As always, though, I find in necessary to pick out the good. A follow up bone scan on Wednesday revealed my stress fractured has healed (well that's good since I've been running on it). I have been running pain free, though not easily, for a couple of weeks. By not easily, I mean that although I've maintained a decent amount of running performance, I indeed have some work to do just to get where I was before Columbus. I guess this is expected, but for a runner who made steady improvement over the course of a couple of years, this realization is humbling.
Today was my longest run since October. It was 7 miles, though the rest of the group I ran with were doing 10. I knew better than to jump from 6-10 (hopefully this redeems me to anyone who thinks I'm carelessly jumping back in). I even parked my car at the seven mile mark and Sarah picked me up to bring me to the start. The chosen route today: STRIMPLE. The first 5 miles are nothing but hills. One after another and not exactly tiny hills either. I had the option of a flatter route with a different group, but through training last summer and fall, I actually have grown to prefer a hillier run. It's not that I find hills easy. I don't. They still take everything out of me by the time I get to the top. I just discovered how to run them without dread. Once I figured that out, I actually sought them out and they did become easier to run. Or maybe just seemed that way.
I ran with Sarah for roughly the first 4 miles. The hills were plenty during those miles. By the time we hit the last hill together, the reality of much time away from them hit my quads. I had a really rough time recovering on the downhill portion before yet another hill hit. It was then that I silently said "so long" to Sarah, who was trucking along well ahead by now. Fortunately for me, I had brought my IPOD. I popped in the earbuds, and turned on my music. I was immediately brought back to last summer when I spent many long runs on Strimple. I reflected all that has happened since the last time I ran that route. I remember thinking back then that the next time I run this road will be for Boston training. Little did I know the next time I ran that road would be during a comeback run following a pain in the ass injury after a non-qualifying race.
Not knowing what the future holds is a blessing. Sometimes I wonder if I ever would have started this goal had I known that it would take multiple attempts to get there. Three years ago, I was a different runner and I was a different person with a different mindset. And so I can say that three years ago, had I known how hard this would be and how much patience this would require, I would never have started it. But it is because I have been SO SURE with each failed attempt, that the next one would bring success, that I've kept going. And because I've kept going, I've learned more about my myself in regard to my stubbornness, my limits, what I "thought" were my limits, my sense of pride, my lack of common sense, just how impatient I really am, how tough I really am, but most of all, just how much I love to run... and how much I love coffee and hot showers after I run.