Guys, it’s time to talk.
Wow, that sounded serious, didn’t it? Whenever someone says some variation of “we need to talk,” it’s never going to be good. While this isn’t an exception, it isn’t as bad as it could be. Basically, it’s time to lay it all out there. And this post isn’t going to have pictures, so if you make it through, I applaud you.
Remember all of the problems I had been having with my knee? They were so bad that I was really nervous about not being able to run the marathon in April? But then I got great news because I saw a bunch of doctors and was told that I hadn’t torn anything. In fact, I found out that I have a case of tendonitis with built up scar tissue in my left knee, which happens to be the knee that has a repaired ACL and MCL, and still-torn meniscus. Doc told me I could continue training for the marathon and that I shouldn’t have to do much other than take an anti-inflammatory, ice and elevate after I run. I was ecstatic.
After every workout for the past month, I dutifully wrapped my knee in an ice brace, elevated and took naproxen. Sometimes I’d alternate ice and heat. Then I got compression socks to help with my varicose vein and I started wearing my knee brace during runs again, which helped with tendonitis back when I was originally coming back from my reconstruction surgery.
But it didn’t help.
My body felt great after my weekday workouts. Spinning: great. Yoga: great. Speed work: great. Lifting: great. I’d get so amped up for my long runs on the weekend, convinced that I was going to have a glorious run. I’d imagine myself running happily, kind of like Marshall does on HIMYM. The miles would tick by and I’d be that much closer to reaching the 26.2 distance. Sure, I was prepared for some tough times, but overall I was ready for some stellar doses of weekend sweat.
Yeah, that never happened.
Every single week, my knee would end up hurting like hell. So much that my knee would simply give out. Sometimes it would happen after I reached the assigned mileage, sometimes it was way before. But each time, I wouldn’t be able to walk for the rest of the day. My afternoons would be spent in bed watching TV because walking up and down the stairs to my third-floor apartment hurt like hell. The only time I did leave was when my family was in town and I wanted to show them around. Otherwise, my butt was firmly planted to the bed.
Last week, I was a wreck. Coach Abby assigned 15 miles and I was really excited because it was going to be my new PDR. Once again, my workouts all week were phenomenal. I set myself up for a great run. Killer playlist, perfect outfit, nice weather, favorite fuel, fresh running route, full water bottle, etc. Miles 1-5 were a little tight, but then I found my groove and it was amazing. Miles 5-10 ticked by and I finally thought this was going to be it. I hit mile 10 and thought, “Only 5 more miles? Psshh, I got this.”
And then the universe decided that I was being a bit too cocky. Around 10.5 miles, my knee decided to say, “Eff you, Sam. You’re done.”
I tried to fight it, I really did. I kept running, hoping it would fade like it’s done before. No dice. So I slowed my pace slightly. Still no change. I walked a little. Much better….until I tried to run again. That’s when my knee started giving out completely. I couldn’t run more than a few steps — and by that, I mean about 5 or 6 — before I had to walk again. I looked at my watch and saw just over 13 miles and knew it was time to call it quits.
I cried right there in Central Park.
I was so angry because I knew that I could do this. 15 miles was this small number, just slightly above 13.1, but I couldn’t reach it. My whole body felt great and it wanted to keep going, but my knee simply wouldn’t let me. So what did I do? What any logical person would do…I went home and drowned my sorrows in food. Duh.
The next day, I met up with Coach Abby and cried some more out of sheer frustration. She told me that was a good thing; it shows I care. That made me feel less like a chump. After a lot of talking me off a ledge, she convinced me to take this week off from exercise, to help reduce the inflammation in my knee. I thought I was going to go crazy a few times and had to email Abby for support, but it gave me a lot of time to think.
I started thinking about why I was so determined to run this marathon in the first place. Yes, I wanted to do it in Nashville because I wanted my dad to see it. But that was really my only reason. Sure, I signed up for the race last June, so the anticipation was definitely built high as the date kept inching closer. But is that a real reason? Not so much.
Then I started thinking about everything that I’ve gone through in the past few months. All of the doctors appointments (and expensive co-pays), non-musculature pain, frustration, anger, tears, doubt, shame, fear. I had been on such a downward spiral and was so stubborn to let my dream of running 26.2 go. Even though it was extremely painful and completely destroying any confidence I had in my running, I wanted to keep going. I thought that if I didn’t do this specific marathon, then I was a failure.
I started visualizing April 28, playing out the entire race. Not once did I see myself having a glorious race where I triumphantly crossed the finish line with my hands in the air. No, I saw myself limping, hours after I had planned on finishing, crying and begging for the race to be over. I saw my dad on the sidelines, his face creased with worry, asking me to stop doing this to myself. I saw Dustin trying his best to encourage me because he knew I wasn’t going to give up, but his eyes showed nothing but fear. And then a voice finally crept inside my head. Is it worth it?
In a word: no.
I don’t want to finish my first marathon like that. And I don’t want to ruin the rest of my running career because I’m being stupid and stubborn. I have more to talk about, and I need to explain how today’s run went, but I’m going to save that for tomorrow’s post because this one has gotten quite long. If you’ve read this whole thing, thanks so much for sticking around. Fingers crossed you’re coming back tomorrow. Until then…