The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, during which I will be running the half marathon, is in less than a month. 26 days, 20 hours and some odd minutes to be exact. And I just had the worst week of training I’ve had since I began back in January.
My husband is not coming to the race.
If you know me and/or us together, you know that we are a team. We get all Jerry McGuire up in here and do that super cheesy thing of completing each other. Speaking just on my behalf, he pulls me back down to Earth when I get all lost in the space and anxiety of my head; he grounds me. He pushes me and encourages me. He supports me like no one else; he believes in me. He has been my rock through the dark days of training for this race, offering me encouragement and chocolate milk and, one time, a Bloody Mary. He rubs my sore legs and feet. He makes dinner when I’m running something ridiculous like twelve miles. He makes me snacks when it’s obvious I haven’t consumed enough calories in the wake of a long run. He tucks me into bed when I am just too tired to stay up past nine o’clock.
And he’s not coming.
To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. It felt like a crushing blow to my self-esteem when we finally figured out that he could not be on the sidelines holding up de-motivational posters to make me smile as I ran by. He won’t be there to deal with traffic getting to the expo and the hotel. He won’t be there to walk through the busy expo with me. He won’t be there to help me wake up the morning of the race. He won’t be there to get the coffee or help me get some breakfast. He won’t be there to calm me down before the start of the race. And, most disappointing, he won’t be there after I cross the finish line to celebrate with me; to celebrate my hard work and the time I’ve spent out running on the road and away from him and the kids. He won’t be there.
Like a kick to the gut, I tell you.
The reasons as to why aren’t necessarily important but involve a mixture of work related issues and things involving children. Despite the fact that I rationally understand and accept the existence of conflicts in schedule as part of being a family unit, the whole thing still stings.
After a cry in the shower and putting on my big girl panties, I started to get used to the idea.
And then came the set back.
I felt a twinge in my back on Wednesday. I shrugged. On Thursday, I woke up and couldn’t move.
For those who are newer readers, I had a debilitating back injury in 2010. In July of 2012, after treatments from a chiropractor, physical therapy, an MRI, and involving a neurosurgeon, I had a series of steroid shots in my back — and for the first time in a year and a half, I was finally pain free. In mid-August, I slowly started running again — and the rest is history, viewable on my Runkeeper account.
And so the pain wasn’t a mystery. I knew it well. I sucked in my breath and stared at the ceiling from my wrenched-back position in bed and knew: My shot had worn off. I had run out of time. The pain was back with less than a month until my first half marathon.
Devastated doesn’t cover it.
I spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday wallowing in both pain and pity. Big time. I cried a lot, both out of physical and mental anguish. Any time I would have a moment where my lower back didn’t feel horrific, I dared to have hope… only to have it crushed shortly after moving to a new position. I didn’t run. I didn’t get on the elliptical. I didn’t walk. My husband and I agreed that I needed to rest. And so when I wasn’t working or sitting outside with the boys, I was on the couch or in bed. Moping. “After all this work I’ve done, I’m not going to get to run. I’ll gain all of the weight back that I lost that I originally gained when my back was hurt last time and I’ll just be a miserable human being again.” Yes, I was in that place. Possibly even worse, but we don’t need to go there.
On Sunday, I got up — still in a lot of pain. But I got dressed anyway. Feeling a little better, we went to church. On the sunny, warm drive home, I got over myself a little bit. Then after lunch, I took a short nap. Upon waking up, I decided to fully get over myself.
Yes, this stinks. Yes, it’s a set back. Yes, I’ve worked hard. Yes, I have pain. Yes, it’s unfair. But life goes on.
I called my pain doctor this morning and left a message. I’m hopeful that I won’t need a brand new MRI as it hasn’t been a year since my last series of shots. I’m hopeful their response won’t be, “Well, go see your neurosurgeon first,” because my neurosurgeon just retired. Two weeks ago. I kid you not. I’m also hopeful that I’ll wake up tomorrow and my back will feel like it did two weeks ago: just fine. Some of these things seem doubtful, but hope in the face of adversity is really the only option.
And so, back to training for this half marathon.
I ran last night. Three slow miles. The only time my back doesn’t seemingly hurt? When I’m running. At least when I’m running slowly. Maybe it’s the stick-straight, Forrest Gump type posture I have learned to run with because of my back injury. Maybe it’s the endorphins. Maybe it’s God. I don’t know, but I’m not complaining. That said, last week was a recovery week, so I only missed one four mile run. This week was supposed to be a normal week (2, 5, 2, 11) — the last of such before the race as my taper begins next week. I am ditching this week’s training plan and hoping to run another recovery week (3, 3, 3, 4) with total rest days in between every run, more than one if necessary. I am now approaching my training from a “Day at a Time” point of view. I have to; I suppose it goes back to the lesson of learning to be flexible. I don’t quite know if I’ll be able to get any long runs in before the half. I don’t quite know if I’ll be able to run the whole half at this point. I’m pretty sure that my mantra of “don’t worry about speed, just concentrate on finishing” is even more true this week than it was when I first began. I do know that I will be there, giving my best — whatever that is at the present time.