Take That Marathon! You Didn’t Defeat Me! (part 1)

Just a quick background on my marathon experience…..

In March, I attempted my first marathon in Albany, GA.  I got injured during training, took 2 1/2 weeks off leading up to the marathon because I couldn’t make it through a 5 mile run, ran the marathon anyway, and made it through the first 15 or so miles and then it all fell apart.  I pretty much walked the last 10 miles and finished in 6+ hours.  For a more detailed recount of the suck, you can read the race recap here:  https://channelyourinnerspartan.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/albany/.

Fast forward to November 2014, my last post covered my half PR which took off over 15 minutes from my previous half in less than a year, but after that race, I’ve had some knee pain again.  With a marathon scheduled for January 25th, 2015, I started having flashbacks to Albany.  The pain I was feeling I was pretty sure was my IT band.  I ignored it for about 2 weeks, but it was finally noticeable enough on runs that I told my coach about it, and I told him I was taking 2 weeks off.  I decided to take the time off early, hoping that it would subside quickly since I only had 2 months until my marathon.

Most plans would have had me really starting to build my long distance at this time, but instead, I was hitting the pool and bike for my training.  After the two weeks off, I tried to run again, and it felt a bit better, but it still wasn’t great, so at the beginning of December, I had mentally thrown in the towel for the marathon because I really didn’t want to have a repeat of Albany.  I even told my coach that I was dropping down to the half for New Orleans Rock N Roll, and I probably wasn’t doing the Red Nose Half Marathon at the beginning of January.

Throughout December, Coach Chuck gave me some crazy workouts in the pool and walking on the treadmill with a weight vest at a 15% incline along with my usual bike stuff and some short runs.  He was very cautious on the running he gave me.  On December 28th, I had an hour and 15 minute run scheduled.  That should have been about 8 miles for me, but Angela had came, and I had promised her that someone would run  the 12 miles that she had scheduled with her, but everyone for the longer distances backed out, so I got sucked into it.  The 8 miles was supposed to be my longest since my half marathon in November, so running 12 wasn’t a great idea, but I did it anyway.  I’m sure Chuck wasn’t too happy when he saw my Training Peaks(TP) file.  My knee felt that run a bit, and I was sore from it, but the knee wasn’t any worse.

Chuck asked me Sunday afternoon if I was running the Red Nose Half on that next Saturday (he needed to put it in TP’s).  At that point, I wasn’t sure, so I told him I wasn’t planning on it.  As the week went on, I knew most of my running friends would be there, so I changed my mind, and registered for the free half marathon to use as a training run.  Without a taper or proper preparation, I figured it was free, so why not just use it as my long run for the week.  The half went well, and I actually ran a sub-2 hour half again at a pretty comfortable pace.  It was 4 minutes and something slower than my PR from November, but I actually felt like my endurance was better than it was in the November race.  The first 6-7 miles of this half, I goofed off with friends, and then decided I had a chance to get sub-2 again, so I picked up the pace around mile 7.  I finished at 1:59 and change.

Now my mind started turning…..

“I know I told Chuck I was going to do the half at RnR in 3 weeks, but could I do the full?”  Then, I’d just want to slap myself for letting it even cross my mind.  “Don’t you remember the disaster in Albany?  Running a full with an injury is a BAD idea.  Yeah, but my injury is better.  I just haven’t put in the long distance.  Ummmmm…. yeah, that’s a recipe for a new injury.  Just stick with the half, but I really want to get this monkey off my back.  Oh, forget it!  A full is out of the question, and Chuck will tell you how dumb it is if you even mention it.  You haven’t ran over a half marathon since March, and you think you can run 26.2 miles?”

That was the internal dialogue over the next week that I was having with myself, and I spoke to a few friends about the thoughts as well.  Some of them said do the half, others said go for the full.  I debated not even mentioning the thoughts to my coach before the race and just making the decision on my own based on how I felt during the race.  I also know relying on myself and friends for these types of decisions is probably not the best idea, but I felt like I knew what he’d say, and I really didn’t want to hear how crazy of a thought it was, so I just needed to suck it up and do the half.  Save the full for Marine Corp Marathon in October is what I kept repeating to myself even though it wasn’t sitting well.

Chuck and I were talking that next week, and NOLA RnR came up.  He asked, “is NOLA going to be a 13.1?”  This is how that conversation went…..

Me- “I’m guessing that’d be the smart thing even though 26.2 has crossed my mind.”

Chuck- “how is the knee?”

Me-“Good.”

Chuck- “hmmm… I could see it as 1) going for it on another 13.1 PR, or 2) doing 26.2 with a lot of walk breaks.”

Me- “Yes, those were the two options I was thinking as well
Chuck- “we’re still quite a ways from NOLA HIM, but I don’t want you to risk injury and interfere with the tri training. I want you to have a solid race at NOLA in April as well. So I’m torn.”
Me- “Me too. I’m going to see where the split is. Honestly, I think my chances of injury pushing for a PR are about the same as going for 26.2 with walk breaks. If the split is around 11 miles like the RnR in Savannah, I could see how I feel at that point & make the call. I’d have to run/walk from the start, so the PR wouldn’t be an option.”
Chuck- “You think?”
Me- “Pushing a 8:45 average for 13.1 or a 10:30-11 for 26.2? Yes, I think, but I could be wrong.  Maybe a 12mm.”
The conversation ended with no clear answer and Chuck telling me that we’ll see how I feel closer to the race, so the internal debate continued over the next couple of weeks.  I was trying to decide if it was a dumb idea with the lack of miles on my legs even though I felt like my endurance was there.  I definitely didn’t want to re-injure myself, and I’d be really mad at myself if I did, but my leg doesn’t seem to be getting any worse, and I seem to be able to keep the IT band under control with all that I’m doing right now, so is this a fear thing?  If I backed out due to fear, then I’d be mad at myself as well.  Everyone around me thought I had already made up my mind and I was doing the full, but I really hadn’t.  26.2 miles is a huge risk when your IT band is still getting tight at times, and you haven’t ran over 13.1 miles in over 10 months.
I finally looked up the course maps, and they didn’t split until mile 12, so I told myself, Chuck, and everyone that I didn’t know which one I’d do.  I’d make the call at mile 12 based on how my leg felt.  If there was pain, then I’d call it a day.  This meant that I was doing as Chuck and I had discussed.  I would run the first half using the run:walk method.
To be continued……
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