The Tough Choices of Running

You’re gliding along, it’s the perfect day. Puffy white clouds fill the endless blue sky, a light breeze ruffles your hair as it guides you forward. Your shoes fly over theRunner's Relief  gravel path as your arms pump at your side. There are no other runners, and your legs feel like they could go on forever. Suddenly about six miles down the road your bliss vanishes. You start limping, favoring one side. Next thing you know, you crumple to the ground. When you finally regain your strength you find yourself walking (i.e. hobbling) to a place to call for help or back to your house.

Some of the scariest moments in a runner’s life are the ones that involve injury. I am here facing it. In January I took up marathon training. My first full shebang of running. The event that separates the men from the boys. [Okay, well maybe not all that, but still a pretty crazy thing for an asthmatic in less than perfect shape to do]. I wanted that 26.2 embedded in my memory for ever. Even if I never did another one. I wanted to do it once. And I wanted it to be my hometown marathon, no matter how much people said this one is unkind to newbies.

I trudged and suffered through the worst Buffalo winter in a while. Long runs, every Saturday without fail. My sweat was freezing to my face in icicles I couldn’t even get off my hat. I blasted my way through many a hip flexor complaint and through several pairs of shoes. My knees took a beating, as did my lungs, and I entered race month (May) with an unparalleled optimism. I was finally going to do it. Unfortunately waiting on the heels of the Grand Island Half (a simple training run), was a knee injury that brought me down. For almost two weeks now I have been working with a massage therapist and really trying to bring myself up to form. I feel stiff and clumsy. Like the last 5 months never happened. All my training appears gone.

So I sit with the decision. I emailed the race director and it is possible for me to drop to the half marathon. But here are some hard truths:

-I would miss my goal race.

-I would have to train for another 5 months for a fall marathon (probably toronto waterfront in october).

-My training would interfere with other races I planned for this year (including a 30K in August I have been looking forward to).

-I will probably never run the Buffalo marathon.

-I could injury myself all over again if I decided to do it.

I ran the Stella B Foundation 5K today with excellent form and very little pain. My time only a little slower than regular training time. It even felt good. I have 2 more sessions with my therapist before I race. I could very well be fully recovered by race day. The hard decision is if I should stick it out for the full or drop to a half and repeat the process all over again. The only thing that really concerns me is the course time limit. If I get out there and end up having to walk the last bunch of miles because of knee trouble, I’m screwed. There is a 6 hour course limit. Coming across under that was no concern until now. My real fear is coming up on that finish line and it is gone. Poof! No official time. No medal. No remembering that I suffered 26.2 to be a hometown champ.

Faced with injury and all the troubles I admit I am at a loss of what to do. The thought of starting all over again makes me angry and depressed. As well as this injury. What would you do if you had to choose?

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