Another post-race photo.
Ran the last mile with my friend, Natalie Brown.
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147 Days Late, But Here.
I find it fitting to start this entry on the same day that I registered for the 2017 Boston Marathon. What can I say. Life has been busy. My race recap may be 147 days overdue, but better late than never, as they say.
The road to this marathon was incredibly rocky. On February 17, a couple months out from race day, I tore my gastrocnemius tendon (in my calf) while I was playing tennis. This was a particularly unwelcome event because my marathon training was going extremely well. I was running between 60-70 miles a week and my body felt good–no aches or pains. I had just put down a 16-mile, medium long run at a 7:14 mile pace a couple days before and I had finished a strong 8-mile tempo run at a 6:40 pace a couple days before that. Breaking that 3-hour marathon time was beginning to look less like a pipe dream, and more like a possibility.
Earlier that month, I was diagnosed with skin cancer. We were able to remove all of it and it hadn’t spread but it was a stressful start to 2016 for me. My spirit was a little tattered, to say the least, from recent life events and challenges. So, the leg injury was, well, yeah.
My calf injury left me swollen, immobile, uncomfortable, sedentary and, yes, totally deflated. It took several days of some pretty classic self-pity sessions, but somehow–with, some divine intervention–I traversed through the quagmire of my negative thoughts, sadness, and emotions and came out with a renewed outlook and a determination to heal quickly and still make it to Boston.
Faith and Healing
So, some people mock religion. God. Faith. Unseen forces. They don’t believe in all that. I am not one of those people. And while I am not immune to doubt, nor have I been spared from heartache or times when I question the purpose of life, trials and this wild ride we are on, I do believe that this life is more–and for more–than we realize. That there is purpose. That there are unexplainable things that logically don’t add up. And while I am very logical, I also believe in the illogical; the things that don’t seem rational or aligned with what we think we “know.” I have been astounded by events in my life–especially in recent years–that have happened by seemingly invisible hands and means. This recovery process I went through was plastered with evidence that we are not alone and that faith can heal. I put in the work, but what got me to Boston, and across the finish line, was so much more than me.
My Injury – Instagram Diary
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So, I don’t feel like this post would be complete without spending some time talking about the challenges this injury brought me! Talk about feeling my 40th birthday approaching–this injury made me feel like my whole body was falling apart! Here are my Instagram messages over that period. I thought I would post them here, because, they reflect exactly where I was those many weeks ago:
2.17.16 (Ok, this one is actually a Facebook entry.)
So… I was going for a ball in my tennis class today and moved in some abnormal way that caused me to tear a muscle or tendon in my left calf. Pretty excruciating injury and haven’t been able to walk since it happened.
I have WONDERFUL friends–and classmates–that rushed to my side providing me care (ice bags, phone calls to my husband and orthopedists, getting me pain medication, driving crutches to the gym, picking up my kids, driving me to the doctor, driving my car home from the gym, cleaning my kitchen, making me dinner, bringing me flowers, cards….Seriously. I’m so touched. THANK YOU, dear friends.
The doctor said I either tore my plantaris muscle (healing time a couple days) or my gastrocsoleus tendon–healing time 3-8 weeks depending on the severity of the tear. Going to MRI it Monday if the pain doesn’t subside. No surgery so that’s good and I may be able to still run Boston….(Praying that it is the Plantaris muscle!!! ) I’m supposed to keep using the crutches either way, and see what the next couple days reveal….Hard day. Pretty Bummed I have to lose my marathon training momentum and be benched for a time. But, so comforted by friends. So grateful for them!!!
The diagnosis could have been soooo much worse so I’m grateful it isn’t what it could have been, but still seriously praying that it is my Plantaris muscle….
One of these is not like the other….My calf swelling from my tendon tear (?) follows gravity giving me a pronounced cankle. Waiting for an MRI to find out what I did to myself in tennis last week. Note to self: when you are in the middle of intense marathon training DO NOT dabble in other sports!
