When I got back home to Portland, I went through the process of getting an X-ray and MRI. This verified that I had a fifth metatarsal stress fracture. Something you could painfully feel by just rubbing your thumb across the massive bump on my foot. So it was time for a new game plan. In my mind four to six weeks as the doctor would say meant closer to three and I would be able to run on the alter-G in 2 weeks. Two weeks after my MRI, I got on the alter-G and set it to 20%. That is only 30 pounds of pressure on my legs, and it hurt every single step. I went home and couldn’t help but cry. My future in running had never seemed more in jeopardy. Running in college for the most part is very safe, you almost always have “next year” to focus on to get through injury. But once you graduate nothing is guaranteed. So time went on, and I hobbled around in a boot. My new plan was simply to get back to 100%, no matter how long it took.
After seven weeks without running, I was finally able to run on the alter-G without pain. I worked up the percentage of my body weight that I could handle without pain, before moving to the turf. The number of loops I ran on the turf was mind numbing, but it was working. Throughout the comeback, the worries about my future never subsided. I would have regular anxiety attacks. Two to three times a week, I would get 5 minutes into a run and need to stop. I physically could not breathe. My chest would get tight and my mind would begin to race through every single thing that could possibly go wrong. Anxiety is something I have always battled. In 5th grade, I ended up in the ER because I was struggling to breathe. I didn’t realize what I experienced was an anxiety attack until recently. I learned more about myself, and the ways that I could best handle my anxiety through that injury. A lot of good can come from an injury if you approach it with a growth-oriented mindset.
After graduating, I stayed in Portland for a few months to continue working with the athletic trainers and Coach Conner to steadily progress back into running consistently at full health. I loved the opportunity to remain around my teammates as they prepped for Regionals and Nationals. I went to every practice, and spent as much time at workouts cheering them on as I could. It reminded me of everything I fell in love with during my time at UP. The team atmosphere where every guy is working towards a collective goal of maximizing each individual’s potential. It creates a culture of growth and positivity that I knew I needed to find in my next chapter of my running career. It was during this time that I met with Nick Roché, a former Gonzaga Bulldog. He is a great friend of Tinman Elite and put me in touch with the team. They embodied everything I was looking for in a team. Initially, I was hesitant to reach out, unsure if they would consider adding me to the team after my injury. Fortunately, this chip on my shoulder resonated with the members of the team. They had all at one point or another had chips on their shoulders and were counted out, just like I was. After talking to Coach Schwartz and the guys on team I immediately felt at home. As I prepared to move to Boulder, I had this soaring feeling that I knew my career was far from over. And this new journey in my life was just beginning.