Three minutes. That’s all Renee B’s doctor will let her run at one time right now. Two months ago she stepped on a stick while running. The result? A high ankle sprain. “Stupid stick!” she growled. She is determined to return to running.
This isn’t the first time Renee has come back from an injury. She ran in high school in the 1980s, following the footsteps of my sister and brother into cross country and then on my own into track. Then in gymnastics she tore her ACL and meniscus. She had surgery to repair the tears and was told never to run again. “I pretty much gave up all exercise,” she confessed.
Out of school, she had kids and gained wait. Then in 2004 her knee began to act up again. It hurt. It gave out constantly. “I could tell I had more meniscus tears,” she stated. A visit to an orthopedist brought the cold hard facts to the fore. Renee no longer had an ACL. In January 2005, she underwent ACL reconstruction surgery. It was the hardest, but best thing she ever did.
“Part of my rehab was to walk,” she said. She started by walking to the neighbor’s mailbox and back. When that became routine, she walked further. She continued to increase her distance and time until she could walk for 25 minutes. She wondered then if she could jog. “I would jog to one telephone pole, walk to the next and repeat,” she reported. Renee eventually found a couch to 5k program that she that she convinced her husband, Dave, to follow with her. They lost 75 pounds!
“I am so fortunate that Dave and I can workout together,” Renee said. “There are many days when one of us really doesn’t want to go out. One will get the other off the couch and out the door.”
Dave and Renee ran for awhile and then took to cycling together, too. Shortly thereafter, Renee heard about the sport of duathlon. She’d never heard of anything like that before, but figured if she could ever compete in the run-bike-run event, she’d know she was healed.
In 2009, Renee ran her first 5k. “I had a blast! I blew away the goal I had set for the entire year.” Renee did more 5ks that year and then in 2010 she added a few half marathons to the mix. That was the year she finally entered her first duathlon with her running shoes and a borrowed bike. She was hooked!
Last year, Renee and Dave completed a few road races, a trail series and several duathlons. She had a good year, placing in the top four of her age group in everything I did. “I even had a third woman overall at one duathlon!” she effused.
There are no duathlons during the summer months in Minnesota, so in order to keep competing in multi-sport events, Renee took up swimming so she could enter a triathlon or two. This was a big step for her. Because of a few near drowning experiences, she was afraid to put her face in the water. Still, she took beginner swim lessons at the YMCA. “One of my instructors held my hand while stepping in the deep end,” she admitted. She survived that and was diving into the pool by the end of the session. Over the long winter months, Renee continued swimming, running and cycling classes. She was looking forward to a great 2012.
Then came the stick. On February 3, Dave and Renee were out on an easy 8-mile run. It was a beautiful day, but there was a little snow and some ice to watch for so they were running carefully. Three and a half miles into the run, they crested a hill. Renee looked down the slope to see where the icy patches might be and missed seeing the stick that did her in.
“I made enough noise going down,” she reported, “that two people from across the street started over to help me.” Before they arrived, another person stopped their car to see if she needed help. Because Renee couldn’t walk, the woman loaded Dave and Renee up and drove them home. “That’s Minnesota nice at its best!” she stated.
Recovery has been difficult for Renee. “While I’ve put on a brave face,” she reported on dailymile, “the fact is there have been many tears.” Those tears aren’t holding her back though. She’s not a quitter. She keeps swimming and cycling as much as she can and she’s started doing those 3-minute running repeats her doctor allows with power walking between. She has registered for her first triathlon in June. Her goals for that event are simple. Don’t drown on the swim. Bike as hard as she can. Run without reinjuring her ankle. The age group awards can wait till later.