Motion

A Joyful Hero; Sarah Cummings is Back on Course

Many professional and elite athletes entertain us with their strength and competitive spirit. Then, there are those who inspire us with their ability to overcome adversity. Sarah Cummings has always been an inspiration to me but after her journey overcoming adversity, I can most definitely say that Sarah is my hero.

Through my journey in running, I’ve been an eternal seeker wanting to learn more and get better at the sport that fills me most; running. I’m fortunate to live only a 3 minute jog up to Central Park where I get to run amongst a mecca of dedicated runners on every level. I’ve been inspired by some of the greatest runners worldwide and also local athletes that happen to train right in my backyard,  in Central Park. A few years ago, I followed Sarah after coming across her mind blowing race stats. I would often see Sarah on the path effortlessly running with either a partner or pack whether they’re chatting or doing a more intense workout. I was so inspired by her that I followed her blog and went to see the Chiropractor she was seeing to keep her healthy which was such a blessing for me, Dr.Emily Kiberd. A year later, I realized Sarah was struggling with a serious injury that had her sidelined from running unfortunately and wasn’t sure if she’d return to running after the surgery she underwent. Fast forward after a tumultuous journey that in turn awakened her to enlightenment not only in running but all area’s of her life,Sarah just qualified for the Olympic trials at the California International Marathon with an impressive time of 2:41.23 (that’s a 6:10 pace for 26.2 miles)! Her story leading up to her race is riveting and a true testament to strength will grace, and most definitely the power of the mind body spirit connection.

Read my interview with Sarah below to learn how a spirited runner like Sarah beat all odds to triumph and victory.

 

Hey Sarah, we are stoked to share your most recent incredible victory,  but first let’s get a background story as we introduce you to The Joyful community. Can you share when you first started running and how you fell in love with the sport?

I grew up as a competitive figure skater! I started skating at the age of five and spent my childhood-teenage years training before and after school and competing around the country. PE class was the only time I ran during those years. I was a very competitive child so naturally I ran to win when we did the timed mile for the Presidential Physical Fitness test.  I recall winning most/all years through six grade (beating the boys!) but didn’t really think of running as a “thing.” I didn’t know anyone who ran distance (my parents would jog at times on the weekends).  I am not sure at the time I was able to distinguish between the actual act of running (and whether I liked it or not) and the competition at hand! Fast forward to sophomore year of HS – living in CA at the time (my dad took a job in Newport Beach, CA when I was 13 so we moved from rural NJ to CA at the start of my 8thgrade year) – my sister’s elementary school was hosting a 5k at Crystal Cove State Park. She had been involved with a mini training program at her school and was gearing up to run. I had no intention of running the race and probably had plans for training session at the local rink that morning. A challenge from my dad turned the day (and my life) around! He was planning to run the race and challenged me in the kitchen that morning. He didn’t think I could beat him. I knew otherwise! I ended up taking second in the race to the assistant coach at my HS (Corona del Mar) running 19 mid. CdM’s head coach (Bill Sumner) was at the race and swiftly recruited me to the team. A few weeks later I was as scoring member (2ndon team) at the California State XC meet (2004) where CdM finished 4th.  I went on to lead CdM to a team title in 2006 (my senior year), taking the individual title as well! The rest is history! I continued to run and skate for another year and then transitioned to running full time my junior year of HS

 I would say it was probably love at that first 5k! I’d been skating for most of my life and even at a young age it felt like a job. I struggled with both the mental and physical side of the sport and found running to be so refreshing on both fronts. I loved how in control of my destiny I felt while running relative to the very subjective nature of figure skating. The team aspect missing in skating was such a joy to experience as part of the CdM XC team. The decision to run the 5K that day was so fateful and then to also be at a HS where (unbeknownst to me prior to the start of my running career) I was in the midst of some of the top female HS distance runners in the country (we won the 4xmile HS national title during my time there) was absolutely incredible. I was so privileged to begin running in Southern California – there is really no better place to train!

