No runner likes being injured. That should come as no surprise to anyone. But every once in a while something that seems to be a set-back, can actually move you forward. It can sharpen your focus, teach you the virtue of patience or perhaps be the impetus behind change that will help you improve more than if you just stayed the course and kept on doing the same things you had been.
Without an injured IT Band during my very first marathon, I never would have spent the time learning about runner injuries, proper training methods and increased my mileage to the point where I was able to qualify for Boston.
How else do you explain a brand-new runner, with no previous experience at the age of 40 dropping their marathon time from 3:58:08 to 3:17:43 in one year?
Without a bout of knee inflammation last year coming off of the Austin Marathon and Ragnar Del Sol Relay in back to back weeks would I have been forced onto the bike, and then into the pool? Would I have finished my first triathlon, placing 9th in my Age Group without that set-back to my running last March?
Not a chance. Those injuries were actually blessings in disguise.
Last weekend’s case of “Lace Bite” forced me in the final 1/3 of my preparation for the Boston Marathon to skip two scheduled runs.
After the first 16 weeks of training, never missing a workout, never cutting a run short and tacking on extra mileage here and there I started to think I was invincible. That I was able to just click off run after run, A 20 miler, and another and another. Take things up to 21 miles? No problem. 22? Not an issue.
But something as simple as lacing my right shoe just a bit too tightly prior to my Sunday long run, ended up humbling me. Reminding me that this sport and this pursuit of a “near-perfect” effort at Boston is something that is not going to be easy. I am not invincible.
I will have to fight for every second on April 16th. I cannot simply lace up my race shoes on Patriots Day and mail it in. If I do so, Boston is going to beat me again.
Instead I need to diligently prepare both mentally and physically. Constantly be mindful of my body over these final 5 1/2 weeks of preparation. Push hard on my hard days, run easy on my easy days, watch my diet, get my rest and most importantly – ENJOY THIS.
Every bit of it. The hard runs and the easy ones, the hill repeats and the tempo runs. Wind, rain, heat, humidity – whatever lies ahead over my final 33 runs and races covering the last 270.10 miles of this training cycle I am going to enjoy every single one of them. Because they can be taken away in the blink of an eye, or a shoelace tied just a bit too tightly.
That is how precious full health is to a marathoner. The race is designed to expose your weakness, whether that is the way you dissipate heat on a hot course, the way hills will eat you alive if you do not eat them for breakfast during training or how even the slightest weakness in your machine will be gradually ground down to a pulp at the end of 26.2 miles. A tight hamstring, a sore calf, a bum ankle or even a sore right foot. You might be able to “fake it” for 12 or 13 miles – but the marathon will get you. In the end the race can be very, very cruel.
So after taking Saturday and Sunday off we jumped back into our training as if nothing had ever changed.
Ran our double workout on Tuesday with 12.2 miles in the morning followed by 4.5 at 6:22 pace in the afternoon. On Wednesday morning we covered another 12.3 miles at a relaxed pace, reloading for our hill repeat session on Thursday.
We’re back in action and loving every minute of it.
Next weekend we will be racing in Virginia Beach. Our third and final half-marathon since January 29th.
I have some expectations for this race that I will share on Monday as we preview the event – but needless to say the number one goal I have for March 18th is to enjoy every one of the roughly 10,400 strides we are going to take from start to finish.
I have a time goal that I am hoping to see on the finishing clock as we thunder past the King Neptune Statue on the boardwalk, emptying the tank, searching for the finish line.
Perhaps we will make it, perhaps we won’t – but it won’t be for lack of trying. That’s how this whole thing started for Dom back in 2009.
It doesn’t make much sense to change that now.
On to Boston.