Monday, October 11, 2010

You Can’t Fake a Marathon

Hear me out. We all know tapering  f*cks with you big time. New aches, pains, and illnesses surface. Your foot might be broken. You might have malaria. Thank god the Weather Channel online goes out ten days, cause you’re checking the weather forecast at every turn. Here’s what’s slated for Sunday’s marathon in Denver:

marathonweather

Couldn’t be better, right? Especially on the heels of the shitty conditions in Portland and Chicago for yesterday’s marathons. To all of you who grunted it out in theses cities in either the pouring rain (Portland) or the 90 degree heat (Chicago), here is me bowing down to you (with Mr. One Eye/Three Legs in the background. He gave a rest to the licking just for the picture):

P1070641 

I told you my hip gave out on me during my run last Thursday. Sudden, sharp pain in an area where I’ve never had pain for issues before (left bikini line or hip flexor if you like the proper term). I know you all think my mind is playing tapering tricks on me. Many of you said it was in my head, that I was letting taper madness get the best of me. 

I’m on day four of no running and it still hurts to walk. Not excruciatingly so, but I notice it. Yes, I said hurts TO WALK!! In my head: “If I can’t walk pain free, how the hell am I going to whip out 26.2 miles on Sunday?” Exactly.

The jury is out. I see the chiropractor again today. Then my get-in-there-and-dig-deep-til-you-scream massage therapist tomorrow. Then my sport’s medicine doc on Wednesday. I think by then I’ll know what I’m dealing with. I don’t have to tell you how much it makes me cry to even think of not running this race. 14 weeks of tough training (most of it by myself). Sleep and time with family and friends sacrificed. Yassos out the ass, 14 long runs, throwing up in my mouth, crapping on the side of the road. Plus, I feel strong, capable, ready to do this. And, maybe I still can.

Here’s the thing. You can’t fake a marathon. Any ache or pain you have on your way to the start line will increase by 100 fold over the course of 26.2 miles.  Even if you start a marathon with nothing hurting, stuff (well everything) hurts BAD by mile 20. I’m not saying I’ve made my decision. However,  I did run a half marathon with pain a year ago. Turns out that pain was an undiagnosed stress fracture, so not only did I have the worst race of my life, but I did further damage. The way I see it, I have a three options if the pain persists:

  1. Run the race even if I have pain and see how far I can get. Maybe it will go away. Maybe I will DNF. Maybe it will take me 6 hours to finish and I will cry the whole way
  2. Drop down to the half marathon option and hope for the best
  3. Drop out of the race and start scheming for Boston 2011.

I love how wisdom shows up just when you need it most. I read an article by John Bingham yesterday entitled, “Fear of Flying.” He talks about being asked to fly a friend’s plane for a quick moment while on a weekend joy ride. He was terrified while holding the yoke, but then realized the plane was flying itself. Here’s what spoke to me:

“How many times has that been true in our lives? How many times do we fret and worry and believe that we are in complete control, and that if we stop paying attention for even an instant our entire lives will come crashing down in a fireball? It’s an illusion.  I’m getting older. My training has had to change to accommodate the changes in my life, and no matter how hard I grip the yoke of my life I can’t control the natural flow. Like flying the plane, for the most part all the good is going to happen if we just relax. We have to understand that our bodies work best when they’re treated well. If we let ourselves, we can relax and enjoy the ride.”

The lesson in all of this? Surrender. To the pain. To the unmet goals. To the dashed dreams. To the unknowns. To the grief. To the fear. Just let it go. Trust. Have faith. Look forward.

Do the very best that you can and then cut yourself some slack when things don’t go the way you expected. Know when to say when, but never give up. Remember that taking care of yourself/others and giving up are two completely different things.

Happy Monday and run on my friends!

59 comments:

  1. Option #4: Run the half with Shana while stopping to listen to all of the bands.

    ps - thanks for the weather watch. looks perfect.

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  2. Great post. Great quote! Praying that pain goes away!

