Out for the Count
I even got the winning number.
Can you top A1111?
In corral 1.
But I wasn’t be there.
My disappointment goes beyond words.
There’s a part of me that was still thinking somehow I’ll be there this morning to toe the line at the 2017 LA Marathon, a race I’ve run before, a race which was my first marathon back in 1996 when I had no clue what I was doing and I race I’ve come within seconds of breaking the 3 hour mark several times.
I’m writing this post with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.
My training was going so well; I knew I’d finally be able to break that three hour barrier I’d been working so hard to do after coming in just a hair over the line so many times!
I’d hit my number and my pace goals on every single workout.
40 x 400 meters at 6:45 pace as the main set on a weekend training run.
10 x 1’ at 5:45 pace as a mid week short / hard / fast fartlek.
2 hours at 6:45 pace on the tread with no breaks.
Runs where I doubted my ability to complete the set every single second, every single time being a chance to defy my own limits and prove to myself that I was capable of more than I thought I was.
Plenty of rest and recovery; different from seasons in the past where I’d get ‘run greedy’ as my coach called it.
A moment of gratitude every single run to remember how thankful I am that I have a body that works, that allows me to do the thing I love best in terms of physical activity.
But with pushing the limits comes risk and it’s always a fine line between how hard one can push and at what point things might unravel.
Three weeks ago, on what should have been the second to last long ish training run, I did a tempo set on the course at 6:45 pace.
I felt great! incredible focus, solid energy in my fasted state and hitting my pace mile after mile.
No extra fuel (another nice thing about relying on fat- nothing to carry other than a couple of salt tabs!), no water- just free running.
The warm up started on ocean and i veered down the incline in order to do a little stretch on the bike path, a place i rarely, rarely run (the majority of my runs being on trail, tread or track).
There was a light drizzle that day and it was a bit chilly, but i paid no attention.
After all, I’m the girl that runs in the racing briefs + sports bra, even in NYC 2014 when it was 54 degrees and 40 mph winds, the one spectators shout ‘bikini girl’!
I chose my course. South along the path until venice, then North up to will rogers, then under the bridge and back up on Channel to Ocean, then an out and back on San Vicente around the golf course, with a finish right on the course.
In my mind’s eye, I saw the number in my mind that I would see on the clock.
I knew what time I’d be seeing on my watch as I passed by 26th, then Lincoln, 7th, 4th and as I turned a sharp Left on Ocean and took it up one more notch as I flew home to finish just North of the pier.
It was a great run!
I got home and went about the rest of our Sunday; stretch, a bit of work, a little writing, planning for the week to come… although i did notice a slight twinge in my left foot just below the ankle.
Nothing too noticeable, and the next day, i headed out to the trails with the dogs for our regular monday morning trail run.
My foot felt so normal that i forgot it had even bothered me, and by tuesday, it was a distant memory.
I swam on Tuesday and on Wednesday, headed out again to the trails.
When i got home, I couldn’t put my heel down without pain.
I stretched, I iced, I used a castor pack but it still felt achy.
Off to PT I went.
Ice. Stim. Ultrasound.
No running for a week.
Pain in the first few minutes.
Thankfully, swimming, cycling and yoga didn’t elicit pain, so all were options for me to keep fit, active and lean while I sorted this out.
What was going on?
I’d never had foot issues!
Anyway, more rest from running- just a focus on cycling, swimming, massage and stretching and so I did everything I could to keep my positive mindset.
An x-ray seemed in order, so I went to an MD; it showed nothing other than I have some bone in the back of my heel (just like my mom, which I’ve always known) but was interesting to see was how that bone creates a bit of extra strain on the achilles, since rather than the heel bone being flat and smooth, mine sticks out like a fin on a sports car!
The doctor suspected I’d be able to run by adding a wedge in my shoe under the left heel and adding some anti- inflammatory ( opting for curcumin, rather than advil).
Yes! I was going to run!
At that point, it was friday morning, right before I headed to the expo to pick up my number.
My foot felt a little uncomfortable with each step, but I kept remembering what the doctor said and began to believe it was still going to happen.
I continued on as though I was going to race. Rest from training Friday as I always do two days out from a race.
I planned on doing my last run which would have been only 20 minutes long, with 5 minutes of effort at 6:45 after a nice long warm up.
I was more jittery for this than I’d typically be for a race!
I warmed up, I stretched, I got on the tread.
Walking seemed ok, and after ten minutes, I began to jog.
Within 35 seconds, pain.
I will admit that it’s hard for me to express this.
I am not someone who doesn’t finish things and I don’t quit.
But there’s a big difference between what people refer to as ‘pain’ as in ‘I’m getting tired and it ‘hurts’ to run’ versus each step causes wincing.
And that’s what it did.
There was just no way.
Yet I still had to test it again.
Defeated, I stopped the tread and stretched a little while I waited for my massage therapist to arrive. I’d planned a light, flushing massage to prep for the race.
I felt a bit better after the massage, so yes, I had to test again.
As if by magic somehow I’d feel normal again.
The cold hard truth was that there was no way I’d be able to PR and there was absolutely zero point in showing up to walk a marathon, causing pain and risking injury.
A call to the doctor confirmed that, and it was done.
Man, did I feel blue. And I still do.
And I needed, still need, to sit with it as I accept it and let it digest and move forward.
I will have an MRI this week to rule out a stress fracture.
I will focus on cycling, swimming and strength.
I am filled with gratitude that this is a minor injury that will heal itself; so many others sustain far, far greater injuries that limit them much more than an athlete having to take a step back.
But still, how I feel is how I feel, and despite all the work I’ve been doing with my mediation to alleviate the anxiety I experience all too often, the idea is not to, in the process not feel sadness, defeat and then, surrender.
If I were to attempt to skip right to putting on a happy face and pretend this didn’t sting, it wouldn’t be real.
I feel a bit better after a long ride with hubbie through the Santa Monica Mountains followed by a relaxing afternoon at home as we work on our laptops, side by side, with an afternoon glass of Rose and some pate, toasted almonds + sundried tomato (this is our thing- an enjoyable post workout snack of protein, fat and salt- our first food of the day a prior to our dinner a few hours later), the dogs chilling out on their little beds.
Thank you so much to my friends, family and blog readers who sent well wishes and who took the time to read this.
Feels cathartic to share it; perhaps someone reading will identify and maybe it will help them, too.
This too shall pass.
It’s all part of it.
My body told me something and I’m just glad I’m listening.
It only took me about 42 years to start doing that!