I’m Still Here: A much needed update on life, running, and babies!

It’s been over a year since I’ve last given an update (holy cow!), but I’ve purposely waited until I had something worthwhile to share.  I think my last post was somewhat of a downer, so I have lots of wonderful things to share, but I don’t have a whole lot of time, so it is going to be a super short and sweet post today.  I’m really looking forward to blogging regularly when the time comes, so just bear with me for now.

  1.  Daisy learned how to sleep (update from my last depressing post about sleep deprivation)!
  2.  I was finally able to start running again in February of this year (14 months postpartum) after solving the problems of my pelvis which happened to be adductor magnus issues.
  3.  I quit my job at Road Runner Sports in order to stay home with Daisy full time and to start my own little business, Suzanne Jakes Photography, which has been keeping me busy and has really inspired me to explore my creative side.

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And here are the really exciting details…

  1.  My little family is expanding by two feet!  I am 30 weeks pregnant and am having a little boy on or around January 18!!  If you are Facebook friends with my mom, you already know this since she let the cat out of the bag. 🙂  I was able to get about 3 months of running in before I got pregnant but was advised not to run at all during this pregnancy because of my pelvic problems.  I ran for the first 9 weeks or so but had to call it quits after that.  Unfortunately, I’m not doing any sort of exercise, which leaves me feeling extremely crappy about myself and makes me worry that I’m doing a disservice to the little babe.  There’s not much I can do that doesn’t irritate my pelvis and just walking and chasing Daisy around is enough to get things inflamed.  I’m only 7 months pregnant and am already experiencing an extreme amount of pain in my pubic bone/pelvis, so all I can do is wait and hope for the best before I can start training again.
  2.  We are moving to Colorado Springs, CO!  I have been living in Southern California for almost 9 years now and have never quite felt at home.  Tad and I have been talking about moving ever since we got married and things only became more serious once we had Daisy.  We’ve traveled to places like Bend, Portland, Sacramento, and CO Springs to find our home and after setting foot in The Springs, we knew it was our place.  We bought our first house together and are moving this weekend…just in time to get things set up before Baby Jakes arrives in January.  I am so so so excited to live in a place like Colorado and am also really looking forward to living and training at altitude.  Stay tuned on all of that. 🙂
  3.  My running dream is still alive!  By the time I have Baby #2, it will have been 3 years since I’ve competed or trained.  Things did not go exactly as I had planned, but I have accepted it and couldn’t be happier with where I am in my life.  I am so crazy happy being a mommy and am also really looking forward to my future and growth with photography.  These last few years have taught me so much about balancing what’s important in my life.  Three years ago, running consumed me.  It was definitely the most important thing to me and had even become an unhealthy obsession.  Running holds a very special place in my heart, but it will never come before my family.  I do have plenty of unfinished business on the roads and on the track, and I will do whatever it takes get healthy and train again.  The dream lives, and I have huge goals that I plan to achieve.

Thanks for reading, and I really look forward to blogging regularly with updates on our new home, Daisy and the new babe, my recovery, and hopefully my road to a come-back in 2016!!

Joy, Sadness, and Hope

It’s been months since I’ve felt inspired to write.  My blog holds 3 unfinished drafts, none of which felt important enough to share with the world or even worth my time to finish.  Tonight is different.  I feel an incredible amount of emotion, and I just need to get out my frustration.

Nothing has brought me more joy than being a mother.  I feel more happiness and love than I ever knew was possible.  And when I look at Daisy and think, “how could I possibly love her anymore than I do at this very moment?,” she somehow manages to burrow her little way into my heart even more that it actually hurts.  I love her so much, it physically hurts.  _DSC0220

This isn’t to say that being a mom is all rainbows and butterflies, in fact, my patience and strength have been tested more these last few months than ever.  The last few nights have been especially difficult, and I know for a fact that my lack of sleep plays a major role in my mood swings and how I  perceive life in general.

I write not because I feel the need to complain or get sympathy, I just need an outlet.  In the past, when I’d had a bad day, I was able to take my anger and frustration out on a run.  Unfortunately, I’m not able to do that at this point (more on that in a bit), so all I have is my husband and my blog, and I really don’t want to take it out on Tad, because he had a rough day himself.  Tonight, I took it out on the elliptical, which will suffice for now but will never come close to taking the place of a solid run.

