2015 sure didn’t go as planned. I guess that is life – and sometimes life sucks. I started off the year finishing Across the Years with 104 miles for my longest race ever and then got the awesome news on my drive home on New Year’s Day that I was an Ambassador for Solemates Running. So many plans stemmed from that.
Fast forward a month or more. Solemates decided to liquidate their races for the near future. While I was bummed about that part, I was so thrilled for the reason. My friends, Mark and Sharill Hellenthal received two beautiful foster children on Christmas Eve and between the boys and other changes in their lives, they were overwhelmed. Talk about a family undergoing major changes in 2015 (the boys are now officially Hellenthals!).
I then changed my plans and just focused on rebuilding and running in 2015. I got involved for a while with plans to run 100 miles on October, but the body did not cooperate and injuries started to occur just when my training was going well.
The job I loved for so many years started going downhill and the company that purchased my company started treating me like the dirt I love to run on. Add on the stress from that, job hunting, finding a new job, etc. and, as you can guess, that made the year a challenge. Overall though, no regrets. The job situation in 2014 enabled me to be available for my father and aunt when they were undergoing some medical and personal challenges and that was awesome.
Back to those injuries – I can’t recall exactly when the first injury started. Sometime in the summer I started feeling an ache in my right shin. At first I thought it was shin splints, but that was not the case. After a while, it got so that my leg ached around the clock – even waking me up and causing discomfort when trying to go to sleep. The next diagnosis was a stress fracture, so I stayed off the leg as much as I could. It was later rediagnosed as bursitis. I’m still not sure that is 100% correct. The leg only aches some of the time now and I have had some success with deep massage of the lower leg to reduce the pain.
The second injury started on August 1st. I felt my hip starting to ache while hiking in the Tushars the day I was volunteering at a race. I thought it might be from some stretching exercises I had started – but I really think it is from the unevenness of trails – I had not done much trail running yet that year due to focusing on heart rate training on roads. The ache started occurring more and more. The first horrible flare up was on the treadmill one night. I felt a deep twinge, so eased up my speed until it did not hurt and finished my workout pain free. I got off the treadmill (in my garage) and went to walk up the stairs in my condo and the pain was incredible. I couldn’t even lift my right leg as I walked up.
This started a couple of months of episodes of being crippled. At first I thought it was my lower back. I had to lay flat in bed with my lower leg propped at a certain angle to even be out of any pain and be able to rest/sleep. This was finally diagnosed at Greater Trochanter Bursitis in the hip the day after my skin cancer surgery in early September. After another crippling bout of pain after sweeping The North Face course in Park City in October, I gave up on running and walking.
The hip is slowly recovering. I am working on strengthening it carefully as well as all the support muscles. I started walking 1-2 times a week only a couple of weeks ago. I am walking very slowly and as soon as any hip discomfort occurs I pull the plug on the workout. We are talking 20 minute miles most of the time. I have to be careful about turning and stretching because the second I feel a twinge in the hip I have to stop for fear of another bout in bed. Even crossing my ankles or resting with my knees up can sometimes start the pain coming back. It is a work in progress.
Fast forward to the holiday season….
This holiday season has been very depressing for me because of my injuries. Seeing pictures of my friends in the mountains is painful. Not participating in the Wasatch Wranglers gift exchange in the mountains is painful. They offered to hide and find my gift exchange contributions – but if I can’t do at least part of it, it wasn’t worth it to me.
Watching Across the Years in Arizona (ok – stalking) has been both inspiring and depressing. One year ago I earned my coveted 100 mile belt buckle. A dream for many years. I always said earning one belt buckle before I gave up on ultras would be enough for me. I lied. I want more. This last week I have questioned if I will ever be an endurance athlete again.
Note: In no way do I consider my injuries and pain to be as awful as what some of my friends battling cancer or constant struggles like fibromyalgia are experiencing. But anyone who has ever dealt with constant pain can understand that it eats away at your morale and makes you afraid to do anything that might make the pain worse.
On to 2016….
I did sign up for The New Years Revolution Run at the Olympic Ice Oval in November. I thought it might help with not being at ATY. However, as the week’s dragged on with no spectacular improvement with my injuries, I wondered if I should even try. On New Years Eve I pretty well said I didn’t think I would risk it. The next morning I decided to give it a try. My goal was 10 miles maximum or less if the hip started hurting at all.
I started the race about 8:30. I hung in the outside lane and planned to do a slow walk for about 2.5-3 hours. After a couple of miles, I decided to run 25 steps at the start of a lap, then 50, 75, 100. It felt mentally good to be running. I hadn’t realized I missed it. To be safe, I eventually ran 100 steps at the start of every other lap. I kept my walking pace turtle speed, but was able to speed up or jog to get around the slow groups that accumulated of chatters not listening to the rules about blocking lanes.
I had taken the insoles out of my Altra Olympus shoes at home and forgot my feet were no longer hardened from running, and the shoes started rubbing my left heel after 5 miles. Since I had been doing a lot of barefoot work the last months, I solved this by taking off my shoes and doing the second 5 miles in my socks.
The calf started aching around mile 8. The hip never hurt during the 10 miles. Once my phone said I had achieved 10 miles of walking, I called it a day. It was nice to see friends at the race and talk to many of them for short periods of time. Their encouragement helped. The Oval may be my go to location for long walks this winter until the ice and cold ease up. Not worrying about keeping the injuries warm and uneven ground or slipping was a big relief and gives me a ray of sunshine/hope when I was ready to give up for good.
My daughter wrote a blog post yesterday about her word to focus on for 2016. I liked this idea. I do have some “resolutions” that I want to focus on this year, but am not ready to share them.
But I did come up with a word I want to focus on in 2016 – and that word is….(drumroll, please)
As I work on things this year, I want to focus on what is important. As an example, while circling the track yesterday, I kept trying to focus on good posture, engaging my core and glutes. (I am horrible at all of these).
Some other areas I want to focus on are:
- Focus on disengaging from electronics for a portion of each day (other than work specific)
- Focus on studying the scriptures instead of just reading them
- Focus on eating healthy and learning to enjoy nutritional food
- Focus on being in the moment completely
- Focus on serving others regularly and willingly
- Focus on positive moments and not dwell on negative moments
I may have to throw out all my planned races for 2016. It won’t make me happy if that occurs, but if I focus on life, I will continue to improve in many aspects.
Have a wonderful year and keep putting one foot in front of the other.