Week 11 went okay. The 5 on Monday was strong…the 8 on Tuesday was as well (for the most part). But I was preparing to have family come stay with me this weekend, so that made for a madcap, whirlwind week, and by Thursday, I was DONE and I just refused to do my 5-miler that day. Instead, I killed most of a bottle of Riesling and half a pizza and reveled in the first weekday evening in WEEKS in which I had nothing to do but lay around.
I headed out for my 16 on Saturday morning, EARLY. The alarm went off at 6:30, and I thought something must’ve gone wrong because it was still dark. AND COLD!! It was 35 degrees on my iPod when I headed out the door. I decided to do two laps of my 8-mile loop…down out of Montclair through Northgate Drive, up Cardinal, Minnieville, and Spriggs, and back to Waterway again. My goal was to run the entire first 8-mile loop with no walking at all. And I had it, too…right up to Mile 7.5, when my right knee started to protest. Big time.
I did some little ten-second walking stretches, which seemed to help for a few minutes until it would show up again and force me to walk a little again. I was frustrated because I knew I had the whole 8 miles in the tank, and then some…but I also knew this knee pain – it had showed up on the Camino two years ago and made my life hell – and I knew I wanted no part of it between now and the marathon.
But I had 8 more miles to do. Mile 8.5 took me back by the house. I stopped in, took two Aleve and dragged my Camino knee brace out of my pack, and headed back out. I kept running till Mile 10…a lot of downhill.
From 10 to 14, it was pretty much 50/50 running/walking. It wasn’t ever from fatigue or muscle soreness…it was 100% because of my knee, which again was frustrating because I was anxious to see what I could do (and because I wanted a good time, and because my cousin Jim was waiting for me back at the house for us to go up to DC and pick up his Marine Corps Marathon packet).
By Mile 14, I could no longer run whatsoever, and had to resign myself to walking the last two miles as fast as I could, while being as careful as I could with my right leg. The problem with that, though, is that it puts undue stress on the left, which will eventually catch up to you in muscle strains and fatigue in THAT leg because you’re making it do more than its fair share. I kept an eye on Jim’s GPS watch, willing myself to hit 16 miles before I reached last week’s dismal (by my account) 16-mile time…and I think I ended up just a bit over.
As soon as I got home, I reported to Jim what happened, and he made me sit down right away with an ice pack. The rest of the day was tough…stairs were excruciating and even walking was painful. There was no chance to stay off it…we had to go into DC to the Marine Corps Marathon Expo for packet pick-up, and once there, I wanted to see everything at the Expo. I’d never been to a marathon expo before, and I loved it. We got some (magic) KT Tape for my knee…Jim got a Stick (massaging stick) like one he has at home, and will leave it for me…and I got a whole lot of running stickers that were really cute (my favorite: This IS my race pace!). I wanted everything. =)
Nor was there a chance to rest it Sunday. We were up at 4am for a 5am departure to DC for the Marine Corps Marathon. MAN, what an amazing, inspiring event. It was just staggering to see 30,000 people, many in silly costumes or carrying huge American and Marine Corps flags, there to tackle this incredible challenge…and the ubiquitous presence of the Marine Corps throughout the whole event just made it that much more special. There were entrants from their teens to their sixties, amputees on hand-cycles, wheelchair participants…and people who looked just like me. 11,000 were running their first marathon. Jim wasn’t sure he’d be able to run…his ankle had sidelined him for the previous month…but he got out there and felt fine and ran the whole thing in his slowest time ever (4:05)…a dream time for me.
My folks and my brother and Jim’s mom and his daughter and I were all over DC to watch him at various points of the race…sometimes on sidewalks and sometimes over grassy hills, all of which was hell on my knee, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The whole day, I was trying to project forward 5 weeks to what it would feel like when it was finally my time, my day, MY marathon…and the whole day, I was deeply concerned that my day would come and go without me, all due to this pain I had no idea how to treat.
After the marathon festivities, we made our way home…stopped for a late lunch…crashed out for a while…carved pumpkins (oh yeah, Halloween…almost forgot), and went back to the folks’ for dinner. Jim made me ice my knee again, and followed it with a heat pack. I took an 800 ibuprofen tablet from last winter’s disc problem.
And somehow, when I woke up this morning (Monday)…it felt 1000% better.
It’s still tapping on my shoulder from time to time, reminding me that everything’s not right in the world…and I didn’t run today…and I’m thinking about how to go about Week 12, walking the fine line between letting myself recover and losing valuable training time.
I have to remind myself that no one will “grade” my training once I’m done. No one will come and give me a low grade, or slap me on the wrist, or bar me from the start line if I have a few crossed-out distances on my training calendar. It doesn’t matter. If I’m doing the best I can, and trying to be smart about my injuries, and sticking to the runs I can do, I’ll be fine.
I STILL won’t finish LAST. Right???
But it sucks. I’m trying not to let it take the wind out of my sails. If tomorrow it feels better than today, then that’ll be good…but I no longer trust it. It’s a matter of time before it shows up again. And God forbid it shows up on December 3. Or December 4, on Mile 5. Or Mile 20. All I can do is pray it doesn’t. And start doing a whole lotta knee exercises. And pray some more.
Hey, St. Jude. They call you the Patron Saint of Lost Causes. I got a lost cause for ya right here. Help a girl out.
Today (Monday) would’ve been 5. Tomorrow (Tuesday) should be 8, but will probably be a 3…which I’ll stretch into a 5, depending on how I feel. If all goes well at that point, I’ll do this week’s 8 on Thursday, and only end up losing 5 miles this week.
And Saturday…with a low of 32 and a high of 48…will be the Big Bad 18. First of two. My last two LONG runs.
A week ago, I was dreading these last 5 weeks. Now, I’m praying I’ll stay healthy enough to get to do them. Cross your fingers for me.