So in my previous post I left off with saying my transfer to Muskingum College was the best decision of my life...
Muskingum is a small Division III, Liberal Arts school in southeastern Ohio. I joined the Cross Country team, and made some amazing friends and memories. While in school, I PR-ed in the 5K on the hilliest course I have ever seen, in 20:35!!! (A life goal of mine is to break the 20:00 mark, so close!)
I attempted to run Track & Field every season, and ended up either injured or ill. My first year at Muskingum, I had to have a tonsilectomy during Spring Break! So, my third year as a Muskie, I chose to forego the T&F season, and coached the local Middle School T&F distance team with my best friend Tara. It was such a rewarding experience, to have an impact on 13 & 14 year-olds, and show them how fun (and cool!) distance running could truly be.
During the fall of my third year, I chose to quit the Cross Country team. My father was diagnosed with lung cancer during the fall of my second year at Muskingum, and his situation progressively got worse during the following summer. I chose to quit the team because I needed to be able to go home (a 4 hour drive) any weekend my parents needed me. I couldn't commit to a team, and be able to be fully committed to my family at the same time. I chose instead to train for a marathon in my free time. I ran the 25th Anniversary Columbus Marathon with my good friend Liz. We both had aspirations to qualify for Boston, she was very successful, but I unfortunately was not. I was suffering from a nasty respiratory infection AND I started out WAY too fast, typical rookie mistake! I ended up finishing in 4:20 or so.
I vowed to NEVER, EVER run another marathon again. I had never been in SO much pain before in my life, and I thought I would never race further than a 5K again in my life...
That following spring, when I was coaching T&F, my father unfortunately lost his battle with cancer. I decided that after he died, I would rejoin the Cross Country team the following year. I needed something to help with the grieving process. Running is what I do when I'm happy, sad, angry, confused, excited, etc. I've heard of people who have quit running all together when they have been through a stressful time, such as losing a loved-one. But the opposite happened for me. My father was one of my biggest fans. My parents never missed a single Cross Country Meet. They traveled all over to watch me run and cheer for me. It was only natural that I continued to run, to honor my father's memory, and to feel close to him.
I am a very spiritual person. I feel extremely close to God when I run. Five years after my father's death, I can honestly say, that I feel at the most peace while running, and I feel very close to my father as well. I know he is always with me, in my heart, and for some reason or another, I feel his presence the most while out on a run, especially my long weekend runs.
After graduating from Muskingum, I chose to delve back into the marathoning world. I don't know if it was because I wanted another challenge, or if I had forgotten how much I disliked my first marathon experience, but I gave it another stab. This time I didn't run 7 days a week, like I had before. I ran 3-4 days a week max, and cross-trained 2 days a week on the elliptical, bike and/or deep water running. I ended up PR-ing with 3:41:16. Yes, that is correct. I missed Boston by 1:16, technically 17 seconds because you get a 59 second window to qualify for Boston. I was beyond disappointed. But I completely bonked at mile 23, I was not hydrating enough or taking in enough calories...
So then I chose to run another marathon the following spring, the Kentucky Derby Marathon. I ran this one just for 'fun' w/ my friend Liz. I came in at 4:04 and just enjoyed the experience, we did cartwheels, high-fived every child that stuck their hand out, took pictures, etc.
The following fall, I chose to run the 30th Anniversary Chicago Marathon. I trained even smarter, with a BQ on my mind, I was SURE it was my year! Then came the hottest Chicago Marathon ever. The heat and humidity completely destroyed me, but I never once gave up. I came in shuffling at a horribly disappointing 5:20. I was crushed.
I rebounded and signed up for Columbus again the following fall. One month before the race, I was doing a speed workout on the treadmill - which is a rarity, but the weather was terrible and I had to work late, and it was dark by the time I got to the gym. Half-way through my workout I felt a strange pain in my left knee. I took a few days off and the pain didn't go away...So I went to a very highly recommended Sports Medicine Dr. and was diagnosed with IT Band Syndrome. Awesome. They were confident I would be able to race, with some physical therapy and some cortizone injections. I ate up everything they told me. I let them administer multiple injections, and I ran the race. BIG MISTAKE. I ended up dropping out at mile 22, and was not able to run for an entire YEAR!!! I went to the same Dr. for physical therapy until May. From October to May I was getting crap for care. I then switched to another Dr. and hospital system completely. I was given the best care in the world, and was fitted with Orthotics, given great physical therapy exercises, and I was back to running by this past summer. I entered the Inland Trail Half-Marathon after only running for a few months, and posted a 1:45!!!! It was what a needed to regain my distance running confidence.
I worked on rebuilding my base over the fall, and beginning of the winter, and on January 1st, I began my marathon training. I am looking to race the Earth Day Challenge on April 25th in Gambier, OH (http://bfec.kenyon.edu/EDCFrameset-1.htm), and I hope, once again, to achieve my BQ!