Fighting Self Doubt

I haven’t updated in awhile. Not my weekly training updates, not a fundraiser update…NOTHING. And I’m feeling a little guilty about it. Because when I’m hurting I have a habit of shutting myself off from the world.

For the past three-four weeks I’ve been battling a sprained ankle/peroneal tendonitis. I felt the first twinges in my peroneal the week leading up to the Tennessee Ultra Ragnar, but during the race only felt twinges of pain during my first leg. After ragnar, I took an easy week and didn’t think anything of it. But as I began building the next week I noticed my peroneal was increasingly tight. After I did my last 20 miler out on the flooded trail, I could hardly walk the day after. It’s then I knew I was in trouble.

I took a week off. I didn’t do a damn thing except a few walks here and there and I could tell my peroneal was feeling much better. But when I went to run after a week of rest, the pain came right back. Once I finished my 10 miler on Good Friday I was in the same boat – I couldn’t walk right without pain. Immediately, I felt like a failure. I’ve been training for this 50k for so long, just to get injured in the final stage. So I shut down. I refused to leave the apartment all weekend except for work, and I disconnected from life. I had tunnel vision and I could only focus on how my 50k dreams were out the door.

This was about two weeks ago. and I’m doing much better. I started seeing a physical therapist, running on an underwater treadmill, and taking long walks to ease my anxiety and pent up energy. It’s hard to go from 50 miles a week to zero. But at some point between PT and waking up at the crack of dawn to run on the underwater treadmill, I started feeling better about my impeding 50k, even though my tendonitis still bothered me. I faced reality. My goal this year is my 57 miler in November – not the 50k, no matter how much I trained for it.

Once I stopped stressing, my body started recovering. The inflammation in my peroneal went down and I stopped having pain walking. This past week, after my last PT appointment, I made the decision to try and race. I went for a short jog on the treadmill and had no pain, so I decided I could at least start the race with the option of dropping out if the pain built up too much. I was nervous about toeing the line without any real training/running for three weeks prior, but I also trusted myself. As long as my peroneal didn’t hurt, I knew I could finish.

I’ll have a real race recap later on, but I made it and I am so happy! I couldn’t have done it without the constant support of my friends and family, and I can’t believe it’s already over. Once the race started, I was so excited to be out there running again nothing else mattered. I took in every little moment: the sunrise over the foggy Potomac, the determined forms of runners zig zagging up a steep hill before me, and the sound of my own breath breathing steadily in and out, in and out.

A little bit of ankle pain set in around mile 18 but I started incorporating more walking and the pain never got any worse. Honestly, the course was so muddy in the last 9 miles or so it was IMPOSSIBLE to run. Every person I saw who tried to run through on the trail wiped out in front of me, and I knew if I went down I’d probably have a real rough time getting back up and going with the pain. So I did some speed walking with super-duper short steps cursing the mud under my breath every time I felt my feet lose traction beneath me, causing my already-sore muscles to tense with the thought of falling down.

When the finish line was finally in sight, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face if you tried. I was excited and so happy to finish with relatively little peroneal pain. It was 92 degrees out (seriously, what the HELL was up with this weekend’s weather?!) and I still felt relatively fine hydration/nutrition wise. The most painful part of the day was the two blisters I formed on my heels in the last 10 miles – probably from the slipping in the mud and friction caused. No lie – my heels are STILL pulsating and I’ve never had this problem with my shoes/socks before.

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So, now what? I saw my doctor the day before the 50k, and he checked my ankle/fibula for any stress fractures and I’m good. He recommended taking some down time after the race to let any inflammation in my peroneal to go down, and I’ll be starting more extensive PT tomorrow. I still have my eyes on my 57 mile charity run in November, and I’ll be starting training back up in June. This month, I’d like to get back into a routine of not only running, but cross training and strengthening CONSISTENTLY. If tendonitis has taught me anything, this diversity in my training is going to be vital. I’m also looking for a coach to help get me through this summer/fall healthy for my event. But I guess we’ll see. And of course (because I always say this), I’ll try to update my blog more regularly.

