Nagging foot injury not enough to slow down Cross Country’s Greenwood

When Kellie Greenwood stepped onto the racecourse Sept. 10 for the first time since the spring of 2015, she was overjoyed.

Greenwood, a Two Rivers, Wisconsin native, injured her foot two years ago in the BIG EAST conference meet running in the steeplechase. When Greenwood’s foot hit the water, she knew something wasn’t right. She attempted to finish the race, but could not. Doctors said that her navicular bone near her ankle had cracked from the bottom going up, in which a piece of the bone chipped off. Greenwood would be in a leg boot for the summer heading into her senior year.

The injury bug continued to nag her. In August 2015 she re-injured the bone when she came back too early. The piece of the bone that had chipped off had never reconnected, which was the source of Greenwood’s constant pain when she ran.

In March, she had surgery to remove the piece that had chipped off. From there, it has been a grueling process of recovery that saw her miss the entire cross country and track and field season, watching her teammates in more crutches and another boot.

For Greenwood, getting the news that she needed surgery felt like a punch to the gut.

“It was devastating because I was already out for so long, and I just really wanted to be with the team and run and train with them,” Greenwood said. “There was definitely a wave of emotion, and I was angry and sad. I just wanted to run again.”

The healing process consisted of cross-training workouts and visits with physical therapists at Marquette and Aurora Sinai. While she was injured, Greenwood was able to focus on a lot of things that she would not normally be able to do if she were in season, including breaking down the mechanics of her running form and improving leg and glute strength.

“I like to think of it as a blessing in disguise,” Greenwood said.

With her road to recovery well underway, Greenwood quickly realized the importance of teammates and how they play into an injured athlete’s psyche. Teammates would write letters of support and be encouraging to Greenwood in order to help her get past the tough times.

“When you’re injured, you’re not really running with the team, so it can be really hard to feel like you’re part of the team. And those are your best friends, and you kind of lose that with them,” Greenwood said. “For me personally, and for other girls that have been injured, the team really made an effort to include me in things. Watching them succeed and perform well was really motivating for me and the other injured individuals because we knew that we wanted to be a part of that, too. I didn’t want to lose sight of my goals just because I hit a bump in the road.”

It was not just Greenwood’s teammates that cared about her, it was also her head coach, Mike Nelson. They went over strategies to ease Greenwood back into training and went over goals for when she came back to practice.

“Coach Nelson was great throughout the process,” Greenwood said. “At the start of each week, we would go over my workouts for the week, and the fact that he was able to individualize my needs as well as managing the team’s workouts for the week really showed me that he was all in to the recovery process, too.”

The effort and determination paid off for the redshirt senior when she stepped onto the racecourse for the first time since her injury earlier this month. She had no idea how she would run, but one thing was for sure — Greenwood felt at home again.

“It was really emotional,” Greenwood said. “Even talking about it now, I still get emotional. When you put your heart into something like recovering from this injury, it felt so good to finally get back to being with the team and running.”

She is constantly trying to push past her injury. Whether it is continuing physical therapy once a week or having a top-ten finish at a race, Greenwood knows that she is happy to be back where she belongs.

“I genuinely love running, and when you’re out for that long, you really come to appreciate how much running is a gift,” Greenwood said. “I was telling the girls that if I could come into this cross country season and wear that Marquette jersey just one more time, I would feel so much more complete, and am just genuinely grateful and thankful that I got that opportunity again. It’s an amazing feeling.”