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Races–and a Place–for All

August 30, 2010
by

No need to cross the Pacific--or turn to fiction. True story: I was surrounded by 4,000+ varieties of strong women this weekend.

Let me just get this, a secret of sorts I’ve been keeping from you for a few weeks, off my chest: I won’t be running the 2010 New York City Marathon.

I have a stress fracture in the second metatarsal, which is fancy-speak for the bones that are in the middle of the foot. I started having pain in the top of my foot in about, oh, week 2 of marathon training, and did what I knew I should do: iced regularly, cross-trained, waited until it felt better. Except it didn’t get the “feel better” memo. So I spent a ton of time on the bike, stopped filling out my portion of my training plan so I didn’t feel like I was deceiving anybody and googled stress fracture and top of foot and running way too many times. After 95% of the articles I read told me the same thing, I had to face the facts: I am (once again) broken.

An orthopedist confirmed it for me about 10 days ago, but I told him I wanted 13.1 more miles on my feet, and 51 more miles on my bike; I had my Leadville and Skirtchaser homework to complete, plus the Venus de Miles to ride. (That said, this fracture, unlike the one I got in my heel while I trained for the Nike Women’s Marathon in 2007, is not debilitating. I could barely hobble with that one; this one feels more like a constant bee sting and I can easily still walk.)  The doc, obviously, didn’t condone my plan, but he said just be smart, stop if it gets worse and make an appointment in six weeks from the date I put on the boot.

I will put on the boot, that clunky, hot, unforgiving thing, tomorrow morning. (The only good news? I saved mine from 3 years ago. Way to save money, huh? Oh, and I don’t have to have a soft cast, which I had to have with my heel, so none of that awkward plastic-bag-and-rubber-bands shower thing.)

The more important good news? I went out with a bang. Colorado was awash in athletic estrogen this weekend and am still high on the the fumes. Saturday: Skirtchaser 5k. Sunday: Venus de Miles, the first all-women’s ride in ‘rado. I have nothing against straight-up races: pin on a number, run, grab a bagel, head home, check your results later.

But I was reminded this weekend, there’s so much more you can do with a race.

To wit: Skirtchaser. The athletes who get a skirt instead of a tee with entry, milling around at the start looked smart and stylish. “I’ve never seen so much pink,” said my little sis, before pointing out a dress she thought I should run NYC in. (She wasn’t clued into my foot issues.) Afterwards, burritos, salads, microbrewed beer, a kickin’ band that brought me back to my 80’s high school years. I wanted to stay later than my bedtime. (One really? goes out to the talented female runners who finished top two but didn’t wear skirts on the stage to claim their $500 and $250 prizes, respectively. You don’t have to embrace–or even race–in a skirt, but at least play along when you take the money.)

Warm egg-and-potato burritos started my second-half of my weekend double-header this morning. Finishing it, I headed towards the port-a-potties, where there was a table set up with tampons and sunscreen, and I knew this event was sweating the details. I was right. There were belly dancers to charm riders up a tough hill; food so tasty and so plentiful, I ate more calories than I burned through 51 miles of pedaling (I swear I had some unbelievable balsamic cream cheese on a bagel at the second rest stop, but no other rider knew what I was talking about); henna tattoos and manicures; and a few post-ride cocktail options that nicely complimented the coconut water on the course.

Do you need a skirt or free tampons to race? Obviously not. And I know some old-schoolers probably are probably not onboard with this trend of making races girly-girly, but I’m sold. Full-on feminine races–these two, plus the Zooma half-marathons, the Nike Women’s Marathon, and the IronGirl series, to name some others–bring out a spirit and a sisterhood unmatched at other events.

They’re not just about how fast your legs can run or spin. They’re about creating a vibe, pre-race, so you don’t think twice about asking, “How’s it going?” or complimenting a stranger on the course. They’re about hanging out long after the results are posted. They’re about handing the air mike to a friend to let her belt out, “Don’t stop believin!” as you jam on wobbly legs. (I think I’ve heard that song more in the past 2 days than I’ve heard collectively in my life.) They’re about strengthening the bonds of friendships, and maybe forging new ones. They’re about toasting to a job well done–and then making plans to do it again next year.

