Eighth marathon finish (third consecutive Chicago Marathon finish); 4:26:45 overall timing; 10:10 pace.
On the evening of Monday, June 11, 2012, I left the house enroute to Walgreen’s to pick up some strapping tape, assuming that I’d be back home in about 5 minutes or so.
It had been a fabulous day working with an awesome client who’d traveled from Grand Rapids, Michigan and the positiveness of that experience carried over to the evening.
On a typical day, I might have saved the “Walgreen’s tape trip” for the following day or even ordered the product from Amazon, but not that Monday, the day had been too good, “let’s get the tape today.”
So I ventured out, walking to the end of the block as always, and saw Walgreen’s across the street. Then the light turned green and I walked across the wheelchair indentation on the sidewalk when suddenly I heard a pop and my right calf started to burn.
Within seconds, I could no longer walk normally, and had to hop on my left leg to get across the street and not hold up traffic.
Eventually, I found a quiet spot near the Walgreen’s parking lot and I started to massage my right calf, hoping it was just a charley horse or something minor.
It didn’t help.
So I decided to make the trek back home (Skipping Walgreen’s), this time having to hop back on my left leg, a journey that took 20 minutes, instead of the usual 2.
The following day, I visited the emergency room to have my leg x-rayed and examined, but not without great worry before hand. I’d been injured before in 2008 and 2009 and didn’t want to relive those days again.
Thankfully, the examining doctor had good news for me: nothing was broken and I hadn’t blown anything out; suffering from a third-degree calf strain, likely caused from an imbalance when I walked on the wheelchair cut-in on the sidewalk. A fluke occurrence.
However, the price of the “fluke” was likely to be steep. The physician’s general prognosis for this injury was a 3-4 month recovery, because time is normally the best cure for a calf strain.
Immediately, any upcoming event plans I had for Summer, 2012 were out the window. The Jim Gibbons 5k on June 14th–OUT; the San Francisco Marathon on July 29th–OUT; the Chicago Half Marathon on September 9–likely OUT.
That left the Chicago Marathon on October 7th and the New York City Marathon on November 4th as possibilities based on medical and recovery reality.
But, it wasn’t easy at first.
I could barely walk the first week, struggling to walk a few blocks and wincing in pain during every step. After about 2 weeks, the pain started to subside and I was able to incorporate some cycling work into my rehab, eventually returning to running (slow as a chuck wagon) on July 3rd.
I had very high hopes during my initial return to running as July moved forward, but eventually, my left leg (the good one) started to become sore because it had borne the brunt of the load since my calf injury.
So by early-August, I’m limping and wincing again, this time on my left side; frustrating me to death, but the doctor had warned me that “compensation” injuries are normal in recovery and they factor that into the conservative prognosis timing they give to patients.
Thankfully, the second-wave of limping and wincing lasted about 10 days and I went back to my program emphasizing LSD (long slow distance) work, which has been my weakness in training for marathons in recent years.
As the weeks moved forward, 5-mile long runs became 10, then 13.1, then 20, even running 26.2 miles two weeks before the marathon.
When I lined-up in Corral D for the 2012 Chicago Marathon, I was supremely-confident that I’d get through my 8th marathon.
After running in 91-degree weather at Boston on April 16th and braving a second 80-degree-plus marathon in Chicago in 2011, the mercury predicted to be in the 40′s during race morning smiled upon us with a gentle sunshine, no rain, and perfect marathon conditions.
I’ve also run this course before and don’t have the deer-in-the-headlights approach to marathoning that I had a few years ago.
The only things that concerned me were the “unexpected variables” that don’t appear until you run the race.
So let’s run the race.
The first mile of the event was like floating on air. I ignored the hot-dogs darting around me trying to find a primo running lane; that wasn’t my game today; New York’s in 4-weeks and I wanted to run in a “real marathon” to prepare for it.
When 9:38 flashed on the Garmin for mile-1, I smiled and calmly started working on mile-2, where I registered a 9:20, remaining in the mid-nine pace range until mile-15.
The run-like-Buddha strategy worked like a charm in the first half of the event, I was feelin’ good and even took time to look for friends like @Andrea K, who devotedly has cheered us on for the past two Chicago marathons, members of my gym who were stationed to the east of Andrea, as well as the road crew from Open Heart Magic, and @David P at mile-24, who lifted my spirits during the closing leg of the event.
However, reality set in around mile-15 when my left foot became sore for the first time in a marathon this year; followed by my right foot in mile-18.
My pace formerly in a comfortable mid-9 range started to fade to 10:25 by the 30k mark, 11:03 by 35k, and 11:45 by 40k, before rallying for 9:39 in the closing half mile.
I also realized that my pre-event carb-up cycle was way too shallow and I was out-of-gas in the closing 10-miles of the event.
So I have our marching orders for New York: replace my marathon shoes (wore them for Boston and Chicago) and store more glycogen.
A favorable weather forecast would also be helpful as well. :o)
Long story short, I’m grateful to have run the 2012 Chicago Marathon and gain positive feedback that I can use in New York next month.
Yesterday’s performance was almost 9 minutes from my PR for the distance and nearly 27-minutes away from going sub-4, but I ran the event cleanly, never had to stop once, and was able to finally enjoy a marathon that’s earned a reputation of being a bit of a slug-fest due to hot weather conditions in recent years.
And yes, I finally picked up the strapping tape from Walgreen’s. Walkin’ and limpin’ to the store the day after my injury, because the show must go on.
The next show is in the Big Apple on November 4. See ya then.