collapsed lung. I’ve had that and the pain was very similar to what you describe. Hope you are all healed up soon!

  24. Sorry you haven’t healed up, Emily. It’s so frustrating not knowing exactly what’s wrong, what caused the pain, and how long until things will be normal again. Hang in there!

  25. Girl I hear you. All I’m doing these days is thinking about running and how I can’t run but I want to run. I’m sorry you’re still in so much pain and no one knows why.

    If it’s OK to drink while on your painkillers…you, me and some ridiculously cheap DC happy hour at some point? We can mourn our temporary loss of running together

  26. I’m so sorry Emily! I definitely know how it feels to think that things could be worse, but still be absolutely miserable and hate everything. And how frustrating it is not to know when things are going to get better. At least you have a space to vent (we don’t mind!) And I’ll be beaming healthy thoughts your way for a speedy recovery.

  27. Sounds like an injury that affects runners who drink lots of beer. Do you drink lots of beer?

  28. Oh my gosh Emily! You must be going out of your mind with this annoying injury. I’m sorry your Turkey day race was so awful! I hope things start to look up for you!

  29. Hope you start feeling better soon :)

  30. Ugh, I feel you. I did an idiot thing and tore my hamstring by doing a fun run on a calf strain and thus injuring the opposing leg. Just waiting to WALK without pain!

    Perhaps you fractured a rib and it didn’t show on the xray. Although honestly that sounds way worse than a broken rib, which usually leaves you in pain but functioning. I hope you heal speedily!

  31. aw no :( I’m sorry you were in so much pain during and after that race. Hoping for you that it gets better, and SOON!

  32. Poor thing Em. Am in the same boat – 6 weeks and not a shuffle due to a double whamy of a hip flexor and swollen ankle/heel.

  33. I’m real sorry to hear this. It can feel very isolating and the more you try/want to moan less, the more isolated you feel. I imagine the double whammy of 1. not knowing WTF it is and 2. not knowing when you can run again is unbearably annoying. Hang on in there. We’re all thinking of you :)

  34. Ugh! That BLOWS. I wish I had some pearl of wisdom and advice to offer or, even better, a solution to fix that bitch of an injury… alas, I’ve got nothing to offer but to say it sucks and I’m so sorry! It’s OK, even encouraged, to bitch a lot. And maybe even do some semi-heavy drinking, I think that’ll help too. Bleah. Just sucks. Hang in there.

  35. The not knowing has got to suck. Wishing you a speedy recovery. Hang in there!

  36. If it makes you feel any better, just remember that at this time last year, you were in crutches and a boot, and since then you’ve done lots of amazing stuff. This will pass.

  37. Ah, man. That sucks!! I hope you feel better soon.

  38. Oh no Emily! I hope you heal quickly and your body starts to cooperate. I just got out of a walking boot with a metatarsal stress fracture and your past posts about your broken foot got me through. If this girl can have a walking boot and then run ultra’s a year later, I’ll be fine. Wishing you a speedy recovery!!!

  39. We run so many of the same races (I was there Thursday), one day I will see Sweaty Emily in the sweaty flesh! I wish you a speedy recovery, I find that I am never more desperate to run than when I am physically unable to. Hang in there!

  40. So sorry to hear about your pain… It sucks to have to take time off. I’ve had to take up to 2-3 weeks off due to back pain. I get restless and feel like I”m not making progress. But then I took up swimming. It sucked at first, but I slowly got better and found a rhythm.

    I wound up hurting myself at this year’s Turkey Trot (sounds lame, I know). But I didn’t stretch properly so I got a pinch just below my calf during the last 1.5 mile. Come to find I have a soleus strain. It’s been pinching me like crazy. I ran 4.5 miles on Monday and the last mile was absolutely painful. I had to stop running yesterday. Off to see the doctor today. I know he’s going to say “take time off,” but I don’t want to, heh. Why can’t my legs just run damn it.

  41. Emily, I’m sorry. That sucks. Since June I have been battling what I think started as chronic plantar fasciitis but turned into repeated plantar tendon tears when I tried to run “just a few miles”. Long story short, I spent two weeks in a boot and have not run since mid-October. The first few weeks without running I teared up when I saw a runner! I have a stack of unread Runners Worlds gathering dust by my bed. I scroll past Facebook posts where people are talking about races. I joined a gym in July when I had to cut back on my mileage, and at first the classes intimidated me, but I manned up and went anyway and now I am spinning and Body Pumping six days a week. It was good for me to get out of my comfort zone. And I can tell that I am finally healing now that I am not running at all. I have started walking a few mostly pain-free miles to get my outdoor exercise fix but have vowed no running until 2013 because I do not want to go through this again.
    I know that running injuries are not the end of the world – it’s not cancer. It’s not a catastrophic brain injury. Otherwise we are (knock on wood)healthier than a lot of people, even injured. But it still sucks to not be able to do something you love and that makes you feel so great. And mine wasn’t just a running injury either – I couldn’t get through the grocery store without limping. It was a drag whenever I was on my feet.
    So take care and please let yourself heal!

  42. Ugh, I hope you start feeling much better soon!

  43. I just injured myself too and it sucks! Seriously, it is the worst. So I completely get being down and walking around in a funk. The other day I just texted my friend for a couple hours complaining. And she was so nice not to say “enough already! This is boring/not a big deal move on.” When running is part of your every day/every few days routine it’s hard to break it. You worry that you will lose all your fitness and other people just do not get it. Hope your rib feels better!

  44. Have you tried a heating pad? Try it!
    My brother rows for his university’s varsity crew team. Earlier this season he had a very similar experience to you- he missed the first month of the season due to severe pain, saw a few specialists, took high dose pain killers and iced. FINALLY, someone recommended using a heating pad, which helps because it stimulates blood flow to the area and helps healing. He got better soon after and is back to rowing. Hope that helps!!

  45. I’m sorry to hear about your injury but remember that you are stil a BA!

    I want to send you gift basket of beer. Seriously if you need an extra happy hour outing let me know. Would be happy to buy you some that f’in sucks drinks in DC! Wishing you a quicky and speedy healing!!!

  46. Where are you? I hope you haven’t perished from some crazy internal problem that can’t be fixed. I miss your running junky updates! Please get better soon!