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Break of a Lifetime: A FITNESS Editor's Story

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Snap Heard Round the City

During the race I ignored the whispering ache that began after the first few miles, and tried to drown it with positive affirmations as it became more persistent. But when the pain intensified until each step felt like sheer torture, I limped to the side of the Willis Avenue Bridge in the Bronx with just 6 miles remaining, sobbing as runners surged past me. A spectator lent me a cell phone to call Scott, who was waiting two miles away. He ran against the sea of marathoners and carried me off the crowded course and into a taxi several blocks away.

At the orthopedist the next day, I expected to be told I'd pulled a muscle or strained a tendon. In fact, I'd started the race with a stress fracture at the neck of my femur (the largest and strongest bone in the body, situated between the pelvis and knee). But it took about three hours of running to become a full-fledged break. The doctor said I wouldn't be able to walk without crutches or a cane for at least three months. I had visions of my apartment in shambles, my toddlers running amok, with me trapped on the couch, helplessly watching the chaos.

Further, surgery was required -- three large pins were placed in my hip to help the bone knit together. I spent a week in the hospital and was on crutches for the next few months. Unfortunately, though, the bone never healed, so about six months later I had a second surgery to change the angle of the fracture by removing a small, pie-shaped wedge from my femur. My surgeon is optimistic that this will do the trick and I'll be up and running -- literally -- again in the next few months.

Nowadays, I'm mindful of a strange twinge in my shoulder when I lift weights, and dutifully take my multivitamin and calcium pills with a big glass of fat-free milk. The next time, my body won't have to shout quite so loudly for me to pay attention.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, September 2006.


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