Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back: An Update.


Set backs do a great job of making you take a step back and realize what's really important in life. Without an obstacle to overcome we would never grow as a person in whatever our life endeavors are.

I came back to my hometown at the end of November, early for the Holidays, as I was in two seperate wedding parties. I came back with a niggle in my heel that I figured was managble with a few easy days and with an increase in taking care of my body. Now over a month later and 10+ weeks of dealing with this issue, I’m still trying to figure out what exactly is preventing me to do the one thing I love. But that doesn't mean this month has been a total loss.

Every year my family's Christmas tradition is to go and pick out which Christmas tree we're going to get.

I have been dealing with an injury that comes in the form of the dreaded words “Plantar fasciitis". This bout of it is particularly bad; hanging around after complete rest, multiple shockwave treatments, and even a cortisone shot. I have been testing it out on a few runs this past week without much luck. The original plan to run the Boston Marathon seems to be slipping out of my grasp before the build-up really ever even began.

But throughout this low point on the running side, I’ve made the most of what I can. I’ve spent more time with family as I’ll hop on the elliptical in our living room during a movie and watch with my parents. To help out around the house, I’ve biked to pick up groceries 8 miles one way so my Mom can come straight home after work.

I was in Tampa before Christmas to see our team Podiatrist (shout-out to Brian Fullem for seeing ZAP Athletes when we’re in need). I biked around the city and to the beach to enjoy a few days to myself in-between treatments. Instead of sitting in my hotel room sulking about the fact I was alone and unable to the thing I loved that also paid the bills. I put myself out there and chatted up every barista, bartender, fellow patrons, and Uber driver who were willing to talk to the out of towner hanging out by himself. I heard stories, gave advice, and was invited out by people who had just met me but were kind enough to share their story and time with me.

Back at home, I feel ridiculous and I sure know I look it. I own absolutely no biking gear. I’m on a 1970’s bike that’s too big for me, in tennis shoes, where the gear shifter hardly works, with a stocking hat on rather than a helmet (yeah I know, shame on me). I’ve been home for a month now at my parents’ house hanging out with their cats while they're at work.

My Dad's old road bike.
I've been hanging out with my Parent's cat "Pudder" and now have more pictures than I would care to admit of cats on my phone.

But you know what? In-between these moments of figuring it out what’s going on with my heel; I’ve gotten to do things I never would have had time for. I’ve spent more time than ever getting involved in my online coaching. I’ve consumed so many podcasts and research studies from coaches and given me more time to think about how I can be a better coach AND runner.

Throughout this stage of “looking at the window and longing to run” in what has been an unbelievably forgiving winter for a December in Illinois. It’s allowed me to take a step back and focus on what’s going right. I was a part of two weddings in one month. I was able to be surrounded by those I care about and those who would do anything for me. I got to see my old college friends for New Year’s. As we reminisce together about all the running stories and growing pains that are associated with college, it becomes even more clear.

What’s most important is the relationship we’ve built throughout our lives. When we get together we don’t care about who has a faster PR, or who won conference. We get together and reminisce about everything that we went through together. The shared experiences that we have will forever bond us together. They will be my friends even if I never take another step running in my life.

If you want to get to know someone, go on a run with them. Best friends for life comes from those hundreds or thousands of miles you put in, even if some days you don’t share a word.

This picture appeared in an Oklahoma Newspaper recently, 3+ years after being taken. As far as I know, this is the only picture that exists of the thousands of miles Pat and I ran together..

Being happy in life is simple. We just sometimes overcomplicate it. Like anything, there will be up’s and down’s. But I truly believe if you’re a good person by always actively trying to do the right thing, you work hard for what you want, you build upon and focus on what you can control and what’s going right, and you spend only the time you must thinking about what’s not working and things you can’t control, somehow it will turn out alright.

A more concise version of my last paragraph. There is power in simplicity

Every decision I’ve made has led to the person I am now. This isn’t the end point. Every bad situation to where I felt like I would never get through it has taught me something. Those situations have brought me to here today, and I am truly grateful for that.

Down the line, I will remember this injury in my life and be thankful. It will teach me something I can't understand right now. And no matter how much it kills me every day, I will be better because of this.