Sunday, January 26, 2020

HURT100, long run, lots to say...

"And when you get to where you're going, turn around and help her too.  For there was a time, not long ago, when she was you."

I feel as if I owe it to the girl who lands among this long winded post in her search for "Running after surgery" or "Can you run far after you break yourself?" and my favorite, "Will I ever be me again?".  Google was my best friend while on bed rest, hoping for hope. Hoping to read positive stories about triumph and pain that goes away. Googling for hope turned out to be a real sight for sore to you girl, here is my story, full of hope.

7weeks out from my dream race, HURT100, I broke my leg in a trail race.  Sitting in ER I asked the doctor if I could still make it to the race, because bones heal in 4-6weeks, right?  He laughed, told me miracles happen.  Turned out I couldn't even make it over to the race to cheer on my friends or crutch around volunteering. My break landed me with a little plate and 9 pins, which held the bones back in place beautifully.  But the ligament damage & a shard of bone that spiraled to the back of my leg needed more attention and bed...peeing in a husband and son tending to me. Dear Girl, that part is another story, you will learn to depend on others and lean in to love with all pride and ego aside.

Put up a goal.  

I put HURT100 2020 on my mirror, I had exactly a year to go from bed rest, to crutches, to learning to walk in physical therapy, to rehab & finding motion again, to jogging, to running.  Every google story (including my own doctor) said it would be roughly 11 months or more till I'd be running again.  One doctor even told me I'd most likely never run that far again, I never saw that doctor again, proclaiming she was bad for my health. That's your first step-surround yourself with only the best for your mental health!  From there, every day was a GIFT because it was a day closer to running, and that's exactly how you have to fix your focus. Everyday a day closer...

And then I fought daily to find new normals.  Dear Girl, remember, comparison is the thief of joy.  You will have to find ways to poke around problems until you find a solution to how you can enjoy where you are on the way to where you are going. You aren't the same and maybe won't be the same.

With every new baby step forward I believed deeper in my goal of running 100 miles again.  Oh, but Dear Girl, remember what I told you, focus on yourself in the here and now because I was tempted to peek back at the once strong runner I was, the fearless girl who felt she could run forever and would, all by herself sometimes deep into the valleys.  When you are struggling just to wiggle toes and you lose all the feeling in the top of your foot, it is not a "sign" you should change your goal, it means you spend more time on those redundant PT drills of trying to pick up a towel with your big toe and the guy next to it until you can do it. And you keep your hope, whatever you do, hold hope.

3 months post surgery I did my first race, was a race and I was there.  I had just learned to walk again and walked the 5k of a trail race. It was the beginning of "running screwed."  From the start of this whole mess I had to laugh at myself, having the hubs bathe me, crying during physical therapy because I thought I was being given impossible tasks, putting pride aside with all the support that was given to me that I didn't know how to take-laugh, Girl, just laugh.  So, I named my fatty cankle "Runty", she was my new friend, and I'd run got better once I started breathing life and hope to difficult to navigate situations. Um... I think I was last in that walk and I was okay with it.  You will be OKAY, too.  Because being last is so much better than being on the side lines of a life you once enjoyed...remember, new normals.

Around 6 months I was jogging!  Like for real jogging!  I made it up to 10 miles (just once! With walk breaks) and declared that enough to be able to race a half ironman!  You see, if your ultimate goal is 100 miles you do all these other things on the way to the goal that will test your limits, mentally as well as physically.  I thought that would be a great idea.  Dear Girl, I hope you in no way feel like your goal is minimal compared to a 100 mile run, it is NOT.  The point of this is to encourage you to not wait until you think you are ready to begin again. Jump right in and start the journey back to where you hope to return. Baby steps.  The half ironman was really hard!  I questioned my sanity 100 times, I cried, I quit (literally, walked off the course) but then I was encouraged back on the course and finished.  Barely.  As luck would have it, the very man who carried my broken self down the trail after falling was the very man who ran me across the finish line of that half ironman.  It was my longest run since breaking myself and with it came all shades of emotions.  Believe me, it is not always rainbows on the road to recovery.  That race was poop brown! And black with a mix of grey tint. It was just so ugly. Every demon came to demoralize me..."You will never run far again." and the pain, oh the pain!  I was certain the pins were popping out!  But we crossed a finish line and it became the start of crossing many more finish lines...again.

Over the next 6 months I had to go from 10 miles to 100...without getting an injury from over-training, with no feeling in the top of my foot, only minimal motion in the ankle, oh, and the real kicker-on a trail.  I was only jogging the roads so far because the ligaments had yet to reach a place of "readiness" to take on uneven surfaces. Physical therapy was my new hang out! And I loved it!  You better learn to love whatever it is you must do, not what you want to do.  Attitude is everything and I was just so happy to be running. 

