I have been dealing with hamstring problems for over three years now. Four separate injuries have led to ongoing pain and have shaped my race walking career in so many ways. The injuries seem to happen at the most inopportune times, always a few weeks before major competitions. I suppose that is because I am pushing myself the hardest, trying to get my body in the best shape and as ready to race as possible. It is so frustrating to train so hard and then see all the fitness and all the preparation get lost in an injury.
My first hamstring strain was 6 weeks before my first 50km race in 2017. I couldn’t race walk at all, I was able to do some easy running, but there was no real training after the injury. I thought about not racing, but I already had tickets to go, so I decided to show up on the start line and see what I could do. I was able to finish the race, but my injured hamstring was not happy with me and the last 30km or so was quite painful.
My next hamstring injury was the other leg, about 6 weeks before 2017 20km National Championships. Again I couldn’t train, thought about not going, but I had survived the 50k earlier that year so I went ahead with it. This time I got disqualified just over half-way. My first and only disqualification. In race walking your knee has to be straight from the time it hits the ground until it passes under your hip, judges are watching to make sure you are following the rules. My injured hamstring was so tight that my knee was not straightening and I got thrown out of the race.
After this second injury the pain never went away. It still comes and goes. It has led me to a team of physical therapists who have not only taken care of my hamstrings but also worked on many other muscle groups and started me on a strength training program which I had been lacking before. I have learned to rely on massage and acupuncture to deal with flare-ups. My injury has brought a whole team of people to support me in ways well beyond my healing. Patrick has jokingly said that he is grateful for my injury because of this support network that it has created, and there is a lot of truth in that.
The third injury was just three weeks before my first international competition this last year. I was so grateful to have my team to turn to, and they got me up and walking again before the race. It actually turned out to be my best race of the year.
My fourth injury was just three weeks ago. It is hard to be back in this place, with national championships coming up this weekend. I have seen now so many times God’s strength made perfect in my weakness, the strength that comes from relying fully on Him and not myself. I have no idea what the outcome will be, but I go into this race walking by faith, not by sight!
Despite the setbacks my injuries have caused, it has been an amazing three years. I remain overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunities that I have been given and all of the love and support that I have received along the way. Thank you all for being along for the 2020 journey!