Nothing Is More Predictable Than the Unpredictable

by Stephen Hallgren

I was feeling amazing at the start, but the start is never an indication of how the race will end.


If there’s one thing I’ve learned about running races, it is that nothing is guaranteed. Races can be extremely unpredictable, with a plethora of variables that can quickly make a race go from good to bad in a matter of minutes. However, sometimes those minutes are all that are needed to overcome incredible odds. Nothing drove this point home more than the past couple of months. 

In March, I was only a couple of miles into the Electric City 5 Miler when I became concerned about shooting pain in my foot. As any self-respecting, stubborn runner might do, I ignored the pain and ran the rest of the race anyway. My anger welled up as I hobbled home, my foot hurting more and more. I was mad that I didn’t run my best race, that I was injured, that the injury seemed to come from nowhere, and that I would have to rest for a potentially indefinite amount of time. Anger quickly deteriorated into depression.  My dreams of running the Providence Marathon in May started to fade quickly.

Miraculously, with a TON of bicycling, percussive massaging, stretches, strengthening, and every other thing I could do to heal, my foot slowly got better.  

By the time the Providence Marathon arrived, I had lost fitness.  I missed my long training runs and felt undertrained.  Many worries went through my mind. What pace should I go? Will my foot hold up over 26.2 miles? Will I finish? Am I crazy for even wanting to run a marathon? Is there more to life than running? Putting these worries aside, I decided to run the marathon and, if things got bad, I would walk no matter how far I had left.

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