STORY OF VICTORY FROM WHICH TO LEARN Shalane Flanagan came back from an injury that kept her from running the 2017 Boston Marathon to win the TCS™ NYC Marathon. She is the first US woman to take the top spot on the podium in this race since 1977.
If you did not watch the TV broadcast, there is a recounting of her victory in a NewYorkTimes.com article.
In a February a Runner’s World article by Erin Strout, the then 35-year old explained what she thought brought on a fracture in one of the bones of her pelvis, in the area of her lower back. A big snowstorm in Portland OR, where she lives and trains, led to her running on slippery roads and a treadmill. A feeling of achiness and stiffness in the area of her sacro-iliac joint was the first sign of trouble that persisted but was “manageable”.
Flanagan describes it as, “typical symptoms of when people run on a treadmill a lot – lower back achiness”. She reports having good and bad days until an episode of prolonged sitting (flight to Japan for a half marathon) nearly left her unable to walk. An MRI study and a bit of time were required before a diagnosis was made and the treatment prescribed, which included being off her feet and cross-training. She said in the article that she had probably not taken a break since 2007, and a vacation since 2010.
So why focus on her injury, roughly 10 months ago, and recovery now that she’s come back in such amazing fashion and won her first major marathon? When interviewed after her 2:26:53 finish, she seemed to be saying that in retrospect, having the rest time helped her more that she could have known it would at the time she dropped out of Boston in February.
This is my personal recollection of her interview, I haven’t yet found news items posted that quote her to check the accuracy of my memory. However, it occurred to me at the time that her reflection was worth a few minutes of consideration by non-elite runners like me.
The RW story of her journey through injury and recovery, when she admitted feeling “a little lost” at the time, to the victory in NYC, might be a tale of caution and hope for us.
Telling us that not taking an extended break from hard training for years, not even a vacation, is risky behavior. That abruptly changing an aspect of training, like running surface, may not be safe. That in making the decision to completely rest from running we could be saving ourselves for a future personal victory. That cross training can help us maintain aerobic fitness for a few weeks to months and beyond. And that we can hold on to our dreams.
Watching Flanagan after mile 24 was a joy. Not since 1977, when Nikki Gorman earned the laurels, had an American woman won this marathon. If you remember that 1972 was the first year that females were allowed to compete in this race, it truly has been an American drought!
The Kenyan runner Mary Keitany, hoping to make this her 4th consecutive first place win in NY came in second; Mamitu Daskas from Ethiopia was third. Other female American top 10 finishers were Allie Kieffer (5), Kellyn Taylor (8), Stephanie Bruce (10). .
Men’s results: Geoffrey Kamworor, Kenya(1), Wilson Kipsang, Kenya (2), Lelisa Desisa, Ethiopia (3), Lemi Berhanu, Ethiopia (4). Americans Sadrack Biwott finished 10th, Meb Keflezighi 11th, Jared Ward 12th. Complete results are on the official race site.
Congratulations to everyone who participated!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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