Back from Collapse

It felt good to run this morning. Yes, it was cold and I didn’t wear gloves. The cold, crisp October air, rushing into my lungs reminded me again that the road back from my accident in August has been slower than I anticipated. That’s when I tumbled off my bike and all the training that commenced back in January got put on hold.

I didn’t think it would take nearly three months to get back to where I was before I cracked a rib and punctured my lung on August 5th. It’s been a slow, uphill climb, but I’m really close to being able to do everything that I had been doing prior to crashing my bike that Monday night after work.

The most interesting thing I learned during my recovery is that there is a psychological component to injuries and recovery that often gets missed. For weeks after my traumatic pneumothorax, I dealt with anxiety, especially at night. “Is my lung ok?” I’d wonder.  Sometimes, I’d cough and feel pain, or sneeze, and I’d have to put my hand over my left breast and feel my chest rising and falling to assure myself that I was ok. My already balky sleep patterns were disrupted further.

As a triathlete, I wanted to literally jump right back on my bike as soon as possible. Fortunately, the biking came back first, because I love my time I spend cranking on my bike. One day short of three weeks from being told my left lung was 80 percent collapsed in the emergency room at Mid Coast Hospital, I was biking 26 miles as part of Team Baumer at the Rev3 in Old Orchard.

My friend, Reggie Black, urged me forward, warning that doctors might be too conservative in their timelines about resuming “normal” activities. Actually, I am fortunate to have a terrific osteopathic practitioner in Dr. Jessica Bell. A physiatrist, experienced in treating athletes and their specific injuries, her guidance and encouragement, while also cautioning me in my quest in getting back to 100 percent, has been beneficial.

My wife, Mary, reminded me to take it slow. She even got ticked off at me one night, late in August, when I didn’t come home when I told her I would from a training ride. I said I was riding 20 and I was having too much fun to stop there, so I extended it out a bit further and came home as darkness was approaching. I was fine, but it was nice to know she still cares.

When I wanted to start running a month ago, Dr. Bell cautioned me to start slow and run on soft surfaces, rather than pavement. She suggested trail running. That was great advice. I started by running 15 minutes, around the yard and up and down the driveway. Then, I went to 20, and then, upped it from there, running some trails out behind the house.

On Wednesday last week, I drove over to Lisbon Falls at sunrise, parked near where the old dump used to be, and ran over to The Farm, up and around where my Opa used to grow potatoes and where as an eight-year-old, I worked with him, my uncle and my dad, and back to my car. That was a 30-minute run. It felt great and I enjoyed my surroundings.

This morning, I headed down to Durham Elementary and ran the property around the school, across the little path through the woods between the school and the town office, down and around the Eureka Grange, and I did that for 35 minutes. My lungs felt great, and even my left hip, which has been giving me some trouble due to bursitis, felt a little bit younger.

I’m planning to run the Thanksgiving Day 4-miler in Portland. It’s a goal and I have hopes of reuniting Team Baumer, the competitive family triumvirate that includes Miss Mary and Mark, for a little pre-turkey trotting around the city.

A week from Saturday, I’ll swim for the first time since getting hurt. I’ve missed swimming, which back in February when I began, I never thought I’d say.

2013 has brought some challenges, but I’ve been up to the tasks. As I wind down the year, I’m hoping to take my lessons learned and leverage them for good as I look ahead to 2014.

Running Man

A post-run glow?

3 thoughts on “Back from Collapse

  1. On the back of the all the passenger-less SUVs around here are 26.4 and 13.2 oval stickers, the size, shape and pattern that used to denote country of residence. I saw my favorite yesterday: 0.0 (I don’t run.)

    Few things as brutal on aged joints as running, especially long distances. Our shoes alter our stride to make each step a crushing crash from sole to hip, not the way we naturally run. Every time that foot comes down we are actually applying a brake, slowing us down. I quit that.

    I did, though, run short, hard sprints. Best conditioning I ever had with minimal impacts. I trained with a rugby club one night a week, nothing but short, hard sprints for the better part of an hour, and pushed a prowler once or twice a week. Very short workouts, but very low stress on the joints, and impact that blew away LSD (long slow distance).

  2. That’s a swell picture. Like everything in our world. we expect INSTANT results. Break a leg? Fix it fast, doc. A shoulder out of place? The show must go on. I think it was the JBE who posited that the speed of automobile travel has changed how we look at everything. Good luck with your future running projects…better you than me!

  3. @LP

    I do think long-distance running can be tough on older joints, especially without consideration of form and gait/foot issues and shoes. I’ve learned a lot talking with Mark Baumer about running and changing my shoes; I’m now using a zero drop shoe and have worked hard on form.

    That being said, my running is merely part of a cross-training regimen and I’m hoping to be able to continue the sprint triathlon formats, and possibly a longer, Olympic-length one next summer, completing all three components.

    Thanks, @JAB. Trail running is enjoyable and I just discovered a new trail near Pineland I hope to try tomorrow or Wednesday.

    Agreed on your cultural observation.

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