Shin Splints & a Miracle Mile

May 18, 2012

Fox Peterson started out as a Tae Kwon Do competitor, but found running her Senior year of High School, where she quickly rose up through the ranks (shin splints be damned). Fox went on to race to personal bests of 16:07 for 5000 meters and 1:17 in the Half Marathon. She is now a PhD candidate at Oregon State University and is a personal fitness & nutrition coach through her website, The Carnivore Runner.

A "Gatorade" energy bar, two cans of “energy fuel”, and Advil propelled me through the fact that my shin was killing me.

Coach asked,  "You ready for your first track mile?"

“Feeling great!"  I replied.

"No more shin splints?"

"Nope!"

It's a good thing that it's easy to lie over the phone.

My folks drove me to the meet, then left, believing that running is unhealthy. Heaven forbid it lead to college scholarship where I didn’t depend on them anymore!

In the previous quarter I managed to go from "zero"-- a non runner-- to "hero"—cross country state champion. Nationally I was slow, but regionally I honored  my coach, our team, and my school. Now it was my first-ever mile on the track, and all I could think was, damn, my shin hurts.

Imagine the headlines: "Cross-Country Champion Sits Out Dual-Meet Mile for Shin Splints. Career Over."   I lined up, my system rushing with sugar, and I ran that mile.

I came through the 800 in less than expected pace... "You'll break 5:00!" screamed Coach.  Despite searing pain, I went for it. I pressed harder, around the turn at 1100 meters, and then a horrible collapse within my shin occurred. The tightness was gone, replaced with electric  pain. I limped, at a respectable pace, to a 5:09 mile and a first place position. I collapsed. My leg gave out beneath me. I couldn’t stand because volts ran through my leg. 

The doctor said:  “you've shattered your tibia.  But in good news, your bone sheath was so inflamed that the bone didn't separate. So we don't have to reset it. You have to rest."  

I was devastated. Stupid 5:09 mile!  However, this mile would ultimately be the catalyst for my career. My broken leg and a tail of ignorant perseverance were the makings of a small-town queen.

Colleges called. "You're the girl who broke her own leg for the mile, right? We'll give you money." I never became a miler, but if it wasn't for one mediocre Mile and my  naivety, I would have never been to college. Just call it the miracle Mile-- the ignorant, slow, miracle Mile.

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