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April 28, 2019
My muscles screamed with excruciating pain as I crested the top of Summit Avenue. Only a couple miles of the Twin Cities Marathon stood between a Boston qualifier time and me. At mile 25.8, the official clock caught my gaze and my heart lept with excitement as I started crying tears of joy. I couldn’t believe it! I was going to qualify for the Boston Marathon! Suddenly, a pain pierced the side of my right knee with less than a mile to go. I just needed to finish. I drowned out the pain, passed the Cathedral and gave all I had left. I did it! I crossed the finish line! I was elated when I saw that I had not only obtained my personal record, but I had qualified for the Boston Marathon by twenty-three minutes!
Three days later I was back running. Just an easy six miles on a gorgeous fall day. I started out and smiled to myself. I was finally training for the marathon I had dreamt about for my whole life. In April of 2019, I would toe the start line in Boston! All of a sudden, an excruciating pain burned my right knee and I fell to the ground. When I got up, the pain sliced the right side of my knee with every step. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t run! The vision I imagined of myself standing at the Boston Marathon with a finisher medal around my neck was now ripped away from me. How would I ever run the Boston Marathon if I couldn’t even walk home? My life long dream was gone.
My confidence was shattered. My dream was out of reach and I was disappointed in myself for causing such a loss. A flame of hope was rekindled when I was introduced to Lisa Matheson in January 2019. She was a physical therapist at Twin Cities Orthopedics that came highly recommended to me by my sisters. They told me that she worked with runners and would know exactly how to help.
I limped into Twin Cities Orthopedics and practically fell over as Lisa asked me to do a one legged squat on my right leg. Three and a half months of physical therapy, graston bruises, a laundry list of daily strengthening exercises and grit were the things she asked me for that day. My right IT band was injured and my hip and gluteal muscles were extremely weak. I held on to the confidence in her voice as she said, “Don’t worry. We will do the best that we can to help you accomplish your dream. I believe in you.” I came back week after week and never missed a single day of completing my physical therapy exercises. Tears of despair filled my eyes as I reported my weekly workout experience to Lisa. Staying optimistic about my dream was hard. My training was very different from any other training cycle I had experienced. I did not run hills, I did not do interval workouts and I was unable to complete most of my running workouts. Run until you feel pain, and then finish your workout on the elliptical. Do your exercises every day. I followed all her instructions.
The treacherous, snowy sidewalks forced me to run all training runs on the treadmill. Seventeen miles was on my plan for the upcoming long run. Just seventeen. I’ve done that many times before. I no sooner had gotten to mile 9 when a sharp needle pain pierced my right knee. I cried out in pain and limped off the treadmill. My eyes filled with tears. I was only two months away and this pain had become the new normal. Why couldn’t my body just get better so I could get back to the training I needed to do for Boston? Would I run the marathon at all? As I rode the bike at PT to prepare for the graston, Lisa honestly was the reason my spirits were lifted. Every time she pointed out all the positives and helped me recognize the immense amount of growth I had made. She also kept my goal in mind and remained confident that I would make it to the start line healthy. Her confidence and kindness kept me determined and gritty. A month before the marathon, I was overjoyed to tell her that I had completed a 23 mile run on hills with zero pain in my IT band. She was right. I was going to make it to the start line healthy.
The weekend finally arrived! My cousin, my husband and I anxiously awaited our start amongst the excitement in the Athletes Village. I was in Hopkinton, Massachusetts! This was really happening! They called my wave. My husband squeezed my hand and said, “This is it!” 30,000 runners surrounded me as we approached the start line. Tears of joy and disbelief filled my eyes and a wave of excitement pulsed through my body as I finally toed the line for the Boston Marathon. The moment of my dreams had arrived. I was really going to do this. The hours of physical therapy and my determination had all brought me to this moment!
Bang! The gun shot rung through the air and we were off! Millions of people lined the streets as we said goodbye to Hopkinton and started our victory run to Boston. The first five kilometers sent us plummeting down three hundred feet of elevation. I gazed around and smiled as the cheers of the crowds carried me from town to town. The Newton Hills and the Heartbreak Hill were next. My quads and calves were in excruciating pain as I climbed three hundred feet of elevation in four miles. I can and I will finish the Boston Marathon! This mantra asked everything from my body and mind with every stride toward Boylston Street. This is it. Just a right on Hereford Street and the final stretch on Boylston was all that stood between my dream and me. I was overwhelmed with joy as I turned onto Boylston Street. There it is! There is the finish line! I had done it! Lisa was right!
I completed the Boston Marathon on April 15th 2019 with zero pain in my IT band. I persevered through 13.1 miles of downhill running and 13.1 miles of uphill climbing with ZERO pain in my IT band. I also finished with an eight minute and thirty second mile average, which shattered my expectations. As I crossed the finish line, all I felt was gratitude. I thanked God for Lisa Matheson and Twin Cities Orthopedics. I was so grateful for everything she had done to not only help my IT band recover in time to accomplish my lifelong dream, but for all she did to help me believe in myself as well. Thank you, Lisa, for being there. Thank you for believing in me, and thank you for helping me believe in myself.