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Thursday, January 24, 2013

On To 2013

January has come and nearly gone, it is hard to believe that spring will be here before we know it! With the weather this week, I can speak for many in saying we will welcome it with open arms. Coming into 2013 I have some goals. One of which is to update my blog more regularly. I want to update how things are going monthly at the very least, so as January comes to an end it is time for my first post!

In 2012 I had big goals and I will say I didn't really reach any of them. Get back in sub 17 min 5k shape...nope I ran 17:10, win the Akron Marathon for a second time...nope injury and illness lead to my slowest marathon, and a 3rd place finish. But I achieved some things I didn't see coming and man were they some great lessons!

I learned that covering up and injury because one CAN run though it doesn't mean one SHOULD. I have had a nagging hamstring issue since after Twin Cities in 2009. I figured it would go away with some time off, but when it didn't I decided my best bet was to learn to deal with the pain, embrace the agony and pretend it wasn't there. The main issue with the injury was I could NOT do tempo runs. Anything longer than 8-10 miles even easy was quite painful but I could handle it so I did. MISTAKE! Following Akron this year I knew the injury was too much to continue running though, so I asked Dr. Leo Kormanik for his opinion. I decided that even if it meant a year off running entirely I would rather fix the issue than to keep ad-libbing workouts, convincing myself I was fit, and struggling my way though another 26 miles of hell. Dr. Leo blew my mind when he informed me it wasn't a hamstring problem at all! My glute was not firing correctly requiring my hamstring to pick up the slack, and leading to an over worked very tired hamstring. So he gave me exercises which I began spending 30 minutes daily working on each morning. I knew this would be a long process and not be fixed over night, but I was determined to get this under control and have the old me back. After 2 months of work I completed my first tempo run in well over 3 years. It wasn't fast, but it was a start. I would say I have it at 80% right now, and it feels stronger everyday. I found my love for running again after truly feeling hopeless and wondering if I would be able to get back to my old form again.

While it is a work in progress I have come a long way in 4 months, and I am looking forward to seeing what my ol' legs can do when I am running on 2 healthy ones here in 2013.

Another thing I learned is you can't fake a marathon. If you are sick or hurt, 26 miles later you will only be more sick and more injured. There are no short cuts in getting fit for the marathon and all of the 25x1k, 12x1miles in the world are NOT THE SAME AS A TEMPO. I will never go to the start line of a marathon that is not the Olympic Trials sick again. I couldn't run for a month after the race without my hamstrings cramping from the damage I did!

Finally I learned that no matter how horrible a race can be I still have ONE HELL of a support group behind me! I crossed the finish line at Akron, and I knew I had done the right thing. But how would people who believed in me so much respond to 3rd, 20 minutes slower than my PR? I was blown away with the response. People told me how proud they were that I finished. It was clear early on that the day wasn't going to be fast for me, but when the goal went from sub 2:40 to just don't walk, to DO NOT CRY, people got to see a more human side of me than usual. Many elites will walk off the course when they know it is not their day, and a lot of the time it is the right decision. But on Sept. 29th no matter how many times I wanted to stop, give up and just say "it wasn't my fault, I was sick, who could blame me?" but for me choosing to finish would prove to be the right decision. Through this, I was taught that this city's running community, my family and my friends care about me as more than an athlete. They still cheered, told me they were proud, and offered words of encouragement. Had I not made the choice to hang in there and hobble across that line, I would not understand what an incredible community I have behind me.

Looking forward to 2013 I hope to finally be back under 16:30, and get in a competitive marathon and go for the Olympic Trials A standard this fall.

Running with the Cleveland Elite Development group now and having a fantastic training partner (Nicole Camp 2:39 marathoner), has really helped me to get excited about what I am capable of once again. I want to be a sub 2:35 marathoner, and I think things are headed in that direction...FINALLY! Nicole and I are both very eager athletes, and we play off one another's strengths very well. Unlike training partners of the past, I never feel like we are racing one another, but truly helping the other toward their goals as well. The dynamic is great. It gives new purpose for me knowing I can help her along the way.

While I can't foresee the lessons that 2013 holds I am pretty pumped about experiencing them, and becoming a better athlete a long the way. After 3 years of sliding backward and struggling to become the athlete I once believed I could be I have begun to believe in my ability to become that athlete again. I know good things are just around the corner, and while that means we are going to have to train harder than we ever have. I can not wait to take on the challenge.

Looking back at 2012 I realize that while my number goals were far from met. I achieved a new sense of purpose. I feel better prepared to tackle the challenges I have always wanted to overcome, one step at a time.