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Gretchen Hurlbutt broke her foot just eight days before she was set to compete in the 2012 Olympic trials in the marathon.
“It was a doozy, an awful injury,” she says. “My foot had been hurting for a long time, but I was so focused on my goal, I trained through it.”
She immediately saw Dr. Kurt Nilsson, St. Luke’s sports medicine physician. “Even though it was a Friday night, he was so thorough. I think I was there for an hour and a half. He went over all my options. He told me, ‘If it really hurts, I need you to stop, but I understand what the trials mean to you.’”
So Gretchen went to the Olympic trials and ran for three miles before dropping out of the race due to the pain, remembering his words.
She stopped running and gave her foot the time it needed to heal. “It was such a long recovery,” she says. “I saw Dr. Nilsson for six to nine months of care.”
While she was recovering she chose to get pregnant, and gave birth to her daughter in 2013. Altogether she didn’t run for about a year and a half.
“I started running again, slowly, and it hurt,” she says. “But Dr. Nilsson encouraged me and told me it was going to hurt at first because I hadn’t run in a long time. Ultimately, I did heal and started running again. He really made me feel supported as an athlete.”
By 2014, Gretchen says, “I was making real goals again, I was really back. And by summer 2017, I was as good as I’d been in a long time. That competitive fire is still in there.”
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