Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Boston Celebration

In case you didn't know, the Boston marathon fills up fast--really fast.  As in, you better register as soon as you're allowed to (based on your qualifying time), or you probably won't get in.  So, when it opened last year, I signed up thinking it would be my spring goal race.  Then I went all ultra (and I am still riding/loving that wave) and my goal race changed to the LBL 60K.  In case you missed that, you can read about it here.  The point is, LBL and Boston are only about 4 and a half weeks apart.  Seems like a long time, I know, but after training for an ultra and then actually COMPLETING it, it's not. 

When I set my sights on LBL, I decided that I'd race Boston if I was feeling good.  Maybe not go all out, but at least try to beat my marathon best of 3:18.  After all, I'm fit from the ultra training.  The day after the ultra, despite having a really banged up knee, I felt surprisingly good.  I was not really sore anywhere--that's the difference between pounding trails and pounding pavement.

HOWEVER (don't you hate those?), about a week after the ultra I began experiencing some IT band pain in my left knee.  I managed to stay sans injury for many months in building up to LBL, but the race itself damaged me.  I suppose it was worth it.  Anyway--it came and went for about a week, and then I did a 20 miler in Buddha, which has a ton of downhills, and it flared up angrily.  That was a few weeks ago, and it's been angry ever since.

So I took a few days off, rolled, iced, Grastoned, had Tim work on it with a wrench, got a lot of prayer from my awesome small group members, and it just didn't get any better.  Not any worse, mind you, but not any better.  Most long distance runners will shudder or even vomit at the thought of IT band syndrome.  It. Hurts.  And it's hard to get rid of.  It usually hits around mile 3-4 of my run, and feels, basically, like there is an ice pick in the side of my knee.  It's caused by inflammation of the bursa sack that underlies the IT band.  There is no risk of permanent injury by running on it, but it makes running really not fun.  I'm positive I got it from all the downhills at LBL.  Anyway, the thought of running Boston (which has a lot of downhill--I can just see all you runners who've had this injury wincing) in this condition was not very, um, attractive.

So I opted for a cortisone injection.  Now, hold on...hold the phone.  Don't flip out on me here.  So many people are phobic of cortisone.  You'd think it was cyanide.  Now, let me say that I do agree that cortisone should not be used on a routine basis--it should only be used when one has paid tons of money for airfare, entry fee, and hotel in Boston and can't get through the race without it.  Seriously, though, I've had several cortisone injections and I've never had a bad outcome.  People will tell you that it will eat your tendons up.  Which is why you should never get an injection directly into a tendon!  EVER!  I cannot imagine that any physician would actually even do that, but if you find one who wants to, go the other way.

I did not have my actual IT band (which is not a tendon, but a thick, fibrous band that has been described by scientists as being as indestructible as a rubber tire) injected.  Rather, I had the bursa sack beneath it (which is supposed to act as a cushion, but when inflamed acts as an ice pick) injected.  This was not pleasant, as the needle went all the way to my femur.  But I've endured worse.  This was yesterday, and it should take 48-72 hours to really "work."  I just ran four miles and am MUCH better--I'd say 60-70%.  So I'm hopeful that I can actually finish the race.

So, we're going to Boston.  Not just me, and not just Tim--but a whole buncha Bedford-ites.  It's a big group.  In addition to the Millers, we've got Jimmy, Bill, Robin, Kathy, Allen, John, and I hope I didn't forget anyone else who is going.  *I am not racing.*  I may be stupid sometimes when it comes to running, but I'm not THAT stupid.  First, my legs are still not recovered from that 60K.  No way, no how.  Second, I'm not in racing shape.  I mean I have a huge base, but I've done no marathon-specific training.  I've done a crap ton of long runs, but that only gets you so far.  Third, I'm running on an injured leg.  Though I may not feel it, I know it's still injured.  It came about because I didn't recover enough, so there is no need to push it to race effort and give myself another injury.  Fourth, and most importantly, I have no desire to race this race.

