Sunday, March 10, 2013

It's the FI-NAL COUNT-DOWN (do do doooo doooo, do do doot doot doooo...)

This is it, y'all!  In less than ONE WEEK from now, I will (with any luck and a lot of determination) be able to call myself a marathoner!  Ho-ly cow!!  My stomach started churning just thinking about this- and not in a good way.  The truth is, I am super duper ridiculously unreasonably TERRIFIED of this race.  It scares the pants off of me.  Here's why.  

Let's do a quick recap of the past month and a half. On the weekend of my 18 mile run, I was nervous, but was ready to tackle the distance and get it over with.  Over the previous three weeks, I'd been scrambling to deal with some pain in my left IT band that was starting to really make me nervous.  I'd gone several rounds with that IT band before, and if you've ever had this specific injury, you know that it is no joke.  It pretty much feels like someone is stabbing you in the side of your knee repeatedly, and only really feels better when your entire leg is immobilized.  

I decided to do some "research" using Dr. Google, and found a running forum where it was suggested that I try to land on my 2nd toe, essentially overpronating (rolling your foot inward) on purpose.  Great idea, right?  Change your footfall 3/4 of the way into your marathon training based on what some yahoo (errr, google) on a forum suggests.  Yup.  WORST.IDEA.EVER.  

I happily turned my feet in on run after run, not realizing that I was fighting my own natural, properly functioning foot mechanics the entire time.  My IT band issues weren't even getting better!  I decided to switch to a new pair of shoes I'd been saving, because dead shoes can also be a contributor to IT band pain.  Well, bingo, as soon as I laced up the new shoes, my IT band pain magically disappeared.  

Only to be quickly replaced with this weird ache in the bottom of my foot.  I thought that maybe because the new shoes were slightly more narrow than the old ones, my foot was just being squished a little.  Clearly this would work itself out as I broke in the shoes.  

Meanwhile, back in the land of bad advice, I was STILL turning my poor feet inward on my runs, feeling smart and superior to all of those suckers who were not running like a deranged pigeon!  It was what REAL runners did!  I read it on a forum!  Ugh.  

So let's recap the recap-  IT band pain+ pigeon-toed running + new narrow shoes - IT band pain + (I forgot to mention this one) somehow skipping a week on my training plan and missing a cut back week where I was supposed to do a shorter long run - common sense + FINALLY my 18 mile run = EPIC DISASTER.  

A true recipe for failure of grandiose proportions.  I did the first 8 miles of my run with an achy but not painful foot.  The soreness was presenting on the bottom outside edge of my left foot.  By mile 9 when I had met up with a running buddy, the soreness was actually starting to hurt.  So what did I do you ask?  Surely I stopped because you're not supposed to keep running when you're hurt, you say!  Umm, obviously not.  I did the only thing I thought would help at that moment.  I tried to stay off the outer edge of my left foot.  By turning my foot inward EVEN MORE.  

There really should be an award for this kind of stupidity.  Alas, my reward was a serious limp at the end of 18 miles and some pretty excruciating pain. While I knew it was dumb to have kept running, part of me felt proud for "gutting it out."  By the next morning, when I could feel the heat radiating from below my ankle and could see the redness and inflammation at the surface of my skin, I did not feel so proud.  It took about an hour of hobbling around on that bad boy before I made an appointment with a podiatrist to see what awfulness I had done to myself.  

While I waited to see the Dr. the next day, I did some more querying of Dr. Google (because clearly I had not learned my lesson).  I found out that what I was most likely experiencing was inflammation of my peroneal tendon, which runs along the bottom of your foot, underneath that knobby bone on the outside of your ankle, and up the side of your calf.  I had made this little guy very, very angry.  

When I saw the Dr., I confessed all of my running sins to him.  He shook his head, agreed that what I'd done had been incredibly dumb, and sentenced me to 2 weeks of NO RUNNING.  I remember telling him that this was not going to work for me, as I had a marathon in 5 weeks.  I also remember him telling me, "too bad."  

So I hung my head, did a LOT of crying, and reluctantly made my way to the NC State pool for the first of many pool running sessions.  Pool running, I have learned, is quite possibly the hardest, most tedious form of exercise there is.  You look dumb, you're still breathing hard and sweating, and you're not going anywhere.  Like, at all.  Ok maybe you move forward a little bit, but it takes about two hours to do one lap  (only a minor exaggeration).  

Unfortunately, this was the only thing that was going to keep me at a decent level of cardio fitness without putting any stress on my beleaguered tendon.  And so I did it.  I will remember the amused look on that lifeguard's face as I struggled, red-faced, through the water, the next time I decide to take running advice from Dr. Google ever again.  

Fast forward to yesterday, where I finished up my last LAST!!!!  long run of my marathon training plan!  My foot is feeling a ton better, and I'm only left with some minor soreness after my long runs that pretty much goes away after some icing and good stretching. This race is going to be a beast.  I am slightly terrified of how my foot will hold up through 26.2.  But I am determined, and I know I can do it.  The hardest part is just making it to the starting line!

It has been SIX WHOLE MONTHS since I began this journey.  It's kind of late now, and I'm going to write more this week before the race, but I'll leave you by saying that along with being a physical journey, this has been a spiritual ride.  It has been a grieving process.  And it is just starting to become a healing process.  

I look at Lizbeth's picture on my refrigerator every single day.  I read her note to Brian and I about love every single day.  I think of her at the beginning of every single run.  And I think of her again at the end.  This journey to a marathon in her memory may be ending on March 16th, but my commitment to remembering her and honoring her in my words and in my actions is ongoing.   Going to finish off my very last week of training the way I started- running for Liz.  

Peace and love, 


PS- Did I mention we are well OVER our goal of $5,000 raised for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund?  Simply amazing.  

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