In other words, they’re about celebrating your whole self.

I’m not sure what my whole self will look like in six weeks; I’m pretty sure another road marathon isn’t gonna happen for me. That’s hard to type, and harder to admit, but this weekend reassured me of one very important thing: I can always find a place among our tribe of strong, amazing women that makes me feel complete, no matter how broken I seem.

68 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2010 4:41 am

    Oh Dimity I am so sorry to hear about your stress fracture, I know that is crushing news. But way to go with the races you truly went out with a bang! I am so big on women’s races. My very first race years ago was ten NYC Women’s Mini which was a 10k. As a first time runner I felt comfortable and supported by the crowd of all women.

    Fast forward to this year (and a long lapse in running- baby and an extra 50+ pounds can do that to you) and my first race after 5 years was the Skirt Chaser here in Atlanta after losing 40 plus pounds. I had a hip injury but was determined to run a half marathon and while healing raised over $4000 for the leukemia and lymphoma society and after resting my hip I am now training to run Nike in October!

    Yesterday I ran my longest distance ever 10 miles – never thought I would do such a thing. I only need to add a 5k to meet my half marathon goal and it is clearly going to happen. I’m just so happy that I’ll be comp,sting this goal in the company of women.

    Hopefully I’ll meet you there, I can’t wait!

    • August 30, 2010 7:52 pm

      Hey Renee–thanks for the kind words. And congrats on you for carrying on through weight gain, babies, injuries, and all that jazz. Would love to see you SF. Stay tuned. xo.

  2. August 30, 2010 4:57 am

    I had noticed the log was “behind” but I just thought you were like me (procrastinator…I mean, uh–BUSY). I can only imagine just how hard this post was to write-at least the beginning and end. I’m so very sorry to hear about you having to give up NYC. I currently run with an amazing woman who had ruptured her planter facia several years ago…and her husband had the worst metatarsal fracture the podiatrist had “ever seen” (so bad no local dr-in Huntsville, AL-would operate on it, which it was going to need if he ever wanted to run again). He found a doc who would do the surgery and has come back to be a race leader (like top 5-10 in every race he’s in). She healed up and is now back to training for her next 1/2 (her distance of choice).

    ….This too shall pass.

    • August 30, 2010 7:53 pm

      Thanks, Dana. And for the record: I am a procrastinator. Especially when it comes to filling out training logs..usually I’m like, “Um, it’s Sunday. What did I do Monday—7 days ago–again?” So you’re not too far off the mark.

      Fortunately, no surgery for me. So I’ve got that going for me. 🙂

  3. August 30, 2010 5:53 am

    So sorry to hear about your injury. I know how much that ‘hurt’; last year at this I tore the IT band in my knee. I still forged on to the Chicago Marathon but did not yield anywhere near the results that I hoped for.
    It does sound that you went out with a bang- at least you are still smiling ( at least it sounds like it) Tomorrow is a new day!!!!!

    • August 30, 2010 7:54 pm

      Thanks, Christa. I forged through for the Nike Women’s Marathon in 2007, training on the bike, but really have no desire to train on two wheels to run 26.2 on two feet again. I’ll still be watching for your Chicago report…it’s coming up!

  4. August 30, 2010 6:01 am

    I’m terribly sorry about your fracture. Glad that you aren’t hobbling around though.

    Sounds like you had a great time at your races over the weekend! I’ve heard so much about Skirtchaser and IronGirl, I would love to race in them someday. They don’t come very close to WV (good excuse for a roadtrip though). I love girly events; the energy is always so positive!

    Take care of that foot. A little R&R never hurts!

    • August 30, 2010 7:56 pm

      Heather: you’re right. I think as moms we don’t take enough R+R, so this is a good excuse to. 🙂 Curious: where are you in WV? Are you anywhere close to the http://www.freedomsrun.org/? I know the Race Director and he’d like us to come to race, but it’s a long way to go for us west of the Mississippi…

  5. Amanda permalink
    August 30, 2010 6:40 am

    Dimity, I’m sorry to hear you’re broken. I imagine that is a big let down. At least you have a cool excuse to tell people when you drop off the kids and they ask how it happened. “I got a stress fracture while training for NY marathon and ran a few races before they wrestled me into this” is much cooler than saying “I tripped over the curb at Costco because I couldn’t see over the tub of Twizzlers.” By my calculation, you’ll still be booted (and unable to run) by the time you speak at the Denver Stroller Strides mom’s night out. Don’t worry about that. Erin has a double Bob, and she’s used to pushing a weighted load. Let me know whether you want a Blizzard or a Dipped Cone, and I’ll bring one so you have a snack for the long ride. Erin won’t mind at all.