2 months later I found out I was actually accepted into HURT100.  Isn't that funny?  My goal wasn't even something certain because we have to enter a lottery then wait...  Once I was "in" I ran every single race I could find on the island!  2 marathons, a couple half marathons, short trail races, and with each one I was slowly getting stronger. I never reached any previous "fast times" you may or may not.  Just keep reminding yourself you are setting new Personal Records!  These will be your best times with this newly put together body part of yours.  If people beat you, do me a favor and smile with a genuine heart, if you pass people, be genuine and wish them well. I'm not sure where you land among a crowd of runners but I do know it is absolutely fair to be consumed with feelings of wanting to win or wanting to simply finish. Just don't beat yourself up for not accomplishing either-because wining and finishing may not come as easy as it once was, whatever your level was.  

2019 was my year of "just wanting to finish".  Some races a finish was no problem, others it was that same monkey on my back telling me it's too soon to be running or trying to go fast. Be careful what you read because almost all post-surgery stories (and doctors) warn against almost everything thing I did-listen to your doctors, I clung to the words of my doctors and they moved mountains for me.  During Ohi'a Volcano Half Marathon the voices were loud again and violent. I entertained asking for a ride back to the finish (and I wasn't even in last place this time!) I just kept hearing echos of those before losing the pins, re-breaking the bones, I was hearing the ligaments pop over and over in my head the way I heard them during my fall (I hope you don't have post trauma flashbacks). I tried to be brave but I went weak.  I hurt. My ankle hurt and I limped through the finish.  But I finished. I just wanted to finish everything I started but realized that might even be too big a goal for year one. After that race I had another check-up, ultrasounds and x-rays all said I'm GOLDEN on the road to recovery, as for the pain, it was a new normal, arthritis had set in, the cold makes my bones ache where the plate and pins are set, and the nerve damage is still sorting itself out...but I was normal.

Then came my big test for HURT100...

Peacock 55 miler...what the heck!?  That race was a giant puke fest, full of crawling and crying.  And demons, "You can hardly finish a 55 mile race, how will you make 100?!"  Let me just tell you, the voices will attack you harder and more loudly the closer you get to reaching your goal.  Don't ask me why, but they sound real and you may be tempted to entertain them-don't.  Search for something positive in the darkness.  That race left me in a puddle of concern as just about everything that could go south did...but there were 2 things that left me with hope.  My ankle didn't hurt and I had wonderful people pulling for me, like those who helped me make it to the finish.  I just had to get my mileage up and learn to eat on the run again.  3 months to go, I could do it.

2 weeks before the race I decided to run a 50k.  This was actually for a friend.  In fact, I found the more you do something for others and take focus off yourself the less you will see the struggles.  Hilo to Volcano was for our friend Sylvia who was hit by a car during a training run.  I won't go into that, but a couple weeks before the race she was the one who encouraged me to do it.  Not many think it's wise to run 31 miles soon before a 100 mile race but she understood my leg, heart, and mind needed it.  I ran for her. It was a beautiful day in many, many ways.  All my loose ends got wrapped up and I was now emotionally ready for HURT100.  Dear Girl, the point of that thought is this, sometimes you will have to do things others may not understand.  Whatever that may be, listen to your heart and take a page from my story, this is your healing and it doesn't have to reflect anything other than your heart and goals. You do you.  By now I also hope your demons have left you, mine finally left me after nearly a year of bad dreams and confidence crushing ping pong ball games I played with them.

Now to HURT100...

I was so excited.  Nothing but gratitude lingered within me.  It all came together, a full year later from my fall, all the people who helped me.  My family.  My students.  My doctors who were pulling for me (and shocked I was running long before Scientific healing said I would/should). The HURT Ohana who welcomed me back.  My training partners. My crew who came to support me. The list was long and the race went like this...

Loop 1, miles 0-20.
Home.  I felt so at home on the trails, as if I was never taken from them.  I breezed the first loop, calm and thankful.  It was my loop to just soak up the moments, to take it all in.  Hug the volunteers, talk with other runners, smile and laugh.  It was nothing but sheer happiness that first loop. A finish never felt like a question.

