The majority of 2011 was tough for personal reasons and my running also had its ups and downs. Cutting my Ireland trek into bike riding stages was never my end goal and even though I had convinced myself it was all for the best and I had learned from my struggles and all that crap, I didn't really believe it, until now.
You see, when things are going OK or maybe not so OK you still don't fully appreciate anything for the true worth it has. You can say you do but you don't. Its like having a sore thumb, you don't value the thumb until you bash it accidentally with a hammer and then try to open a jar or twist a door knob the next day. It hurts and you realise how much you love having functioning, non throbbing thumbs. Running is the same, you say "I'm so grateful for the ability to do it"or "I never take it for granted" etc. Shoot, I was always saying these phrases and I always will. But, when you are cycling home from Boulogne after teaching your last class of the year on December 16th and a motorbike cuts two lanes, jams your handlebars against theirs, sending your left foot into the motorbikes rear wheel and dragging you 10 feet down the busiest route in and out of Paris then you are suddenly and acutely aware that the excrement has indeed hit the windmill. Hell, running becomes a luxury that you just can't afford after that. I could go into the specifics of the accident but the fact that it took the guy ten minutes to get my Salomon shoe out from between the spokes of his moto whilst looking around for cops and subsequently taking off immediately kind of tells you who was at fault. All I knew was that I was stranded with a bashed up but cyclable bike and twenty five minutes to make it back home to collect Pearl and take her to her physical therapists appointment. The days that followed were just a blur of looking after two kids with a foot that just tore me up with every step I took, but it was also a sharp reminder to the fact that I got severely lucky given I wasn't even wearing a helmet and the ruck sack on my back saved my ribs from being crushed on impact.
After getting checked out it was no surprise that I had a fractured Metatarsal and that ruled out any and all running for 2-3 months, depending on the healing process which differs for everyone. I spent many of my days hobbling and limping around, taking frequent ice treatments, and supporting it with various bandages and supports. I knew that if ever patience was needed it was now. This was when my endurance running really taught me how to manage my low points. Facing uncertainty in this really played on my mind as Pearls behaviour always worsens around the holiday period and running was not going to be an escape. Then you see your friends getting in runs and being able to burn off the turkey and all you want to do is half an hour even. There were times when I was on my knees praying for a way to just be able to hike up a trail head for twenty minutes. But two things really counted in my favour. The first thing is two different constituents that will always be inextricably intertwined--running and sobriety. Managing to quell an addiction that has a voracious appetite for destruction twinned with the ability to run back to back 100k stretches gives one a certain amount of perspective and resilience. The other vital ingredient is support, without this nothing is possible. From friends and family, both runners and non, the overwhelming good vibes that came my way was more soothing than any over the counter medication. Knowing that a crutch like this exists makes the waiting and the frustration bearable, in fact I would almost go as far as to say it makes it worth it because you know who has really got your back. Everything is distilled down to what is really your passion in life and how will you go about making the changes in your ways to fully live the way you want to.
What I have learned is that I have a passion to run, but the enforced rest showed me that I have other talents that needed some attention and the time to rise to the surface. My life is evolving and ebbing and flowing on a daily basis but it is also making me face life on a daily basis. Sure I still love to plan things and all the races I had hoped to do between Jan and April have all been scrapped but today I got back on my feet for my first run since November last year. I jogged four km's of pure joy and when I say there were tears it was not because of the wind in my eyes, it was because I am alive and I am able to change the course and path of my life for the better with every breath I inhale. I refuse to be knocked down (both literally and figuratively) and I am willing to do whatever it takes for my kids and myself to live full and happy lives. I will ease back into it but I can say right now that I feel good about my foot and my future. I have started to structure my book and although its a long road I have plenty of people walking it with me. For my upcoming blogs I will be featuring Jean Phillipe Brunon who is a great friend, awesome runner and is flying the RFP flag this year. I will be talking to him about his success last year and why my daughter has become a cause close to his heart. I will sign out with a tune that has been getting some heavy rotation recently and also a message to the guy on the motor bike--running away from a problem doesn't work, trust me I know!