"I cannot explain it; but when difficulties arise, I am not perplexed or doubtful. I know how to meet them."
~ Anne Sullivan Macy
Last year I ran the Boston Marathon as a member of Team With A Vision. I had the good fortune of guiding for Joyce Cron a mom, runner and all around amazing woman. We successfully crossed the line in four hours and thirty minutes which, given the complexity of racing without sight along the with the challenge of running a marathon in general, is pretty mind-blowing. Once the dust settled, I told Joyce that I would be honored to run for her the following year if she was going to go for it again. At the time she laughed and said she just wanted to get home, get a cold drink and do some gardening. But, I got the sense that she was thinking about it, even if she wasn't ready to say it out loud. We kept in touch throughout the summer and fall, always asking about each other's families, upcoming vacations and other life stuff but without really bringing up the marathon. I was operating under the assumption that she was going to run Boston again based simply on a hunch, but I wasn't saying anything as the ball was obviously in her court for this one. And then, finally, in January she was ready to talk about it.
How is your running season going? I thought I would touch base. Training has been a different challenge for me this year. First, that darn plantar fasciitis. I tried resting it, cortisone injections and PT. It's still there. Secondly, I am having troubles running on my own - seeing road versus grass or curb. It was already in January and I hadn't gotten any runs in.
In distress, my friend contacted other running friends who suggested that I put together a calendar of runs. They check the calendar and guide when they were available. I was so touched. So far, this has been going very well.
Joyce has been struggling with plantar fasciitis (PF) as long as I've known her. Clearly, she doesn't let it stop her and does whatever she can to work around it so she can continue to train. But, the second issue, her vision deteriorating, was a bigger one. Joyce was able to run a one mile loop around her house on her own for her 2016 training. So, while she did run with guides for a lot of her mileage, she wasn't totally dependent on them. Counting on friends and teammates for every single run was definitely going to throw a wrench in her training plan and I knew it would be a big obstacle for her to get around. I wrote her back and let her know first, that I was sorry it had gotten so difficult to manage her running. Second, I told her as far a guiding went, I was 100% in, so she didn't have to worry about that piece of the puzzle and that if it didn't work out, that was okay, too. And finally, I let her know that I'd do what I could to help from my end to help her out, just to say the word. She thanked me and let me know she'd be in touch. About a month and half later I sent her a note asking her how things were going.
It's was all going so well and this weekend's 17 miler fell apart. At 15 miles, my heel started piercing me. I tried changing my gait but ended up stopping. I stretched a bit then managed to run the last two miles at an easy pace.
So what happened? Maybe it was because it was a lot of miles. Maybe it was because the route I ran was down and up non-stop, the entire 17 miles. Or maybe it was because I ran 4 consecutive days including 9 miles the day before. One runner noted it started hurting right on the downhill. On a positive note, the energy and pace went well.
What I love about Joyce is how insanely upbeat she is. Despite an incredibly painful and frustrating situation, she was still able to find and focus on the positive side of it. I know this is a huge reason she is able to keep at it day in and day out; because she's able to see the good in every situation. Okay, so at this point I knew her vision would not be the issue that would keep her from toeing the line in Boston this year. But, this PF issue sounded bad. And, having dealt with it many times on my end, I know that it can get to the point where you simply can't run through it anymore. Not that I said this in my reply. I just gave her all the tips I'd used for myself when I was getting through it and told her to keep me posted. A couple weeks later she reached out and asked me if I would join her for a run. She needed to get 14 miles in and had a friend guiding her for 7 of them so wanted to know if I could takeover for the second half. I was more than happy to help out and we made plans to meet up on Monday morning. I hadn't seen Joyce since the fall of the previous year so I was looking forward to spending some time with her in person. Our run was fantastic. We chatted the entire time, fully catching each other up on our lives, both running and non-running, enjoying the cool but sunny weather. We also talked about her PF issue a bit. It was still bothering her, but hadn't been as bad since her last long run, and she was doing everything on her end (icing, stretching, compression) to keep it at bay. We said our goodbyes and as I pulled away from her house I knew there was no longer anything that would keep Joyce from running Boston. This made me smile. When I got home, I had an email from her in my inbox.
Today was an excellent run. 7 miles at 9:46 pace and 7.5 miles at a 9:50 pace. I was exhausted at the end however very happy. Thanks all for your time and effort! ~ Joyce
And this...well, this made me smile for the rest of the day. I was so pumped that everything was unfolding in Joyce's favor. All her own doing, of course. Nothing stops this woman. Literally. I knew she was tackling her last long run the following week so I checked in after that to see how it went.
Awesome - good energy, no injuries, just a great, great run. Now taper time and keep as is. It's going to be a great marathon and my plan is to PR that course! And you?
My run was stellar, I plan to PR, and how are you doing? This is Joyce in a nutshell. Upbeat, driven and totally selfless. I am so lucky to know this woman let alone to get to run with her. We'll see you in Boston in less than 3 weeks. Stay tuned.
Listen to this:
Crowd Goes Wild by Bien