Daisy has had a really hard time sleeping the past few nights.  Sleeping has never been one of her strong suits, and on a rare good night, she will wake up about 3-4 times.  This means I wake up and go into her room each time to nurse her back to sleep.  As difficult as it sounds to do this several times a night, it’s one of the most beautiful moments that I cherish every second of, knowing this chapter in Daisy’s life will pass far too quickly.  There’s a brief moment when I wake up to her little cry that I feel frustration, but as soon as I set foot in her room and see her little head peeking out of the crib with her arms stretched out, waiting for my embrace, my heart melts, and I hold very dear the closeness of holding her in my arms and being the only one that she needs at that moment.

She has really tested me these past few nights by waking up every hour, sometimes even waking again after only 30 minutes!  Nothing else can be done either, she is inconsolable without my precious boob.  My husband is unable to help with the night feedings, because she doesn’t take a bottle very well during the day if I’m gone and certainly won’t take one at night.  Needless to say, I am beyond sleep-deprived, so much that it actually scares me sometimes.  I feel like I am going to SNAP!

So here I am.  Seven and a half months of sleep deprivation talking.  Seven and a half months have passed since I’ve gotten more than a 4 hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep (it’s usually about 2).  I am. utterly. exhausted.

It’s times like these, when I’m feeling the most helpless and frustrated, that I miss running the most.  My heart aches every single day that I’m not able to run, and the pain is only heightened when other aspects of my life aren’t going as smoothly as I would like.  A piece of me has been taken away, stripped from my core, and it feels as though I am in mourning over the loss of a loved one.

I’ve heard other runners say, “running doesn’t define me.”  Running does define me.  It was my heart and soul.  It was my dream and my future.  It was everything to me.  Without it, I don’t know how to just be.  My heart has been filled with the unbelievable joy of motherhood, but I can’t help but feel an incredible void so strong and so deep that I cry as I type this.

It’s been such a struggle balancing these polar opposite emotions of joy and sadness.  I am so thankful that I have been blessed with such a beautiful and healthy baby girl, and I feel guilty for wanting anything more, but I am sad that I can’t run, I am heartbroken, and as much as it hurts me to say, I feel angry with God.  I always felt closest to Him during my runs and though it has been years since I’ve been to church, running was my church, where I prayed the most.  I just don’t understand why He’s taken that away from me.

The time that I spend with Daisy is so priceless to me, and I cherish every second of it.  She makes the agony of not being able to do what I love most bearable.  Every day that passes does get a little easier to accept the things I can’t control, but it’s the moments when I see a runner pass me on the street, or when I find an awesome trail that would be perfect for a training run, the times I catch myself relishing in a daydream of some of my best runs, or hear of records being broken or runners having significant breakthroughs that hurt the most.

All I am left to do is hope.  Hope for a better night’s sleep.  Hope for another beautiful day with my little girl.  Hope for both physical and emotional healing,  Hope for the day when I can fill that void and run and be myself again.  And hope for acceptance of what’s to come.20140725_172751

A Time to Heal; a Time to Break Down, and a Time to Build Up

My blog has been haunting me for weeks now.  I had every intention of writing a post every week to fill you all in on my recovery, physical therapy sessions, and getting my body back in shape, not only to hold me accountable, but to help any other women who might be suffering from the same issues.  Nothing has gone as I had planned, and I feel discouraged and haven’t had the nerve nor the motivation to get it out in writing.  So here I am with nothing but another boring update on my pelvis.  Brace yourselves.

I’ll start with that amazing appointment with the specialist I had waited months to see at the beginning of April.  Best.  Doctor.  Ever.  She is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist, also known as a Physiatrist, who specializes in non-surgical treatment.  If I had to describe her in one word, it would be, “thorough.”  She spent so much time with me (1.5 hours), asking every detail about my problems, performed a physical exam of my pelvis and back, answered all my questions, and came up with a specific plan of action.