Look forward to my 50k race recap soon and once I begin training regularly again, I’ll try to post updates every week or so. For now, it’s rest and recover time. And believe me, my legs need it.

 

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Weekly Recap: April 3 – April 9

(I wanted to add photos but something is wrong with my phone and I can’t get them off onto my computer!!!)

It’s been awhile! I know I haven’t done a weekly update in a while – I have been completely OUT OF TIME. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been pretty stressed out and not been feeling the greatest, so this plays into my silence. But here I am now, and I wish I had this lovely update to give you about how great things are going, but I’m not going to sugarcoat things – I’m hurting. I’ve been struggling with some peroneal tendonitis since Ragnar and I finally doomed myself in last week with my long run.

Taking some time off to help the inflammation go down and hopefully I’ll be running by Friday for my long run. Lot’s of icing, stretching and rolling on the schedule, along with any pain-free cross training.

Monday, April 3: I ran a lot earlier in the morning because of a doctor appointment I had later. The weather was pretty nice – it’s finally spring – and I was really enjoying myself EXCEPT for my ankle. I wouldn’t call it pain I was feeling, but something definitely didn’t feel right. Every step my ankle felt weak and like the little bones in my foot were moving or something. I know it doesn’t make sense, but that’s what it felt like. I felt like my foot needed a good crack to make sure everything was in place.

Other than the weird ankle/foot sensations, the run was great. I ran along the Mt. Vernon Trail and went about 7 miles. My legs felt pretty fresh considering the week before was a recovery week and mileage was super low.

7 road miles – 7:55 min/mile pace

Tuesday, April 4: Decided to take a rest day because of ANOTHER doctor appointment. My lyme doctor is about 45 minutes from where I live so by the time I drive out there, have the appointment and drive back, my morning is pretty much shot. I was feeling the tightness in my peroneal this morning so I decided the rest would be my best bet.

Doctor appointment went fine – had more bloodwork done. When I got home I had a little bit of time before work so I decided to go for a nice walk instead. I walked along the Potomac for 2.3 miles just listening to music and thinking things through. Definitely needed it before work.

Rest Day
2.3 mile walk

Wednesday, April 5: Workout day! I wasn’t as excited about my tempo workout as I usually am because of the ankle pain. I decided to suck it up and hit up the treadmill anyways though, thinking the tendon would loosen up as I ran.

Once I got going on the treadmill though and started pumping some jams I felt okay. The peroneal was definitely tight and ached for most of the run, but the pain was manageable. I ended up being able to complete my entire workout – 7 X 5 min repeats with 1 min recovery in between – with my speed portions being between 6:30-6:05 min/mile pace. I did my cool down outside and ended the day with over 10 miles.

15 min. w.u., 7X5 min up-tempo, 1 min recovery in-between – 8.3 miles, 6:53 min/mile
2.1 mile c.d. – 18:09 mins, 8:28 min/mile pace

Thursday, April 6: ANOTHER rest day. I didn’t intend on resting today, but once I got home from work I couldn’t get myself to go and cross train like I was supposed to. I definitely didn’t want to run because of my ankle and I was trying to get ready for the next day’s long run, but I couldn’t get my butt onto my bike. So I ended up laying on my couch not doing anything. Womp wompppppp.

Rest Day

Friday, April 7: LONG RUN. What an adventure this run ended up turning into once out on the trail. The day before it POURED and we had storms and crazy wind, and it really messed up the trail. When I was driving out to Great Falls Park, I noticed how swollen the Potomac was and I knew the trail was going to be an epic mess. The wind was still very bad and I started getting nervous about falling tree branches and such, but I forced myself to keep driving.

My ankle was pretty sore this morning, even though I took Thursday off. When I first started running my ankle almost gave out with my first step, and I knew it probably wasn’t a good omen. Once I got going on the trail and relaxed, the pain pretty much disappeared.

