Here I am, alternating feet in an ice bucket. Today I ran 10.5 miles in 1 hour, forty-three minutes. I’m not fast, but I am consistent. It was warm this morning (75 degrees in the shade by the time I finished and much hotter in the sun), so I struggled a bit. But I was able to average less than 10 minutes per mile, so I was satisfied.
I’ll be running my second half-marathon in just over two weeks. I ran my first one last May, and it was the start of a very long summer of running. Last year the half-marathon was really a training run for a full marathon in August. During the summer I did one long run per week, gradually building up my miles: 3 X 13 miles, 3 X 16 miles, 2 X 18 miles, 1 X 19 miles, and 1 X 21 miles.
Running, which is usually a favorite part of my week, became drudgery. I started to dread my Fridays, and I would have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach on those mornings before I hit the trail. I’d be completely wiped out for the rest of the day instead of bouncing back after a couple hours of rest. Toenails dropped off. After my 19-mile run, my left knee started hurting. I had to visit an orthopedic surgeon to make sure I could even attempt the marathon. He gave me the go-ahead, but suggested that I only try it once, as my joints were starting to show signs of wear.
I completed the marathon in August, much to my relief (it had been a goal for years), but the week after the race I developed plantar fasciitis in my right heel. I walked with a limp for a few weeks, and couldn’t run for three months. By November I was able to speedwalk on the trail, but I really didn’t get back to my normal running routine until January.
So now I’m more careful. I’m trying to stretch more, use a big roller on the legs daily, “listen” to my body, do yoga at least twice a week. My goal is to do two half-marathons per year for at least the next decade, and that means I need to do all I can to avoid injuries.
There are people out there that run further and run faster. (There are also those crazy people who do ultra marathons, like our friend, Charles, who run marathon distances several times per month.) As I get older, I am more comfortable with just doing my best and not worrying about my race times. After all, I’m a middle-aged woman with four kids and a busy life, and I’m happy to just do it.
Last week, as I headed out for a 12-mile run.
Last week, after my 12-mile run.
We are really lucky to live two blocks from a fantastic trail, which goes six miles in one direction.