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My Journey to 13.1
During a recent trip to Puerto Rico for my cousin’s wedding, I rolled my ankle, spraining it badly enough to keep me from dancing the Salsa and Merengue. Now, I’ve sprained an ankle before, once on a rigorous rock climb in New Hampshire, and another time while simply taking a downhill climb of a staircase at my last job. Not adventurous, but it got the job done. This time, however, was especially deflating. It happened on my last long training run before for my first-ever half marathon, which was meant to be run in Massachusetts just nine days later. While still in the Caribbean, I followed the proper protocol for injury with inflammation, and took liberties with a couple of more enjoyable steps…..Rest, Ice, Swim in the Ocean, Compression, Elevation, Pina Colada. You get the idea. The salty air, warm ocean currents and rum drinks made up for my pain and frustration for a few days and, of course, my background as a massage therapist came in handy.
It wasn’t until nearly a week later when I returned to Chicago and visited the Ankle and Foot specialist, that the real pain set in and I received the news that I had sprained two ligaments and was most certainly not going to be running 13.1 miles that Sunday. I felt a pinch in my soul trump the pain in my ankle. After a couple of years of turmoil, I’d finally gotten myself back to a place where I could train consistently, and had done so for several months. Forgetting about my injury for the time it took to put that beast of a soft cast on, I thought about my journey leading up to training for this race. The previous four years had been full of colossal life events, some exciting, some downright devastating: Making the move from Pennsylvania to Chicago, getting engaged, getting married, honeymooning in Africa, the passing of my husband’s beloved mother, the nervous breakdown of someone very close to me, my Mom’s war with (and triumph over) Acute Myeloid Leukemia, among of host of other hurdles. As a matter of perspective, this seemed small, yet I wasn’t ready to release the idea that all my training was for naught. I needed that run to make up for all that had gone wrong in just the last year alone. This run was meant to be my victory lap over my tribulations! They finished my casting and I left the office saddened, disappointed and bewildered.
I spent the next few days complaining and whining to anyone who would listen, telling and retelling the story of how “my race” would not be happening and how crushing that was. I tried to make light of it, but I was still bugged. On top of my own injury, my husband, who was also training, was suffering from Achilles pain and decided the run would not happen for him either. Still, we elected to keep our plans to travel to Boston to watch my sister-in-law complete the run that we had all planned together. We flew to Logan and I silently brooded in my uncomfortable Southwest seat. Our flight was delayed and we didn’t land until almost four hours behind schedule. Ugh. Roadblocks.
Saturday the mood lightened with the presence of my curiously funny and sweet 3-year-old niece, and then dinner and drinks with an old friend, but it wasn’t until the next morning that the self-pity party disbanded. Sunday was a beautiful New England early summer day. I was with my family. The coffee was perfectly brewed. When we got to the site, I could feel the race-day energy all around me. In a flash, I had my moment of clarity. It wasn’t about running a half marathon. It was about the countless hours of early-morning, lunchtime and evening training runs, the cross-training, the sweating it out, and the crying it out, and now it was about supporting the several thousand others who had done the same. I had run more than 350 miles during the few months leading up to the Newburyport Half Marathon, so what did it matter that I couldn’t run on that day? I was suddenly grateful and elated that I was able to be there, healthy and happy, to watch many others breeze through and struggle alike, with every mile,
During my recovery time, I improved my swimming and cycling skills, socialized more with friends, and dusted off and read the books that had fallen behind the pack because of my training. There was always a tiny inner voice whispering to me that if I didn’t recover faster, it would take forever to get back at it, but I quieted it as best I could, and remained patient. It took me seven weeks to run my first miles after my Isla Verde ankle sprain. I only completed two miles that first day, but over the course of several days I found my stamina and strength. That first week I ran what amounted to 13.1 miles (as accurately as my GPS would allow). My own intentional half marathon. There was no medal. No finish line. There was, however, the satisfaction of having set out on a journey, arriving at a destination, taking a deep breath, and continuing on to find new pathways and purpose. Satisfying indeed.
Guest blog courtesy of Lisa Ellis, Regional Spa and Retail Director. Contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.