After several days of feeling sorry for myself and bemoaning my situation, I got up this morning at 5:30 with renewed determination to try and have a positive outlook; do what I COULD do. Attempted to bike on the bike trainer….After a comical scene figuring out how to mount it with my injured leg, I discovered I can’t bend my injured calf enough for a full rotation, soooo that is out. I turned then to weights. Spent 40 minutes with upper body hand weights, knee push ups and core work. Will continue strength training and my diet efforts to shed some pounds and try and acclimate to this no-running period as much as I can!#runner #injured #marathoner#bostonmarathon2016 #endureandenjoy#projectgetlean
2.22.16 (Later that day)
The day after my injury. My foot of my injured leg was so swollen. This is what made the doctor think I could have a blood clot.
What. A. Day.
Two generous friends helped taxi me to and from my doctor’s appointment for an MRI today for my calf injury. Unfortunately, there was a disconnect between my doctor and his nurse so I wasn’t in the books for one. He evaluated my leg and was concerned by all of the swelling. He felt impressed to have me go to the hospital to get an ultrasound to see if I had a blood clot. After a very thorough ultrasound they discovered I have a blood clot in the peroneal vein of my left (injured) calf. After a very long day, I’m home now with a prescription for some blood thinners to take for the next three months and instructions to ‘take it easy.’ Life is never dull. Never dull. Grateful for a great doc who followed his gut and who continues to show me he is in my corner! Big shout out to @sparklingfitgirl for arriving at my home tonight with a hot bowl of soup, warm roll, big hug, and a smile when my exhausted body, literally, could go no further! And to her husband @lclint76 for being at the clinic to wheelchair me to my car. And @notsoidlehands for taking and feeding my children while I was at the hospital. And the texts and calls and offers to help from so many. Angels. All of you! Feeling loved. Grateful.
So the doc said he doesn’t want me up and moving for 3 to 5 days while my blood thinner (Xarelto–a whopping $450 per bottle every month!) starts to do its job with my blood clot. I will continue to take this blood thinner until mid June. . . .So I went on YouTube and found some upper body/core seated dumbbell exercises I could do to keep myself moving this morning while still ‘taking it easy.’ Felt great to do something! I’m encouraged to see that my foot/calf are beginning to look normal again, even though they don’t feel normal yet. Nice to see the swelling is being kept at bay if I keep my foot up. Also helps with the discomfort even though it’s hard to go from running 70 miles a week to sitting all day…. A lesson in patience!
I’m really grateful that my employment as a writer for LocalGiant is a remote position so that I have that to keep me busy while I sit! At least I can still feel productive on one level! #runner #injured #marathoner#bostonmarathon2016 #projectgetlean#patience #dowhatyoucan#seateddumbbellexercises
So…It’s been two weeks on crutches, and 336 hours since I ran last, BUT, Amazingly, I haven’t gone crazy yet. Making some progress with calf recovery. I’m off the couch today with 9-days worth of blood thinner in me for my clot, and pain free. Not swelling like I was so that’s encouraging too. But my injured leg has definitely atrophied–my favorite jeans here are loose in one leg and fitted in the other–and my lower calf mobility is pretty nonexistent. Working to teach that leg how to walk again. Working to stand (not from sitting…not yet) on both feet with my weight evenly distributed. Each day brings a new challenge, but it’s definitely not dull. Any little improvement makes my day. One shuffle closer to recovery.
My clean eating/calorie tracking coupled with the exertions of crutching around and upper-body work with hand weights have helped me lose 6 pounds. (I’m not going to think about how much of that weight is lost muscle mass. Not right now anyway.) But, at least getting my eating back on track, and getting leaner have been good results of this ordeal.
Finally going to have my MRI on Friday and find out what I did in there.
If you haven’t seen the film, “The Martian” you should. That film continues to inspire me. There’s a great lesson in it, well, there are several great lessons in it, but my favorite quote and theme of the movie is from Matt Damon’s character, Mark Watney: “At some point, everything’s going to go south on you…everything is going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem…and you solve the next one…and the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home. All right, questions?” #solveit #endureandenjoy#marathoner #runner #injured#dowhatyoucan #projectgetlean #patience#bostonmarathon2016 #themartian#lifelessons
Posing with my friend and her son after they commandeered a walker for me.
