December 25, 2009
13 days later
I am gainfully employed again. Back at my old IT job, back in my old cube, even. Many of the same people are there, doing the same things they were doing 3 years ago, and the past two weeks have been a weird deja vu for me. While I was gone, someone else with my same name joined the company and now has my old email address, so she's received some "welcome back!" emails and I've received an xmas card meant for her. Good times.
For the past 13 days I've done nothing but walk and a little elliptical and even less stairmaster. And my heel still hurts. Not as much, but some. After almost 2 weeks off it shouldn't hurt at all. And this has me profoundly depressed. I feel like a complete failure. I trained hard this year and was delighted with my return from 2008's stress fracture. I got into pretty good shape and was looking for a decent marathon (and a PR), and I almost had it, but I blew it. And now I'm a 46-year old woman with a chronic low-grade undiagnosed running injury, and I've got a full-time job now taking up a lot of my time, and I'm not getting any younger. I was never great as a runner, but I thought I could maybe be good, just a little. But it will not happen in this lifetime.
December 13, 2009
and with that, I am on the bench for a little while
As much as I want to redeem myself (assuming I am redeemable), I want to let my foot heal. So per Roger's orders, nothing but dogwalking for 5 days, then 10-15 days of light xtraining.
Actually I can't think of a better time to take off. I start my new old gig as a DBA tomorrow, so my schedule is unknown at this point but likely to be a lot different than it has been the past two years. And it's holiday time, with parties and food and drink, all things I've been very, very judicious with for the past six months or so. I can't remember the last time I ate a potato chip. Let's live a little! Potato chips for all!
Anyway, 2-3 weeks. And then we'll see. Hopefully this thing will heal properly.
what am I doing here
Yesterday I ran the Rocket City marathon in Huntsville, AL. I ran 3:14:55, which meant 10th female, 4th masters (which means zip in this case), and first in my age group. I'm not really a good enough writer to spin the whole experience into an entertaining story, so I'll just throw some unconnected facts out here.
My training for this race had been going just great; I felt fast and strong, and in October ran a PR half-marathon in warm weather. But in early November I developed a foot problem that didn't quite knock me out of training, but had me substituting a lot of xtraining for running during the last 6 weeks of training. With all that babying, the foot problem improved a lot but not completely. The net result of all of this is that I went into this marathon without 1) a sharpening phase; 2) a run longer than 21 miles; and 3) a goal. I knew I could run a few miles - or 7 or 8, or 13 or 14 - at pace, but I had no idea how my foot would hold up through the full 26.2, which can be painful even if you start 100% healthy. So I really had no goal. Which was weird, and had me asking myself more than once what I was doing there.
Huntsville is very generous with their elite criteria, extending elite status to sub-2:40 goddesses and slower masters women alike. I was in it mainly for the comped entry, since this has been a horrible financial year for me. Still, as a seeded runner I had to attend a welcome/info meeting the day before the race, during which I felt like a complete and total fucking impostor. I was the absolute slowest person in the room, and I knew it, and since it was right there on the info sheet, everyone else knew it too, and again I wondered what I was doing there.
The biggest concern for raceday was the weather. The forecast had been for sleet and ice pellets turning to rain (ooh, my favorite) but the wet decided to hold off. So we awoke to high 30s, overcast, and a decent breeze - almost ideal, except for the wind.
So we started, and though I had no goal, I had a plan, or rather my coach had a plan. I thought I'd follow that plan as long as I could, until my foot or some other part made me stop. But my head just wasn't in it, and I soon realized my GPS was not matching up with the mile markers so the pace was reading fast, and I was actually a little behind pace. And we were running straight into the wind, and would do so for 14.5 miles. So I decided not to panic (not difficult since I was still pretty indifferent at that point) and try to run a negative split, assuming my body would get me that far.
First 14.5: This was 100% into the brisk cold wind. There was the usual jostling around with all the men who were trying to qualify for Boston. A few comments about the kinesio tape on my leg. One guy behind me belching loud and long. Another 2 guys (buddies) had a friend on a bike who would appear and hang with us for a bit, then vanish.
By turns, I was queasy, stitchy, crampy, and then ok. I got more water on me than in me, and with the cold wind, one wet gloved hand went numb for a couple of miles. My foot was fine, but my other quad began to hurt around mile 3 so I decided to be careful on any downhill and try to make it back up on the ups. Still, I was not all that comfortable and had little interest in being there. Occasionally I found myself thinking "focus, dipshit!" until about 6 miles, when I suddenly realized that I was going to catch the woman in front of me. I won't say that things turned rosy for me after that, but I did spend the rest of the race stalking, catching, and passing people, which gave me something else to think about besides why I was there.
