It’s hard to believe that six weeks ago, I was nervously attempting my second marathon.
I think my previous post already implies how it went. So, the question is, where do I begin? Where do you start writing about an experience that you can barely remember?
Here’s the thing: I’m stubborn.
Usually this character trait propels me forward and helps me go after whatever I’ve set my sight on. Most of the time, this works in my favour. Whenever my mind tells me that I can’t do something, I always try my best to turn that doubt around and try even harder to achieve it. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I learn a lesson (or two or three), and move on.
I think you know by now where I’m going with this…
I can’t exactly remember when my right groin started acting up, but it was probably at least a one and a half to two months prior to the marathon. I had been experiencing a slew of aches and pains all summer – all of which I had managed to get under control, so when this one crept up, I categorized it along with the other issues and assumed it was something that could be overcome with backing off a little and cross-training. In hindsight, I should have recognized that it was more serious than I thought when what began as a dull pain turned into a stabbing pain in the middle of my last long run during training. The shooting pain forced me to cut my run short at 19k and hobble home. That run left me quite shaken and nervous for Scotiabank, and I spent the entire taper period cross-training and resting.
And marathon day?
I felt pain in my right groin from the minute I crossed the start line. Previous training runs gave me hope that I wouldn’t be as sore once my body warmed up. It never happened. By the time I hit the halfway point, I knew the second half was going to be a big struggle because I was already in quite a bit of pain. By the time I hit the 30k mark, the typical aches and pains that everyone talks about while running a marathon hit me. At 35k, I was fully ready to give up. I focused on trying to keep everything together until I crossed the finish line, but I was miserable and I really just wanted to stop. Whenever I felt myself giving up, I tried to tell myself that I was stronger than I thought and that I just had to keep going for a little longer, that it was only a few more minutes out of the rest of my life until the finish line (understand that I was mentally exhausted and all thoughts were magnified at this point). I don’t even remember turning around the last corner. I don’t remember crossing the finish line… I just remember feeling pain.
I don’t remember how the finisher’s medal got around my neck. I don’t remember replying to a volunteer who asked me if I was okay and if I needed to see a medic. I vaguely remember a volunteer opening a heat blanket and wrapping it around me – and feeling grateful for that. I vaguely remember picking up random food at the finish line, despite not wanting to eat any of it.
And then I remember seeing my friends. I remember lots of hugs and kisses and a feeling of relief that it was all over.
(Source: Ariel C)
Last year, when things didn’t go as I had hoped they would in Chicago, I was devastated. I really felt like the entire experience was a big failure and it took me a long time to get over it and see the bigger picture.
Initially, I thought I was going to feel the same way about this year’s experience. But six weeks later, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and readjust my thinking.
I know it was foolish (and stubborn!) of me to run the race injured. I know there are things I could and should have done at the first sign of serious injury (like, not run the marathon…). But what’s done is done, and now I know a little more about how far my body can be pushed.
Last Friday, I went to see a Sports Medicine Doctor after my physio expressed concern that I wasn’t healing at the rate she felt I should be. An x-ray confirmed that I have a stress fracture in my right pelvic area. To be honest, I can’t remember too many details about my stress fracture; I kind of stopped listening after he gave me timeframe estimates for when he expected I’d be back to “normal”. In case you’re curious, it’s looking like it will be another two months at least before I can start running again. He also thinks that I actually had the stress fracture before I ran the marathon. In a way, that would make sense because right now I’d rate my pain level at around a 3 on a 10-point scale — which is how I felt at the start of the marathon. At this point, it doesn’t really matter anymore. Right now, I’m trying to focus on looking forward and giving my body the time it needs to heal properly.
In summary, six weeks later, I am…
…still unable to run, bike, or do any type of weight-bearing exercise (elliptical, stair master, etc), and I won’t be able to for at least another month (plus another month for running).
….finding solace and release in a daily yoga practice, concentrating on rehabilitating myself and building strength.
…constantly trying to remind myself that it’s not the end of the world if I lose my aerobic fitness in the healing process. I’m also trying to mentally prepare myself for starting at “ground zero” again in a few months time.
…trying to bottle up and remember this feeling in my right groin, so that I can be a wiser the next time a pain like this creeps up.
There’s no point in writing paragraphs filled with regret or anger at myself for deciding to run the marathon with an injury. I know I’m lucky that I got through it without doing more permanent damage and the doctor positioned his findings as “a healing stress fracture”. I already know that there’s so much to be grateful for and that my life is pretty damn good right now. The fact that I was spoiled rotten the day after distracted me from feeling too sorry for myself. And the pain? It got a little better each week. I know it’ll be a while still before I stop limping, but I’m going to appreciate returning to normalcy even more than ever when I eventually do.
I haven’t made any future running plans because it really all depends on how long it takes for things to heal. Now that it looks like I’ll be out for longer than I hoped, I’m currently spending my time trying to address other items on my life’s “to-do” list. I admit, some days it feels extremely hard to stay positive about the fact that I can’t physically do the things I want to do. But if I can force myself to crawl over the finish line with a stress fracture and a screaming right hip, then I can force myself to adopt a grown-up perspective over this entire situation.
“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.”