I’ve been battling iliotibial band syndrome and a bit of patellar tendonitis (runner’s knee) in my left leg since completing the Marshall Mangler 50K back in November. I’ve had my ups, and I’ve had my downs. The past 3 months have been an emotional roller coaster for me.
Denial. For a couple of weeks, I tried talking myself into believing that I was still “recovering" from the 50K. "Of course I’m going to be in a lot pain…I just ran 31.07 miles!" I was able to get myself out of this stage pretty early in the game and decided to seek out professional medical advice…x-rays, physical therapy, the works.
Anger. I was mad for a short while. It was very tough for me to read about running, hear about running, and be asked about running on a daily basis. It felt like my body had betrayed me, but you know what? I betrayed my body by ignoring issues and not tuning into the warning signs.
I have to listen and take care of my body not only when it’s called upon because by then, it could be too late. It is, after-all, the only place I have to live.
Depression. This stage was quite possibly the longest stage that I found myself stuck in, and quite frankly, I still find myself wondering into a dark place every now and then. I’ve cried. I’ve moped. I’ve felt distressed and desperate to no end. I presumed that everything I worked so hard for in recent years would begin crumbling to the ground. Foolish and ignorant dark thoughts swirled through my head. “Without running, who am I?” “If I don’t run, who’s going to read my blog?” “I’m going to lose my speed, endurance, and everything else!” “Running makes me happy, and now I’m going to be miserable!”
It’s true, but only if I allow it to make me miserable.
Acceptance. I finally reached this stage of the game. I have to accept that I’m an injured runner. How did I get here? Well…
I had a wake up call. Early yesterday morning, I set off to run 15 miles. Before yesterday, I had 2 successful 12 mile runs, so this 15 miler was going to be another test. I foam rolled for several minutes, performed a dynamic warmup routine, and then I stepped outside. After my Garmin watch located satellites, I took a deep breath and started my run. The first couple of miles felt endless, and then I was able to slip into my groove - as with most runs. Around mile 8, I refueled with a package of Sports Beans and started heading back towards home.
Moments after the turn-around point, I suddenly found myself on the ground. Literally. I wore my Yaktrax on this run in the off-chance that the trails would still be covered with snow and ice. Most parts were. On the non-icy and snowy portions, the rubber on the Yaktrax gripped the pavement and flung me forward, sort of like a pole-vaulter. I placed my hands in front of me to avoid cracking my skull, and I landed on my right side. Cars drove by as my pride disintegrated beneath me. I stood up and started running again. I shook off the embarrassment and momentary pain as I continued to run along the trail, noting a few other runners who also braved the cold temps. Boom…
I fell again. This time…on both knees. I made up a few curse words under my breath as I stood up a 2nd time. I was losing motivation, and I was losing myself. Running is my time to be with me, but “I” suddenly seemed so far out of the equation. I started thinking about of all the people who inspire me, and that’s what helped get me over the 10 mile hump. A hump indeed. Boom…
I fell a 3rd and final time. I think my Yaktrax were either trying to kill me or teach me a lesson. I know that I’m clumsy, but really? I’ve only ever fell ONCE during a run because I tripped over a root, and now my tally was up to 3 on a single run along a flat bike trail. I was in a ton of pain. Mostly psychological. I took a few quick strides, listening for any warning signals telling me that I should stop. *Sheer Silence.* By some form of magical wizardry, I slipped into my groove again. I was thrilled when I reached 12 miles pain free…well as pain free as I could possible be after falling 3 times. “I can do this. I will finally make it to 15 miles - a distance that didn’t sound so daunting to me just a few months ago.”
Then around mile 12.8, pain on the side of my left knee struck me like a bolt of lightening. I immediately stopped. I sobbed as I fumbled to grab my phone out of my coat pocket to call my mom in total desperation. I asked her if she could pick me up at the trail head. It was way too cold to walk the rest of the way home, and I was already losing a ton of body heat within minutes. My mom is my savior in all aspects of my life.
What did I get out of this run?
My coat ripped.
My pants ripped.
My gloves ripped.
My shoes ripped.
Ironically enough, my Yaktrax broke after breaking me.
And, I have some new battle wounds. But something positive did come out of this run. A newfound moment of clarity. If I let this ripple in the water turn into a tidal wave, I may never see the beach in its original state again.
So I’ve made a decision.
I’m going to drop down to the Pittsburgh Half Marathon as opposed to running the full as originally planned. The first person that I told was Sean. As the words slipped out of my mouth, it stung. My lips quivered, and I was forced to hold back a few tears. But this is something that needs to be done.
There’s no point in trying to haphazardly get through this training plan just so I can say that I ran another marathon. It would be very stupid of me. The Pittsburgh Marathon will be there next year. There will always be another marathon.
Even if my biggest dreams and aspirations have to be tucked away, it doesn’t mean that they will never see the light of day again. I have new goals. My goal is to heal. Completely heal. I have to get through NOW if I want to get through FOREVER. My injury doesn’t make me any less of a runner. My injury will transform me into a stronger and more passionate runner. I will treat every run as a lesson and every mile as a gift. Endurance sports are my passion. And I will treat this obstacle like a marathon. I will start out conservatively, pace myself throughout, and finish strong. I will leave all negativity behind me on the course.
As my own heroine, I need to overcome adversity to sincerely be my own heroine. And when I ultimately come out on top, it will be that much sweeter.
I am and will always be a runner.23 notes
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- shamarlife said: beautiful. thank you for being an inspiration to so many.
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- becky-balances said: Smart decision, Adrian. I know it’s tough!
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