    • August 30, 2010 7:57 pm

      Amanda: I’m cracking up. Can’t wait to meet you @ Stroller Strides…so excited for that. Since you asked, I’m a blizzard girl. Heath, preferably. But I’m betting I’m not fitting in her stroller. 🙂 I’ll still be there @ the beginning to cheer all you cool moms on! xo.

  6. August 30, 2010 7:46 am

    So very sorry to hear about your fracture, Dimity! You know, God doesn’t close a door without opening a window! Let’s hope He lets some wonderful sunshine into your world! I love the race report – sounds like a great race! All the good, girlie things…wow, how fun for the chicks! What a great weekend! Hugs to you for embracing it in light of your news!

    • August 30, 2010 7:57 pm

      Thanks, Mary. I really tried to see the good and not drown in the bad this weekend. Opening up the window, one crack at a time. 🙂

  7. August 30, 2010 7:47 am

    So sorry…

    • August 30, 2010 7:59 pm

      Thanks, Jenny. I’ll miss NYC for sure–I just love the energy of that race–but I think it’s a bigger lesson to me in how I have to train. Triathlons, trail runs, still more emphasis on form.

  8. August 30, 2010 8:06 am

    Hi Dimity,
    It was good to see you at the Skirt Chaser, however brief. I was going to email you last week about your foot and then time got away from me and then I wasn’t able to talk much at the race. I’m sorry about your foot!!! I understand the difficulty in admitting the marathon isn’t in your cards. But as you said, you have other avenues you can count on to be there for you and they will be fun and challenging in a whole different level. And when you’re done healing and I’m done pretending my heel isn’t anything and it finally heals, we’ll go get a cocktail and find something we can do together, perhaps – something girly-pink – and FUN!!
    ((hugs))

    • August 30, 2010 7:59 pm

      Thanks, Jill. I meant to ask you about your heel on Saturday…any news? Wanna share my boot? We could paint it pink…:) xo.

  9. August 30, 2010 8:24 am

    Oh Dimity, that stinks. I’m sorry your foot is broken and the race is off. How frustrating to go through another injury! So awesome you finished your “homework”- again you inspire- and to be able to follow your journey as you make your way to the other side of this injury-I know you will continue to inspire. Even through the sucky, frustrating parts. This past weekend was a helluva way to kick off your recovery period!!

    • August 30, 2010 8:00 pm

      Thanks, Jo. I knew I couldn’t just call it quits when the doc said I should, so I made a bargain: finish two more weekends of events, then call off the big one. It still sucks, but it would’ve sucked more if I didn’t have a little control over my future.

  10. August 30, 2010 8:26 am

    Sorry to hear about your sfx! Be good to yourself while you heal.

    • August 30, 2010 8:01 pm

      Thanks. I feel like running *is* the way I’m good to myself, so hard to think of other avenues right now, but I’m sure I can come up with a few….

  11. Tryna permalink
    August 30, 2010 8:26 am

    While I can’t imagine how hard it was to type that you probably won’t do another road marathon, I love that you are already embracing other sports and ideas. And something to keep in mind, the body is an amazing thing, maybe as the kids get older and life gets less crazy the road marathon will circle back into your life. Right now is the time for trying new things, have a blast!

    • August 30, 2010 8:19 pm

      Hey Tryna–thanks for the note. I will still always be a runner, but I may be a runner who maxes out at 15 miles a week, 3 times a week, at a 10/minute pace. That’s cool. I just don’t want the sport totally taken away from me. But I’ve got 6 weeks to dream up new plans and goals, and I’m looking forward to it…

  12. August 30, 2010 8:30 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about your foot. I hope it heals quickly.

    • August 30, 2010 8:19 pm

      thanks, tracy. the healing quickly part? you and me both. 🙂

  13. realrellim permalink
    August 30, 2010 9:06 am

    The foot news is miserable, though I’m glad to hear you were able to enjoy the weekend’s events anyhow. Thanks for reminding the rest of us to do that too.

