“Recovery Road.”

“What you weren’t prepared for. What you didn’t expect. What you couldn’t see coming. The blind-side. The black smoke. The descent. It will gulp your tears, drain your blood, and wipe your entire slate clean. Game over. That’s when you bite back, tear your gaping heart wider, and start again. You start again.”

Tanya Markul
For some journeys, there simply are no words.
( Recovery Road: June 2021 – May 2023 )

We have officially entered the “taper time” period of my training plan – a time when we continue to work, but at a much lower intensity. Our primary focus is now on injury prevention and maintaining current fitness, rather than reaching for that next level. It’s so exciting to realize that, in less than two weeks, I will be lacing up my Asics and running the Pittsburgh Marathon. It will not be as fast as the previous marathons in which I have run, nor will it be easy because of my now slower pace. Realistically, it may actually prove to be harder than anything I’ve ever run before. But I know this going into it, and I accept the challenge.

I’ve worked hard for this moment, this opportunity to see, for myself, if things will ever be the same. I can tell you now, already, that they absolutely will not. It has taken quite some time for me to come to terms with this fact, and it will take experiencing this marathon, firsthand, in order for it to truly sink in.

It’s been 23 months since my skydiving accident. I’ve undergone 3 surgeries, 4 months of disc regeneration treatments, 6+ months of physical therapy, as well as 1-on-1 personal training. Despite all the things we’ve done, intended to repair my body and restore my ability to run, it seems that some damage simply can not be undone. While some sadness, understandably, follows this realization, I’ve actually begun to process it quite well. The end result is not a feeling of bitterness or regret but, rather, of gratitude and even a bit of relief.

If ever you find yourself in a similar situation, where life has given you a period of quiet, of alone time, to reflect on your own life and reconsider your future – I hope that you, too, can say thank you. Because it was never about constant forward motion, or hitting every external milestone in time. It was always about the journey you took deep with yourself that mattered the most. How you chose to bloom within the quiet moments – the ones where you left the common path, tuned out all the noise, and began to create your own way, all on your own.

The parts of your journey where you felt so lost, like you were failing or falling behind – the moments when it seemed like nothing was working out, or ever would, the way that it should. All the times you got knocked down and were forced to prioritize rest, to begin a process of self-reflection, to have no other choice but to change – these weren’t your setbacks, they were your breakthroughs. And, as you move forward, I hope that you, too, have the courage to do things differently. To be the kind of person who takes the risk and leads with their heart. The one who shows up with ruthless dedication to personal growth and the ability to enjoy the hell out of every moment along the way.

I hope you have the courage to never let comfort or apprehension convince you that you’re better off standing still. I hope you come to trust the part of yourself that knows there’s more out there for you – the part that’s easy to silence when you’re trying to live by “the rules” and the expectations of a world that has bred little more than dissatisfaction and sadness.

I hope you have the courage to trust the part of yourself that seeks freedom from trends and liberation from boundaries. The kind of courage that enables you to go after whatever makes your soul genuinely happy – to pursue the things that inspire you to not only wake up, but to get up, every morning.

I hope you find things in this life that ignite you and deepen your understanding of the world, as well as those who reside here in it.

I hope you have the courage to fight for a future that inspires you, even if it doesn’t look the way you thought it would. The kind of courage it takes to change the parts of yourself that no longer serve the greater good of your entire being, and the courage to trust the strength and beauty of the person that you are becoming.

As race day approaches ever closer, I am feeling humbled and so incredibly grateful for all of the time that I have had to spend investing in myself – physically, mentally, and emotionally. For all of the progress that I have made, and the functional abilities which have, slowly but surely, been restored by my body. But, most especially, for the people who love me. The ones who have helped me and supported me from Day One. For my husband, going above and beyond our marriage vows, into a world he never asked for, nor did he deserve to find himself in. For bathing me and dressing me – even washing and styling my hair. Helping me to change my bandages, change my casts, attend my Doctors appointments, and hours long surgeries. All the cooking, the cleaning, the mental health upkeeping. All the things we tend to take for granted, until we are unable to do them for ourselves. And the people who have cared enough to extend themselves, despite the busyness of their own lives – the ones who’ve offered up their support in the form of kind words, encouraging messages, sarcastic remarks and hilarious memes. For my Doctors, my physical therapists, my chiropractors, my personal trainer, and the few who have chosen to run by my side in this upcoming race… THANK YOU. I am at a loss for words to describe exactly how much this means to me. Please know that it’s A LOT.


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