That friend….that drops everything to run get you a walker (😂) before the medical supply store closes to help relieve the burden you have been putting on your good knee–hang in there, knee!– while the other leg has been healing!! Everyone needs a friend like that. Golden. Love ya, Natalie! (And Colten!)
Day 18….For those that are interested….MRI results came back today showing a (healing) gastrocnemius tendon tear in my left calf. (Who knew tennis could be so dangerous!!) Doc thinks 6ish more weeks until I’m healed, but I can start PT now and work towards walking without my crutches…. Blood thinner until June so no dry needling. We were so hoping it was the Plantaris muscle–quicker healing time. Still absorbing the news.
Up at 5 this morning to exercise. Far from my marathon training routine, but right now this takes about as much concentration as a good tempo run! 2 sets of ankle rotations, ankle pumps, light calf stretching then 40 minutes of this with my crutches. By the end I was ready to try it without them. I still wobble and toddle like a child learning how to walk, but my physical therapist really helped yesterday–so grateful for her! Boston isn’t looking too promising so I’m setting my sights on NYC in November! #progress#gastrocnemiustear #recovery#injuredmarathoner #nycmarathon2016
Today’s rehabilitation work out: 30 minutes on the bike-no resistance; 30 minutes shoeless walking on the treadmill to work on lengthening my scar tissue/calf muscles and strengthening my weakened foot/ankle muscles. I can only walk about 1 mph and that is if I’m holding onto the treadmill rails. Without the treadmill rails I can only walk about .5 mph because my balance still hasn’t returned. (But, hey, I’m walking!!) It is amazing to me how much concentration is required with each step. Sometimes if I roll my foot too much or step a certain way I’ll get a shooting pain so I have to concentrate and be very careful with each step. It is hard work! I’m definitely developing some more mental muscles too! It is difficult to find the balance between stretching the scar tissue appropriately so it heals right and not overdoing it and reinjuring!! So far, it feels like I’m moving in a forward direction. Today I definitely felt stronger. Really, I felt like I turned a corner on Saturday. Something in my injured leg just felt more solid. Sturdy. Maybe that means that the vascular restructuring that was occurring due to my clot has finished most of its work. Honestly, it is just great to be up and moving again. I’m not getting any real cardiovascular benefits right now, but spiritual and mental benefits definitely!! #gastrocnemiustear#injuredmarathoner #progress #runner#nycmarathon2016
My leg may be lame but my tape isn’t! (My doctor gave my PT the go ahead to start taping my calf. We have to handle my rehabilitation with care due to my clot.) Love my PT even though she did tell me that I have to wait 2 to 3 more weeks for aggressive rehabilitation due to my DVT. Hey, at least the crutches are starting to gather dust and the couch is getting its regular form back! #progress#gastrocnemiustear #injuredmarathoner#runner #nycmarathon2016
Received my bib and corral assignment this morning….From bib number 18,384 in 2015 to 9,321 in 2016. Wave 2, corral 2. Body willing, I’ll make my goal Wave 1 in 2017 to make up for missing out this year! #whatmighthavebeen#bostonmarathon2016 #injuredmarathoner#runner
I think my kids think I’ve gone crazy, but I’m just seriously joyous/giddy that I can walk with even weight distribution and a proper ankle roll today! The freedom of this simple, but recently very complex act, is exhilarating!
