Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chasing the dream - 3 weeks till Boston - "A change of strategy"

A change of strategy

Another week has clicked by, and clicked by quickly.  I can't believe I'm down to three weeks until race day.  The last week has been a challenging one, and I don't know if I would still be hanging in there if I was training for any other race than Boston.

Who am I kidding...of course I would. 

The danger of a potential stress fracture continues to cast a shadow on my Boston Marathon dreams.  This last week has been a week of marathon training....without actual running.  I don't understand how people can think that running is hard because I can barely think of anything harder than enduring an hour on the elliptical.  Elliptical, spin class, and cycling have been my means of keeping my fitness high without the impact that running exacts on my body. 

The many weeks of intense training have left me emotionally spent and walking a fine line between well-trained and over-trained.  My physiotherapist lent me an old, but great book written by 9-times Comrades trail race winner Bruce Fordyce called "Run the Comrades".  In it, Bruce outlines what to do and what to expect when training for The Comrades in South Africa.  He comments about the negative impacts of training including the moodiness that comes with spending many hours each week preparing for a race.  He calls his moody faze "the Fordyce prima donna syndrome".  I've been experiencing my own "prima donna" syndrome, and not being able to run is amplifying the grumpiness I feel.  I crave the open road - not the elliptical.  I want to feel the wind on my face - not the staleness of the gym air.  It's all I can do to remain focused and keep my heart rate in a place where the elliptical is helping my training - not wasting my time.

A new challenge - a new plan

The plan for the week was to lay off the running in hopes that a week of rest (well, not rest...just not running) would give my pelvis a chance to rest and recover from the strain of my training regiment.  Then,test my pelvis with a the regularly scheduled weekend long run.  My long run this week was Hamilton's "Around the Bay 30k" road race.  It was a race I've been wanting to run for a few years now, and although I finally got to run the course, it was no race for me.  The goal for "Around the Bay" was to run it carefully and see if I could fend off the pain for the entire 30kms.

I felt good this morning - I felt like it was going to be a good day, and that the week of rest would put me back onto my regular training plan.  It was crisp this morning, so layers were in order.  As I stood at the start line bundled in four layers on my torso and two layers on my legs, I looked more like I was going snowboarding than running a race.  After training outside all winter, I'm used to the layers, and I can run comfortably under layer upon layer upon layer.  The race started out well - I felt confident and I was inspired by the thousands of runners who surrounded me on Hamilton's streets.  My friend Sam and I ran swiftly through the throngs of runners - keeping an average 5:10/km pace.  The sun was shinning and everything felt perfect as we devoured the course, km after km.  Then, my worst fears came true.

The pain was back.

Shortly after the 20km mark, the pain in my groin begin to creep up.  It wasn't the worst pain I had ever felt, but it was a sign that the injury had not yet healed.  My heart began to sink.  As much as I wanted to keep running, the words of my physiotherapist, and threat of a fractured pelvis, encouraged me to swallow my pride and walk all of the remaining downhills to in an effort to keep the pain from escalating into a bigger problem.

I finished the race in 2:45 with an angry ITB and niggling discomfort in my groin.  The finishing time was much slower than my capability, but I was content with it because I knew Around the Bay wasn't the most important event in my running schedule.  I sacrificed Around the Bay for the sake of the Boston Marathon - an easy trade to be sure.  I'm sad that I felt the pain, but am still hopeful that Boston will be better.  I'm one week closer to living the dream.

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