On Friday, the doctor finally called me back with my MRI results and news I really wasn’t prepared to hear. It was his professional opinion that I should “strongly reconsider running.” My first thought was, “what? He can’t be serious?”
Immediately I started asking questions and was quickly told to schedule another appointment so we could “discuss my options” because he had more patients to attend to.
Feeling blindsided, anxious and confused, I took the next available appointment, called my husband and then texted my coach. Like anyone who’s received unexpected news, the last 4 days have been challenging mentally and emotionally. Until I understand the complete picture with my knee, I don’t know what my options are and I can’t really move forward.
Early last week when I knew I’d have an MRI, I was hopeful I might be cleared to run on Saturday. My knee pain is infrequent and I had no issues at the Girls on the Run 5k a week ago. After the phone call, I realized my only option is waiting. So for now, that’s what I’m doing.
Mid week I was offered the opportunity to volunteer at the Utah Valley Marathon. Knowing I might not be cleared to run, I jumped at the chance to commemorate one of my fondest running experiences.
Five years ago this race was my very first marathon. I wasn’t really prepared, and finished in 4 hours 46 minutes, amazed and thankful I survived 26.2 miles.
A few days later I learned I was assigned to the very last aide station in the race, mile 25. Thousands of runners (10k, half or full-marathoner) would come through our aide-station on their way to the finish. We literally got to see everyone, and had a party handing out water and Nuun electrolytes.
Once again, seeing several friends and so many runners was challenging because I wanted to be out there running with them.
Hour after hour the race progressed with runners arriving more spread out. It was a warm morning and promised to be a very hot day with a high of 97 degrees. Soon we found ourselves pouring just as much water on the racers as they were drinking.
Around 11:30 am, the running stream became a trickle as most runners had already finished their race. Runners had been arriving all morning completely hot and exhausted after 25 long miles, but these runners were visibly different.
Several showed up with a ghost runner (someone who runs along side the racer without a bib or paid entry- essentially providing moral support along the course. Usually this is a kind family member or friend) and most were walking. They kept their heads down and seemed so sad, acting like they were some how a failure. We cheered and encouraged but they would hardly look us in the eye. Earlier we noticed most runners had their names printed on their bib. We’d call them by name and offer anything we could to help them finish their last mile.
One gentleman named Gary looked especially disappointed. Offering him water, I chimed in about how proud I was of him. He simply shook his head no. I told Gary if he was getting after himself, that he needed to stop right then and speak kindly instead.
Completely surprised, he just looked at me dumbfounded. I pointed out that he had nothing to feel bad about because his body had just taken him 25 miles. Reminding him he only had one more mile to go, I invited him to speak kindly to himself the entire rest of the race. Taking the cup I offered, he drank and thanked me for my encouraging words.
There’s an adage that says, “Be careful how you talk to yourself because you’re listening…” Sometimes when things are difficult and not going our way, negative self-talk steps in and takes over. We speak unkindly to ourselves and assume we’re a failure because our situation isn’t exactly going according to plan.
The problem with negative self-talk and constant personal criticism is it can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Scientists have actually documented the effects of toxic self-talk on all physical structures in our body, not just our mood or emotions. Even science says we literally become what we think. Negative Self-Talk
Like the thousands of runners who crossed the starting line Saturday to run the Utah Valley Marathon, I too am taking things one mile/day at a time. I’ve come so far, and this adventure with my knee is simply a new chapter.