I went to the gym this morning–first time in 5 weeks–and did the upright cycle for 30 minutes, then the elliptical for 30 minutes–another first, then a half-mile walk at 2 mph. Progress! Definite progress. Thank you, body! #runner #injuredmarathoner#gastrocnemiustear #nycmarathon2016#bostonmarathon2016
Progress. Goal is to jog without the handrails by the end of the week. I don’t have any pain, but I’m just nervous to go too hard too fast. Just easing back into things and seeing what my body is ready to do. My heart is ready to take off, my mind is more cautious.#injuredmarathoner #recovery#gastrocnemiustear #runner#pearlizumirun #nycmarathon2016#bostonmarathon2016 #progress#onestepatatime
I am THE best air drummer EVER when this song (The Funeral by Band of Horses) is playing. Just ask my eight-year-old who enjoyed my theatrics this morning while I was spinning in the bike trainer and singing like I’m a performer 😉 (ha)! Love that song. Love spinning my legs. It is the only thing I can do fast–safely–right now. But, I’m going to get there. Closer every day. My body may be injured but my spirit has been emboldened from this experience. I’m grateful for that positive outcome. More determined than ever to reach my goals. Take that, Gastrocnemius tear deterrent!! Respect for anyone that suffers from chronic pain or a permanent injury. So grateful my physical setbacks are temporary. Taking the lessons they taught me with me and moving forward! Sub-three, I’m coming for you! #onestepatatime#recovery #determined #goals#myrunningjourney #progress#injuredmarathoner #runner#nycmarathon2016 #bostonmarathon2016
Goal achieved! Jogging without using the handrails for support. Started my morning with a long warm-up of 50 minutes spinning on the bike. Once my muscles were warm moved to treadmill for a 3-mile workout. I alternated walking and jogging at half mile intervals. 3.5 walking speed, 4mph jogging speed. Avg. heart rate when jogging was 127. Calf feels great. Hamstring and ankles feel tight. Being careful, but trying to help this scar tissue/soft-tissue remodeling phase give me the muscle length and range of motion I need for my normal activities so I can avoid reinjury when I return to them more fully. Really wish I could foam roll or massage but that’s not allowed with my clot….#onestepatatime #recovery#progress #runner #injuredmarathoner#gastrocnemiustear #bostonmarathon2016#nycmarathon2016
6 weeks since my injury. This morning I warmed up on the bike for 25 mins then did a 5-mile jog at a 10:55 pace. My heart rate average was 160. I felt like I could go faster and further but, waiting for the green light to start running again from my doc. (I meet with him Friday.) I’m so curious to find out what level of fitness remains from this interruption in my training. Thank goodness for muscle memory. Feels great to get some miles under my feet even if I’m going 4 mins slower per mile right now than I was in February. Thankful.#recovery #painfree#injuredmarathoner #gastrocnemiustear#running #bostonmarathon2016#nycmarathon2016 #goals #progress#bodyexperiment
Got my Boston 5k bib yesterday!! This I know I can do with my post-injury fitness. My husband,@singletracksid is going to run it too and our two friends: @sparklingfitgirl and@lclint76! The course crosses the Boston Marathon finish line too so that’s cool! It is the Saturday before the Marathon. We leave two weeks from today!#excited#boston5k #running
Getting my potassium (O.N.E. coconut water) and BCAAs (IdealLean) this morning (along with 21g of Quest protein) after 50 minutes on the cycle followed by a 400m walking treadmill warm-up, 5 miles jogging at a 9:30 per min pace, and a 400m walking cool down. Heart rate peaked at 172, but stayed under 170 for most of the five miles–high 160s. Crazy that it can get that high at that pace! I have a ways to go, but progress. No pain so that’s good. Slowly adjusting my speed to determine where my fitness level is right now and what my leg/body can handle safely. Forcing myself to jog every other day right now although I’d rather go every day! #recovery #injuredmarathoner#6weekspostinjury #gastrocnemiustear#onestepatatime #runner
Climbing back. 8 miles @8:57 pace. #runner #running#injuredmarathoner #7weekspost#gastrocnemiustear #bodyexperiment#bostonmarathon2016 #nycmarathon2016
Newest challenge in my 8-week, post-gastrocnemius-tear recovery process is some peripheral neuropathy in my foot caused by nerve compression/adhesion to my scar tissue in my calf that’s affecting my foot (we think). The symptoms vary from random shooting pains, tissue inflammation, swelling, tingling and numbness in my toes. My foot got really mad at me on Saturday after a run so I’ve been doing cycling and elliptical workouts since. After an excruciating foot massage with my PT yesterday, and another MRI, I am awaiting my results which I should receive at 1pm at my follow-up with my doctor. We leave for Boston tomorrow.#onestepatatime #notgivingup#injuredmarathoner #runner #recovery#gastrocnemiustear #bostonmarathon2016#nycmarathon2016
To Run or Not to Run
So, about this time, before we leave for Boston, I’m still struggling with my new challenge of some peripheral neuropathy in my foot. Calf tendon feels good. Heart feels good, but my foot hurts after a few miles of running. This does NOT look good. I really wanted to TRY running the Boston Marathon if I could, but I also didn’t want to get re-injured. I had an MRI done of my foot and had it examined by a podiatrist. After we determined that there was no stress fracture, he felt I could attempt the marathon and suggested a cortisone injection at the nerve root that was causing me problems to help me get through the marathon without pain. This was distressing for me. While I didn’t want to have pain/numbness/dysfunction while I ran, I also was VERY nervous to do anything to that nerve. I was worried about side effects, irreversible damage, making things worse….etc. In the end, after talking with another podiatrist for a second opinion, my orthopedist and my physical therapist, we decided getting the injection was a good idea.
