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Beaten by a Flying Pig

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Today was the day I was supposed to be awesome. Today was the day of my second full marathon. It was my day to say, “Oh, yeah. I can run 26.2 miles – no problem!” I’ve trained hard, and I’ve trained well. There was no reason I shouldn’t have been able to do. But sometimes, things just don’t go as planned.

My training started at the beginning of the year. My friend, Erin, and I would get up in the wee hours on Saturday or Sunday, and run in the dark and the cold. We would run for miles at a time. We would have frost on our hair. As the days got longer, our runs got longer. 20+ miles at a time. Rain or shine, we were on the road.

Erin ran her race a week before I ran mine. She ran her first marathon in Louisville, Kentucky. She was awesome!!

Today was MY day to be awesome. The Flying Pig Marathon was MINE – all mine!! Really. I worked hard, and I was going to claim it!

We drove to Cincinnati. I went to the race expo last night. I picked up my packet, and I was ready to race.

Let’s back up 12 years. A horrible bicycle accident resulted in a shoulder replacement. August 13, 2000. Unfortunately for me, my surgeon was a total hack. He purposely operated on my shoulder, knowing he was doing wrong. He had no idea what he was doing, and he removed two of my muscles – my pectoralis major, and my supraspinatus. He installed a titanium shoulder that was too big for me, and it was always out of the socket. Nobody could fix me at that point, because the doctor had removed my muscles. In 2006, I found a doctor who would at least put in a shoulder that fit me, and he tried his best to get my muscle “stumps” (wording from the surgical report) and “residual tissue” to attach to other things to hold my shoulder in place. It held for about a year, and then it was the same old thing – shoulder always out of socket. Did I mention I had no range of motion? I could not lift my (dominate) right arm. Not at all. I couldn’t even reach up to touch my ear with my right arm. I won’t go into the problems it caused. In 2009, I fell and rebroke it. Yet another replacement surgery. This time they did what was called a reverse shoulder. It reversed the position of the ball and socket, and allowed the deltoid to do the lifting. This surgery was a “last chance” replacement. My doctor said they don’t like to install it in anyone under 75 years old, unless they have a history of failed replacements. It’s for very inactive people. I am not inactive. The slightest fall could cause it to dislocate, and that would require yet another surgery. My last surgery did not go well, I ended up with bacterial and fungal infections, and my skin fell off my face. I am not going through another surgery. If I need another surgery before 5 years has passed with this one, I will not hesitate to ask them to remove my arm. Everyone says that’s wrong, but it’s not. Until you’ve lived with an arm that doesn’t cooperate, then don’t judge the decision.

Anyway… Back to this past week. When I drove to Louisville last weekend to cheer for Erin, I stressed my arm. It’s been sore and painful. I knew it did not bode well for my run this morning. I wore my sling two days this week, hoping it would rest my arm enough that it wouldn't cause problems.

This morning… We all got up at 4:30, and we drove to the race. I realized I’d forgotten my race bib (the number with the timing chip in it). My family drove back to get it, and they dropped it off to me. 10 minutes to spare. Whew!! That was cutting it close. I ran to the start line and got in my corral. I decided early on that I was going to hang with the pace group to finish under 5 hours. I had trained for that, and I could do it easily. I was sure of it.

We took off, and things were going great. Mile 6 or so, up hill for probably 3 miles, my arm started hurting. Sometimes my arm hurts on long runs, and I hold on to the bottom of my race skirt to keep my arm from moving. I had to slow my pace and let the pace group go on ahead of me. That was okay. I would still finish under 5 hours. The half marathoners split off at mile 9, and when I turned right with the full marathoners, a wave of emotion hit me. I was proud! But my arm was hurting, I knew I was having trouble. I thought I would be okay. I wasn’t. Mile 12, I passed a medical tent. I stopped to see if they had a splint. They splinted me, and I was still going to try, but my arm was really painful by that time. I took off running again, and I was on the phone with my husband, blubbering and boo hooing about how the arm was screwing up my race. He didn’t want me to mess up my arm. He said it wasn’t worth it, and I needed to stop. I knew he was right, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Two policemen saw me. They knew I was in trouble. When they asked me how I was doing, I just stopped and pulled over into a convenience store parking lot. I sat on the curb and cried. I mean, I bawled and sobbed uncontrollably. Not from the pain, but from the fact that I knew I couldn’t go on without totally messing up my arm. They got me back to the medical tent. I was done. 13 miles. I couldn’t continue the next 13. There was no way.

