I have good news, and I have not so good news.
The good news is that a week ago, we completed our 20 mile training run! This was the last of our super long runs leading up to the marathon (now three weeks away, might I remind you!), and, after a month of rest and two short training runs earlier in the week, Don re-joined our group… and promptly annoyed us all by being the first one to finish in a little over three hours. We find ourselves now in the tapering portion of our training where our runs are less intense and we get to recuperate a bit before the big day.
The bad news is that I really need this recuperation time.
I finished my 20 mile run in 4 hours 12 minutes. I’m pretty happy with that time because I had what I think is the worst run of my life. Our run began in Ka’a’awa along the coast and, while we watched the sun rise over the ocean, we battled a pretty strong headwind for the first 5 or so miles. I was feeling alright and glad to be out of the wind when, around mile 7, I suddenly needed a restroom.
I fortunately found a pair of well-used port-o-potties near a boat ramp and one of them was stocked with toilet paper- what luck! Unfortunately this was only the start of my struggles because something I ate on Saturday had decided to wage war against me and I found myself frantically searching for a bathroom every few miles. Needless to say, these bathroom breaks really slowed me down, and I got even slower during the last 2 miles when my right knee started to hurt.
I assumed that my knee, after an afternoon of stretching, ice, Advil, and relaxing poolside, would feel better on Monday morning, and when it didn’t, I took some Advil, did some yoga in place of going to the gym, and assumed that it would feel better on Tuesday. Again, I assumed incorrectly; it didn’t feel good enough to run on, so I sat out our Tuesday night run (which made me very sad because I’ve come to really enjoy the company of my fellow runners). On Wednesday I tentatively hopped on the elliptical at the end of my workout and the knee felt ok, so I gave Thursday night’s run a try and was disappointed to be in pain not far into our route.
I started slow, and got slower, and, although I was determined to finish in a run, I had to walk up a small hill. My friend Mel offered me one of her neoprene knee bands, and, although it made my knee feel better at a walk, it didn’t have much effect on it while running. I was feeling pretty discouraged because I was (and still am) worried about what this means for my marathon.
I’ve been so worried about it this week that I’ve been whining to Don about my knee quite a bit. In fact, he suggested that I put a disclaimer at the beginning of this post advising you to read it in an irritating whining voice, but I think that simply reading the following sentence in a self-pitying tone will suffice: I REALLY want to do the marathon, and I want to RUN it like a real runner would!
I know that I could walk the marathon. I could crawl, I could do the electric slide, heck, I could probably even lie on the ground and roll like a log and not get disqualified, but the amount of work that goes into training for a marathon deserves to be rewarded with the opportunity to complete the race in the manner intended: at a run. Since August, I’ve been diligently running up hills and back down them, I’ve pushed myself to go faster than is comfortable, I’ve gotten up early, I’ve run in the rain and under the blazing sun, and I’ve felt this training make me into a faster and stronger runner; I want the chance to run my marathon as I’ve trained for it.
I know that in the big picture this is a small thing. I’m trying to look past my disappointment and feeling like I’ve been betrayed by my body to focus on the positive things. Guys, last week I RAN FOR 20 MILES! I’ve been running regularly since March when I decided to see if I could run a 10k, and, somewhere along the way (I think when we were running over the Pali) I realized that I no longer hate running. I kinda even like it a little. There is pleasure to be found in being alone with your thoughts, of having the time to let your body go on autopilot while you ponder life’s BIG questions (“what should we have for dinner…?”), or to let your mind go blank while you focus only on putting one foot in front of the other, and there is joy to be found in noticing yourself and your running buddies getting better with each step. If nothing else comes from this, if I have to forgo my marathon plans in favor of something more conservative, at least I’ve learned to find the enjoyment in running. And also, I’m a badass who can run for 20 eff-ing miles.
I skipped out on today’s 7 mile run (again, sad to miss my social time) in favor of doing an upper body and core workout at the gym followed by LOTS of stretching. It seems like my knee pain might be caused by tight leg muscles. Although I’ve been stretching, I probably haven’t been stretching enough for the amount of running we’ve been doing, so I’m taking it easy, getting some quality time with my foam roller, making sure I can touch my toes (or at least my ankles), and will try to restart my running this week. Send me good karma, guys!