Loop 2, miles 20-40.
Love.  I was feeling so much love.  My husband was out there as a race photographer, I would stop to hug and kiss him and say, "Do you believe we are doing this!?"  We had tears because we shared the same long road back to this moment.  I shared this loop with Suzanna Bon.  She is a trail running legend who went on to take 2nd place.  She has been running this sport for many, many years.  Setting course records and accomplishing things I'd only ever dreamed of.  She's also 55 years old and reminded me that women can go far into this sport later in life.  It was as if I had my own personal escort through the mind of one of the best trail runners sport has held complete with hope on my next chapter of running.  Again, a finish was never in question.  

Loop 3, miles 40-60. 
Rodeo.  At mile 47 I got to pick up Nick Muragin, a Big Island friend.  I've actually never ran with him so right out the gate I asked him about rodeo...he used to ride bulls professionally and I thought having been a barrel rider during college days we'd have something to talk about. Pff!  We never shut up!  The loop flew by!  And I was over an hour stronger/quicker than my first HURT100 in 2018!  That loop was my favorite loop of the race.  We kept passing Mark (Sylvia's husband), he would remind me to "Stay happy" and I was.  I was running happy-happy to be in my favorite race in the world, happy to be feeling so strong.  Happy I had a crew over here to help me.  Initially I wasn't going to have any crew support because I didn't want to let anyone down.  I was afraid I'd be too slow or not be able to make it.  That was pride & fear again, but we all know fear is a liar and pride is a soul sucking thief. Near the end of loop 3 I started to get really tired. The midnight to 4am miles are absolutely ugly for this woman who enjoys 8:30pm bedtimes! I just wanted a small nap-Nick kept me going and someone gave me caffeine gum. It got better after that and the fun was back on...a finish still never felt like a question.

Loop 4, miles 60-80.
In the woods.  I had Grant Miller now, he's probably the happiest guy I know and his help came when I was literally stuck in the woods. I've shared so many miles with Grant over the years so I could let my guard down and keep it real.  From about mile 67-80 we went from good to questioning a finish.  I don't remember much of this loop, not because my head wasn't there, I just spent so much energy trying to rationalize how on Earth I'd get through this loop because my leg was now hurting.  I kept thinking of Sylvia, she loved this race and always ran herself into places of deep hurt.  The swelling was now pouring out of my shoe and twinges of sharp pain would shoot up the side of my leg.  I'd scream then laugh, laugh because I was happy and felt good everywhere else, scream because I was scared.  Grant and I came to terms (The doctors we are! Not!) that I couldn't hurt myself any worse than it was so I should keep going...that was a 3am thought, I laugh thinking about it now.  He also said nobody would blame me if I stopped, I mean I shouldn't even be in the race this soon after the injury. Thought two was stupid.  Too many people pulled for me, did so much for me, believed in me.  With that we made it back to the Nature Center and did some the pace I was going I'd finish the race with 4 minutes to spare...the 36 hour cut off was closing in.

Loop 5, miles 80-100.
Ouch. Just ouch.  I picked up Kelly Muragin now and her little hula Filipino tita self became my trail angel!  We danced through the sections we could with girl talk and laughter that took my mind off the worries of being able to finish.  Her tuff-love became a pain killer for every moment I felt like crying.  I never felt sorry for myself out there, she never let me,  I just didn't know how to move any faster than I could.  We would close in on the cut off points with hardly any room (in time) to spare.  My mind was strong, my energy was strong, my heart was willing, but every step slowly got worse.  I stopped looking down.  I wanted to loosen my shoe laces so badly because the swelling was so tight in my shoe but I was afraid to look.  All I wanted was a fun loop 5 with Kelly because she loves the trails like I do and we both love to get lost from our real lives deep within the woods.  In many ways we are similar, in our marriages, our motherhood, our friendships. Despite being unable to run through the woods and finish the way I'd dreamed of finishing I never had to say a word, unspoken words she understood and she became my trail angel.  We did finish in time, 34 minutes and 1 second to spare.  I hugged her, hugged my husband, hugged Nick, hugged Jacob my training partner, hugged anyone willing to hug me, I just wanted to keep hugging people because it helped me feel safe.

HURT100 is such a special race and by far my favorite.  From the incredible people, both volunteers and race directors, to the runners themselves and their families who become your family out there, it is just so incredible to will the body and mind forward beyond places it's never gone before.  My race landed me back in the doctors office, your goal Dear Girl, might put you back there, too.  I have one question for you, only you can answer it, is your goal worth it?  

All my x-rays and results came back promising many beautiful years running screwed, as we decided despite some pains and tugs of pins, it's better for me (at least for now) to leave all my hardware in. That is something you may face one day-to keep your "screwed" life or not.  As for new goals, I have put all the races I want to do this year on a map and once again, they all lead me back to HURT100...

My year towards HURT100 captured in photos... 

