Staring Out The Window, Drooling

It’s snowing. Beautiful white fluffy snow all over. And I’m stuck inside. I want so bad to be out there running and jumping through the snow, wrestling with my dog and snowshoeing through the woods and up and down those beautiful mountains.

I had to have surgery on my ankle seven weeks ago. I tore some tendons in my right ankle while running on Mt. Bachlor last summer. Time off from running and rehab didn’t help…

I finally went in and saw a specialist last fall, Dr. Buccannan, an excellent young doc here in Summit County. The MRI showed a complete tear and he infomed me that surgery was really the only solution if I wanted to be able to run normally again. I scheduled the surgery for the next day. The good news is that once I heal up, I should be back running 100% again! The surgery went well and the next thing I knew I was in a cast and getting around with crutches.

I have to say that forced time away from the sport you love makes you appreciate it even more. The first month of rest wasn’t too bad. I needed a break from training and racing. After all, it has been 15 years since I’ve taken a ‘true’ break. I spent a lot of time sleeping, letting my ankle rest and heal. I actually caught up on a few movies, which I rarely take time to see and I actually know more about world news than I really care to know (at least at this period in time….)

It’s been seven weeks now, since the surgery. My right leg has atrophied to almost nothing and the rest of me is turning really ‘soft.’ All I want to do is run!! I love running, it’s my favorite thing … I really, really miss it! I did get the go-ahead from the doc to ride the stationary bike. I also can swim with the pool buoy (so I don’t kick) and can row (with one leg) and use the arm ergometer (yippee??). That’s great and all, but it’s just not the same. I want to run … I want to be outside with my snowshoes running through the forest with my dog!

Since I couldn’t participate, I volunteered at a night snowshoe race in Breckenridge yesterday. I stood out there and froze my ass off doing timing while my friends got to run. It was sad for me. I was jealous. I missed that nervous feeling I get while standing at the start line. I missed running across the snow, pushing myself – using my heart, lungs, and muscles till they hurt.

My friends were so excited after they finished. I was proud for them, and I missed sharing that with them. I even missed coughing up nasty chunks after a hard effort in the cold weather (you snowshoe racers know what I mean). I can’t wait to get my turn to participate again. It was good for me to volunteer. It was the least I could do after years of competing! I will volunteer again, even once I capable of participating.

I know when I get the go ahead to run that it’s going to be a long haul to get back to true running shape. But I will appreciate it even more! I will never take the opportunity to run for granted. I will be happy I had the surgery and was patient with the healing process so that I can run for many years into the future.

I am glad that I was in shape before the surgery so that getting back into running shape will be a little easier. I’m glad I get to do my ‘little exercises’ now, so that I will have a bit of a base for running. I look out the window. It’s beautiful out there. I’m drooling…I want to be out there playing. I live in a beautiful place and I appreciate that I have the ability to get out there and enjoy it. I know I’ll be out there soon, and I’ll respect and savor that opportunity even more.

About the author


Danelle 'Nellie' Ballengee

In addition to personal training and coaching, Danelle works for Tubbs Snowshoe Company where she helps with the promotion of their snowshoes. She also coordinates and directs endurance events throughout Colorado and is the vice president of the American Trail Running Association and on the board of the United States Snowshoe Association. She will continue to participate in many outdoor and multi-sport events each year with consist top results.