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The Boston Decision

For the past several weeks, I have been living in denial about the Boston Marathon. At first, I convinced myself that the pain I was feeling in my knee was just something minor that I would get over within a week. It didn’t matter that it hurt to even walk — all I needed was a few days and I’d be as good as new.

After all, I had big plans for Boston. Plans that included running with some speedy marathoners and chasing down an aggressive PR. And did not include being sidelined due to a stupid injury that came out of nowhere. Even though I’ve been doing this running thing for long enough to know better, a big part of me believed I could will myself to not be truly injured. …because we all know that’s how our bodies work.

But as the pain stuck around and my peak week turned into one week of doing absolutely nothing…and then two…all hopes of a PR went out the window. I let go of that dream and just focused on being able to run again. My sole goal became to finish the race. I figured that as long as I could get myself healthy before Boston, I should be able to handle 26.2, regardless of how slow it ended up being.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. Despite a constant stream of anti-inflmmatory meds coursing through my veins, extra rest, ice and stretching, my stupid knee still isn’t healed. After an unsuccessful run on Monday in which I was both in pain and painfully out of shape, I realized it was time to stop deluding myself.

It was time to admit that I would not be running the Boston Marathon in 2012.

I am not going to pretend that I accepted this gracefully, rationally, and without tears. I know that I’m not the only runner in the history of the world that has needed to drop out of a big race due to injury, nor am I the only one who will be stuck on the sidelines in Boston. I also know that there are other things in life besides Boston and running. And that I have many things to look forward to at the moment.

But there’s something about having a goal that you’ve been working toward for so long taken away from you that erases all rationality. The fact that this is just one bad thing in the midst of a very exciting spring didn’t matter. For awhile, it became all consuming.

Which means that, naturally, I thought a lot about how I would write about my ultimate decision to drop out of the race. At first, I planned to post about how non-runners just don’t understand. How they don’t really grasp that you can put so much of your heart and soul into running. How the fact that “it’s just one race” often has no bearing on how devastating an injury can be. How they don’t realize that it’s not just about the exercise running provides — it’s about my sense of self. It’s about feeling strong, in shape, and confident. And it’s about loving – no, thriving off - the challenge of always striving to be stronger, faster, better.

Many people direct those emotions toward their career. For me, however, it’s always been about my running. It may seem silly, since I will never be fast enough to run professionally…or even on a semi-elite level. I know that I won’t be taking home huge trophies or winning race money anytime soon. But that doesn’t change the fact that running challenges me in a way that nothing else does. So when I can’t do it, well, I’m just not completely myself.

I thought about writing all that in what probably would have come off as a whiny, self-entitled, “woe is me” kind of post. Because even though those things are true, after a little bit of reflection, it became clear that it was me who needed a little bit of perspetive, not those other people.

Injuries suck. There’s no way around that. They are frustrating, depressing, and can make you feel powerless and question yourself as a “real”runner. But — injuries happen. Most runners are forced to deal with injury at some point in their career. Most of the time, this is not the end of the world. You skip a couple of races, lay low for a little while, and then, before you know it, you’re on the road again.

Do I wish I were running Boston? Heck yes (although at this point even running at all sounds amazing). Am I entitled to a little sadness because I’m not? I would say yes again. But do I have the right to mope around, snap at my loved ones and act like my world has ended?

Ummm…no. I have said it in the past and need to remind myself of it now – There is more to marathoning than the Boston Marathon. And there is a whole lot more to life than marathoning.

So on Monday morning, instead of running as far away from Boston as I possibly can, I plan to be back where I was last year — on the sidelines, screaming my lungs out. Allowing myself to be inspired by all the talent around me, and dreaming of one day being back on the course myself. Cursing the world as I push harder, faster, stronger than ever before.

 

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Good luck to everyone running on Monday!! I will be with you in spirit!

 

25 Responses to The Boston Decision

  1. Oh man! I know this was a hard post to write. I was in your spot last year and this post brings back so many emotions. If Boston were not so hard to get into it might be different. And I don’t mean just the qualifying time. It is basically a 2 year process since you have to qualify in a marathon before you register and registration is 7 months before the race. I knew in April 2011 when I missed it because of my stress fracture that the soonest I would be able to get back to Boston would be April 2013.

    It’s so hard being sidelined with an injury and I hope you are able to stay positive and not get down on yourself during this time. I know you have a lot going on these next few months anyway and I hope the time flies by and your knee heals quickly!

    You will get your Boston… And it will be a much better experience getting to run your best race, not just to make it through the race. :-)
    Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom´s last post ..Look who is in Running Times this month?!!