 The fall down at Kualoa, Duane and another pair of muscles carry me down the hill.

  Bed rest done, PT bound!  

Always worked very hard in PT, rehab, and mobility exercises...hehehe
Hearts and Trails trail run, I did the 5k, walk.  Janet was part of my crew for HURT100 (and the race director of Hearts and Trails).

 First run back!  5k, I started in the back, 5 minutes after the gun went off because I was scared of anyone bumping into me.  One of the original HURT100 guys is a local on our island, seeing him gave me all the motivation I needed to get back running again.
With Duane, again.  He helped me to the finish line of Honu Half Ironman.
 First Marathon back.  Kainoa was so worried, he hung at the finish line for me all race and ran through with me.  We won the thing, no idea how it happened but it felt so good to run 26 miles again!  My longest run since the break and sharing it with Kainoa was the best gift of all.

 My brother Kawika took me on my first trail run back!  And more trail runs after that.  I actually crawled in some sections, my ankle wasn't ready for the uneven surfaces and just wasn't bending YET in ways it needed to.  On this day the road felt super long but being on a trail was medicine to my heart and soul.

 My first run back to Waimanu.  I got a rainbow the moment I saw her...I cried.  This is my favorite trail on the island so being here was like going home again.

 The day we found out we invited to HURT100!  Such a beautiful moment!

My Big Island trail sisters, these are the women responsible for helping me trust God in all of this.

 Peacock 55 finish line, Nate and his daughter brought me home.
My second marathon, the hubs at the finish line...I just love him and Kainoa for all they did for me this past year.

 And a month later another marathon shared with my trail sister from Maui!!  I just kept running every race I could find, not so much to race, but to start and finish things.  I needed to remember how to finish things I start.  My mind had a lot of healing to do after not having finished the race I broke myself.  I was 2 miles from the finish line and tried to run on that broken leg until I just couldn't take the pain any longer.
After the marathon we did a loop of HURT100 with Solange and Dana, our Oahu trail friends.  It was a great 50 mile run day and even better being on the HURT loop with friends and Mikey and Michelle.

 Hilo to volcano finish line... happy as I ever. Photo:  Mikey Brown
 Bib pick up for we go!  Photo: Mikey Brown

Loop1!  Photo:  Mikey Brown
Finish of loop 1 with Tiffany and Grant, man I was so thankful being out there!

Loop 2 with Suzanna and Bobby.  Photo: Brent Wong
Loop 3, my favorite loop and view!  I love Nu'uanu.  Photo: Gary Wang
More loop 3 with Suzanna. Photo:  Paul Smith
Finishing with Kelly...pain face.  Photo; Agusto DeCastro
Finished!  With Nick, Kelly, and Mikey.  Photo: Agusto DeCastro

If your're wondering what I ate for 100 miles and my first ever run over 26 miles that I didn't puke or bonk... Spring Energy, rice balls, potatoes, 2 bananas, salt and vinegar chips (lots of them!), water melons, green tea, Bee Boys apple cider vinegar, and Malama mushroom powder. Photo:  Brent Wong

If you read this far along then you are probably one of those people that have been with me all year long from fall to finish line.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for any kind word or gesture given to me.  While I don't exactly know how to pay everyone back for the kindness I do hope you feel thanked, as I do thank you so very much.  From my doctors at Kaiser, to my husband and son for being with me literally all day everyday, I just love you!  To Kawika, Jacob, and Justin, thank you for waiting on the trails for me, I know it was much slower but I needed you guys and appreciate you being there for me.  To the Millers for supporting my HURT100 dreams in all you did for me, including crewing, I love you like family.  To my crew with Nick and Kelly, JP giving us your home, Tiffy showing up how you always do, thank you for all you did to get me through 100 miles, it was never a solo adventure!  To my sisters Bron & Brooke-I love you.  To my parents, sorry I keep worrying you sick.  Thought you'd be used to it by now.  To Bee Boys, Spring Energy, Jesse Houlding, and Malama Mushrooms thank you so much for taking good care of me.  All the people who shared miles with me, thank you... they were my favorite miles of the year!  hehehe.  AND... to the HURT100 Ohana, you are by far, the best...words fall short on the life I have now that I have a trail life. I'm sure there is more to say but Kainoa wants to say bedtime prayers and I still like tucking in my 13 year old while he lets me...night!

Love Bree. xx

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Broken leg girl...

