It’s been a few weeks since my injury and I haven’t seemed to be able to recover. I can go about five miles before debilitating pain sets in. It starts in my foot, travels to my toes and then up into my shin, eventually traveling along my IT band to my hip, where it likes to exude a leg-numbing pain. Man, it sucks. So I’m bummed. The marathon is about five weeks away and it’s looking like I’m likely not going to finish it, or run/walk it slow enough to officially DNF. I’m sick over it. Praying for a miracle.
I have a ton of gratitude for all that has come my way. I get to eat dinner everyday and sometimes hem and haw over which cuisine I might fancy. And I often get to have seconds if I so desire. I get to sleep in a comfortable bed every night with clean sheets under a roof that doesn’t leak in a house that is a safe place. I get fresh water freely and take hot showers daily. I work inside a building where, unless I’m really clumsy in the cafe, I won’t lose a finger or limb. My life is abundantly blessed.
Today on my 10 mile run I thought about many of the things, big and small, that I am grateful for including the ability to run freely under an open sky, at my own pace, feeling myself breathing, watching the path disappear under my feet, pushing my boundaries under my own will. It was perfect at times. I’m so lucky to have moved to a place where I have relatively easy access to a running path that will serve as my marathon training ground. I’m so lucky to have the means to afford running shoes, shorts, bras, hats, etc. And to afford to enter a marathon, with both my time and money.
All of this gratitude helped ease the pain on the run today, but make no mistake, there was pain. Enough to scare me into wondering how the hell I’m going to do almost three runs like the one I completed today with less than three months left of training time. I thought the fear and anxiety would have subsided by now, but I couldn’t have been wronger. The reality of how long this run is couldn’t be more real or scarier. I just don’t want to let anyone down.
All of it. All of the running I’ve been doing over the last several weeks is working. I ran eight miles today and didn’t die. It was an unusually cloudy morning, which made for a comfortable run. I’m still doing dumb things, like today I forgot to bring water and felt like I might crap my pants at some points, but none of that mattered. I motored on, found a drinking fountain about halfway, and got through it crap-free.
Still working on odds and ends like what to eat before long runs, how much water to drink before, during, and after each run, what gear works best, and so on. But the running is working. My weekly mileage is climbing and the San Leandro half marathon is only a few weekends away. Oh my god! I’m suddenly feeling a little nauseous.
Last week I got in two runs, but climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia. The guides reminded me that it was about 1500 steps and about a 640 calorie workout, so I felt less guilty about missing a short, mid-week run.
See, I made it.
Australia was beautiful. It’s winter there and the days are short so my runs were limited to a treadmill. Needless to say, I’m ecstatic to be back on the trails in the bay area. My first 12 miler is planned for Saturday. Send prayers.
Marathon training has officially begun and I’m on track. That’s not saying much, it’s only week two. But with all of the upcoming travel on my schedule, I don’t know how long that will be the case.
It scares me to think about all of the miles I have yet to lay down all in preparation for the long run through the streets of Chicago. If I follow the training plan that I adopted, when all is said and done, I will have run over 425 training miles before running 26.2 on race day in October. That’s like running from Chicago to Canada.
The training plan pictured above you can find at the Chicago Marathon site at http://assets.chicagomarathon.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/2013_finish.pdf. After reviewing several different types of plans from CARA’s training peaks plan to Hal Higdon’s plan to Runner’s World’s plan – a plan I also loved, but this one to looked to be the most compelling. Incorporating weight training, cross-training, and yoga plan feels good as long as none of it is overdone. The RW plan includes running exclusively, is 20 weeks long, and claims to be foolproof. Either will probably get a beginner in a place to complete the marathon.
And that’s exactly what I am, a beginner. My goal is to finish the race. If I do that, I’ll have achieved all that I set out to do. I hope I can.
Not more than a week ago, I was struggling to run in this (image above). Thick, cold fog, wind blowing upwards of 40 mph, and hills steep enough it seemed that they were designed to break you. The paths and streets of San Francisco were unforgiving. For some runners, they are a welcome component of training. For me, they are a pitiful reminder of how out of shape I am; together, they made running feel impossible for me. And so for the past year, I made it out the door maybe a half a dozen times with my running shoes on. Usually the endeavor resulted in a brisk walk.
But this situation is no longer the case. In fact, just last weekend we moved from cold, foggy, windy, hilly, freezing San Francisco down the peninsula to sunny, less hilly, less windy, warm, and beautiful Mountain View. Not only do we love our little cottage, new yard, cute street, plum tree, and my incredible commute has gone from 1.5 hours to 15 minutes, but I can also run out my door and make it to the Stevens Creek trail in no time. Wow, a real running trail that isn’t on a 45 degree angle.
This has changed my life. Don’t get me wrong, I still seem to find ways to talk myself out of running, like how I got a blister earlier today from the 30 minute dog walk I did in my Birkenstocks. I mean the thing was the size of a large Mike & Ike candy and it was stuck to the side of my foot. The last thing I wanted to do was pull a sock and running shoe over it and subject it to repeated pounding. Plus I have a swollen inner ear thing going on. It aches so badly I’ve had to take ibuprofen. I couldn’t run with an earache. But a good friend of mine reminded me that all my aches and pains were a lot of nothing. That it was my mind, not my feet or my ear, that would carry me the 26.2 miles across the finish line in October. And to get on with it. No more excuses.
She was right of course. So I ran, earache, blister, and all. And it was a little painful, but I was happy I did it. I ran today.
Feels like I’m standing at the edge of a precipice. Scared to take a step back and start over. Terrified to move forward and slip off.
So what happened?
It’s been three weeks since I’ve run. I thought I had a handle on it and was in a good place. I did a 10K my last weekend running. I was just starting to learn how to breathe. Staying the course should have been a no-brainer. And yet, here I am, sitting on my sofa, typing away, wondering how three weeks have gone by so easily without me lacing up.
But they were busy weeks. (I don’t mind reasoning with myself.) Lots of change at work. Many early mornings and a few late nights. A five-day trip to Chicago. Mom visiting from out of town. Signing a new lease. Planning, packing, and purging for the move. But if I’m honest with myself, I can’t discount good old-fashioned laziness in just gearing up and getting out there on my part.
In all honestly, I’m scared to find out how much fitness I’ve lost in these past three weeks. Terrified in fact. I actually wonder if that’s what’s keeping me from restarting. The beginning was so hard.
Now I’m simply running out of time. CARA already kicked off their first long run last weekend. Although official training doesn’t start until mid-June, they’re running together now. And I’m sitting on the couch terrified to get started again.
If it wasn’t for the promise I made to my friends and family, I’d give up now while I’m ahead. Before I go through all of the pain, effort, time, and training to prepare myself to run 26.2 miles. Not to mention, I committed to raise $1,000 for the LUNGevity Foundation in honor (and memory) of my grandmother. Wait, that’s it. She’s the reason I’m doing this. Come to think of it, I couldn’t dream up a better reason to do this. This money will benefit others diagnosed and not-yet-diagnosed with lung cancer. It could be one of my charity dollars that helps find a cure. Now that’s inspiring.
So there it is. I’m still scared, but I have to get back to running. I need to do this. One way or another, I’ll find a way even if it’s only a mile. Tomorrow, I start again.
Photograph © Sherry Keating taken in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil