There was a time when I took running for granted. I was young, naive, and operated under the misguided notion that I was unbreakable.
A broken femur enlightened me. I was as mortal and as fragile as anyone. My ability to run was not a promise. It was as ephemeral as anything else in life.
3 large pins later, I was no longer broken, but I was not the same. I wasn't whole.
Running had been a source of joy and affirmation before being broken. Now it was a source of trepidation and fear. Running could break me as easily as it could elevate me.
I was told I would never be as strong as I had been before...with the pins in me. While I did run sometimes, it wasn't with confidence and clarity. The pins kept me small and scared.
I was haunted. Would my body betray me again? Would I fail to read the messages my body sent me and tempt fate again? Was running a gift or a curse?
I was also haunted by the words of the best coach I worked with who said, 'I think you'll be a great marathoner some day.' Could I really live without finding out?
The only way to exorcise the demons was to remove them...all three of them. It was painful, but what exorcism isn't? Ultimately, I knew I would never be as strong until I had them removed...until I was whole again.
There are no hard and fast rules around healing. You can't force it and you never know when you are fully healed. So, you take baby steps.
I baby stepped my way back into running. It started with a tearful 2 miler in golden gate park. I could still do it...even if it was slow and awkward....I hadn't lost the gift. It was still there.
From there, faint thoughts of the marathon returned. 'You'll be a great marathoner' kept echoing in my head. I was broken once, but maybe I could be whole again.
Baby steps eventually brought me to the starting line of my first marathon. While 26.2 brought me to my knees, it didn't break me.
With this experience came the realization that while I had been broken, perhaps it was this very experience that would make me the great marathoner my coach thought I could be.
From this point forward, I ran with a vengeance. I had lost so much time not appreciating my gift and letting fear hold me back. There was no more time to lose.
I tempted fate and I played with fire. Sometimes I got singed and even burned, but I was never broken.
So, I run because I was broken once. I might be broken again. But, until that day comes...I will keep running.