Happy New Year, all! I am excited that we have entered the year in which I will complete my first marathon! Last time I sat down to write, I had to get out some frustrations after a major back injury. (At least it felt major to me). I have to say, of everything I have done in marathon training, not being able to run has been the most difficult. I had been doing great! After completing my first sub 3-hour 10k at this year’s Marine Corps Marathon 10k, and then besting that PR by an additional 7 minutes at the Veterans Day 10k, I felt completely on a roll in hitting my stride at the time of injury.
Just like that, I had to skip a planned race, Jingle All the Way, and take a total break from running to heal. Not running has been so hard, especially when I felt like I needed to keep going in order to maintain my fitness level, but I knew if I did not take the time to heal, in the long run, it may cost me the marathon. So reluctantly, I stopped running. I had to miss my Monday training session, following the fall on Saturday, but I did go back that Friday – partially due to a desire to continue my training and partially to combat cabin fever.
Slowly, my back started to heal, but it was a tedious process. The week after the fall, as pain gradually began to subside, I took immediate steps. I ran on the weekend of December 17th. I had wanted to complete 6 miles, but could really only tolerate 5 without my back tightening. Luckily, I have a great support network that encouraged me to go a shorter distance now for the longer term later. I did go to my trainer 4 days the week before Christmas, as opposed to the usual 2, since I was going to be out of town and did not want to miss the workout, especially since at that time it was all I could do.
In discussions with my team, we decided I would not run until I came back from the holiday. If I wanted a quick run in the interim, it would be no more than 1-2 miles at most. This did not actually end up working out because right after Christmas I flew to Atlanta to visit Savannah and Charleston. By the end of each day, my back was stiff either from walking too much while still injured or sitting too much. I quickly discovered it is a delicate balance. More than once, my mom walked into our hotel room to find me in a quirky yoga pose in an effort to stretch my back.
On our road trips, my mom and I are notorious for getting into deep conversations and this was no exception. What I have not talked about on this blog (and won’t) are some of my other competing priorities. We were talking at dinner one night almost three weeks after my injury. By this time, I was concerned my back would not heal correctly, and frankly, I do not need any further issues with my balance. I remember during our conversation just breaking down, and saying I feel overwhelmed and if my back would just heal everything else would be so much better.
If you are reading this and you know me well, then you know that usually when I say something that is bothering me out loud, it usually goes a long way in making me feel better. There were tears, but they dried, as they often do in life.
By New Year’s Eve, I was pain free, and ready to kick off the new year! Then, still on the road, I started to feel terrible. I ached all over, and had a fever, chills, and fatigue. I worried that my back did not hurt because I hurt everywhere else. Can you believe that?! All of the painstaking recovery only to be taken out by the flu. The irony was not lost on me. Almost every year since my senior year of high school, something bad has happened to me on New Year’s Eve. Now you know why I set goals around my birthday and not in the new year. I was in bed by 8:30 p.m. (I feel the sudden need to apologize for the fact that this has turned into a play-by-play on my health.)
After new year’s I returned to work and was on the mend, but I had honestly gotten in my own head a little bit – discouraged, disappointed, and scared to get hurt further.
That Sunday, I took a quick second to think. I got into running partially because it is a great way to clear my head. I was firm in my decision to just get on the treadmill. I didn’t even prepare with supplies as I normally would. I did not want to run with anyone in case I had to stop. It was freezing outside, so I knew I was better off inside, especially for the first run back. It was just me, my running shoes, and my playlist. My marathon training schedule had 8 miles listed, so that as the goal of my run.
I did it! It felt so great! I ran pain free, and it was such a huge mood boost! It really helped me put my goals back in focus. That evening, we had a call with my race team to discuss logistics for the rest of training and race day. That got me more energized than ever! I have approximately four months left to make this happen. This is approximately the halfway point, and look how much I accomplished in four months. I am excited to see where we will be by race day. For now, we take the small steps for incremental success. This weekend should be much warmer, 54 degrees. I intend to run 10 miles outside. From there I will dive right back in to my training schedule.
It just goes to show that it only takes one run to get things back on track. No matter the circumstances or what challenge you face, always find the courage to face your fear and start again. Ultimately, it is you who will reap the benefits, and working toward a goal is so much more energizing than giving up, which can drain you emotionally.
I am thrilled to see what 2018 has in store, and what the road to my marathon will be like! Thanks for being along for the run!