The medical tent people got me a ride back to the main medical tent. While I sat and waited for my ride, I had it in my head that maybe I could run/walk the final miles. But by that time I’d gone back a mile. It would have given me 2 additional miles. My arm? No. It wouldn’t do it at all. I waited for the ride to the main tent. A physical therapist worked on my arm for a while. It felt nice. But it still hurts now. I need to go to the doctor and get it checked. I’m sure it’s not out of place, but I need to check the hardware.

When I was done in the medical tent, they attached an ice bag to my shoulder, and they sent me out to my family. I had to walk behind the finish line, with all the people coming across the line hugging each other and shouting, “We did it!!” I was still crying. I didn’t do it. I was walking with the awesome people who had medals around their necks – people who persevered through 26.2 miles. I was walking with a sling and a big bag of ice, and no medal.

But I listened to my body. I am not super human. I have limitations. That’s okay. Yes, I am disappointed, and today I am very angry with my original surgeon who purposely removed my muscles for no reason. I am still a blubbering mess when I think of my disappointment with the race. I trained hard and well, and I should have had it. Sometimes, though, we’ve just got to step back and be okay with what we’ve done. There will be other races, and I will do well with them. As a matter of fact, I have another full marathon scheduled for June 9th. I don’t know if my arm will do it. I may have to cut back to the half marathon. That’s okay, too.

Today I ran 13 miles, and the Flying Pig got the best of me physically. Next year I’ll get the best of the Flying Pig.

** EDIT: To be clear, this was not my first marathon, but it was important because I was fully trained for this one, unlike my first one. My shoulder pain turned out to be a torn muscle that had happened two months prior on a canoe trip. If I'd known, I would have continued. I just couldn't take the chance of messing up my shoulder replacement.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I understand the disappointment, but it sure as heck is NOT a failure by any means. There ar etimes we need to work through our physical obstacles, and there are times we we know we have to let them win. You did the right thing. You are a motivation for so many with what you do and how hard you train and what you have already overcome to continue to be active. "You done good!"
    1755 days ago
    You ought to be proud of yourself for completing even 13 miles with the pain you were in! Good for you! So sorry for your disappointment in not being able to finish the race, but your health is more important for sure! There will be plenty of other races!!
    Hope you can find some relief for your shoulder!
    1755 days ago
    13 miles is a big accomplishment.

    Life is not waiting for the storms to pass, but learning to dance in the rain and you seem to be dancing great.

    Keep up the good work.
    1756 days ago
    Jeri you are a CHAMPION!! I admire you so much for your mighty spirit; few (if any) other people would endure what you have and continue on with a can do/will do spirit!! I'm so proud of you for stopping when you needed to; you made the best decision, no question!! And you are right! There will be other races and YOU will nail them!! I believe the Pig on Sunday WAS yours; you took it by the tail & took charge! As others have said, that Pig did not define or dictate your actions, you did!! And you were WISE!!

    Love you my friend!! You're my Hero!
    1756 days ago
  • HEIDI-25
    You are handling the disappointment in a mature way. It is best to listen to your body. Your health is more important than any race. I am glad that you are going to be ok :)
    1756 days ago
  • TAMTAM64
    This is just a little bump in your journey... I do hope the shoulder feels better soon.

    Like Holly said - we know the Jeri machine will finish what she set out to do. Stay focus cause June 9th is right around the corner.

    Sending a virtual hug to you!

