The best motivation – telling me I can’t.
“Stay afraid, but do it anyway.” – Carrie Fisher
I signed up for Marine Corps Marathon on March 29th. I was only up to running 3 miles since my injury comeback, and I had seven months to get up to 26.2 and my first full marathon. My physical therapist was not thrilled that I signed up, and someone I considered hiring as a coach told me it could not/should not be done. There would probably be setbacks, he said. You don’t want to rush things. You’re only running three miles. Saying that to me was a mistake.
I set my mind on the race and decided to get serious and grind. I hired a personal trainer and a coach. A different coach than the one that told me it shouldn’t be done. I continued to push the envelope with strength training - something that I was not doing last fall. I forced myself to listen to my physical therapist and get on the RumbleRoller after every single run. Little by little, the lingering symptoms went away. And when soreness did come back, it only lasted a few hours or a day. And soon, there was no soreness. I went out on longer runs, finally hitting my magic 6 mile mark that I swore would mean I was out of the woods (thank you Taylor Swift). I ran a few 5Ks, didn’t race them, but was still running at a respectable pace. Finally, I signed up for my first half of the season: The Pottstown Half marathon which is a local, hilly race in July that somehow always ends up being on the hottest and most humid day of the summer. Our run club regrettably does it every year and I figured it would be a good gauge to see where I’m at.
Coach and I discussed goals. My plan was to finish and run it as a training run at an easy pace. 9:30? Maybe pushing it to 9:00? It didn’t really matter to me. The end goal was Marine Corps. She suggested possibly going after a course PR (1:58) and I thought it might be possible (while in the same breath thinking she was nuts and I didn’t want to push it that hard).
It was a hot morning but not awful. The hardest thing is the hills. It’s about 500 feet of elevation gain and they are all mostly short, steep climbs, switchbacks on neighborhood roads equivalent to trail switchbacks. I set out much faster than I planned, about 8:20 for the first three miles. I realized I was never going to last at those paces and reeled it back in to a more comfortable pace right around 8:45. The first ten miles flew by. The last three were understandably a death march since by then it was hot and I was over the hills. I finished in 1:53:38 (8:41/mi) and somehow managed 3rd in my division. I was thrilled and tired.
A few days later I was still sore, feeling as if it was my first half marathon I’ve ever ran. It’s kind of like starting over when you take so much time off with an injury – a good and a bad thing. Every race was going to be a first again and was also going to FEEL like a first. But I did it. I made it back and I’m halfway to the marathon with three months to go. Don’t tell me I can’t do something. Or actually, go ahead and tell me. It will just add fuel to the fire! I should probably thank that coach for the motivation.