With my pyjamas on, latte in hand, the children at a sleepover with their grandparents, the house is quiet. It’s a free evening, a rare occasion and time for an update on how, where and why I’ve been staying strong and keeping focused.
After discovering I broke the second metatarsal in my foot by simply stepping on a rock in mid August while training for October’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM), I diligently plugged away at an intense cross training routine, covering 2.5-3.0 hours a day using the pool, bike, elliptical and walking on the treadmill.
By maintaining my usual strength training and preventative routine, I was pleased to keep a consistent body weight in the low 120s along with a resting heart rate in the high 30s. Initially I hoped to race STWM, but I eventually got over it and looked forward to again being part of the broadcast team with Michael Doyle and Tim Hutchings.
Next, the plan was to race the Philadelphia Marathon in November. So after four weeks with no running and then being given the green light to resume, I logged two easy weeks, gradually transitioning from soft to hard surfaces. I then successfully completed a track workout of 800 m repeats, faster than goal marathon race pace, which is always my target after any significant time off. This bumped my fitness confidence to a comfortable level, allowing me to continue with the build.
I was so pleased to personally discover that all the cross training worked! The calendar didn’t allow enough time for my usual build but Rick and I believed that with cross training and quality kilometres, I could run a decent race. I didn’t need to run a fall marathon but didn’t want to have such a gap between my April 2015 qualifying race in Rotterdam and the August 2016 Olympic Games. However, I had some discomfort in my foot. It wasn’t the same pain from the metatarsal fracture, but still enough for me to know risking more damage to the foot, even if soft tissue, was not worth it when I already had my standard. I took the advice I frequently give to my kids by placing my need ahead of my want and told Rick that Philly was a no go.
Now, I’ve completed nearly five weeks of easy running with absolutely no foot issues. I did a tempo workout earlier this week and today was my first track workout. Certainly not speedy when you look at the numbers but I am not afraid to take the time to slowly get faster. And it doesn’t bother me to humbly race the shorter distances, even if far from my personal best times.
Breaking my foot was a more difficult trial than breaking my leg last year. Really.
At the time, my husband was travelling a lot for work and the kids were on summer vacation, leaving me to single parent more than I desired. All while not being able to run. Not a good combination. It was really tough. I felt miserable but knew it was another incredible opportunity to mature and grow in my faith, again believing better things were yet to come. My sister was integral in encouraging me, and the two major speaking engagements I had allowed me to be honest and real about my struggles. I spoke about blessings: God’s favour and protection. But more about trials – painful circumstances allowed by God to transform our conduct and character. I shared that I was blessed with so much and loved God, my husband, children and running but that no one is exempt from the trials and hardships of life.
Without running I had the physical energy to handle the dishes, laundry, groceries, cooking, and cleaning but was really struggling with the emotional and mental demands of parenting three kids who naturally fought and got bored as soon as we returned home from our summer cabin. I put my thoughts together and wrote:
I will choose joy.
I will run again.
I will be thankful.
I will do all I can to heal and stay fit.
God’s plan is better than mine.
I continued to speak these truths to myself, knowing that this trial would soon pass, again being better for it.
It is too early to feel like I am on the other side. Between now and Rio I will likely be hypersensitive to any sort of discomfort or odd feeling. But covering myself with bubble wrap isn’t an option so I move on with cautious optimism. The goal is to prove my fitness in the spring/summer, all the while being prepared to better my marathon time, should the need arise.
The next nine months will likely be the most significant in my entire athletic career. My dad used to say, “Krista, you can’t do everything” and I am applying that truth more now than ever. I have already started to say no more than yes in order to keep my plate balanced. Years ago when I contemplated the notion to run in the Olympics, I knew my best chance would be in 2016, particularly because all the kids would be in school full time. It seemed so far away but that time is now.