 

What are some of your career highlights?

I’ve had so many amazing experiences during my running career. I am grateful for how many places running has taken me, the experiences, memories made and opportunities it has afforded me and how many beautiful friendships I have developed as a result of the sport. I would say the aforementioned summarize my “career highlights” and were what I missed most when I was sidelined.

 Career highlights in the typical sense:

  • HS: won the CA state XC (DIII) meet my senior year (2006), Foot Locker Finalist (2006)

  • College: 4x Ivy League Champion (5k/10k), 1x All American (10k), member of 5thplace team at NCAA DI XC (

  • Post-College:2x Team USA (2015 Pan Am Games, 2016 World 50K), 2x top-10 finishes at USA Marathon Championships (2013, 2015), 2x Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier (2016, 2020), 10th– Chicago Marathon (2014), PR: 2:34.47

Can you tell us about your Hamstring injury, the surgery and the impact that had on you?

The impact was immense and I feel like I am still in experiencing “aftershocks” but view them in the positive sense as opportunities for personal growth and exploration. Running has been a big part of my post-collegiate NYC life, but I have worked to create an identity separate and apart from my running self. I’ve always aspired to have a career in finance – more a result of my exposure as a child to the industry and the excitement and action I experienced during my visits to NYC/Wall Street. Running entered the picture later in my life and while there was no question that I would continue to run, the world of professional running was not one that I considered entering. “Doing it all” in NYC was what I desired although now in retrospect that definitely contributed to me hitting the wall I did with the hamstring. My colleagues have always been familiar with my passion for running but it is not something that I like to spend much time. I thought prior to the surgery that I had done a decent job carving out my running identity but I learned otherwise. There was still a lot of work to do! 

 Rewinding , a breaking point was somewhat inevitable – I didn’t think it would come in the form of a hamstring avulsion (aka hamstring tendon full detaches from pelvis and requisite surgery) but I did know that with a demanding career in finance + 100mi training weeks + a LONG history of hamstring tendinopathy = playing with fire. I initially injured my hamstring at age 13 while ice skating. At the time I was not running. I entered the sport with a problematic hamstring which only got worse over the years. I would say that I felt pain in my hamstring most every day I ran, with many “tears” occurring through HS and into college. Some years were worse than others but I was able to keep things together. I didn’t want to stop and following college I adopted the mentality of knowing my time was limited (something had to break!) but with my times continuing to progress, I was going to keep at it. Not something I would recommend and I am not convinced (and neither are the surgeons) that stopping would have left me in a better place with the hamstring just hanging on by a thread, but who knows! The surgery is only one that surgeons will perform if the hamstring is fully torn off the bone. The tears that many people speak of experiencing are not operable as the surgery is not one that supports a return to activity or improves performance but one that is required for normal functioning (like putting on pants – something I couldn’t do when it was detached!)

 Things were deteriorating rapidly in the summer of 2016. I had pulled myself together for a solid marathon at Grandmas (2:36.58) after a disappointing run at the Olympic Trials but I think I was just running on adrenaline. During my return to training following Grandmas, I started to experience symptoms of overtraining and became increasingly reliant on Lidocaine patches, voltaren gel and kinesio tape just to make it through a run. I had initially targeted a return to the Chicago Marathon (2016) but things weren’t coming together. I shifted gears when I was offered the chance to run for Team USA at the World 50K Championships in Doha, Qatar (November 2016). Although my training was not great leading up, I was hoping to rally once tapered and in Qatar. The experience was so amazing and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything, but that race was the straw that broke the camel’s back – funny because there were camels at the race! I began the race with my usual assortment of anti-inflammatories. I was feeling better than I had in a while early into the race which consisted 20x 2.5k loops on cobblestones in 80 degree heat with high humidity. The conditions provided a good distraction from what was going on with my leg.

