There’s nothing like a nice fall on your ass in the woods to put things in perspective. I am very fortunate, it was a minor tumble. I have a twisted ankle and a self-diagnosed sprained-ish thumb. Currently, I’m a girl without a race registration, so there was no panic that followed my trail-runner-blunder on Saturday. After a good cuss, my partner and I ran on a while, but I knew by the two-mile mark I needed to turn around.
An afternoon of icing and putting my foot up helped, but dang it, ouch. And how long am I gonna be out? I don’t wear injury well, but who does? Fortunately, mine is very minor. So minor that it’s not what this post is about.
My running partner, Leah, (who blogs over at Trail Smitten Mom) felt a pop in her foot on a long run we were on together 5 months ago and soon discovered she had a torn foot and severe plantar fasciitis. What followed was months of wearing the dreaded “boot”, countless tests, exams, MRIs, massage, acupuncture, herbs, meds, the whole enchilada.When she got injured she WAS a girl with a registration – to run the Siskiyou Outback 50K. We trained for it together. It was going to be our first ultra. But her foot was far from healed when race day came. As hard as it was starting that race without her, and as brave as she was sending me off down the trail with a big smile on her face, I know she was heartbroken. She wondered if she’d ever be able to run again, especially long distances.
The healing time felt like eons for me, much longer for her. And it put a strain on our relationship. We saw each other during those months on play dates with our kiddos, but it’s almost impossible not to talk about running with your running partner. I was sad, she was sadder. We talked about that. We cried. We got closer. She started to heal.
And she certainly didn’t take her injury lying down. When she wasn’t in the boot, she became a swimming and biking queen, even completing a self-made sprint triathlon. What a stud! She was determined to stay in shape and even more determined to run again. I was intimidated and wondered if she’d take me back, just a simple ol’ runner. She was becoming quite the athlete.
Though still sore, Leah is making a comeback. Lucky for me, we’re back on the trails together, chatting away the miles, sharing those intimate stories that only the dirt and the trees get to hear. She tells me she learned a lot during that time and I can see it in her face. She is softer, more compassionate. It was good for me to see her vulnerable side. It was good for me to struggle with trying to be a friend to her while she was hurting.
And it was humbling. Her injury has left me feeling grateful for the days I can run and cautious on days when I’m sick or feel the slightest injury looming. It also helped me remember that while life is so fragile, our spirits are so strong, especially yours, Leah. Happy Thanksgiving, partner.