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, ocean, sky, beach, child, outdoor, nature and water
I spread my arms out as wide as I could reach and took a deep breath, one of sheer appreciation, like a bird soaring on her wings.  I'd just reached the top of a big climb and was now on the fun part tucking in and out of pretty trees just before we run down hill towards the finish line, 2 miles to go.  A feeling that lingers often was consuming me, one reminding me that my life is truly a gift, and I agreed.  I'd been running 50 miles at a single time, 100 mile weeks that left me feeling strong not worn down, up and over volcanoes, in and out of valleys, so many miles that taught me to be strong, taught me never to surrender to difficult days, ones that always left me thankful for my legs, lungs, and health.  I ran a lot, it was something that became a gift because of the places around the island it was taking me, the challenges I was overcoming because of it, and the friends I was sharing the journey with.

Tears began to fill my eyes, like a happiness you can't really tell anyone about, they have to feel it for themselves.  I was now on the very down hill I sat on my butt and scooted down the year before. The one I clung to the rope for what felt like survival the year before.  But this year I was running down, the boys helped me learn to find confidence and shake my fear. Just before reaching the bottom, almost in disbelief that I'd actually run down it, I said out loud, "Love the Giver more than the gift." Because I did and it was my praise and worship that Sunday morning.  Running had become a gift. I spend most my life appreciating everything so dearly that I have to believe there is a purpose for it all, the hard and the easy, it helps me never to take any of my gifts (family, friends, wife life, motherhood, my home, my job) for granted and to try and avoid never neglecting other parts of life that I am fortunate to have.

Image may contain: one or more people
Then I heard a snap.  It was loud and it was me.  I laid there in the mud unable to get up, had it just been the bone I'd of been able to make it, but when it's the ligaments too, you have nothing to support your ankle to hold you up.  I tried though, I didn't know any of that and just thought it was the bone.  I tried to push my bone in as it was trying to peek out of my skin, I thought if I did it would go back in place and all would be fine. I begged for somebody to help me.  My friend Susie's brother n' law was waiting near the bottom for his wife and came to help, he couldn't carry me down alone and I was too afraid to sit there by myself.  I begged him to stay with me, to call Mikey, to fix it, to tell me what to do.  Everything after that happened so fast and before I knew it I was sitting in the ER with the very words I said just before falling staring me in the face...

Do you still love the Giver more than the gift? Do you still appreciate your entire life, not just the running?  Can you be happy if your new normal does not include running for a few months?  And what about HURT100, the race you poured your heart and soul into over the last year?  It's only 7 weeks away, can you be happy without it?  I can and I will.

Of course I asked the doctor if I could be running in 7 weeks, he said, "Miracles can happen." I liked that doctor so much.  HURT100 was not in my cards, I wasn't even off crutches or strong enough to be there to cheer on my friends.  Once I was told I damaged ligaments I knew my only option was to surrender.


If it was just a bone I could still put up some goals and plans and play around with healing, this was my 6th broken bone after all.  But ligament damage was new territory for me, I'm a stranger with no experience.  If I wanted to find the purpose for my pain and see the beauty in my struggle I had to take every day a day at a time...or I'd go crazy.  I'm a planner, a girl who writes notes on the mirror as often as some people do laundry, I like to plan adventures for the weekend and find new places to get lost so I can find whatever it is my life needs.  I'm not that good at relying on others and independence has been a secret hiding place for my anxiety, it doesn't find me there if I just do everything myself.

So I let go of HURT100, of having control, of hiding out on long trail runs where I was safe, and I leaned in and on everyone that offered to help me. It was new and it was scary, I cried a lot in my humbled state.  I peed in bed pans after surgery, I ate food I didn't like without complaint because someone took the time to cook for me, I let our tidy home become a bachelor pad that Mikey and Kainoa had created.  I let a substitute take control of my students and class for 3 weeks while I had bed rest, and I kept on surrendering every single day...

And I was happy. Today is 11 weeks since I fell down that trail, 10 weeks since surgery, and 2 weeks since getting off my crutches.  While embracing my new normal I reached out to my friend on Oahu, Malory, who had done similar damage to her ankle about a year before me.  She's one of Hawaii's best trail runners who took a hard fall but rose up stronger. I wanted to be like her so I'd often write her as I went through the new stages of healing and she'd help me, just having someone understand was good for the soul (because bless their hearts people mean well but they are so very damaging with their words as you try to gain control over your healing). In fact, today was her 1 year anniversary of being broken, wearing the same scar with a plate and 10 screws like me, and she raced 60ish miles in NZ coming in 8th female overall...hope floats.  She's been my go-to in much needed moments of courage and learning to shut out voices that I just don't dare to believe.  That's why I'm writing this.  I feel like it's my turn to leave behind my healing to the next in line, because it helped me so much having her that it only feels fair to share.

