Monday, October 27, 2008

#27a Pounding Pavement - Training

What an incredible experience! Training for a marathon was the hardest thing I have done in my life, both physically and mentally, but being there in Detroit, running those 42kms was truly the happiest 4:04 hours of my life. Here’s how it unfolded.

July 1st: Day one of training. I had a foundation of 15kms under my belt and had been resting my knees since the Around the Bay 30k the end of March but it was time to pick it up again. I joined a training group led by the wonderful Sherry Watts. She is an Olympic certified running coach and had a wealth of knowledge. I was by far the youngest person in the group, I think the next person was in her mid 40s, but they were all friendly and wanted to see me achieve my goals.

I trained hard through the hot summer months and was up at 6am to do my long runs on the weekend. I would do anything to beat the heat. It took a lot of running to figure out how best to keep my body strong while running over three hours. I had one training run that was 38k and my legs seized up with 10k to go. It was the most painful run I have experienced and I had a bit of a cry in the shower after while I iced my legs. And to think that in just six days I have to do a 40k. The very thought just drained me. This was going to be tough, but I was confident I had it in me to do it. Running is 75% mental. Your body can do amazing things if your mind has the confidence, determination and discipline to do it.

I did discover something beautiful while I was training. The Fanshawe Conservation Area 25k trail. I used this trail about three times during my training. It was gorgeous being out there at the crack of dawn, seeing the sun come up over the trees and watching early paddlers out on the lake. I loved being out there in God’s nature listening to sermons by Bruxy Cavey, a Relevant podcast, books and music to pass the time. Yes all of those in one run…they were long. What would I have done for four hours without my iPod? Thank you Steve Jobs!

My last long training run was a 40k, just 2k short of the full thing. It was a good run and I felt like I finally figured out the right combination of eating, drinking and pace. I finished that 40k in 4hrs and 15mins. Longer than I wanted to be, but my training had suffered as things picked up at work and I started taking an online marketing course. I just couldn’t be as consistent as I was in the summer. Instead of running four times a week I was just getting in three runs and sometimes not event that many.

Things would only get worse though. Two days after my 40k I had severe pain in my right foot. I was forced to stop running for over a week. I couldn’t even put my running shoes on because it was so painful. By the next Sunday I decided to go to the hospital and get an x-ray, I was terrified it was a stress fracture, something that would definitely put me out of running the marathon in two weeks. Thankfully it was not a fracture. The doctor said it was something to do with the soft tissue and that I needed to go easy. He even said something along the lines of me being really athletic, which was really strange to hear since I still have a hard time associating myself, the bookworm, the academic with being athletic.

So I took another five days off until I felt less pain in my foot. The marathon was in 11 days and I needed to get running again, for fear that I would have a horrible race. I did a short 3k, then a 10k two days later. My foot was feeling okay but not perfect. With lots of praying and ibuprofen I hoped to make it to the finish line in Detroit. I would finish even if I had to crawl.

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