Start By Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

I got my nickname during a hiking trip to Yosemite National park in 2012. My husband and I, along with two friends planned to do a 16 Mile round trip hike from Tuolumne Meadows to Cloud’s Rest and back on a hot and sunny July day 2 weeks before our wedding. It was a long day of hiking but the views of Yosemite Park from the top of Cloud’s Rest were well worth it. On our way back to the campsite at Toulumne Meadows, I noticed that there was a small lake about a mile off our planned route and suggested we make the detour for a cool dip to rinse off the sweat and dirt.  Of course, the lake was refreshing and turned out to be the best part of the entire day. However for the entirety of the 15 minute walk to the lake my friend Paco later admitted to me that he had pretty strong feelings of anger towards me and called me the Punisher for forcing us all to walk even more on a day when we were already covering a lot of ground. The name probably wouldn’t have stuck but the next weekend I went for a trail run with a friend who had a record of leaving me in the dust on runs. As we were running I told him about the story from the weekend before and he laughed. It turned out, my friend Jorge hadn’t had any breakfast and about 8 miles into a 13 mile loop he started to crash. He got dizzy and weak and had to stop running because he thought he was going to pass out. When he had recovered thanks to some life saving balance bars from some nice ladies on the trail he said to me “Man, you really are the Punisher” and the name stuck.

I don’t actually enjoy causing pain but I do love challenging myself and testing my physical and mental limits. This approach has served me well over years of recreational running and I have successfully “punished” many races and adventures. However, In April 2014 I had knee surgery and had to figure out how to “punish” recovery which funnily enough involves a whole lot of not running. The months following surgery were extremely challenging for me. I have never been forced to be sedentary for such an extended period of time and my inability to move and sweat had a significant impact on my mental health. I retracted from my tribe because going to November Project workouts week after week without being able to participate was making me depressed. The more I retracted the worse I felt physically and mentally, but I was in a vicious cycle.

I came back to the light in early September when I was finally able to do long rides and could start very carefully run-walking, or “ralking” as I liked to call it.Two weeks ago I participated in my first full November Project workout since January. I am thrilled to be able to move my body again and do what I love but I am still terrified every time I go for a run. I am terrified that the knee pain will come back and I will be told I should stop running all together. But for now, I am just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other and building my strength and fitness back up. In true punisher fashion my goal is not to just come back but to be stronger and faster than I was before and I am super excited abut the possibilities that the next several months hold.

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