The trail was flooded in a lot of places and the thick mud made me turn my ankle a few times, unfortunately. There were A LOT of huge trees down and it made me so paranoid to have to run off the trail and around. For once, I forgot to spray myself with bug spray before I started and all I could think about were ticks! Every time I had to jump off trail or a branch brushed up against my side I stopped and checked myself for freaking ticks. So as you can imagine, I stopped a lot on this run.

I wasn’t able to make it out as far as I wanted on the heritage trail because of fallen trees so I turned back early and ran some trails in Great Falls I’ve never went out on before. They were so nice and even though I was tired as the miles racked up, I was having a freaking blast out there. I think this is the first run where my nutrition and hydration were on point. I was eating every 40 minutes and drinking my tailwind from my hydration vest and I actually felt pretty good.

By the time I was done with 20 miles I was definitely tired, but honestly, if I had to go further I knew I could. This was a good feeling to have, especially struggling with the tendonitis. I’ve never done two 20 mile runs (and a 36 mile ragnar) in one training cycle, so to finish this run up made me feel really good and confident.

As soon as I got home I stretched and iced my ankle and it felt pretty good. It wasn’t until I tried to get up from the couch a few hours later I realized how much pain my peroneal was in. Dave and I decided to walk to Crystal City to see a friend at the 5k Fridays and during the 1 mile walk I felt my peroneal loosen up again. Honestly, I thought I would be okay for my 10 miler the next day.

20.1 trail miles – 9:12 min/mile pace

Saturday, April 8: I woke up early for an event I was holding at the store, and immediately I knew I was in trouble. I woke up several times during the night and every time I moved around I could feel the pain in my peroneal. When I got out of bed the pain walking was intense, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to run. It immediately put me into a pisser.

It didn’t help when I went to drive to my event that my car wouldn’t start. I felt like everything was going wrong for me and immediately I felt myself shift into a negative attitude about everything. I was upset about my car, upset about going to work on my day off (even though I had volunteered) and upset my “training was going to shit.” It’s absolutely incredible what missing a run can do to someone who is used to running all the time.

After the event I went home and cleaned up around the apartment before getting a new battery in my car. I had plans that evening to go out with friends to the pub, but immediately I cancelled. I felt myself retreating into that dark place where I didn’t want to see or be near anyone. I was sure I ruined myself for my 50k I’ve been training forever for and I was so mad at myself.

Later in the afternoon I took myself to a massage appointment with great hopes it would be a fix-all. I told her about the tendonitis and she focused on that ankle for a lot of the appointment and HOLY CRAP DID IT HURT. I feel like my ankle is still a little bruised from her digging in there. But I was able to walk normally when I stood up after the appointment, and the pain was cut by about 70%. As much as I wanted to push it and try and run, I told myself no and rested on the couch for the rest of the evening.

I iced a lot, cooked up some veggie chili, and watched some documentaries until it was time for bed. I was still feeling pretty mad at myself about the tendonitis and for letting it affect my entire day, but I took some Advil, put on some anti-inflammatory cream and went to bed.

Sunday, April 9: I woke up ready to be in a better mood. I made myself coffee, relaxed and enjoyed myself before I had to go into work. Sometimes, I feel like it’s okay to have one of those days where you kinda wallow and feel angry at the world (as long as you don’t let it consume you and continue for a long time). What I felt Saturday was completely normal. It was frustration, anger, and sadness about my injury. And it’s ok. But I was ready to leave it behind.

I KNOW you can’t lose fitness by taking 1-2 weeks off. When people come to me for running advice, especially if they’re hurting with an injury, I preach this all. the. time., but it’s hard to take your own advice.

I believe in myself. I reminded myself to stop comparing my training to anybody else’s, because every person is different. I reminded myself I was able to complete both marathons I’ve done in the past off less than 30 mile/week mileage. I reminded myself just how strong I am physically and mentally – and I felt happy.

It was a beautiful day so I decided to ride my bike to work. It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten in the saddle and I had so much fun riding to the store. It’s less than 3 miles so it was super quick, but it was enough to get those endorphins flowing. Work ended up being so busy I didn’t even have time to think about my tendonitis because I was running all over the place like a crazy person – definitely my workout for the day.

