Breaking Through Fear

I’ve looked through dozens of quotes on fear, perseverance, and strength. One of my favorites has been, “Your largest fear carries your greatest growth.” Getting injured has always been my greatest fear throughout marathon training and it’s been one hell of a struggle to overcome. But I know I can’t let that fear stop me from achieving my goals; I’ll never accomplish anything if I do. So when I first accepted the spot on Team Challenge ALS I was well aware it was going to be a long and difficult road, but the final destination was going to be worth it.

I was always an “accident-prone” kid growing up. I had my fair share of broken bones, sprains, stitches, bruises and battle scars. My family would call me the “Band-aid Queen” and joke that I needed to be put in a bubble! And even though I never played “extreme” contact sports when I was younger, I would still always find a way to get hurt. So when I picked up running towards the end of high school, I was hopeful that I wouldn’t get hurt as much.

I was wrong. I feel like I’ve had more injuries from running in the past six years than I had my entire childhood! And even if they were “old” injuries I had from when I was younger, running definitely made them worse now that I’m older.

For years I’ve dealt with back, knee, and foot pain from some issues in the past that left me with limited mobility and scar tissue buildup. Physical therapy usually helped with the pain in the moment, but I always knew that these were going to be long-term issues.

Syracuse Half Marathon | Knee Pain

The first time my injuries really started acting up was in college when I was working out with a training plan. I was doing cardio workouts and weight training along with a running schedule to prepare for my first half marathon. The pain would creep in here and there, but I just kept fighting through it. One morning it all went to shit. I remember I was on the treadmill (watching FRIENDS on Netflix 🙂 ) and I was about two miles into my run when I felt like my left knee cap was literally ripping in half. It’s a weird description, but that’s what it felt like! I immediately stopped and had trouble walking and going up/down stairs. I booked an appointment for a doctor to check everything out and it did not go well. He said I was very close to a full patella tendon tear and that I would never run more than 3 miles. I was heartbroken by the news. In fact, I actually ran out of the room in tears to go meet my dad in the waiting room. Super dramatic when I think back to that moment, but it was just the way the doctor delivered the news. I could just tell he didn’t care and it showed in the way he presented the “diagnosis” to me.

So, I was determined to prove him wrong. I started going to physical therapy 2-3x a week for about 4 months. My first appointment was a basic assessment of my current physical condition. I did multiple exercises and had to run on the treadmill for a couple minutes so my therapist could film my stride. I was shocked when I watched it back and he pointed out everything wrong with it! So I spent the next few months basically learning how to run again, this time the right way. It was tough and very time consuming, but I was able to recover and finish my first half marathon in April of 2016! Andddd I wasn’t even wearing my knee brace when I crossed the finish line – small win for me!

Empire State Half Marathon | Knee & Back Pain

That summer I moved to Boston and my back pain started to create some issues when I tried to run or even walk for that matter. I tweaked it countless times in the past, but this was some pretty extreme pain. It hurt to sit, it hurt to stand, I had trouble sleeping and everything just felt so tight all the time. I was so uncomfortable that I gave in and started seeing a chiropractor. Literally the best decision ever! Dr. Lauren at Copley Square Chiropractic got me back on track to recovery. It didn’t happen overnight though…I was seeing her 3x a week for adjustments for about a month and a half until I was in good enough shape to just have one appointment a week. Plus on top of all that, I had to go to physical therapy for a couple months of to help strengthen everything Dr. Lauren was correcting.

It all paid off though because I was finally able to run again without any pain and started to train for my second half marathon in the summer of 2017. Training was hard – I still had pain in my back every now and then & this time both knees were acting up. I kept doing my PT exercises at home and took it easy on some of my longer runs so I was ready for race day. Fast forward to the morning of the race in October and I was definitely not feeling confident about my performance. A lot of things played a role in my horrible run that day, but I think the toughest obstacle was my knee pain. I had to stop about every half mile to rub them out and stretch…my brother-in-law was ready to killllll me. But I finished and that’s all that mattered in the moment. However, it did leave me questioning whether I could pull off a full marathon if I got selected to be on Team Challenge ALS for Boston…

Boston Marathon | Knee, Back & Foot Pain

Sure enough, I got the news a few weeks later that I was selected for the team. I was super excited, but also incredibly nervous since I didn’t have the best track record with long distance race training. I knew my body had never been put through something like this before without getting injured and I was worried about the high mileage, and intense speed/hill workouts that were ahead of me. After all, I didn’t want to push myself too much and end up doing even more damage to my body.

I was scared. I was thinking of everything that could go wrong and was letting that intense fear take control. And it was going to hold me back if I continued to let it consume me so I decided to be brave and just do it.

“Being brave isn’t the absence of fear, Being brave is having that fear but finding a way through it.”

That’s what I’ve been doing the past 14 weeks, finding a way through it. This training cycle has been BRUTAL! I’ve battled with old and new injuries that have really affected my performance and my mentality for the race. But I’ve also done everything in my power to get better and improve. I’ve read articles online, I’ve gone to doctors, I’m getting ART treatments, I’m using the right equipment, and most importantly, I’m listening to my body. I know I haven’t accomplished everything I would have liked during my training, but at least I’m trying! I’m doing everything I can to overcome that fear and come out stronger in the end. No matter what happens on race day, the fact that I even have a place on the starting line is an amazing feat.

But at the end of the day, race or no race, I took on this challenge to fight ALS. I’ve successfully raised awareness for the disease and with the help of family & friends, almost $8,000 for the cause. That alone is a HUGE win in my eyes, getting to run in the race is just a bonus.

Check out my Crowdrise page to donate & help me raise as much as I can for the ALS Association:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s