One week ago today I received a text from my sister Jodi. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I froze in disbelief, hoping it was some kind of (really bad) April Fool’s joke or something. Except it wasn’t April 1st. And my sister just doesn’t kid around about stuff like this…
She’d been skiing in Park City, UT all week with her family for Spring Break. They were having an AMAZING time. In one moment she was zooming down the slopes, and in the next she found herself falling and hearing a loud “POP!” in her knee and then unable to get herself up out of the snow — excruciating pain and shock. WHAT just happened? It could not be good.
They did x-rays right away to determine that (thankfully) no bones were broken. They told her most likely she tore ligaments in her left knee. Most likely her ACL.
She came home Friday and this week has dealt with extreme swelling, more discomfort and horrible pain. She’s been basically immobile, which will drive anyone crazy – especially someone like her who is so active and busy all the time. She has seen doctors and had an MRI, confirming that her ACL is in bad shape (as in completely detached), and that the damage is only repairable with reconstructive surgery. There is also a chance her meniscus needs surgery, but we won’t know the level of repair it requires until they actually go in to fix things. Not matter what – it is going to be a long slow road to recovery.
This is SAD news. It completely stinks and is unfair. I hate that my sister is going through this, that we don’t know exactly how long it will be before she can walk – much less RUN – again. All week long I’ve been hoping that maybe, just maybe, the doctors were wrong. That in a few days her knee would feel back to normal again. Can we say denial? Ugh.
I’ve been trying to think of ways to cheer her up and make everything better. I’ve been praying about it, trying to understand the reasons that God would have to make this a part of her story. I know I can’t see it now, but I just have to believe that this is going to serve some larger purpose in the big grand scheme of things. Part of what I feel in my heart is that it is going to make her stronger. It is going to teach her so much about what she is capable of. It is going to remind her to believe in herself. And I also believe that her battle to recovery is going to inspire others who face their own struggles. She is going to show us all how strong we can be. I just know it.
My sister is a FIGHTER. She is not going to let this define her or let it keep her down. She isn’t going to let it stop her from dreaming, or from chasing those dreams when the time is right. I know that every day she is going to have to work SO hard to keep her spirits up and to be patient with the process. Tough times are like that – they are TOUGH. Nothing about overcoming things like this is easy. But if anyone can do it, it’s my sister.
Earlier this week I did a tempo run on the trail one morning before sunrise. It was cold and my legs were tired and heavy from my 14 miler at sub-8:00 pace the day before. As I ran I thought about my sister, and how right now more than ever I know she wants me to run my very best. To put it all out on the line and hold nothing back. I don’t really love tempo runs while I’m doing them. They are HARD. The whole time I’m running my body is screaming at me – it is anything but comfortable. My lungs burn, my body tenses and plays tricks on my mind. I have to be tough to get through them. I have to outlast the pain. I have to trust that it is part of the process, and that I will get through it. On the other side of a tempo run I ALWAYS feel better. Amazing, in fact. My body feels stronger and I come out of it with a renewed faith in myself. I recognize how hard it was, how crappy I felt, but I am proud that I stuck it out. That I didn’t give up when on so many levels, I wanted to.
My goal was to run 3 tempo miles at a pace between 7:00-7:15. I warmed up with one easy paced mile and then switched gears. Switched to my FAST.
Mile 1: 7:01
Mile 2: 7:03
Mile 3: 7:15
I nailed the first two miles. About half way through the last mile, my stomach started to cramp. I was mad and annoyed that this was happening to me, because I have to deal with it on just about every single early morning run. I stopped and dealt with it and then jumped right back into my speed. This is the same thing that happened to me at RnR, and I fought through it then. Determination is not easy to come by. I could have easily just stopped and walked it out, deciding to just run two tempo paced miles instead. But I didn’t want to because I am a fighter. Because I CAN push through it.
I owe that to myself. And right now, I feel like I owe it to my sister, too. I’m not going to give up when the going gets tough. And neither will she.