Saturday, October 03, 2015

Hanna Grinaker: "I'm in a Good Place"

This is the fourth of several short stories about Minnesota high school stars who have chosen to run their first 26.2 miler in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

Life is good for Hanna Grinaker,  She has a great new job that she likes.  Her relationships are good, and she has friends and family who care about her.

"I'm in a good place," she said, which may sound strange since she hasn't run for nearly a month,  and  a hip injury that did not respond to rest and treatment forced her to scrap her plans to debut in the marathon in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday.

 There will be other marathons," she said while watching the runners flow through the finish chute at last weekend's Griak Invitational.  And she's overcome setbacks like this before.
Hanna Grinaker at the 2015 Griak Invitational
It's not the first time she's had to come back from an injury.  A multi sport athlete in high school, Grinaker earned Big Ten XC Freshman of the Year honors at the University of Wisconsin in 2006.  Was an NCAA XC  All American in 2006 and 2007, her first two years as a Badger. Then it happened.  A pelvic stress fracture followed by a torn hip flexor.

The injuries were so bad that the doctor treating her said she might not be able to run 20 miles a week. A  26.2 mile race?  No chance.  It was not the sort of prognosis she wanted.  So she got a "second opinion."  Her  brother is a chiropractor and he started her on a rehab program.  Grinaker  learned that patience was a virtue, and adopted a new saying: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."

This was not an admonition not to plan anything, but rather rather that one has to be adaptable as life always throw you curves.   "Athletics really taught me to stay the course,"  Grinaker said.  Don't give up, push the boundaries.  Try to identify and understand how an injury occurred along with methods to fix it and come back stronger, or adapt by doing something different.
Grinaker running in Foot Locker in High School.courtesy of  Photo Run  

For example, Grinaker has recently begun contemplating going back to her multi sport roots. In high school she not only did cross country and track, she played hockey, basketball, and volleyball.  Her first love and best sport was cross country so she moved away from multi sports because DI sports demand specialization, putting all your time and energy into a single sport. 

Grinaker isn't going for any radical  shift.  She wants to try the triathlon.  Part of the inspiration for that sort of exploration gained momentum since her boyfriend is a triathlete. Another is an attempt to test the theory that more or the right variety in her training might help avoid serious injuries by strengthening areas of her body that may need more attention in training.

She's also learning from her new job as a registered dietitian for Lifetime Fitness. Grinaker works with the club's members to diagnose if they need to make diet changes or have a weakness or deficiency that needs to be addressed.  By helping others with their issues, Grinaker often picks up tips on what she may need to solve her own problems.

Life is good despite the temporary setback, and now Grinaker has another year to prepare for the challenge that the marathon presents.  She's already shown her potential by winning the half-marathon in Fargo in May of 2013 in 1:18:34.  "Running is a gift," says Grinaker.  One that you often don't appreciate fully until you can't do it when you want.
Grinaker after the finish of the2013  Fargo Half-Marathon
Photo by Jill Ockhardt

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