Seeing the Light

It’s been a year. Eight months in, and I’m in a wildly different place than where I thought I’d be. I just looked back on my first post of the year, when I written about my goal or theme for 2017, which was to dig deep and let racing hurt a little. To go beyond my comfort zone. I accomplished that exactly one time, at the Bloomsday 12K in May. My fitness wasn’t where it had been the year before, but I boarded the pain train and managed a new personal best by several seconds. It was the week after that race that things went south. Rather than taking some time to recover and have a “down” week, I plugged away and trained harder, and pretty much immediately strained my hamstring. I should have known better. Hindsight is everything! I got greedy. When things started to go my way, I wanted even more. For the next ten or so weeks after that, I couldn’t run at all without my leg hurting. I had to cancel my trip to Duluth, Minnesota, where I had planned to run Grandma’s Marathon in June. I spent a lot of time worrying about my future goals and how I’d ever accomplish them. I was adamant about maintaining my fitness by cross training, until even pool running aggravated my leg. Right around that time, I listened to an interview with Olympian Kate Grace where she spoke on her experience with injury- that there are only so many hours of pool running you can do before you drive yourself crazy. At some point you just have to let yourself heal. It was like Kate was speaking right to me! I had to let go.


At the beginning of July, my leg was still in pretty bad shape and I resolved to truly take some time off. The timing worked out well, because I had a fun trip planned to Nashville immediately followed by a trip to Japan for a live show with my band. Wouldn’t you know it- I finally started to feel better!

Meeting the friendly deer of Nara, Japan

During my time in Japan, I did a little ten minute test run on a treadmill. No pain. A couple days later, I ran for about 15 minutes outside. Still good! Since returning home, I’ve continued to gradually reintroduce running into my routine, and–knock on wood–so far, so good.

Big smile after a pain-free treadmill run in Tokyo!

Last night, I continued my annual tradition of running the Bowerman 5K- this was my 7th time! I wasn’t in it to compete this year, but to show up and support my teammates, and finish within my comfort zone and in ZERO pain. I’m happy to report, goal accomplished! I ran faster than I have in months, got to run with my friend and teammate Krysta, and celebrated with my run fam after the race. Overall, things seem to be on the up and up.

Repping at Bowerman 5K with Rose City Track Club!

With the recent time off I definitely feel as if I’ve gained a new perspective on running and what it means to me. Rather than mourning what I’ve lost, I’m learning to be thankful for every healthy step. I also can’t help but appreciate runners from the outside looking in. Just in the past week I’ve witnessed my friends crushing workouts and breaking new barriers that to them might once have seemed impossible. There are days when they’re tired, achey, and doubtful, but then the next day they’ll be back out there with even more fire and tenacity. Such is the way of the runner; that’s how I hope to be.


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Who is Mercury?

Liz Derstine, trail name “Mercury”, is a distance runner, endurance hiker, writer, and musician residing in Boston, MA. She holds fastest known times for women on the Appalachian Trail (supported, northbound), Long Trail (self-supported), and Pinhoti Trail (self-supported).

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