On the day Molly Born found out the extent of her foot injury last May, she was was scheduled to appear at Shawnee Mission Northwest (Kansas) High's annual banquet.
Talk about a rough day.
Just a few hours after being diagnosed with a fracture to the navicular bone in her right foot -- a season-ending injury that would also eat into her cross country season -- Born was scheduled to attend an annual tradition built on celebration.
She was on crutches. And here was an event where she had to smile. She says it was one of the more emotional days of her life.
She decided not to go.
"I was heartbroken," Born said. "All the hard work I put in to get there . . . it felt like it was lost. I was so sad. It was right before the state championships and I felt like I was letting my team and my coach down. I couldn't bring myself to go to it."
All Born could do on that day was imagine. She imagined her season lost, imagined the sadness it would take to face her teammates.
Born had won two state championships last year in the 1600m and 3200m. She was the favorite to repeat in both events and had already logged a PR in the 1600m with a time of 4:48.87 in May -- likely through the injury -- and then she did the same in the 3200m, going 10:10.64 at the Kansas Relays. Both times would have earned her two more gold medals in 2017.
"I was in big denial about it," Born said. "I didn't want to let my team down."
Her injury could have gone one of two ways: a natural recovery, which would have been six weeks and a return to running after the spring season; or one that required surgery and a safer route toward preventing injury in the future.
The particulars of her injury were such that the bone was the highway to the foot. Born felt it was integral that she take care of her future and stabilize a critical area.
"The surgery would make sure it wouldn't fracture again," she said.
Doctors recommended that Born take the safe route. She agreed for surgery and then watched her spring season drift away.
She received surgery on June 2. Then came the wait. Four months in total.
"My cross country season is pretty uncertain," Born said. "My only goal is that I want to run with my team one last time at the state meet. And I guess we'll see what happens after that."
Born had broken through in a big way during the cross country season in 2016, running the sixth-fastest time nationally with a 16:49.30 en route to winning NXN Heartland and qualifying for NXN, where she finished 23rd.
But her injury essentially seeped into her fall season, too.
Born was approached by Jim Madison, the webmaster of Kansas MileSplit, about writing a blog detailing her rehabilitation from injury.
She was hesitant at first.
"It took some convincing," she said. "But I'm glad I did it."
Ultimately, writing has given Born a small bit of closure from the injury, and every day she's finding out something new about the process.
"I mean it's very therapeutic," she said. "I love putting my thoughts out there. I make sure to add a little bit of humor to the entire thing. That's definitely been good. I'm also hoping to help people with their injuries."
Born's written about the tips she's picked up from injury, talked about learning how best to ride a knee scooter, detailed her dislike for cross-training, and recently added her thoughts on being a fan from the sideline and what it's meant watching from the other side.
Born hasn't crossed off her season just yet.
She could return to running within a month and may have a chance to put on her Shawnee Mission Northwest uniform a few more times.
She's also been planning official visits to programs that will be vying for her signature before the National Letter of Intent period. She's scheduled out visits to Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Minnesota and Utah.
She's learned through this process which schools are truly the right fit for her as well.
"All of the coaches I've looked at have been very supportive," she said. "Back when the injury started, if the coach wasn't being supportive or helping me through it, or was giving me a bad vibe, I wasn't interested in that school. I want to have a school that will help you through that."
Soon enough, she'll run again.
And those rough days will be no more.
"I definitely would love to make a full recovery and make it back and feel the same way that I did before, and to make it back to where I was," she said. "I think that's accomplishable."