    • August 30, 2010 8:20 pm

      I tried to be a “big girl” this weekend and I think I actually achieved that perspective. Score a victory for that one. (BTW, love your little avatar/red thing. *So* cute.)

  14. sassy permalink
    August 30, 2010 9:12 am

    please be gentle to yourself and your body. you will need both long past any running race. i’m just sayin’…

  15. Michelle permalink
    August 30, 2010 9:28 am

    I’m so sorry to hear that. I was really, REALLY, rooting for you! Time to heal and come back strong.

    • August 30, 2010 8:11 pm

      Thanks for rooting for me, Michelle: I can’t tell you how much that means to me. Continue to send those positive vibes!

  16. Jess M permalink
    August 30, 2010 9:56 am

    Tears came to my eyes as I read your post. Injuries just suck!

    • August 30, 2010 8:10 pm

      Thanks for your empathy, Jess. Yes, in a sentence, injuries just suck. You’ve got that right-o.

  17. Amy permalink
    August 30, 2010 10:09 am

    I hate injuries and I am so sorry you are going through this again. Setbacks of all sorts introduce a whole new perspective on things… Thanks for letting us follow along on your journey.

    • August 30, 2010 8:09 pm

      Thanks for following, Amy…hopefully I can continue to inspire and entertain even with a setback or two…

  18. Heidi permalink
    August 30, 2010 11:02 am

    Dimity – That sucks. So sorry to hear about your stress fx. Ugh.

    And yet – you just seem positively positive about it – and I truly admire you for that. I had a tibia stress fx in the middle of marathon training a couple years ago, and I did not handle it anywhere near as gracefully as you. I sulked, pouted and cried for months afterwards.

    You are so right about women’s racing – I did an IronGirl event last year for the first time, because I admit, I really wanted the pink shirt – and it was so empowering to be out with a bunch of women, just a sea of pink power – I loved it and plan to do it again.

    • August 30, 2010 8:09 pm

      Heidi: thank you for thinking I’m such the picture of dignity. The truth is, I’ve had about a month to have it marinate in my mind. Ask SBS: I have not be all cheery about it. I’ve been teary and mad and pissed that all I’ve done is run with proper form (or form that’s definitely getting better), and this is what I get? Bah. So don’t put me on a pedestal…and I still have 6 weeks to complain!

      Sea of pink: love that phrase. There’s something that’s just so strong and beautiful about that. (Even if you just wanted the shirt. :)).

  19. Katie permalink
    August 30, 2010 11:28 am

    Grab the goggles and cap and head to the pool! You will heal quickly. I know it.

    • August 30, 2010 8:07 pm

      Oh, how I love the goggle marks that linger 2 hours post-workout, Katie. But am going to get up my courage to head to a DU practice and swim with the big guns. Hope I don’t get swum over.

  20. Terzah permalink
    August 30, 2010 11:31 am

    Dimity, I notice you said you’ll probably not do another *road* marathon. But there are a lot of good *trail* marathons out there. Good luck with your healing!

    • August 30, 2010 8:06 pm

      Good eye, Terzah: and I’ve definitely had my eye on some trail races. I love them: the adventure, the terrain, the cammraderie (sp?). Not sure if I’d take on 26.2 on a trail, but definitely shorter distances. Have you run any in Boulder you like?

  21. Heather permalink
    August 30, 2010 11:44 am

    So sorry about your injury. I had a stress fracture in my hip last year after completeing my first 1/2 marathon. With 4 small children at home (one of which wasn’t walking…., try taking care of her on crutches!) it was devestating to have my “me” time taken away. I know you must be really bummed about missing out on NY. I hope your foot heals fast and you are back out there ASAP!!!

    • August 30, 2010 8:04 pm

      Hi Heather: The good news is no crutches. No idea how you weathered that one…good for you. That me-time being gone is a huge loss for sure. It’s not so much the running (well, actually, it is), but it’s the rhythm and the ritual of the mornings, when I reset my mind and spirit and get ready to take on the day. I can do it in the pool or on the bike, but it just doesn’t feel as good or clean.