After I rode home I immediately ate dinner because I was unable to eat all day at work. Now that the days are longer, there was still some sunlight after I finished, so dave and I went for a little walk. We ended at the grocery store so I could pick up a few things for the week and when we got back to the apartment, I went down to the gym to see if any cross training didn’t hurt. I rowed for about 10 minutes (and felt great) but because there were a few twinges in the ankle I decided to stop. I hopped on the elliptical and that wasn’t great so I left and went back to the apartment to ice, roll and stretch.

WEEKLY MILEAGE: 37.5 Miles

THOUGHTS ON THE WEEK: Obviously not the mileage I wanted to hit this week. I’m about 13-14 miles short of what I wanted, but it’s okay. I’m in the final stretch here, and it’s about making it to the start line, not pushing myself through painful miles. I’m happy I got the 20 miler in even though I know I would have felt a little more confident having the 10 miler the day after as well. But I’ve already done that once in my training and I’ve only gotten stronger since then, so I think all will be okay.

I’m going to keep stretching, icing and rolling and hopefully I’ll be okay for 15 miles this Friday and maybe 7 or so on Saturday. I’m not going to push or force anything. Maybe this injury is an opportunity for me to get back into cross training/strengthening so I can better incorporate it into my 57 miler training this summer. It’s going to be so important!

I picked up some anti-inflammatory juices to try this week as well and I’m going to try and really clean up my diet. I’ve been eating a lot of processed crap and it’s not doing me any favors.

Here we go! IT’S THE FINAL COUNT DOWNNNNNNNN.

Mountains and Ironmans

It is dark but I feel the mountains around me.  The highway is still quiet at this early morning hour and the headlights illuminate glimpses of rock faces on the road edge.  As the sky turns from black to gray more comes to life around me.  A smile creeps across my face and I can’t control it.  Whenever I feel lost the mountains ground me.  Full of wisdom and older than I can imagine, I feel safe in their presence.  They’ve seen it all.

The sun yawns and stretches its rays up above the mountains and faint light wakes the trees.  I can see the fog nestled in the valleys like a cold blanket covering slumbering fields.  As we speed down Interstate 81 toward Chattanooga, Tennessee, I try to take everything in because my camera can’t do the scenery any justice.  In the rearview mirror I can see the sky on fire with stripes of orange, red, yellow and pink as the sun rises higher.  The world is finally awake.

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Dave and I are headed to Chattanooga to see Erin race her first Ironman.  As we roll up to the hotel a few hours later the atmosphere is laced with anticipation.  More and more athletes arrive as Dave and I unload the car and wait for Erin, and I watch triathletes roll their expensive bikes into the lobby.  I feel like I am caught up in another world, a world of organized chaos full of nervous energy shaking and rattling my psyche.  The calmness of the mountains is gone, evaporated into the sky like the morning fog I spied earlier floating across the landscape.

Race day calls for record high heat, yet I don’t feel nervous for Erin.  Not only has she been living in Texas all summer long, but when I hug her in the hotel lobby I sense a feeling of readiness.  She is an island of serenity in the sea of madness only an Ironman event can create.  She is my mountains – all knowing and calm.

On Saturday morning, the morning before the race, we head out for an easy bike ride and I follow cautiously behind Erin and her friend.  I’m riding her other triathlon bike and it’s so light I feel as if I might blow away in the next wind gust.  But as we ride out of downtown and into the countryside I can feel my confidence building.  I feel weightless and free speeding down the hills and I feed on the energy radiating from the green mountains around us.  It’s quiet enough I can hear the birds chirping in the trees and it reminds me of being a kid again in Robbinsville, NJ,  when Erin and I would wake early on muggy summer mornings and speed down the hills in our neighborhood on our matching bikes.

