“I’m so thankful for my injury.”
That’s not exactly something you hear everyday, but Running Buddy definitely said it around mile 22 of our marathon together. But I didn’t flinch, because I knew exactly what she meant.
She’s been battling some IT-band issues for a good chunk of training but after the 20-miler, it was so bad, she wasn’t sure she’d even be able to run the marathon. We were pretty worried. And I’d been there too. Two years ago, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to run our first marathon because of a dropped metatarsal. I actually have a draft saved on this blog of a post I wrote updating and processing the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to run the marathon. (I got the okay to run it but turns out I probably shouldn’t have—I was still injured and got more injured in the process). I was thankful to have finished that one, and after each setback since then, coming back to running is all that much sweeter.
In my 2.5 years of running so far, I was sidelined with that injury, then with undiagnosed anemia, and then with mono, in addition to some busy seasons of school when running got sidelined, each time, coming back to running felt more and more like a gift. So when Running Buddy said, “I’m so thankful for my injury” in the midst of the best run we’d ever had (I think collectively for us both and individually for sure for me), on the most beautiful Fall day, with our family and friends and one million other fans cheering us on, I knew exactly what she meant.
The setbacks make the successes all that much sweeter.
I may have wept tears of pain and frustration during my first marathon but I smiled for 26.2 miles in my second.
I may been diagnosed with mono the day after winning the lottery to sign up for the Chicago marathon, but I rocked training as soon as I was fully recovered six weeks later.
I may have been frustrated by being in shape yet out-of-breath, but with iron supplements in hand, I came back stronger than ever.
I may have had seasons where my 5 hours of sleep was more important than running, but guarding those 8 hours of nightly sleep this time around felt right.
I may have struggled in the 20-miler with cramps, dehydration and nausea, but 26.2 went uncharacteristically smooth.
I may have crossed the finish line alone two years ago, but I crossed it with Running Buddy this time around.
I may have not written my goal for this marathon too boldly because of fear of not succeeding—I wrote, “Finish strong, preferably under 5:00”—but I crushed my goal—finishing strong at 4:45.
I may have not felt like a strong, real runner for 2+ years because of all the various setbacks, and because my dear Running Buddy often was able to run with a tad more oomph than me, but on marathon day this year, I knew I was a real runner.
I may not have blogged about running after my first marathon because I had so many unresolved feelings I didn’t know how to express, but today, I can blog about the journey, the setbacks and the successes.
In running and in life, we of course learn the most from our setbacks and failures. But in running and in life, those fleeting moments of success are great motivation to keep going because the journey includes ups AND downs, not just downs. And they feel pretty damn great. (Or maybe those are some lingering endorphins). 😉