The Starting Line

9:39 AM. I should be at mile 14 by now. There’s a sharp ache in my hip as I sit down at my kitchen table. I should be listening to the roar of my running playlist, but instead I’m listening to the kids watch Paw Patrol and seeing Big S scroll through his phone.

Today should have been my first marathon, but I tripped and pulled out of the race before I even reached the starting line.

When I signed up for my marathon I was coming off a half marathon PR (personal record) high. November 20th I obsessed over training schedules and logistics of spending my Saturday’s adding hours of my day running. I researched vegan fuel sources to keep me going. I suited up in layers of sweat wicking shirts and jackets and gloves, buckled my fuel belt around my waist and slung my camelback on my back and hit the sidewalks in 10 degree weather. I ran for hours. I ran 10 miles, then 14, then 16, 18, and 20. Every week would be my new maximum. My runs got longer and my pace got faster. I was like the poster child for running my first marathon. I was doing amazing.

Then during a short 6 miler I felt a twinge in my hip. I ran-limped the last 2 miles. I rested the next day then went out for my 18 miler that Saturday. It didn’t feel terrible, but it didn’t feel great either.

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The next week I tried to take it easy. But with a training schedule that didn’t give me a rest week due to wanting to get in multiple 20 milers, I had to ramp back up with a 6 miler, 10 miler then a 20 miler back to back to back. I should have listened to my body, but instead I ran through it.

20 miles and every step was sheer torture. I over compensated for my left hip hurting by lightening up on that side and slamming my right foot into the ground for every step. At mile 15 I stopped, stretched, fueled and kept going. By mile 19 I was shot. It was January 31, so thankfully no one was outside walking around to hear he literally scream in pain multiple times over that last mile to get to my car. I finished and was excited to have accomplished the dreaded 20 mile run, but I knew something was actually wrong at this point. Walking the rest of the day was terrible, as I would expect after running 20 miles. But the pain in my hips had gotten to the point that it was unbearable.

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That week I went to have an xray done to make sure I didn’t have a stress fracture. Thankfully there was none. I rested the rest of the week until that Saturday when I had a short 5k. I ran that 5k like I was running for my life. I actually got 1st (it was a small race, but still!) but when I went to the gym to get the remainder of my 8 miles in, I fell. I zeroed out the treadmill at 0.02 miles and hung my head in defeat.

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The next weeks were filled with sharp pains when bending, putting on my shoes, walking more than a half a mile and sitting. Everything hurt. I spent almost every day obsessing, counting the miles I was missing as I took off day after day, hoping the rest would help and praying I’d wake up and magically not be in pain. But what hurt the most was seeing an orthopedist who said “Don’t count on running this marathon. It’s not a stress fracture, but it’s most likely a strain that if you run you could tear which would require surgery and never running again.”

Years of dreaming of how that finish line would feel, 5 years of running for fun, 2 and a half months of intense training, 6 weeks before the big race, and it wasn’t looking good. I spent 2 weeks in physical therapy having someone literally try to shock my butt with electrotherapy (I eventually was told it was a deep strain of my piriformis muscle. Basically, the most awkward place to get hurt ever.) to trick my muscles into thinking it’s healed. After weeks of groaning every time I got out of a chair or went to pick up the kids and 3 weeks before the race though I called it, it wasn’t going to run this race.

I’ve spent the past few weeks dreading this day; March 14, the day I didn’t run my first marathon. The day my unopened energy gels mock me from my kitchen counter. The day my facebook feed is flooded with accomplishments. The day I failed and embarrassed myself. The day that if someone mentions “marathon” I may just openly sob. The day I don’t cross the finish line. The day I didn’t even make it to the starting line.

But so what? I didn’t do the Rock and Roll full. This doesn’t end my running career. This isn’t the only marathon out there. And accomplishing those huge milestones of 15 and 20 mile runs are still something I have incredible pride in. I’m slowly feeling better and hoping the time off from running will make me come out stronger and more prepared for the next race.

I’ll call it what it is, today sucks. I feel defeated and hate that I wasn’t able to run today.

But 26.2 I’m coming for you.

M

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