Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I Am Not Starting the California International Marathon Sunday

My leg has been bothering me for two weeks. First it was a little twinge on a Tuesday that kept me from doing a workout. The next day it felt terrible and I was limping as I ran. I hurt it by running nearly 16 miles the same direction around a 445 meter indoor track, and 11.6 of those at a very stout 5:43 pace at the Petit National Ice Center track in Milwaukee three Sundays ago, followed up by two 12 mile days on snow and ice, including a few pain free strides, before the fateful Tuesday occured. I felt great! I booked my ticked a couple days after the long tempo. Just to make sure I was healthy. Yet too many hard miles the same direction, then sliping around on snow and ice while not doing my foot and hip exercises the preceeding month, plus I don't actually think I am 100% recovered from my 24 hour run, put my over the edge.

So I did the usual get serious about recovery: back off the mileage, do core work, hip exercises, foot exercises, massage, foam rolling, sleep, drink tea, and of course, expect it to heal in three days.

Well a week went by and I was feeling slightly better so I tried a workout. After one kilometer maybe 5% faster than marathon pace, when I was aiming more like 10-15% faster, and my leg hurt, I called it quits.

I have nervous energy before lots of races. I often have little things that worry me leading into a big race. A little twinge in a leg the week of a marathon spells hours of Internet research and the fear that the race might not go right. I have learned this is to be expected for me during a taper. Yet this did not start during a taper, it started during what was supposed to be a high mileage week. I thought, okay, maybe this is my bump for the build up. I still had a number of strong workouts under me. Yet as the weeks have gone on. This did not get better.

I asked one of my running partners for advice, actually I asked several, but M. M. in particular said, "...Question 1: What is the biggest risk of racing and what is recovery time from worst case scenario? Question 2: What chance do you have to PR?..." It's the second question that really got me. I'm okay with a two month set back after a rough race if it means I just ran the race of my life. The truth is, I don't know that I am in 2:29 shape. 2:35 shape, no problem, but I don't want to run a marathon less than my PR. My workouts, while they went well, just did not seem to go great. Yes, I am recovering  faster as an omnivoire than I did as a vegan, but the workouts themselves matter too. Maybe I am in PR shape, but then you have question number one about the risk, guaranteed if I raced a marathon on this leg, I would be out of any good running for awhile. High chance of injury + low chance of PR = not worth the risk of a setback.

I feel like a failure. To think like a little kid for a minute, 'I don't care about my long term future, I wanted to run this marathon!! Why can't I be healthy now!' This is my third did not start (DNS) in three years, and I had my one and only DNF in that time too. This is the part of having a blog that is not fun at all. Publicly living through my failure. I enjoy flaming out brilliantly in a failed attempt at something grand, with the limp and scars to prove it. Canceling because of a high risk is not my style. Yet, it is in my best long term interests to focus on recovery and building up stronger the next time.

Getting down to brass tacks, the causes of this:

  1. Not 100% recovered from 24 hour run. I recovered very well, but not well enough, I even had a night sweat last week, running something like 3 miles a day. Not sure entirely how my endocrine and hormone system are not fully recovered, but I know, they are not. I wonder if maybe that is affecting my recovery time?
  2. Neglected to do the foot, hip, and core exercises to keep me healthy during late October and early November. it seriously only takes me 1-2 hours a week for the little exercises to stay healthy, but if I don't do them I get injured.
  3. Greedy, I had a few rough days before my stellar 5:43 pace 11.6 mile pave variation tempo, but the three days after I racked up the mileage, on snow and ice.
  4. Not really a cause but my opinion, but marathon training is so hard! I find it the hardest of any distance.
What's next? Some time off running. I'm not sure how long. I'm terrible at this time off baloney. Maybe two weeks, dare I say three? After that, I'm going to focus on ultras in 2015. I need a break from the marathon, I'm going to try a 50k.

While the whole of this post is very negative, there is a silver lining. The reason I canceled today, instead of waiting until later or even flying to California to try and race, is so that I could take a trip to Germany for business next week and we leave the US on Sunday. 

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