Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Decision Time

I will not be running the Rock 'N' Roll USA Marathon in Washington, D.C. on March 17. 

I still feel a little like I got punched in the stomach when I write that, but I am also absolutely positive this is the right decision.

Let's recap a little...
November 2011 - I decided to run a marathon and signed up. Plantar fasciitis reared its ugly head. It got bad fast.
December 2011 - Took a week off and tried to get back into training while treating problem.
January 2012 - Went to a orthopedist. Checked for bone spurs or fractures. All clear. Started 4 weeks of physical therapy and 2 weeks of anti-inflammatories. Did a miserable 18 miler. Ran an amazing half marathon. I was thrilled to not be in pain during the race and actually enjoy running again but afterwards the pain was bad.
February 2012 - Ran 20 miles. Pain was bad through most of it and for days after. Found an Active Release Chiropractor to help with injury, but I was not recovering between runs. The pain was not at its worst but got worse each time I ran.

Yesterday, I headed out for 22 miles. I decided I try to run/walk with 3 minutes running to 1 minute walking. This is not how I usually run, but I thought this might be a compromise between not doing the marathon and how I'd really like to do the marathon. I made it 8 miles. I felt great in a lot of ways. The weather was perfect. I wasn't tired or frustrated because the 3:1s made it easy despite the hills I was running. I felt the pain in my foot. I could run through it; it wasn't awful.  But, I felt it snap tight with every step I took. I also had pain behind my left knee that appeared a week ago. It hurt really bad for a day or two but then lightened up. It was back. This makes it sound like I was in awful pain, but I wasn't. Both of these things were just enough for me to notice them.

As the miles went by, I had time to think. For the first time in weeks, I was happy to be running. I felt good and wasn't focusing on just getting one more mile done. I knew I could finish 22 miles. I knew the pains would get really bad by the end but that I could finish. I also knew I wouldn't be able to walk for days at best or would be really injured at worst. I thought maybe I'd do the 22 miles and then at least be able to say I did that if I was too injured to run the marathon. Then I thought maybe I'd skip the 22 and save my body for the marathon and just do whatever it took to get through 26.2. But I thought about the consequences. I thought about the races I am excited for in the next 6 months. With every step, it became completely clear that I was going to really hurt myself one way or another if I kept pushing. My body has put up with a lot in the past 16 weeks. It has tried to keep up with my attempts to ignore injury and keep training. My body can't keep doing it. It needs to heal. My feet need to heal.

In the end, I want to run for months, for years, and for life. I do not want to run just one race. My family has sacrificed to support me, and I cannot repay them with a serious injury that makes our life more difficult or costs more money. I'm not willing to miss out on a entire season of running to finish this marathon injured. I'm not willing to miss out on hiking with my family and playing with my boys for this race. It was all suddenly so clear. To keep going would just be dumb. Not strong, not fierce, not determined. Stupid. There is no other option. I am not running this marathon. There will be another marathon. I need to heal.

After I got home, I spent some time looking at my training schedule, at the runs I did and the runs I didn't do. I spent a lot of time in the past few months thinking I just wasn't pushing hard enough and that's why I wasn't training well. I thought I was letting life get in the way. I thought I wasn't stepping up to the plate and acting like a marathoner. But now, with a clearer head, I look at the plan, my runs, and the stuff that was going on at the time and I can see that the vast majority of miles I missed were because of injury, not lack of discipline. Of course, I lost motivation and focus after fighting the injury for so long, but that was secondary.

I am not disappointed in myself. I gave it my all. I tried to heal. I tried to train. I asked the hard questions. Now, it's time to take a break. I'm going to take 2 weeks of no running but do my cross-training, chiropractic visits, and all the other recovery pieces.  I might run the half marathon on March 17. I'm somewhat planning on it, but I will only do so if I'm feeling good. I'll only do so if I know that I won't hurt myself further. And if I do run it, I will take another 2 full weeks of little to no running before starting back slowly hopefully in time to race well on May 5 in the Broad Street 10 miler.

After a few weeks of recovery, I'll start seriously considering a fall marathon. I'm still going to run a marathon. I'm just not going to risk my health to do it.


  1. So sorry to hear that you are still in pain. Good for you for making a really hard decision that sounds like it is the right one.

  2. I think you made the best choice you could - putting yourself and your health 1st!!!


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