It’s Chicago Marathon race week for our Athlete of the Year, Kim! How’s she feeling, and how are those fundraising efforts coming? You’ll have to read to find out.
Life is full of surprises. It’s a roller coaster that you can’t get off, even if you want to. When I first sat down to write my final pre-race blog post, it was going to be a super motivational “rah rah” update. I planned to tell you that I was so trained and ready that I could do this race in my sleep.
But after the last month, that’s not what I have to say.
A Year of Scary, New Things
First, it has been my privilege being Athlete of the Year for Tri 4 Schools. So many wonderful people have stepped in and donated over $5,000 to support the Exercise for Achievement program. Throughout this journey, I have done so many new things:
- Learned to swim like a triathlete
- Ran my fasted half marathon ever
- Made a conscious decision to “put down the toddler” and lost over 25 pounds
- Gave up outings with friends
- Ate healthy when there was delicious junk around
- Got lost with a Madison Multisport teammate ride and accidentally rode 57 miles
Most importantly, I fulfilled my promise and did things that scared me. I got out of my comfort zone. I really listened to my coaches. And, I got to support the thousands of Tri 4 Schools athletes at their events! Whether it was swimming, biking, and running in the pouring rain and wind, or giving muddy high fives to children at the finish line of the mud run, I reveled in the shared bravery that accompanies these sports.
Yet here I am trying to figure out how to tell everyone who has watched me, supported me, coached me, loved me and believed in me, that I am surprised to be at the start line of this weekend’s Chicago Marathon.
Deflated, but not defeated
I’ve come so far this season. I feel stronger than I have ever felt in my life. However, throughout my long runs leading up to the race, I noticed that there was a nagging pain in my low back that was becoming more difficult to ignore. After seeing a host of professionals, I finally met with my sports medicine doctor. He realized that my pelvis and leg were twisted and sent me to a different chiropractor who might be able to help me get rid of the pain. It was a huge help, and I had immediate relief after one visit! Problem solved…or so I thought.
The next weekend I had my longest run – twenty miles. I did it, but had some trouble with my legs. On my next run, my right leg started to collapse underneath me. Instead of running seven miles, I walked three. I tried again and again but could not make my leg work. It felt similar to the paralysis I experience with my nerve disease, and I knew something was wrong.
I returned to my sports medicine physician for a follow up, where I was told that I would be leaving on crutches. It appeared to be a fracture at the top of my femur. Deflated, but not defeated, I went after this new problem with everything I had. I had more chiropractic care, massages, acupuncture, dry needling therapy, physical therapy. I even floated in a giant plastic egg filled with water and 1,000 pounds of Epsom Salts! The pain continued.
I began to accept that I would go to cheer on my friends and teammates from a wheelchair as my husband pushed me around the city of Chicago.
The Results Are In
This week, I went for an MRI. To my delight, it was not broken! However, I still have a lot of pain and a partially numb leg. Nevertheless, my doctors have given me the green light. If I can establish a “normal” run, I can show up at the start line.
With just a few days to go, I have done an accelerated comeback. I haven’t run in two weeks. After my first try last night, it appears my muscles don’t seem to know we have a race this weekend. With a special pain medication, a few swims, and one more visit to my trainer, I think I can get there.
How am I feeling? I’m scared, elated, frustrated and proud. As I’ve said before, none of this comes easy for me. Thoughts of dreams fill my mind. I am gaining the confidence to go for a half-Ironman next summer. I am also hoping to do a full Iroman race in 2020! But first I must conquer the beast in front of me.
A Heaping Dose of Gratitude
This Sunday I have no idea how it will go. I feel like I am no longer in control. The roller coaster is leaving and I don’t have any idea how many drops or loops it’s going to throw my way. I’ve done all the training. My coach (the amazing and brilliant Cindi Bannink) has prepared me to get the job done. This race is going to be between me and my brain.
I’m going to have to remind my leg that isn’t working that we are in this together. I will tell it every single step. Since I am a slower runner, that might be a five hour plus project. Originally, I was hoping to get it done in four hours. This injury might change that goal for me. Upon writing this, I can only hope to finish.
Thank you to everyone who has stood beside me, encouraged me, gone for a run with me, stayed behind with me as I learned to bike, made food for me, and helped me make good decisions. I’m going to run this race not only for Tri 4 Schools, but to honor myself.
This body has been through so much, yet it lets me keep pushing it through the next rung. Chronic pain did not get me. It has gotten many others. So for those fellow chronic pain warriors, especially my running mentor, Dom, (over 30+ marathons!) who can no longer push through the pain, I will run for all of us. I will do my best to not let anyone down. I promise to be smart and listen to my body if I feel that I will do further damage by finishing this race. If you aren’t too busy, please send some positive thoughts my way on Sunday morning.
Let’s see what this roller coaster has in store!
Editor’s Note: We are so thankful to Kim for being an incredible ambassador of our mission and spirit this year. She not only reached her goal, she inspired many along the way. You can cheer for Kim by going to this link and entering Kim Varian or 62743.