Leah Thorvilson

2012 Olympic Trials Women's Marathon Qualifier

Something Worth Singing About :)

As of yesterday, I am 4 weeks into my 6 weeks on crutches…. 4 miles into my 10k. Last week was exceptionally challenging emotionally. I had anticipated it being a great week. Monday marked the halfway “hump” of my crutch time, and to kick things off right, the Boston Marathon was on!  I planned to go get coffee, and then be glued to my computer from 8:30 a.m. until the marathon coverage stopped…. As we all know, the marathon coverage didn’t stop.  There is nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said about the events at Boston.  What I would rather leave it at, is that the running community has shown once again it’s strength, union, and unshakable ability to  support one another and rise above tough times. I am proud and blessed to be part of that. I’m not sure if it was the emotion swirling around after Boston that got me down, or if I finally just wore down in my resolve to be stronger than my frustration in being injured….but I struggled maintain a very upbeat demeanor. Then I went to the doctor for my check up on Friday…


At my first check up one week post op, all I had hoped for was to be told that I could sit with weight on both sides of my butt, rather than propped awkwardly to the one “good” side. That had not been the case and I was really let down. So, I went into the 4 week check up with zero expectation, although I secretly hoped for the same thing again, the freedom to put both cheeks down. Not only was I told that I could indeed sit normally, but the doctor told me I could take off my wretched sling!! I literally shrieked out loud in his office at the news. In case I haven’t painted a good visual of what this torture device looks like, I have attached a photo.


“The sling, the sling, the sling is on FIRE! We don’t need no water, let the mother @!%#  BURN!!”


Okay, so I haven’t actually burned the sling yet. When I do I will be sure to take video. I am still supposed to wear it when I go out “walking”, but for every day activity I was cleared to take it off. Being freed from the sling felt like being let out of jail. I would be able to drive myself around again, I could stand up at work and not have to bear 100% of my weight on my good  leg, I could get up and down off the damn toilet without having to fasten and unfasten the belt from my waist! I left the doctor’s office and went straight to celebrate the end of the sling era with my friend Annette by having our favorite salads and margaritas at Local Lime.



Though getting around on crutches is still cumbersome and not fun, I feel like I can see the finish line now. Just 2 more weeks until I get to start moving around crutch free and working on rehab. I am done with the fetal position baths, I can sit without anxiety in the shower. I have fully mastered the twist and shove to the point that I don’t even think I realize I am doing it anymore. I am learning day by day what I can do to make getting around on my own easier…. I recently made some important additions to my crutches. My coach teased me that I’m not going to want to get off of them by the time my time is up. “It’s like fixing up a house before you sell it! Then you’re thinking, this is the best this place has ever looked! I don’t want to leave!!”



I will be more than ready to “move out” when it is time, but for now I am appreciating what I can do, and being thankful for that. Probably the best silver lining to this whole process is the quality time I have spent with my friends. When I am healthy and training, my schedule is packed between morning and afternoon workouts, getting proper nutrition and rest, and working my “day job”. It’s easy to get caught up in that whirlwind and forget to take a moment to sit down and breathe, let alone take hours at a time out of your day to visit as you prepare meals, or laugh over coffee. I know that as I am looking down the homestretch of my “10k” on crutches, I am really just lining up for another long haul of rehab and slow progress toward running, but I am doing my best to enjoy the journey. So for now, if you see these crutches motoring down the road or the River Trail, and you don’t mind walkin slow, come and join me! And don’t be afraid to ask…”Hey, whatchu got in that pouch?”



Category: Uncategorized
  • Ashley says:

    Hi Leah. I actually have a quick question for you. I am a marathoner too, and have recently had a lot of pain in … Well both hamstrings. After attempting to recover from my last marathon (march 16th) I know now that I have done some serious damage. I just got results from MRI that indicate partial bilateral tears in both R and L hamstrings but the report also says “ischial avulsion injury ” in the right. My chiropractor (who ordered the MRI after lost of failed therapy like ART, etc) says 6- 8 weeks off- no running at all – which like you I thought was unimaginable. But the more I am reading about “avulsion injuries” the more concerned I am that I might need more aggressive treatment than just rest. How did you know you needed surgery?
    Thanks in advance for your insight and advice.

    April 30, 2013 at 3:48 pm
    • LeahThorvilson says:

      Hey Ashley, I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this. I am certainly not a doctor, and I don’t know the severity of your tears, so it is hard to say if I think you need surgery. The reason the doctors decided I needed surgery was that my hamstring was almost completely torn off the bone at the attaching tendon, and there was 3 centimeters of retraction. 3 centimeters may seem like a small measurement, but getting those fibers to reach out and love each other again without assistance would have taken an eternity. (I like to illustrate this by wiggling my fingers on opposing hands, reaching towards one another like they want to connect but don’t know how…. “heyyyy guyyyysss”…} I did not have any bony avulsions, which to my understnading is the muscle/tendon beginning to pull at/fracture the bone where it attaches, the ischium being your “sit bone”. My tear may have been more severe, which could have been the indicator for surgery, but the bone was not affected. Studies that I read showed the likelihood of re-injury to be much higher without surgical repair, in the case of a complete tear of the muscle/tendon…. not sure in the case of a partial tear. I will say this…. 6-8 weeks is the time that I will have been off from EVERYTHING. No swimming, no biking, no eliptical, no walking without crutches. I get to ditch the crutches Monday and then I begin physical therapy and whatever physical activity the doctors approve. Complete recovery and return to running at pre-injury level is expected to be around 6 months at best. I do NOT say this to be negative, I just want you to have realistic expectations on the amount of time off with or without surgery. Surgical repair for me was not a quick fix, but rather the fix that offered the greatest percentage chance of a complete recovery and return to a high level of competition. I hope this has been even remotely helpful…. my best advice is to consult with a few orthopedic doctors/surgeons to discuss what your options are, and the specific instructions around recovery involved in each option. Good luck!!

      April 30, 2013 at 11:54 pm
  • Becky W says:

    OMG I love this. I am on crutches for a stress fracture in my foot and will be for the next few weeks. I LOVE how you’ve “dressed up” your crutches. I’m gonna have to do the same. Love the Euro Trip reference (may not originally be from Euro Trip, but that’s the only time I’ve heard it)!
    I actually have a scooter – which I HATE, but its easier at work than the crutches. I need to find a way to decorate it – it already has a basket for my alcohol, er work papers!

    Good luck. Get well soon, but enjoy the time – I’m trying to as well – without gaining too much weight!

    April 24, 2013 at 4:17 pm
  • Heather @ HeatherRunsFast.com says:

    Holy crap that sling looks awful! But your crutches rock… Loving the recovery drink koozie! Glad to hear things are progressing so well and you are in the homestretch of your 10k- that’s a great analogy by the way :)

    April 24, 2013 at 2:07 am
  • Heather (Where's the Beach) says:

    ” Probably the best silver lining to this whole process is the quality time I have spent with my friends.” Always important to find those positives. They’re what gets us through!

    April 23, 2013 at 7:08 pm

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