  22. August 30, 2010 12:21 pm

    So sorry to hear about your injury! I hope you heal quickly!

  23. Jackie permalink
    August 30, 2010 4:13 pm

    I am pherclempft reading this. So sorry about your injury. You have been such an inspiration to me these last few months. Be strong!

    • August 30, 2010 8:02 pm

      Thanks, Jackie. I hope to continue to inspire, albeit in less grand ways. As an editor once told me, the marathon gets all the glory, but I’m on a personal mission to change that. 🙂

  24. Penny Aguilera permalink
    August 30, 2010 4:23 pm

    I have not seen a doctor yet, but am 99% positive I too have a stress fracture. I’ve been in denial, because I have so many running goals to get to.

    This morning, as I hobbled painfully around the neighborhood walking my dog, I remembered back to when I first started running.

    There was this great Runner’s World article about two women training for the Nike Marathon. I was so impressed how the “tall one” trained on the bike through her stress fracture.
    I even remember her playing “Mr. Brightside” to keep motivated.

    I will use that memory, and inspiration to get through my own injury.
    Know that you will continue to inspire us all, Dimity.

    • Karen G. permalink
      August 30, 2010 5:07 pm

      I love this!! So so true.

      • Kerry permalink
        August 30, 2010 7:12 pm

        Me too…my injury wasn’t a stress fracture, just really weak ligaments since I was still breast feeding the first LO, but I read, and re-read that article over and over again for inspiration as I put my miles in while going nowhere.

        Get well Dimity – brave girl for stopping.

        your core work will help…and take a look at why you are getting stress fractures too….

        • August 30, 2010 8:24 pm

          Thank you sweet, sweet ladies for reminding me how RLAM got started in the first place: because we wanted to solidify this amazing group of strong, supportive women. I vaguely remember that article (so funny you remember Mr. Brightside, Penny: my new favorite, albeit old, Killers song is the one that goes, “Somebody told me you had a boyfriend…”). I entertained training on the bike again, but I don’t think I have the drive to do it again, plus cycling aggravates my foot a little more than it did when the fracture was in my heel. But thanks again ladies. And Penny: time to see a doc. When you’re hobbling walking the dog, it’s time to wave that blanco flag. I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know innately. 🙂 xo.

  25. Becca permalink
    August 30, 2010 4:26 pm

    From the moment I finished RLAM you became my running hero. Heroine. Still are. Even more so now. Hang in there.

    • August 30, 2010 8:14 pm

      Thanks, Becca. *That* brings the good kind of tears to my eyes. Hanging in there because I have to, because I want to, and because I’ve got so much good love coming my way. Gracias.

  26. Karen G. permalink
    August 30, 2010 5:06 pm

    Thank you, Dimity, for sharing such a difficult time with us. I so admire your honesty, and as an injured runner it helps me to hear your outlook. Sometimes our plans have to change, and so you do more races close to home and I adjust my goals. To do that without the support of you and Sarah would be more difficult that I’d like to even think about. Your experiences, shared with us, become a sort of buoy that keeps me above water. One thing I decided to do, and it has been much easier (emotionally) and more fun that I thought it’d be, is to volunteer at the races I was originally scheduled to run in. Next weekend I will volunteer at a half marathon, directing runners along the trail, and after that I will be putting medals around women’s necks at the finish of an Iron Girl event. I’ll probably be crying the whole time, experiencing each and every woman’s finish with them, but I can’t wait! Much love to you as you continue on your journey!

    • August 30, 2010 8:16 pm

      What a sweet note, Karen. Thank you. I know you’ve really been struggling and I’m proud of you for choosing to volunteer. I’ll be honest: I’ve been at a couple races w/injuries and it’s a roller coaster: you’re so psyched for all the runners, and so *not* psyched for yourself. But being injured is a huge part of my–and too many others–running career, unfortunately, so I’m happy to throw out the life preserver. Much love to you too. xo.

