“Throwback Thursday”: gaining strength from weakness

throwback-thursdayIt’s Thursday, or “throwback Thursday,” as many of you will recognize via Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I am writing not with the intention to share photos from high school or childhood, nor to look back on races of the past. I have always been a fan of these things, don’t get me wrong. The thing is, every day is throwback Thursday for me. One thing most people don’t know about me until they have known me for awhile is that I have an…interesting memory. I think we all have selective memories; mine just happens to select to remember a lot of details about a lot of things. It is a blessing and a curse, but one thing is certain: it’s difficult to turn off. I’ve looked for a switch and couldn’t find one, so I guess I just have to be content with it. “Remembering” and “feeling” are two separate things, so it’s not like I can’t “let go” of things or not think about them for a very, very long time. They’re there somewhere, though.

This past weekend included an important part of my training for my second marathon, as well as watching and reading dozens of videos, articles, and comments related to the USATF Indoor Track and Field Championships. As I do more and more successful workouts and long runs, accept “good lucks” and other positive comments from customers at work and friends in daily life when asked questions about my running lately, my mind can’t help but “throw back” to times when things weren’t so great. The feelings are far removed and not worth going back to “re-feel,” but they might have been necessary evils that paved the way to where I am today. If I had not endured those tough times, physically and emotionally, maybe I wouldn’t be training as smart as I am. Maybe I wouldn’t appreciate every run like I do today. Maybe I wouldn’t understand the struggles of new and injured runners, competitive and recreational alike, and consequently be less relatable from both professional and personal standpoints. Someday, as a physical therapist, I want to be able to say, “I’m training for ____” or “My PR is ____” when asked and have those statements be means by which people will be inspired, not defeated. I didn’t start this blog until after all those struggles were over, and since then I only wrote about one significant injury. Those who knew me in college know that had I written a blog back then, it would contain totally different content. To give you an idea: it was really easy for me to pick a random entry in my old running log and find this just now:

March 25, 2011. Two or three weeks after the [very sudden] onset of my pubic ramus stress reaction/fracture/whatever (#7).
March 25, 2011. Two or three weeks after the [very sudden] onset of my pubic ramus stress reaction/fracture/whatever (#7).
Runners can go ahead and say that an injury doesn’t affect their overall well-being. I’ll call bullshit. It’s going to happen, at some point. You can’t separate running from life all the time. I say that’s okay. Looking back at these kinds of days – so frequent in college – I understand that they made me stronger. Stronger emotionally, mentally, physically. Do I wish they didn’t happen? Well yeah, that would have been nice. But they did, and I am okay with it. The reason I wanted to get out some words about this is because a lot of people who might meet me now and talk about running, or read my blog, might not understand that for every run I do that is “fast,” or “easy” or “great,” there were about a hundred awful runs, days in the pool, and days in pain for every one. So, I guess my point is, cliche as it sounds, giving up is about as silly as not letting Gabe Grunewald race at Indoor Worlds. That’s all.

Oh, but here’s Kara Goucher at Homecoming. #tbt



October 3rd

It’s the 3rd of October, and in my life as a runner, this date is significant. 

Exactly one year ago today was my first run back after my last (and 9th) stress fracture. This means that I am officially ONE YEAR STRESS-FRACTURE FREE. I am so grateful to be able to say that, despite how strange it might sound to all of you. I have to say that I’m not exactly sure how I managed to do it, but I’m so happy I did. October 3rd is similarly significant because it was the date of my first stress fracture six years ago. 

In this past year, I was able to:

  • train healthily for my first half marathon, and crush my goal (1:35) by a minute and a half (1:33:33).
  • find interval and other speed workouts fun again
  • train healthily for my first marathon, and also run faster (3:25:02) than expected (just under 3:30), with a negative split I would’ve been scared to see beforehand on paper (1:43:50-1:41:12)
  • qualify for the Boston Marathon by 9:58
  • run a 5k PR (track excluded)
  • run River to Sea

I have big running plans for the near future, but I also know that patience really plays a huge role in becoming the best I can be. There have been several things in life lately that have given me good reason to totally dismiss the phrase, “good things come to those who wait.” The one thing that keeps me from doing so is running. Though, I should rephrase it a little: