Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reaching for the Stars

All the literature says that when training for a marathon, injuries are to be expected along the way.  The best injury (if I can say that) would be something minor that you can easily recover from if you catch it quick and treat it right away. 

So it goes that on my Sunday run - I had a tightening feeling in my hip flexor area around 17km, and very wisely decided to end the run there.  Believe me, it was hard to end the run 2km short.  (I'm not the nut out here, am I?)  Monday's run was again cut at 4km because of the same nagging pain in this area.  Sooo, with just 2 weeks before the marathon, I've decided to back off my runs, treat the ache with R.I.C.E. and take some AI drugs.  I'm proud of myself that I'm not pushing this - even though it's really hard (!!!) not to run my scheduled runs to finish my training, and especially with all this surplus adrenilin screaming through my body, demanding the release that only running brings. 

I will treat this little ache with TLC - and be back to finish my taper in a few more days.

What I would like to share is portions of an email sent to my running group by the Leader/Organizer of the group.  I find his words to be especially encouraging and supportive - and after reading and re-reading his mail, extremely proud of myself for all that I have achieved thus far.  Allow me to share:

"As you read this, we are a mere sixteen days from the 35th Tiberias Marathon and it is an appropriate time for a little reflection.  Yes, the marathon is an undeniably incredible experience.  For many, it is nothing short of a life altering event where one redefines the scope of the possible in arenas far beyond the athletic.  I always envy first-timers the incomparable sense of euphoria as they cross the finish line for the first time.  But whether January 6th is your first or your fifteenth marathon, you deserve to revel in what you have already accomplished.

The marathon is not merely a race that will last between three and six hours.  It is an odyssey that has demanded of you nearly superhuman dedication for more than a third of a year.  You have woken up at ungodly hours to run distances more appropriately traveled by freight trucks, gasped through lung searing interval sessions, dragged yourself out on the road in the heat and the cold while the rest of humanity slouched on the couch and accused you of being an obsessive lunatic.

In so doing, you have transformed yourself into a hero and I am not truly waxing hyperbolic when I say this.  Any time someone transcends mediocrity by the sweat of his (or her) brow, that person has done something genuinely heroic.  Most of us are simply programmed to do what our peers are doing.  You, on the other hand, through sheer determination and tenacity, have become a testament to what a human being can accomplish should he choose to do so.  You are now capable of running 42.195 meters, a staggering distance by any measure.  And frankly, it does not matter one whit whether you cross that finish line in Tiberias in 2:57 or 5:57, you will have transcended your physical limitations in a way that an infinitesimal portion of the human race will ever do in their lifetime.  And while personal records and milestones are worthy goals that should be savored, it would be a serious, perhaps even tragic error to assume that they are more significant than what you have already accomplished over the past eighteen weeks. 

On marathon day, naturally, we will all shoot for the stars.  We will obsess about pacing, gels, isotonic drinks, negative splits and a plethora of other details that make the marathon as much of a mental challenge as a physical one.  But if, by some unhappy stroke of bad luck, the weather turns against us, or you come down with a bit of a cold or you simply don't have your best stuff on that particular morning, know this, truly know it and do not merely console yourself with it:  You have already reached the stars."

I hope to maintain this pride until I cross the finish line.



  1. Super-wise to early-out the run when you felt the tightness. This is smarter than most runners I know.

    You are well in your taper now and I hope your hip is getting better. I would not worry about any training at all at this point....you have *tons* of base...make sure the hip is back to 100%. Some power walking is a great way to help the healing, stretch out, and test how it's doing.

    If the hip is not 100% I would still try the race, but go very easy for the first half and see how it develops...the tightness might just stabilize and not get worse...might even go away...you never know. If you get pain that progresses then probably switch to walking/running (as I did when my not fully healed calf tear started cramping at Long Beach).

    Anyway, hopefully this is all moot and you'll just motor along as planned!

    Happy 2011 and have a great first marathon!

  2. Thanks, Paul! Turns out to just be a cramp in my hip area that the PT helped me work out. But - better safe than sorry at this stage!