At 14.5 we turned out of the wind. It was brisk enough I could feel it at my back, which was nice. A course marshal told me I was 10th, which gave me a bit of motivation to stay focused because I didn't see any women around me. From then on everything was counting: x miles until that decent hill, y miles until mile 18 where I'd see a running-forum acquaintance (who didn't show), z miles until 20, where the hell was that Wall? Although I spent most of the race in various degrees of discomfort, I never saw that Wall. After 20 I finally realized I might finish. With each mile I pushed as much as I dared, hoping not to blow up. At 26 I realized I could squeak in under 3:15, so I said To Hell With The Quad and ran down the little hill as fast as I could.
Afterward: they had big thick slices of bread with peanut butter and jelly, which is a lovely thing after a race when you've taken in no food at all. I ran into one of the other seeded masters women and chatted a bit. The winner of the women's race came up to me (how did she recognize me? maybe she thought, "oh yes, there's the slow old one") and asked how it went, which I thought was very nice, and I felt a tiny bit less like an impostor.
update: chip time was 3:14:50, half-marathon split was 1:37:15, so I ran a 20s positive split.
December 7, 2009
it occurs to me
When I said in the last post that all I'd really missed was a long run and a 10k tuneup, I was slightly mistaken. It just came to me - what I missed was the entire sharpening phase (whatever there was to be of it). So I am going into this marathon solely on lots of tempo and marathon-pace runs, and bunches of 18+ milers but nothing longer than 21. God help me. There's nothing I can do about it now.
December 6, 2009
wondering when the magic is going to start
I don't feel particularly positive.
I should. My foot/heel/whatever is 99.8% fine. I ran every step I was supposed to this week, at every pace I was supposed to run. The weather next week in Huntsville is supposed to be nice and cold. I trained hard this time, even with the almost-injury; I PR'd at the half-marathon distance and ran within a couple of seconds of my 5k PR. The one really low-mileage week included something like 12 hours crosstraining, including simulated MP and tempo workouts. I really should be optimistic and rarin' to go.
But I'm not. I can do all my workouts but they don't feel easy and great like they should the last week of taper. Instead, I worry about every corner and puddle and patch of broken pavement and whether breaking stride will hurt my foot. It doesn't, but I worry anyway. I have begun to think of myself as "coming back from injury" even though I really only missed one long run and one 10k tuneup. I read about other people who have trained much harder than I for their marathons, and who (inexplicably) wash out on the day. I feel bad for those people, but I also worry that it will happen to me. I read about people who have had awesome training cycles and are heading for huge PRs, and I'm overjoyed for them but also somewhat down because I don't think it's going to be happening for me. I read about people who have sustained a debilitating injury and can't run at all, and I feel bad for them, and feel bad for whining about "just not feeling right" but I also worry that it will happen to me.
So I am waiting for this taper magic to start.
December 2, 2009
Everything makes me grind my teeth.
I am so afraid I'm going to develop an injury in the next 10 days. Every little twinge (and there are many) makes me tense up. The achilles somethingorother is mostly gone, but why only 99.5%? And what if it comes back? And that little pull I feel at the 5th metatarsal of the same foot...please, please don't let it be peroneal tendonitis, because I fucking hate that.
I have 2 days left working at the chiropractor's office. Working - bending and stretching while confined to a tiny little area, picking up people's arms and legs, etc - is very hard on my foot. Over the holiday weekend I had 5 days off and my foot felt fabulous; yeaterday, after 3 or 4 hours, I was sore and pissed off, and well and truly ready to walk out. Good thing I only have a few shifts left. I pray my foot survives.
Today's schedule called for 10 miles with 2 reps of 1.5 miles at tempo pace (6:35-6:40). We're supposed to get a big storm later today, and this morning was warm and windy and humid. I worried about the tempo intervals but did them anyway, at 6:33 and 6:35 pace. They did not feel as supergreat as I had hoped. And I cursed every car, every dog, every dog walker, every person who waved at me that I had to wave back at, every patch of rough pavement, every turn into the ever-increasing wind, every acorn I stepped on (we have a bumper crop this year), every squirrel throwing acorns at me from every tree I ran under.
Some days I never want to see anyone again.
But it's only taper.