I find I have an ever present sense of disbelief as I get closer and closer to February 26th and the Hyannis Marathon. My training for my last marathon, Smuttynose in October 2011, went really well and I arrived at that race feeling ready. A week after that race I went out for my 3rd or 4th post marathon run and had a pull or strain in my right calf, which prevented me from running for a couple of weeks after. Other than being inconvenient, I didn't give it much thought. Little did I know that this injury would continue to rear it's ugly head. Needless to say, my training over the last 3-4 months has been sporadic, which prevented me from increasing my milage gradually and from just running those critical long training runs that get you ready for a marathon. It has been frustrating and a bit depressing.
In my last post, I laid out a last ditch effort plan to try and make it to the marathon. In that post I said the plan was not ideal, but it was "realistic". I later thought that "realistic" was incorrect, I should have used the word "possible". The truth is it was a longshot and, while committed to following that plan, I was also prepared to concede that fact that Hyannis might not happen if I got injured again or I just wasn't conditioned enough to run a marathon. The week leading up my last opportunity at a long run before the race included 3-6 mile runs after weeks of not running at all. I ran those miles with a bit of a cavalier attitude, I just felt that whatever was going to happen was going to happen and if I was so fragile then I wasn't going to be able to run 26.2 miles anyways. I then ran my long run on Sunday and was surprised to find that out of my planned 20 miles, I ran 19.2, which was well within my criteria for deciding whether or not I would be able to complete the Hyannis Marathon and therefore run or not run. That 19.2 mile run wasn't pretty, it was slow, and afterwards my body felt similar to how it felt after running my first marathon - everything hurt and it lasted for days.
Naturally, my muscles were very tight after this long run and I was constantly concerned that by running my scheduled miles in that condition, I was just asking for an injury to reoccur. I wasn't being so cavalier this time around because now, after completing that long run, I knew running Hyannis was "realistic". Ultimately I felt it was just as important if not more so to complete the remaining miles on the training schedule since my training had already suffered so much. I needed these miles, not just for my body, but for my mind as well. I took each run slow and continued to stretch, use my foam roller to massage my calf muscles, soak in Epsom salt bathes, and use my ultrasound as needed. After each run this week my legs felt a little better than the run before it and all in all things are moving in the right direction. Nonetheless, I remain weary of something going wrong before I get to the 26th and don't expect to shake that feeling until I'm actually a few miles into the marathon.
I've been considering my race strategy during my recent runs and plan to incorporate some of the things I've been doing in hopes that it will prevent a reoccurrence of the past injuries during the race. The following is a part of my post to Daily Mile for today's run:
As a result of my bout with injuries over the last several months, I've been starting out my runs slow to feel out how my legs are doing and gradually warm up the muscles. This seems like a good strategy in general and has been working out very well for me, so I'll incorporate this into my run next Sunday.
On today's run at about 3.25 miles I shot to the left to get out of the road for a car coming around a curb, and I felt a slight pinch in my left calf (as opposed to my troublesome right calf) which was an all too familiar feeling. I immediately dropped down to my What-About-Bob™ pace (baby steps), which I've been doing when ever I think something might be about to go. The thinking is that if something in the legs feels out of sorts, the pinch/sensation/whatever is the warning, ignoring it risk it becoming a sprain, pull, etc. The pinch didn't turn into anything else. Whether or not my reasoning is correct or not, it seems to be to me, so I'll incorporate that into my strategy as well.
Pace is going to be a little tricky to figure out. I know it won't be my target of 9:40 min/mi since the training just hasn't been there. With this in the back of my mind, I was initially thinking 10 min/mi, but this might not be realistic either. I'll probably settle in somewhere between 10:15 and 10:30 min/mi and try to adjust as things go.
I was very pleased with my fueling strategy during my 19+ mile run last Sunday, which is more or less what I used for Smuttynose - but more practiced. The trick here is to stick with the plan.
Runs left before Hyannis are 8 tomorrow, 3 Tuesday, 4 Wednesday, and 2 on Saturday. All I need to do is stay uninjured.
I just need to keep doing what I'm doing this and keep my goals in mind:
- Show up to the starting line, and
- Finish the marathon.
Just finishing this one is going to make this one memorable. I'm anticipating this one to be tougher than Smuttynose, but I plan to try and enjoy this one as much as I can.