Race morning arrives before I know it and I spring out of bed at 3:50 AM like it’s actually a normal waking hour.  Everything is done in the dark: body marking, final checks of the bike, riding the bus to the swim start – and again I feel as if I am immersed in another world.  I’ve run hundreds of road races, a few triathlons, marathons, and championship races but nothing compares to the start of an Ironman.  I watch all the triathletes sitting around me waiting for the swim start and wonder what’s going on in their heads.  How does one prepare for a 2.4 mile swim, 116 mile bike ride (bike course was long in Chatt – it’s usually 112 miles) and then 26.2 miles afterwards?  They have to believe.  And as cheesy as it sounds, I knew before Erin even started she would finish, because she believed so deeply in herself.

Other than the finish, my favorite part of spectating Erin’s Ironman was the swim.  After they jumped into the river I ran down the river walk to get a good view of the water.  Separating myself from other spectators, I found myself surrounded in the beauty of a race unlike any other.  Hundreds of swimmers headed downstream in a wide line, and the sound of their arms hitting the water reminded me of the sound of delicate wings fluttering endlessly, softly dipping in and out of the water.  For a moment, I watched silently as the swimmers migrated downstream together under a watercolor sky.  Together they had one goal: to be an Ironman.  It sent chills down my spine.

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About 12 hours later I am standing at the finish line.  I’ve spent all day tracking the merciless sun across the sky and finally we are immersed in  a darkness bringing much welcomed coolness.  Erin will be finishing any minute and the announcer’s voice booms at the finish line as other athletes cross and throw their arms up in triumph.  Music blares and as each athlete passes we slap the cardboard signs tied to the barriers, screaming and creating a thunderous applause.

When Erin approaches I feel my heart skip a beat only to then beat what feels like a million times per minute.  As I scream, “you are an Ironman” a smile splits across her tired face and her eyes sparkle with happiness.  I feel tears well up in my own and my heart swells.  To stand at the finish line of an Ironman is to experience more emotion than I can usually muster up in a month.  Watching her run into the finish line spotlights I know I’ll remember this moment for the rest of my life.

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After the race we find Erin and walk away from the intense energy at the finish line.  Sitting on a bench in pseudo darkness – the glare of the finish line behind us, the announcer’s voice thundering through the air – my sisters, mom, husband, friends and I crack open a beer.  We drink slowly by the riverside as Erin tells us about the ups and downs of her race and I feel at peace even though we are surrounded by madness.

Every athlete has their own story.  Their own triumphs and failures.  The finish line means something different to each and everyone of them, and I feel blessed to have been able to experience Ironman Chattanooga as a spectator and see so many dreams fulfilled.  Erin has a story of resilience and determination, a story of never giving up no matter the hardship.

Watching Erin race made me think about my own story and where I’m headed.  As I sipped my beer riverside, I thought about how unclear everything seems.

I have dreams and aspirations I believe I can fulfill if only I could get my health settled.  My shin pain has come back full force and I’ve put a halt on all training to try and get the pain to go away.  I want to believe I can do amazing things but it’s hard to believe when I feel so broken.  I’ve spent a boatload of money on extensive lyme disease testing and I’m nervous to get the results in a few weeks.  I hope my injuries will resolve themselves because I refuse to let my story end on some shitty 5k I gave up halfway through.  Right now, I feel like I am in limbo, and I don’t know which way to go.

As I drove back to DC from Chattanooga, still high from Erin’s triumphant finish, I realized she has found her calling.  I’ve always known we are endurance athletes and after so many ups and downs in the running world I feel such a happiness knowing Erin has found what she truly loves to do.  But I don’t know what I’m meant to do yet.  But as I passed through the mountains one last time, their serenity quelled my feelings of doubt.  Because when I’m in nature, I know what I want.

And those mountains are calling, and somehow, I will go.

 

© Allison Donaghy 2016 All Rights Reserved

 

 

An update of sorts.

As always, it’s been hard for me to put my thoughts into words.  I’ve been mulling over a post for days (WEEKS) but I can’t really find a focus.  It’s probably because I’ve felt so unfocused lately.  Every day I feel like I’m walking through a thick fog, just searching for some clarity.

