Friday, September 30, 2011

30 Days

Well, the Marine Corps Marathon is 30 days away, and, the uncertainty of whether or not I will be able to participate is growing with each day that passes. I've got 2 weeks of physical therapy under my belt, and while I have been seeing some improvements, progress is still slow and frustrating, especially for a Type A personality.

My therapist told me I could run 5-6 miles last weekend, certainly nowhere near the 18-20 I originally had down on my training plan. I planned on 6, and if I felt good after that, I'd do 2 more for a total of 8. I am registered for a half marathon tomorrow, and needed to test out my body to see if 13.1 would even be possible. I had 5 pain free miles. As a result, I am spending this weekend at home rather than running through the hills of West Virginia. This was a race I have been trying to plan for for 2 years now, so to say I'm disappointed about having to cancel is an understatement.

To say that barely making it through 6 miles was a reality check is an even bigger understatement. While neither the podiatrist nor therapist has outright told me that MCM is out of the question, I am beginning to accept that it probably is. I'm beginning almost a mourning process so to speak. My emotions are still too raw - I can barely talk about it without tearing up because of the disappointment I feel so deep down. To know how close I was to being done with my training, I did get all the way up to 18 miles, and see it all go to waste is frustrating.  The early early hours, the pushing myself to my limit in 90+ degree temps and horrific humidity, all seem for naught now.

I am beginning to come around to the fact that even if my foot is feeling better by late October, is it really going to be worth it go through with my race plans? A friend asked me the other day why I feel the need to keep doing marathons. My response "because I want to do them better." Going into a marathon 7 weeks after my longest run and dealing with an injury is certainly not doing it better. Perhaps this is where the experience of having 2 fulls already under my belt is a good thing - I know how hard and painful it would be to begin with, dealing with these factors would certainly be worse.

So, I have not canceled any plans as of yet. I've missed the window to transfer my registration to another runner, but I can still transfer from the full marathon to the 10K, which I would certainly be capable of completing by that point. But, would I feel like I'm settling? Is it an all of nothing for me now? Am I admitting defeat? If I can't do the full, I'm not even sure I want to step foot into the expo. It would just be too painful.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Confessions - Follow up

Thank you all for the great input in my iPod debate. The jury is still out on this. Having run MCM last year, there are certain parts of the course that I think I would like a bit of distraction, So, I am still leaning towards having some tunes to turn to if needed. If I decide to go this route, I will get the specially designed One Good Earbud in an effort to address some of my safety concerns.

As for my foot issues, I actually was pretty reasonable with myself for a change. When faced with running a local half marathon this past Sunday, I came to the conclusion the night before that deep down this really was a bad idea. My foot was still achy, and there are other things coming up that I am looking much more forward to. The doubt and fear I had that I would do something to further hurt myself and cause me to have to back out of October plans was far too great. I didn't run, and Monday morning I called a podiatrist.

Wednesday morning I got my official plantar fasciitis diagnosis. The good news is that there were no surprises - this is what I expected. So, I'm now on oral steroids to combat the inflammation, which I think right now is the biggest issue of them all and what drove me to finally see a Dr since none of the at home treatments were working. She even told me that even at it's strongest dose, Ibuprofen wasn't going to touch it, validating in my mind my decision to go. I did vetoed the injection idea though, preferring to try the oral meds route first. The fact she let me choose rather than coming right at me with a syringe definitely impressed me. I have to wear running shoes pretty much all of my waking hours, and, I can still run a couple of miles 3-4 times a week.

Monday afternoon I have a physical therapy evaluation. I'm hoping once the inflammation goes down that the therapist will have me moving again, quickly. Needless to say, my participation in the upcoming Freedom's Run 1/2 Marathon and, of course, MCM, are both hanging in the air. The Dr did write "training for a marathon - wishes to resume training schedule asap" on my therapy slip, so at least we are on the same page. ;)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I have a confession to make, lately I have been struggling. Two weeks ago I had a fantastic 16 miler that really helped boost my confidence and chase away a lot of doubts I had been having about doing another marathon, but many of these feelings have returned after a disappointing 18 miler. I guess the poor attitude I had even going into it really sunk it for me before the run even started. I hadn't slept well the night before, it was extremely humid, and once the sun came up it got hot, quick. For some reason, 18 miles is my nemesis. Last year, I had the same problems. All runners go through things like this, and after a miserably hot summer, and a few things Mother Nature has thrown this way lately, like an earthquake and hurricane, finding excuses not to run and to be discouraged has certainly be easy.

I've also been dealing with a slight injury over the last few weeks. I thought I had finally tamed my plantar fasciitis problems, only to have them come back. I blamed some movements we did in my summer boot camp class as the primary culprit, but the reality is that it coincided with my mileage increase, so likely the combination of increasing both my mileage and going to twice a week intense cross training had something to do with it. I stubbornly did 18 miles knowing this, and yes, I knew it probably wasn't a good idea. Didn't this stubbornness lead to a stress fracture 3 years ago? Old habits are hard to break. I am being reasonable though. If it doesn't get better, I know 26.2 miles is impossible.

Anyway, the struggles with my 18 miler reignited a debate with myself - to iPod or not to iPod.

This brings my third confession - I've never run a race or done a long run while listening to music. I've probably only worn my iPod while running outside a handful of times, and all probably in my first year or two of running. Honestly, I'm not even sure I know where my iPod is right now.

Running with a music player is a pretty controversial topic in many circles. Some people swear by it, others are dead set against it, mainly as a safety issue. I agree it is a safety issue, and also feel it takes away from the race experience - listening to spectators and taking in the atmosphere as a whole. However, I have wondered lately if having music would help distract me when things got rough, especially since I am facing running the entire marathon alone. One of the reasons why I've never done it is because I never wanted to feel like it would be a crutch for me, one of those people would couldn't possibly think of running without. If I starting listening to music to on my long runs, would I ever be able to go back? Or, would I spend the money on a new, smaller player, wear it around with me, but never use it?

Yesterday I had a routine medical appointment, and was chatting with my doctor during the visit. She's currently training for her second half marathon, and is running it with another doctor and a couple of family members. She said that she could never run that distance alone, and what could people like me doing marathons possibly think about while out on the road for such a long time. That is the mystery of being a distance runner I think, and where some of us blossom, and some of us struggle. There's a fine line between squashing the doubts and letting the doubts take over.

So, I ask you - to iPod or not to iPod?