 The surgery forced me to get both my mental and physical health in order. I definitely still have work to do on both fronts but this forced break was a great starting point. I was able to refocus on my career and building important relationships to set myself a better foundation for the future. I also discovered my love for travel. In the absence of a rigid training schedule, I was able to experience the world in a whole new way!  I had done a good amount of travel prior, but always struggled to stay present and enjoy where I was with a race on the horizon and the added challenges of training in a different place. Since the surgery, I’ve experienced the world (Asia, Africa, Europe!) in a whole new way and been able to embrace the feeling of being pushed out of my comfort zone in the process.

What were your mental and emotional states like during your rehab?

A total rollercoaster! I would still describe myself as in rehab – I continue to see my miracle worker PT (Jane Danford, owner of Danford Works) 1x a week and my chiropractor (Emily Kiberd, Urban Wellness Clinic) 1x a week. I have a routine that I run through on my own that is intended to continue to build strength and mobility in my hamstring.

 It was no surprise to me that my years of stupidity ended in a major problem. As I mentioned, I wasn’t familiar with hamstring avulsions, but I knew going into Doha that the leg was worse than it ever had been. It helped mentally that I had been somewhat braced for this and in many ways needed a major roadblock to slow me down. The early days were rough physically with the configuration of the brace (required to wear for six-weeks) which maintained total immobility in the left leg, and no hip flexion, leaving me unable to sit up. I spent almost all of my waking and non-waking hours laying down with the exception of a daily crutch walk around CP! With tendon surgeries, PT does not begin until after the six week mark.  I was unable to care for myself. Luckily, my parents are the best ever and graciously welcomed me back into their home (apartment nearby). My mom was with me nearly every waking moment during those six weeks post-surgery. She kept me in a great place both physically and emotionally. Most of the things I was unable to do – like take a shower by myself- were comical and not discouraging. I remember being SO convinced (going in) that the surgery would be a miracle cure and that I would be better than ever and totally free of pain after. I was so motivated and positive when I started PT at the 6 week mark post-surgery and I would say that carried through to the four month mark when I did my first 1 minute jog. From there I struggled. Part of me really enjoyed being free from the rigidity of a training cycle, fighting through daily pain, weather, etc. I didn’t miss racing as much as I missed my friends!  I would often get asked about my return to racing and find myself feeling resentful. The running community is so supportive and I know that everyone asking wanted to see me back at it, but still I felt so misunderstood. The injury is VERY uncommon for runners and is typically one that occurs as a result of a freak accident – imagine grandma steps in a puddle and is forced into the splits. I struggled to explain the situation and the pain I felt for so many years leading up to the “accident” without feeling like I was contaminating the air with negativity!  Some point in the first year of recovery I made the “decision” that I wouldn’t race again if I wouldn’t run faster than pre-surgery. Based on how the recovery was going, I began to grieve the end of my racing career and focused in getting to a place where I could tag along with friends and my sister for easy runs. I changed PTs a couple of times and continued to experience a lot of pain – sometimes worse than I had felt pre-surgery.  I continued to push through, unable to distinguish between normal post-surgery feels and lingering imbalances and mechanical problems. After a few months with my fourth post-surgery PT (bringing us early 2018), I threw in the towel. I couldn’t pour my heart into rehab anymore. I wasn’t interested in continuing to arrange my work and social schedule around PT. I was sick of hearing (from the PTs and others) that the surgeon was bad and was to blame for my slow recovery and sub-optimal outcome. Numerous healthcare practitioners and other casual observers suggested I needed another surgery, PRP, etc. I could not fathom going under the knife again.   After a few months of no rehab, I decided to try one last PT. I am SO glad I did. Jane Danford @ Danford Works totally changed the game for me. The rehab plan she crafted, that focused on mobility, flexibility and strengthening with a heavy reliance on hands-on work yielded immediate benefits. However, it was the way she helped me change my mental outlook that I think had the greatest impact. Jane encouraged me to think about the surgery as a purely functional repair. The tendon avulsion was a symptom of extensive imbalances and weaknesses (compounding over 15+ years) through my whole left leg. She was not critical of the surgeon and was completely unsurprised (and expected) that I would still be experiencing terrible pain.  Jane’s outlook lifted a weight and really transformed my mental state which transcended all areas of my life. I feel like my recovery/rehab really began when I started with Jane which was in May 2018  (more to follow in later questions)

