Renting Crutches on Nantucket

The articles arrive in my email every day:

“Dominate the Ironman Triathlon!”

“Make Your Next Race a PR!”

“8 Wonder Foods for Female Athletes”

What I really need are articles like “What to do when it feels like a bone is sawing through your ACL tendon” and “Finding a shortcut home when you’re exhausted and your legs feel like rubber.”

The other day I set out to determine if my glorious 8-mile run last week was a fluke. Retracing my steps, I felt amazingly good for the first few miles. Then the crown of the road seemed to become more pronounced, as reported by my left knee. I crossed and re-crossed the roads to balance the tension that was building in my outer leg. And, as expected, the whole thing fell apart at the sixth mile.

There’s a story behind this, and it’s sort of funny in hindsight.

In 2003, when I was at peak running condition after the Boston Marathon, the family went on vacation. On our boat. As the mom, my duties included cranking the drums (tightening sail), dispensing lunches, finding diversions for bored kids, checking charts, calling harbormasters for moorings, and restraining the urge to push the captain overboard when anchoring (it’s inevitable). Going for a run while in port is pretty far down the list, but I got to do it a few times while we were in Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard. (Because Cuttyhunk is just too small to run around.)

Unfortunately, the tight quarters aboard ship (the ship being all of 36-by-12 and occupied by 2 adults and 5 kids and the dog) didn’t allow for a lot of stretching, and the continuous rocking motion of the decks don’t help. Imagine living on a balance ball for two weeks.

don't call it a yacht, it's more like camping on the water

One day when I was taking the kids and dog to shore, all of these factors converged on my left hamstring. I can still hear the snap-crackle-pop sound my tendon made when I bent to pick up the dog and set her on the dock. Pretty soon I was laying on the dirty deck of our inflatable dinghy with a couple of those blue plastic cooler cubes strapped to my leg with a life vest. The kids were running up the street to get me some anti-inflammatory/pain relief. And, oh yeah, I was looking up at the lunchtime crowd on the harborside deck of the Navigator restaurant, and they were looking down at me.

Two days later I found an apothecary on Main Street in Nantucket that rents crutches. Not that I recommend climbing in and out of boats with limited use of one leg, or dodging SUVs from New York on cobblestone streets while handicapped. The experience doesn’t leave the best impression of the island. (However, instead of Sankaty beach, I went to the Lifesaving Museum on a bus which wasn’t a bad trade-off.)

That’s when my left leg decided that six miles is its limit, regardless of the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal condition of the rest of my corpus. I can read all of the articles they send me about performance and nutrition and conditioning, but unless I can fool my left knee, it may be time wasted. This summer I don’t want to see Nantucket from the passenger seat of a bus, and the crutches might be rented out to someone else.

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2 Responses to “Renting Crutches on Nantucket”

  1. Billy Macmillan Says:

    Thirty minutes ago I was running in the Blue Hills. I felt invincible. My heart rate locked in to that 145-155 range with a few peaks in the 160’s. I began daydreaming as I stretched the pace. I found myself fantasizing about competeting in a triathalon. I felt 25.
    As I was getting ready to leave the parking lot I reached down to help my 30 lb. golden doodle and faithful running companion into the car and BOING! I strained or pulled some kind of connective tissuey thingymajiggy in my lower back. I groaned so loud that some little kid in a stroller passing by with her Grandmother started to cry. I suddenly felt 43 again.
    How Ironic is that when I get home, the first thing I do after fixing a bag of ice for my back is read this blog post?

  2. Bike Nantucket, or not? | She's Gone Says:

    […] you can chalk up some of my prejudice to the time I had to be on crutches on this smug little island. Try crossing a cobble-rock street on crutches while a New Yorker in a Yukon bears down on you. […]

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