Every year towards the end of December, instagram users everywhere put their handle into a generator and find out what their most popular moments of the year were. These are called the "Top Nine".... but they aren't always a real depiction of the top nine because it is based on how many times its favorited... not the actual moment in comparison with other moments.
I went through my own instagram to find my personal "top nine" generated by my memories and my current feelings about that moment in time. While going through the process to pick out my favorite moments of 2018, I got caught up reading all the lows... You see, I ended this year on a really high note and I was attracted to re-reading the low moments as they gave me perspective on how much I've grown as an athlete and competitor, but also as a person. So before I give you my Top Nine, I give you my Bottom Nine.
Let me preface this post by saying that in the grand scheme of things 2018 was not bad... it was only really bad on the running front. By contrast on paper 2016 was a better year. I ran PRs in events ranging from the 6k to the marathon and found out I was pregnant... but I also lost my father in law that year, so keep in mind I'm not at all unhappy with 2018, it just wasn't the best year for running... but that's what this is about! These are mostly in chronological order, but to be honest, it all blurs together at some point so... I didn't really care about putting them in an order!
So this moment actually occurred in 2017.... my last run of 2017. I include it in 2018 because in this moment I already had set my goals for the next year and this moment, only being able to run 7 minutes pain free, was a sucker punch to the gut. It sort of set the stage for what was about to come for the whole year as I was just coming off my first of many postpartum calf injuries. I really had no idea what I was in for.
This moment. Ugh. I was in so much pain every day. So much groin pain when I ran, but also when I biked. I spent a lot of time biking in the first few months of 2018 trying to build some extra fitness in between runs since I wasn't able to run 3 consecutive days without injury. I biked next to this Boston Marathon poster... and I realized somewhere along the line that I always took the Boston Marathon for granted because it was "easy" for me to qualify... but yet... here I was QUALIFIED and completely unsure if I'd ever make it to the starting line. Spoiler Alert: I didn't.
This was probably the absolute lowest moment as a runner, and a mother, and I was also in a ton of pain. The day before this I discovered that my breast milk freezer died over my vacation... and since I wasn't pumping much on vacation, I wasn't going to the extra freezer for any reason, and so I didn't notice it was dead until it was all thawed. I kept good perspective the first day and started pumping 6x a day to send my body the message that it needed to produce more ASAP! I also was struggling with a lower supply since I was actually pretty deep in training at this point. I had just done a big long run workout from Ashland to Newton just before and this was just.... the worst. This run on the treadmill was cut short because it literally felt like all the calcium had seeped from my bones and that they were going to shatter. My ab/hip/groin were on fire (more than usual) and how on Earth was I going to do anything I set as goals! Another Spoiler Alert: No major running goals achieved.
Now for the calf injuries.... The first time I "pulled" my calf I thought I stopped early enough that it would be a quick fix, and in hindsight it should have been... but it wasn't. I took 7 days off, got a massage, adjustment, and was walking perfectly normal... but yet, as soon as I started running it was obvious nothing had healed. It took me a long time to dissect that breastfeeding was impacting my ability to heal injuries.... so once this calf got injured I really couldn't get it fully healed until I weaned Maebel in September... but... alas, I kept trying anyway. This moment here, though... This is when I had to cross Boston off the 2018 bucket list and I began to devise another plan.
Mixed feelings on this one. I was excited about running Vermont City... I thought I could salvage my training in time. I actually ran at the Mckirdy Trained shakeout. One of those weird things that I should feel like I belong... I've been coached by a McKirdy coach since October... and I had contacted James about joining up after Maebel when I was only 10 weeks pregnant... but I felt like I didn't belong. I didn't belong anywhere. This is the first time I ever in my life looked at this finish line wishing I could be part of it. Most years I am like "eh, I'll do it in a few years" but this one stung. The only consolation was the weather prediction... but anyone that knows me knows I would have thrived in those hellish conditions. From where I sit now I realize how foolish I was to even attempt Boston, but at the time I didn't know how destroyed my body was from pregnancy and labor. I was 8 months postpartum to the day.
