At the time I was training for the Boston Half Marathon, which was held October 12th, 2008. My plan was that this would be a stepping stone to taking on a full-length marathon (I had the California International Marathon in Sacramento in December in mind) over the winter. My big shining goal at the time was to try and work towards the 3:10 cutoff for my age group at the Boston Marathon. After my brother ran his first marathon years ago I remember asking him if he’d run Boston. He said only if he could qualify.
So what happened? Well, to make a long story short, I got a bit overeager, then a lot of time passed, I got soft and out-of-shape, and now I’m at the bottom of the mountain again looking up.
Fact is, in the run-in to the Boston Half I was in great shape, better than at any other moment in my life. My training runs were going great. The final large effort scheduled according to the race preparation guide was a 10K (around half of a half-marathon) at race pace. On a cold, blustery Thursday in Boston I fought the wind all the way down the Esplanade and ran 10K at around 7:02 min/mile. Given that my original goal was to run the half at Boston qualifying pace (7:15 min/mile), I had moved the goalposts a bit by then. At the time, I remember feeling a bit of twinge in my knee, but nothing terribly serious. Or so I thought.
That run was about 10 days before the event. After a short, easy run Friday and a rest Saturday Sunday was scheduled as a long run, 10-14 miles if I recall correctly. Might as well go out and run the course, I thought? So I rode my bike to the start line downtown and began jogging the 13.2 mile out-and-back course.
Almost immediately my left knee starting giving me trouble. Unfortunately, being stubborn I kept at it for far too long, actually made it to about the turnaround point (half-way) before finally realizing that this was a serious problem, about the time that I was so seriously hobbled that I couldn’t run for more than 200 meters or so without having to stop and walk. The weather was brooding and so was I. I had this horrible feeling that I wouldn’t be able to survive the half.
And I turned out to be right. Whatever I had done to my knee was serious enough that a lot of rest, a lot of Vitamin I and a lot of icing the next week couldn’t heal it. Thursday was my drop-dead run and I couldn’t make it 4 miles. The half was over, and I didn’t even bother to show up.
Continuing the montage forward: I fell into a bit of a funk not being able to run, then I got engaged, then we got married, then I wrote a paper. During this time I gained enough weight (not a huge amount, thank God) that people noticed. I noticed. I started to get sick of it. My dog gained some weight over the winter as well.
Anyway, now Chuchu (the dog) and I are out running the river again. We’re setting our sights pretty low for now, just jogging the 1.5 miles back and forth from Eliot House to the Eliot Bridge. That’s starting to feel comfortable, for me at least, although Chuchu sometimes still lags during the second half. I get at least a few breaks on the out-and-back as he stops to do various sorts of doggy business along the shores. Then I hop on an ergometer in the Eliot basement and finish the workout. I’m feeling better, slowly getting back into shape.
I still don’t know, however, whether my knees have another hard training season or their first marathon in them. I’m cautiously optimistic though, so we’ll see. If I ever get serious about it again, to the point that wearing the GPS unit thrills rather than depresses me, they’ll be more post-run reports appearing here.