I endured one of the most painful things of my life – a nerve massage by my physical therapist a couple days prior to my injections. Seriously, it was excruciating. I hope I never have to endure something like that again. The injections weren’t that fun either. He gave me like 12 right where the nerve was inflamed. But, after I completed the injections, I got the green light to TRY and run the marathon from the physical therapist, orthopedist and two podiatrists that were involved in my care. This was an awesome moment, but I was still unsure what my race day would be like – if I would be boarding a bus at an aid station and dropping out, or if I would be able to complete the whole thing. So, after two months of bi-weekly physical therapy from my dear friends at C.O.R.E. PT in Fort Collins, they taped my foot/calf with KT tape, and sent me on my way.
I should probably pause here and add some key information. The why. Why was I going through all this trouble just to be able to run the Boston Marathon again? What was the point? The point was, I had a goal. I had a goal that I had started pursuing in 2014 with my friend Natalie Brown to run the race with her. We had a goal. She qualified for the race in Canyon City with me in 2015 after months of hard work together. I wanted to be in Boston with her in 2016. I wanted to celebrate the culmination of all our effort, all of our runs together all of that dreaming by running that marathon with her. And beyond that, I just don’t like anything to rob me of my freedom to do what I want when I want–not if I have any say in it. If something knocks me down, you better believe that I am doing everything I can to get back up.
Life will test us again and again. And again. It is in those moments when we are fighting back from a fall that we “become.” It is those moments that mold and shape our character and determine how far we will rise the next time we fall.
We all fall. We all fail. But the choice to rise is on us. The power to rise is within all of us.
A Shout Out to Family & Friends
Okay, back to the story.
The fact that I got the endorsement to run Boston from these 4 health professionals involved in my care was nothing short of miraculous if you look at where I started. I still remember crutching into physical therapy that first day and my physical therapist tenderly telling me that the chances of me being ready for Boston 5 weeks later did NOT look good. (My blood clot made everything more challenging too. They couldn’t do any aggressive therapy–even massage–because they didn’t want to dislodge the clot or cause internal bleeding from my thinned out blood. Blood thinner doesn’t exactly accelerate healing. The first week or so I really felt the effects of it. It didn’t help that I was so fearful of all the many side effects that accompanied the drug.) My physical therapist’s targeted treatment efforts coupled with my stubbornness and diet and rehabilitation efforts brought results! So much time logged practicing walking, so much anxiety over my good knee that was compensating for my bad leg. So much fear in the simple act of standing. It felt really good to finally be on the other side of this injury.
There is always a silver lining to be found. My family really stepped it up during my injury. There was so much I couldn’t do for myself. Going up and down stairs was just too much of a task so my room for two months was the guest room on the main floor. My daughter, Afton, was on standby on her phone and would check-in on me at night and in the morning, bolting downstairs if I needed anything. Sometimes it would take me 10 minutes to stand. I would have to wait for the blood to reach my extremities–slowed by the clot–and the pain/sensation of that was not pleasant. Then I would have to muster the courage to rise from sitting which was always tricky. The pain was one thing, but my problems with balance made me fearful that I would fall or injure something else! Those were challenging times!! My family was there every step of the way. They cooked for me, cleaned for me, helped me stand, gave me encouragement to stand when I was afraid to, helped me walk, helped me shop–they were amazing. We all grew closer through their service to me. Friends brought me meals. . . .So much love and care. I will never forget it.
