As you may know, I’ve spent nearly the past year training for a marathon. My sights were set on the 36th Marine Corps Marathon in D.C. this Sunday. I was expecting to write a post later this week about everything I’ve accomplished in running, all the great places where I’ve run and all the incredible people who have helped me along the way.
Unfortunately, my plans have gone awry.
About two weeks ago, I went for a long run and about two miles into it I had some knee pain. I’ve been lucky in that during all this training, I had never had an injury worse than blisters. By mile five, I had to call for a ride because I couldn’t go forward. It felt like my knee was stabbing itself.
I saw a doc and he told me it was tendonitis, to take it easy and ice it, and when it hurts stop running. To be more specific, it’s Iliotibial band syndrome.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been in a bit of a fog. I’m too nervous to even look at my training schedule, which would have had me running anywhere from 6 to 14 miles nearly every other day, running hills and doing speed training.
Instead, every few days I’d take off on nothing more than a flat 3 or 4 miles hoping that my knee would be perfect and all would be good. Such has not been the case. Nearly every time my knee has cut my run short. And the pain lasts longer than just the run. Going down stairs, lifting my knee to uncross my legs have become trying tasks after a run.
What Do I Do?
My marathon is in four days away. I could:
a.) Defer my entry to next year and find a different marathon in the spring to slowly train for;
b.) Run it knowing full well I’ll have to drop out as soon the pain hits which may be at mile 3 and just try to enjoy the experience;
c.) Run it and try to make it to the halfway mark, pain be damned;
d.) Take some painkillers, get a brace and pain be damned try wholeheartedly for the whole thing. A marathon is all about mental toughness anyway, right?
I know what the smart decision is. I know what the rational decision is. BUT those are the frustrating choices, the choices that make me feel like a failure, like I lost this epic battle with the marathon and life.
I embraced running after some really tough times last year. And to be frank, I felt like I had something to prove. And so by finishing the marathon, I wanted to say hey, I can do this, I am better and stronger than I think I am, better than people have treated me. For all those people who didn’t think I could, for myself who thought I couldn’t — well, there’s my time, there’s my sweaty bib, I did it. I have ridden the highs and lows of training and life and come out on top. Except for right now and on Sunday which may be the worst low of all.
And now I feel like it’s slim that I’m going to have that moment. I feel like, everyone who’s ever doubted me was right — most importantly myself. I probably am my biggest anti-cheerleader (is there a better word for that?), I am very critical of myself. And as I have to make this decision, I can feel all that negativity coming back. That voice that says I can’t do this, I’m a failure, that my knee is a cop out etc. And I don’t know how to shut it up. And I don’t know what to do.