Yes, I know, I have been TERRIBLE about writing on my blog. I started writing a blog for Reedy Press and, to be honest, it has eaten up much of my usual Khaki Shorts time. Alas, many tasks sit on my list, still undone.
BUT I had to write a blog today because this weekend is RACE weekend and I have not given a single marathon training update!
The first half of my training went really, really well. I had several long run days in January and February when it was sunny and the temps were a perfect 40 degrees. As you may recall from earlier posts, my goal during training this year was to push myself and the pace, rather than slogging along just trying to get the miles in. That was going really well too! I tried to stick to a 7:30-7:45 minute mile pace, and I was doing just that!
Toward the middle of the training, things got a little tougher. I had some bad weather days when I was running my long runs in 10-15 degree weather, which is never fun and also hard on your joints.
Things kind of fell apart when I hit the 18 mile point. My 18 miler went really well. I ran it in 2:22, which I was very happy about, thinking if I could keep that pace up I’d BQ the race for sure. That run felt good.
The day after that run I went out to go an easy 3-4 miles and I could barely do it! I had pain shooting from my hip to my knee and all down my thigh!
The return of the RUNNER’S KNEE (bum! bum! bum!). Or so I thought.
Turns out self-diagnosing things on WebMd and making racing decisions based on those diagnoses is not a smart idea.
At this point, I’d come too far and invested too much time and energy into training to throw in the towel. So, I made an appointment to see a PT and try to fix the nasty bugger. I happened to accidentally schedule this appointment during a work day which just happened to land on St. Patrick’s day, which is how I accidentally ended up walking in the Dogtown St. Patrick’s day parade one afternoon…but that’s another story.
Well, turns out I don’t have runner’s knee. I didn’t last year and I don’t this year. I am just an idiot. I ACTUALLY have/had IT Band Syndrome. Which is a very common running injury, and though painful, not fatal to a race season.
The treatment, for me, has been LOTS of stretching, ice, foam rolling and appointments to get laser therapy and a sort of deep tissue massage called ART.
When I found out what I was dealing with, my sister said, “Well, guess your body is not meant to run like this anymore.” This is what I thought last year too. Well, guess these legs ain’t as young as they used to be.
But that’s not it. That’s not it at all.
When I was a kid I was somewhat famous in my circle for telling people that I was ¼ wolf, ¼ chimpanzee, ¼ dolphin, ¼ hedgehog, ¼ lion and ¼ horse. I was a strange child. And clearly bad at math. I never really realized, at the time, that you CAN’T be ¼ of all of those things. It just doesn’t add up. Mathematically or…er, biologically.
I feel like, as an adult, that is sort of what I’ve been trying to do too. I try to be ¼ zookeeper, ¼ writer, ¼ runner, ¼ girlfriend, ¼ sister, ¼ daughter, ¼ friend, ¼ manager of all things in the domestic realm etc, etc…
It just doesn’t add up. And I think that is what my sore, little IT band is trying to tell me.
If I want to regularly run 15-20 miles on my weekends I have to also commit to doing things like, I don’t know, stretching?!?! That might be smart. Icing and foam rolling too.
So many times this winter I finished a long run, showered, changed and rushed off to this meeting or that school visit without stretching, hydrating, basically taking care of my body the way that a marathoner should. And I can no longer get away with it.
I’d like to say that in the final lap of my training I committed fully to the marathon (lord knows I didn’t commit fully to this blog!) and did everything perfectly, as I was supposed to. That’s not exactly true. There were days I missed foam rolling, stretching and icing. But I did focus much more on taking care of my muscles instead of asking them for more and giving nothing in return.
More importantly, I realized that if I want to continue to be an athlete I need to work on these habits, always. Am I too old to run marathons? Absolutely not. But do I need to be more than ¼ runner when I’m training for a marathon? Yes. Definitely, yes.
So, how did the training finish off? Well, I did it. I ran 20 miles, then I ran 21 miles and then I ran 14. And it hurt. A lot, sometimes. And I was slower than when I started. And sometimes I had to waddle my way around Forest Park like a duck. But, I did it. The race is Sunday and the “hay is in the barn” as they say.
Now, two nights out, my playlist is set, my outfit is ready and I’m guzzling whatever water I can find. Cause, honestly, that’s all I can do. I’m going to go out there and give it my all and that’s everything that I can ask for.
I set out this season to get a PR. I was determined to show 24 year old Carolyn a thing or two about running.
(My goal is to beat this overly enthusiastic young buck.)
And I still am aiming for those goals. I truly expect it to hurt. I know it will hurt. But I do know that I can do it and I am going to try to do it fast.
After all, as the great Jimmy Dugan once said, It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.