Friday, June 4, 2010

Training for a Marathon is a...Marathon!

I'm sitting with my right knee wrapped tightly in ice...and I feel real good!

Almost four months ago, on February 8, I began training for my first marathon. Now, immediately upon reading that, some of you are probably thinking, "Timmy just ran a marathon!" If that's describes'd be wrong.

My marathon date is still set for July 18 at the Massey Friendly Marathon in...Massey.

Now, when I added "Run a Marathon" to my Dare2Dream list back in January, many people figured I had bitten off more than I could chew. A common question was, “Why don’t you run a half marathon?” My answer was simple.

"Nobody dreams of running a half marathon!"

Look, I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I was excited…until I ran my first 6k. Then I was scared to death! Seriously, I’d only survived one-seventh of a marathon and I thought I was going to die. One-seventh! "This is crazy!" I thought, as I was dry heaving into the toilet.

But, on March 28, I cracked the quarter mark. In fact, I ran 10k twice that week and everything seemed to be progressing rather nicely.

On April 17, I circled my community three and a half times and celebrated I was sore and tired but I had just logged 17 freakin' kilometres and was absolutely ecstatic! I was right on my training schedule and thinking the sky was the limit!

However, over the next month, due to various scheduling conflicts, I didn't run as much as I would have liked. Despite the slow down, I was still looking forward to my May 16 long run. It would be my first attempt at 21k (a half marathon) which, although not a “dream”, was definitely a big milestone.

The evening before the big day, I loaded up on carbs and got to bed early. The next morning I woke up, ate a light snack, grabbed my bottle of coconut water (a very refreshing drink, I must say) and headed off.

For the first 45 minutes everything seemed normal, until I started hearing my right knee whisper, over and over again, "I don't like this". I tried to ignore it, but at the 9k mark Knee screamed, "I'm done!"

I took one more step and quickly realized that a second step would see me lying on the sidewalk. I reluctantly (but wisely) stopped, turned around and slowly walked another 3k before hopping (literally) on a streetcar to take me home…devastated!

As I sat in my bed wrapped in more ice, I couldn't help but think that the dream to run a marathon was done. My cardio seemed strong and my muscles seemed loose, but maybe my knee simply couldn’t handle that much running.

Not willing to give up completely, I planned to give the knee some rest and try again in a weeks time. But, with my momentum (and, quite possibly, spirit) broken, one week quickly turned into two…and two weeks became 18 days.

This morning, I ran again. And believe me that’s a victory in itself, because I think I was starting to deliberately highjack the dream by delaying my restart. Anyways, after giving myself a swift kick in the pants, I headed down to the boardwalk with a plan to essentially start over. I would try to run 5k and then…see what happens.

When I set foot on the boardwalk, I took a deep breath, started my stopwatch and broke into a slow jog. Not knowing how long the boardwalk was, but having a rough idea of my regular running pace, I did some early calculations based on my clock and figured I would need to run it three times in order to reach the distance where my knee gave out last time.

Since I was feeling a little driven, I changed the plan from 5k to 9k and at some point between those distances, I changed the plan again. With a fresh burst of, “You Can Do It!” attitude I decided I was going to run until I couldn’t run anymore…or 21k, whichever came first.

Three lengths of the boardwalk. Four lengths. Five lengths.

As I began my 6th length, I said to myself, “A marathon is FAR! What am I thinking!?” Now, I don’t know if it’s a mind over body thing, but soon after that my knee started to speak up as well. But, I pressed forward determined to finish the length and I’ll be honest with you, the last 10-minutes were a fight…but I made it.

Three complete laps of the boardwalk. 2 hours 4 minutes 37 seconds.

I called the house to see if someone could start running a freezing cold bath and limped home. Outside, I looked beaten. Inside, I was…over the moon!

After soaking in the tub (which was VERY cold!), I stretched and went online to find out how far I had run. Depending on who you talk to, the boardwalk is either 3k or 3.5k end to end. That means that I ran a total of 18k or 21k.

I’ll find out for sure, but for now…it doesn’t really matter. I know for sure that I ran farther than I’ve ever run, and I ran it with a determination that I will admit is not apart of my regular make-up. That’s why this Dare2Dream journey is so important to me.

You see, in the past I always gave up when things got difficult. I always looked for the easy route. I always “hid my glove”. (SeeRegrets? I Prefer "Life Lessons"). So, today, the ice pack is like a badge of honour and I wear it proudly.

Ultimately, my knee may never allow me to run the distance of a marathon but I have seven weeks and new found determination to find out.

Daring to Dream,

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