 Although I ultimately changed my mind on racing, I think stepping off the gas between years one and two post-surgery, was very positive for my physical, mental and emotional states. It forced me to find areas to “quiet the noise” outside of my daily run. For so many years, I had relied on my morning run to feel “grounded,” “normal,” ready for the day etc. I spent time thinking about the void that I might be trying to fill with running and what I needed to do to find happiness and feel oriented without running. This process was painful but necessary. For a time I didn’t even consider myself to be a runner. This is crazy to think about now especially because I am SURE no outside observers would relate to this view I had of myself.

 Did your relationship with running shift after the surgery? What was your approach with exercise with your comeback after the surgery?

Completely! When I was cleared, I started to go out for some walks. This was around two months post-surgery. I enjoyed strolling the park listening to podcasts or audio books and sometimes would have company. I enjoyed being in the park and seeing people run even if I couldn’t participate myself. At the three month mark I was able to do some light biking and elliptical. I’ve always enjoyed the smooth feeling of the elliptical (how I used to dream my stride would feel) so I was happy with an hour or so a day on there or a FlyWheel class. Once I was cleared to resume running, I didn’t enjoy the actual act because it was still very painful. I would say that I hated running for a solid year and a half. My love really only returned when I began with Jane this past May/June 2018.  I built up my mileage a bit through the spring of 2017 but would only run with company and rarely went out in bad weather conditions. My closest friends are runners. I loved running as a way to see friends. I was ready to go out for drinks every night if that was what was required to see friends, but there are only so many nights a week you can convince marathoners in training to drink!  I had some goals on the calendar post-surgery that were in the vein of the traveling spree I’d begun including, running for my firm’s team (BlackRock) at the 2018 Tusk Safaricom ½ marathon (June 2017), a hut-to-hut runcation on the 80+ mi Alta Via Trail in Northern Italian (July 2017) followed by a conquering of the 50K distance (North Face 50K Endurance Challenge in SF) for my one-year surgery anniversary (November 2017). Both races and the vacation helped me stay motivated to put in the work in the gym and continue the grind of physical therapy. All three were things I never would have considered adding to my carefully crafted racing schedule prior to surgery. I’d never run on a corporate team and never run serious trails. I am so grateful that I had (and embraced) these opportunities during my recovery.

 When I did decide to resume training, I made a number of promises to myself. I wouldn’t stop living my life – staying out late, saying yes to spontaneous plans that might leave me in a sub-optimal conditions for the next day’s workout, personal travel (vacations, weddings), work opportunities etc. If I felt myself slipping into my old ways of rigidity, I vowed to course correct or cut myself off. During the CIM build up,  I went to three weddings and also spent 24hrs in Chicago to watch my dad run the marathon there, so I think I did decently well.

I am grateful that it has been easy for me not to compare the times I am running in workouts and races to what I did pre-surgery. I think the fact that I had given up hope on ever running pain free again and spent a considerable amount of time grieving, set me up for a new perspective and gave me a clean slate to work with. For so long I thought that the race in Qatar had been my last and I had come to terms with that. I had made it to the finish without a hamstring and I had no regrets. In addition to the aforementioned promises, I now approach every starting line with the mindset that it could be my last.

 

When did you feel you began to really regain your running fitness and felt back to yourself and what was different about your training regime?

