I did Couch to 5K back in 2011 and did one race, but my back and hips didn’t love that I was running. By that summer, I was in a lot of pain and hung up my running shoes.
I never really wished I could run again until both of my boys started running cross country and track. In January of 2015, I fell on black ice and misaligned my tailbone. The pain and recovery were miserable. I remember having a conversation with my physical therapist later in my treatment and I asked her if she thought I could ever run again. She said that she wouldn’t completely rule it out, but that it was going to take a lot of work to get my back healthy enough to do it.
Fast forward to this past summer and I began boxing. You can read about that here. My back felt the best it had felt in years, even before my fall. Then the boxing club announced an August challenge, so on the morning of August 1, I decided I was going to participate. I decided to run at lunchtime because it was going to count towards the challenge.
It wasn’t pretty—80 degrees by lunch—but I felt great. I continued to run more regularly, thinking I wouldn’t try a 5K until the spring. Then a friend asked if I was interested in running one in October. I agreed and my boys and I registered. My friend ended up bailing, but we had fun. I had an ambitious (for me) time goal in mind and beat it by about 15 seconds.
What was next?
In mid November, my youngest son saw a sign as we were driving advertising a 5K in the neighboring town that recent NYC Marathon winner Shalane Flanagan grew up in. He wanted to do it, so I agreed, even though I hadn’t had as much time to run due to the lack of daylight. I figured I’d just enjoy it with both boys.
The night before the race, we waited almost an hour to meet Shalane at packet pick up. It was so worth it. I went in to the next morning’s race with zero expectations. I didn’t know the area or the course like I had the previous race, so I only knew where I was on the course based on the mile marks. As volunteers yelled out the times at miles one and two, I realized that I was on a comparable pace as my last race. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. I started cramping up somewhere around the 2.5 mile point, but I pushed on. Here I was, running in a race with an Olympian and NYC Marathon winner participating, running after thinking I’d never be able to again. I was in the best shape of my life and I had come so far. The cramping wasn’t going to stop me.
Around that time, there was a woman who’d been in front of me all morning who was probably in her late 50s or early 60 running with a teenage girl. She said to the girl, “Let’s get this over with” and they sped up. My competitive side came out and I was not going to let them beat me. I passed them and booked it to the finish line.
I beat my previous time by almost a minute.
I was energized and I definitely have a running bug. I don’t know how I’ll manage running this winter because I’m terrified of falling on any ice again, but I’m going to find a way. I can do this. I have become a better, tougher version of myself because of taking care of and pushing myself, both mentally and physically. I never expected to do this at age 41, but I have and I’m not done yet.