Mentally, however, this marathon was my Everest.
I always struggle with my inner demons before any big race. No matter how well I’ve trained I always feel some measure of self doubt. Fox Valley was no different.
Me, Sandra Wimer and Caolan MacMahon. Sandra is a Facebook friend, who came out to cheer for us.
So do physical aches during training for a marathon. That’s why I didn’t realize I was injured until a chronic pain took a nasty turn.
Several weeks ago I started to experience shooting pain on the ball of my right foot. This spot (I call it “elephant foot”) has bothered me for a while to be honest. I first noticed it a couple of years ago but I chalked it up to the normal discomfort that comes with marathon training. As anyone who’s run long distances can tell you, there is always some level of discomfort involved, but you learn to suck it up. That’s why I ignored it. It usually went away on its own.
“Elephant foot” the day after I ran the Fox Valley Marathon.
Lately, however, it’s gotten worse and was hurting me, not just when I run, which prompted me to see a podiatrist before the race.
The diagnosis: An inflamed third metatarsal joint on my right foot, probably caused by being fitted for the wrong running shoes. The doc told me to ice it, take ibuprofin to calm it down, and in the future wear neutral, not pronation shoes, and use orthotics to correct it.
My pain was so bad, I contacted the director of the Fox Valley Marathon and begged to change races. I asked to run the half marathon instead of the full. His answer and the race policy was no, it wasn’t allowed unless I purchased the race’s “weather flex” policy during registration, which I didn’t. I was told if I ran the shorter distance, it would be disqualified and my time would not count as official.
I offered to pay a fee to change races, but he said no to that, too.
Pretty sucky and runner-unfriendly in my book but, hey, I don’t make the rules; I just have to live with them and the consequences.
Add to it that, I was spending money and traveling for this race and I had a difficult decision to make.
The doc said I could probably finish the marathon with my injury — it wouldn’t make it worse — but it would hurt a lot, and I did. He said I would need to get the inflammation under control, pronto, once it was finished.
Balls to the wall, I went for it. I knew it wasn’t going to be a pretty, but by God, finish I did, in 4:14, with a bum foot, and warm and muggy conditions. It heated up to 75 by the time I was done, and I looked like a soaked dog crossing the finish line.
I confess, since I’m a blogger, I worry about what people think of me when I finish my races. Caolan and I also talked a little about that pressure you can feel after you’ve already qualified for Boston once — to do it again. (She’s a blogger, too, who did qualify for Boston again at this race. Congrats, Caolan!
It’s a slippery slope — feeling like you have to run to impress others and it takes away the joy. After all, running is supposed to be our recreation!!
The conclusion I came to as I was running Fox Valley is — you have to run from the inside out, not the other way around. Or at least — that is what works for me. When another Boston BQ comes my way — and I have hope it will — it will arise from that conviction within me.
Yesterday was a victory. I never gave up, even during the worst of my pain and discomfort; I knew I would conquer those 26.2 miles somehow, some way and I did. I finished with my head high.
Now it’s time for me to heal my injury.
The road awaits me …
P.S. Thank to Caolan, Sandra and Gayle for their friendship and support this weekend. Also to the lovely Liz H. — who was a delight to meet — and Andrea, from Dailymile, whose incredible smile and kindness, and kick-ass posters and cheer leading made my day. And also my friend I stayed with in Chicago after the marathon.
MUAH and hugs to you all!!
“Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go!”
Mileage on Sunday: 26.2; Mileage for 2012: 974