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  • Writer's pictureAnnie Bothma

Changing the plan, NOT THE GOAL

In hospital after two days of intense testing.

I took a Detour that ended up to be a circle, taking me back to the start. After a hard fall in December, my old back injury flared up again forcing me to stop after 18K in the Bay to Bay 30K. Since then, I have been in and out of hospitals and doctor offices the past month, trying to find the best possible solution to get me to pain-free and back doing what I love most.

The day after the race I saw a specialist, a neurologist, who then recommended to get an MRI scan done as soon as possible. He also advised me to go for physical therapy. However, the physiotherapist did her evaluations and looked at my scan's results and then said there was nothing else she could do to help me at this stage. I was then referred to an orthopaedic back surgeon. Who told said I would have to get a major back operation or else I will never run again! It sounded like a death sentence - the only option I had left. I was devastated by the news.

A week later I was admitted in the hospital, mentally prepared to get the operation. However, after undergoing a series of tests first, recommended by the team of doctors that worked in me, I came out of the hospital two days later without having an operation. It was definitely three very hard and stressful days on both my body and mind. I felt drained and exhausted when it was all over.

I decided to first go back to the doctor that diagnosed me with hypopituitarism to get his opinion before going any further with the procedure. He knows my history, understands my condition and has always had my best interest at heart. He advised me to get a second opinion and soon he had another orthopaedic back surgeon on the team to help us make the best possible decision.

There will be big complications if I have to go through with this operation. I am still growing and my growth plates haven't sealed yet. Doing such a major operation can permanently ruin my running career and cause a lot of problems later in my life. So, we decided to take a different route. I know with the most well-recognized back surgeon in the Western Cape. He and the spinal specialist doctor that has worked with me in the past, are now recommending the treatment and rehab plan to get me back on the road as soon as possible.

Running has the biggest part of my life for years. Almost everything I have ever achieved has stemmed out of running in some way, and even the people closest to me I met through running. It has become part of who I am and I cannot imagine my life without it anymore. It’s so simple, but it is what makes me sparkle - I feel most beautiful, confident and strong when I run. I think a lot of women will be able to relate with me on this one!

The 2018 Totalsports Ladies Race. What a privilege to participate together with other women in something that is so empowering and positive like running.

Running isn’t the only thing that defines me, neither is it the only thing I can do well. I have a balanced life, filled other things that also excite me and a lot of special people that care so much about me.

BUT running just makes me ME.

Running makes me feel free and happy. I am most content when I can feel the sunshine on my face, smell the fresh crisp ocean air, and hear the sound of the waves crashing next to me. Fast feet racing over the earth, a heart beating with excitement, happy tears called sweat pouring down a face, a mind overflowing with thankfulness - to me this is something I will never ever take for granted. If there comes a day that I am not able to run myself, I will have to be involved in the sport in some way - coach or serve on my club. I will always be part of this sport and it will always be part of me.

I can never take it for granted. Running will always be my happy place.

My days have definitely felt incomplete without a run and I absolutely cannot wait to get out there again. I am excited to be back in the racing scene. I know I will have to make adjustments this year, and I know the plan will have to look a bit different now. It's been like that my whole life - I make my plans, but life happens and I get knocked down. Those that know my story are probably tired of hearing it's time for another comeback - tired of the same stop and start the battle - believe me I am too. BUT every time I got knocked down, I GOT BACK UP. Every time I was forced to work harder and fight more for what I want most.

Finishing the Winelands Half Marathon, running past the marathon board...ONE DAY IT WILL BE MY TURN

I am not losing sight of my goals, I am simply giving myself a bit more time to achieve them. Today I was supposed to run my first marathon and although I wasn’t able to line up at the start of a Marathon today, I know one day I WILL. I am simply changing the plan, NOT THE GOAL.

I am still chasing that dream.

- Annie

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