It’s Sunday morning, August 31, 2014.
I should be out on the course, probably around Mile 16-ish of the Tupelo Marathon in Tupelo, Mississippi.
I should be logging a finish this morning…in just slightly over an hour from the typing of these words…of my 7th marathon this year.
I should be tired, slogging through heat and rain (it is SO raining there), my mind focused on that finish line.
I should be putting all my hard training over the past few weeks to work to accomplish a goal that I signed up for and got myself in shape for, right?
I’m not doing any of those things.
Instead, I am sitting in my room at my parents home in Birmingham, Alabama. I have an exercise mat spread out on the floor and a cold bottle of water at my side. I just completed a set of some of the things that have been my day-in-and-day-out for the past month and a half. Push-ups, crunches, squats, and some ab toning exercises.
My feet are currently “booted” (it’s the best description) in KT Tape that is being used to stabilize my ankles and my feet in general. I sort of look like I have racing strips up my calf muscles. It’s not a good look. It definitely doesn’t go well with dress clothes. But it will surely be the look of next spring. Just…take my word on this, okay? HA!
No one and no test can tell me. Honestly. I have become yet another marvel to my podiatrist and the radiologist. But I am, as usual, getting ahead of myself. Let me rewind to a month and a half ago. It was a warm Tuesday morning, around 3:30 a.m. My NYC training plan called for 6×800 meters with a 45 second break in between each one. I have no track nearby so I was going to just have to do circles in my parking lot and just really watch the distance on my Garmin. I hated that…but you do what you have to with the circumstances you are given. In my case – no track…dark parking lot…3:30 a.m. darkness…and a whole lot of hate for speed work. Let’s face it…these short legs are made for distance and endurance…not so much speed! But…I set to it, doing my 1 mile warm up and then hitting those intervals the best I could manage and being diligent about that 45 second recovery. I stopped for water on a couple, because hydration is important to me. Anyway…I finished those up and went on my cool down mileage to round it off to the planned 7 miles on my plan.
And that’s where it all went to hell.
I was finishing up the last mile, not even a quarter of a mile through it when my foot started to hurt. It hurt so bad that I could hardly run a few steps without just pain. My immediate reaction was to stop running. So…I did. I think I differ from a lot of my running compatriots in that when something hurts…I don’t “push through the pain” nor “push myself to the point of puking.” I stop. I can’t fathom pushing through something and damaging my body further or worse. My brain can’t wrap around that mentality. I hobbled home, feeling defeated and more than a little worried about my foot. That morning, I called my podiatrist’s office and tried to get in for an appointment. The earliest one they had was 2 weeks away. I explained my problem and they said that if they had something open up sooner, they’d call me. I sighed…and said okay. That afternoon, they called and said they had a 9:00 a.m. opening on the following morning…Wednesday. I took it.
Long story made as short as I can manage…
The initial X-Rays showed what he called my foot “thinking” about fracturing. So it wasn’t quite a stress fracture…but the foot was right on the cusp. I was ordered into 2 weeks of no running, no spinning, no fierce walking…just upper body weights and swimming. I was going to get fitted for some new orthodics as well…ones that were more flexible so I would be okay running in them. My feet had changed. My orthodics no longer fit my feet right. It was causing problems. Big problems, apparently. I took my 2 week running/gym/spinning hiatus with much misery and complaining. I bought some hand weights and a kettlebell. I went to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 5 a.m. to swim laps in the pool. I’m not a strong nor a fast swimmer so my goal began to be to at least get in 1800 yards…or 1 mile…which would take me between 50-55 minutes. Told you…I’m slow. After my required time off, I went back in and had my feet molded for the new orthodics and X-rayed again. The foot looked much better and I was given the okay to start running again…only 2-4 miles. If it hurt…I was to back off. I could start that the very next day. It was a Thursday. That morning, I got out of bed and donned my running and reflective gear. The foot was still sore, but I chocked that up to being because of being poked and prodded by the podiatrist the previous afternoon. I put on my Adidas Boosts…I took in some water…and I turned on my Garmin, heading down my apartment stairs to get in 2 miles. I’d start small and build. I went about 3 steps before I started to feel pain. I thought maybe I was stiff and managed to get to the very end of my parking lot before pausing my Garmin and turning around. Maybe I should put my orthodics in. Second verse…same as the first. Maybe if I wore my Newtons instead. Third time wasn’t the charm. I managed 1/4 mile of excruciating pain. Feeling defeated and deflated…I hobbled back inside, cried, and put on shoes to head to the gym and hit the weight machines. I tried the next few mornings…and couldn’t get more than 10 steps. After a week of this and no improvement, I called my podiatrist back. They had me come in on that Thursday in the morning. Another round of X-Rays were taken…and again showed nothing. So, my podiatrist taped up my feet again and scheduled me for an MRI. They were hoping for that very same day…but it wasn’t happening until Monday. Another weekend of nothing but swimming and weights. I was not happy.
