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Cross country: Greibesland making huge strides

Warwick star returns from serious injury

Times Herald-Record—Warwick, NY—September 10, 2009

Lillian Greibesland has relived her most painful running experience far too many times for her liking.

She's healthy again and eager for that day when she can run for the pure joy and without any flashbacks of the injury that robbed her of a promising junior year at Warwick.

"I feel amazing right now," Greibesland said. "My motivation is 120 percent right now. I had my first real race (Monday) and it was incredible. I loved it. Just putting on my uniform - it's been a year since I did that. It's those little things."

The oft-asked question - "How's Lillian?" - might finally be put to rest this week, following her second-place effort in the Warwick Lions Labor Day 5K, and Warwick cross-country meets on Wednesday at Port Jervis and on Saturday at Bear Mountain.

"Lillian is doing beyond what anybody has ever expected," said Warwick girls' coach Rich Furst. "I'd have to say she's doing fabulous. ... She's in great shape right now."

Greibesland was probably the best cross country and distance runner in Section 9 at the time of her injury. She is still a minute or so behind her time marks of last year, and she would like to get back into the mix of sectional elite in time for the championship season.

"She's always had her goals. She will be going for it this year," Furst said.

You have to go back to October 2008 to understand what Greibesland has gone through. She was leading a premier high school invitational at Pepperdine University in the final stages when she ruptured her right Achilles' tendon and fell down as though she'd been shot.

"I don't know if you can have a more serious injury and be a runner," Furst said. "You can break a leg and have far less trouble."

Greibesland said she had felt pain in her tendon two days prior, took some inflammatory drugs and ignored a doctor's advice to take off for two weeks. She wasn't limping when she arrived in California, and on race day she felt only a tiny bit of pain.

"Then with 400 meters left, I heard the pop," Greibesland said. "It just felt really weird, like I had no control of it, and I fell."

Her tendon was repaired by Dr. Andrew Elliott at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, and she was in a cast for two weeks and a protective boot for two additional months.

Twice a week, she left her Warwick home at 4:30 a.m. in order to make 6 a.m. rehab appointments in New York City, put in an hour's work and head back for morning high school classes. She took part in numerous pool sessions, running in water to take the pressure off her injured foot.

Youthful exuberance did Greibesland in, though. Once her therapist cleared her for walking, Greibesland joined her mother for a rugged bike hike and experienced pain in her foot. In a separate yet linked injury, Greibesland had fractured a bone, and was returned to her protective boot once again for six weeks.

"I am learning so many lessons," she said. "Being patient was the big one."

This story originally appeared at recordonline.com.


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