I started 2014 off with a PR (personal record) at the annual Hamilton Hangover 5 Mile race on New Year’s Day. Then race after race, I collected PR after PR. In May alone, I ran a 10 miler in 76 minutes, finishing 25th out of 246 racers; a 5k, coming in 9th out of 116 and top of my age group; and another 5k, finishing 42nd out of 1123. They were all a PR! It was great start to the year!
But my record year was derailed at the end of May, when I sustained a serious knee injury playing Ultimate Frisbee. I was on defense when my legs tangled with the receiver. My knee bent outward and sideways and it hurt a lot. My knee swelled and I was immediately out of commission. I could barely walk. I never got it checked out. I feared a torn MCL, or at least a very bad sprain. So I sat. And sat. Icing. Resting. Depression began to sink in. It was the most beautiful time of the year and I could barely walk. I missed a bunch of races that I was looking forward to, and all I could do was show up and cheer on my teammates. It was heart breaking.
After resting and taking it easy for nearly 2 months, I started to get moving again. I ran my first Spartan Race of the year in June. The knee hurt and it began to swell again, so I didn’t push hard. After that I ran my first ultra-marathon; a 12 hour race up and down the mountains of Vernon, NJ. Still in pain, but slowly getting better.
In August, I tried again to run a bit more competitively. My times were still way off, but my first competitive race back I finished 2nd in my age group and won a prize.
Though I still took it easy, I continued to get better, completing two more Spartan Races, while earning my 2nd Spartan Tri-Fecta at the Spartan World Championship in Killington, VT. The 2014 World Championship course was arguably more challenging and more grueling than its 2013 predecessor, and was in much harsher conditions. Despite that, and despite re-injuring my knee early in the race, I finished nearly an hour faster than last year.
I recovered quickly and ran another PR at a local 5k, finishing top of my age group and 10th overall. This time I even won some cash! A week after that I ran my first ever marathon! Not knowing what to expect, I took the marathon on the cautious side and, in retrospect, I wish I ran much harder. I’m confident that I could have taken a half hour off of my time.
I finished with my 23rd and 24th race of the year, a 5k and a 6k in freezing conditions in December. Finishing 7th and 5th respectively, and earning two 1st place medals for best team and tops in my age group.
I can only hope that I have no setbacks from my knee injury in 2015. It’s not great, but it’s a lot better than it has been. Although I’m afraid that the pain will linger for the rest of my life, I will continue to push myself. I will not always win my age group, or even finish well, but I will always try my hardest.