My feet have carried me… to a better me!
By Marie Carreras
Growing up I was moderately active: lots of swimming, playing tag, kickball, baseball, riding bikes with cousins, etc. For some reason, though, I always had a problem with weight, and as a teenager “attempted” to lose it, but nothing ever came of it. During my first semester of college some of my relatives had experienced health issues that made me realize I was at a genetic disadvantage. At seventeen I decided I didn’t need to help those disadvantages, but would instead minimize my risks through a healthier life style. I couldn’t run because it was too taxing on my body. I started by walking 20 minutes a day. Eventually I improved to 45-60 minutes a day. I then alternated jogging and walking until my jog intervals started increasing. Due to my lifestyle change, I lost 35 pounds in 5 months. After that I was hooked. My second and third years of college I was on the basketball team for the school and intramurals. Fifteen to 25 hours of basketball a week really improved my running stamina. I was never fast, but could run 4 to 5 miles before classes without feeling it. In that second year I lost another 35 pounds.
So what? Lots of people do that?! Is what some may be thinking. Awesome! Good for you! Might get some others’ thoughts. I share this little bit because to me it WAS a big deal. Between the ages of 11 and 17, I had been on crutches 8-9 times for my ankles and twice for my knee, and also knocked my pelvis out of alignment more than once. Add the first 3 years of college and that is another two times for my knee, six times for my ankles, and once for my foot. Injuries varied from sprains to tears to hairline fractures. There was even one shoulder injury that hurt too much to run. I started running/jogging at 17…and a half, and by 22…and a half, was told I would have to stop.
One day I jogged just 2 miles (had to fit it in whenever possible while getting my DPT), and my left hip KILLED me for 3 whole days. I had to physically lift my leg into bed, pull myself up out of chairs, etc. A couple weeks later I jogged for just 15 minutes before an intramural flag football game. The next day–DEAD, for 3 more days. This happened one more time before I finally went to my orthopedics professor and asked him to do an assessment. I had an idea of what might be going on as we just started hip evaluations, but I thought “Hey, this guy already has his degree.” He unofficially diagnosed me with a joint capsule tear, very minimal. I didn’t need to go to imaging because for something of this suspected size they don’t do repairs (confirmed by other PTs and an orthopedic surgeon).
After that, I didn’t jog or run. Only walked. Well, not ONLY walked, but hopefully you know what I mean. I didn’t want to risk making it worse. It was hard not to jog, as my husband and I had become friends while jogging back “in the day.” But we did enjoy walking together too. The only time I ran was while playing with my little cousins or chasing my daughter around. In January 2015 I signed up for the AVON Walk To End Breast Cancer. I had lost all my pregnancy weight after my daughter, but after having twins in January 2014, I was no longer in shape and very over weight. I had a VERY impressive weight gain–thank you bed rest and extra calories to try to get my guaranteed preemies some weight. The boys came 9 weeks early (almost 15 weeks and then 11 weeks early). I continued to gain weight until I was even heavier than I was at the start of this article (back in 2004 at the age of 17, not today).
The first year of the boys’ life there was a lot of other things going on that I won’t get into here. But I was excited to start training for the 39.3 miles in 2 days that now faced me in May 2015. I followed the training exactly. I even woke up at 3am on Saturday mornings to walk once I got to the 18-20 mile range, that way I wouldn’t take away half of the day from my kids. Why did I train for a walking event you may ask? Because I did, the day after the May weekend, I did not limp a single step at work! More importantly to this young lady, having just turned 28, during some of my shorter training walks I had tried jogging. After just a couple weeks, I was jogging 3 miles! WithOUT hip pain.
After the AVON walk I decided to train for a 5K. I wanted to increase my speed by a few minutes, so I picked a plan accordingly. I developed bilateral runner’s knee a few weeks before the race. Luckily, my background gave me the knowledge to properly tape up my knees with kinesiotape, and a colleague guided me in which areas to concentrate while foam rolling. I ran that race 3 minutes faster than my fastest 5K race 7 years before!
In the months following I signed up for the Disney Princess 5K and Half, found Moon Joggers, participated in several virtual races, and began training. My training started in September 2015 and by November I ran the Santa Hustle Virtual Half Marathon because I couldn’t make it to the closest live location. I was so excited! I now KNEW I could do a half marathon and NOT get swept at the Disney Half. In January 2016 I rolled my ankle. I was so mad. Why? WHY? WHY? I didn’t run for 2.5 weeks and when I started again, I wanted to break my foot off and throw it out the window. I know that doesn’t make sense, but it was how I felt. I completed a virtual half (way to go Kaydee for I Run For Flint!) and the Disney half, both of which were more brutal than the one I did in November. But I was proud of myself. I am still proud of myself.
I debated three different approaches to writing for this article. I settled on what you have read because sometimes you write for others what you need to read for yourself. Sometimes even with all your academic, professional, or familial achievements, you still need reminders to be proud of yourself. With most things in life there is always someone who is best, but I’m not in it to win it against others, I’m in it to achieve MY goals. I come out a better version of me every time I challenge myself and see it through. Among my other hobbies, running/jogging has done that for me, especially this last year. Determination, commitment, success. That’s what I really enjoy about moon joggers–people celebrating others achievements and encouraging each other.
My feet have carried me through frustrations and disappointments. My feet have carried me through joy and accomplishments. My feet have carried me through weight gained and weight lost. My feet carry me across my yard chasing my kids, and across the finish line. My feet carry me to a better me. I don’t know how long my body will allow me to keep this up, but my feet have carried me this far…I won’t stop until they tell me “We’ve done good. Put us up. Let us rest.”
I am a Physical Therapist in MA, specializing in geriatrics and long-term acute care. I’m a wife to a loving husband, and mom to three beautiful and lively hunny bunnies–my mini-me and twin curly-headed cuties. I love jogging/running even when I hate it. I’m starting to get the whole family involved slowly with preschooler friendly events. I’ve been at this for a year this June, and am putting running a marathon on my bucket list. My next half marathon is May 1st, and June 5th I officially become a Spartan!
**All walkers and runners are invited to join Moon Joggers! If you have not signed up for MERCURY RISING (one of the paid registration options) do so now and you’ll be able to save 25% on our virtual races in 2016! (Use code MILLIONMILES to save 25% on MERCURY RISING).