Hello, hello and Happy Thursday!
I have been wanting to write this for a while now. It was hard to write directly following the marathon, so now that I’ve had some time to think about it all it’s much easier to spit out.
The number one goal of any race is to get to the finish line injury free and feeling good, unfortunately for me, this was not the case. The pain started to set in about three weeks leading up to the marathon and I knew that it was more than your average tired legs and muscle fatigue.
A bit of background.
I’ve been running for a long time, competitively in high school, and recreational since. I have trained for three marathons prior to Chicago and numerous half marathons, but I’ve never fully applied myself like I did with this lead up.
The months leading up.
I started training with Megan Brown Performance 12 weeks before the marathon. From the moment of my first track workout I knew it was for me. I loved the feeling that I got being on the track after so many years of competitive running. So, every Tuesday at 6:30 that’s where I was, with some of the best training partners and coaches I could have imagined. I was so happy to be part of a running club again and be surrounded by people that had goals just like mine. Tuesday was the speed workout and Saturday was the long run. I was lucky to have someone to run with who was also training for Chicago. She pushed me, encouraged me and we spent many long runs talking about our goals and past marathon experiences.
I spent the most part of 12 weeks staying in Fridays to feel fresh for the Saturday long run. We met at 7:30 a.m. most days which meant leaving the house at 6:30, which meant getting up at 5:45 to eat and drink coffee before heading out. I wouldn’t have traded this marathon build up for the world, but it does get tough mentally and physically. I was lucky to have Ian who was also in training mode (until he got injured)! and awesome running pals and coaches to run with.
I was feeling really, really good. I started to enjoy running again and ran freely and effortless for most of my runs. I longed for the speed workouts and I craved the long runs. I was also including strength and yoga and making sure I was filling my body with nutritious foods. Three weeks before the marathon I had never felt better. I felt so strong and seriously if I had ran the marathon that weekend I know I would have hit my goal time.
After a heavy two weeks of training miles I started to feel it in my calf and the inside of my ankle. I had a stress fracture 10 years ago and I often feel it in the same spot and there is always the risk (worry) of getting one again. I didn’t think it could be and I desperately tried to forget about it and convince myself I was fine. I went for one more long run, 36km and I knew something was not right. It was almost like in that moment everything I had trained for and the fitness I had achieved was gone because of the pain I was feeling. Again, I couldn’t believe it was happening so I tried to forget it.
I limited my running to once/twice a week. I tried to go out for a 5km run two weeks before the marathon and it felt terrible. I went through my training logs obsessively to convince myself that my fitness was still there and the “injury” (although I wasn’t calling it that) would go away when I stared running and I wouldn’t even feel it.
I was so nervous and so anxious the week leading up to the marathon, I wasn’t myself. I knew I was nervous, but this felt much deeper. Weeks before I couldn’t wait to run this marathon but that week I was just hoping to get through without seriously hurting myself.
When the gun went off, the pain did not go away. It did not ease up and it only got worse. My goals, my race pace I had trained for was all out the window and the feeling of loneliness really sunk in. The marathon can be extremely lonely, especially when you’re feeling how I was. I dropped my pace, I had to walk a few times and the internal discussion I had with myself the entire time nearly made me drop out completely. I thought the pain of not finishing would be worse than the time I was going to get so I kept going. On the course I had an amazing support crew which also kept me going.
From 30-38km my leg started to actually give out and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish but I kept going, one step at a time.
I finished, I crossed the line in 3:50, 25 minutes slower than what I was hoping for and what I had trained so hard for.
As soon as I had time to process what happened the tears started to come out. I was so so happy that I finished it but so so sad that I had come this far without reaching my goal. The beauty of the marathon though is that there is always another one and the lessons you learn from each race is motivation for the next.
The days and weeks after the marathon I was in terrible pain. Two weeks after the marathon, I got myself to a sports doctor, did an X-ray and found out that I had a stress fracture that was healing. Because of how I was walking (limping) after the race I also developed tendinitis from my knee cap to my shin bone which I am now working with a physio therapist to ease.
I miss running, but now is the time to slow down and fully recover no matter how long it takes. I cannot let the number on the clock take away from this experience, all I can do is be grateful for it, move on and come back stronger.
After the race my coach, sent me this, which is so true.
We don’t do this running gig to figure out how fast we can run from A to B. We run to discover things about ourselves… to grow…. to evolve.. to learn…
To anyone that has set goals and not achieved them, learn from it. We all want to better ourselves and become the best version of ourselves and sometimes we face adversities, which is okay. If you can learn to take these adversities as growth experiences and learning experiences it will help with the disappointment and frustration. It’s not easy, actually quite difficult, especially in the moment but you will be much happier and motivated going forward.