Running Setback

During last Friday's 10 mile run, 
it was apparent that it was time to go to the doctor to check out my hamstring. 
It was really hurting that particular run, 
and with the hilly nature of the trail we were on, 
it felt more aggravated than in the previous weeks. 

This whole summer my legs have been tight 
but not a painful tight, 
just an irritating or uncomfortable tight. 

It was clear to me this week, that it needed to be checked out. 

So yesterday I went to the chiropractor 
and he confirmed my nagging suspicion. 
Pulled left hamstring. 
Mild to moderate. 

X-rays showed that as an added bonus, 
I have a pinched sciatica nerve 
and, lucky me,
degenerative disc disease of my lower back 
with the lowest disc having very little padding in-between it 
and the one above it, 
which is greatly aggravated by the pounding of running. 
Moderate to severe. 

Wasn't expecting that. 

And then throw in the 'two for one sale'
on the degenerative disc disease 
and my neck has the same problem 
but more severe, stage 3 of 4. 
This actually doesn't surprise me as 
I live with neck pain pretty consistently. 
Hurt my neck in gymnastics in middle school and
 have gone to the chiropractor for decades. 
Was bummed that it is further along the spectrum than anticipated. 

Doctor B thinks that with aggressive treatment I can be stable and 
ready for my run on October 20th and he seemed very confident about that. 
So that was good news. 
I'll need to do some significant scaling back of my running 
over the next four weeks to not damage what he is trying to fix. 
Yesterday I struggled with significant fear over that, 
wondering if taking time off running, 
this close to my race,
would mean that I wouldn't then have the ability to actually run the race 
as I'd lose so much of what I have built up over the past 14 weeks. 
{ Remember, I'm the gal that could barely run one block just 
five months ago, so there's significant doubt that creeps in
when I think about deviating -- AT ALL -- from my training plan. } 
Fear crept in. 
Fear is a nasty little bugger, isn't it?
I spent the better part of yesterday vacillating between total peace
and anxiousness over the what ifs.
What if I go to run on race day and I just can't do it.
What if I, like the doc says, running is too hard on my back
and I don't get to run any more after this race.
And THAT sucks, because I was actually at the point where 
I really want to run.
And what if and what if and what if ...

I've worked really, really hard for this.
I've been dedicated to this. 
I've shown discipline that I didn't know I had. 
In fact, just yesterday or the day before, 
I had to chuckle when two of my dear friends each wrote 
saying they don't recognize me any more because, first
I got a dog, and now I'm running a half marathon,
 and I'm not drinking Diet Coke and haven't for over a year now. 
They seem to think someone has taken over their friend's body. 
I tend to agree with them. 

Last night I reached out to a few of my closest praying friends 
and just asked them to be praying for me. 
Through the disappointment. 
Through the sadness. 
Through the fear. 

And I went to bed at 8:30pm. 
And slept straight through until 6:30pm. 
Best night of sleep I've had in quite some time. 

And wouldn't you know, that between my own prayers before I drifted
off to sleep last night, 
my friends' prayers, 
and a good night's rest, 
my perspective is much better today. 

My running career isn't over. 
I will be able to run this race on the 20th 
and I might be surprised at how strong I will be. 
I won't lose every bit of cardio that I've worked up.
I will cross train like a MAD WOMAN.
I will be a good patient, doing the exercises prescribed,
doing what he says I can and can't do. 
{ This is not a strength of mine. }

This morning I woke to a beautiful string of response emails 
from my praying friends with beautiful, 
meaningful Bible verses, and empathy, and encouraging words
 and hope and an outside perspective 
that I wasn't able to muster up for myself last night 
in the middle of the discouragement. 

Since so many of you out there in cyber world have been along for this ride, 
sharing in the excitement, encouraging me along the way, 
I thought I'd share a brief portion of what I wrote last night, 
and then a few responses this morning that touched my heart. 

I wrote, in part:
"Just feeling a bit sorry for myself tonight. The doctor did say, as he was telling me all of this, and as he was talking about my degenerative disc issue in my lower back that there would maybe be the chance that I would have to stop running (I could finish this race but maybe not a long term option for me). And wouldn't you know, that's probably been the hardest thing to digest of all that he said. I'm just now getting to where I want to run and I see it as a sustainable long-term plan and here that's now in question because of my lower back issues.... 

And as I was sleeping, many wrote back and shared these words of hope:
 "God knows the desires of your heart my dear friend. 
He has a plan and will work through your struggles."

"But though outwardly we are wasting away, 
inwardly we're being renewed day by day." 
- The Bible

"Lifting you up to Him tonight. 
Asking for wisdom and discernment and peace."

"I want to holler, 
"This is not fair!"...
But we are going to pray without ceasing 
that you will be restored--fully for race day and beyond."

"God has brought you this far...let Him take you the rest of the way."

"None of this is a surprise to Him, right?"

 "I love you and am confident that he who began THIS work in you...will perfect it! 
It's about HIM! And he has been and will be glorified."

Psalm 27:13-14 
"I am still confident of this: 
I will see the goodness of the 
Lord in the land of the living. 
Wait for the Lord; 
be strong and take heart 
and wait for the Lord." 

So there you have it. 
My running setback. 
Not sure what the next few weeks
leading up to race day will bring, 
but this I do know:

I AM confident that God is good. 
And that this didn't take Him by surprise. 
And that this is His race anyway!

And in case you wonder,
I WILL be running that race on October 20th.
The whole thing.
With or without a fixed hamstring.
With or without a pinched nerve. 


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