It felt like everyone I knew was planning to run a fall marathon with most focused on CIM. Looking back at my log, I can see that I started to get some crazy ideas about running a marathon towards the end of May. I’d begun to change my mind about racing with the help of Jane and gratitude work I’d done on my own… I decided that if and when I could race, that I had to try. That became my new mantra.  In early June I started to get the itch to pick up the pace a bit and attempt a workout. I’d done a handful of workouts prior to this point but wouldn’t say I necessarily wanted to. Prior to beginning with Jane, my mobility was abysmal and the effort to run 8:00 felt like a 6:30. After just a month or so with Jane, I felt like I could finally move again! I continued to jump into workouts with friends (Katie Andrew, Natalie Busby, Maris!) when I was up for it, without much of a plan. In mid-July I went on the trip of a lifetime with my sister and two friends (Amanda Marino, Liz Gill). We undertook an aggressive 110mi, 7-day, self-supported, run/hike tour of Mont Blanc (following on trip the prior year). The trip was amazing and filled with many powerful moments of solitude and reflection with the most beautiful backdrop you could imagine. We returned from the trip exhausted but mentally and emotionally enriched and rejuvenated.  I experienced a few niggles in the weeks following but benefited greatly from the slowdown and downtime required. My inability to listen to my body (a phrase I don’t love) had always been my Achilles heel. The minor hiccup post-TMB was a good step for me in regaining the trust in my body that I had lost over the years, dealing with the hamstring. With a week off and aggressive sessions with Jane, I was back at it.  I secretly entered the Philly ½ with some goals (and subsequent scenarios) in mind. The race was a challenge the whole way but I ran even splits indicating my marathon “muscle” was still there.  I felt optimistic walking away with a 1:20 mid – knowing that I’d overdone it a bit self-coaching.  I had landed in my middle of the road scenario = probably email Brendan Martin (NYAC teammate, coach of my sister and other teammates) and ask him to take me on for CIM! With a little encouragement from some close friends (Esther Erb and Lauren Jimison) and my sister, I emailed Brendan on the way home. I begged my way into CIM with help from Lauren and took my first step back to the line!

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.

You boldly attempted qualifying at the CIM, what was it like going into that race?

 I’ve never been simultaneously more scared or more excited! Every day of the training cycle felt like such a gift.  I felt like I was experiencing many things as a first time marathoner again. I loved rejoining my morning training crew back with my old buddies, walking into work after a solid 16mi workout – a secret in my back pocket. I couldn’t believe my fitness was progressing. I felt such incredible support from the NYC running community. For many of the early weeks of my ten-week buildup, I was holding my breath at the start of each run. Everything was so fun and felt so good. I was sure it wasn’t going to last. It wasn’t until about halfway through that I really let myself get my hopes up about getting to the line.  Although I definitely experienced anxiety in the buildup – less related to fitness and more the sustainability in my leg – I did my best to stay in the moment and smell every rose both during the buildup and race itself!

 Can you share a bit on your strategy with that race and your elation with your victory?

I felt elated just getting to the line and that elation continued every step of the way and is still with me nearly one month post-race!

