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How Shalane Flanagan’s injury announcement is getting me through my time off

When elite runner Shalane Flanagan announced last week that an injury had ruined her plans to run Boston, many recreational runners could relate.

Palm Springs is a beautiful place to run. I know this not because I spent the past several days running there (as was the plan when I booked my trip several months ago) but rather because throughout our four-day stay, I was envisioning myself on training runs there.

The sweet, dry air, flower-lined streets, and rows of palm trees hovering above us would have made it an ideal training setting. But with a stress fracture on the mend, the reality was that I was bound to only a minimal amount of walking. I knew going into the trip that there were going to be some challenging moments because of this, and there were.

READ MORE: I’m using my time off of running to focus on what I CAN do

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In those moments, I reminded myself that injury and the subsequent disappointment is a part of competitive running. I also found myself thinking about Shalane Flanagan and the weight of disappointment she’s feeling after announcing last week that a stress fracture has forced her to pull out of the upcoming Boston Marathon. I immediately related to her experience while reading her Facebook post en route from Omaha to Palm Springs.

Palm Springs

“I have shed a lot of tears this past week. I’m injured and have to withdraw from my hometown race, my favorite race, the race that means the most to me, The Boston marathon. I fractured a bone in my low back training through a stretch of snowy weather in Portland, OR. I’m heartbroken.”

There’s no doubt it’s heartbreaking to have to let go of a goal race, especially when there is a personal connection. For Shalane, Boston is a big deal, not only because of its iconic nature, but because it’s close to home. I found myself relating because the goal race I had planned was set to be my first marathon and it was going to be in the state I now call home. If I had been healthy and still running, my time in Palm Springs would have been during the peak of my training for that race.

Again, I found myself relating to Flanagan’s experience, though Japan was her destination training site. As part of her training for Boston, Flanagan had planned to run the Marugame International Half Marathon at the beginning February. But upon arriving in Japan, it was clear her back had turned into a serious situation. She pulled out of the race, but stayed to support her training partner Amy Cragg as she took on the 13.1 miles.

I expect since returning from Japan, Flanagan has experienced a lot of emotions. Her injury was confirmed and so she decided to pull out of Boston. If her experience has been anything like my own, the disappointment and emotions surrounding it will not entirely subside. But there’s a silver lining to all this injury stuff. In seeking to find peace in the reality of not being able to run, my mind has been open to experience some unexpected, wonderful moments.

While in Palm Springs, I enjoyed plenty of uplifting and inspiring moments. During that time, I got to slow down to enjoy the surrounding beauty of California with a picnic lunch, a late evening swim and trip to the awe-inspiring Joshua Tree National Park. Upon return, I’ve noticed that my disappointment in not being able to run was far overshadowed by the gratitude I felt in being able to experience so many joyful moments. I also know that I will have the opportunity to run in many beautiful places as my life unfolds.