2016 Boston 5K –4.16.16
Our fun run through Boston on the Friday before the race.
2016 Boston Marathon Expo
Meeting a racing icon, Olympian and and past winner of the Boston Marathon – Meb K.
Being silly at the 2016 Boston 5k finish line with friends.
The 2016 Boston 5K
Running the 2016 Boston 5k the Saturday before the Boston Marathon
Posing at the Boston Marathon finish line a couple (?) days before the event!
Playing the piano in the Kanas City airport during a layover on our way to Boston.
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So, fast forward a couple days from my injections and you will find me in Boston getting some short 5k runs in. My first 5k run – a fun run around Boston and our hotel organized by my husband and friends – was NOT encouraging. I could run at a pretty decent clip – 8:30 miles – but my foot was still starting to bother me even with the cortisone in place. I had to pull out from our run 3 miles in and walk back to the hotel.
We hit the race expo – always a fun highlight of our trip – and I was still unsure about the outcome of my race, but was determined to try. I got to meet Olympian, and former Boston Marathon winner, Meb Keflezighi, and he signed my race bib with: “Krista, Congrats! Best wishes! Run to Win!” I loved that. “Run to Win.”
The Boston 5K was So. Much. Fun. I will do that again. My foot, miraculously, did better. Maybe the medicine had had time to work a little longer on the inflammation in my foot? We were walking 10 plus miles around each day sight-seeing and I didn’t have problems walking. But, running was different story. The 5K was just solid fun. No pace goals. No stress. AND I had the added, very cool benefit of being able to run it with my husband and friends all together. That never happens. Great, beautiful morning. Great, beautiful memories.
Places to Visit/General Gluttony Tips
We were carb-loading and visiting some pretty amazing places along the way. Recommendations/Highlights:
- Boston LDS Temple
- Mike’s Pastry – Florentine Cannoli
- Durgin Park at Faneuil Marketplace (clam chowder)
- Cheers Restaurant (Original Set Seating at Beacon Hill)
- Take in the authentic Russian Matryoshka stand at Faneuil Market
- Holocaust Memorial
- Cookie Monstah Cookie Truck–Track this down and LOAD UP
- Minute Man National Historical Site
- Stroll or bike ride on Commonwealth Avenue
- The Shake Shack – Newbury Street
- Shopping on Newbury Street
- Boston Public Park
- Boston Museum of Fine Arts
- Chinatown -skip the Winsor Dim Sum Cafe. Blah
- Flour Bakery–for sure
- Ristorante Saraceno in North End (best spaghetti ever!)
- Kane’s Donut-Creme Brûlée and Chocolate Glazed deliciousness. Great day-after race replenishment
- Boston Harbor cruise
- Modern Pastry -Boston Cream Pie Cupcake
- Paul Revere House
- Freedom Trail
- Sam LaGrassa (Pastrami Sandwich Heaven)!
The 2016 Boston Marathon
The Athletes’ Village the morning of the 2016 Boston Marathon
The 2016 Boston Marathon Finish Line. It definitely wasn’t my fastest, but one of my best finishes ever. Man, I was excited to get that hard-earned finisher’s medal.
Another post-race photo.
The night before the Boston Marathon is always so exhilarating. We laid out all our clothes, pinned our bibs, charged our devices, got our pre-race throw-away clothes, grabbed our in-race nutrition, earbuds, sunglasses, headbands, water, space blankets, socks, shoes, and Race Smart Pace Bands – love them! I made sure I had my breakfast items ready for the morning, set three alarms, put in my ear plugs and attempted sleep. Some marathons I succeed in getting some sleep, but this one had me all in knots. I wasn’t sure what kind of game plan to follow. Typically, I put my race smart pace band on and just stick to the splits I need per mile to reach my goal. But for this race, I had no time goal. My goal was to finish. If I could finish, before they closed the race, at 8 weeks post gastrocnemius calf tear with my foot neuropathy issues, AND WITHOUT new injuries…if I could just finish with all that on board it would be a miracle. Finishing was the goal.
