I was having one of those epic runs… You know the type if you run too. Great day/weather, good friends to share it with. Sure, I was struggling a bit that day, but we all were, so commiseration was the glue that held us all together to the very end.
I got home and did my yoga/stretch routine, but even after that something didn’t feel right. The underside of my foot was in pain that persisted all night and in to the next day.
I tried not to freak out. “Just rest it, you’ll be fine. Take a day off from running…” But the pain was still there the next day and the next. I couldn’t avoid it anymore. The reality of an injury was staring me in the face as I was preparing to train and run in a half marathon race with my new run group. “I can’t be a Quitter…not now…not so early into this”, my mind said. But my gut told me that I had tried to be Epic before while in pain. That stubborn move led me to 6 weeks in a walking boot and a slow return to running. I knew the pain I was having was exactly the same as when I had had a stress fracture to my left fibula just before another half marathon race that I had been hyping about on my social media page for Months…
“It’s time to shut the running down, sister”, I said to myself. The other half of my brain cried, “Nooooooooo!”
But I shut down running anyway until I got a chance to finally see a doctor. “Training for the Middle Half, were ya?”, he asked. “How’d ya know?” I replied in surprise. “With the pain you’re in, you definitely have to shut down running for a bit and rehab this injury. So NO racing for you, dear.”
I honestly don’t know how I didn’t break down crying in the exam room.
I hobbled to the main wing of the Hospital for x-rays (inconclusive), and blinked back my tears as the receptionist there checked me in.
“This is NOT happening, it’s a bad dream. I’ll wake up and have the most Epic run I’ve ever had.”
REALITY. seriously. bites.
Pity party train…
So my mind switched into rehabilitation mode.
“Okay, girl. We’ve been down this road before. It was worse last time, but we caught this stuff way ahead of the game than we did the first time. Let’s see how fast/efficiently we can recover now…”, it said.
Off to Operation Recovery Mode. Healthy whole foods with Omega 3’s, lots of rest, and Cycling Class…my one small claim to Sanity. I commenced to pedaling my short, stumpy legs as hard as I could make them go. Challenging myself in other ways in order to keep up my fitness.
Gradually, my foot started to heal and short walks started to feel comfortable again. The nervous voices in my head stopped nagging me 24/7 and were letting me do my own thing…
Not out of the woods, yet… But darned close!
Finally, the day of the Middle Half loomed close.
I knew I was still not physically ready to race…let alone for 13.1 miles. The hamster wheel in my mind raced. “Whatcha gonna do now? ”
Then someone in my run group–also sidelined with an injury–suggested Volunteering.
“Sounds good to me”, I said, “When and where?”
“Let me reach out to the Race Director and see what you can do”, she said.
Music to my ears. I could knock that stupid hamster telling me I was a looser because I couldn’t run out of my mind and be USEFUL.
I know I have gone to bed the night before a race so nervous and excited that it was hard to sleep, but I was having the same issues sleeping that night just thinking about volunteering.
If I ever am unable to run for any reason in the future, I am totally happy to volunteer. Helping people in any way possible truly speaks to my Soul.
With a huge, happy grin on my face, I showed up at the volunteer tent and jumped in full tilt to whatever they had for me to do. Picking up trash with a grabber, hauling bags of ice for the water bottles to stay cool, aiding at a water station. Just show me what to do and I am totally in to help out!
Resisting the urge to pinch random people… hehe!
Water, water everywhere!!!!
Aiding at Water Station #1 at Mile 2 was a BLAST! Not sure how the intensity and enthusiasm was at other water stops, but I’m going to hope we set the bar for the rest of them to follow suit. 😉 Cheers, whoops and hollers, positive words of encouragement and a few selfies later and we were all cleaning up the tables and picking up empty paper cups. Our crew had a wonderful time together and smiled at each other in camaraderie as we walked away. Jobs complete. High Five, Team!
I made it back to the track where the half marathon would end with just enough time to see the elites finish, so I knew I had my spot locked in for the rest of the race to watch my new-found friends complete. My heart had been with them every step, even as I worked frantically at the water station.
Cowbell Corner, locked in and ready! HOLLAAAAAAA!!!!!
To be honest, even though I couldn’t run this race, watching my new friends compete and being there, cheering each one I noticed as they reached the final stretch to the Finish Line really warmed my soul. Since moving here in February, I really struggled with the fear of fitting in and finding friends of my own where I had something in common with them. Being shy and reserved with a bubbly exterior is a constant struggle for which side of my personality will be stronger that day.
As I stood behind the metal barrier fence, I thought to myself how Blessed I am. Other people would move toward the fence and away again after a husband, wife, loved one, or good buddy had finished, but I was still there until the 3 hour mark in the race, cheering on people I Actually Knew! I am so happy to be in this new town with all these Awesome new friends.
Together we will tackle more races. I will be back (shortly) with a vengeance. We WILL have the most fun together.
…And if they ever need a fangirl, I’m totally on board for that too!