MRI day came and went and that following Thursday, I was back in my podiatrist’s office to get the results. The MRI showed nothing…nothing at all. No fractures. Nothing wrong with the bones. When my podiatrist got the results on Tuesday, he phoned the radiologist and they went slide-by-slide through my MRI because, as he said to the radiologist…”I have an elite runner who wants to get back to running yesterday and she can’t because her foot is hurting. We need to find out why.” And so…after 25 minutes working together, they decided it had to do with the fluid in my foot and the inflammation it was causing. Joy. I was delegated to more rest. Another week of no running and this new tape job. I was prescribed Celebrex, which my insurance refused, so 2 days later, that mess got resolved and I was put on Mobic for the inflammation. I was told I could walk, I could bike, I could (finally) get back on the eliptical, I could swim, I could do more upper body weights…just no running for a week. I went back to spin class that Friday. It was tough. I feel out of shape. I feel that time off did mess with my fitness despite doing my best to stay active with slower than a snail swimming and weights. I could tell I hadn’t been sweating it out or doing cardio. I was happy to be there. I was happy to be sweating again.
Tupelo Marathon was this coming weekend. On Friday…I ran 1 mile. Slowly. With minimal pain. It was there…it just wasn’t the stabby ow ow ow I am going to die pain I had been feeling. It was slow…and steady…and just a mile.
I had already resigned myself to the fact that I was going to DNS my second marathon this year (the first one being Mercedes back in February due to a severely sprained ankle). There was no way that Tupelo could happen. I was a month and a half without running. No. I wasn’t going to go from 0 miles to 26.2 miles when a mile was still not perfect.
But I also believe things happen for a reason…
On Wednesday, August 27, 2014, at 1:37 p.m., my sister welcomed into the world a beautiful baby girl, Baileigh Kendyl, weighing 8 pounds 2 ounces. She was beautiful and perfect. And now that I didn’t have a commitment to be in Tupelo to run a marathon…I could slip down to Birmingham, Alabama and see my niece. For the first time, hold one of the new babies in my family (this makes my sister’s 3rd child, my brother has 4)…when they were brand new. The best part was…only my parents knew I was coming down. I wanted to surprise my sister. I left Friday after work, the same day she and Baileigh were released from the hospital to go home. I got to my parents house late…due to Labor Day traffic…around 11 p.m.
The following day, after lunch, I was walking into my sister’s house…no one having a clue I was there…and getting to meet my beautiful and perfect new niece. It topped packet pickup and trying to find somewhere to get a gluten-free pizza in Tupelo, Mississippi…any day. I was smitten and in love with the newest addition to the family for sure. And every chance I had to hold her…I totally did.
I paused there, without you knowing it (which, now you do…because I told on myself) to go out for another slow run. I managed 2 miles here in my parents neighborhood, but I’m feeling it. I definitely feel like I’ve lost a good amount of fitness with the 1.5 month hiatus I’ve been on. My foot still twinges…though not debilitating when it does so. And I fight for each step more than I normally would have to. If I feel pain…yes…I stop. I couldn’t fathom risking further or worse injury to myself and pressing on. Do I hate that a majority of my friends are running half marathons, marathons, or some semblance of miles this weekend…and I can barely squeak in 2 miles? Yep. I don’t hate them for it…I hate my body for breaking on me. I hate that I can’t be joining them on these hard-earned and fought for miles.
But…my 26.2 miles was not meant to be. I was needed in Birmingham. I was supposed to be here…with my family…as we welcome Baileigh Kendyl to our humble, fun, and quirky lives. I was meant to be loved on and spend a lot of time with my nephew, Chace, who usually shies away from me…because I’m hardly here. He was all about me yesterday and I ate up every moment he spent clinging to me. I love him so much. I loved seeing Landon…ride his bike, play games, and watch the Auburn game. I loved talking with him…and getting hugs and love. Yes…this was way better than any race…even if the medal at the end was pretty stellar.
What this brings me to is this…
LIFE IS A MARATHON.
It’s not meant to be a sprint. So…slow down. It’s okay to set high standards and goals, but understand these don’t have to be accomplished right away. Give it and yourself time. You’re in it for the long run. Things shouldn’t and won’t happen right away. There will be obstacles and setbacks…but they will only make you stronger. Strive for greatness, but be prepared to fall and to fail. Just don’t give up. Aim for the stars…you will eventually get there. Pace yourself. Don’t overtrain. Don’t overdo it. Be bold. Be daring. But be kind to yourself. Don’t miss out on special moments and amazing events because of a training schedule or a diet or a race. You can hit a reset the next day…or the day after that. Keep your eye on the prize, but also your mind and heart on the important things in life. Know that change doesn’t happen overnight. And, yes…life is hard. It’s meant to be hard. We wouldn’t grow or overcome anything if it were easy. So…take it one step at a time. You come into this life a perfect baby…but you leave it with imperfections. It’s okay to have flaws and to fall short…never give up…never stop trying…but try within reason and don’t miss out on life’s most precious moments. Slow down. Take it in. Breathe. Stretch. And love. Love life and everything you do in life. Don’t obsess and don’t try to control the outcomes of things you have no control over. If it’s meant to be, it will be. If not…you will always have other opportunities. The finish line, regardless of how quickly you get there, is always right ahead. You aren’t finished yet…because in the marathon of life…you have a lot more than 26.2 miles. But each step…each breath…each time you push yourself just a little more…you get a little stronger…and a little better. And when you do reach that finish line, you’ll know it was all worth it in the end. Even if it took longer than you thought.
Welcome to my world, Baileigh Kendyl Morrow. I can’t wait to take your hand and guide you through some of it with me.