by Kristen Garzone
Running my 17th half marathon last Saturday at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hal Marathon in Washington, D.C. didn’t come with a killer time (2:02:03) or a fancy new PR on paper but to me, it felt like it did. You see, Saturday’s race was my first race back since my 4:05 marathon PR at Wineglass on September 30th of last fall and most importantly – my first race back since glaucoma surgery. After 2.5 months of no running, no lifting (not even being able to hold my daughter), nor being able to walk around the neighborhood, it’s been a long road back to the sport that I love.
Many wouldn’t know this but I battle a rare disease called uveitis, a form of eye inflammation. I’ve battled this for over 9 years with still no answers of what could be causing it; usually linked to an autoimmune or inflammatory disease. When I went in for a routine eye appointment last August and the doctor saw my eye pressure was in the 40s (60s can lead to instant blindness), I was rushed to a glaucoma specialist where they found I had lost 50% of the vision in my left eye and needed surgery to stop further blindness. Thankfully, I have a wonderful doctor who allowed me to push surgery until after Wineglass due to the extensive time off and recovery I would need.
The months I took off from running led to an increase in anxiety and stress that I would never get back to where I was in time to run the Maine Coast Marathon on May 11, 2019. Once I was finally cleared with no restrictions and started training back in January again, I made a promise to myself I would get to that start line no matter what, which brings me back to Saturday’s race.
It was a big victory reaching that start line and finishing with a big smile on my face. My coach gave me an alternating goal marathon pace workout which I completed and most importantly, felt so strong running! Every finish line is meant to be celebrated and I cried tears of joy when I crossed that Rock ‘n’ Roll DC finish line. I celebrated the fact that I fought my way back and that I’m still fighting for that sub 4. I wish I could put into words all the emotions I felt during this race but I spent those 2 hours reminding myself how far I’ve come and what I’ve had to face, battle (mentally and physically) to get back to where I am now. I still have so much more to give and many more miles to go. Always remember – every single mile is never given and ALWAYS earned. Celebrate each victory, no matter how small you may think it is, because of how hard you worked to get there and what you had to overcome to do so.
“Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won and all the fears you have overcome.”