Begin at the Beginning

Before I can convey exactly how big a deal my race was this weekend, I need to give some background. So here’s part one of my race recap.

Coming in to this marathon season, I’d had a bad year. I started this blog in April 2009, right after I finished a half marathon dragging my leg along the course. I had piriformis syndrome that I’d left untreated since September 2007, and it had finally caught up with me. I wasn’t allowed to run for almost a month. My second blog post is about how hard my 16-minute run was.

I had to stop doing everything with that injury–I couldn’t bike or go to my beloved weight class. And I dropped out of the San Diego marathon that May.

But slowly, very slowly, I crawled back to some fitness. On my first day back to the track I rolled my ankle while waving to a friend. Steps are tricky. And then, just as everything was falling back into place, I fell off my bike. It was days before I could walk again, two weeks before I could walk without the aid of a cane, and 10-12 weeks before I could run.

I was in some major denial after that. I DNF’d my first triathlon, a race I should never have started. And I just kept signing up for more races, trying to force my body into recovery. It kind of worked. I got some races in there, got my 5k down to about 24 minutes, where it had hovered for years before my break through in 2008, and my 10k to 50, and I started upping my mileage and doing track workouts again, but it was pretty rough going.

I registered for the Tucson half marathon in December 2009, and ran it despite some quad problems. But the downhill course, combined with the plane ride resulted in a fairly serious strain to my calf. I was out again. This time I couldn’t run for 3 weeks. And, oh, I see I’ve already written this post once. 2009 sucked, but I wasn’t done being injured!

In February, I started training for a spring triathlon, but I was still registered for my favorite race of all, the National Half Marathon. And there I just completely blew up. Yes, I was heavy, having put on some pity weight the year before. And yes, I was out of practice, especially given the insane amount of snow we’d had, my calf strain, my year of hell, and all that.

It turns out that my leg was swelling when I ran, so I made my second visit to the ER in 9 months. I took some more time off, and the swelling, which to this day remains unexplained went away and hasn’t come back. At that time I still had Cherry Blossom and the American Odyssey Relay on my calendar. I made a deal with my body: I would take it easy, and if it got me through those two races, I would start taking better care of it. Why it took me a year to realize that I needed to treat myself better, I’ll never know.

But my bod came through, and I got through Cherry Blossom in a healthy 1:27, and the AOR. That month I also got Carmela Sherbert, the love of my life, and I really think that she let me keep up my end of the bargain with my body.

I threw myself into triathlon training on my new bike. I followed their schedule exactly, running only when it called for running, not worrying that that only meant about 15 miles a week. And slowly, I could feel myself getting back into shape.

In May, I made another deal with myself. It was time to get serious again about training. I had a few weeks left before the tri, and cross training was going great. I registered for Marine Corps, and on the morning of my birthday I got up and went to the track for the first time in months. And I kept going. I started losing weight again, and I started doing core work and weights again pretty seriously.

I did the tri. I ran 24.5 miles the week afterward. It was time to start training for MCM, but this time I swore I’d do it differently. I’d listen to my body. When it was tired, I would rest, and I would learn to take easy days easy, and I would just trust that, if I trained like George told me to train, the results I wanted would happen.

So after a disappointing finish in a Portland 5k that wasn’t even timed, the Philadelphia Distance Run was going to be my test race. My last half marathon PR was at that race in 2008, so I had two years of training resting on it. Would my body bargain pay off? I was nervous. So so nervous. After feeling like I may never run again, let alone run a marathon, after not setting a single PR since December 2008, I was finally getting a chance to set one again. Could I do it?

Well, you guys know how it turns out. But now maybe you know a little bit more about how I felt going into it. Tomorrow I’ll talk about the race itself. Thanks for letting me vent 🙂


6 responses to this post.

  1. Yay! Shangri-La!!


  2. As awful as this post is, it makes me so happy, because a) I know how it ends and b) it gives me hope. Tons of congrats on figuring things out after a few tough years!!!!


  3. Yay! This might be one of the greatest posts ever. I actually would have been nervous throughout if I didn’t already know the ending, but with that in mind it was just down right inspiring!


  4. How does it end???? Stop keeping me in suspense! 🙂

    Really though, its amazing what you’ve been able to accomplish after seasons of injury after injury. I am so excited for all of your success this season, and I’m looking forward to a solid MCM!


  5. […] About « Begin at the Beginning […]


  6. Congrats on an incredible journey, PR notwithstanding. The important victory here is learning the lesson that “trying to force my body into recovery” is a bad idea, and that you can gain more by taking care of yourself than by beating yourself up. The fact that you were able to do so is truly inspirational!


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