This might have hurt worse than missing Boston. I quickly signed up for Vermont City and had a plan B immediately, but I was still unable to run anything significant at this point. I pulled my calf again. I was assessed by a PT and a personal trainer took me through a series of things to measure my strength. I couldn't lift my right leg and hold it for 3 seconds. Literlaly couldn't do it. My groin was so destroyed that I had literally been running on one leg since I had Maebel and maybe even before that. As a result I kept pulling my calf because it was doing all the compensating work... even when I walked I sort of dragged my right leg (injured groin) and pushed and pulled with my left side (injured calf)... so once the calf was injured I started feeling even more groin and hip pain because I could no longer disguise it with the compensation pattern. Long story short... I realized how weak I was and how impossible all my goals were. I feared I'd literally never ever be able to run pain free again... and I'm still not sure when that day will come months and months later... But from where I sit now I feel confident I'll get there... but it's been a slow process!
Another calf injury, this time on the right side. I had no idea what to do... at this point no drills helped, no lifting helped, no rest helped, The only thing I didn't try was running. SO I ran. This is on the low list because I literally ran 20 seconds and then walked a minute and repeated 5 times... It hurt but didn't cause me to limp. I was happy about this but also this run I really let go of all of my goals and dreams of making the Olympic Trials. I gave up everything. All I wanted was to be able to run again without pain! I didn't even care about anything else. I think I cried this entire run praying to God to just let me have this one thing! It was my peaceful warrior moment.... and even though it was a really low moment, this was also in the running for one of my high moments, because in hindsight, all of what I've done since wouldn't have been possible without this day.
Another calf pull. WTAF. I cried about this one a lot... but I was at a Cross Country race where my friend Kara Haas who has been struggling spoke with me. This moment I threw in the towel and decided to not let it get to me. It's breastfeeding. It has to be breastfeeding. This was on September 9th. Maebel was already a year old and a few weeks. She was self weening pretty nicely at this point. I had her fully weaned by the end of the month. Did I stop Breastfeeding for myself? Yes... But at this point I needed this part of my life back so I could be a better and more present mother. I was obsessed with this injury. I was obsessed with not reinjuring to the point where I took the fun out of everything. I also wanted to know if it was breastfeeding of not and the only way to know was to stop. Again, she was so easy to wean that I know she was ready... so I have no remorse. She was over a year old, and I had been nursing or pregnant for almost 4 consecutive years. I needed my body to be mine and only mine... So although this was a low, it was also another big turning point. You can already see my lows turning up.
This one I call "the Last Calf injury"... This was bad but also a good way for me to see that yes, all those injuries were made worse by the fact that I could not heal when I was breastfeeding. I pulled my calf after running my 5k race in sub zero temperatures. It wasn't a smart thing. This moment I questioned if I'd ever get over this... I felt low at the time, but honestly... a few days later I was running again and by the following week I was back in the double digits. My body reacted to a strain the way a normal body does. The way I kept thinking it would all those other times. So although it was a low moment it also confirmed for me that things were turning around. I've been on my way up since September.... and it's not a coincidence that that's the same month I stopped nursing. If I were to do it again, I'd still nurse, but be way more easy on my body and set my goals more centered around nutrition and sleep and just general fitness rather than big time goals.
SO there it is. There are my lows. There were a lot more. A LOT. more calf injuries more let downs, more races missed... but through all the lows I learned a lot. I wasn't sure it was breastfeeding until I stopped... so I had to look really carefully at all the other variables (sleep, nutrition, hydration, strength training, etc.) I learned to carve out time for all these other things that will be so important long term. If I somehow managed to drag myself from Hopkington to Boston in one piece, it was only a matter of time before I had something go wrong.... and I wouldn't have achieved that OTQ anyway. So, I can only be thankful to have learned the lessons early enough that there's still time to take a stab at this goal before the window closes...
Thanks for sticking with me through all the Lows! Check out Part 2, THE HIGHS!
Things I religiously use to ward off more injuries!
Welcome to my blog! I blogged my entire pregnancy in 2017 and I had high hopes for where I could take my running after baby number 2, but my body had other plans. At some point I got too discouraged to write and recently realized that it is essential for my personal growth and development to keep putting feelings into coherent(ish) thoughts. I still hope to run sub 2:45 in the marathon one day, but for now I’m trying to focus on the process and I’m learning to enjoy it. You can come along for the ride, apologies in advance for grammatical incorrectness!