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  3. Chiropractor, masaage therapist, sports doc - it takes a village! If the pain persists, junk the race, live to run another day.

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  4. Tough choices ahead of you...I'm still hoping it can work out for you. If not, though, you're already looking at good alternatives, oh wise one. Sending you good vibes.

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  5. Great quote and post! My advice is probably not what you want to hear, but I think you should take it easy and skip this race. Unless you can get it checked out soon to make sure it's alright to run on. Otherwise, let it heal! Hope it feels better!

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  6. Great post...There is something about John Bingham and the way he can make you take a deep sigh of relief and give yourself some grace, especially in circumstances you can't control! I hurt my hip flexor this past year...It actually happened in cycling, but my hip muscles were weak and it was only a matter of time...but I kept running...I tried rest, ice, heat, meds..almost went to get a massage. Turns out I needed 3 months of pt to strengthen my hips and other muscle imbalances. Not saying this is your issue, but I lost alot of progress and time...time that could have been spent on healing. I would never go back and repeat it, but now I know what to do to help keep myself from injury and prevent other injuries. Sometimes courage is making the best decision for the long term, even though all you can see is the temporary drawbacks of that decision. Regardless, you are awesome!

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  7. I SO hope things work out for you. I kinda needed to read this today. I'm freaking out a little bit because of knee pain I've been having since last weekend's 16-mile training run. I've benched myself for a week, so we'll see what happens after that.

    I'll be prayin' for ya!

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  8. I'm stubborn, I'd go with option #1. Hope it gets better soon!

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  9. I'll be praying for you. I'm all for listening to your body but it has been my experience that your body and your brain messes with you before a big run. I wouldn't have believed it if it hadn't happened to me.

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  10. Hang in there! You are taking the proper steps and have the right attitude. I know you will make the best decision :)

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  11. I have been there...3 times this year actually...I was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease in my right knee back in July...I will be running Nike Women's on Sunday. (really too soon after STG, but I already paid for the trip)

    Hope the pain goes away soon! Good luck with the doc!

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  12. I hope the pain gets better! I'm doing the half...had to drop from the full.

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  13. *fingers crossed* that the pain goes away! UGH I'm so sorry, dude! Regardless to whatever happens this week: 1. you're still a major badass in my mind 2. you'll be making the right decision 3. boston 2011 is gonna ROCK. I can't wait to start scheming my training plans, too!

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  14. "Do the very best that you can and then cut yourself some slack when things don’t go the way you expected. Know when to say when, but never give up. Remember that taking care of yourself/others and giving up are two completely different things."

    This was exactly what I needed to read today. I finished Chicago yesterday in 6:09. My first marathon! Not the time of my dreams, but you know what? I didn't get hauled off in a stretcher, I didn't feel like complete ass the rest of the day, and today? Today I feel pretty good. So I know my legs have better to give, and next time maybe the weather gods will smile upon me.

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  15. And I hope that you figure out what's best for you! Wishing you lots of luck in however this plays out for you...

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  16. I really hope that everything turns out okay, and you can run that marathon. But, I think you are wise to get it checked and and to listen to your body. If you can't get it this time....there is always next year!! I'll be praying!

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  17. Great post! I ran Chicago and finished 45 minutes after I planned!!!

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  18. Praying for you to heal and praying for you to have peace with whichever decision is the right one for you :-). You are still my hero!

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  19. Make the decision that feels right to you...the one that comes from your gut.

    But, causing enough damage to jeopardize future races doesn't sound wise. Any chance you can get an xray before you make your decision? Good luck Beth!

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  20. Beth, between the Chiropractor, the massage therapist and the sports med doc, one of them ought to be able to diagnose your problem and give you reasonable advise. Hopefully the advise given will be consistent so that you are not further confused.

    Hopefully you just have a strain that will loosen up when you are running in the marathon on Sunday. If you try and it doesn't loosen up when out there, on that course, you are never more than a 3 1/2 mile walk to the start/finish area. You and the doctors will be in the best position for advice but if it is decided that nothing serious will happen if you give it a try, go into it knowing you may need to bag it and walk back to the start. If that happens, it is all part of the experience.

