To Run or Not to Run – NYC Marathon

I was scrolling through the internet looking for a picture that captures the current relationship between my legs and my brain.

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..also Mind – “Be smart!!!

…anddd also Mind – “Ugh that line so irritating. What IS smart.”

If you couldn’t tell from the snippet of inner dialogue that is nonstop over here, the decision to run NYC was not as easy as deciding to run Big Sur.  I have gone back and forth everyday since Chicago.  Just when I accepted the idea that NYC may not be in the cards for this year because recovery has been rough…I had a pretty good run that changed my entire mindset.  

The rough recovery after Chicago started almost immediately.  I was nauseous all afternoon after the race and my back and feet were killing.  The soreness in my legs hadn’t started yet but my back was immediately jacked up to the point where any sneeze, cough or burp would result in the most horrific/ugly pain face in public.

I continued to use my Normatec boots after walking around the city and was hoping to wake up with decent legs. Nope. My quads were destroyed.  We had an early flight and were home by 10am so I attempted a trip to the grocery store.

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This child and I had very similar experiences.

I spent the week foam rolling, getting deep tissue massages and just hoping and wishing for the soreness to be gone.  I wasn’t sore for very long after Boston and Big Sur so by day 4 of soreness I was like WHAT IS GOING ON!

I attempted a light strength training session on Saturday and felt confident that Sunday would be the day I attempt my first short run.  I slept in and was taking my sweet time making it out the door…until my Mom called asking me to bring something to the race that she was timing.  Naturally, my first reaction was, I might as well just jump into the 5k seeing as I will be there, it is supporting a great cause and my shakeout run was only going to be 3 miles anyway.  I headed to the start line and made my way to the back with all the young kids.  Do my legs remember how to do this???

In the first 5 minutes, I could feel that high hamstring ache that I thought I had put to rest back in September.  I ignored it because I pretty much knew this run wasn’t going to be pleasant from the second I put my sneakers on and because this ache has reared its annoying face many times before.  I finished that race and knew that my legs were not ready for more running yet so the following week I swam and did strength classes at Train for Life.  I tried out the new hybrid strength class for the first time on the Monday after the race.  It was not one of my best decisions because the soreness set in almost instantly.  The knots in my quads and hamstrings that I had spent the previous week working out had knotted back up.  Such a vicious cycle…..but I did like the class!!

Long story short, I tried to run a couple more times in the following week and they were all very slow and uncomfortable.  I went into the third week post Chicago ready to take NYC off the table.  I had set Tuesday’s run as the deciding factor but my legs were tired before I even got out the door from heavy strength sessions over the weekend.  Even though my heart was telling me to just call it, I gave myself ONE more attempt.  I took Wednesday completely off to give my tired legs some extra recovery and made Thursday’s run the real test.  I woke up Thursday to pouring rain which made me laugh at how much of a sign this all was.  I felt like the signs were SCREAMING at me and I was like ..

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I set out in the rain just waiting for it to feel terrible.  I was at the point where it seemed easier to have a crappy run, pull out from the race and move on. Simple as that. No more stress. But to my surprise – actually I am not surprised that everything became more complicated – the run was enjoyable and I felt pretty strong and bada** running in the rain.

Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic to finally feel a little like myself again, but this meant that NYC was now fair game after spending a good amount of time wrapping my head around my decision to bail on it.

My optimism for NYC grew more on Sunday after a solid 9 mile run along the Cape Cod Marathon course while my friend ran her FIRST MARATHON!  The run felt pretty good and I had minimal ache in my high hamstring after.  I ran another few miles this past week and it felt even better than all my other decent runs.  The race is 3 days away and as of now, I am following my usual taper week schedule, still have my hotel room booked and my travel plans are becoming more detailed and concrete.  But if you were to ask me if I am running NYC, I am likely to respond, “Ohhhhh I dunnoooooo.”  I am pretty sure you could text me the morning of the race as I am heading to start line and my response will be the same.  I am not indecisive at all. No way. Not me.

I am a pretty superstitious person which makes blogging before a race very nerve-racking.   I am always afraid I am going to jinx myself the second I post it.  This post has been sitting in my drafts since Monday.  SO…I am going to end this blog post saying that I am excited, nervous and happy for what is in store for whatever I do this weekend.  I want to explore New York City on foot, feel the amazing energy from the crowd and meet up with college friends.  I have zero expectations and just hope to have a solid marathon.  NYC has always been on my bucket list for years and I was fortunate enough to have run a half marathon time in 2016 that guaranteed me a number for 2017 NYC Marathon.   I do not have a 2018 guaranteed entry time so I will not be eligible for NYC next year.

This opportunity is something I can’t seem to pass up.   I have spent the last few weeks really listening to my body and listening to the signs it has been giving.  I have been trying to decipher between typical tired marathon legs and a brewing injury.  Not an easy task EVER but especially difficult now because I am simultaneously tapering…and we all know taper pains are vicious and real/not actually real.  I did my best to take care of myself and ditch any running ‘plan’ after Chicago so I could focus on recovery.  Prepared or not, we all go into races blind and unsure of how it is going to unfold so here is to another race where all I can do is hope for the best!

It has been 3 great years focusing on the marathon and falling in love with the distance but I think 2018 will be a year of shorter distances and different goals.  I look back at some of my 10k and half marathon PRs and can’t fathom cranking out those times.  I want to prove to myself in 2018 that those times are possible again.  I can’t think of a better way to close put a bookmark in this marathon chapter of my running career than on the streets of New York City.

…but I am registered for Boston 2018 so if I DO follow through with that then disregard that last paragraph 😉


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