It occurred to me when I started crying because walking the dogs felt so. freaking. overwhelming that maybe something more than a little training fatigue was going on. That was Saturday before last (the 11th). I had been feeling drained the entire week prior but thought maybe it was just a result of being in my peak weeks of training. I’m embarrassed to say how long it took me to realize that this didn’t feel like normal exercise tiredness. This felt like that time in college that I was diagnosed with an iron deficiency.
I had taken the day off of training, partially due to how drained I felt and partially due to attending a friend’s wedding, so on the way back from the wedding, I picked up some iron pills with the hope that maybe it would help. And it did, a little bit. Enough that I was able to get in a decent long run the next day-not quite as long as I would have liked but certainly much longer (18 miles) than I would have been able to do even a day before.
So I had my iron pills and was feeling less depleted. I’d been able to get in a good quality long run, even if it wasn’t quite the mileage I wanted. And then I had one week and one more weekend of long runs and then that was it. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Ultramarathon training over and nothing left to do but compensate for the taper crazies by eating ice cream until start time on November 8th.
That last weekend of long runs was this most recent weekend. And a few miles from the finish of my 20 miler, the outside of knee started really hurting. Not an aching pain that said maybe I was just fatigued and sore. Sharp, shooting pain. A pain that seemed connected to the outside of my hip. I couldn’t bend my knee. Not good.
I was obviously concerned but the pain stopped once I stopped running and as the day wore on and I didn’t feel discomfort, I felt like maybe it was just a bad run and I’d be okay with a good night’s sleep.
The next day I got up with the idea of getting in a few more miles to round out the weekend. Approximately 2 seconds into that attempt, I knew something was wrong. Really wrong. Each step felt worse, the pain in my knee was stabbing. I didn’t make it a half mile before I had to turn around and limp back to my house.
I am writing this with some humor now but the truth is, I got back to my house and collapsed on my kitchen floor in tears and stayed there for a long time. Hard, ugly, choking tears. An injury on the last day of training…I couldn’t. I can’t.
One thing that running long distances has made apparent to me is what a huge well of self doubt I have within me. I’ve done a lot of work on that particular aspect of myself over the years but it’s there, this huge well of negativity, just below the surface. These last couple of weeks when I was feeling depleted and drained and then injured have shoved that doubt to the surface. What a loser I am. I’ll never complete anything I start. The universe doesn’t want me to accomplish anything. I can’t do anything right. I shouldn’t even try.
Yeah it’s been an ugly couple of days with the fear and disappointment of this injury (I think it’s an IT band situation but I have an appointment with my sports doc to find out) and the swamp of that ugliness on top of it. The ultra is in three weeks and I don’t know if I’ll be healed enough, if I’ll be able to maintain well enough during the taper, if I’ll be able to start the race or if I do start, be able to finish it. I’m looking at 3 weeks of uncertainty ahead of me while also looking behind me at hundreds and hundreds of miles of training that may be for nothing.
I’m scared and I’m pissed.
But I’m also hopeful. After a couple of days of diligent icing, foam rolling, resting and stretching, that area is feeling better and with that, my mindset is brighter. I may have a loud voice of self doubt, but there’s another voice there that tells me to keep trying because I love it. To keep figuring things out. To just take it day by day and see how far I can get. That if this race isn’t in the cards, there will be another one.
And then a text from my husband really put things into perspective: “The race is just part of the battle, you’ve been in the fight since you decided to try this in the first place. The race is just the last part, you’ve been ‘running’ it for months. No one can take that away from you. Regardless of the outcome on race day, I am really proud of you for what you’ve done so far and believe whole heartedly that you will finish and this won’t be your last one.” (published with his permission)
I am a lucky girl. And the plan is still to show up on race day. Hopefully, this is a small set back and I’ll be ready to go. But I’ll just take it one step at a time.