Tundra Trailblazer Nicole: Coming Back from Injury and Accomplishing a Dream…

It was time to make a decision for myself…

I pretty much played all the sports: basketball, softball, soccer, volleyball, and yes, I was even a “graceful” dancer for nine years of my life. Every sport was fun, except for the “running” part.

Every time my coach made the team run, I would literally be the second last person to finish. These were simple sprints during practice. Since I played “almost” every sport, the only sport I avoided was track and field. I knew I could not run. It was bad enough I was made fun of at school for being slow, so why add more fuel to the fire if I went out for track and field?

After graduating eighth grade, I still wanted to do sports in high school. Since my high school had about 230 students total, the only two fall sports offered to girls were volleyball and cross country. If you remember from the last point, I did play volleyball in grade school, but because my coach burnt me out by yelling at me often, I reconsidered my choice for a fall sport. I went out for cross country.

Long story short, I made my cross country varsity team after three meets on JV, not only was I getting faster, but I loved every second of running. The variety of running longer, including intervals and going up hills, got me hooked for life. I managed to stay on varsity for the rest of my 37 cross country races in high school.

Remember the idea of track and field? I went out and pretty much got addicted to running three of the longest distances offered in high school, the 800m, 1600m and my personal favorite, the 3200m Run.

I graduated high school, now what?

In the fall of my senior year in high school, I was assigned in my psychology class, “What Are Your Top 25 Goals in the Future?” I took the assignment seriously and made a HUGE GOAL. What was that goal, you ask? “To qualify for the Boston Marathon before age 25.”

At that point, the longest I ever ran was 8 miles. On that same list, I threw down running a half marathon, and I knew I could easily run that. It was the whole point that I had to run a FULL MARATHON in less than 3 hours and 35 minutes. I ran the numbers out, 8:12/mile. Well, I had to get faster sooner than later.

I ran my first half in fall of 2013 and it went terrible because I started out too fast, and after my first half, I ended up getting slower. I was unmotivated and my goal of running Boston at a young age seem to be out of reach. I was missing the support I had when I had a team to run with in high school.

Then I met four people: Alex, Erika, Ryan, and Nick.

All of us met each other through running races. Soon enough, we all realized we all had the same running ability and decided to always run races together. Still, to this day, we all push each other and are constantly getting faster. In spring of 2015, I got Nick to run our first marathon together. At that point, we were the only two in the group that haven’t ran a marathon yet.

Both of us finished the Cellcom Marathon in May 2015. Nick ran it in 3:51, and I finished at 3:45, and yes, 10 minutes off of the Boston Marathon standard of 3:35.

Then we wanted to run another marathon.

Nick and I decided to run both the Oshkosh Marathon and the Cellcom Marathon, a nice break of 28 days between the two. I made plans to accomplish my time goal of 3:30, to ensure extra time for a BQ. Sure enough, I earned my BQ by running a 3:23, cutting off my Cellcom time from the year before by 22 minutes. Nick and I still ran Cellcom a month later with Nick running a new PR of 3:40 and myself clocking in at 3:41. (On a side note, Nick can whip the whole team at any other distance, but the marathon. We love our little “sprinter”.)

Then July came along…

I was attending a rock music festival in July when I walked into a pot hole, landed on my left foot funny, and managed to fracture it. I went into an orthopedic surgeon’s office the following Monday and found out that my fracture, based off of the x-ray was previously fractured, but never completely healed. I personally couldn’t remember when I might have fractured it. So, you’re saying all this time, I was running and living my life with an unhealed fractured left foot? And running a 3:23 full marathon on it? I was extremely baffled.  I ended up having surgery on it and missed out on three months of running.

So, what about Boston?

Sure enough, the goal of running at Boston was now in plain sight, but if you know a thing or two about how the Boston Marathon registration works, one week in September is when you apply and wait to find out if your time made the cut. (The fastest times in each age group are accepted, some people who got their time standard do not make it in, due to race caps in each division.) One of the most reassuring words I heard from my orthopedic surgeon were the words, “We’ll get you all healed up before Boston. I want to let you know that you won’t get the time you want, but running in Boston is a huge running accomplish and I want you to run it.”

I can go to Boston!

Now, wrapping it all together…

I am now approaching six months post-surgery. I now have three months of running in and I am slowly building back up my mileage for my race in April. Sure, running those sub-eight minute miles for 16 miles results in being sore for a few more days than I like to, but those comforting words that my orthopedic surgeon told me constantly echo in my head. I got my running friends helping me out with support and training to fulfill that crazy goal of running Boston before age 25.

I will be 22 years old on April 17, 2017, the journey from being a simple runner to a stronger runner, battling the barriers of a setback injury, and now thinking about the start at Hopkinton and the finish line in downtown Boston in just a few months is crazy.

It is a HUGE honor to be a part of this year’s Cellcom Marathon Tundra Trailblazers along with Jill, Joe, and Jeff. Overall, I am sure we all have set goals bigger than ourselves at some point in our lives, whether they were running related or not. Like, I have mentioned, I got injured, and I still am trying to get back to where I was. This year, instead of running the marathon like I would love to do, I personally made a decision to give myself a break after running Boston to ensure that I would not have another injury pop up.

I hope you all will enjoy my blog posts about balancing life and running!

May your miles be bountiful and your dreams be accomplished,


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