    Your journey is all about learning. Unfortunately, you've just had a hard lesson. When training for a marathon or ultra marathon, if you can survive your training and get two within two weeks of the race, the last thing you want to do is push your training and your luck with it. Better off just cutting back to a short daily jog to keep your sanity, that's it.

    Dana

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  21. I hope everything works out. Training, the excitement build up and everything else that comes with a race are tough to just toss aside, but you do have to listen to your body as well and hear what it tells you.

    Your quote at the end has a great point to it. Thank you for sharing.

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  22. I would cut back to the Half Marathon and just do an easy run to make sure that the injury doesn't get worse....OR don't do either race and start getting ready for Boston!

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  23. Oh my gosh....thank you for this post. Absolutely perfect timing.
    And, I did cry but suddenly realized the huge accomplishment in just finishing!
    If your hip is not better, I'd say no to the marathon. 26.2 miles is a long way to run in pain.

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  24. So glad you've got three different appointments lined up...I trust you'll know what to do by race time--even if that's try it and see what happens. Sounds like you're in the best shape mentally that you can be all things considered.

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  25. Thanks for the post, perfect timing. Went into the Chicago marathon yesterday anticipating a PR....but the heat got the best of me and even though I may be in the best shape of my life I crashed and burned (literally...that sun was HOT). I was a little upset at first, but then I realized I'm lucky just to be healthy and the marathon is meant to be enjoyed. Besides, at the end of the day who really cares if I ran a 3:20 or a 3:31? It can be frustrating though since you put in so much time and effort for ONE race on ONE day and if you blow your ONE shot you feel like a failure.

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  26. :-(. :-( :-(. :-((((((((

    Sending prayers your way!
    Xoxo

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  27. Hi Beth! I've been reading your blog for a while now, I'm just super lazy and never comment :) but I wanted to let you know that I was in the same exact position as you last week and I just ran Portland yesterday. My knee was killingggg me, I saw a sports doc and a pt and both told me that runners are stubborn and if they told me to not run the race I probably would run it anyway (smart guys haha). I could feel my knee walking, in bed, in class, ALL THE TIME! But I showed up at the start yesterday and don't get me wrong, the pain was there, but it was about 80% gone, the adrenaline ate it up...and maybe I was too angry at the weather to notice haha. Good luck, you so deserve this race with all the hard work you've put into it and if the weather is any indication of whats to come, I'd say not to worry about it!

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  28. Hard to tell this far out how the hip will do...but sending healing vibes your way!

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  29. I don't envy you with the choices you're facing. I love your attitude -- and that was a great quote!

    Wishing that the pain goes away for you. Good luck in whatever you decide!

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  30. I am crossing my fingers that the pain will magically disappear ASAP and you will be back to tip-top condition to run the race.

    Thanks for this post. I've been feeling down about not running a half even though I felt strong and confident I can knock it down like nobody's business. Your post puts things into perspective - that a superstar runner like you is still after all human and feel pain like regular folks like me.

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  31. I have been checking out your blog for a while and really enjoy it. I appreciate your sense of humor and can relate to much of your training trials and tribulations. So, I decided to comment because I can relate to what your are going though. I set out yesteday morning to have a marathon PR. Like you I had a raging case of "taper mania" but got to the starting line feeling confident and ready to make things happen. I was running great and on pace then just before hitting the 14 mile mark I felt a sharp pain in heel and felt something pop. I kept running for a bit but then my foot started to go numb. I decided to walk through the next aid station to see if that helped, but when I started again the pain was pretty intense. I ended up stopping at the medic station. I would not say that the MDs there were helpful, but one did say if it hurt enough to stop then I should probably listen to my body. Sadly, I dropped out. To say that I was, and continue to be, extremely disappointed is an understatement. But, I would be more upset with myself had I hurt myself more just to finish. So now my Chicago 10-10-10 legacay is to see my half marathon time and the projected finish, which would have been the PR I was hoping for. Having said all that, this was not my first marathon, nor is it yours, so you have nothing to prove to anyone. Listen to your body, it is telling you something. Good luck with whatever you decide.

