When Your Best Effort Doesn't Seem Good Enough

I’m typing this as I sit on two bags of frozen vegetables.

This morning, I woke up a little bit on the late side. I had been looking forward to my long run (15 miles) for days now, since the half marathon last Sunday. Things were looking rosy after I took a bit of time off from running to ice my legs and recover.

I took three days off and started running/walking again:

  • Wednesday evening: 5.14 miles. Most of it was walking…I think I might’ve only ran about one or one and a half miles of the whole five. The rest of it was walking and it was with a friend. Energy: low. Morale: high. Pace: slower than usual. Felt: good.
  • Thursday morning: 2.84 miles. Most of it was running at a faster pace than usual. I got up early with Shant and did a quick tour around the neighborhood. Energy: high. Morale: high. Pace: faster than usual. Felt: good.
  • Saturday afternoon: 3.65 miles. All of it was walking along the Venice boardwalk after my LA Marathon/Roadrunners kickoff event. Energy: medium. Morale: high. Pace: slow. Felt: good.

Today I walked/ran a cumulative 10.04 miles. I decided to mix up my route a bit and took the route backwards to downtown instead of to the beach. I wanted to run to downtown, through it, and then back to my apartment. It looked great on paper and the distance was perfect for my training schedule, so I prepped for it. Shant was still here and wanted to come along for the 15 miles so he laced up his shoes and prepped his bike and we were on our way.

I made a point to stretch thoroughly and slowly, warm up, and go at a really slow pace. I was in it today for the distance, not the time. I made it to about four or five miles out before I started feeling that nagging uncomfortable feeling again in my right thigh. It comes on gradually. One foot in front of the other for a block or two and suddenly something gets tight. It then increasingly gets more and more difficult to put that opposing foot farther in front of you. After awhile it seemed as though I had to stop for a stretching break at every light. I tried not to look at my RunKeeper to check out my pace but had I known that I was pulling a 15-minute mile (my usual is between 11-13 minutes) I would’ve known earlier that something was wrong.

I took Beverly all the way down to the bridge before Beaudry. I had to cut around the side streets since the sidewalk abruptly ended. Most of the trek was uphill all the way to the Disney Concert Hall and then it was downhill to Olive and Broadway. I took a right at Broadway and pulled out my phone so that I could text Shant to see where he was. (He bikes a block or two ahead since he goes at a faster pace on his bike.) He was at the next intersection, but by the time I got there, I was already in pretty bad shape. Tearing up, I told him that my leg was hurting again and that I wasn’t sure what to do. We were a long ways from home and I didn’t bring my wallet, but he did. (Thank goodness!) We stumbled upon Grand Central Market and went in to find a place to sit and thankfully, came across a Chinese masseuse.

Shant ran off to find an ATM so that I could get a few minutes in. The masseuse definitely knew what he was doing. By the time I was done I had nearly cried three or four times but it felt much more relaxed. I felt that at least I could walk the 7 or so miles back to get the distance in. Shant had somehow finagled a cheap merchant to give him a bag of ice so that I could rest for a half hour before we headed back. He did a good job at trying to cheer me up as I sat there moping.

We decided that it was time to head out so we went back onto Broadway and took a right on Sixth Street. The street narrows a bit so we headed to Wilshire and began heading home. I tried to jog a bit but only made it a few miles until I had to stop again. My right leg was throbbing again but now my left leg was tensing up. Things weren’t looking too hot and even walking was getting unbearable, so I flagged Shant down and we hopped a bus back home. The bus dropped us about a mile out, so we took a leisurely stroll through my neighborhood to get back home. As soon as I got there, he prepped the shower and bathtub for an ice bath. During my bath I was flipping through one of my old Runner’s World magazines and came across a cauliflower mac and cheese recipe and we decided to make it for dinner. It was delicious!

Despite a fairly good end to a pretty crappy day, I can’t remember the last time a 10-miler felt…unaccomplished. With the rate I’m going, I’m trying really hard to make sure I’m in good enough shape to make it to Athens, but doubt has really began to creep in. I’ll need to re-evaluate my training schedule between now and November to make sure that I can hit my targets and that I can finish safely and without injury. Now’s probably a good time to double-down on my acupuncture visits, massage appointments, and sleep/school/work schedule. At my peak I was running 40 miles a week. Now at 20 I feel like I’m slacking off and accomplishing nothing.

I’m also starting to debate whether or not I should skip the LA Triathlon this year so that I can just focus on my marathon training. It’s a shame — I’ve really been looking forward to it. It’s only 14 days away but I wonder if I can do a lot more damage by pushing myself through a multi-sport race. You could argue that I could take the event slow, but I know myself and I know that I’ll want to push as hard as I can. I’m asking myself a lot of questions…

  1. Would I regret not doing the LA Triathlon? Probably.
  2. Will it exacerbate my injuries? Most likely.
  3. Would I prefer the LA Triathlon over the Athens Marathon? I’m not sure. The LA Triathlon is here at home so there’s less stress. I’ve always wanted to go to Europe and I wanted to do it in a big way…so this is it.

So now, I’m sitting on two bags of ice, polishing off a glass of wine, and thinking about the next couple of months and what it looks like. My LA Marathon training group starts next week. It’s definitely going to effect my training to have to run double-duty until November. (Group training on Saturdays and then long runs on Sundays.) It’s been more than a week since I’ve hit the pool or a bike. The triathlon is 14 days away and I haven’t made a decision yet but it’s weighing heavily on my mind. I need to make a decision — is the LA Triathlon more important than the Athens Marathon? If I had to choose, which one would I pick?

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