Running. Oh running. What is there to say about you? I’ve been running for so long, I don’t really even remember the beginning. I think I ran my first race in a park district summer track meet that my parents signed me up for. My older brother was a runner, so I wanted to be one too. (That’s how most things in my life worked out!) The first race I actually remember was the sixth grade track meet where I volunteered to run the 800 meter race because that was the longest race they offered, so I guess you could say I’ve been drawn to distance running since day one.
Based on that, I started running in 1997, so I’ve been running for almost twenty years. I can’t think of anything else I’ve done for that long. When people ask me why I run, I don’t really have a good answer. Why is blue my favorite color? Why do I love elephants? I don’t have an amazing, compelling answer – I just do. Why do I love to run? I could write pages upon page as to why, but the short, truthful answer is just that – I just do.
Running has led me on the greatest adventures and gotten me through my daily life. Running isn’t an item I want to cross of my checklist – it’s something I look forward to every time I get to do it. I love to run in the sun, in the rain, in the snow, in the summer, in the winter, in shorts and a long sleeve shirt weather, in races, with a group, by myself. I run to celebrate my greatest moments and to push my through the hard times.
I’m not an outgoing, extroverted, talkative person. I’m shy, introverted, and only talk after you’ve gotten to know me for awhile. Running has allowed me to make connections that I never would have made otherwise. Put two runners together and they can talk for hours. I moved to New York not knowing a single person. My first night here, I met a running group in Central Park – I knew this big city would seem so much smaller if I found my running community. Through running and this blog, I’ve been all over the world. I’ve been picked up at the airport by “strangers,” I’ve traveled to run races I only chose because of a local runner I knew, I’ve been to Europe with a group of runners I’d only met a handful of times (once in a grocery store checkout during Hood to Coast!).
Running isn’t just a hobby, it’s a way of life. A few years ago upon chatting with a new person, I mentioned that I was training for a marathon. The person said, “You’ll always know who has run a marathon because they’ll tell you immediately.” I was a little taken aback – running isn’t something I do to brag about. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. It’s what I think about. It’s what I look forward to. It’s what I surround myself with.
I’ve been dealing with this hip pain for almost a year and a half. My pain first started in March 2015, and it’s been so up and down ever since. I realized earlier this year that the pain wasn’t something normal to live with, nor did it seem like it would go away with rest or physical therapy. It was also holding me back from running to my true potential and from really enjoying running like I used to. It gets tiring to always wonder if something is going to hurt more, if today is going to be that day something gets worse. Running to not get injured is so much less enjoyable than training for a race or just getting out for some miles. While I’ve fully appreciated every run I’ve had and still look forward to every run, they’re not as fun and carefree as before. I’ve limited my runs to only a few miles. I don’t do speed work. I don’t have goal races. I see people rocking tough workouts and chasing new PRs, and it’s a little hard to sit on the sidelines and wait.
I’ve done my last couple runs this week. I did a run yesterday along the Hudson River. It didn’t necessarily feel amazing, but it’s along a path with beautiful views that we often take for granted. I’m going to miss it. Three miles. It’s not much, but it’s something.
Today, I took it over to Central Park for my final run. While I would have liked to do the full six mile loop, I played it smart and did the four mile loop – about the distance I’ve been capping my runs lately. No podcast listening today, just taking in Central Park. Took it easy and enjoyed the rolling hills. When I reached about one mile to go, I thought to myself – I can either run this in easy, or give this a final kick. One more burst of speed. So I pushed it for a mile, coming in at 7:06 pace – bringing the average pace of the run down to 7:59. I shouldn’t care, but that made me smile a little bit. I only almost cried once while running, which I consider a victory.
People ask me if I’m nervous for surgery, and I mostly say I’m not. I know I’m in good hands with with some of the top medical care I could receive. Of course I know that complications can happen, but the surgery itself doesn’t make me nervous. I may sing a different tune on surgery day, but right now that’s how I feel. The recovery makes me way more nervous than the few hours I’ll be asleep. The recovery can take up to a year to fully recover – hopefully “fully recovered” means back to my old runner self, but it might not mean that. I won’t be able to run for at least three months, although I’m preparing for no running until 2017 just to have realistic expectations. Anything before that will be a gift. (A short, five minute gift to start.)
I had a run a couple weeks ago that felt kind of horrible. Both hips were achy. Pace was fine (keeping it around 8:30 pace, which is kind of slow-ish in my normal book), but it just didn’t feel good. It was the first time that I finally felt ready to stop running. I’m going to miss running so much over the next few months, but I’m ready to not run if it lets me run carefree again.
I’m not sure what this next year will bring. It’s going to be challenging in recovery, in running, in school, in work. I recently listened to Lindsey Hein’s Podcast with Erica, Laura, and Michele – all four women I look to in running and the bits I know about their lives. When asked what their greatest advice is, they all said some version of, “Everything is temporary.” It’s okay to feel the emotion of what’s going on, but everything will pass and life will go on. It’s something I’ll remember through recovery. It’s not going to be easy. It’s probably going to be harder than I can even imagine despite all the research I’ve done and the stories I’ve heard. It’s going to be hard on the first fall day when everyone loves running. When marathons get into full swing. It’s probably going to be hard just to get from my bed to the bathroom at first. But I’m doing this to be myself again, and it’s a bump in the road. Of all the problems I can have in life, this one really isn’t that bad. It’s going to be challenging, but I’ll be in good hands at the hospital and physical therapy, and I have great support at home.
It’s going to bit a little odd to be on the patient side of things. When I have a patient who is getting worried or worked up, I say, “Don’t worry. It’s my job to worry about you, and I’m not worried.” Obviously easier said than done, but it makes them stop to think for a minute. I’ll just have to think of all those times I’ve pushed my patients to do things they don’t want to do, but I know will be good for them.
I’m a planner and I hate the unknown, so not knowing how well I’ll do or when I’ll get to run again is hard, but I’m going to work hard, and it’s all going to be part of my running story. Running has been very good to me over the years, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.