Saturday, August 26, 2023

Continued Recovery and New Goals

Since my last post, I am happy to say the physical therapy has truly helped. It's been about six weeks since the pain began and two weeks since my first PT appointment and I'm back out running. I'm definitely taking it slower but I'm not giving up. 

My run and
cool-down walk.
Today, I ran/walked ten miles and then walked the last two miles to get home. I may have mis-judged the distance but I was feeling great for the first eight miles. As I started to slow down, I made excuses to stop and rest for a bit. First I stopped at the vet to grab Benny's prescription refill, then I stopped at Philly Runner to ask for a recommendation for a more cushioned sock. I am definitely going to feel this blister on the ball of my foot tomorrow. 

I left Philly Runner and went to restart my run when I realized I had ended it, not just pause. So knowing that I wasn't going to make the half marathon now, I decided to walk the final two miles. Could I have made it? Probably. Was I slightly short of the 13.1? Yes, but I also didn't take the final loop on Kelly Drive and went straight up the hill towards home.

This week, #TeamUltra challenged us to post our goals for the 2023 TCS New York City Marathon. Well, My goal has changed since I first learned I made Team Ultra again. When I started training back in May, my goal was to PR. 

Unfortunately after waking up that day in July with immense sciatica pain, I started to doubt that would happen. It has been almost five years since my last flare up and I called my doctor crying in pain. Oh course, she immediately made recommendations to handle the pain while I gave my back time to heal.

I took some time off from running and started going to physical therapy again. On my very first visit I explained to Danny, the physical therapist, that I was registered for the NYC Marathon and that I am not a quitter. After I explained my current symptoms and my goal of running the marathon on November 5th, he just looked at me and said "I think it's doable." It helps that he told me he is also a runner so he understands. 

Of course, physical therapy only works when you do the homework. Stretching once a week in his office wasn't going to help my back recover. Within two weeks of starting his stretching routine I met up with my running club on Thursday night. I did a very slow two miles, but I did it. That weekend, I went out to Valley Forge and ran the loop.

I was already a slow runner and right now I'm going about two minutes more per mile, but I'm doing it. Today for that ten miles I was much, much, slower. I added about four minutes per mile. But I did it. 

So what's the point of this long post? It's to explain why my NYC Marathon goal has changed in the last few months. I'm no longer aiming for a PR. I'm aiming for a medal. I don't care how slow I go, but I will finish. I will cross that finish line in Central Park. I will meet up with my Team Ultra family for the after race celebration. I know that while they might have already been partying for a few hours at that point, they will still be partying. I know that when I walk (crawl?) in they will celebrate my finish. Because whether you are an Olympian or the last to cross that finish line, marathoners are a unique family. 

I know that if anyone actually reads this, they will think I'm crazy that my goal is just to get a medal, but it's really more than that. That medal represents everything else. It represents how far I've come from the fat kid that would make any excuse to get out of gym class. How far I've come from the girl that wouldn't walk around the lake at camp with Cathy, the lake director, who was a seasoned marathoner.

When I started running, it was more of a fast walk, and it was with the goal of losing weight. But as I lost weight, I gained so much more. I gained strength, both physical and mental. I gained a community of neighbors who held me accountable. They never get annoyed that they're all waiting for me at the end to head to dinner. Instead, when they pass me after turning around they cheer me on. When I get back to the meeting location, we all walk together to dinner. I gained an outlet for my anxiety, sort of. I still avoid some running trails after incidents not involving myself were on the news because the thought of those incidents happening again do cause me some anxiety.

All that to say, my goal for the TCS NYC Marathon 2023 is to take in every moment. From crossing the Verrazano Bridge at the start to entering Central Park, I know the city will celebrate with me as I prove to myself that I can do it.