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  32. Ugh!! I hope you feel better soon.

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  33. This is so hard but you have the BEST of all attitudes. There's nothing you can do if your "circle of healers" can't solve the problem BUT, I'll be hoping they do. Our bodies are miraculous but they can also be fragile so be smart and take care of yourself. I once ran a marathon in Arizona with a bad hip and finished, qualified for B and messed up my hip, leg and IT for more than a year. Just from that one race so THINK and make the right decision! HUGS and good luck!

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  34. I did Chicago yesterday and it was my first marathon. A DNF to me meant Do Not Fail. I know extreme but I couldn't see it any other way. I was following my pace up to the half marathon mark and then it went down hill from there when the heat starting going up. I'm lucky I finished. And your hip issue? I had bursitis last fall, lot's of roller and hip flexors helped and new shoes. I hope you feel better by the marathon. YOu have a great attitude to go along with the will you have to achieve what you want. Good luck!

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  35. Oh man, I'm sooooo sorry. Really, no great advice here for you. I ran Boston with the flu, and although it was the best race of my life, I was misserable and god only knows what I could have done to myself.
    I think you have you're answer already, and if not will by Wednesday. It's hard to be a smart runner, it's hard to be an adult. There isn't any easier answer. I would say though, give it a shot, see how it goes. Sometimes a DNF is better than a DNS. Big hug to you! Feel better!

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  36. The ex-athletic trainers opinion: What is bad now, can only get worse. Get the MD/PT opinions and go from there.

    The bias sis-n-law to Shana: Band hop with her in the half!!

    Wish I was coming- but plans change! HAVE FUN!

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  37. That's a tough one, the tough part being you have your Boston qualifying time. That's the holy grail for most, including me (at a 3:10 QT), so you don't want to risk a bigger injury. Damn, where's Yoda when we need him!

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  38. I needed this post 2 weeks ago when I had to skip my very first 1/2. I wasn't able to put any weight on my left foot 5 days before the race. I was so upset. I trained and trained. I kept thinking if I can't walk on tuesday - how in the world will I be able to run 13.1 on sunday???? In the end - I didn't run. I took 2 weeks off. The only thing the MRI could find was inflamed degenerative arthritis. Sigh. I was in a boot for 1.5 weeks. Today was my first run post boot. I ran pain free for 3 miles. I really don't want to waste the 12 I had worked up to - I'm hoping to hang on and be able to do a half in St. Louis on 11/7. Best of luck to you! I was only ready for a half and missing the race really put me in an awful mood for a week. I can't imagine keeping my cool after training for a full! You are just amazing and such an inspiration!

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  39. Know when to say when but never give up - such good advice! A lot can change in 6 days, especially as your body gets some much needed rest. Good luck!

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  40. I like your attitude but here's hoping that you will be able to run. :fingerscrossed: The weather does sound ideal I'm really looking forward to doing the 1/2. It will be nice to (hopefully) see many people out on the course cheering.

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  41. Just found your blog and I am laughing out loud! First, I think we have the same attitude about a lot of things. Second, taper is getting to me big time this week. I race my first full marathon this weekend in Indianapolis. Third, the post on poop is great! You have no many times I have been in the exact situation. I love it that you blogged about it! Last, I have the same "balls out" problem. I am not as fast as you but I will often be in my comfortable 9:00 min pace and think I am freaking Chrissie Wellington or something and try to "get it under ____" Messed up my foot on my last long run trying to make 10 miles under 1.5 hours for some unknown reason besides my own pride.

    Thanks for the great blogging!
    Twila : )

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  42. I cannot stop staring at that forecast. Thank You, Colorado Weather gods!!!