My plan was to go ahead and start in the second wave that I had qualified for with my 3:13 time in LA that November prior. This was a tricky decision because I really wanted to run the course with my friend, Natalie, who was in a different wave then me; a later wave. The risk with starting 45 minutes later – with her wave – was that I might not have enough time to finish the race. I honestly didn’t know if I was going to have to walk miles of this race! Additionally, I knew that Natalie would jeopardize her race goals if she ran with me because I would have to stop and possibly walk much of the course and she would never leave me!
Natalie and I got up together, prepared together, and my husband escorted us to the busses! We rode up to the village together and hung out, mainly rotating through the porta-potty lines until it was time for me to split from her to line up in my race corral. (It was already warm at the race start so that was a little nerve-racking. Heat is never fun to run in.) And then I was off! I was in one of the faster waves in one of the early corrals, so I positioned myself at the back. I started out at about a 9-minute mile pace.
If you look at my results image above, you can see that at the half, I was averaging about a 9:08 minute pace–not too shabby considering I couldn’t feel each foot strike on my injured leg/foot and had to concentrate on my form and weight distribution with every step. I was feeling pretty good actually until mile 16 and then you will see that I start to slow down. At this point, my calf started to ache. This scared me because I did NOT want to re-injure that recently healed tendon!! So I started to do a run a mile, walk a minute race strategy. It was a grueling way to finish the last ten miles of the course, but, BUT, it was faster than walking!! And safer than continuing to run without resting the calf some.
Every time I stopped to walk my minute recovery someone in the crowd would offer me something–water, food or words of encouragement. I wished I could tell them what was going on. I wished I could tell them I was running injured. Part of me wished I could tell them that I averaged a 7:19 pace at my last marathon, not his 11-minute mile I was showcasing now. I wished they knew just how much what I was doing meant to me. I was determined to finish. I was determined to return to this race that I loved. To this distance. I was determined to share this experience with my friend Natalie! We had fought hard to get here together! Little did these onlookers know what I was feeling with each step and how far I had come in 8 weeks time. I still didn’t know at miles 16, 17, 23…if I was going to make it. I knew my heart wouldn’t give up, but I also knew that if my calf pain escalated I would withdraw. Finishing was NOT worth re-injury to me! Lots of prayers that day on that course.
Despite the challenging aspects of the run with my numb foot and my aching calf, it was such a joy to be on the course. I LOVE that marathon. It is lined with spectators the whole way who are rooting for you and cheering for you–the WHOLE way. There is such a feeling of positive energy everywhere. It’s indescribable really. Cresting Heartbreak Hill at mile 21 was such a beautiful moment. It was a hot day for the marathon, but I don’t remember heat being an issue for me I was so distracted with everything else going on!
The Final Mile – My Angel
Facebook post from my friend, Natalie Brown, after we ran the 2016 Boston Marathon.
So, I’m “running” along and catch a good glimpse of the infamous CITGO sign and know that I have about a mile to go. I’m slowing down even more since I have now been on the course for almost 2 hours longer than my marathon the November prior. But, I’m starting to let real hope in. I’m so close. The odds of finishing are definitely in my favor. So, I’m shuffling along and suddenly I feel a hand grab mine. I turn and it is my friend, Natalie! I thought she had passed me long before and that I had missed her in the 30,000 people that were on the course that day. The fact that we intersected was the perfect bookend to a beautiful story. My angel friend grabbed my hand and ran the last part of the race with me!
4.18.2016 – Facebook Post Right After Finishing
Miracles do happen!!
Since February I’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, torn my Gastrocnemius tendon, developed a DVT (blood clot) in my calf, learned to walk again, learned to run again and faced dorsal nerve (perineal nerve) damage/issues in my left foot. I faced pain and fear but I have looked them square in the eye. I have not turned my back. I’ve gotten knocked down again and again just as I’ve gotten back up. But I did get back up.
Will power is our superpower.
The only way to get back in it, is to get back in it. It may have not been my fastest time, but, nonetheless, it was definitely a personal record for me. When doubts came, I held onto the promise I had received eight weeks prior that I would still be able to run this race. Best Coach ever. I did my part, He made up the rest. He carried me and sent my angel friend Natalie Muirhead Brownat mile 25!
They say the marathon is a metaphor for life. I. Will. Not. Concede.