Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rationalization Justification

It is a wet and gray late summer afternoon as I sit here at my desk drinking a Bell's Oracle Double IPA. I have Glasser's "Home" on infinite repeat and there is a dull and persistent ache behind my right knee.

I will not be running the Grand Rapids Marathon on October 17.

Just saying those words lifts a huge weight from my shoulders. I've grappled for weeks with the question of whether to shove onward and do this race, or accept that it wasn't meant to be this time.

I am nothing if not stubborn when it comes to running, and that trait has yielded unfortunate results. I suppose I could say I have finally learned from my past mistakes1. After three years of constant training I have learned to listen to my body, to know when it is telling me enough is enough.

Sharp pain in my hamstring after five miles of slow running does not bode well for a full marathon. I know this as sure as I know that it's raining outside at this very moment.

There's the part of me that cries out, "Quitter! You're giving up this easily? Remember how you lost almost a month of training to IT band syndrome and still bounced back to qualify for Boston?"

Shut up.

I hate that voice, the one that tells me I'm weak and soft for taking the easy way out. I could force myself through these final five weeks before the marathon and then gut out the race itself, but for what? Another Boston qualifying time is completely out of the question. I know that running the full in Grand Rapids would hurt like hell. I'd be wrecked. I don't need that. There is determination and there is stupidity. Forcing myself to run a marathon in my undertrained state is stupid. I don't have to prove anything to anyone. I've completed FOUR marathons. That's 400% more than most people will do in their entire lives.

I ran today, five slow miles, accompanied almost the entire time by my friend, hamstring pain. I thought about the amazing year I had in 2009: setting new personal bests one after the other, qualifying for Boston...2009 would be difficult to improve upon under any circumstances. I ran Boston in April and that was the experience of a lifetime. Perhaps that will have to suffice as my major accomplishment of the year.

Shifting from the full to the half in Grand Rapids means I have 12 weeks until the Thunder Road Marathon in Charlotte. That has become my focus. 12 weeks is enough time to rehab this irritating muscle injury and rebuild my fitness for the race in December. I have a modest goal in mind for Charlotte: do better than my last two marathons (4:16 and 4:11). Breaking four hours would be even better. Forget about requalifying for Boston. If that ever happens again...wonderful. If it doesn't, well, I did it once, and the memories of that experience will be mine for a lifetime.

Side note: in three years I get another 5 minutes' worth of cushion on my Boston qualifying time...

...which also means that in three years I will be turning 40...


That is so not the way I wish to end this post, all broody and thinking about getting older. No. I'm going to end by saying that I'm going to run the Grand Rapids Half Marathon with my Dad in five weeks, and Spike will be there, and the Redhead too, and I'm going to visit Founders Brewing, and there will be much merriment and good times.

Congratulations to Carolina John on completing a half Ironman today! And to all my buddies slogging through the mud at Dances with Dirt!

1: Add to list: Never sprint the final 30 meters of a Beer Mile.


TNTcoach Ken said...

A tear rolls down my cheek as I read your post and drink a BEvERage.... The tear is from hitting my toe on the table leg. Sounds like the half will be a great time with Dad. On-On......

Zoomy said..., that stinks. But I think you are smart. I REALLY wanted to run the inaugural GR Mud Run last weekend, but my sprained ankle is still not great and running it could have meant re-spraining it and losing even more months of running. There will be other marathons for you (and Bostons, I am certain), just as there will be other mud runs for me.

I'm still hoping to make it to GR to cheer for you. That's one bonus of being a bit gimpy this year--I have a great excuse to spectate, which is great fun, on its own.

Unknown said...

I turn 40 in just over a year. Its not so bad. I plan to live a long time anyway. So should you. Its not like you'll go through menopause or suffer the indignity of your hormones going wonky and screwing up your noggin, though that's more of a 50 thing than a 40. Its a shame about your hamstring and backing off will give you a chance to heal it up instead of do permanent injury so you can't ever run again, like me. Its not nice, having to give it up forever. So save your health and get better. Its probably the tendon sheath, a type of fasciitis, and takes months to heal in the best of situations. It might be time to see your doctor and see if he can narrow down the cause and the cure.

Jen Feeny said...

*Sigh* I know this feeling all too well. The disappointment of having to accept that things just aren't going to happen the way you'd hoped and the feeling of relief that the decision has been made and you don't have to stress over it anymore. You have to do what's best for you and I think being able to listen to your body and make the right decision is when you've really become a mature runner. Focus on getting better and I'll be there race morning to cheer you on!!!

B. Kramer said...

Just because you could push yourself through the pain, doesn't mean you should. It's no fun, and it should be fun. This ain't your job. Have fun running with your dad and checking out some tasty beers. Cheers!

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Just don't RUN the last 30 meters to Founders Brewery when you get near.

40 is ten years behind me in the rear-view mirror. I look back at it wistfully. Thirty-seven-year-olds who worry about how they're "aging" make me just kinda smile.

Sorry! I can't take that sorrow seriously!

Alan Dent said...

I have been following your blog for some time as much for the updates on the beer you are sampling as the running.

I know its a hard decision to make - not to run the marathon - but I think it is the right one to make - There will be other opportunities.

And when you get to my age being 37 is not that bad

Anonymous said...

My body has also let me down and prevented me from running GR this year. I have finally listened to my body and decided to take time off to get over my Plantar Fasciitis after dealing with it for 2 years. (I know - I'm a GENIUS).

We Grand Rapidians welcome you! You'll enjoy(watching) a really fun race that has an unhealthy obsession with beer. They say that races tend to take on the personna of their communities. I can't say that the GR Marathon entirely reflects Grand Rapids, but we're certainly trying to change the CITY!! Enjoy your time here!!