Breaking yourself has 3 parts...How it happened, healing, and your return (to whatever it is you were doing before you broke yourself).  I'll share some of my healing stories now before I forget them.  I'm on the "return" part of my story and LOVING it!  They say the healing is the hard part and the return is the fun part, I can agree with that...for sake of this getting super long Dear Broken Friend I'm going to tell you more about my return another day, I only recently ditched my crutches, after all.

So if by chance you stumbled across this while sitting in what feels like the side lines of your life, you aren't side lined, this is just your new normal and it gets better.  I searched every website, blog, journal article, and post I could find on "returning to running after a broken leg", on "healing ligaments" on "who knows what" in my search for hope, for a return to running, that I'd be strong again.  It's scary because some of what I found (as every break is different) told stories about never regaining full range of motion, of damage so bad you lose feeling, or the hardware in your body being rejected, the list was long.  SO I decided to only read Malory's responses and write my own story with my doctors guiding me along.

Week 1:  Laying around in a thong because my husband picked out my clothes and changed me all that week.  He bathed me and cooked for me.  It was a real perk for our marriage, all that closeness with nothing to do but laugh at the situation.  I was beyond fortunate he was able to take my first 3 weeks off work to help me.  We binge watched Narcos, Dexter, and chick flicks.

Week 2:  Post surgery.  The swelling went down enough for surgery, in came the medicines. I got a plate and 10 screws.  The surgery is super easy, you just sleep the best sleep of your life and wake up looking fabulous! Not really, but now the healing begins.  Until I actually had surgery it felt like a waist of time, in fact I told my doctor that, because you can't even begin healing till they get in there and make it all right again.  I was super motivated this week now that Humpty Dumpty was put back together except I felt horrible.  The medicine made me a complete mess.  I was on the hard stuff which made me constipated so they gave me something for that, which made me dizzy so they gave me something for that, which made get the point.  The pain was out of control but taking 4-5 different pills everyday, multiple times a day was too much for me so I quit them on day 2 cold turkey.  I was supposed to wean myself because the body needs to rest to heal and you can't relax in pain...well...I can't relax when my head is going crazy!  I threw a tissue box at my husband and a temper tantrum.  He got me all sorts of fruits and veggies to juice, it was a total detox of drugs that had me back to me-in pain.  I always say you have to feel to heal and those drugs were just masking my pain and causing my body to react in ways I'd never experienced life.  That was a wild week in the Brown house to say the least.

Week 3-5 Purpose!  I told myself these weeks on bed rest then crutching around have a purpose and it's my job to find it.  I truly believe that.  There is always a purpose in what happens to us.  I am still allowing more to surface as I'm not fully healed but I think my purpose was time with my husband.  He went through a pretty painful season of depression just before my accident and I escaped a lot into the trails to avoid us failing to understand each other through it. That is a really long story in and of itself but it took two people who loved the hell out of each other caused them to feel alone.  I tried to talk. To listen. Neither worked.  It was a darkness for him that I could not fix but being broken and on bed rest for a couple weeks gave him purpose.  He spent his days caring about me and I was there.  I had no choice, I couldn't get up without his help so we'd lay there side by side all day and night.  All along that was all he needed, not me talking or begging to listen. We grew closer than we've ever been and all of sudden something so beautiful such as marriage made sense to us.  I'd rather miss HURT100 with a broken leg all to find a love like this.  Like I said, its a really long story but tucked deep inside a struggle there is meaning and reason and something beautiful will come of it.

Week 6 Freedom begins.  A little anyways.  I broke my right leg so driving only now became a reality once again, with my left leg that is.  Yes, I became a great driver with the left leg!  Life starts to feel stable, you are so comfortable with yourself by now it's almost like you could carry on this way as if this is all you've ever done.  Some people get to start weight bearing a little at this point, not me.

Week 7. Shhhh...It's in these weeks many will try to tell you "you'll be stronger after this", "maybe you needed to learn to appreciate", "it's life trying to slow you down".  It's up to you to believe this stuff or not. Lots will come your way and you may or may not snap.  I'm just warning you now that everyone has an opinion and you will hear it.  Mikey had to remind me that it's just people trying to care-I agree.  But do you...ignore, delete, block, I did all of the above to keep myself focused on what I believe.  But can I share my favorite one, "So you're done running now, right?"

Week 8 post surgery (9 since the break) I was able to attempt to walk!  Though most broken bones are healed by now I was left non weight bearing to give the full 8-9 weeks for my ligaments.  I couldn't even swim by now (and still haven't!!) because the boot kept rubbing my cuts open and if you get an infection they have to take the hardware out and redo the entire thing! My doctor was awesome, he told me I can put as much weight down as I can handle.  I asked him a dozen times if he was sure, is the bone healed all the way, can I really (because I know I can tolerate a lot of pain).  We took that boot right off and I walked out of his office like a baby deer taking her first in a wobbled around uncoordinated.  But I was crutch free!

