A Marathon, an Almost Marathon, and a Mistake (Part II)

Told you I’d be back!  The lentil soup was delish (thank you for asking).  Now where were we?

Ok, so last we spoke, I had a busted ankle and a major lapse in judgement and as it turns out, denial does not, in fact, solve problems.

After some internet research and discussions with other runners, I began to realize that this little pot hole incident could jeopardize not only the marathon but also my ability to ever run normally again.  I finally surrendered and went to a podiatrist who promptly diagnosed me with an ankle sprain and sent me for physical therapy.  After a consultation and far too many details for my taste (the words “springy” and “ankle” really shouldn’t be in the same sentence) my physical therapist told me to lay off the running for a while.

I wish I could say I took the diagnosis in stride, accepting of my fate and grateful that I’d be able to return to running at all.  Instead, I spent much of the time sulking as I peddled along on the elliptical, jealous of my roommates’ speedwork sessions and long-runs for their upcoming marathon.  I angrily deleted every e-mail I received from the various running groups I had become a part of because it became too difficult to read about weekend workouts that I’d have to skip.  I even relapsed a few times and went for a run, only to see the golf-ball ankle return the next day.  Not wanting to be deemed the “Negative Nancy of the Century,” I tried not to let on how much this was bothering me.  But truthfully, it was not a pretty picture and I”m not proud of the way I reacted. 

Eventually, the pity party was starting to get super lame and I was getting ready to call it a night and return to my usual positive outlook on life.  I do believe that there are multiple ways of looking at a situation and I was ready to find my silver lining.  Over the next few weeks, I diligently stayed off the road and instead spent time doing other activities that I enjoy, but usually neglect during training.  I cross- trained while catching up on celebrity gossip, I went to yoga, I read, I cooked, I did strength training.  Ok, so I do not actually enjoy strength training but my physical therapist assured me it was an essential part of my recovery, so I made it work.  It also didn’t hurt that the looked like Brad Pitt. 

Finally, after 3 months and more lunges than I care to remember, the pain had stopped and Brad my physical therapist told me my treatment was over and handed me a “return to running” training plan.  He made it clear though that going back to my old mileage and distance too soon could cause further injury.  This time, I listened to common sense.  In the next few weeks, I alternated walking and running until I could run three miles continuously.  Returning from that 3 mile run on a hot September afternoon and realizing I was pain-free was one of the proudest running accomplishments I’ve had.  I had finally listened to my body, given it the care it needed, and now I was back!

I was SO happy to be running again.  I was refreshed, physically stronger (a fringe benefit of all that strength training) and with a new-found appreciation for my favorite hobby.  With about 10 weeks until Philadelphia, I realized that while my first marathon would have to be put on hold, running the half was a goal worth going for. 

A few weeks later, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I found myself looking for something to do.  My long-run was complete for the day and I was all caught up on my blogs.  So what does a bored runner with internet access do?  She looks up races! 

I was loving training for the half marathon and surprised at how great my runs were going.  I knew there was a marathon in my future but I didn’t know which one.  A quick google search and a few minutes later, I found The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer.   I loved the idea that I could contribute to a cause that is so deeply important to me while doing something I loved.  (To find out why, check out my fundraising page).  I did another pro/con analysis (thank you Villanova Business School education) and after talking to other experienced runners about what training would entail decided, that the pros (accomplishing my marathon goal, giving back to a meaningful cause, a trip to Florida in Feburary) far outweighed the cons (being cold during my runs).  About a week after I first learned about The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer, I had a confirmed registration. 

So here we are.  Since then I have successfully completed my first half marathon and have survived 12 mile, 14 mile, and 16 mile training runs as well as shorter runs which were notable only because they were on days when the wind chill was higher than the temperature.   I have overcome a lot to get this far and I know I have even more work to do before Feburary.  But on cold days when I’m tempted by warm blankets and kitties I think back to frustrating afternoons on the elliptical, cursing my busted ankle, and promising myself that I would never complain about a run again. 

I never thought I’d be a runner.  After my injury, I never thought I’d be a marathoner (and some days I still have my doubts).  So bring on the cold, the speedwork, and the long runs, because I can’t wait to prove myself wrong!