In summary:

  1. She doesn’t think it’s a stress fracture but suggested an MRI or X-Ray to rule it out.  She totally understood my hesitation in doing so, due to my fear of damaging my eggs.  <– I know, seriously…but I don’t want to chance having mutant children.
  2. There doesn’t seem to be a significant amount of calcification around the joints that would lead her to believe I did permanent damage while trying to run through the pain during my pregnancy.
  3. SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) or Osteitis Pubis is very common in athletes, and it is caused by the Relaxin hormone during pregnancy, which doesn’t leave the body for 6-12 months postpartum.
  4. My treatment options are as follows:
  • If I do nothing at all for 6-12 months, she’s confident that I would see improvement.
  • We could try to speed up the recovery by doing 6 weeks of physical therapy.
  • If PT doesn’t help, the next move would be to try laser treatments or PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injections <– this triggers a healing response in the body and has a very good success rate but is still considered ‘experimental,’ and is not covered by insurance, read I can’t afford it.
  • My last option would be to get an X-Ray to determine if I would need surgery to bring the pelvis back together.

So here I am, 6 weeks of PT later, and I haven’t experienced a shred of improvement.  I still can’t run for more than 30 seconds before my pubic bone starts to throb.  I’m over it.  I’m sick of talking about it.  I’m tired of complaining.  I’m just…done.

Things never seem to go according to plan, so I’m going to throw every notion that I had about my future out the window and take it one day at a time.  I’m a runner, and I will always be a runner.  I just can’t run at this moment, and I’m learning to accept that.

This experience has definitely thrown me for a loop.  I definitely feared something like this would happen when I decided to get pregnant, I just didn’t really believe it would happen to me.  Not being able to train for an indefinite amount of time really raises a lot of questions about my running career and future.  My eyes have been set on the 2016 Olympic Trials, but that dream is long gone and has forced me to significantly change some goals around.

It takes 6-8 years to really develop a runner and build a solid base to reach one’s full potential.  I only have 3.5 years of experience under my belt and have been set back quite a bit by this year and a half or so of time off.  Because I’m such a late bloomer, I truly believe that I can be competitive on the national level for another 10 years.  It’s so hard being a woman in this sport, because we don’t reach our peak in performance until our mid 30s, which happens to coincide with the time that we really should be having babies.  I am not interested in taking the next year or two to fully recover and get back in top shape just to compete for another year before it’s time to have another baby.  I cannot go through this recovery process twice.   _DSC0290

I’m not going to call it my plan…let’s just be safe and call it a goal.  I want to have another baby, like, yesterday.  I’ll be writing a post here shortly about some mommyhood stuff, but let me just say that I am truly, madly, deeply, head-over-heels in love with my little girl, and I cannot wait to have another one!!!  All the fun baby stuff aside, I also really need to be done with pregnancy as soon as possible so I can focus on recovering and my running career.

Unfortunately, I can’t always get what I want.  In a perfect world, I would get pregnant tomorrow, my pelvis would magically fix itself, I’d run through my entire pregnancy, miraculously get back in shape in 2 months and qualify for the OTs in 2016.  Ha!  Instead, I’ve got to wait until I see improvement in my pelvis before I can even think about getting pregnant again.  My doctor says that if I get pregnant while I’m still having problems, I can risk permanent damage and an arthritic pelvis, and I’ll probably never run again.  Bummer.

So what’s a girl to do?  I’m just going to wait.  I wish I could cast out this demonic Relaxin hormone but will instead sit around and wait for it to leave my body in another 1-6 months.  The other sad thing is that if I do see improvement and am finally able to start running again, the doctor said I should not run at all during my next pregnancy, because the SPD will most likely be as bad, if not worse, the next time around.

I can’t help myself from running the numbers.  Let’s say it takes my body 9 months to get rid of that hormone, and I’m finally able to run pain-free in September.  I get preggo again in October, have another babe in July, and take a full year before I am able to really run again.  That’ll be July of 2016, and I’ll almost be 32 years old.  That will give me 4 years to train for the Trials in 2020!  Let’s do this!

I knew this post would be cathartic.  Seeing it all typed out gives me hope.  It really just boils down to one thing; the most important thing to me is my family.  I may whine and cry about not being able to compete, but I am the happiest I’ve ever been, and sometimes my eyes well up just thinking about how blessed I am.  Sure I will be sad if I’m not able to compete again, crushed even.  It would be even more devastating if I weren’t able to ever run again.  But in the grand scheme of things, I know I’ll be fine, because my little girl makes it all worth it, and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

 

Here’s a little Memorial Day fun!  It was also Daisy’s 5 month birthday!  Yay!