Week 9 begins some awesome PT!  Well, I'd been in PT for a couple weeks now but this gets serious!  You have to learn to push through the atrophy, the scar tissue, the discomfort.  We have this window after being "stuck" that gets harder to regain range of motion if you don't get after it right away and stay on it.  I did every PT exercise like it was my job.  And I have an awesome PT, he never once gave me 3 sets of 8-10, he told me to go till fatigue, so I would do 100 in honor of HURT100.  Again, you will get super sweet people meaning very well, "slow down", "take it easy", "don't rush", but you do you.  Listen to your PT and doctor, because they know what your xrays, scans, charts, and leg look like best.  And for crying out loud, listen to your leg. It will let you know if it needs tuff love or a rest.  I'm going to share all my workouts on a side link here real soon as they are great if you are recovering from a break or just took 3 months of your life off exercise and need to start from scratch like me...

Week 10...I'm here right now and today I rode my bike outside for 3 miles with Kainoa!  I can walk without a wobble this week and the swelling is very little these days, but it's still here and it may be here for up to a year they say!  Yikes!  It's also perfectly normal so don't be worried.  At this point you feel like you could walk a mile or 5 (I haven't attempted either of those yet) and all of a sudden goals, hopes, plans, dreams, start to flood your surrendered state of mind once again.  I really like this week.  Its a beautiful balance of peace, patience, surrender, yet HOPE and a finish line are in sight.  I mean, maybe there is no finish line to this, you aren't ever the same after you change you life for months at a time and you will still have to learn to find new normals as you go until you are back running 100 mile weeks and feeling great (at least for me). If I'm as fortunate as Malory I will be running at 3 months... that is just around the corner... But again this is my story and I've surrendered to whatever it will be.

Ps...some articles, posts, stories, recovery blogs say a year and maybe never before you are running again, don't read those ones. Hope floats.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Iwaki Sunshine City Marathon...

Current Mood:  Moved.

Life is so different for me doing a sport I love for no money at all (If you're a new reader of my long winded posts I used to race triathlon, often getting fortunate enough to earn some bling).  Have you ever tried to simply do anything without a string attached?  Like give a gift and expect nothing in return?  I think that's how you know you really love something.  You can do it often, everyday, rain or shine, happy or sad, get nothing or everything in return, and still care about it...and for me, still be moved.

I'm home now from Japan and once again, as I always am, better for leaving home & having an experience.  Let me rephrase that, "share an experience."  As I get older life is showing me how precious the people around us are and how much they enrich all that we do.  In this case, the wonderful crew at The Kauai Marathon and Iwaki Sunshine City Marathon,  what a bunch of beautiful people. Oh, add to that the Aussie runners from the other "Sister City" of Townsville!

What exactly just happened?  Let's rewind to September 2017.  I ran and got super lucky with the win at the Kauai Marathon, on a whim, on a mission to collect lots of miles for HURT100 (the 100 mile race I was training for).  Every single mile I ran had the sole purpose of moving me towards my dream of becoming an ultrarunner and finishing HURT100.  I've always considered running the Kauai Marathon (mostly because I like hills & heat).  It came the day after a 50k race and smack in the middle of a 70 mile week, so why not go get humbled...and that I did.  Kauai itself is a must-do for any runner living in Hawaii as it is truly island style, from the chickens parading the streets, to the locals all up in your face while running telling you, "Get it girl, come on now, just bust this thing out, mmm girl, get it", to the food *you know Hawaii loves food!, to the race directors making sure you are welcomed like family, and finally to every single runner in the race "experiencing" it together-I kid you not!  It's the only road race I have ever run that felt like a trail race because everyone supported each other so strongly.  Back to that winning part, I'm not trying to brag, I'm just trying to loudly share that this race GIVES THE WINNER AN ALL EXPENSE PAID TRIP TO JAPAN TO RUN THE IWAKI SUNSHINE CITY MARATHON!  Did you hear me?  Actually, Michael Wardian won but had prior race obligations elsewhere so the trip went over to the female winner.  *Note: Every other year they send female then male, ect. As for the Sister City part, Townsville, Australia and Iwaki Japan are all united with Kauai because of a buoy that came loose over in Japan during a storm years ago and landed in the waters off the coast of Kauai... I bet I just butchered that story as my Japanese is no bueno.  Just take to heart the 3 cities are family and each year they each send runners from their races to the Sister Cities to share a marathon together...unique if you ask me.