Colorado was wonderful.  Rocky Mountain State Park is such a beautiful place and it was so easy to let go there.  I didn’t worry about my stress fracture, or running, or my health.  Every morning Erin and I woke up to hike a new trail and had one priority: enjoy nature. The sun was still low in the sky when we started our hikes but the mornings were still full of soft light and delicate silence.  I loved hearing the dirt trail crunch beneath my hiking boots and I loved how the mountains rose up all around us, cradling us in their valley.  Everything seemed so alive.

I’ve been home now for over a week.  If I had a choice I’d still be out in the mountains but home and work were calling.  I’ve started to incorporate runs again in my training but I’m constantly worried about the pain coming back.  With every ache I fear it is the stress fracture returning even though I gave it more than enough time to heal.  I worry about my bones and not absorbing enough calcium and vitamin D.  I worry my bones are soft and weak and as soon as I really start training again I will be broken.  I am so exhausted with being broken.  And the worst part is not letting myself down, it’s letting everyone else down believing in me.

As I was rowing on the erg this evening I realized I will never be fast again.  I row.  I bike.  I elliptical.  I do all these things to try and keep myself in some inkling of running shape, but when it comes down to it they’ll never turn me back into the runner I once was.  Sure, I can get into good shape and be competitive, but I don’t believe I will ever be able to train at a high caliber again and be fast in the shorter 5k, 10k distances.  I’m not sure of the runner I’m going to turn into once these injuries and health issues are settled, and even though I’m resigned to the fact I may be a mediocre runner for the rest of my life, I’m not giving up on myself.  I’m willing to see what type of runner I morph into.  The longer distances are calling my name.

I think that’s it for now.  I want to start writing here more but I keep getting in the way of myself.  Ideally, I would love to use this blog as a place I can just spit out ideas and thoughts I have during the day but I don’t trust myself enough to do so.  I won’t lie – I’m still petrified of sharing my thoughts and feelings and posting inconsistently is my way of taking baby steps.

I have finally started working on my piece again so that’s exciting.  Before I ended up taking such a long break I had the goal of finishing this summer but now it’s already the end of June and I’m not so sure.  I’ve been so wrapped up in my injury, my health, freelance writing and working at the running store I’ve forgotten about myself and personal goals.  So I’m hoping to get back into the habit of working on it in the morning and justttttt maybe I’ll share a few excerpts.

One of these days I’m going to spit out all these words in my head and share them freely.  But today is not that day.

 

© Allison Donaghy 2016 All Rights Reserved

Healing.

There’s no denying it’s been a hard month. Between the stress fracture and other health challenges, I’ve been left with a stream of nonstop thoughts constantly swirling in my mind. Over the past few months I’ve been on the endless search for answers and only recently realized I may not get those answers. And in order to truly heal, I need to accept this uncertainty.

On Monday I went back to my orthopedic and was freed from my walking boot. It was a glorious feeling being told my stress fracture is healed and I can get back to running again. But I was also gripped by fear. What if it hurt on my first run back? What if the ache creeps back deep into my bone and ruins the rest of my season? And my biggest worry: what if I can’t tell the difference between real pain and phantom pain caused by my anxiety and laser-focus on my tibia?

When I stepped on the treadmill earlier this week in my Hoka Bondis (MAX cushioning shoe right there) I felt like a toddler learning to walk for the first time. My heart raced and my legs trembled as I started the belt and felt the smooth rubber slide beneath my feet. My walk quickened as I upped the pace and before I knew it I was running, one foot beneath the other in an easy cadence. My arms fell relaxed to my sides and I let my body do what it knows best – run. I felt free and happy. I felt like myself.

I didn’t feel any pain during my run and for that I am grateful. Yet sometimes when I am walking around I feel what I can only hope is phantom pain brought on by the use of my leg again. And I can’t stop thinking about it.

My body has had plenty of time to heal, yet I still feel so broken.  When my hair started falling out this time last year I assumed it was because of my stressful job. When I quit my job a few months later for many reasons other than my health, I also assumed it would start growing back, but it kept falling out faster. Everyone told me when the stress of my wedding was over in November everything would get better. But wedding planning didn’t really stress me out and after the honeymoon my hair loss only got worse and an onset of all new symptoms came to life.  I can’t tell you how many doctors I’ve seen in the past year and every time I think I’m close to an answer the carpet gets ripped from beneath me and I’m left with nothing.