  27. August 30, 2010 5:25 pm

    Thats a total bummer! Have you had a bone density scan lately? it just seems so early in your training to get a stress fracture… You wouldn’t BELIEVE the amount of information I’ve gotten about calcium absorbtion/VitD levels and Bone density that I had to push my doctors for and do my own research. It seems that you have to fall apart for them to acknowledge then they want to fix you with drugs instead of appropriate lifestyle changes. BIG sigh.

    Isn’t being surrounded by so many women on a mission so inspiring??? Thats why I love Nike and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about united voices for a cause is more likely heard and about how strong we can be together through these organizations.

    • August 30, 2010 8:26 pm

      Hey Tina: good points to consider. I’m pretty sure I know why I got the fracture: training to land on midfoot, and my big toe has a huge bunion that doesn’t allow my big toe, strong part of my foot to absorb any weight. I’m taking calcium, multivitamin, fish oil, and glucosamine, so hopefully something in there will stick. 🙂

  28. Csaf permalink
    August 30, 2010 6:46 pm

    Gosh Dimity — I’m so sorry. 😦

  29. August 30, 2010 6:59 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about your stress fracture. I had one many years ago from high impact aerobics. Time off is really the only medicine.

    Skirts do lead to new friendships. I made a good running friend this summer because we both wear RunningSkirts; our technological world helped too.

    Feel better.

    • August 30, 2010 8:13 pm

      Love the skirts. Hate the stress fractures. Thanks for your words, Cynthia. I hear you on the time off.

  30. Laurie permalink
    August 30, 2010 8:10 pm

    I was so excited to meet you yesterday at Venus (you asked if I trained with Carmichael and I laughed) and we talked briefly about your training and I’m so sorry to hear today that you won’t be running but glad that you’re doing the right thing by resting it. Definitely hit the pool and work on that swim! And thank you for being such an inspiration!!

    Oh and I know exactly what you’re talking about with the bagels – but I think the pimento jalapeno one was better!! Such good food!

    • August 30, 2010 8:12 pm

      Hey Laurie: You’re a braver woman than me w/regard to the bagels. They looked good, but I was scared I’d taste them again when we hit another hill or headwind. 🙂

      Fun to meet you too, and thanks for bringing your whole entourage over to the RLAM table. Sorry I wasn’t honest with you there, but easier to type than talk about….get a little choked up still. Keep in touch. xo.

  31. Pip permalink
    August 30, 2010 9:30 pm

    Thinking of you Dim as you work through what this injury means. I’ll call you soon to plan a non running outing 🙂

  32. Candice Kingston permalink
    August 30, 2010 10:53 pm

    Hi Dimity,
    So nice to meet you friday night… thanks for coming! I am so sorry about your news but glad that you went out with a bang with the weekend! Take it easy, and maybe I will see you around town!
    Candice

  33. Trish permalink
    August 30, 2010 11:35 pm

    Bummer Dimity, feel better. I know you will find someway to make lemonade from the sack of lemons tossed your way. Thinking of you and wishing you a speedy recovery. You have a big following of supporters out there, use us!! We are all runners, moms, athletes, sisters together!! Be well!

  34. Christine permalink
    August 31, 2010 6:02 am

    Dimity –
    So so sorry to hear about your stress fracture. That stinks! I love how you resisted the doc for as long as you could while sort of knowing what was to come. I hope you heal fast and conquer your next goal stronger than ever. You are a strong woman for writing road marathons are not in your future. I play that in my head often these days but do not yet have the courage to admit it out loud. So be well and keep discovering how strong you are and can be!

  35. August 31, 2010 12:53 pm

    I’m so sorry Dimity. You gave me wonderful advice a few weeks back about my foot/leg issue and I can commiserate with you. When you wrote the words “probably won’t do another road marathon” my heart sank for you. It really did. I hope you heal fast and don’t drown your sorrows with boxed Target wine like me. Though if you do, the Pinot Grigio is very good. 😉

  36. September 2, 2010 9:35 pm

    Sorry to hear about your injury! I can relate: I have just faced the fact that I have to drop out of my first half marathon, due to an IT band injury. Strangely, I’m not that disappointed. I’m just happy I got through the training! My injury occurred after I started to taper. Wornout shoes, maybe?

    Haven’t run a women-only race before, but the Skirtchaser sounds like a lot of fun!

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