Life’s about starting new chapters, isn’t it? We’re constantly starting new chapters…completing old chapters…always learning and growing from them. Most of the time, we don’t define our chapters until we’re onto the next one. But sometimes, with enough self-awareness, we can catch ourselves at our highest and weakest moments, do some self-evaluation about the chapter that we’re in, and prepare ourselves for what’s next.
Like most things in life, the chapters in our lives are cyclical and go up and down. For me, 2013 was nothing short of incredible. Sure, there were some downs…but the upward momentum and overall happiness I experienced in 2013 overshadowed any negative moments.
But, alas, I’m not here to write about 2013; I’m here to generalize my experience of 2014. And you know what? It fucking sucked. The only reason I even bring up 2013 in the first place is to demonstrate the stark contrast between a really awesome year…and a shitty one.
I’m not a person who believes in New Years Resolutions, or “starting fresh” when a new year rolls around. As I said earlier: I believe that our lives revolve around chapters, not years. I believe that you can “start fresh” any time you make a commitment to start fresh and to make a lifestyle change. –Whether that’s January 1st or November 25th.
But, for me, here’s the thing about saying goodbye to 2014: I’m already in that forward-thinking “new chapter” phase, and ready to move on past last year. I’m ready to take control from a year that was completely ridden with injuries, negative thinking, and life’s lessons (outside of running), and become me again.
That being said: we’d never be ready for the future if we weren’t able to look back and identify the highs and the lows. So, as I did in 2013, here’s a quick snap of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows from 2014:
My hip started bothering me in March 2013 while I was training for the NJ Marathon. It was never such a severe pain that I was concerned, though, and I figured I was just old and sore and needed some time to rest my body. I took some time off after my fall races, and the hip felt great on a day-to-day basis.
Boston Marathon training began the week of Christmas, and I had more or less romanticized my triumphant return to marathon training—it was bound to be glorious, pain-free, and perfect; I’d be well rested and ready to go! Right?
To my despair, my hip was still bothering me, and I freaked out. At that point, I had been feeling pain (of varying degrees) for almost a year. I finally saw a hip specialist, got an MRI, and was diagnosed with a partially torn labrum and bursitis.
Panic ensued and cross training began.
I’ll save the novel about my hip for another post. All you really need to know about it is this: the hip doctor told me I could continue training and run the Boston Marathon in April. He said that the tear would only gradually get worse, and as long as I had a heads-up about the pain level, I’d be able to keep running through the minor pain. I’d need surgery at some point, but I could dictate when I wanted that to happen, based on how much pain I could handle. He ordered a cortisone shot so I could at least run pain-free for a month or two leading up to the race.
The shot. Was. Amazing. I didn’t realize how much hip pain I had just grown accustomed to! I was thrilled that I could continue running.
Training continued to go smoothly after the cortisone shot. I kept the 2013 PR streak alive and ran an effortless half marathon of 1:28:28 at the NYC Half on legs that had already been through 45 miles of training that week. I went into the run with zero expectations and had one of my most fun races to date.
The shot started to wear off mid-month, which sucked, but the good news was that the post-shot hip pain was not NEARLY as bad as the pre-shot hip pain. I never got a doctor’s take on it, but I assume the shot quelled some of the inflammation from the bursitis, which in turn, made my pain level go down.
April 21st, 2014. The Boston Marathon. It was truly one of the happiest and best days of my life. Boston was a race that had inspired me for so long, and being surrounded and supported by family and friends and walking away with a 14-minute PR and a time of 3:08—in a year that had so much meaning and emotion tied to it—was unforgettable.
I took several weeks off after Boston, and when I stared up again slowly, my running was at an all-time high. I was running paces that FAR outweighed my expectations. I had an amazing 5 x mile workout where all my reps were 6:11 and below, and the recovery was only 2:40. Josh had labeled the spreadsheet tab in my training plan as “Next Level,” and that’s where I knew I was going with my running.
