Unlike most of the distance runners who traveled to New York last week, marathoner Desiree Davila arrived knowing she wouldn't be hitting the famous 26.2-mile course.
Davila has been off her feet almost entirely since Aug. 5, when a mysterious and painful hip injury forced her out of the Olympic marathon in London after just one 2.2-mile lap. Composed but obviously devastated, she told reporters she had done everything possible to get to the start, including training on a special high-tech treadmill that minimizes impact and taking a cortisone shot. She hoped for a miracle, but it wasn't to be, so she crossed the finish line on The Mall 24 miles early and walked away from the race she'd spent four years visualizing.
Back home, a detailed MRI showed what had been missed in an initial diagnosis -- Davila had a stress fracture at the top of her right femoral shaft. She rested completely for eight weeks, then began some stationary bike work and only started running again about two weeks ago, for 10 minutes at a time. That puts her, in her words, at the bottom of the family mileage board below her fiancé Ryan Linden and their two dogs.
It's by far the longest layoff of a goal-oriented life, so how is Davila dealing with the unaccustomed inactivity? "You can ask the people around me," she said with a throaty laugh over the phone from New York City, where she was fulfilling sponsor obligations. "I think I needed it. I was so frustrated and beaten down by trying to get through the whole process. Now I'm itching to go."
Davila doesn't regret her decision to give London a try; she said she acted based on the best information she had at the time. "If it had been diagnosed right, I wouldn't have been there, and I wouldn't have tried to train to get there," she said. She's still unsure about when she'll race again. The imbalances created by months of favoring her right hip need to be addressed with soft tissue work and physical therapy.
For now, the Boston Marathon -- where she set an American course record in 2011 -- remains on her schedule (the race is on April 15), "and we'll keep it on until we know it can't work," said Davila, who trains in suburban Detroit with the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. "Things would have to be pretty perfect in January for that to happen."