    Tammy emoticon
    1756 days ago
  • DMF2012
    I'm so proud of you for running 13 miles, and I hope your doctor can find some way to fix your arm to alleviate your pain.
    1756 days ago
    oh My Gosh! I'm scheduled for my first shoulder replacement on June 12th! and after that my right shoulder and elbows need to be done (I have an autoimmune disease that has given me terrible arthritis)...I've had three hip replacement surgeries thus far and my left hip has dislocated 4 times. I seriously hope that a shoulder dislocation is not as painful as a hip dislocation because you would have had your arm removed long ago if it was! Now I'm seriously scared after reading your story...and completely was feeling for your misery...I'm so sorry that this happened to you. I had a hack screw up my spine for the rest of my life, so can understand that anger and helplessness. I'm so sorry...and kudos to you for training so hard and for even considering running this race. Blessings to you for your NEXT race....YOU GO GIRL
    1756 days ago
    I wanted to cry for you when you knew you had to stop but then cheer and be so proud of the 13 miles you had done. I struggle with 3 and have nothing wrong with me physically. You are an inspiration great blog. You can do a run any time you want just get that......shoulder sorted as best as you can. Flying pig watch out Jeri is out to get you.
    Anne :)
    1756 days ago
    Jeri you are an amazing woman, love your spirit and determination.
    Next time you are gonna do the marathon and finish it in style!

    I really hope your arm heals quickly hun, take care emoticon
    1756 days ago
    This made me a little sad but your attitude made it all better. NEXT year you're going to sink your teeth into the Pig and hang on for dear life. There's been some talk of a SP meet-up... you might have quite a few cheerleaders there to keep you going. emoticon I don't even know you and I'm VERY proud of you.
    1756 days ago
    Jeri you are and always will be my inspiration - and today you proved it even moreso to me - you are simply amazing! I will pray your arm is ok and there will be another race for you - I have no fear at all - the jeri machine will finish what she set out to do! take care of you my friend.
    1756 days ago
    You are awesome Jeri! I hope the doctor can find out what's going on and get you on the road to recovery soon.
    1756 days ago
  • JEM0622
    You did not allow your circumstance to define you. When the circumstance limited you, you put on a courageous front. I am proud of you! emoticon
    1756 days ago
    Jeri----you are always an inspiration to me(you know that) and you will continue to be. You made me cry girl, I am so sorry that you shoulder gave you these issues today. Hope its better SOON!!!! Sorry about the race but you are a wise women!!! HUGS!!!
    1756 days ago
    It sure wasn't your spirit or your legs and feet that stopped you. And what could you do? Cut the arm off and keep on going? I bet you would've if you could've! As far as everyone is concerned, you triumphed today!
    1756 days ago
  • CKAYT56
    Oh Jeri! Not the way you envisioned this day while you were training. Hard to not be disappointed when you know it is something you are capable of doing better at. You are a winner in my book! You have already beaten all the odds against even being able to do as much as you do! You did your best on this day and you will do your best again in June! You inspire me!
    1756 days ago

    You are and will always be my inspiration to get out and run. I love you and so proud of all your accomplishments.

    "I am not super human. I have limitations."

    I love your introspection. You will ALWAYS be a winner in my book!

    BIG HUGS!!!!

    1756 days ago

    Sorry to hear that the day didn't go as planned, but you did the right thing. Hard to look at it that way today, but in the future you'll see it.

    Just look at all the training you did and know that you can do it again.

    Great to have met you in Louisville last weekend.
    1756 days ago
    Oh WOW JERI!! What a day! I can feel your pain and disappointment as I read your blog. What you did was best and that trumps any flying pig in my book! I'm proud of you!
    emoticon For listening to your body!
    1756 days ago
    You totally made the right move, Jer. I know how hard that is. You so look forward to a challenge and want to succeed. But you did succeed even if you didn't cross the finish line by making a smart move. Hubby was right...nothing is worth the cost of your arm. All anyone has to do is look at your record and see what a fighter you are. Funny thing....someone else I follow could not complete even the swim portion of her triathlon in Louisville today (The Rev3) and she's a pro triathlete. She did the same as you and had a good cry. But then she picked herself up and cheered her co-athletes. She lives in Kona, HI so came a long way at great expense. Don't know the whole story yet, but she had to crawl into a rescue boat. Every triathletes fear. But you do what you gotta do so you can do the next race! Hang in there Chickie.... You are going to rock your next race in good health!
    emoticon emoticon
    1756 days ago
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