For the beginning portion of 2015, I struggled with a right ankle injury. I had spent the winter months on a treadmill in my basement, November, December, January and February, averaging 200-225 miles each month. Up until those months, I had worked slowly up to that amount of monthly mileage and thought that my body was going to be able to handle the challenge of running 2,105 miles in the year 2015. In addition to trying to achieve that goal for 2015, I was also beginning to map out a training plan to complete my very first marathon in the fall of 2015; the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY.

When the right ankle injury put me on the sidelines in the middle of March, I was completely devastated. It was hard for me to admit defeat and I had to admit to the injury. For most of February and half of March I had, against my better judgement, been running through the excruciating pain. It was when I was forced to take some time off that I began opening up to some of my running friends about my injury and what I should do for recovery.

I had asked a good friend of mine to coach me through recovery and through marathon training. It was pretty clear to me that I had been overtraining and that I may not have had then proper knowledge to train safely for a successful first marathon. He recommended that I contact Harry Back with ESR Endurance Training. I sat for the rest of March on this name and training   company before I got the courage to finally reach out to Coach Back on April 1st.

After spending all of February and all of March injured, I was ready to see what ESR Endurance Training was all about. During my first phone call with Coach Back I can remember telling him that I refuse to get in the pool and that I dislike running in the cold weather. I also remember telling him that I was going to cross that finish line at Wineglass in October no matter how hard I needed to work. Coach Back asked me to email him with some more information on what the last year of running looked like for me and what some of my goals were for 2015. I recall feeling so motivated while writing this email to him, which was something I was lacking due to my injury.

For the next few weeks, I began to work closely with Coach Back through learning strength training exercises, and running drills. He constructed a training program for me that assisted with my recovery while helping me gain my fitness level back. I really struggled mentally during this time, especially on the days I had to do a walk/run workout when all I really wanted to do was walk. During this recovery time I purchased a stationary bike, which also played a key role in my recovery.

The first race back post injury was the Binghamton Bridge Run 5k in the beginning of May. When I crossed that finish line out of breath and feeling defeated, I can remember thinking, “how in the world am I going to start marathon training in June?” I knew that working with Coach Back and ESR Endurance Training had gotten me back out there and I made the decision to trust in my coach.

Marathon training officially began in June. The majority of my weekday runs were completed solo and after work during the heat and humidity. Many of those runs I felt defeated before I even laced my sneakers up. On the days when I felt so defeated, the feeling of not letting my coach down always overcame me. My workouts would vary between tempo runs, interval runs, long easy paced runs, bike workouts, and speed work days. Let’s be real, marathon training is tough enough; I loved waking up and having my workout already planned for me.

One of my favorite parts of marathon training was always my long run. I made my weekend schedule around the Triple Cities Runners Club Sunday group runs. One any given Sunday, I would run my long run with two – four other running friends who were also marathon training. The advice and encouraging words I got from so many of them while we spent hours running together are words I will always remember and reflect on when I feel like quitting.

There were several times throughout my marathon training when Coach Back had to be more than just a coach who provided me with training workouts. He was an encouraged, a supporter, and a motivator. Even when I was running my 22 mile run in Charlotte, NC, he was just a phone call away to give me the extra boost I needed to believe that I could do it.

Race day was such a celebration for me. The entire week before race day was like that week before Christmas. I met with Coach Back a week or two before race day and it was during that meeting that I really for the first time believed in myself like he believed in me. I can remember him telling me, “you’re going to break 4:00:00”. When race day came, I lined up at that start line knowing, not thinking, knowing that I was going to run a sub 4:00:00.

As each mile passed during the race I kept reminding myself what a gift it is to be able to run a marathon. I kept telling other runners by me, “we’re running a gosh darn marathon people”. Around mile 22 I can remember looking at my watch and thinking that even if I ran a 10:00 mile pace for the rest of the race, I would still break 4 hours as planned and expected. The entire race I was overcome with such a sense of accomplishment; it was such an exciting day for me. As I neared the finish line, I saw so many running friends during the last quarter of a mile, screaming my name and cheering me on. I can remember looking up at that clock as I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes; I had broken 4 hours just as coach said I would.

Post marathon has been a bit of a struggle for me. I recovered two weeks post marathon nicely and then my right ankle began bothering me. My right ankle bothered me on and off during marathon training, but nothing that was so painful I needed to sit on the sidelines. After talking with Coach Back, we decided it would be best to not push the limits and to truly take some time off. He again gave me a great workout schedule that included biking and strength training.

After 6 weeks in physically therapy at Oakdale Physical Therapy, and finally a proper diagnosis of bone bruising in two locations, I agreed with Coach Back that it may be time to get in the pool since I really needed to give myself 12-15 weeks to heal properly. Coach Back helped me become acclimated to aqua running and it has been part of my weekly training workout schedule since.

Coming off of such a high from marathon race day to being injured and sidelined for 12 weeks has been emotionally draining. Somehow I have kept a positive, motivated and driven attitude. My approach has been to commit 100% to my recovery training just as I would to marathon training. I still have the feeling of excitement that overcomes me when I think about my first marathon training experience and race day experience.

I originally said I was only going to run one marathon and be done. Working with Coach Back and ESR Endurance Training has given me a great deal of confidence. I believe in myself enough and in my dedication to my training to say that I will be a participant in the Boston Marathon someday. I am excited to continue to work with Coach Back and ESR Endurance Training; stronger, smarter, healthier, faster.