I've had a goal since I was in high school: to run a marathon. For over ten years things got in the way. In college I was busy, busy with school, work, clubs, and lets be honest having a bit too much of a social life. After I graduated and moved to China I wasn't nearly as busy, I ran almost everyday and trained like I should have. The only problem was there was no marathon in the "small" Chinese city I was living in (small meant over 5 million people...tiny right?). I went to grad school in SoCal so there were no shortages of races. I ran my first and second marathons while I was there, but I couldn't seem to nail down training with all the other things I had going on in my life. The timing just wasn't quite right. After grad school I found myself back in China in a bigger city....but this time the air quality just made running nothing short of torture.
When I found myself back in the states in Houston, Texas it was time. My first year back I missed the lottery, but the second year I entered and found out I'd gotten a spot a few days into my yoga teacher training. I was so excited.
I started training for the January race in September. It was rough. Running in Houston during September was like being in a hot yoga room. As soon as you started a film of humidity covered your skin. It just wasn't pretty. My allergies were going crazy. My legs felt like they were each a million pounds. But I had a goal and this time I was determined to cross that finish line. I signed up for the Houston Warm Up Series to help me stay on track.
Eventually the Houston heat gave way to some really beautiful running weather. I found ways to combat blisters the size of eggs on my feet, gave into having perpetually black toe nails (nothing a little nail polish can't fix...or at least hide), and got used to dragging my self out of bed bright and early Sunday mornings to get my long runs in.
It was on my last race of the Warm Up Series that it happened. About five miles in there was a sharp searing pain in my right knee. I stopped running and try to walk it off. The internal negotiation started. What could I do? I have a high pain threshold, I've broken bones and shed no tears. Its to the point where people don't believe there is actually anything wrong with me. I wanted to finish. I had to finish. This HAD to happen. So like the good little type A that I am I keep going through the next 13.6 miles. I ran through the pain, I slowed down from my normal pace, but I didn't listen to my body. I refused to give up.
Sure enough I crossed that finish line. I completed the 30K that was my longest run to date. I battled through the pain, got my medal, and thought I could just ice my knee back to health. I stayed off it for a week before I tried running again. It was a no go. A mile in the pain was back and as sharp as ever. Knee braces, icing, resting. Nothing worked. I'd wait and try again and the pain was always there.
Last Sunday, after a week of resting it, I tried to do a long run. After two miles I was done. I just couldn't. With the marathon two weeks away my yoga teacher training finally kicked in. Listen to your body. Listen. To. Your. Body!
It should have kicked in during the 30K. It did actually, its just my competitive side told it to shut up. So Sunday I listened. I stopped. I walked home and I went to the pool instead. I swam instead and my knee didn't hurt, but my heart did because I knew the changes of running the 2015 Houston Marathon were slim to none. Crushing my marathon goal was going to be pushed out another year. All that work was for nothing.
But thats just it. It wasn't for nothing. Yes I probably won't be running the Houston Marathon this year thats true, but I accomplished so much in training for it that its not actually a failure at all. I ran the longest race of my life, I learned what I was capable, and ultimately learned when to back off. I have no doubt that I'll cross running a marathon off my bucket list in the near future and when I do start training for it I'll have all the knowledge of what worked and what didn't this time to help me. So instead of being disappointed, instead of focusing on crossing something off my list, I'll chose to be happy with the journey instead.