 

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New Look, New Site, New Me.

Greetings and salutations! My life has completely changed over the last few months, so I decided that the blog deserved a complete overhaul.  I’m so excited about sharing weekly updates on my progress and getting back to running. The past few weeks have kind of been a whirlwind.  I’ve been seeing different doctors and therapists who are trying to fix my pelvis, and I also joined a mommy group that keeps Daisy and me very busy!  There is so much to say, but I will have to save it for another time.  I just wanted to introduce you to the new site and hear any feedback or suggestions! Oh, and Daisy says hello… _DSC0698

Patience, Hope, and the Long Road to Recovery

First, I have to say thank you to all of you who responded to my last post.  I was overwhelmed with an outpouring of support from old friends, new friends, and those I’ve never met.  Being a new mom, I have learned that a strong support network is crucial in order to keep your sanity.  It is beyond helpful to hear others’ experiences and know that you’re not alone, that other people understand what you’re going through and that they made it just fine.  Though I didn’t find the time to write responses to most of you, your words were so helpful, encouraging and so very much appreciated.  Thank you!DSC02834

With that said, I am the happiest I’ve ever been.  I am so madly in love with this little munchkin, and when I’m with her, nothing else in the world matters.  Words cannot describe the joy I feel when I hear the playful little noises coming from her room when she wakes up, and I peak my head over her crib to see the sweetest ear-to-ear grin.  Things have gotten easier, she’s sleeping longer through the night, and she’s gotten to the really fun stage where she smiles all the time and is communicating with us.  I could go on forever about Daisy’s milestones and share the thousands of pictures and videos that we’ve taken of her, but this is a blog about running, and I’m here to share with you my road to recovery or lack thereof.

Pregnancy is clearly very hard on the body.  The fact that we have to push a 7-8 lb, 20 in. long BABY out of a very small opening is a miracle in itself, but it’s the other things such as the weight gain, weakened muscles, and loose ligaments that have plagued me since giving birth.  The past few months have not been easy for me.  I’ve been in a huge slump both physically and mentally as far as fitness is concerned.  I tried running 2 or 3 times with no signs of  improvement with my pelvis.  Even going for a walk made it hurt.  I started working again twice a week, and those two nights leave my body feeling broken, like I’m a 90 year old woman.  My knees ache, my pelvis hurts even in my sleep, and I still get little twinges here and there from my long lost friend, the achilles.

So what exactly have I been doing these past 3 months?  Besides embracing all of the joys of motherhood, I have done absolutely nothing.  And I mean nothing.  I had given up.  I had lost all hope.  I’ve had to endure so many months of pain, I don’t even remember what it feels like to be normal.  I can count the number of times I’ve been to the gym on one hand.  The few times I’ve gone to try to do some cardio either left my pelvis aching or my achilles burning.  I’ve completely let myself go because of my “all or nothing” attitude.  If I can’t run, I don’t want to do anything.  Everything else is so excruciatingly boring or causes me pain.  Not being able to run has made me feel empty and broken, and there  has been no light at the end of the tunnel…_DSC0374

until yesterday.  Months ago, I made an appointment with a specialist who I feel will really be able to help me.  I anxiously waited for my appointment, which was supposed to be last week, but due to the nightmare with our healthcare system (thank you, Obama, for this “affordable” new health insurance that is almost twice as much as what we were paying before), we had to change our insurance (again) in order to see the doctors who I need to see.  So I had to push my appointment back another two weeks.   Having to wait so long to see this doctor is actually one of the reasons why I’ve put off all forms of exercise out of fear that I’ll do even more damage to my pelvis.  My appointment is on April 2nd, and I am really looking forward to getting some answers and really starting this recovery.

So back to yesterday….

