“HERE WE GO 2017! Embrace the good times and let the bad times run their course so you can be a better and stronger athlete and person!”
This was the closing line of my 2016 recap and it is frightening how this single line perfectly sums up 2017. I DID embrace every single good moment there were a lot of them, I DID let the bad times run their course at times I thought the course was never ending and the combination of lows and highs made me a more humbled, reflective and stronger person than I was a year ago when I over-zealously wrote my 2016 recap about all my new PRs.
A year ago I was writing my 2016 recap while nursing a minor knee/IT band injury. I remember being discouraged and upset but I was not prepared for what the rest of January had in store for me. January sucked.
My knee injury manifested into a hip injury which then led to a mild labral tear diagnosis..a diagnosis that I let tear me down and defeat me. I fought hard through Boston training (with the help of 4 prolotherapy injections) but mentally, I was the weakest I have ever been in a training cycle. I felt limited and defined by the diagnosis and could not seem to get it out of my head. In hindsight, I truly believe much of the discomfort was more in my head than in my hip.
The only time my mind felt at peace while running was halfway through the Boston Marathon when I was finally able to say to myself for the first time in 2017…“I AM GOING TO CROSS THE BOSTON FINISH LINE..I CAN FINALLY STOP WORRYING”.
My body felt strong and pain free and my heart felt so happy. I was finally here and doing well. Every single run before Boston was a worry-fest. I overanalyzed every run, every ache and the constant obsession of how my body felt was more mentally exhausting than physically.
On the bus ride home from Boston I just starred out the window trying to process the last 4 months. How do you have 4 months worth of frustrating runs (as short as 2 miles) and then a great 26.2 miles?? I didn’t have the answers but the one thing that kept coming up was that maybe my own fears were what held me back.
I was still registered for Big Sur for the Boston2Big Sur Challenge but held off buying my flight until after Boston. Honestly, I stopped thinking about Big Sur altogether and convinced myself that there was no way I could make it happen. Well 42 hours after Boston, I was sitting in my parents’ kitchen with legs that felt pretty good and a mindset that was ready to stop letting fear win so my mom and I bought the damn tickets to California 11 days before the race.
I bought a Momentum bracelet in preparation for the race that said “Limitations only exist if you let them” and wore it the entire time I was in California. I needed the constant reminder anytime my mind started to wander toward that negative place. Big Sur was probably the most uncomfortable marathon and my legs were still pretty trashed from Boston but it still managed to make its way to the top of my marathon list!
I took time off after Big Sur to reset. When I started back up again at the end of May, I was only doing short runs, daily strength training and more yoga. I spent most of May and June just doing the things I love. I raced shorter distances and had zero structure in my training.
July was an awkward month where I wanted to keep doing my own thing but also knew that if I was going to race Chicago, I needed to start adding more structure to my training. I let the process happen organically and just added a longer warm up and cool down to my Thursday night 5ks and tacked on some additional Sunday miles.
August rolled around and training was amping up. I used some of the creativity that I had in July for my August long runs. I found local Sunday 5ks that I would run to, race and then run home or do a cool down with someone I knew at the race This definitely made the long runs more fun and the mid-run 5k was a good reminder that my legs have the ability to speed up at mile 16 when given the chance.
At the end of August, I met with a hip specialist in Boston who focused on female athletes. My hip wasn’t bothering me, but I still needed answers and closure to my injury. She did a lot of movement tests, looked at my MRI and asked questions. She said that labral tears are very common in females and many women are walking around with a labral tear and have absolutely no pain or are totally unaware of it. Basically, just because it shows up on a MRI does not mean that it JUST happened or is the root cause of hip discomfort. She said, “If you were able to run two marathons in two weeks without pain, I don’t think this was a result of the minor labral tear in your MRI.”…I needed this. I had very little hip discomfort going into the appointment so she couldn’t pinpoint exactly what my issue was in January was but we narrowed it down to maybe a small muscle pull or tendonitis. It may not seem like I left the appointment with much but mentally, I left with the closure I needed.
September was the highest mileage week of the year. My training for Chicago had peaked and was starting to calm down. The race was getting close and the nerves were picking up but I knew this training cycle was very solid and my confidence was where it needed to be.
The 31 days in October can/will be summed up in two days…Chicago Marathon weekend.
As I reflect on that weekend, I can’t help but smile. I was a completely different person than I was during Boston Marathon weekend..I was confident and fearless. Instead of being scared of race day pain, I was welcoming it. I knew I would feel pain because I was ready and willing to push the boundaries to see what I was capable of doing. I really felt like I was in PR shape and I STILL feel like I was in PR shape. Unfortunately, I left Chicago with sun-kissed skin rather than a PR. There were a couple days after the race where I would get down and frustrated with the outcome and the weather. I found myself saying “damn you 2017 why are you out to get me”…but 2017 wasn’t out to get me. It was just making me work a little harder. It’s prepping me to be a better athlete in the long term.
I kicked off November with the New York City Marathon!
I would say that NYC marathons was THE BEST but I feel like I have said that after every marathon in 2017. So this will be my segue into reflecting on 2017 and the year of 4 incredible marathons that, according to all my past race recaps, were all the best.
I do not recommend running 4 marathons in a year, especially when the year started off with a month-long injury. There were many moments in 2017 where I said to myself, “GIRL WHAT ARE YOU DOING!”…but..right or wrong…I would do it all over again. Those 4 weekends were some of the best weekends of the year and I covered 104.8 miles on foot through the streets of Boston, Big Sur, Chicago and NYC. I shared the road with some of my favorite Instagram friends and I learned so much about myself in the final the 24 miles that made up the last 6 of each one of those marathons.
I don’t regret my choice to run 4 marathons at all but sometimes I think I ran them as a BIG FU to my January. I ran them to prove to myself that I could. I ran them to prove to others that I could. I ran them because I could and I remember when I was stuck in a pool because I couldn’t. In my constant attempt to prove that I could, I sometimes outran my love of running.
When December rolled around, the thought of training for Boston caused my face to scrunch up in utter disgust. I told myself that I would start training when I felt ready and if I never felt ready then I would drop Boston and push training back to my fall marathon (California International Marathon in December). I ran my bucket list marathons in 2017 and I want 2018 to be more focused and goal oriented. No more just running for fun to prove that I can simply because I lost confidence in my ability after my injury.
I am still pretty undecided but that itch and fire to train again is coming back. The other day I chose to go do mile repeats in 10 degrees for no reason…that may be a sign. If I chose to begin training soon, I want to tackle this cycle differently. I want to set short term goals that will eventually lead me to Boston. I don’t want to eat, sleep and breathe Boston for the next 4 months. I want to focus on smaller races/goals and gradually build up with the ultimate goal of having a successful marathon performance.
Thank you 2017 for proving to me that success isn’t linear and life doesn’t always go as planned but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be worthwhile and wonderful. There were moments that felt like rock bottom running related and due to the loss of a very special person and it was hard not to say WHY ME in those moments. But I always eventually discovered the why. Because I may have needed a reminder to stop and cherish the people I do have. I needed to learn when to be patient and when to be resilient. I needed to learn when to be selfish and when to be selfless. I needed a year of learning and thankfully (I can say that now), that is exactly what I got. I am packing up and taking all the lessons learned in 2017 with me into 2018 and putting them to use!
2018…let’s do this! You have nothing to prove…just be fearless, be confident and dream big.
“Make your vision be so clear that your dreams become irrelevant.”