  2. Wow, kudos to you for such a great post. If it were me, I’d probably be whining about it, but it sounds like you are in as good of a place as one can be in this situation. I’m sorry about your injury, but it seems like this is most likely the best decision for your body.
    Carrie´s last post ..Three Things Thursday

  3. Awww — I am just so incredibly sad for you :( I know this is the THE RACE, but I’m sure you will not enjoy it in pain — and really, isn’t that the point? There WILL be other Bostons. There will be more races. And it will be worth the wait.
    Michelle´s last post ..Three Things Thursday

  4. Beautifully written as always, LB. It’s the right decision and I love you for it — and I know that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s OK to feel every single emotion you’re feeling right now and to act a little crazy. You are one of the most level-headed, rational people I know (weird, right?) and you will get through this setback and be back on the roads at top speeds so soon. In the meantime, let it all out and take good care of yourself.
    Ali´s last post ..Thankful Things Thursday: Woo!!!!!

  5. LB, I love this post. I remember how I felt when my injury came out of nowhere before NYC. You wrote exactly how I felt, but couldn’t put into words. My sister told me it was “embarrassing” I cried over NYCM (love her, but she doesn’t get running) and I couldn’t really figure out why I was so upset myself. Thank you for writing this. Its makes all those feelings I felt a few months ago feel validated.

    I sucks. There’s nothing you can do about it. For a long time after my injury, I kept thinking about getting back to where I was – picking up where I left off. That left me frustrating and sad. Around January, I finally started just letting go of what was and starting anew. I’m back running and not where I “left off,” so to speak, before NYCM, but I’m starting small (5ks, 10ks) and I’ll come back to marathons later.

    It takes more strength and courage to make a smart decision than it does to “toughen up” and run. In fact, I think you’re tougher for doing dropping out.

    You’ll get through it. It may suck for a few days. I cried when I saw Central Park a few days after the marathon – thinking about what could have been had I not gotten injured. Its ok. You’ll come back stronger!
    Meggie´s last post ..What’s Up Wednesday Post-Nuun

  6. Hugs to you! Injuries can cause us to be completely blind. A few years ago while chasing down my BQ dreams I began experiencing some IT Band issues. Something that a little rest and recovery could have fixed, but I went to a sports medicine doctor that only fueled my insanity by insisting that if I take cortizone injections that I would be able to train and race in my goal marathon that fall. I guzzled the kool-aid. I toed the start line knowing deep down I was acting a fool and it resulted in me dropping out of the race at mile 22, and ultimately to side-lining me for damn near an entire YEAR! It was horrible. But it taught me a ton and helped me put a lot of things into perspective, and also to get a second opinion from medical professionals when I don’t feel they have my ultimate best interest in mind. I parted ways with that doctor, found a new one that I’m much happier with and eventually was able to bounce back from that injury faster than ever! Take care of yourself and have FUN this weekend!
    Mollyberries´s last post ..Race Recap: Scioto Miles 5K: 19:48

  7. Sable@SquatLikeALady

    This is SUCH a great post. I’m not a runner, but I do consider myself an athlete and I completely relate. I TOTALLY get what you’re saying. And you are handling it SO, so well. Have fun in Boston – even though you won’t be experiencing it exactly how you want. <3

  8. REally sorry to hear that you won’t be able to run. Wonderfully written post. I greatly enjoyed your thoughts and so happy I found your blog. Several of my running friends have found themselves injured and unable to run Boston. I’m the last one left out of a group of us who hasn’t been injured yet. My heart is sad for them but I also know that they have many marathons ahead of them. Hugs to you. And again, great post.

  9. Lauren,

    I’m so sorry to hear this. I can’t imagine what a let down this has been for you. I know you’ve worked so hard for this goal and to have something out of your control stop you must be really devastating. You have every right to be upset and don’t let anyone tell you not to be!

    xoxo
    Brittany´s last post ..Things I like this week (vol. 11)

  10. I’m struggling to write something that isn’t trite or annoying… you are a talented and hard-working athlete and while this is a huge disappointment, it is but a minor setback in what is destined to be an awe-inspiring running lifetime. Definitely allow yourself the space to grieve the loss. I’m so sorry it isn’t happening for you this year in Boston :( (((hugs)))
    XLMIC´s last post ..I’m Too Sexy for my blog

  11. Let me tell you…I know how you feel. I was so excited for this marathon and running with you and running Boston. For whatever reason, it isn’t going to be our day. (Record setting heat? Maybe that’s why…) I’ve definitely gone through phases throughout this injury…from flat out crying (mature, for sure) to just wanting to know WHAT the injury is to simply wishing I could run a mile without pain.

    It was when I realized that all I wanted to do was run that I became more okay with not running Boston. Boston is another marathon, and it would have been awesome to run, but it’s more important to heal and be prepared to run for the rest of my life instead of one marathon. (Not to mention that I’m terribly out of shape and can’t run without a stabbing pain…) Maybe this is a wake up call to get back to running because we love it and not just to chase a time goal. Who knows.

