- Part 1 can be found here
- Part 2 can be found here
- Part 3 can be found here
- Part 4 can be found here
- Part 5 can be found here
- Part 6 can be found here
When I left off, I had just completed my 5th half marathon in 5 days in frigid temperatures and high winds. Because the winds were so high, and it was such a difficult course, I must have overexerted myself unlike I ever have before. I'd still been babying my bad foot... following doctors orders to wear my aircast for every waking moment when not actually on the race course. I had been icing and elevating. I had been eating my anti-inflammatories and my pain-killers religiously. I did everything I was supposed to be doing. But after 65.5 miles in the first 5 days, and after that unbelievably difficult course and conditions in Albion Montana... I was spent.
When I got out of bed after our pre-dawn wake-up call, I could barely put any pressure on my right foot. It wasn't swollen as badly as it had been in the height of my injury but I knew that didn't mean much. I was determined to get out there to Chadron State Park for the final race in the series, and if that meant that I would be hopping the 13.1 miles, I was pretty much prepared to do just that.
I've not always been the smartest when it comes to making decisions and listening to my body. The doctor had cleared me to run the series (warning that it might be excruciatingly painful and it may set me back in terms of my overall healing process, but he had cleared me none-the less). The one caveat, of course, was that I was on doctors orders to listen to my foot and do constant checks-ins with myself about the pain I was feeling. And I did just that. I got dressed, we drove to the park. We parked what seemed like a mile away from the start line, and I hobbled along behind my friends.
I was down on myself from the moment we got to the park. I had come all this way, and here I was thinking I may not even be able to start the final race in the series. I didn't want my friends to know just how bad it was, so I put on a happy face. And when the race started... I put one foot in front of the other. Afterall, a did not finish trumps a did not start any day.
The course was gorgeous and the weather was amazing. A woman named Pamela slowed down to my pace and kept me company. Listening to her stories and talking about the amazing experiences during the earlier part of the week kept my mind off of the fact that with each excruciating step I was getting shooting pains up my heel, into my calf and up through my knee and hip. I knew it was going to be a long morning out there. And strangely, it NEVER ONCE crossed my mind to sit down and give up.
By the time we were done with our first lap, I knew I had to make some changes, but my attitude had changed. I told myself I only had 9 miles left to reach my goal, and I would get there come Hell or high water. While Pamela went to the restroom, I sat down on a bench and replaced my right running shoe with my aircast... and I was ready to go.
The cast slowed me down even more, but at least now I could avoid the shooting pains up through my leg. And putting pressure on my foot was far easier. And that was how I finished the last 9 miles. Nothing was going to stop me. It was slow, but my goal had nothing to do with time. The goal was to finish, and not let my experience be defined by what I couldn't do (as had been the recurring theme before I began running in 1012).
Instead, I took the opportunity to define myself by what I could do in the face of adversity.
And I really like this definition of myself.
My ridiculously slow finish time of 5 hours and 8 minutes for the half marathon earned me the daily caboose award for being the last to finish, but I will cherish that award for as long as I am alive.