Sunday, September 16, 2012

When to Let Go:  making the switch in your brain

I am letting go of the New York City marathon.  I have been fighting this decision for weeks.  But today, after deep thought and shedding some tears, I realize that I have to let it go. 

Qualifying for this race was one of my biggest triumphs.  I am a marathoner at heart.  Half marathons have never been my best number – I feel like at 13.1 I am just getting warmed up.  To qualify for the NYC marathon, you can meet either a full, or half distance qualifying time.  These times are even stricter than Boston, and have been lowered even further for 2013.  NYC was on my list, but not for years down the road.  Until the announcement was made in the fall of 2012 that the times were being drastically lowered for 2013.  My good friend and running partner had a qualifying time…I realized if I wanted to meet one as well I needed to find a race, and quick.  I only had until March or so before the qualifying period ended (with the exception of the Boston marathon and few other NYC races).  I was running Boston, but I wanted at least 2 chances to meet the NYC standard.  I found a small, local half set for mid-January.  With two weeks to train for it, my coach had his work cut out for him!

Fortunately for me, I was just coming off a great fall marathon PR, and was in good shape.  My biggest challenge was mentally preparing for the distance.  It would be a push – I could nail the speed in training, but racing was another story.  Long story short, we did a very abbreviated training schedule…lots of speedwork in a short amount of time and very quick taper.  The plan worked and I came in 90 sec. under the qualifying standard for the half. 

With great joy and enthusiasm I reported the news to my good friend.  We registered, and began happily planning our adventure.   I would take my youngest daughter…just a special trip for her and mom.  My friend’s husband and teenage daughters would watch my 9 year old during the race.  We booked similar flights, the same hotel, and planned on staying a few days after the race to sightsee.  We couldn’t wait to train together, especially on the long runs.

In June, I got injured. 

Three weeks prior to my 70.3 my heel began to hurt.  Plantar fasciitis.  I stopped speedwork, and luckily since I was so close to tapering, I was able to stay in shape and actually ended up having a fantastic race.  I waited until I thought my foot was better, then went running.  Big mistake.  My injury was aggravated.  I took many weeks off, but it never really got much better.  Icing, stretching, massage, rolling, ibuprofen, strengthening…all these things in various combinations have gotten me to about 90%, but that is where I am stuck.  My longest run has been 9 miles.  The swim and bike are fine, but you can’t swim and bike your way through a marathon.

This past week bib numbers and corrals were announced.  I downloaded my information, and felt the race excitement.  Maybe I can make it.  Maybe, magically, all the pain will disappear and I will regain all the strength of my healthy self.   There is magic in running, but recovery from injury is another matter altogether.  The magic happens from having patience, and willingness to let go when you realize that this time, you will be on the sidelines cheering instead of out there on the course.  The magic happens when you make the switch in your brain.  When you fully accept your limitations, the training plan then becomes about recovery first, rebuilding second. 

I am still taking my daughter to New York.  We will get our mother-daughter bonding time.  But it will be as cheerleaders for my friend.  And  like any faraway city you travel to, I’m going with the thought that I will be back someday.  I will run this race.  Just not this year.  And that’s okay.  There are other races to look forward to…other races where I will come back stronger than ever.  Yes, my heart is a little bit broken, but that will heal as well.  What isn’t broken is my spirit and determination.  It just has taken a different path for the time being, a different switch in my brain.


Be Healthy, Train Smart, Have Fun


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