The outside of my ankle had been bothering me for a few weeks. The worst was getting out of bed in the morning: I would hobble around my bedroom until it had stretched out. On runs, it usually subsided after 1-2 miles, so I didn’t think much of it.
Training continued despite the ankle pain. People asked what I was training for. I’d respond, “life,” because all I wanted to do was to train and get faster in life.
It wasn’t until I started feeling shin pain that I got worried. I used the Fairfield Half marathon to run a workout (3 x 2 mile) with my friend Stephanie, and ran another 6-mile shakeout at home that evening because the weather was beautiful and I was feeling great. I got home from the shakeout and my shin was throbbing. Shit.
Again, I could write an entire post about this new injury, but here’s a nice easy summary:
Ouch, the outside of my ankle is killing me.
And the ball of my left foot too.
But the ankle…
I think my shin feels good at least!
Nope. It still burns. Crap.
It’s healed. My shin is definitely healed.
I’m gonna run 8 miles.
Omg I’m never going to run without pain again.
Why is my shin throbbing.
I’m going to take 2 days off.
Hey, my shin feels better!
Let’s try an easy 10k.
Dear god, ankle feels like daggers going through it.
Can’t hop on left leg.
My shinbone is pulsing in pain.
My life is ending.
OK, so July was a bit dramatized. But the point is that I was in denial, and I kept hurting myself. Nothing was getting better. I wasn’t getting faster. I was in this exponential decline of fitness, health, and happiness, and the cycle continued in August, unfortunately.
I took off 7 days at the end of August and, once again, thought I was healed. Some friends asked if I wanted to run Ragnar DC with them, which was the second weekend of September. My coach advised me against the race, but told me that if I must do it, I should be cautious of my body. I really wanted to go…so I did.
The positives: we won, I had the time of my life, and I remembered how much I love running with people and friends and teammates.
The negatives: it set me back with my injury. A lot. I was not cautious of my body, as my coach had warned. My Ragnar legs had me running 3 runs of just under 8 miles each. Going from 0 to 20 miles in a day—even if the runs were broken up over the course of 24 hours—was really stupid. I ran through the pain and could barely walk the next day.
I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with severe peroneal tendonitis, a stress reaction in my shin, and a bone bruise on the ball of my foot from supination and incorrect footwear. Finally, after months of prolonging my injury and doing nothing to improve fitness, I shut it down.
Tough times create tough people. This was a difficult months for many reasons, none of which I will get into here. I did not run a single mile in this month.
Time to rebuild. In total, I did not run for 7 weeks. I threw in a few days of cross training and Bikram yoga for good measure…but during this off time, I really allowed myself to put training on the backburner and prioritize other important facets of my life.
I started running again in early November, 2 miles at a time. I’ve never been more appreciative to have running back in my life.
The rebuilding continued. My weekly mileage started at 11 and was able to CAREFULLY increase it to 30 by the end of the month. My shin still felt achy, which scared the shit out of me, but I trusted my coach, I trusted the process, and I trusted myself to do this comeback the right way.
Oh, I also totaled my car a week before Christmas. When it rains, it pours, no?
I digress. In no way do I anticipate 2015 to be “perfect”—but I’ve learned so much about myself in the past year, that I feel readily-armed to attack this new year, even if it comes with lows, which it most certainly will. Slowly but surely, I felt it coming back in December, making me excited for a new year, and more importantly, a new chapter.
Remember, life’s about chapters. And the thing is this: I’m really ready for a new one. There are no barriers for me this year. Willpower yields success, and I want the old me back. The shit storm is over. I have been and will always be stronger than the negatives that the world throws around, and last year was the biggest test of mental fortitude I’ve ever endured. This New Year, I want to beat 2014 into submission and write a new chapter.
If you want something and put your mind to it, you will achieve it. Hard work outclasses talent, and results come from building a foundation of positivity, confidence, determination, and grit.
What is it that you want in the New Year? Are you at the point where you’re ready to write a new chapter? What are your goals? Trust me, whatever you do, don’t be afraid to go out and get it.