Now for the run/fun part!  Iwaki took hold of my heart, held it super close, then set me free, unapologetically afraid to experience every single opportunity for all that it is worth.  The moment we stepped off the plane we were greeted to the most welcoming embraces by two gorgeous Japanese women, Satomi &Akari, who became friends before the trip was over.  They showed us the town where the 2011 tsunami took out most the village including some of their loved ones, they gave us a lesson in culture that could never be learned in a book, they shared with us history that we don't learn in school, and they allowed me the freedom to ask every question under the sun (you know I am so curious about everything!) without judgement or making it a racial thing.  We shared more meals, hours upon hours of driving & laughter, an aquarium visit, a hula show, meeting the mayor and a giant welcome dinner (all eaten while standing!), and my personal favorite-a trip to the temple.

If you know me, I LOVE seeing temples, churches, any place where God is praised and people give worship to something/someone higher than themselves.  It just moves me to learn about and hear about how others go through life.  Maybe because I know we all experience highs and lows and without my faith I know I'd never make it through my own personal battles.  I wanted to see how they deal.  I spent some time wiping tears that's for sure.  I asked a lot of questions, dug deep into the hearts of my new Japanese friends, and tried to do more listening than usual...forgive my big mouth.  At the end of it all I got to reach in and grab a trinket with my 2018 fortune.  As a firm believer in fortune cookies-just kidding, but I do find sheer entertainment in them, I was pretty excited about having a for real Japanese fortune read for me.  Everything Akari read to me was pretty enough I allowed myself to be entertained just enough I'd put a bit of pep in my step that 2018 is gonna be a good year.  In Japan they have this tradition that if you don't like your fortune you don't have to be "tied to it."  For real, I loved that!  I respected that!  We aren't defined by what it says about us.  So...if you don't like it you can tie it in a bow on a tree and walk away from it believing bigger and better for your life.  Ah... refreshing. Take note dear reader, we are not defined by what anyone says about us.  If they call you a name or hurt you, tie it in a pretty bow on the tree and walk away believing there is a greater blessing to your life than the hurts that you just opened.

Onto the race!  By the time we actually got to the start line I admit to being equal parts very excited and equal parts exhausted.  Liz, the Aussie runner gave me a wonderful nugget of advice, "We aren't here for a PR but an experience."  I did my best to believe that and was refreshed just embracing my opportunity to be in Japan.  Except, you know me, and perhaps the Japanese culture, too, everything has an intention and strong purpose.  You will give your all.  So... I lined up with my goal of busting out a sub 2:55 and did not get it, at all. I ran a 3:05, 3rd place female, and felt proud of my efforts.  That was all that I had on the day.  As for the course it was windy, hilly, and chilly.  The streets were lined in some areas as if a parade was going on and other areas were silent except for your thoughts of what happened here, at least for me it was.  I kept thinking about the tsunami as we ran where the wave once covered the street.  I tried to feel for the people and tried to keep moving the way the town had only that choice, too, to keep moving.  My favorite part of the course is how they call the finish line the "goal".  I LOVE that.  From now on I am crossing goals!  Because isn't that so true?!  It's a goal, we make it to the goal...but we aren't really finished.  We always have more and more and more...

During the race my favorite part was running with one of the local girls.  We stayed together for about half the race.  She was a crowd favorite for sure, while I can't translate just what words were being cheered for her I could understand that they wanted her to be stronger and come out victorious.  I understand.  We had a few elbows at the start and some exchanges of position, but after a couple miles we became teammates.  We shared "we got this" and "we can do this" and "sugoi" and "gambate" and thumbs up.  I think that that point it made the spectators happy seeing the local girl and white girl "running peacefully".  Our world is such a mess I too embraced this point of the race more than any other.  After the half way point she began to fall behind a little, I kept looking back for her and motioning for her to stay with me.  On an out and back we smiled and cheered each other on.  For me, it was as beautiful as the sunrise Japan is known for, having peace with people and yourself.

Crossing the finish line I was more tired than HURT100.  It took so much for me to press on and dig when emotionally it had been a couple days of just feeling so much.  I'm one of those people that can handle physically taxing things more than emotionally taxing things.  Not sure why travel does that to me, but it does and I'm thankful for it because I love having life enriched like it gets all because my mind is opened.  Anyways, it was incredible, all of it.  A gift given to me from the team at Kauai Marathon and Iwaki Sunshine City Marathon that will forever bless me, be remembered for a long, long time, and something I can't repay...a for real gift.