Remember him? His formal name is Voldemort, but I call him Voldy (for short). He's that lovely (not!) 6-inch scar over my right knee, and he's been a part of my life since June 29, 2017.
People often say "it's the journey, not the destination," and it's certainly been an interesting ride this past year. What started out as nearly no mobility (due to the mandatory healing of the extensive suture seam, following surgery) recently came full circle with Voldy's fastest half marathon pace at the R'n'R Philly. What's ironic is that it happened exactly one year since he went for his first run with me.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
How about we highlight a few of Voldy's milestones from this past year, as he and I got better acquainted?
September 16, 2017 - our first run.
After a 3-month running sabbatical, my surgeon gave me the green light to resume running (but with caution). It was a Saturday morning. I purposely did not set my alarm because I wanted this endeavor to be in full daylight so I could cherish every moment. I headed out around 7:00 and walked about 1/4 mile to warm up (in addition to some foam rolling and dynamic warm-ups before leaving the house). When I broke into a run, I could feel my eyes welling up and there was a painful lump in my throat. I felt ZERO aches, pains, or stiffness. My goal was to run for 3 city blocks, then walk for 2...and I did that for a total of 3.5 miles. Feeling the sweat rolling down my back, squinting into the sun and double-knotting my laces...everything was total bliss.
I had no grandiose goals for finish times, and I was prepared to walk if need be, but I was hoping to run the entire 3.1 miles if possible. I knew my endurance was fine (heck, I had been power-walking all summer for much farther distances). I was so excited to pin on a race bib, though, that I was willing to take whatever the day gave me. All went well, and I finished just under 30 minutes....probably my slowest 5K ever, but it was a major victory in my rally back.
Initially, I registered for this race because of its affiliation with the IMT Des Moines Marathon weekend (this race was on the Saturday of marathon weekend, and the marathon itself was the next day). I knew I could easily walk the entire five miles if my running wasn't completely back, and I could also do intervals with walking. As it turned out, I was able to run the entire 5-mile course (in between intermittent rain fall, in a dry cleaning bag, none the less). What's more, I was able to snag a 3rd place age group win!
I had registered for the R'n'R way back in March, long before there was any emergency surgery on the radar. Having spent the entire summer power-walking (because I could not run), my legs had stayed strong and my cardio endurance was in peak form (I had just finished a marathon 10 days prior to my surgery in late June). Obviously, I had to be very cautious training for this race. I slowly transitioned to more running (with only minimal walking intervals), but kept my pace comfortable. The R'n'R Las Vegas was, indeed, my slowest 13.1, but I honestly did not care. I ran it with a fun friend, Marcia, and we took periodic walking breaks while enjoying the sights and sounds of the Vegas strip. There were tears in my eyes as I crossed that finish line, realizing that I had successfully returned to distance running and my rally back was complete.
This was my first time ever running the Grand Blue Mile (one of many events held in conjunction with the annual Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa). It also was my first time ever doing a 1-mile race, so I really had no idea of racing strategy. This race attracts a pretty big crowd of fast competitors, and has a substantial pay-out for the top finishers. Oh, and did I mention I had just run the Drake Road Races Half Marathon two days prior? Anyways, this was held on a Tuesday evening, and we got there just in time to do a short 1-mile warm-up before jumping into the line-up at the start line. I decided to just let loose and try to run as best I could...and clocked a 7:53 finish! Believe me, that is fast (VERY fast) for me. It wasn't until after returning back home that I learned I had secured a 3rd place age group finish (out of 74 gals). Don't worry, this victory didn't go to my head for long...the female champion clocked a 4:35, so I did remain a humble runner.
I have run this race three other times (and had to DNS in 2017 due to my surgery), so I was excited to return this past summer for another go at the start line. This a fun, family-centered event benefiting the local cross country and track teams. It attracts a lot of area high school runners, and also offers a 1-mile fun run for the younger kids. I have brought home the 2nd place age group medal every year, but finally got the first place AG medal this year, on a very hot and humid July morning, none the less.
This is a race that involves running a 5K, and then a 10K a short while later. All racers have the option to do just the 5K or just the 10K, but several do both (go big or go home, right?). I attempted to run this race in 2016, but struggled through the 5K and had to DNF the 10K after the first mile. Obviously, last year was out of the question, so I was hungry for redemption this year. It's a mentally challenging endeavor because it's a 5K route that you have to run, essentially, three times to complete both events (culminating with a 15K in total distance). It's also physically demanding due to the timing of the event (the 5K starts at 7:30 p.m.) and the July weather is usually rather hot and humid. Anyways, full details are on the race recap, but suffice it to say that I got 5th place AG for the 5K and 3rd place AG for the 10K. Redemption, indeed!
....and to think it happened on the streets of Philadelphia, running the R'n'R Philly Half Marathon! Although my finish time (2:09:24) was nowhere close to a PR, it was a "PR pace" for Voldy. My Garmin showed 13.4 miles (rather than 13.1), but my pace was an itsy bit faster than the most recent half marathon (NewBo 13.1, Sept. 2)...and that had been Voldy's fastest half marathon thus far (he's run five 13.1's with me).
That said, the past 15 months, have given me a major shift in perspective. I have always been a glass-half-full gal, but being side-lined for three months (during my favorite time of the year) really tested my attitude. It also allowed me to see and appreciate the bigger picture, though. I do not take any run or race for granted, and am thankful for each and every time I lace up my running shoes.
Although my experience with Voldy started off pretty rocky, I'm thankful for the journey that we've traveled together. My can-do attitude was tested, and I believe I came out victorious. Onward!
Have you been through a tough life-changing experience, but feel blessed by the lessons learned?