 In terms of the race strategy, most of my training ended up being a touch faster than 2:45 marathon pace (6:17) but the plan remained to run with the 2:45 pacer/pack and just get the standard. I knew that I definitely wasn’t in PR shape so with a PR off the table, it didn’t make sense to take a risk and try to run faster and then end up missing the time. I knew that I would have my NYC training crew (Veronica Jackson, Harriott Kelly, Marisa Cummings) – we all had the same OTQ goal in mind so the plan was to stick together. Running a marathon with my sister had been a dream for so long so being together added to my elation at the line. Prior to CIM, I’d run most of my marathons solo for long stretches or with a small/fragmented pack.  It was SO cool to be surrounded by so many females throughout the race.  Things went out a bit quick off the line with a few packs forming but none of the promised pacers in sight. I ran the first half of the race with my sister (which was THE coolest thing ever).  We moved between a few packs – just off a large pack that was targeting 2:42/3 and a bit ahead of Veronica and Harriott. We spent a lot of time in the first half trying to slowdown but we were in a groove. I was enjoying the course immensely and felt like at every turn there was another friend or family member cheering me on. We crossed the half mark too fast ~1:21.2X and made a conscious effort to slow down but (again!) that didn’t really translate into action. I continued to feel better and better (and have more and more fun!) I found myself naturally picking it up a bit and catching up/passing other packs. With so many packs there was fun chatter and encouragement all along the way + a few biker/photographers also offering their verbal support.  After the 1/2, focused on getting to 15/16 where my dear friend Katie Andrew (who had run the race the prior year ( had indicated that the hills were over. Once to 16, I felt a strange confidence (that I have never felt in a marathon before) that I was going to do it. It both scared and excited me because I knew that I still had so much longer to go and that anything could happen but each mile was feeling easier and smoother and I was getting faster. I took my second gel there. I ebbed and flowed with some of the packs that were catching up to me/ I was catching up to. I think I was feeling a bit confused about what to do because I had never been in the position of really having a choice to make. I focused on getting to 20mi and then felt like I could take my chances from there.

 Getting to 20mi was emotional. I started to tear up just a bit but then was jolted out of my zone, realizing that there was still a lot of gas left in the tank. I was brought back to my race in Doha and realized that if I didn’t go for it and take a risk, I would not have kept the promise I made to myself.  I needed to finish this race like it might be my last. I arrived at 21 and contemplated my final gel but felt like it was unnecessary and would upset my amazing rhythm. I kept reeling people in like I never could have expected to and each person I got to felt like an extra charge to propel me further. I didn’t want the race to end and tried to soak in every single second of it.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I turned the final corner and saw the clock. Never in my wildest dreams on the most perfect day did I think I would run the time I did. I I was ready with one of my favorite quotes (Alvin Day) for when things got really tough quote (Sometimes you must fight and win, just because all the pain and suffering you experienced up to this point would be rendered futile if you were to surrender now) for the deep dark places I thought I would find myself but I never needed it…! The race was OVER???? The first person I saw when I crossed the line was my dear friend Lauren who has been one of my biggest cheerleaders. She has showered me with endless optimism and enthusiasm over the last two years and it was so sweet to fall into her arms and stay there.

 For a solid week after, and even still a bit now I was processing SO many overwhelming thoughts and emotions. I couldn’t believe I had done it and on top of that I’d never felt so good in a marathon or in the day/days following. I’d never smiled as much and I’d never had so much fun. I don’t think I’ve ever had better weather (after running last 5 in 70+: Doha 2016, Grandmas 2016, Trials 2016, PanAms 2015, LA 2015). I also don’t think I have ever had more fans – friends and family cheering on the course (which I loved SO much). I know for sure I have never been more grateful to be racing. I have also never been more excited and never been more scared! Training for and running a marathon together was something I never really let myself hope for because (for a long time) it would have been an additional source of disappointment that I couldn’t add to the pile. I had grieved the loss of running and wanted to put it all behind me while I worked to find other passions. The joy this process brought me made me so glad I tried again.

 

What is a day in your life like?

Exhilarating! I live with my sister Marisa on the Upper West Side in NYC – very close to the finish line of the NYC Marathon. We do most of our training in Central Park, almost entirely in the morning. Weekdays begin with a light stretching routine/warmup (something I’ve had great success with adding in pre-run, post-surgery) followed by a run in Central Park, on the West Side Highway or at one of the tracks in NYC (Lower East Side or Riverbank State Part). The run pace/distance varies by the day. Usually there is a solid crew that gathers for a 6/6:15 start time. Once the run is over, I’m back out the door in 30mins or less and on my way to work at BlackRock (Midtown) either on foot, subway, or rideshare (Via), with the method of transportation depending on the time, weather and the morning’s workout. I’m off to the races once to my desk (~8) with the busiest hours being 9:30-4:00 while the stock market is open. If I am off the desk, I’m running around Manhattan to meetings.  There is not much/any down time during the work day. I find market-facing jobs in finance very similar to being on a treadmill! Evenings vary with a mix of physical therapy, chiropractor, social plans and work commitments. I usually arrive home around 7:30-8 with dinners “in” being a mix of Kettlebell Kitchen, Dig Inn or a Trader Joe’s concoction. While eating/after, I catch up with my sister and the day’s news and the blogs I follow or read a bit and then it is to bed ~10-11 and I do it all over again!

