I haven't run a race since the 2018 100 km world championships. At my second world championship I DNF'd after 40 km, which took over 4 hours and where my heart rate had averaged over 180 beats per minute.
About six weeks after that race I discovered I had a pulmonary embolism that I had been battling since March of 2018. Only six month later I broke my ankle skiing and that proved to be a harder injury to come back from. I'm not sure I ever will come back actually. However, in April 2022 I had a procedure to take stem cells from bone marrow in my hip out and put into my ankle bones and ligaments and honestly the ankle is feeling really good. I haven't pushed it or done any big mileage runs over 8 miles due to mild setbacks like muscle cramps and knots that have hampered my progress, but it feels good even on the days after I run, which wasn't the case for much of the last few years.
I've put on about 20 pounds from my racing weight, and I'm 36, so I don't recover like I used to when I was 26 and 130 pounds.
...But I'm not done. I don't want to be done. I've only run eight ultramarathons and three "serious" marathons in my semiprofessional running career spanning 2011 to 2018. I definitely don't know what the future holds for me, and I don't want to live in the past... yet the thrill of preparing for and arriving at the starting line ready to give it my best, and then those moments in a race when things are going well and the miles are clicking off... it's so hard to find a comparison to that in other areas of my life. It's such a simple joy. I don't think I ever really took my running ability for granted. I'm definitely a late bloomer, not breaking onto the national scene until 2014 at age 28. I'm nowhere close to race fit right now, but I want to run races again.