For the past several weeks, I have been living in denial about the Boston Marathon . At first, I convinced myself that the pain I was feeling in my knee was just something minor that I would get over within a week. It didn’t matter that it hurt to even walk — all I needed was a few days and I’d be as good as new.
After all, I had big plans for Boston. Plans that included running with some speedymarathoners and chasing down an aggressive PR. And did not include being sidelined due to a stupid injury that came out of nowhere. Even though I’ve been doing this running thing for long enough to know better, a big part of me believed I could will myself to not be truly injured. …because we all know that’s how our bodies work.
But as the pain stuck around and my peak week turned into one week of doing absolutely nothing…and then two…all hopes of a PR went out the window. I let go of that dream and just focused on being able to run again. My sole goal became to finish the race. I figured that as long as I could get myself healthy before Boston, I should be able to handle 26.2, regardless of how slow it ended up being.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. Despite a constant stream of anti-inflmmatory meds coursing through my veins, extra rest, ice and stretching, my stupid knee still isn’t healed. After an unsuccessful run on Monday in which I was both in pain and painfully out of shape, I realized it was time to stop deluding myself.
It was time to admit that I would not be running the Boston Marathon in 2012.
I am not going to pretend that I accepted this gracefully, rationally, and without tears. I know that I’m not the only runner in the history of the world that has needed to drop out of a big race due to injury, nor am I the only one who will be stuck on the sidelines in Boston. I also know that there are other things in life besides Boston and running. And that I have many things to look forward to at the moment.
But there’s something about having a goal that you’ve been working toward for so long taken away from you that erases all rationality. The fact that this is just one bad thing in the midst of a very exciting spring didn’t matter. For awhile, it became all consuming.
Which means that, naturally, I thought a lot about how I would write about my ultimate decision to drop out of the race. At first, I planned to post about how non-runners just don’t understand. How they don’t really grasp that you can put so much of your heart and soul into running. How the fact that “it’s just one race” often has no bearing on how devastating an injury can be. How they don’t realize that it’s not just about the exercise running provides — it’s about my sense of self. It’s about feeling strong, in shape, and confident. And it’s about loving – no, thriving off - the challenge of always striving to be stronger, faster, better.
Many people direct those emotions toward their career. For me, however, it’s always been about my running. It may seem silly, since I will never be fast enough to run professionally…or even on a semi-elite level. I know that I won’t be taking home huge trophies or winning race money anytime soon. But that doesn’t change the fact that running challenges me in a way that nothing else does. So when I can’t do it, well, I’m just not completely myself.
I thought about writing all that in what probably would have come off as a whiny, self-entitled, “woe is me” kind of post. Because even though those things are true, after a little bit of reflection, it became clear that it was me who needed a little bit of perspetive, not those other people.
Injuries suck. There’s no way around that. They are frustrating, depressing, and can make you feel powerless and question yourself as a “real”runner. But — injuries happen. Most runners are forced to deal with injury at some point in their career. Most of the time, this is not the end of the world. You skip a couple of races, lay low for a little while, and then, before you know it, you’re on the road again.
Do I wish I were running Boston? Heck yes (although at this point even running at all sounds amazing). Am I entitled to a little sadness because I’m not? I would say yes again. But do I have the right to mope around, snap at my loved ones and act like my world has ended?
Ummm…no. I have said it in the past and need to remind myself of it now – There is more to marathoning than the Boston Marathon. And there is a whole lot more to life than marathoning.
So on Monday morning, instead of running as far away from Boston as I possibly can, I plan to be back where I was last year — on the sidelines, screaming my lungs out. Allowing myself to be inspired by all the talent around me, and dreaming of one day being back on the course myself. Cursing the world as I push harder, faster, stronger than ever before.
Good luck to everyone running on Monday!! I will be with you in spirit!