Sometimes You Need To Know When To Swallow Your Pride

Posted: February 14, 2010 in running
Tags: , ,

I participated in the Mercedes Marathon Relay today.  I ran the last leg, which is 12k in distance (about 7.5 miles).  Under ordinary circumstances, this is something I should have been able to handle without that much of a problem.  Unfortunately the circumstances were not ordinary.

About a month ago, I did a training run of 7.6 miles on a Sunday followed by another 4.5 miles on a Monday.  This was following a week of treadmill running due to unusually cold weather in Alabama.  I know some people can run on the treadmill just fine, but I hate the treadmill, so I could only manage 30-40 minutes before I was just too bored to continue.  And thus I broke the cardinal rule of running, don’t radically change your training routine in a short amount of time.  The price I paid was that Tuesday I had a good amount of pain in my right foot.  To further exacerbate the situation, even though my foot hurt, I went ahead and ran on it two more times (another training no-no).  By the time Saturday had rolled around, I could barely walk (Sadly, even then,  I was literally getting ready to run on that day.  Fortunately my running partner canceled, and I at least had the good sense not to go out after that.)  After a day of limping severely, it finally sunk in to my thick skull that this was not sustainable.  So I took some time off.

After a few days, my foot was feeling better.  Out of precaution though, I decided instead of running on it, I would do cross-training (something called “active rest” in running circles).  I used the elliptical machine that we have in the gym at work.  This worked out well the first couple of times.  However, the third time something happened and I was back to limping.  At this time, I decided I needed to seek a doctor.  So I got an appointment which wasn’t until a week later, and in the meantime I did nothing.  Once again, the foot starts feeling better.  The doctor takes a x-ray and looks at my foot.  He decides that it probably is not major, and clears me to run the race and then take time off (provided there was no additional pain and no swelling).

Of course, this is good news for me, because I really wanted to run this race and I had already paid my non-refundable fee.  Plus since this was a team thing, I didn’t want to let them down.  So I start to run again to get ready.  But here was the problem.  At this point, I only had two weeks to get ready and had done very little running in the prior three weeks or so.  This is where pride got in the way.  The sensible thing to do would have been to switch to a shorter leg.  There were people on the team capable of doing the longer leg.  The hard-headed thing to do would be to just ignore the fact that I wasn’t ready and try it anyway.  And since I am hard-headed, well…..

This all leads up to today.  Let me tell you, I was living Murphy’s Law today, if it could have gone wrong, it did!  First, I get out of the apartment later than I had intended.  In the rush, I forgot my water bottle and my watch.  Then after handing the team their bibs, I go back to the car to drop off the bag.  In the course of doing that, I miss the last shuttle van to exchange point #1.  But I figure, hey that’s OK, exchange point #4 (which was mine) is almost at the same location, I will just catch a van to that.  That seemed like a good idea anyway.  But it became clear there were a lot more people wanting to use the vans than there were seats on the vans.  And they were not even running shuttles to #4 yet.  Not being patient, I walked (quickly) to the exchange point (excellent for keeping the legs fresh, right?).  During all this time, I am not staying hydrated at all.

So I get to the exchange area, and I wait.  Hey, even I can’t screw that up….oh wait, yes I can!  See, I underestimated my team.  So when my teammate comes running up, where am I?  Of course I’m in the porta potty (in fairness, I really needed to go!).  So I come out of the porta potty and there is my teammate standing there all out of breath holding the baton.  I let out an “oh shoot!” (or something to that effect ;)) and grab the baton and take off.  It goes good for a couple of miles.  Then I start having spasms in both legs.  I NEVER have spasms when I run.  I try to run through it.  Then my left hamstring starts to tighten up.  I NEVER have hamstring problems either.  It gets to the point that I have to stop and stretch it.  I do that and go again.

Pretty much at this point, it’s all a struggle.  Spasms, hamstring, spasms, hamstring.  I’m pretty miserable.  I continue along, slowly.  Then at about mile 25, I get an awful cramp in my right calf.  It’s so bad, I go down on the street.  Fortunately I was near a water station, and race workers rushed over to help me massage it out,  and give me some water and a banana.  I get up and at this point I am mostly walking.  Any time I attempted to run, something would begin to tighten up.  I start to wonder if I am going to even make it to the finish line.

Finally I do get some good fortune.  My good friend, training partner, and teammate Lael had stuck around and had walked back up the course.  She jumps out on the course to help me to the finish line.  I even managed to run a little more with her encouragement.  It did feel good to get to the end!  (Sorry Lael for being such a Debbie Downer there.  Your positivity was very appreciated!)

So I DID make it.  But I will never, never, never run another race that I am not ready for ever again.  I run for fun, not to torture myself!  But as the saying goes, you live and you learn!

I am not sure it is fair to make comments about the race itself.  I was miserable.  But there were a ton of people watching and shouting out encouragement, that was fun.  The shirts and medals we got are very cool!   In fact, despite how I felt during the race, I know it is great.  Next year, for whatever I choose to run, I WILL be ready and it will be a blast!  I have to say that the team I was on was the best team ever!  They knocked it out of the park.  Had I done my job, we would have had an awesome time!  Good thing that the times will be split, so we will have a record of how well they did.  Sorry I didn’t do better!

So what are my plans?  First, and most importantly, get 100% healthy!  But next, and I will say this because I know Lael let the cat out of the bag on her blog, Lael and I “may” be training for a half marathon in the fall.  I am so looking forward to that!  But only if I am ready! 😉

(Hey, how about this as a final kick in the pants?  I just discovered that I lost one of my gloves that I just bought this past Tuesday.  Perfect!  Just perfect!)

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