It's been a few days since this past weekend's race and I'm still trying to gather my thoughts on how I feel about it. You see, it wasn't the race I trained to run. For the past several months I trained for the Ogden Marathon. And if you've read my posts from the last couple of months you'll remember how I struggled through it. Well just as I can gaining my confidence back, my knee started to feel weird. You go through as many injuries as I have and you get to know your body pretty well and I knew I was starting to have IT Band problems. It started about 3 weeks before the race, the week of my 22-mile run. I foam-rolled and stretch incessantly and went on feel pretty darn good during the 22-miler. But a few days after the 22-miler the dull ache returned. Not only that, my quads were thrashed from that long run - both not good for a downhill race.
I kept stretching and foam rolling hoping it would just work itself out, like a lot of these nagging aches and pains do. The week before the race I ran a 6-mile Tempo run. Although I hit my paces, I felt awful. I had to run wearing a compression knee brace, which I absolutely hate. I was frustrated and I could feel the anxiety that I had worked so hard to conquer creeping back. That Saturday I did a 10-miler run and it was one of the most awful runs I ever had. Although my leg did not feel any worse (it still felt the same), I had this mental battle in my head that left me in tears.
That afternoon I went to see The Avengers with my cousins and friends. As we sat in the theatre one of my cousins turned to me and said, "You are sitting in a movie theatre with an ice pack on your leg. Are you seriously still planning to run a marathon next Saturday?" And with that question, the battle that had taken place in my head was just verbalized. Defiantly I said, "Yes, I'll be fine by then" but deep down, I just didn't know.
In my head, I knew what the right thing to do was, but I just couldn't bring myself to make the decision. Despite all the struggles I had this training cycle, I still worked hard and hated to see it go to waste. It wasn't until the Monday of the race that my Coach suggested I not run it. My first reaction was, "I didn't do a 22-mile run for nothing!" but honestly? As soon as he said the words, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted of my shoulders. That evening I went out for a 7-mile run and felt the same dull pain again just a few miles into the run and knew that there wasn't anyway I could run a 26.2-mile race the way I wanted to. And although I was disappointed, surprisingly, I was at peace with the decision.
It just so happened that I was registered to run the inaugural Rock 'n Roll Portland Half Marathon the day after Ogden. I had registered a year in advance but had gotten race dates mixed up. I had thought it fell the week before Ogden and that I could have run it as a last training run for it. Turns out it was the day after Ogden and I had plans to spectate my relatives who were running it.
My Coach suggested flip-flopping the races so I could still run the Portland Half. Since I would be with my family, if anything injury-wise happened during the race, I would have people to support me after the race.
I still went to Ogden to support my dear friend Alyssa. We had registered for the race and made travel plans together and I wasn't about to let her travel out to Utah alone. My friend Aaron, who lives in Salt Lake City, was also running the half-marathon, his very first one, so I wanted to be there to support the both of them.
I was so glad that I did. The race was so charming. The expo was held in an old train station. There were live music and vendor booths both inside and outside of the train station. It was small and had such a "homely" feel to it. The race itself was so well organized and the Finish Line was spectator-friendly. The streets were lined with people clear up to the Finishing Chute and there were even grandstands at the Finish Line that were packed with spectators.
Many runners had friends and family members pace them down the final mile. From where I stood, I could hear the emotional final words being spoken before they tailed off and let their runner kick down to the finish solo. I got to see both Aaron and Alyssa finish amazing races. I am so proud of the both of them.
I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I made the right call not to run Ogden, but I left there excited and inspired to run it next year.
As for the Portland Half, that was an experience in and of itself and deserves it's own race report - coming soon!