“She survived. She grew. She fell. She picked herself up. She learned. She became. She broke. She mended herself. She gave. She tried real hard. She hurt. She healed herself. Yes, she did it all. And she was everything she ever needed. But she only realised that later in the game. It was a magical find nonetheless.”S.C. Lourie
We boarded a morning flight back to Boston this morning, my husband and I. At the time of booking, we had no idea that, by now, I’d be starting to run again. We were still operating under the assumptions of the original plan – which estimated me to not be lacing up my Asics until Christmas. The Universe has a knack for perfect timing though, and what better way for us to celebrate my return to running than by visiting this most iconic piece of pavement?
It’s been nearly 14 months since I ran my last marathon, crossing this very finish line… and I still can’t believe that I was able to do it. I had four unhealed fractures in my spine and the shattered pieces of my left arm/wrist were being held together by a metal plate with screws, stabilized by an external cast. Looking back now, I shake my head at my own insanity yet, somehow still, take great pride in my level of determination and the strength of my own will to show up and go the distance that day.
I was physically broken, but mentally strong. And if running 26.2 miles on undertrained legs, with multiple fractures, out of pure, simple joy and the greatest love of the run is not a testament to the power of the human spirit, then I have no idea what is!
My experiences these past two years have made me realize just how temporary our physical fitness really is. It’s fleeting – unable to be maintained without constant progress and consistent upkeep; which, while admirable, is not always sustainable throughout the entire lifetime of an athlete – especially at the “Boston Qualifying” level. Hence, the reason why most athletes peak and, when it’s time, decide to retire. The GOAT really isn’t actually the “Greatest Of All Time”, they’re really just the greatest AT THAT TIME.
It’s taken me quite some time to realize it but, in the grand scheme of things, my own journey was never actually about achieving an athletic level capable of running a Boston qualifying time – it was about achieving confidence. It was about learning to believe in myself and realizing that I have the ability to overcome absolutely anything – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Most of all, it was about learning to see myself as worthy, without the need for external validation. This is not something that anybody or any thing can ever give you – no matter how famous, exclusive, or elite they may be. This is a lesson that only you can learn, on your own terms and in your own time.
Even today, I am still a little bit high from my first run in P.T. yesterday… yet I am humbled, nonetheless. A 1.77 mile treadmill interval run is a far cry from a 26.2 mile endurance race. I still have a long way to go before I am ready and able to run another marathon and I know, all too well, the work that lies ahead. But, sometimes, it helps to take the time to look back and realize all that I am truly capable of.