 How do you nourish yourself with nutrition and selfcare?

I still have work to do here but think I have made some progress in the last couple of years. This past training cycle, I focused in on post-run nutrition. I am familiar with all of the literature that states that fueling in the 30-90min window post-activity is crucial to maximize recovery and training benefit. I haven’t been good about it in the past but made sure after each run. I found a shake that I am obsessed with – Vega. For most of the cycle, I also used Kettlebell Kitchen during the cycle to ensure I was getting balanced meals with a good mix of meat.
 I struggle to step off the hamster wheel and was programmed to make every day “productive.” I was forced to slow down with the surgery – in the weeks following I was stuck inside and practically strapped to the couch. This helped me to rethink my take on a day. In the past I would pass judgement on someone (especially myself!) who didn’t do anything with their day. I had many great days doing “nothing” in the weeks following my surgery. While I don’t have many days spent entirely inside anymore, my mentality has shifted on the need for structure, schedule and “productivity.”  I try not to use the word productive to describe a day – a day doesn’t need to be productive to be good. Selfcare for me in its simplest form is unstructured time with no obligations or schedule. I love to read and have started to watch more TV in recent years, so often spend this time with these activities. In terms of activities, I  love my regular mani/pedi and have started to incorporate meditation into my life (MNDFL in NYC is awesome!)

 What are a few lessons or tips you can offer to those of us that have goals and dreams when faced with challenges?

  • Stay present and do your best to embrace the season – consider things you’ve wanted to do that have been on the back burner as a result of this goal/dream (includes places to see, other areas of your life you’ve neglected – career, relationships, etc)

  • Work on trusting vs listening to your body – I’ve always had a tough time doing both but thetrust piece is foundational and during challenging times a good thing to work on developing/improving + also transcends goals and dreams that might not be physical in nature.

  • It is okay to be angry, it is okay to grieve – surround yourself by positive people (but don’t put pressure on yourself during this time to always be that positive person) who believe in your goals and dreams, who don’t think they are crazy and who don’t try to discount or question your motivations. The support I received from the NYC running community was out of this world both through the early recovery months/year and once I jumped back in. I felt like what I was doing – attempting a marathon with a 10 week build up, with a new coach, off little to no base + no workouts in 2yrs felt – was totally crazy, but they never made it seem like it was. They took me back like no time had passed (even though I was totally unable to pull my weight with the pacing) and they helped me look straight ahead and NEVER back.

 

What’s next for you? Any event’s, or race goals on the radar?

I am excited to get back to training and dip below OTQ marathon pace but know I need to be careful! Coming back, I focused in on 6:15 pace and didn’t do much quality work faster than that. The hamstring (still) gets angrier the faster I go, but  I find the most joy training for the marathon distance, so that is okay! I am hoping to run another marathon before the Trials. I am targeting Grandmas. I love Duluth and have a lot of friends (and sister!) planning to run there as well. It is ALL about the process for me now, so it is unlikely that I will choose a race without my crew! In between now and Grandmas, I hope to run some shorter races (10k- ½ marathon) with the hopes of working my marathon time back down. It took me awhile to wrap my head around the CIM outcome. I think I am finally there but it still feels a bit too good to be true. I know that I am not in the clear and will still have to work hard to keep my leg in training shape. I hope I can navigate the ups and downs that I am sure I will experience as I resume training and start to ramp up the intensity again!

 

Photo of the race pack by Jody Bailey (@run_photographs)