I had some real dread going into Sunday’s long run. For me, 18 miles is where the rubber meets the road, where the boys are separated from the men and where I have traditionally fallen apart in training. (Wow, psych myself out much??) I’ve trained for three marathons and encountered more than my fair share of fueling and hydration issues. Apparently my electrolyte balance is pretty delicate, but it took a lot of puking to figure out what to do about it.
Marathon Number 1 was the Nike Women’s Marathon last October. Training was okay, but tougher than I expected. I felt tired the whole time and never hit my goal paces. My 18 and 20 mile training runs were cut short with stomach trouble that I couldn’t figure out – was it heat? Was it the energy gels? Was it not drinking enough water or drinking too much? Race day dawned and I felt lousy by Mile 5, I was throwing up by Mile 13 and I staggered into the med tent at Mile 20. DNF.
Marathon Number 2 was just seven weeks later and I was determined to get it done. I changed my fueling strategy and dialed my time goal waaaaaaaay back. I only had time for one 18 mile training run and I walked a good portion of it. I made plans to run with a friend and we had a great time, chatting and running. Poor thing had GI trouble by the halfway mark but was a total pro and never tossed her cookies. We ran an easy pace and were happy to cross the finish line at 4:44:32.
Marathon Number 3 was this past March. I trained hard. I started drinking Nuun to keep my electrolytes stable. I struggled a lot with the nagging doubts on my long runs, but I made it through them. On race day, I was ready to bring home a BQ. But for some now-unexplainable reason, I chose not to bring my own hydration and there I was at mile 18, chucking on the side of the road. I had to walk the last 8 miles, but I crossed that finish line at 5:26:42, faster than Katie Holmes.
This training cycle has been golden, absolutely fantastic. My tri fitness has really made me a faster and stronger runner. I’ve found a nutrition plan that’s working for me and keeping my stomach happy (puke-free since March!) I’ve been stomping all over my time goals and feeling fresh while doing it. Sure, there’s been some self-doubt here and there, but even my mental game has been better lately. What could go wrong?? A fricken injury, that’s what could go wrong. UGH!
There I was, cruising along at mile 13 of my planned 18-miler. I was feeling good, hitting a really nice, but somewhat aggressive, pace. I turned a corner and – BAM! – it was like somebody Nancy Kerrigan-ed my left knee. I slowed down and tried to find a comfortable stride. Not happening. I walked for a bit and felt better, but as soon as I picked it back up to a running pace the pain brought tears to my eyes. I know exactly what the problem is – my IT Band – even though it’s never given me trouble before. The Hubs has had ITBS off and on for a few years and the pain is just like he has described, but of course much, much worse because now it’s happening to me.
I walked some more. I sat my butt down on the sidewalk and stretched. I hobbled and cried and walked a few more miles, but once I made it to 17 miles, I let myself walk the last mile home. FAIL. The pain was so bad yesterday I was practically immobile. I stretched, used the foam roller, took ibuprofen and pretty much wallowed in self-pity for the afternoon. Bye-bye marathon glory dreams.
Thankfully, today I’m (physically) feeling much, much better. There’s still plenty of pain, but I went to work and I can move in a more or less normal fashion. I did an easy swim this afternoon and my plan at the moment is to take this week off and take it relatively easy next week. I need to get in another long run before taper IF I’m still running the marathon.
Mentally….well, I’m bummed. I don’t want to scrap the marathon completely, but I don’t think running it hard and fast is in the cards anymore.
Tell me your story: ever had an injury with a miraculous recovery time???