Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Change in the Game

Running is hard, especially when you cannot breathe.
I am starting to cry again as I write this post. I'm honestly heartbroken. I haven't kept count, but probably the fifth or sixth time that I have cried this weekend. Pity party, table of one.

These last few weeks have been full of highs and lows. Lately, mostly lows. And most of those related to running.

Last week's long run did not go well. It was incredibly hot, and although I was hopeful, I was not able to finish the run, and walked a good chunk of the 14 miles, hurting most of the way and unable to get my breathing in right due to my allergy-induced asthma. It felt like one thing was going wrong after the next. And all I could hope for was a better run this week when it was time to tackle 16 miles.

The week was rough. My allergies have been on overdrive due to the high ragweed count, and I was only able to get in one short run on Tuesday. I actually ended up staying home sick on Friday, and had to head into the doctor for a breathing treatment to help open up my lungs. At the end of my appointment, I asked if I could attempt running on Saturday. The doctor said it was okay for me to try.

Saturday was a beautiful day. For mid-August, I couldn't ask for better weather. Nice and cool, with most of my run in the shade. Although I didn't feel awesome when I woke up, I decided it was worth a shot. I did not want to miss one of the few cool days that we have had this summer. The first 8 miles went quite smoothly. Only a little bit of walking. Then on miles 9-10, my knee started to hurt. I found myself doing lots of stopping and starting. Attempts at running, accompanied by a need to stop fairly quickly. And by the end of mile eleven, I just had to stop completely at the water stop and catch a ride back. The last five miles I was going to be totally on my own, headed down the bike path back to my car. I wasn't sure if I was even going to be able to walk it, and didn't want to get stranded.

When I got back, I talked to the PT doctor. He thought that my knee problems were probably with my IT Bands, one of the most common running injuries. He did have some concern that I have a stress fracture, and told me to come in and get an x-ray this week to figure out if I should keep pounding the pavement.

This is the point at which I drove home and had a serious meltdown. We are talking straight out of Toddlers and Tiaras. Big old crocodile tears. Ridiculous for a 29 year-old? Probably. But I was just overcome with frustration, disappointment, embarrassment - you name it, I was feeling it. Do you ever have one of those moments? My very own Jessie Spano breakdown. Sad panda.

I do not want to quit. Even with how badly it has been going. Because I want more than anything else to prove to myself that I can do it. I had the chance to catch up with one of my best friends a few weeks ago. She told me how proud she was of me, but also that she was surprised I had made it this far. You see, I have a history of picking things up, and not sticking with them. Especially when it comes to health and fitness. I have received so much encouragement along the way, that thinking about stopping has overwhelmed me. This would be just one more thing that I failed to actually do.

But I also need to listen to my body. And my knees have hurt so much over these past few runs that I have then taken more time than I should have to recover. Which just made the next long run even harder. I need the recovery time, but I also need to squeeze in my runs. Where do you go with that?

Balancing running and life has become a challenge. Finding time for my runs has turned me into a ball of stress especially as I look ahead to the next six weeks. I have already been in a battle of the hours, choosing between sleep, dissertation, work, life, and running. And the problem is that when I choose not to run over those other things, I am basically asking to get hurt. I have learned the hard way that you cannot skip the short runs and think the long ones will go okay. I need to be able to work harder at this. And right now, I just don't know that I can. Especially when it hurts to even walk right now, not to mention breathe.

I am not giving up on this. Just putting it on hold for right now and perhaps setting a more reasonable challenge. I want to make sure that I can make the time for training and that I am not trying to manage too many major things at the same time. I may try to start with a half marathon first and do a little more base building. Hopefully if I can get in more running generally, building up the distance will be more doable. Maybe a marathon was not a realistic goal this time around. But it was worth giving it a shot.

Thanks to all of you for your support along the way. Especially to Chris and my family, who have planned around my running schedule, come to support me at races, and put other things on hold. I appreciate everyone who has cheered for me, provided words of encouragement or running advice, and

Running is something that makes me feel very vulnerable. That is what I like about it. I do not have any natural talent at running and I may run slowly, but I run. Throughout this journey, I have put it out there for the world to read - ringworm, blisters, ice packs, and all. Something that makes me feel even more vulnerable. I may be disappointed right now, but I am very proud that I have run 5Ks, a 10K, and a 10-mile race as part of this process. I have muscles I have never had before. I actually like working out - which is perhaps the craziest part.

It does not look like I am going to get to 26.2 this time. But I will try again.


  1. Don't beat yourself up on this. You didn't quit; you are merely in a half-time break. Life happens and instead of fighting it, ride the wave until it smooths out. It will. You'll find the run more enjoyable and something that doesn't spark tears over stress of balance and overall fatigue.

    I've been in your shoes. I too have asthma and allergies, and trust me when I say, you CAN and WILL run the race at some point in time. It doesn't matter when. You didn't quit, you just delayed the race date. There is no harm in doing that.

    Hang in there. It's been a journey thus far and you have learned a great deal about yourself through this training process. You'll reach the ultimate goal in time.

  2. When I had to give up my dream of Ironman in 2009 because of injury I was CRUSHED. I ugly cried, I tantrumed, I melted down. Even as adults, and I use that term loooooosely, having to abandon a goal we've worked so hard for is hard. I don't think it ever gets easier.

    Cliche as it is, the journey is more important than the finish line. That's where you learn the most.

    You pushed yourself harder than ever before. You've shown commitment. You tried something new. You've grown mentally, physically and emotionally.

    There will always be another race. You'll get there. In the meantime, be proud of all you have accomplished because we're all proud of you.


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