Written by Dark Pink Fellow Flower, Vicky Appleman, Watertown, MA
I found Fellow Flowers several years before my consistent running injuries and loved all of their stuff, but had never found a flower that I could identify with. Until Declare It Day 2014, when I found my match. Here’s my story.
When I set my goal for Declare It Day (DID) 2014, I hadn’t been running for a year because of an injury that wouldn’t heal. During that time, I had ample opportunity to think about how I had ended up injured for over a year. I realized that running races unprepared as a result of being too busy to train, and finishing those races injured was becoming the most consistent thing about my running. It also gave me a chance to wallow in the daily stresses that had all too easily taken the place of exercise of in my life, and to throw one heck of a pity party for myself.
For a variety of reasons, I was not in a good place mentally or physically. Much of that was because I had prioritized just about everything else in my life above my own health, happiness and healing. Towards the end of last year, I found the Silver Flower. Its message of hope and healing coming out of a place of brokenness spoke to me. I knew it was time for a change and the only way that could happen is if I made a decision to move forward … for me and no one else.
Moving Forward Through Hope and Motivation
With my running injuries in the back of my mind and with my new Silver Flower—Hope. providing the hope and motivation I needed, I was ready to start training again and I knew things had to be different this time. I needed to get out of my funk and start taking care of myself again. To do that, I needed to start listening to myself more and trusting my own instincts instead of relying on those around me for direction. This year, the training had to be as important as the races; I needed to focus on myself, on why I was running and on where I wanted to go.
I also knew that having races on the calendar is my biggest motivator. So, on Declare It Day last year (2013), I declared that I would run 6 races throughout 2014, and I would do it by training smart, consistent and staying injury-free all year. This year was to be about consistency and about taking care of me. This quickly morphed into a “Don’t be stupid” mantra that was recited on more runs than I can count throughout this year.
New Beginnings and Setting Goals
To help reach my 2014 goal, I kept my training on track and at a good pace. I signed up for the Boston Athletic Association’s Distance Medley—a series 3 races that progressed through a 5K in April, a 10K in June and a Half Marathon in October. It was also important for me to take part in these races in Boston this year. I work in Boston and live in Watertown, MA; the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent shootout and manhunt literally hit close to my home.
I found myself at the start line of the 5K in April exactly one year to the day after I had been locked inside my home while the authorities searched for the missing bombing suspect. I don’t think I can describe how it felt to run in Boston and the thrill of being a part of that marathon weekend—the excitement of once again being able to step up to a start line and run. Also, the tremendous strength, support, hope, joy, unity and inspiration that surrounds Boston and its running community. That day was about reflecting over the past year—the challenges and the healing for Boston, for Watertown and for myself. But, it was most importantly about hope, new beginnings and looking ahead. That day, I stood at the start line for a lot more than a 5K.
Crossing Finishing Lines and Feeling Great
Over the course of this year (2014), I used the energy from the 5K race to finish the distance medley, and to finish 3 other races. I met my DID goal of 6 races with ZERO injuries. Crossing the finish line at the Boston Half Marathon, knowing that I’d finished my sixth race was the best feeling ever. I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I had set a fitness-related goal for myself and actually achieved it.
Many “Firsts” and Discovering My Full Potential
I learned a lot about myself along the way, and I stepped out of my comfort zone many times. This year, I signed up for and ran a race for the first time completely by myself, with no friends to train or run with. I also ran a race for the first time in which I came in dead last, and I learned that it didn’t bother me nearly as much as I thought it would because that day was about finishing my own race and not about anyone else who was running. I consistently ran while I was on vacation for the first time. I also made time to run through my busy seasons at work, and found the energy to run through the stresses that had previously drained and left me unmotivated and unwilling to train. During this time, I set no potential commitments because I wanted to run and keep my training schedule. I learned that sometimes it’s hard to say “No,” and that “Don’t be stupid” sounds simple. However, it’s challenging when you want to take on too much and push yourself too fast and too far—in running and in life. Ultimately I learned that recognizing and acknowledging my current limits and making decisions based on staying healthy and taking care of myself is not the same thing as being weak. Knowing this is the first step to ultimately pushing myself to reach my full potential.
Identifying With a New Flower
This past year I learned that while the Silver Flower will always resonate with me, it is no longer my full story. Over the summer, I switched from the Silver Flower and started running with the Dark Pink Flower—Worthy. I will not forget the lessons I learned during the year, while I was healing. I am realizing my own strength and will move ahead into the New Year with my 2015 Declare It Day goals, knowing that I am worthy.