    Anxious to hear the verdict - I'd love to see you at the Finish line expo! Because, yes, you'll finish before me. ;)

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  43. Oh ugh this sucks a big fat one. I am sorry to hear that you're still in pain. Maybe you pulled your hip flexor. But I don't know if that's even possible. Obviously you shouldn't listen to me because I am not a doctor!

    The only one who is going to judge you if you can't run it is yourself. Take care of your body. xo

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  44. Hey there!
    like seeing the giveaway yoga mat and bag in their boxes in the background, along w/one eye 3 leg dog;-)

    ok, but I digress. you hit the nail on the head with your ending quote. how about this one: it is, what it is, what it is...now go do 'it';)

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  45. Beth - I don't want to sound like a broken record - but you have to listen to your body. Hopefully your hip will start feeling better on its own - if not, you are seeing enough drs. that one of them should be able to help or diagnosis the problem ;-)

    You love running too much to jeopardize future running.

    I am having a glass of wine and will toast to your hip feeling better.

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  46. I'm so sorry you're still having hip pain! I really hope your chiropractor, massage therapist, and dr. are able to give you some sort of answer to what is causing the pain. I'm hoping that you'll still be able to run, but if you don't, know that it's o-kay. Ultimately, you have to do what's best for your body!

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  47. Glad you have an army to help you through this. Hopefully, they will conquer the pain and you will get to that marathon.

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  48. such a tough call and that's exactly how i felt right before the ultra when i was trying to decide if i should bag it and go into the boot. it all came down to boston. what if i hurt myself worse and couldn't make it to that starting line. who knows if i'll ever qualify again. i have a friend who qualified so easily that he didn't run boston b/c he thought for sure he would just qualify again. many, many years later he still hasn't. make sure you make it to that starting line healthy. that's one race you don't want to miss and one you want to enjoy pain free!

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  49. Wishing and hoping that it gets better for you before the weekend! And if not, good luck with the decision. Great post!!!

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  50. Dean Karnazes did 50 marathons in 50 days but you can't do one because you've got an ouchie? I thought you had more mettle than that.

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  51. Mike - I love how your comments just display your total ignorance about the sport of running. Thanks for reminding us all how "not to be." And did YOU run with Dean for 21 miles and get to know him personally? Oh, no that was me. The one with no mettle.

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  52. Hey, sorry about the hip pain. Your plan is sound, see a sport doc, you don't want to risk another stress fracture. Hope you can still run the race, though! If not, there will be plenty more!

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  53. Its just a marathon. There will be more if you take care of yourself. Thats how I am looking at mine coming up.
    I may surprise myself and do really well.....or, I might have to scrap it or walk or hate life for a morning out of my life.
    Its all good.
    Heres to pain free movement, movement in a forward direction!

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  54. I'm really pulling for you. Hoping that the Dr.s say "go for it - you won't make it any worse". But take care. It sounds like you know exactly what to do.

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  55. OK, I had this issue when I trained for my half. Dull ache over time became screaming pain (to where the pain literally took my breath away)towards the end of training. I had ripped out my connective tissue in my right hip. I changed shoes and that abated the pain back to an ache. Which was manageable and tolerable and I ran my half as scheduled. So...I would say to rest it and stretch it and run unless your Sports Med Doc says otherwise! I know you are ready - you can do it! Good luck!

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  56. I feel your pain!! I have been talking, blogging, sleeping, eating, drinking the Malibu Marathon and now I am out. My training was right on par, I was feeling fantastic and loving every second of it. I was getting faster and stronger and then BOOM, pain. Injuries happen. I actually just blogged about this and how sometimes it's so hard to let go but it always turns out all right in the end.

    Best of luck -

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  57. Whoa! I didn't realize your pain was this bad!! So, can you still eat lunch? I'd totally stalk your house if you wanted and show up with take out Chinese.

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  58. Great post. I ran Chicago this weekend and I just let it all go because it was effin' hot and I was ok with it. Life must go on. I hope you are able to run this weekend and that your hip feels better.

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