When I was hurting, I thought that running injured was about the hardest thing I've ever done.
Then I couldn't run. Then being injured and NOT running was the hardest thing I'd ever done.
Now I'm running and trying to return from being injured. That is equally as hard as the last two.
It can be SO discouraging coming back, being slower than you used to be, especially when you know you spent what seems like a large percentage of your life busting your ass to improve your speed and endurance....which apparently can go out the window at the whim of a very uncooperative shin bone.
I was having a rough time this morning. The leg felt stiff and uncomfortable and tired going into the run. I also wanted to get it done, because I wanted to get one more run in before Tri for Joe, while still giving myself three whole days to recover. Even two days isn't enough sometimes, not right now, if the gimpy leg wants to get cranky about it.
So I trudged off down the road. I tried so so so hard not to pay attention to my pace and just run comfy, but not paying attention is hard to do with a Garmin strapped to your wrist. And once you're paying attention, it's hard not to be bothered when the first number of your pace is one that you haven't seen in a long long time, not even during your longest runs.
Trudging down route 32, something on the ground caught my eye. A turtle! For half a second, my fuzzy brain thought it might be a real one. We've had enough flooding that I've actually seen more than one turtle while out running, biking, or driving. But it was actually a little stuffed one. I kept going, but I realized how appropriate a turtle was for my slow butt, and decided I'd have to pick it up on my way back.
I took a route I'd never ran before because I was afraid of running on the busy road, but the marathon training group got me much more used to road running; plus, the shoulder's wide and there's a middle lane, giving cars and me both plenty of room. This was the same route I planned to run the night the shin splints really gave me hell. Today, though I was going to avoid the hilly neighborhoods, except I ran out of sidewalk and decided to turn into one of them anyway. Heck, didn't matter much if my run got even slower.
I totally surprised myself by tackling the hills. They weren't bad, but I haven't ran up a hill since the 10k, and my hatred of them is pretty well-known. Plus, I'm not really supposed to run on hills....I don't think. And it was a dumb idea on a day that I was already hurting. But they really weren't that bothersome. Really. And once I got out of that neighborhood, I felt fantastic. I picked up the pace. I made sure I picked up my turtle, and the last 1/2 mile of my run, I was running with a filthy little stuffed turtle balled up in my fist.
My last mile was a 10:10. A 10:10 is not where I want to be. It's slower than my previous 5k pace, slower than my previous (non-injured) 10k pace. Barely squeaking out 3 miles is not where I want to be. But 10:10 is the fastest mile I've run since coming back to running, and it was the last mile of a run - a run where I'd previously felt as great as the road dirt caked on the poor little stuffed turtle. I decided the turtle is my new good luck charm.
So the turtle got scrubbed clean. Dingy, but clean. His name is Speedy and he is my new reminder to persevere, to just keep going, and I'll make it to where I want to be....in time.