Sunday, May 15, 2011
About a year ago, I was crushed to find out that I had a stress fracture in my right foot and had to stop training for the Cleveland half-marathon. I was already up to 10 miles on my long training runs and felt like I was so close to accomplishing one of my major goals only to have my body work against me. At the time, I was incredibly frustrated with myself and cursed the walking cast I had to wear for more than a month. But, I wore my boot everywhere and did my therapy. End result - I was cast free just in time for my wedding. Yes!
Once I returned from my honeymoon, I was incredibly cautious since my foot and ankle were weakened. I wanted more than anything to be able to pick up where I left off, but I knew that I had to be patient or else I'd reinjure myself. Even though I longed to run, I spent more and more time pedaling away on the elliptical like a hamster. I also kept doing my therapy and eventually, I was able to try slowly jogging a few minutes... and then a few more minutes.
Just as I was starting to feel more comfortable jogging, I had another major setback. I was volunteering at a leadership training and tripped in a dark stairwell. My right ankle collapsed in and I tumbled down the stairs. When I finally hit the bottom of the stairs, I had mixed emotions. I was grateful that I didn't hit my head and I was incredibly scared that I had broken my ankle. After a trip to the ER, I found out that I didn't break my ankle but had sprained it so severely that I would be on crutches and in splint until the swelling went down. My foot and ankle were so swollen and bruised that they were almost double in size! Totally gross, I know. I crutched around the camp the rest of the week and suddenly that walking cast didn't sound too shabby. Once I returned home, I got that walking cast and was back in it for 4-6 weeks. Sigh...
But, I knew what I had to do. Resting was tough, wearing the boot was inconvenient, but recovery from the second injury was even harder than I had anticipated. Once it wasn't painful to stand in the walking cast, I was at the gym in the boot pedaling way on a stationary bike and lifting weights. This injury was not going to defeat me even if I looked silly! Eventually, I was able to wear a shoe again and it felt like a victory to be able to get on the elliptical again sans boot. After a few months of hamster life, I tried jogging again and have slowly worked my way back to running without constant fear.
And perhaps it's all these setbacks that make me feel grateful for what happened today. I set a new 5K PR (27:38) in my second race since my last injury. I wasn't expecting it all since it was pouring rain and they weren't tracking splits along the course. Since I had no idea how fast/slow I was going, I just ran without thinking or worrying. I just wanted to finish and get out of the rain. When I crossed the line, I knew I was close to my PR but didn't think much of it. It was only after I saw my official time this afternoon, that I realized I had run the fastest I ever have.
So what have I learned from this whole experience:
1) I am resilient
2) I am have a strong body, but even stronger will
3) I am capable of being the best version of me when I least expect it
I'm not sure what the future holds for me as a runner. Even if I never accomplish my goal of running a half-marathon, I'm learning to appreciate the journey and the lessons learned with each mile. And if for only one day, I celebrate a personal victory.