Every time my running gets back to where it needs to be, I sing this song to myself. “Back In The High Life Again” reminds me of how I have to accept the lows with the highs in running. Every runner has their share of lows in the sport, and that is what makes us tougher and hungrier to want to be on top of our game. This past fall/winter was one of the lowest times in my life as a runner, and it taught me how important running was to me and how a forced break can make you appreciate and respect it even more.
During my preparation for my debut marathon at Twin Cities this fall, I found out a month prior that I had kidney stones. I had dealt with bladder/kidney issues as a kid, but never to this extent. Even though the stones took me out of the US 20k Road Championships, I was determined to keep training and let them pass on their own. Training had been going very well up until our departure for Minnesota. The exact pain I experienced before the 20k reared its ugly head on the flight over to Minnesota, and I was unable to race the marathon. Though a devastating blow, I returned home hoping to figure everything out.
I found out that I had a UPJ obstruction, which is a block in my ureter tube connecting the kidney to the bladder. I was born with a kink in this tube, and needed surgery to repair it. Also during this time, I had both my legs tested for posterior compartment syndrome. I had been battling compartment syndrome since sophomore year in high school, and decided it was necessary to figure out everything at the same time. I also needed surgery for both legs on the deep posterior compartment, which lies just behind the tibia bone.
With both surgeries lined up in the months of November and December, I was in for a break from running. Both surgeries were a success and I missed about six weeks of training. Getting back into shape proved challenging at first. Let’s just say, having the bladder of an 80 year old woman, did not help with everyday runs, but it was better than not running. I was determined at this point to have a strong spring season.
In the beginning, I was very tentative and scared because I had never taken such a long break from running. I lost a bit of confidence along the way. Once my training and racing started to come around, I knew it would all work out. I went into races without a lot of expectations, and it ended up paying off. I surprised myself in the first two track races of the season, racing a 10k PR at Stanford and almost a 5k PR at Penn Relays, nine days earlier. It seemed that all the hard work and buildup from the fall returned to enable me to be stronger than ever before.
It goes to show that you can never give up or doubt your abilities. I was not sure how it would all turn out at my lowest point, but this misfortune taught me to want more out of my running career and to work towards being better than I was before. The lows may be difficult but are needed to achieve the highs to get back in the high life again.