Running roll turned to running halt. It's happened before and it has happened again. Only now, I feel different than I ever have before. At about 3.5 weeks in, the yearning and burning returns. The gun went off this morning and I was not on the starting line. There was no taper, there was no pre- race meal, no agonizing over every split of every mile, no checking the weather every minute, no laying out race day clothes, and no jitters to push through the pain of the last 6 Miles.
3 weeks ago, I embarked on my last 22 Miler at exactly race start time on the exact course. The wind was calm, the air was cool, my niggles had ceased and I was hitting the progression paces of this last rehearsal perfectly. As I ran, I could imagine race day running not much faster than I was now and feeling the strides and foot fall of every step. As I crested a hill at Mile 11, the searing pain shot up my foot. No no no... This is not happening. A little stretch, two more steps, nope. One more stretch, two more steps, hell no.
There it went.... Weeks of 4:15 a.m. Mornings doggedly schlepping to the track to surprise my self that I actually could hit the three by three mile workout despite my exhaustion. I was on task, but the mornings were wearing. Stress came at me at every angle possible, mental and physical, and my job had been grinding without stopping. Sign?!? Yes, but me being me, I push on. 85,87,94,83 miles per week, respite was near but not close enough. Runners can push, and push.... And push. A blessing and curse. This time a curse.... And a blessing. My body gave me an order, it had enough. As soon as the pain seared, I knew the all too familiar feeling of a stress fracture. The tears streamed down my face and the reality hit, I was not going to make it to my goal race. 11 Miles out of town, my thumb went up, I robotically stepped into a ranchers car, made polite conversation and continued to cope while holding back sobs.
I knew just what to do, I could bike, swim, and aqua jog... Enjoying what Steamboat has to offer. This was different than last time, I had done this before and this break from the pressure was almost a relief. This was no longer an added component to the amounting stress at work and I could focus on different aspects of my life. While I have somewhat welcomed the 'no running' with open arms the past three weeks... My arm are closed now. My foot feels better (not healed) and I want to get back out there. So as my marathon goes off without me, I know there are more. I will slowly jump back onto the racing bandwagon, marathon or not, and continue to test my limits in the competitive world.
If I had made it this far ( without injury), what would this marathon have looked like. All factors, point to thumbs down. So in a way, I saved myself from the disappoint and gave myself a chance to test myself in a time where external stresses aren't at their peak. Perspective returns and lesson are learned, but dreams of running shoes have returned. While biking has been an accepted challenge, my legs year for the pavement. Soon enough legs, soon enough.