It’s a been a whole year since I woke up to those dreary skies and low temps on race day. It’s also been a whole year since I’ve run. Maybe a light jog here and there to catch a T or cross the street, but that’s about all my knees could handle over the past 365 days.
After the race last year, I felt good – not my best but also not my worst. I took some much needed time off, I stretched, rolled and massaged until I was able to move like a normal human being. Instead of running, I took time to focus on strength training with some at-home workouts and a program that mainly consisted of body weight exercises. In typical Alexis fashion, I was doing too much too soon and started feeling pain in my back, my knees, my feet – basically all my trouble spots. I took a break and tried to get back on track, but nothing seemed to work.
I couldn’t take the pain in my knees any longer so I decided to go see a doctor and check on that damn patella tendon of mine. Last time I got imaging tests done was a few years back and I knew training for a marathon probably didn’t help heal it at all. After getting my results, I found out my tear was deeper but the doctor was hopeful I could repair some damage and get stronger through a round of physical therapy.
So that’s what I did for about 8 weeks. Nothing. Went back to the doctor and that’s when he brought up surgery. Every time the topic of surgery came up in the past I wanted nothing to do with it…but now, I desperately wanted anything that could take the pain away. I couldn’t walk up and down stairs, sit for long periods of time with my knee bent, stand for more than a couple hours, or even walk for a mile. Surgery was looking better and better. I made an appointment for a couple weeks out and prepared myself for that conversation (procedure details, recovery time, prolonged mobility). But when that day came, my appointment lasted approximately 10 minutes and ended with me in tears. The verdict: my injury wasn’t to the point where they could perform the surgery. In other words, my tendon needed to be hanging by a thread or completely torn for them to feel comfortable proceeding.
This was honestly the last straw for me. That procedure was my last hope since everything else I tried wasn’t working. I was irrationally mad at the doctor, mad at myself and mad at my body for constantly doing this to me. He put me back in therapy and I ended up going for about 3 and a half more months before seeing any progress.
Not gonna lie, that time in between was rough. I was extremely depressed, stressed with everything going on in my life outside of my injury and felt absolutely defeated. I finally started to pull myself out of that rut in January of this year. I wanted to start fresh with an optimistic mindset and ambitious (yet attainable) goals for the months ahead.
My first order of business for 2019 was to finally bounce back from this knee injury. I went to weekly physical therapy sessions, started getting graston treatment again to break up scar tissue and really honed in my strength training. A couple months in and I was able to stand longer, walk further, handle the bike and elliptical for at least 30 minutes and I COULD FINALLY USE THE STAIRS! As much as I hated the doctor for putting me back in PT, I have to admit it helped. I guess these guys know a thing or two, ya know? 😉
Now in April, I’m feeling good. So good that I’m even going to try jogging in a few weeks for the first time in over a year. But I’d be lying if I said Marathon weekend didn’t have anything to do with this newfound motivation to run, too. It was giving me alllllllll the feels.
I picked a spot right on Boylston about halfway to the finish line; and even standing there for a few hours I felt like I learned so much about the people whizzing by. I saw a man with a bloody shoe stumble and almost collapse into the barricade until another runner helped carry him to the finish. I saw a man embrace his wife on the sidelines and then carry his little boy with him to the end. I even saw a video of a war vet who collapsed a few feet from the finish and crawled his way through. And the whole time, people were cheering them on to keep going and finish strong.
This sport is incredible – complete strangers become your biggest supporters, your helping hand and your motivation. But this race is absolutely magical. It was so amazing to be on the sidelines this year cheering all the runners on to their own personal victories. I’ve been on the other side of that barricade and I know how much heart and soul goes into training for this course. You can just see the grit and determination on everyone’s face; the overwhelming sense of joy and relief as they stroll down Boylston for the final stretch. A huge CONGRATS to all the 2019 champions, welcome to the club! You earned every bit of it!
Looking ahead, I hope to get back to casual runs and long distance races. Hell, I even hope to toe the line at Hopkinton again someday. But until then, I’m going to aim a littleeeee lower for 2020 and focus my sights on the Medley race which includes the B.A.A. 5K next April, the 10K in June and the Half Marathon in October.
Boston, I’m not done with ya yet!