Ballsbridge, Dublin

Dublin is a beautiful city. Georgian-style architecture is abundant, lending an irresistible air of charm to the tree-lined streets, and worldly character to the city’s lovely landscape. These pleasant views, along with the pedestrian friendly atmosphere, (directions are always given by locals in terms of walking distance)  makes Dublin a wonderful place to run.

Unfortunately, I was in far too much pain to go running at all during my stay.  Though I tried everything I could think of and everything suggested to me in order to try to heal faster, I found that still, I could barely walk more than five miles at a time without a stock load of ibuprofen working its way through my veins, easing the stabbing discomfort of my aching muscles.

My three giant (zebra-print!) suitcases didn’t help much either, as I had severely over-packed when not wanting to leave behind any of my adorable boots or charming trench coats, all of which combined in a series of overweight bags ended up being extremely heavy, and difficult to handle. I cursed myself for being so careless as to over-pack so embarrassingly much, especially after my unfortunate experience of paying an extra $200 (two hundred dollars!) in order to get my bags on the plane. How could I have been so stupid to make my bags so heavy and not check beforehand that they met the weight requirements? My love of fashion was tragically destructive to my overall well-being. My back ached as I dragged one suitcase after another behind me, and I firmly decided to never let such a careless mistake happen again-I would haveto be more practical in the future! After I was able to get my bags to the hotel, my back ached, and my sore muscles felt even more stiff and unyielding.

This difficulty in walking was made even worse by the local practice of largely underestimating walking distances when giving tourists (like myself) directions. A “five minute walk” as described by the concierge was more likely to take at least twenty minutes, and a “thirty minute walk” would likely take at least an hour and a half.

Did Irish people walk so fast that they were invisible to the naked eye? I don’t normally think of myself to be extremely slow while walking, but maybe I am sluggish compared to impossibly swift Irish standards of speed walking-and my injury certainly wasn’t making me go any faster.

A Pint of Guinness in Temple Bar

Ever since my ten-mile run in Half Moon Bay, my right leg has been tight and sore, causing significant pain all throughout my leg, making it difficult to walk, let alone run. This was originally diagnosed as piraformis syndrome, and later said to be just an over-tightening of the muscles in a concentrated area between my hamstring and gluteal muscles. It feels like a person is following me around with a fireplace poker, and jabbing it consistently into the back of my upper thigh, sending shooting nerve pains down my leg with each movement.

I cautiously limped around Dublin, concentrating carefully on stepping in just the right way, in order to reduce the pain as much as possible. My mom walked with me, reducing her pace considerably to match my sloth-like slowness.

After a day of sightseeing on Hop-On Hop-Off tour buses visiting such must-see attractions as the Guinness Brewery and Storehouse (topping off a pint of Guinness with my mom at noon-which actually helped reduce the pain quite well!), as well as the Christ Church and Temple Bar, we decided to book a countryside tour to visit Ireland’s more rural landscape. I asked for a bucket of ice from the conceirge (hoping that he understood at this point why I would need so many buckets of ice, and wondering if I should explain it to him just to be sure he didn’t think I was an ice-hoarding freak) and collapsed in the hotel room upstairs, a bag of ice numbing my sore muscles.

My mom and I in the Irish Countryside

Our “Wild Wicklow” tour was a huge relief in dealing with the pain of my injury, as I was able to view the sights of Ireland’s lovely countryside from the comfort of a nicely cushioned tour bus-though not usually my preferred choice of traveling, my old-woman’s body needed the extra padded seats, and promise of little to no exercise to make my trip the most enjoyable it could be. Through the windows of the tour bus I viewed the lush green countryside of Ireland, with more sheep than people-grazing peacefully everywhere I looked, and endless fields of heather sprinkled over rolling hills shrouded in misty white fog, just as I had imagined it.

The Wicklow Countryside

A short walk was included in the end of the tour, through a lovely graveyard and through the woods, but sadly, I could not make it past a half mile, and didn’t want to take the chance of worsening my already terrible condition. Soon, we returned to the city, and along with the help of city buses, I continued sightseeing throughout the city with my (extremely patient) mom, walking as slowly and carefully, taking as much of the city in as possible with my pathetically slow snail’s pace.

