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Two years ago I registered for the Dexter Ann Arbor Half Marathon run. I trained heavily for it and had reached and surpassed my training goal of 12 miles long before the race. Too long before, it turned out. With the race still six weeks away I was side-lined with what was probably a repetitive stress injury. I cried on packet pick-up day and filled race day with other events to keep my mind off my loss; when you've worked so hard for something, it's hard to let it go.

I was forced to take most of that summer off, and only two months after restarting my running schedule in the fall, I slipped on ice and sprained my ankle. I was forced to take most of that winter off, too. I started to believe that I wasn't cut out for running, and since I rely on my fitness schedule to help keep my depression and anxiety at bay, that was a depressing thought. I gave in to my couch potato tendencies, and as I became less active, I struggle with despondency increased, and old injuries started to nag me again. I stopped even thinking about what it felt like to be strong and healthy and to feel deeply content and happy. I had accepted that I was getting older and would probably never have that again, and that I just wasn't able to run a half marathon. I accepted that it just wasn't in me.

Acceptance can be a great ally, but it can also be a hindrance. I had to break through the barrier of my acceptance, and my fear of failure, before I could get out and get moving again. I'm not entirely sure what triggered the move on my part, but I think it began with a cherished memory of early spring mornings spent on running trails, listening to the birds and watching the warm orange sun rise. I missed those moments a lot, so, one morning, last spring, I hit the trail.

It was slow going at first, and I certainly didn't return to running with a half marathon on my mind. Some runs I was barely chugging through two miles, but I was running, and I was running without pain. I changed my routine, running only three days a week and alternating with cross training on another three, a method that is said to help avoid stress injuries. By the end of the summer I was up to four miles, my time down to ten minutes each, and I was still running without pain. I continued through the winter and improved further on my time and distance, plus with all the exercise, the winter blues never visited. Even better, with all the cross and strength training I was doing on the off days, many of my nagging aches and pains, like the pinched nerve pain in my writing arm, had disappeared. I had not just returned to my previous level of fitness, but by safeguarding my injury-prone areas with the new routine I had improved upon it.

I was doing so well, that this spring I signed up for the Dexter Ann Arbor Half Marathon again. This time I "trained" by keeping to my routine and just adding a few miles to my weekend run every few weeks. This spring, this time, I reached race day not only healthy, but in better shape than two years ago, when I had trained so much (too much) harder.

This year I ran that half marathon, in a cold chilly rain. My boys, who always support me in everything, were there at every spectator spot cheering me on from under umbrellas and ponchos. I crossed the finish line, where my boys and my parents were waiting, in just under two hours and eight minutes (2:07:57), averaging about 9:45 per mile. I did it.

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