being hurt

Comeback or move forward

Second run back, marking the Firetrails 50 course
Photo by Brett Rivers

Six weeks ago I was in the best shape of my life. Workouts were going great. I was coming off a good training run at Kauai marathon feeling hungry to go after a PR in the low 2:30s at Chicago. Fit as a fiddle and ready to roll. 

I was excited and motivated to keep pushing. But then I fell and then I was injured. A month ago, I was still hoping to be able to run on our wedding day. Instead, I had to watch from the sidelines (and shed some tears) about not being able to join my friends for some wedding weekend running. I had to withdraw from Chicago, cancel my trip and miss out on seeing my sister PR in the windy city on her birthday. The last six weeks have been filled with the best of times (getting married!!!) as well as some very rough times (it is not in fact just me that is injured, Nathan has a stress fracture in his foot). 

With an injury like mine, there comes a point when you feel like you are no longer just trying to bridge the healthy running with intense cross training and instead are struggling to hold on to your goals. You come to a point where no matter how hard you workout in the pool or on the bike or on the elliptical, that you just don't feel fit anymore. It took me four weeks to get back to running and naturally, I went out of the gate pretty hard with it. The first week it felt blissful to just be back out on the trails again. I felt nervous and tentative about pushing my foot/ankle too far. But that blissful caution wore off pretty quickly with the reality of my upcoming goals. I am slated to do NYC marathon in less than two weeks. Last week I pushed myself like a crazy person and took risks that I might not have if I was simply focused on my healthy return. I was focused on the comeback, not moving forward. 

The funny thing about the idea of a comeback is that it is not very forward thinking. It is a focus on getting back to a place of something, in this case fitness. Moving forward means letting go of where you were and focusing on creating something new; better, strong, faster. Because I have a race rapidly approaching, I have had a comeback mentality which ultimately a very short sighted approach. I could ready myself enough to run NYC in two weeks, but I wonder if it is worth it. I struggled really hard to let go of Chicago and am now faced with making the same choice again. I wonder if I will be fit enough to deserve to stand on the line with the elite women. I wonder if I will get dropped quickly and be bringing up the rear of the elite women's start. I wonder if I will wheezy and lumber myself through an embarrassing performance. I wonder if my ankle will flare up or if it will hold steady. I don't know the answers, but I know that I would make different choices if I had no races on the immediate schedule. It is a complex thing to decide whether to come back or move forward.

I want to make the right decision for my health, for my running, for my racing. Ultimately, I simply love to run and I love that my body has allowed me for so long to push it this way. I want to respect it and take care of it so I can do it for a long time.

Lucky few

Injuries are part of the reality of running. We put an extraordinary amount of hurt on ourselves through hard training and it is very hard over time to get it right all of the time and stay healthy. A lot of the runners I know have laundry lists of various injuries, niggles and problems that they have faced over the year. Back when I was a basketball player, I seemed to be constantly battling something- three stress fractures then a debilitating back injury that ultimately forced me to quit playing all together. As a runner, one might assume that I would face similar issues and struggles.

But injuries have not been a big part of my reality over the past 7 years since I ran my first marathon. In the past 5 years, since I started ultrarunning, I have only had one injury that was of real concern and I was back on my feet and running in less than 10 days. I am one of the lucky few.

I am in fact injured right now. I have been diagnosed with retrocalcaneal bursitis, possibly triggered by my epic trail crash two weeks ago that landed me in the ER with stitches in my arm. I may have thrown off my left side and gotten everything out of whack. For the past week, I have been unable to run, unable really even to walk without severe pain and a "hiccup in my giddyup" as someone so cleverly put it.

I have not sat back and done nothing to fix this. I have charged at it with a team of doctors, PT and massage therapists to rid myself of this as quickly and permanently possible. Medicine, ice, rest, taping, massage, ART, graston, stim, ultrasound. If I can't run, I will use that time to heal. Yes it is frustrating, yes I have cried and been a crazy person (sanity was not easy to come by while on the steroids my doctor prescribed). I have been killing myself in workouts in the pool (doing pool running) and dripping with sweat in the garage on my bike trainer. I feel like I am doing everything I can to get better.

I am a bit disappointed that I will likely not be able to run worry free on our wedding day in just 9 days. It is becoming decreasingly likely that I will toe the line in Chicago and go after the low 2:30 I was ready for. And still I feel lucky. This is not old hat for me, this is a new situation for me to be in. I have no idea how long this injury will take to clear up and I am still learning how best to handle it, but I am thankful that I have gone this long without anything quite so serious. 

I look forward to when I can run pain free again and really understand how vital running healthy is to my entire life. For now, I will do my little pool running laps with my floaty and dream about the day I am free again to run for miles and miles and miles.

And to catch you up on everything else.... pictures from all of the madness from the past month!
Our new rental in San Anslemo!

Fun training run at Crystal Springs 20 miler.

Getting licensed to wed.
MHBB coffee purveyor tastings

Breakfast deliciousness in Hopland for Brett & LP's wedding!

The beautiful bride getting ready!

Awww we are so cute

My sister helping with the move by entertaining us.

Leaving the way it came in.

Weirdo.


Our entire lives in a truck

Run ferry run commute

Golden gate in golden light.


Practicing fancy wedding makeup

Kauai for a marathon, 5 days after moving-ugh!

Kalua pork hash with sweet potatoes.

I could stay here forever


Prerace meal

Round two of sweet potatoes!

2nd place x2. Jorge and I after the race (we both were 2nd)

Winner Brett Ely and I receiving our awards

All things consider. Moving, travel debacle, no energy, no taper-
I am really pleased with 2nd place & a 2:49 on a course with 2,000 feet of ascent!



Post-race rewards


Our new favorite past time- BBQ!

Epic trail crash.



All stitched up. Thanks Healdsburg Hospital!

Sarah's bachelorette party!

Therapeutic shoes for my ankle injury

Nathan's epic trail crash one week after mine.

Getting stitched up in the KP San Rafael ER.

His and Hers suture removal kits!