The problems began almost immediately after I posted my last blog. And by problems, I don’t mean the disappointment of not getting into New York via the lottery.
No. As disappointing as that was, these were real problems, and the consequences are still haunting me. They were enough to make me dread running, and my silence here has been the direct result of running-induced depression. The worry I expressed at the beginning of the previous post–that this year could be a huge let down–became eerily prophetic of the first few months of this year.
I am still not sure exactly how the problems started. It could have been the intensity of the modified program I was trying to run and the extra punishment it was having on my body. It could have been hanging on to my shoes too long–I land on my heels and wear them down very quickly, so the increased mileage from the program could have accelerated the wear and changed my gait. It could have been a lack of attention to pre-run stretching or post-run recovery. Or it could have been the cumulative effects of all or some of the above.
Whichever it was, by the first week of April, just two months out from Burlington, I began to develop a pain in my right hip that became more and more intense, affecting my groin and the inside of the knee. I took a couple of days off in week 11 hoping that the rest would help, but the pain never seemed to go away no matter what I did.
The following week, my partner Tessa and I took a quick vacation in the Outer Banks. In any other spring, training runs in the spring warmth would have been a welcome relief from battling the New York winter cold. But the 10-mile runs up and and down Virginia Dare Trail became ordeals. Every day, I felt like an old man during the first mile, shuffling slowly and painfully as I tried to get all my body parts to work together and move up through the gears. Eventually, as the miles wore on, legs and hips and brain and lungs all started to cooperate and the pain seemed to retreat into the background.
Until the next run.
Meanwhile, my times were erratic and slow. The 9-mile tempo run scheduled for that week came in at an 8:34 pace–still a half a minute off my Burlington BQ goal. Whatever optimism that run generated faded by the end of the week after a disastrous 12-mile interval run that began promisingly and ended in walks and a 9:30 pace.
But I kept on going, trying to keep the Boston dream alive into the first week of May and the 10-mile Mountain Goat run, which I had chosen as my tune-up race. For my previous marathons, I had picked 1/2 marathon tune-ups, but what the Goat lacked in miles, I reasoned, it more than made up for in elevations. A good, fast time here on such a tough course would set me up well for the final weeks of the program.
In the end, I came close to the time I wanted. But at a price I wasn’t prepared to pay.