The big week – ironically I had thought several weeks were the big week up to now – but none of them made me confident that a December marathon was in the cards. This one would be make or break I thought. I had been cautiously optimistic, but very cautiously. Because of my travel schedule – I had mixed things up slightly. I did my speed workout on Tuesday (while still at WDW) – figured that was easiest to get done on the treadmill, and one of the shorter runs in the week. Skipped running on Wednesday because of an early flight to Kansas City. Did 8 miles in Kansas City on Thursday – at base pace – at a pretty slow base pace for me, it just didn’t seem like my legs could comfortably go much faster. I was home by Thursday evening – so Friday’s tempo run I could do on my usual running path (the Farmington Canal Trail). It was a 1.5 mile warmup, then 5.5 miles at half marathon pace, and a 1.5 mile cooldown.
I started the warmup and my calves were really kinda hurting. They had actually felt pretty good during the 8 miles in Kansas City – but as that run had gone on, they started feeling worse (lots of concrete during that run). Then I started the tempo part – and tried to ramp it up to half marathon pace. And I couldn’t get there – I was running about 15 sec/mile slower than my target half marathon pace. And my calves hurt, every step. They started getting worse and I tried to get my speed up, but it wasn’t happening. About 2-3 miles into the tempo part – I realized that it wasn’t going to happen. I had to stop running, my calves were so painful. And I had to walk/jog home. I would walk for awhile, then try to jog – but it would still hurt enough that I had to walk again.
I realized then that my hopes of a December marathon were done. I didn’t see how my body would hold up to the rigors of the remaining weeks of training. At first I was pretty numb about it – didn’t feel as badly as I thought I would. Then as that weekend progressed – I became really despondent. I think I had to come to terms with the full loss from my fall. Up to now, I had held onto the hope that I could salvage it – be able to put all that training to some use. But now it was really over. There would be no new attempt until well into 2014.
Some of you might say – why not just choose a marathon in late January or February? Well – living in Connecticut, running outside gets dicey once you get into winter. It’s not the cold that’s the issue – it’s snow and ice. Once it snows, even if it’s only a little, sometimes it melts and then refreezes on running paths and roads as black ice. Too hard to run on. And long training runs for marathons are tough to do on treadmills (not impossible, but daunting mentally). And then I’m gone in February (for a really good reason – we’re going to Sochi, Russia to help with the NBC Olympics broadcast of curling!). So the earliest marathon I could even think of would be late June. Which feels very, very far off.
It’s funny – I am writing this a few weeks later, and I don’t feel as badly as I did that weekend, so it’s a little hard to remember how I felt. But it was my lowest point. I think I was grieving – oscillating between anger, depression, and “if only’s.” I felt so powerless.
I had given this effort everything I had – that was what I kept telling myself this summer, that I wanted to give it everything I had in me – and I did. My heart and soul went into my quest. The crazy dedication to my training, even when traveling (I think I ran in like 10 different locations/states: Albuquerque, Orlando, on a cruise ship, Castaway Cay, Buffalo, Baltimore, Rehoboth, Nantucket, LA – RoseBowl, LA – Disneyland, Valley Forge, plus my hometown). The discipline in my diet. I’m honestly not sure if I’ve ever given as much to any other goal (the year we played to get to the Olympic Trials is the closest). And despite all of that – and despite really believing in myself – none of it mattered. This random accident interfered – no matter how hard I had tried, it didn’t matter.
And everyone says “When you do qualify, it will be all the sweeter,” “ You’ll come back,” etc. These are all the right things to say, I suppose. But the truth is – I can’t be that certain, I’m not that certain. Because I think at a deep level, this has taught me that we can only control so much. Effort, determination, and believing in yourself are all good and important things – but they are not sufficient.