So, in July, I started talking a big game. I shared so much of my training with you on the blog and then I literally just stopped talking about it because I felt a little bit like a failure. The original game plan –> I was going to start training for my first full marathon! 26.2 miles through the nation’s capital for the 40th Marine Corps Marathon. I chose a training plan, joined a team, and started raising money for two charities: CitiHope International and Give To The World. Once I hit my fundraising goal, I would officially be able to sign up for the race!
Runners World Half – October 2013
I have previously run four half marathons and I love that distance. However, the world of running is a bit competitive, and once you start racing, you tend to build up the full marathon in your mind. It’s almost like if you don’t run a full marathon, then you aren’t a real runner. Saying that out loud and even typing it just now…I get it. It sounds ridiculous! But it is kind of true. Lots of people say marathons are addicting and once you run one, you want to do more. I knew that I wanted to run just ONE full marathon and I thought running for charity would be the perfect way to accomplish my goal and make a difference at the same time.
So I jumped right into my training. The beginning of the novice marathon training plan that I was following felt almost comfortable for me. I was only running four days a week so that I could incorporate other workouts and have rest days. Also, the distances were not too far just yet. But as the weekday distances got longer, so did the long runs. And at the halfway point of training, my body was starting to ache with every run that I did. I was not looking forward to my runs because I was constantly wondering what was going to start hurting next and I was getting slower as the distances were getting longer because I was trying to save my energy. I know that some people are able to run fast for longer distances, but I am not in the right kind of shape to do that, and it was a serious mental struggle to watch my paces get slower and slower as the distances got longer and longer. The last long run I did was actual the half marathon distance, and that workout was a struggle, though I did finish. A few days later, I noticed a sharp, focused pain in my shin. I wrote a little bit about my injury here, but basically I had the start of a stress fracture. I had a tibial stress reaction, so my bone was swollen, but it hadn’t cracked yet…so said my sports medicine doctor and my x-ray.
At this point, I was told to take two weeks off and I was only allowed to use the stationary bike. My doctor said this injury didn’t mean that I couldn’t run the marathon, but I was worried about jumping back into training after these two weeks off. I couldn’t just start where I was supposed to be…because I had missed two weeks of running. And if I went back to do what I missed, then I would feel behind. I was mostly mad at myself for writing all my training runs in my planner in PEN! The first run back after those two weeks off did not go well. I only ran a mile and I should have stopped half way into that mile, but I was so determined to finish.
The more that I thought about it, the more that I realized I was ready to jump back into training. These little aches now were like phantom pains. I could do it…but at what cost? Mentally, I was a mess: I didn’t want to run, my pace was terrible, and I was stressed about playing “catch up” from my time off. Physically, I was not 100%, and my hip was starting to bother me. Two years ago, I started training for the Pittsburgh Marathon and I tore a muscle in my hip (do we see a pattern here with marathon training and injuries?! Lol). That is an injury I have to live with, but when I run longer distances for too many days in a row, it gets irritated again. And that’s what was happening as my training started to get harder. I just felt like I was pushing myself to this finish line when there were 537 signs that told me to stop, take a step back, and slow down.
I want to be able to run for many years to come. I don’t want to push myself through this training and then have to take months off to recover because I had so many little injuries along the way. Running is not my job. It is my favorite thing to do, and it was very quickly becoming my least favorite thing to do. To quit, in my mind, felt like I was letting down everyone who donated to my team, the other people on my team, and myself. I’m not a quitter. But I am someone who makes thoughtful decisions, and that’s what I had to do here. Two times I have tried to train for a marathon and two times I have come out with an injury. That is obviously something that I have to work on, because many people train and complete full marathons without injury, but for me, I could probably do something better to prevent these injuries. I’m not sure!
A friend bought me this shirt a few years ago and it has quickly become my favorite again. Me and half marathons are BFF. Maybe that is the longest distance that I am supposed to conquer in my running career! It hasn’t let me down so far. 🙂 As soon as I decided that I wasn’t going to sign up for the marathon, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest. I felt free. I could run when I wanted. I could rest when I needed to. I could really let my leg heal without fear of falling behind in training. So right now, I am just finding the fun in running again. I am jealous of all my runner friends who are in the middle of training for a fall marathon, because I so badly want to accomplish that goal. But right now is not my time!
And that’s the story of the marathon that wasn’t. Thank you for your support this summer. I so appreciate it. ❤