Tonight, after I walked out of my podiatrist’s office with tears streaming down my face and a new doctor’s note in my bag, I realized something both liberating and terrifying: this is when the real work begins.
While sidelined, it was easy to fantasize about training post-injury for the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 10, 2010. And it was simple to talk in hypotheticals with trainers and programs. It was all so planned in my head.
“Even if I can’t train the way I want to when I’m better,” I thought to myself, “I’ll still be able to figure something out. Maybe I’ll run/walk the marathon.”
That line of “I think I can” positive thinking, if you can call it that, is what got me in trouble in the first place. Hello, training through plantar fasciitis to peak at the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in 2007.
Now, for some strange reason, it was keeping me going through out all my setbacks this year: stress fracture 1, stress fracture 2, bursitis and a neuroma. (Even though I was recovering by the book this time.)
“If I can just will myself to get better,” I thought, “I can make this happen. I can train for and run the events I signed up for.”
I reached out to trainers, programs and coaches — always hoping for a different answer, but getting the same response. The words were varied, but the meaning the same: training for the Chicago Marathon this year, after your injuries, is a recipe for disaster.
Chicago Area Runners Association Training Program Manager Megan Sullivan responded to an e-mail inquiry of mine, dated May 17. She wrote:
“Kirsten- I am glad to hear you are on the mend! Personally, I’d move forward with training very cautiously and honestly, it’s probably not good to try a marathon so soon. I know it has to be so frustrating, but I’ve been in your shoes before and attempted to run a marathon with a shin splint. It hurt so much, it was not fun and I ended up on the sideline for way longer because of it. I’m so sorry I sound so harsh, but in my opinion, I would take the summer to reach a point where you can run and feel good and set your goal of doing a 5-10k and maybe a half marathon in the fall. You don’t want to end up with a chronic injury, you want to get that thing better ASAP. Good luck and hang in there Kirsten!! Call me if you wanna chat!”
I reached out to Triathlon Coach Jen Harrison that same day. She essentially reiterated what Megan said — and she said she’d need my doctor’s permission before we could work on anything.
(And I have to say I’m so thankful to Megan and Jen for their honest feedback!)
I was kind of in shock at first; it had been seven months of doctor’s visits and modified training, after all.
But then I was overcome with emotion. So much so that I couldn’t keep from crying out of pure joy.
And now, as I sit here on my couch trying to decide what I’m going to do with my training, I realized it’s not going to be easy. The “fake planning” was easy. Now I have to actually hit the road.
I’m a runner. I like the hard part.
And I’m going to listen to Megan and Jen. This is not my year for Chicago. Maybe I’ll try it next year. Until then I’ve got my new sport, triathlon, to keep me busy.