road ID

I feel like myself again.

Ten weeks ago today I finished my first triathlon with a broken leg. That small stress fracture on my fibula has prevented me from doing so many of the things I love. I missed a slew of races that I had planned for, but even worse, my invigorating new lifestyle took a nose dive. You can’t get a runner’s high if you’re not running.

Today was my third run in nearly three months.

The first was less than two weeks after the injury materialized. It was excruciating and misguided.

The second was three days ago. I ran four 6-minute intervals, interspersed with 90 seconds of walking. That’s not arbitrary: it was the day’s workout for the Star Runners 4-miler training group. My running buddy and I slogged through the early evening heat. Most of my thoughts were concentrated on my leg. Is that a twinge? Does it hurt? Am I re-injuring myself? In the end I was happy to be back in the game, relatively pain free. But it was a deeply unsettling to struggle that hard. How could I go from running 7 miles to barely making it six minutes at a time? Running is not like riding a bike.

Leading up to the group run this morning I had stress dreams about being late and losing my socks, which turned into horrible nightmares about gun violence. Yikes. Not only was I nervous about the strength of my fibula, thoughts of floundering in a big group–again, the Star Runners 4-miler training group–overwhelmed my sleep. But somehow everything fell into place. First, I experienced the long-lapsed weekend tradition of getting up early with Howell, chatting over a small breakfast, and getting into our gear to head off to separate training groups. Howell’s company is guaranteed to calm my nerves and send me out with a smile on my face. Next, I rode my bike to our meeting spot. Even a tiny bike commute is a way to feel good before actually beginning. Finally, a bunch of my favorite faces greeted me at the meeting place.

The marathon group was just finishing their main set of miles, and then they ran 8-minute intervals with the 4-miler group. Coolest thing ever. There are people who are just starting out, having logged their first miles over the past few weeks. And then there are people who did the tri group with me, or who have run with Star for four years. I found, because of my pace, that I couldn’t stay with any one person throughout the 3.5 miles, so I got to chat with old friends, tri-group friends, and people I’ve more recently met in the new group. I had some twinges and was very aware of my right leg, but the camaraderie of the group was energizing.

You know what? I ran only for about 25 minutes of the total time, and covered under three miles while actually running. But I am experiencing the same feeling of pride that washed over me when I finished my first five and seven mile runs. After all the waiting and frustration, I know I will work up to where I once was and surpass that point. I don’t care how long it takes; I’m just so happy to be back.

I am a runner again, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been more relieved.

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