I don’t even know where to start? All I know is that it’s been confusing and frustrating! I went from having my best year in 2011 only to follow it up with my worst year ever!? I went from setting new PR’s in every distance, to pretty much setting new, slowest race PR’s in every distance. How does one follow up their best year with their worst year?
Well, to make a very long story just semi-long, my body needed a break in 2012. I had worked hard in 2010-2011 trying to get to the Olympic Trials (which I missed). I figured, I had just had my best year ever so why not make 2012 even better. I should have known to back off, that my body needed a rest, (it’s always so much easier to tell other runner’s to back off – but never take the advice myself). I continued, with lots of miles and hard workouts, but this time never hitting the times I wanted. The dreadful plateau and the question, “Why am I not improving?” reared its ugly head. Then the next question comes, “Is it that I’m not working hard enough, or am I working too hard.” I always assume the first, (which usually isn’t right!) and I try to force my body to work harder, but it won’t comply, because what I really need is REST! And then instead of improving my times, they start to decline. Over-training… maybe?! Yep! Dreading each run because my body won’t do what I want it to do. The war taking place between my body and my mind. My mind telling me to “run faster, run harder!” and my legs screaming back, “Stop! We can’t! You must let us rest!”
However, I really wanted to make it to the December 2012th Memphis Marathon! I had just run a very relaxed, stress-free, felt good the entire time, 2:58 training run at the Chicago marathon in October, and I wanted Memphis to be my best marathon yet. But, no matter what I wanted, my workouts felt hard, my body felt tired, my mind was telling me “I don’t want to run,” and my legs felt like lead weights. I figured I just needed to hit the taper time 2 weeks before the marathon and I’d recover and be fresh and ready to run a new marathon PR!
Well, that didn’t happen. In fact, I couldn’t even make it through the marathon. I was done at 13.1. Actually, I knew as early as the 3rd mile, (with tired quads) that my legs and body were going to have a tough time hitting 2:46-2:48, let alone finish. Stopping at the half-way point was probably the worst feeling I’ve ever had.
When I was trying to make it to the trials, I dropped out of Chicago, but, in my mind, I had good reason – I knew I wasn’t going to hit 2:46 and I wanted to save it for another day. My goal wasn’t to JUST finish – I wanted to finish in a qualifying time and I didn’t want to put the extra mileage on my (getting older) body if I wasn’t going to hit my ultimate goal. And, at mile 21-22 I dropped from the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis because of a damaged calf muscle. There was no reason for me to cross the finish line not making it to the trails and walking away injured and done for the rest of the year.
But, in Memphis I just stopped. I quit without a legitimate reason, except that I was tired and I couldn’t possibly imagine doing the death shuffle from mile 9 to mile 26.2. I quit. My mind told my body that I couldn’t do it and obviously, my body agreed, and gave in. Worst feeling ever! How embarrassing! I’m a runner and runner’s don’t quit, they work through the pain, they crawl to the finish if they have to, but they never ever give up. But, I did!
It was hard to process what happened. All I know, is that I was having a very difficult time hitting my goal pace the first three miles, and then by mile 10, I was struggling to maintain what should have been a very easy pace for me. It felt like something was terribly wrong, but the only thing I could say was, “I was just too tired!”
Immediately, after getting home from Memphis I scheduled a doctor’s appointment. I knew my fatigue wasn’t normal, and sure enough my blood work came back showing anemia. Maybe that would help to soften the blow of NOT finishing, but it didn’t. And then, I went to the Orthopedic doctor, who told me I had achilles tendonitis/micro tears. BUT still, I QUIT! How frustrating!
Thankfully, (hopefully) there will be other races, and now that I know the awful, upsetting, feeling of quitting that won’t happen again. I WILL crawl to the finish line if I have to, but I will never allow my mind to convince my body to quit!
As of now, concerning my injury, I had an MRI a couple of weeks ago and it showed that my achilles is free of any micro-tearing. However, it does show that I have calcaneous bursitis, basically swelling and fluid in the bursa sac that sits at the attachment of the achilles tendon. It’s quiet painful, but I’ve been cleared to run, with the philosophy, “less is more!” And I now must face a fact, that I’ve known about, but have been able to ignore since I was about 16 years old. My left leg is 1/2 an inch or more shorter than my right leg. A fact that would be good in reference to the question, “Tell us something unique/weird about you?” I have a short leg! Ha. Well, not so funny now, because as I’m getting older, the discrepancy in length seems to be getting worse and it’s messing up my running mechanics, causing me to swing my right foot out just enough to land wrong, twisting my achilles, and irritating my heel and tendons. In fact, my right leg and hip have stopped doing their job, leaving that leg, almost, completely useless and making my left leg do all the work. This is where a three-legged dog comes to mind. Ha. He’s missing a leg so the other legs take up the slack. My right leg/hip isn’t working properly so my left leg is doing the best it can to take over for both legs.
Thankfully, I have a great Physical Therapist and we are determined to find a solution. It may be as simple as strengthening my right hip or getting orthotics. So, while I’m glad my achilles is healed I still must face my messed up body-mechanics! However, I’m thankful I’ve been able to run off and on since December, and I’m determined to be racing later this year…with both legs! ( ;
I’ve been wondering where you have been hiding. 🙂 It seems like you’re on the right path now. At least knowing what you need to work on is better then going through a workout with no clear understanding of what is or isn’t working.
Moderation will serve you well. In no time you will bounce back. 🙂
Thanks Abe! All last year, beginning w/the Shamrock Shuffle, I just felt “off.” I should have known then to back down but sometimes that’s so hard to do! The doctor and physical therapist kept telling me I could run as long as I was “taking it easy.” Then about a month ago it was brought to my attention that what I thought was “taking it easy,” was no where near what they meant by “taking it easy!” Duh!? I finally took some real time off training and now I’ve been told it’s okay to ease back into the mileage. I’m getting anxious to race but also know my first race back it going to be a shock on my body!! I’m not sure my legs even remember what speed is anymore! ( ;
Go Suzanne! I know 2013 is gonna be a great year for you.
Good luck Suzanne, YOU will come back stronger!!!!!! Because you are smarter now!
Thanks Arthur and Jennifer!