I have torn the ACL and meniscus in both of my knees, separately. That means I’ve learned to walk twice, and spent 18 months in Physical Therapy – at least 18 months; I’ve definitely put added a few since I’ve taken up long-distance running.
Some people would argue that I have no business registering for a full marathon (especially my mom).
I casually dropped the idea of running a half during a PT session at ApplyTree Bay Physical Therapy a couple of years ago, and my physical therapist (Megan is incredible, and totally tolerant/accepting of stubborn asses like myself) said she could see me doing it with proper training and careful attention to the slightest aches and pains. Since that conversation, I’ve run three half marathons without serious injury. My first one was amazing – crisp, cool air – I ran it in 1:45 and didn’t even hobble the following day.
I’m not going to lie, Megan has held my hand for parts of the training – aggressively rubbing out injuries with these metal torture tools called Graston Technique instruments, zapping me with e-stim, playing with ice versus heat, and teaching me a hundred different strength building and stretching exercises. I’m sure some of these are all too familiar to other “broken folk.” When people ask why I’ve even considered registering for a full, I respond, “I have to do this before I fall apart completely.”
I can’t stop. I usually run without music because I love the time to self-reflect – to hear the consistent pounding of my feet on the pavement, stomping out the stress and craziness of the day. It’s a meditative practice; there’s no doubt about that. Running is the perfect gift to myself. I recently started exploring how to incorporate meditation into my runs; a number of Buddhist teachers have written countless pages on how running can be the perfect practice.
I know with proper guidance, support, and careful attention to the aches and pains, I can do this marathon. Up until my first half, I must admit, I thought I was destined for careful, drab, indoor exercise – ellipticals, stationary bikes, and rowing machines. I tested the waters with a handful of halves, and now I’ve set my sights on the full. I know it is going to be an uphill battle, with more than a handful of visits and friendly lectures from Megan, but I’m a stubborn, determined, Marathon Rookie.
Growing up, I remember Ben & Jerry’s and picnic blankets, as we waited for my dad to join us after crossing the Vermont City Marathon finish line. After injuring myself, we never would have thought I would be the one out of the three kids following in his tracks. I look forward to joining my family at the picnic blanket with a medal around my neck on May 25th.