And so, instead of jogging freely around the picturesque streets of Dublin, I  continued to hobble around slowly, like a severely arthritic old woman, grimacing with pain every second step. Desperately I searched for answers-what I needed was a miracle cure, something that would cure me of my pain, and the advice I was given was to ice the area as much as possible to reduce swelling, stretch the area regularly, and visit a sports massage therapist as soon as possible.

Immediately I had the sweet and chipper (and oh so delightfully Irish!) concierge help me make an appointment with the nearest masseuse. He smiled compassionately at me, his thin pink lips turning up gently at the corners in an elf-like grin, his pale freckled skin blushing a slight pink at his cheeks. Though he was mostly a bit shy and spritely, he looked straight at me, his round blue eyes expressing his genuine dedication  and devotion, and assured me that he would help me in any way possible to heal my leg. Then, he giggled to himself, quickly turning away, and as he promised, scheduled an appointment for me with a nearby masseuse.

Christ Church

I returned to my room with yet another giant bucket of ice for my leg in hand, and (with a plastic bag full of ice propped under my leg) went to sleep, dreaming of a magical sports massage therapist with healing hands-that would instantly rid me of the pain that I suffered.

The next morning I awoke briskly, my leg still in pain, but with optimism in mind. I made my way over to the massage therapists’ office (after skillfully mastering the Dublin bus system due to my inability to walk) and she called me in for my massage appointment.

My therapist was tall and slender, with lovely pale red hair, and light freckled skin. Like the concierge, she smiled sweetly-not giving everything away at once like the brash American toothy smile I am used to seeing at home. I had been noticing more and more throughout my stay in Dublin that nearly every fifth person has red hair, an Irish stereotype that I was happy to confirm as truth-and here in the massage therapist’s office, further confirmed.

The massage was a combination of pressing and poking around my legs and glutes, and her response to my gasps and muted squeals of pain. I was vulnerable and helpless nearly naked underneath the light towel that covered me, but I breathed deeply and suffered through it, putting my faith in her knowledge of muscles and injuries, hoping she could take away the debilitating pain that plagued me.

After an hour of painful rubbing and pressing of the sore muscles of my body, the therapist (in a charming Irish accent) reassured me that I had not pulled a muscle to the point of no recovery, but just had very tight glutes and hamstrings that needed to be relaxed and stretched in order to recover. Along with a few recommendations to take hot yoga and to spend more time stretching, she sent me on my way, telling me that I should be back to running within a couple of days, while also warning me that I might be sore from the massage soon (which I dismissed completely, knowing how healed I felt at the present moment).

I was elated. Her hands seemed as though they had indeed been magical, as instantly the tightness in my muscles was released-and I felt so happy and free that I walked the whole way back to the hotel instead of taking the bus. A true Dubliner I was at this moment, walking through the city streets, taking a “ten minute” walk (that really turned out to be thirty minutes) as though it was nothing. All I needed was a football (“soccer”-for you Americans) jersey, and I would blend right in!

A few hours later, the pain set in. It was no longer just a tweaked muscle in the upper thigh of my right leg, but a throbbing nerve pain that seemed to radiate throughout my entire body. I could barely move without feeling sharp pains all over my legs, and instantly popped a few more ibuprofen before attempting to walk another step.

In efforts to prevent further pain (and overweight baggage charges!) my mom and I made a trip to a local department store in Dublin, bought a cheap suitcase, and packed a bunch of my things in it (unbelievably impractical five-inch heels, an excess in trench coats, more shoes, more coats) to send home with her, while also stopping at the post office to send packages back as well-all in attempts to reduce the weight of my three suitcases enough to keep my injury from getting much worse while making my way over to London.

The trip to Dublin was finished off that night by a touristy visit to an “Irish House Party,” a show compiled of various Irish traditional songs and dances, bagpipes and riverdance included. I went to bed that night exhausted and still in pain, dreaming of recovery in London, as I would be leaving for my next destination early the following morning.