So even though my orthopedic gave me clearance to run, I am afraid. I believe my fear stems deep in my belief if so many doctors can’t figure out what’s going on with my overall health, how can one be so sure my leg is healed and not affected by everything else going on? It’s an irrational fear yet I let it haunt me, limit me and control my decisions.

My legs are strong. Countless miles on the bike, elliptical and rowing machine have only done me a world of good. During a ride Monday I made my way up toward Mt. Vernon Estate and was overwhelmed by what I can only describe as a Runner’s High on the bike.   It was a beautiful day and I was surrounded by the green trees arching over the path and a sense of solitude miles from home. Even the Potomac seemed to glitter in the sunlight and for a moment I believed everything would be okay. If only these moments could last forever.

As I write this I am on a plane headed to Colorado to see my sisters. I see it as an escape, a brief chance for me to restart after a challenging month. I want to immerse myself in the things I find most important: family, friends and nature. The mountains have always held some sort of spell on me and the calmness and clarity I feel when I’m in their presence is exactly what I need right now.

I may not have the answers but I am ready to heal.  I’ve always been ashamed to talk about my health trials and tribulations and I’ve kept them secret for a very long time. For so long I’ve been on this quest to hear a diagnosis finally explaining why I’ve felt so sick for over a year.  I wanted it to validate what I feel is real.  But I know it’s real, and now I’m ready to look at things from a more holistic point of view to try to clear these issues up on my own…and I’m starting by taking better care of myself.

Don’t get me wrong – I still have outstanding doctor appointments I’m not going to blow off, but for so long I’ve delayed starting my healing (in a mental sense) because I was so fixated on having a diagnosis first. I still want to know. But I also want to forgive myself, set myself free from this constant weight pushing me down, and take those steps to finally move forward.

© Allison Donaghy 2016 All Rights Reserved

 

Still Fighting.

“For those days we felt like a mistake,
Those times when love’s what you hate,
Somehow we keep marching on.”

I won’t lie – I’ve been struggling lately.  This post has been floating in and out of my mind for weeks, and the words are still slipping through my fingers.  I’m not quite sure how to articulate how I feel and it’s hard to admit to feeling down.  It’s why I’ve been so quiet lately.  For me, depression always seems to be lurking right around the corner, waiting patiently to strike when I’m already down.  And I am so sick of it.

When the stress fracture first hit I was so sure I would be able to get through it without sinking into darkness.  I was positive I would come out of it physically stronger from the strengthening and cross training I promised to do.  And while I still think I’m going to come out of this stronger it’s for a completely different reason than my physical fitness.  I wouldn’t say I’m blooming (like I stated in my this post) but I’m definitely not crumbling and withering up from all life is throwing my way.  I’m marching on.

I think one of the hardest parts about being in my boot is work.  I love going to work and working with people, but since being put in the boot I’ve had a few choice interactions.  It is as if my boot has taken away my credibility to these individuals, and people never seize to stop amazing me with the hurtful things they say.

Here are some of my favorite replies from a simple, “Can I help you today?”

“I don’t know, can you?” *eyes boot suspiciously*
-“Are you sure I should take your advice? You have a busted leg.”
-“Well that depends.  Did you hurt your leg using what you sell here?”

What makes me most bitter is the automatic judging these people do as soon as they see me.  They don’t know one thing about me, yet here they are making a million assumptions about me and my injury.  They don’t know I’m sick or I’ve been running for 16 years and know a thing or two about the sport.  And by the time they finally ask what happened I don’t want to talk about it because I don’t even know what to say anymore.

Why do I have this stress fracture?  Is it because of poor nutrition?  Does it tie in with all the other health issues I’ve been having lately? Is it from my osteopenia? When people assume my injury is from running too much I’m hesitant to agree because I wasn’t overtraining.  I feel like I’m cursed from choices my old self made.

