Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An Injury was just what I needed......

to again discover that running is part of who I am. Sometimes, it takes a few bumps ( or falls ) in the road to help us find our way.

I have been running for as long as I can recall. My family nicknamed me cricket when I was little because I never "just walked". I always had a bounce in my step and preferred running over walking any day. I loved everything about running. The freedom, the power, but most of all , the way it made me feel. I felt at peace and I enjoyed taking everything in as I ran past. The smell of the grass in an open field, the way the sun hit the trees as the sun was rising, it all was soo refreshing. It was soo simplistic.

It wasn't until I was into my twenty's that I discovered distance running. I completed my first marathon (the Chicago marathon) in 2001 and was hooked from there on.

As the years passed, I changed my focus from just running to complete a race to being the best "me" I can be. Eventually, I set my sights on the Boston Marathon and set out to qualify in the fall of 2008.

I logged many miles that summer, became obsessed with all the latest gadgets, hitting my splits and pushing myself to the limit. I qualified that fall with my kids cheering me on at the finish line. I was ecstatic and registered for the Boston Marathon the moment I got home from my qualifying race. I booked the hotel, flight, not a cheap investment. Then, the training began.

I live in central Wisconsin and the upcoming months were difficult, to say the least. Running through the streets trying to log a 20 mile run in -5 degree weather with 10 inches of snow solicits some funny looks. I became a machine, almost robotic in my actions, just doing what I had to do to get through another horribly cold workout. Running was not fun anymore, it was a chore I took for granted. The "simplicity" that drew me to running was lost in the shuffle of finding the warmest gloves, thoughts of Do I have the right shoes to run in the snow, etc? That girl who loved to "just run" was starting to fade.

Then it happened. I was only three weeks out from the race. I slipped on the ice while walking into the mall and tore a ligament in my foot. I was done, it was over. On the other hand, there was a part of me that was oddly relieved. No more training at 5am, I could sleep in with my kids, no pressure. How could it be that I could go from being soo passionate about my running to thankful that I could be done. What went wrong is I let all the little details take over and forgot to look at the big picture of why I was doing all of this in first place. I loved to run.

The Boston Marathon came and went. I watched it on TV and felt a weird feeling like I should be there but really didn't think much about it. I just kept telling myself it didn't matter, it was just a race. I put on my happy face. But, I felt like something was missing. I knew what it was and those close to me knew the answer too. Taking the easy road was not for me. Despite the struggles running had presented me and quickly throwing in the towel, I realized that I was not fully "me" without my running.

It was seven weeks before I could run again. I left the watch at home, I had no goals, I just ran. I focused back in on that simplicity that made me fall in love with running. The energy it provided me and most of all the confidence. I once again was able to appreciate myself and the gifts that running have given me.

While my injury was a huge set back it helped me to refocus. It forced me to think about what is important to me and what is worth fighting for. In a way, it made me stronger both as a person but also as an athlete. Remember to never give up but most importantly, to never lose sight of what is important to you.

Next April 2010, I am going to be stepping foot on that starting line of the Boston Marathon. I am registered and once again will face the same training challenges I did before. However, the difference is, this time I will take the time to savor every moment because you never know when it can all be taken away.

In the end, I am many things. A mother, a daughter, a wife, a friend, a sister, etc. But foremost, I am a runner. It has always been in me, it is who I am and it helps me to be better at all facets of my life, one step at a time.

Wish me luck!

Happy and healthy running.


Giggles said...

I love your story. Running has always been a part of my life, ever since I was born and my dad pushed me in the stroller. I've always run.

And while I love running races and am working on qualifying for Boston myself right now, there's a part of me during the training that wishes I could just go running because I want to and not because I feel like I have to for the training. But I want to run the marathons, so I guess it all evens out in the end.

Happy running!

Mrs JP Chaos said...

I really needed to read this. While I have found a lot of peace in accepting my injury (stress fracture) I miss running so very much.

I will be starting over when I (hopefully) start back up in January, but I have high hopes of my new goals in running. :)

Thanks again...and GOOD LUCK!!

Believe said...

I too, really needed this wakeup. I ran my first marathon for all the wrong reasons and I completely relate!! Congrats on an enthusiastic restart :) This is my first time stopping by, can't wait to read more about your journey!!


Stephanie said...

Loved your post! See you in Boston!

Cal said...

Thanks so much for you post. I loved it. I understand how you feel as I trained so hard this past summer for my marathon I just ran, I did all of the speedwork, yasso's and 5 20 mile runs to get ready for the marathon. As fate would have it, I really wish I would have left it at maybe 4 or 3 20 milers when I got an overuse injury on that last long run. It was so hard and frustrating to only be less than 2 weeks from the marathon and not think I could run it. In the end, I did...not in the great time I had wanted but it taught me a ton. Now I'm rehabing my injuries. There are so many fun races around to do and it's hard to say no...I need to get better but in a way it is also nice, and I was ever thankful to just go out this past weekend and run 6 miles without caring about time, pace or anything-to just run because I love to do it and grateful that I could :)
Good luck with Boston!

Megan said...

Thanks for the story. I'm training for my first half on Halloween. The past two weeks I've been feeling like running is work. Then I've been feeling guilty for not enjoying my running.

I'm trying to get my head on straight so I can enjoy being in the moment that day.

Can said...

What a great message. =) I think we can all relate to that a bit. Most of us have been to a point where we focus so much on the training for a specific race or races that we never have time to "just run" - for the sheer sake of doing it because we love it. =) I know I've been guilty of that - training so hard last year that I gave myself over-training syndrome and was banned from running for a whole month this spring. =( It was so frustrating to have to be biking next to the runners I help coach until I was allowed to run again. I always joked I should have gotten a shirt that said "I'd rather be running!". =)

Best of luck to you with your training for Boston - and I hope you can enjoy some of the running you'll be doing in prep for it. I'll be joining you with training during the snow and cold for Boston. =) But fortunately we don't usually get in the negative numbers (though 15 to 20 degrees is still a bit uncomfortable in my book!).

See you in Boston! =)

Amanda Stevens said...

What a real and relatable post, can completely relate. Good internal evaluation can go a long ways. Good Luck in Boston.

Heather said...

Thank you!

Keekee said...

Thanks for all of the great comments. I hope you all are enjoying your running as much as I am :)

Jamie said...

Where are you in Wisc? I'm in Sun Prairie and am dreading training indoors for the next 6+ months!! Keep up the great work. You're an inspiration!! Jamie