Tad, Daisy and I went for a walk at the park yesterday, and I probably walked about a mile and didn’t feel any pain.  When we got to the car, I put the baby down (I was wearing her in my fabulous ergo baby carrier) and jogged (I hate that word) probably 400 meters with no pain.  This. is. HUGE!  Yes, things felt weird, my lower abdomen felt funky, and I felt like I had to pee, but I didn’t feel that horrible ache in my pelvis.  Progress!!!!DSC02866

It was kind of a wakeup call for me.  There is still hope, and I just can’t give up.  I have to snap out of this funk and stop feeling sorry for myself.  The longer it takes to heal the harder it’s going to be to come back, but there are little things I should be doing to make it easier for me like strengthening exercises for my achilles, weights, and I just have to grin and bear it and do some cardio in the gym.

I know it’s going to be a long road to recovery, and this whole process has even made me change some of my future plans (stay tuned).  I am so far behind my other friends and competitors my age, and every year that passes, I feel more and more anxious like time is running out for me.  But in the grand scheme of things, I’ve got fresh legs and another good 10 years of training ahead of me.  Deena Kastor is 41 years old and still winning races and making world teams.  Kara Goucher is 35 and still making changes in her career and has plenty of room for PRs.  The winner of the 2008 Olympic Marathon was 38 years old.  I have to remind myself that there is plenty of time, and I just have to be patient.  I know my time will come.2014 Dallas Rock n Roll Half Marathon

Meet Miss Daisy!!

It’s hard to believe that I wrote my last post over two months ago.  It’s hard to remember even what it was like being pregnant.  I look at pictures of myself from a month ago and can’t believe how huge I was!!!  It’s unbelievable how time flies, and I can’t believe I have a daughter. 🙂 Image

Daisy is now 4 weeks old, and it has been quite a ride!  I had written a very detailed version of her birth story that was mainly intended to  keep for myself so that I could remember all the details for years to come, and I thought about sharing it with the world, but after some thought, I like the idea of keeping that for myself and giving you all the abbreviated version. Image

In my last post, I shared that I was going to have a natural birth, and that I felt really confident in myself, my husband, and the Bradley Method, but things didn’t go as I had hoped.  I really went into it without any fears, but God had a different plan than I!!

Daisy was due on December 20, and that day came and went.  It really is true what they say about the last 3 weeks of pregnancy (weeks 37-40), as soon as you hit that 37th week, which is considered “full term,” those last weeks are a total waiting game.  Once that due date rolls around, you’ve already been sitting and twiddling those thumbs for three weeks.  I definitely got cranky and uncomfortable, and I tried not to let all the phone calls and texts asking me, “any news yet?” bother me.  Even though I would have been overdue, I wanted to have a Christmas baby, but I came to my senses and decided that I wanted to go into labor on Christmas night after all the festivities were over, so I could actually enjoy the holiday with my family.

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Still smiling at this stage! I had no idea what was in store.

Our power of intention is pretty amazing, because I went into labor Christmas evening.  I started getting contractions around 7-8 pm or so, but I ignored them while my family was still here.  It wasn’t until around 10 pm that I was pretty sure the contractions were real and not just false labor.  I tried to get some sleep but only ended up taking about an hour and a half nap on the couch where I was awoken by a contraction every 10 minutes.  I got up a little after 2 am and tried to get in bed only to realize that I wasn’t able to sleep through the contractions anymore.  Tad woke up and started getting things ready, like packing my hospital bag (I’m such a procrastinator) and helping me relax and time my contractions.

Long story short, I labored at home for a long time.  Everything was going smoothly, and my contractions were progressing nicely.  I wanted to stay at home as long as possible and was hoping to get to the hospital right before I was ready to push.  I followed all of the little rules of when you should go to the hospital like 4-1-1 (contractions are 4 minutes apart, lasting at least a minute for at least an hour) and the emotional sign posts that we learned about in our classes (really focused, rituals, loss of modesty, and in my case – self doubt).We arrived at the hospital around 10:30 am after laboring for almost 15 hours, and was certain that the baby was coming soon.  After my exam to check dilation, we were told I was only………. wait for it……… 2 cm!!!!  I honestly couldn’t believe it and thought that something HAD to be wrong.  I had heard the stories of women believing that they were further along coming to find that they were only 3 cm dilated, but 2?!  I was angry and confused and really started to doubt that I could handle the pain any longer.