    Just know you’re in good company and that if we can’t run, we might as well cheer our brains out for those who can. We’ll make it through this and somehow we’ll be better for it. (People keep telling me this, although feeling like a sack of potatoes right now…not sure I believe them.)
    Susan´s last post ..why i love the boston marathon

  12. Wow. I’m echoing everyone else’s sentiments in saying thank you for writing this, but I want to say it anyway. You’ve written so eloquently what I’ve been feeling for months now — particularly the part about having running be such a huge part of my identity. I, too, just don’t feel like myself when I’m not running.
    I’m so sorry you had to make this decision, but I admire your courage and clear-headedness. Hope you are able to enjoy Monday and hope you recover from your knee injury very soon!
    Katie´s last post ..I’m Falling Apart

  13. Thanks for writing this, Lauren! I think it is hard for us to accept such events, but knowing that others can understand and support you in this community definitely eases the pain.
    Krissy @ Shiawase Life´s last post ..Dear Boston…

  14. I am so sorry to hear this. I know how difficult is must be. You have every right to whine, even if only a little. Your friends are lucky to have your smiling face cheering for them on the sidelines.

    I hope you have a speedy recovery!! (((hugs)))
    Lisa´s last post ..Tough Chik Tuesday: Almine

  15. Wow!! I am so sorry!! It’s definitely hard to admit and comes to terms something like this– but you’re being smart and you KNOW there will be plenty of other races.

    Thank you for writing such an amazing, well thought out and well written post. You’re an inspiration.
    Meagan @ Managing Meagan´s last post ..The family that builds stuff together, stays together

  16. this was so well said, Lauren. But I’m so sorry about your injury and crappy luck. But you’re right – there will be other marathons, other Bostons, and plenty of other opportunities for you to push it and totally excel. This is just a teeny blip in the radar in the grand scheme. I kind of love that you’ll still be cheering on the sidelines and getting inspired. I plan on doing the same! Hope you’re healing, in the meantime :)
    Kelly´s last post ..Shipping up to Boston

  17. Love your perspective in this post. Yes, it absolutely sucks not to be running Boston, especially when it’s due to an injury but it’s more important to get healthy so you can run faster, stronger, better.

    Have fun cheering on your running mates and allow yourself to be inspired on Monday with the knowledge that you’ll make it back for many more Bostons in the future!

    Best of luck in your recovery.

  18. Hi Lauren,
    When I say I know how you feel, I unfortunately truly know how you feel. I am so sorry. You will be back. As always, I am so poroud of you. Stay positive! I love you! Dad

  19. Aw man, that is the suck. You’re making the right decision, even if it’s the SUCKIEST decision.

    The worst thing for me, in these isntances, is the loss of control. I run/tri to be in control of my life… but inuries … you just can’t fix it, you can’t change it. It’s the worst feeling in the world :(
    LizScott´s last post ..Apropos Exactly Nothing, Sporty Edition

  20. This is a GREAT post. This line in particular is sticking out to me: “after a little bit of reflection, it became clear that it was me who needed a little bit of perspetive, not those other people.”– i need to remember this more often with a lot of things running-related.

    Take care of that knee & keep on healing. There are so many more great races ahead of you. :)
    Alyssa´s last post ..Product Review & GIVEAWAY!! ProFoot Shoe Inserts

  21. Sorry to hear. This was such an awesome, well-written post. There are so many of us that understand that love that you have for running and why it is important to YOU. Have fun this weekend and we will all be looking forward to following you in your big comeback once you get healed!
    Corey´s last post ..TGIF

  22. Amazing post. I absolutely relate to the career/running comment– I give my time, effort and attention to my running, and improving and bettering my performance is much more important to me than getting a raise or a pat on the back from my boss. Work is something I do for other people, but my running is mine, and if I get better, it’s because of my efforts and my efforts alone. Like you, I’ll never be a pro, and I’m certainly not “fast” by a lot of people’s standards, but this is why it hurts more than anything when you can’t run (because of injury, for instance)– it’s your identity, it’s your self, it’s not “working out.”

    Ahh, I’m just repeating everything you said– and you said it much better. Thanks for this post, and I hope you recover sooner rather than later.

  23. Get well soon Lauren. Please run with me next year? Boston 2013!!

  24. Great post. And my heart goes out to you. Feel better, emotionally and physically. Cheer on!
    Emily´s last post ..Beets, iPhone, Best Dad in the World Awards

  25. Awesome post. Injuries suck, but so does heatstroke. And by not running Boston this year, you’ll not only be potentially preventing further injury, but also avoiding a potentially shitty race because of the weather! Even though it really blows having to give up a marathon, this doesn’t seem like such a bad year to be cheering…

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