Don’t Call It a Comeback

Nothing about the marathon is easy. Long runs, early nights, earlier mornings, summer training, tired legs, growing pains – and, least of all, enduring all of this for months and months only to end up sidelined before race day. It sucks. It happens. Unfortunately, it happened to me. I registered for the Philadelphia Marathon back in June after another minor injury delayed the first weeks of training for my original goal race in early October. (That's a story for another time, but it was a blessing in disguise.) Having never run more than 13.1 miles without my IT band flaring, I couldn't even be sure that I’d make it to Philly healthy. I was going to do everything in my power to try, though.

The long runs gradually got longer, and despite a few aches, my body seemed to be holding up well. For a while, it stayed that way. Then, in late July/early August, I started having pain on the insides of my calves. Sometimes I could run on it; sometimes I couldn’t. I took two weeks off in August and resumed training.

The short version of what happened next is this: after racing the Mohawk-Hudson River Half-Marathon on October 8th, it hurt to walk for a week. I hobbled through a few shorter runs and took Ibuprofen to get through two more long ones, but the damage was done. Nothing could fix my calves fast enough—physical therapy, massage, acupuncture. It was a good day if I could walk to the train pain-free. Stairs were a nightmare, to say the least.

Finish line of the Mohawk-Hudson Hannaford Half--new PR of 1:33:20!

Finish line of the Mohawk-Hudson Hannaford Half--new PR of 1:33:20!

Of course, not being able to run got to me mentally, too. With race day inching closer, I was constantly stressing about losing fitness and potentially making things even worse. The final decision to not race was incredibly tough but also a relief. I want to show up at the start line of my first marathon feeling ready to chase down that BQ—not like I’m going for a 26.2 mile death march.

So, now what? First and foremost, I’m resting. My calves need time to properly heal. Thanksgiving will fittingly be my first day back for a test run, during which I'll start working on form cues to hopefully prevent further issues. In the meantime, I’ve also been doing some research; there’s no way I’m letting the training I did do go to waste! So with 13 weeks to get back up to speed (literally and figuratively), I’m hoping to lace up for the Phoenix Marathon on February 24, 2018.

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I had some other goals for 2018 before everything fell apart, but I'm taking it one step at a time right now. Even though I know sitting Philly out is the right decision, there are still ups and downs. Moments when I'm worried I'm taking the easy way out. Fortunately I've received some wonderful support from friends, family and runners at Mile High Run Club. I'm really, truly grateful.

I plan to keep updating this blog as my training for February ramps up. So stay tuned for Marathon Debut: Take 2!