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Clearly, I did not care what I looked like going into the hospital…

I labored for another agonizing 8 hours without any medication, but by around 6 pm or so, I couldn’t handle it any longer.  I really started to panic through each contraction and truly believed I couldn’t take one more.  I begged my husband (after several failed attempts) to get the epidural.  I knew in my heart that it was necessary for me to continue, and after Tad spoke to my doctor (who specializes in unmedicated and natural births, we all thought it was the best decision.  Dr. Cap was concerned that because I had been laboring for so long, I might not have the strength to push the baby out, which would introduce a whole new set of problems.

It’s worth mentioning that the hospital was EXTREMELY busy that day.  Each request or call for a nurse seemed to take an eternity, and every nurse that came into the room kept saying how busy they were.  When I begged Tad to have the epidural, he really wanted me to have an exam to see how far along I was before we went through with it.  I refused, because I knew how long it would take to have the nurse come in, and I didn’t want to have to wait only to find out that I was only 5 cm and then wait again for the anesthesiologist.  When we did request the epi, it took about 45 minutes to an hour to finally get it.After the epidural (which really did not provide me with much relief), I was pushing within 15 minutes, and Daisy was born about 45 minutes later at 8:17 pm on December 26, weighing in at 8 lb 1 oz!

Looking back on it now, I was probably in transition (the hardest stage of labor) when I asked for the epidural, and if I’d only waited another hour, I would have had a natural childbirth.  OR, I can believe that the epidural is exactly what I needed in order to let my body relax and give me that last push to open up.  I was in labor for 24 hours and 23 of those hours were unmedicated, and for that I am proud.  But the most important thing is that I have the most beautiful healthy baby girl, who I am madly in love with.  Image
I had to stay in the hospital for 2 nights because I had some major swelling.  During those 2 nights, Daisy lost 13 oz, which was much more than the 5-6% drop that’s normally seen in babies, and continued to lose even more weight over the next couple of days.  Her lowest weight was 7 lb 1 oz, and the doctors really had me concerned, and I felt so sad and depressed that I was slowly starving and killing my baby by trying to breastfeed.  The last few weeks have been extremely stressful and emotional for me with lots of visits to the doctor and several meetings with lactation consultants.  Since day one, I’ve had to pump and supplement for every feeding (every 2 hours), which has been beyond exhausting.  I never understood why women always talked about how exhausting breastfeeding was.  I seriously thought that you just fed a baby breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and that the sleepless nights were just mom and dad trying to calm a crying baby and change some diapers.  Little did I know…

I am happy to say that little Daisy is now a whopping 8 lb!!  She is a perfectly healthy little babe!  Things are still a little rough.  I’m still supplementing and pumping, which takes so much time and hasn’t really allowed me to get out much.  I am absolutely dying to run again.  We’ve gotten out for a couple walks here and there, but unfortunately I still have pretty bad pelvic pain.  It’s gone away for the most part, meaning I no longer have to waddle from point A to point B, but anything longer than a trip to the fridge at a “brisk” walking pace, causes my pubic bone to once again scream in agony.  I actually tried running the other day (at 3 weeks postpartum), and it was so painful!  I ran through it for about 3/4 of a mile, because it felt so good to be “running” again.  Image

Apparently, 6 weeks is the norm to take off after having a baby, but for some reason, I was under the impression that my pelvic pain would magically disappear after childbirth, that I’d be running after 2 weeks, and back to full speed at 6 weeks.  I guess I just have to be patient.  Honestly, sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to run again.  Whenever I voice that to my husband or to a family member or friend, they just respond with a “just give it time,” or “you’ll be fine,” but what do they really know?  I was in pain for so long, and it was so severe, it’s hard to imagine life without it.  I’ve tried to prepare myself with the thought that I may never be able to compete the way I once did or the way I know I could, ever again.  It sounds dramatic, but it could be a reality.  I pray that I am just being dramatic.

I don’t ever want it to seem like I am ungrateful for the incredible blessings in my life such as my new little family, but running is extremely important in my life, and I’m going to continue to do everything I can to get to the level that I know I am capable of.  For now, I’m going to embrace my new role as a mother and try to be patient with this healing process.  I can’t wait for the day when I’m able to run pain-free and push my body to its limit.  I’ll keep you posted on my recovery and my progress.  Until then, I’ll be following the track world and dreaming of my first race back.  I’ll leave you with a few of my favorites…
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