A New Year, A New Journey

“I can’t tell where the journey will end, but I know where to start. ” — Wake Me Up, Avicii

At the beginning of each year, most people have a set of hopes or goals for the new year. They set resolutions and goals, often wanting to make changes after reflecting on the previous year.

Those resolutions and goals represent things we’d like to change in our lives and the world around us.

But one day — even the start of a new year — doesn’t bring changes without purpose. True change comes through proper mindset.

One year ago, there was no signs of the major personal transformation that 2017 would bring.

Even with 4 weeks of rest, a stretch that I hoped would provide recovery from injury, I was a broken down runner. When I returned to running, the deep-seated pain remained. As a marathoner, my plan was to run through it — the very stubbornness that prompted the overtraining injury in the first place. Secretly, I hoped my body could both heal and grow stronger.

Increasing mileage wasn’t easy, but my sights were set on marathons at Fargo and Grandma’s. Physical pain, impacting nearly every aspect of life, seeped into my mental outlook.

By the start of the Fargo Marathon, there was plenty of uncertainty: how much pain would there be, whether the distance was too much, what happens if I couldn’t finish, would racing cause further damage?

It hurt.

Not just in the abdomen, where I had sustained a muscle tear the previous summer, but a tight, cramping hamstring. Afterward, my lower back was so tight that I couldn’t stand straight for days. But daily runs and training for Grandma’s Marathon continued.

I arrived in Duluth a month later, feeling more fit and confident. Perhaps I could improve on my 2016 New York City time and improve my qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.

During 14 miles along the North Shore, I felt like myself again. And then another tear in my abdomen. For the first time during a race, my thoughts turned to dropping out. Hobbling to the finish line, I made a bee line to the hotel, where I took the longest hot shower of my life and wondered if I’d ever run another marathon.

It forced me to confront my vulnerability and visits to the doctor confirmed two muscle tears — one old and one fresh.

Something amazing happened, though.

Fearing that I’d lose the passion to run if I stopped running marathons, I rediscovered joy in the sport. The injuries continued to hurt, but running with friends and the dogs brought joy.

For a long time, my happiness had been based on external factors — good things happening around me.

A deliberate change in mindset came when I focused on living an authentic life.

Following surgery, my focus was set on being true to who I am as a person and a runner.

All this tearing down — physically, mentally, emotionally — was necessary to live stronger, more balanced and more authentically.

Sharing life — the wins and losses, up and downs — is more meaningful with a larger circle. I found joy in every attempt to be a good person. I found joy in helping family, close friends and strangers. New friends came into my life. I noticed progress in training and building myself in new ways — as a person and a runner. Instead of holding the best moments in life as private memories, I began sharing them with others while celebrating their accomplishments and moments of joy.

Determined to build myself into a better runner, and not repeat the training mistakes of my past, I embraced a slow and methodical approach to rebuilding my fitness and mileage. Finally, after 2 months, I feel myself rounding into shape, feeling stronger and more complete as a runner.

Races are back on the calendar, with the Chicago Marathon serving as the end goal.

Along the way there will be stops at the Lake Wobegon Trail marathon, Fargo and Utah Valley. Those will be less about time and more about enjoying the experience. They will serve as building blocks to my training for Chicago.