Danielle Fengel – iCan Athlete Spotlight – 9/24/12
“Never in my life did I envision that I would be signing up to run a marathon. I’ve never wanted to run a marathon. In fact, I typically think that marathoners are a bit out of their minds. Who wants to endure the pain of 26.2 miles.”
That was how I started my iCan application. And throughout this journey, I’ve been faced with challenges, nervousness, pain and even injury. But all of those negative things have been balanced out by feelings of excitement, butterflies, a sense of team, accomplishments, milestones and friendships that were born by pounding the pavement that will live on, far past 26.2 miles.
One of my greatest fears entering this challenge was the fear of failure. I’m generally a confident person, I take on challenges everyday, but when it comes to myself and putting myself out there, I’ve always just stepped aside. Until now. I faced the iCan Challenge head on and went from barely working out to running 11 miles in 8 weeks. And through that part of the challenge, I redefined for myself what success meant. It wasn’t coming in first, or even second. But it was about being part of a team and pushing myself. I succeeded the first time I timed myself for a 3 mile run. I succeeded when I pushed past the nerves and conquered the 6 mile run. And I succeeded when I ran 8 miles of the marathon course and ran my longest intervals, my fastest mile, fastest 5K and fastest 10K. Even though I finished last. I felt a great sense of accomplishment and pride for myself, because I did my personal best and had learned to no longer define myself by those around me.
And, while I doubted this would ever happen, I’ve found a love for running. Maybe it’s the fresh air, but more than that, it is the feeling of accomplishing something and of saying I’m a runner.
A few weeks ago, I was feeling extremely energetic for the longest long run yet, 15 miles. I met the group, did some stretching and was ready to roll. Then it happened. I stepped away from the group for just a minute before we set out toward the trail and heard a loud pop, followed by shooting pain on the inside of my calf. I panicked. Coach Loran, being the external optimist that he is, was hopeful that it was just a cramp and we tried to walk and stretch it out. After a few minutes he said “you’re done for today” and gave me orders to elevate it, stretch it and ice it. I limped around for the rest of the weekend before making a physical therapy appointment later that week and ultimately being referred onto a sports physician for a calf muscle strain/tear. It has been 4 weeks since I’ve been able run, but I’m staying active and optimistic that I may still be able to participate in the half marathon. I’ve been able to get in a walk with my team here and there, and can do the low-impact elliptical.
Never did I think I would say this, but I’m jealous of my team members who conquered 18-20 miles this last weekend. And I miss running … I miss the trails, the feeling, the sense of accomplishment and my teammates. So, while I may not be running 26.2 alongside them, I’ll be their biggest cheerleader. And I’m not done running. I can’t wait to lace my shoes up and get back out there. This challenge has changed who I am, how I view myself and my bucket list. This may not be my race, but someday, I will have my race.