Lately, my life seems bleak and boring.  I try and cross train most days, switching it up between cycling, rowing and the elliptical.  I watch a lot of TV instead of write.  And I eat a lot of crap instead of nutritious foods.  I’m stressed beyond belief with the constant barrage of medical issues and tests, and I feel like I’m just hanging by a thread here.

I’m tired of being judged but I know this is not something in my control.  I’m tired of letting others’ judgements control me and influence my life in negative ways.  I want to break free and I feel like I am so close but I’m still searching for the key to this cage I’ve been locked in for so long.

“There’s so many wars we fought,
There’s so many things we’re not,
But with what we have,
I promise you that
We’re marching on.”

I am not my injury.
I am not my sickness.
I am not a failure.

I am a fighter.  And I will figure this out.

(Quotes from OneRepublic – Marchin On)

© Allison Donaghy 2016 All Rights Reserved

On Expectations.

“But you’ll never find the answer until you set your old heart free”

“But you’ll never find the answer/ until you set your old heart free.”
-The Oh Hellos

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little lost.  For those of you who may not know, I’m in the midst of my most recent injury: a tibial stress fracture.  Translation: 3-6 weeks no running.  While I’m not particularly dependent on running for my happiness, something about this injury really irks me.  I did everything right: increased my mileage slowly, used good shoes, and rested my body when it asked for it.  I was FINALLY starting to feel in running shape again and like I could consider seriously competing again in my future.  And now here I am.

I can’t shake the feeling of emptiness, fear and doubt.  And its got me thinking about expectations – what I expect from myself, what others expect from me, and what I think others expect of me.  Part of it stems from my stubbornness to feel like I constantly need to prove my self worth to others.  Prove I can one day be fast again.  Prove I can handle an injury with a smile on my face, and prove I can be everything I think others think I can’t be.  That’s a mouthful.  But what I’m getting at is this: in my eagerness to prove, I’m no longer living for myself.

In the early quiet mornings I stand in my kitchen, sip my coffee and stare at blank word documents.  I want to tell my story but I don’t know how.  I want to inspire, but I am afraid my story is too cold to warm others.  I am afraid if I keep failing in the one thing defining most of my life my story will mean nothing.

I remember in 2012 when a knee surgeon sat me down in his cold office and told me I would never run again.  My world collapsed.  And while my walls fell down brick by brick on the inside, I stared at him blankly on the outside, saying nothing.  My whole body felt numb and dark, and my mind screamed, I’ll show you, asshole.

So I ran a marathon the next year and qualified for Boston, and then I ran that the next year.  The pain never ends or stops taking a toll on my training.  I now have arthritis in my knee at the ripe age of 26 and I am for sure looking at a knee replacement in my (hopefully far, far off) future.  But while my body deteriorates my running expectations only grow higher, I have to ask myself why?

If anything, my stress fracture is result of osteopenia and poor nutrition as of late.  The number of medical mysteries plaguing me right now are endless and warrant one or two blog posts of their own.  But the osteopenia haunts me like a sulking shadow of my past, always there to remind me of the unfixable mistake I made years ago.  And while this is a story to tell another time, the pain aches now, deep in my heart and bones.

I don’t want to live for others’ expectations anymore.  Many injuries have debilitated me in the past and I always felt the pressure to come back stronger.  To prove I’m not some mediocre-always-hurt-once-runner.

This time I will grow.  I will bloom.  I will be exactly what I want to be in the moment and nothing more.

These changes don’t happen over night, I know.  I will stumble and fall, ascend to beautiful vistas and descend blindly into dark valleys.  But my soul is tired of trying to be a different person for each being in my life.  I want to be me, whatever that is.

My old heart is scary, but a part of me.  It may be scarred and ugly but it has grown me into the person I am today.  But I’ve held it locked away for so long now, so deep inside me I can feel the poison seep out and run through my veins each day.  And I’m ready to let it go.

 

© Allison Donaghy 2016 All Rights Reserved