Musings about life

Summing it all up

Well peeps, what can I say… 2010 was a tough year in many ways (because of running), but also an extraordinary year in other ways (also because of running).

The tough parts:

  • suffering through injury (yet again) while training for RacingThePlanet Australia.
  • having my flight to Australia for the race cancelled because a volcano erupted in Iceland. (I mean, seriously??? Who could have predicted THAT one??)
  • finding out I needed to have foot surgery shortly after the race because of the chronic pain in my toe.
  • waking up from surgery and discovering I had one less bone in my foot than I did three hours prior.
  • still feeling pain when I walk and run six months after the operation.
  • having to drop out of four out of the five races I’ve signed up for this year due to injury.

The best parts:

  • having a fellow runner in London offer to drive me from London to Spain so that I could catch a flight to the Australia race after my flight from London got cancelled (yes, the pesky Volcano incident). He is now one of my dear friends and for that I will always be thankful!!
  • making it to Australia for the race after an epic journey of trains, cabs, planes and donkeys. Okay fine, I never used donkeys, but I definitely wasn’t above it. I mean, where do you draw the line after taking a taxi from Paris to Madrid??
  • helping my friend Mark, who I met in RacingThePlanet Vietnam, buy his engagement ring for my friend Jenna, who I aaaaalso met in the same race in Vietnam. Priceless. (Well, the experience I mean, not the ring. Unfortunately that one had a price.)
  • watching Mark and Jenna get married as their bridesmaid. Pretty unreal.
  • making new friends all over the world through this blog. Keep the comments and questions coming guys!
  • meeting Speedy.

A few of you have asked how I’ve been doing since my foot surgery… To be honest, I have avoided answering this question. On purpose. I tried getting back into it about three months after the surgery and even signed up for a race in October – the Atlantic Coast Challenge, which was a marathon a day for three days along the South-West coast of England. Alas, my hopes of getting back into the sport surpassed my ability and I had to pull out of the race right before the start. Arg. I know I shouldn’t be embarrassed about it, but I was… and maybe still am. As my cousin said the other night, how can I write an ultrarunning blog if I’m no longer ultrarunning??

Well, here’s my answer: even though I can’t run over 26.2 miles at the moment (heck, I couldn’t run 26.2 miles right now full-stop), I know I will again and that’s enough. My feet may not be running ultra-distances, but my mind and my heart are covering hundreds of miles a day in anticipation of a comeback. Ultrarunning is in my blood. It is part of my stubborn spirit and my refusal to give up. Despite the struggles, it has connected me to so many amazing people in my life and I wouldn’t give that up for the world. I will get better and I’ll bounce back. Does this sound like I’m trying to convince myself? Sure it does. But who cares.

Next year will be my fourth year as an “ultrarunner”. Gulp. I still feel like a baby in the sport and I guess I still am. I’m learning by my successes and definitely by my failures. This year I’ve learned that ultrarunning is about perseverance, determination, and drive. There’s no question I’ve got that covered. But it is also about knowing your body, listening to what it is saying, and freeing your mind. Hmm, definitely have to work on that one. It is about forgiving yourself for your mistakes, your injuries, your limitations, and trying to find ways to surpass them. It is more about drawing support from your fellow runners than forging ahead alone. It is about riding the highs and getting through the lows.

2011 will be a better year for running (you hear that toe?).  I’m going to try to be realistic without losing my crazy idealism. Er, philosophy experts, try to figure that one out. Anyhow, bring it on.

I look forward to your comments, criticisms, ideas, and random musings and I wish you happy trails over the holiday season!!

-Ultrarunnergirl xx


4 comments on “Summing it all up

  1. Kevin Smith

    Hi Steph

    Sorry to hear you are not back to full fitness , but i am sure you will get there . Thats the thing about a good blog people look forward to reading it , even if you are not ultra running , i guess the truth is your blog isnt about ultra running , ita just about running ! You are like all runners we all get injured , we all have times when we cant train or cant race , thats why we all like to read your blog , not just to hear about the good parts but also how you deal with the bad stuff ! Since readign your blo i have checked out the Racing the planet info and one day i would love to give them a try ! Keep up the good work , you are inspiring people to get out and try new things , and i am sure your road to recovery will make very interesting reading ….

  2. Unfortunately, injury is a part of ultra running and running in general. I’ve gone through a long run of injuries this past year. I’ve read “Born to Run” to try to find a solution to my running injury problems. Seems like minimalist/barefoot running is a trade off of one set of problems for another. The solution seems to be moderation, which goes against the grain of the ultrarunner mindset which wants to push things just a little bit further than we should. The take away is that an injured runner is still a runner. It’s the passion to want to go out and explore using only the power of our bodies that’s important. To steal a phase from Eric, ultra runners run with their heart, not their feet.

  3. I wouldn’t go so far to say that injury is a part of ultra running but overcoming obstacles and challenges is. And this is yet another obstacle. Your spirit and attitude is still of an ultra runner. You go girl.

  4. I am recovering from foot surgery myself and am really sorry to hear you are going through something similar. I had a bone infection in my left toe and had to have some of my bone removed. Hopefully with time and rest you will be back out there, running pain free and tearing up the globe.

    Ironically it’s my rehab that motivated me to look into ultra running and to your webpage. I caught some of your race videos on YouTube and all I can say is, “totally fu^&*&% awesome!”

    My ultra journey begins Feb 26th with a stage race the Ragnar Del Sol in Az. The pain in my foot has slowly lessened (some days worse then others) but the real issue is that my foot feels like a piece of wood and I am having a real hard time “feeling” the ground. Hopefully I can get that feeling back as my rehab progresses.

    Your race videos have inspired me to document my journey from gimp to ultra runner. I hope it ends with me completing my first 100 miler (I haven’t raced more then a 10k previously) and not me gimping away defeated into some cyber sunset.

    Thanks for the motivation, and good luck on your recovery. Running teaches us patience and that patience is a four letter word.


    PS: I really appreciate your tips for training for a 100 miler it’s been impossible finding any specific training plans.

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