B1 is still so fresh on the mind, so fresh on the body that it is almost too easy to make correlations between the two. And while the physical implications are ripe with similarities, my mind is a completely different spot. It's liberating that I don't feel the same darkness looming over me. I cannot pinpoint exactly what I was afraid of except that it was fear of the unknown. The uncertainty of when I would run again. The uncertainty of finishing the year's biggest race. The uncertainty of the weeks that followed. The uncertainty of this thing that had defined me for so long that I truly struggled with coping without it.
It is a classic case of too much, too soon with the possibility of an old injury hampering my efforts. A VO2 max ready to climb mountains and bones that said "hell no!" I was so anxious to get back to the same level that I didn't see that I had to complete steps B through Y. I just thought I'd go from A to Z. Looking back, I was aware of my own reckless behavior and aware of the potential consequences. I got part of the results I wanted: finish Boston and successfully pace Lauren at CJ100. The downside is that I likely overcompensated with my (formerly) good right side and wound up with a stress reaction* in my right tibia.
*I'm not even sure we are calling it that - the bone scan showed it was likely not just a soft tissue thing, but there were no definite cracks either. The x-ray was inconclusive as these things often are with stress reactions/fractures. The good news is that I've had no official breaks or even cracks seen. The bad news is that something (um, probably overracing the first time and too much, too soon the second time) is making my bones angry.
If we were to backtrack to about a year ago, I would relay the story of whacking my right tibia so hard on a stone planter that I bled though a pair of khakis. The bruising that followed was nothing short of epic. Over the course of the next year, that spot seemed to get angry from time to time, but never appeared to impact my running. It was just this funny little bump on my shin that almost looked like the blood vessel was swollen. I'd run my finger over it and it would feel like a bruise - tender and mildly irritating, about a 2 on the pain scale. I have no idea if it is related to this, but certainly didn't help.
Flash forward to June 2018 when the same area started to hurt again. The thing about most running injuries is that they typically are not pinpointed to one particular run or instance. They often start out with teeny niggles of pain and creep their way further in until you cannot ignore them any longer. My mind was slightly more attuned to watching out for these warning signs, but admittedly, I wanted to just keep marching on into my normal summer running. It was just 2 weeks ago that I somehow thought I was ready to jump back into weekly double digit runs.
But by that weekend, I had the ominous feeling that I was to be facing another DL sentence.
I cross-trained early in the week and by the time I had the bone scan on Friday, I decided to just take an entire week off of exercising. A whole week. No cross-training. No weight-lifting.
The following Monday, the podiatrist told me to drop by for another boot - I needed a taller version to protect my tibia - and to schedule a follow up appointment in 4 weeks. In my permanently optimistic brain, I am hoping that the 4 week time period means there is a slight possibility that I won't have to wear it after 4 weeks. After all, my foot recheck was at 3 weeks and I was sentenced to another 3 weeks after! But using that logic, I would be booted this time for a total of 8 weeks. <insert cringe face here>
Honestly, it doesn't hurt in the same way that my foot did. I'm sure part of that is because it is a different bone (duh), but also, I am hoping because I caught it early enough, it won't have suffered as much damage. Walking doesn't seem to bother it and I'm not changing my gait while walking because of it. In fact, it really only started to bother me towards the end of my runs and later in the day. The straw that broke the camel's back? It started to ache when I was just sitting around in the evening and lying in bed.
During the first weeks of B1, I threw all of my angry energy into working out. I went from running 60 mile weeks to zero. I had a lot of extra time and energy on my hand. Plus, I was so pissed that I was injured that I was determined to make my body stronger. I can't say I have regrets about any of it because I do believe it helped me finish Boston. But perhaps a little more R&R could have been beneficial if I had been able to channel some of that energy later. I ended up spending more hours per week working out while booted than I usually did while running!
In any regard, when I received the news last Monday that I was going to be booted again, I had a much different outlook than B1. Being in the middle of an exercise hiatus helped (pats self on back for forced laziness). But also knowing the value of myself as a (hopefully temporarily) non-runner was huge. I'd happily taken on this persona of runner girl and let the other pieces of me just kind of fall out where they could. When I couldn't run, I was so stressed out about not running that I was a mess.
B2 is different already. I'm working out again, but don't feel compelled to reach the same levels I did during B1. I obviously want to return to running as quickly as possibly so some movement over the next 4 (....to 8, FML) weeks will be good. I just don't have to go nuts. Also, B2 is happening during summer which is a loathsome time to be running in Georgia anyway. I miss those long, hard, hot days on the trails like you wouldn't believe, but there will be more of those. The runner girl will return, but she will hopefully have an even rosier outlook than before.
One likes to think there are reasons for this kind of thing happen. Reasons give us validation and purpose when life throws frustrating stuff our way. I don't know if there are reasons (beyond the science of overusing my body) that I feel strongly about with this hiccup. It has given me a chance to look at other areas of my life with a little more clarity. It has provided me with a bit more empathy. It has made me realize I'll be okay if I'm not running.
I am taking note of the progress I have made this year in other aspects of life and being grateful for what I have accomplished thus far. I set out 10 goals for myself in January:
- Volunteer/Crew/Pace >5 races (7 total!)
- Marathon <3:10
- Strength or stretch >30 minutes weekly (24 of 24 weeks so far)
- Master InDesign
- 12 new recipes (8 total)
- Read >20 books (18 total)
- 200,000 impressions on LinkedIn
- 100 mile race (not in 24 hours)
- Prepare financially/fiscally for Everest Marathon 2019 (halfway to financial goal)
- Camp 2+ nights (1 night...ish)
- Finish the GA Appalachian Trail