That may sound strange to many of you, and some of you may say you'll never understand it.  All I can say is that I don't want to race.  I just want to run.  I've raced two road marathons and one ultra.  I've done a marathon in training (on a 30 mile trail run with Tim and Scott--still one of my favorite runs ever).  I've done a lot of racing recently.

Most of you know that Boston is kind of a "big deal."  You have to qualify to get in.  I've never really thought of it as a big deal personally, but it is to a lot of people.  Some work years in order to qualify.  I don't care about qualifying for any marathon, so long as I can run it, so I don't really view Boston as a celebration of me being able to qualify.  If I'm being honest, the whole Boston thing kind of irritates me.  And this is by no means meant to offend anyone who loves that race.  I just feel that it adds pressure to a sport that should be so purely enjoyed.  I hate to see people beat themselves up over not qualifying, and I hate to see qualified runners treat unqualified runners differently (this is not the norm, by the way, but it does happen).  So you'll never see me wearing a Boston jacket or drinking out of a Boston coffee mug (Tim already has like five anyway) simply because I think that it is not good for the overall morale of the sport, and I absolutely HATE that they make so much money off of runners who come to run that race and most, if not all, is taken as profit.  Okay, Boston rant over.

So I'm turning my Boston marathon into a celebration run.  I know that sounds silly and almost Disney-esque (I do have a Minnie tattoo, you know), but it's the only way to describe how I'm approaching it.  I was running with Jimmy on the highway, from Bloomington to Bedford, a couple of weeks ago, and I just said to him "I'm running it as a celebration."  And that is what I'm going to do. 

I'm celebrating the fact that, in a year's time, I have been completely transformed.  The horror in which I was living when I was running this time last year (if you missed that, you can read all about it in my 2011 entries) has completely abated.  The ability to enjoy running was taken from me temporarily, and, now that I have it back, I will never take for granted again how wonderful and natural every foot strike feels.  I will never forget to be thankful to God that he has instilled in me this passion and ability for running.  I will never cease to glorify God and attempt to help others through my running.  I used to only care about my time goals (and I do still have them, but they're a much lower priority), and now I am deeply invested in how my running affects other people.  It might seem strange to think about me running some marathon actually helping other people.  But, like it or not, running is something I'm supposed to be doing.  God is using me in that way.  Connecting me with people in that way.  And I am so, so completely and utterly thankful for that.

I'm celebrating the fact that I have a wonderful life and a wonderful family.  Gag, I know, but I do.  I went through some really dark, dark years before I met Tim in 2008.  And, since then, my life has been so wonderfully different.  I have a daughter who is a disciple of Christ and one of the funniest people I know.  She has a heart of gold.  I have a 19-month-old who incessantly talks about puppies and loves to kiss my nose.  I have a husband who babies me to death and puts up with my irrational thoughts.  I have a brother, Wes, who is my best friend in the entire world.  I cannot imagine my life without him.  I have a dear friend and running coach, Scott, who feels like a member of my family.  We love him dearly!  I have a mom who, though we disagree a lot, loves me to pieces and would do anything in the world for me.  I have a dad who is incredibly like me in many ways--he "gets" me.  He is one of the few people I know who shares my insane passion for running.  I have a step-mom who has always made me feel part of my dad's family and she loves to spend time with me.  I have another brother, Michael, who is very dear to my heart.  Though he can be stubborn sometimes, I always think of him as sweet little Mike Tyke.  I have a younger sister, Mia, who texts me and sends me sweet/funny Facebook messages.  And it could go on and on.

And, lastly, I'm celebrating the heck out of my new freedom as a Christian.  You may have never thought of Christianity=freedom, but it does.  I cannot express in words how absolutely turned-upside-down my life has been since I met my dear friend Rachel Noirot and began attending High Rock church.  You can read my coming-out-as-a-Christian blog post here, but let me take this opportunity (since it's my blog and all) to say that I was, a year ago, an atheist.  And I was really hateful and miserable inside.  I didn't appear to be a "bad person," but I was a slave to my own thoughts.  No more.  I am free.  And I love it.  My life is not necessarily easier--in many ways it's more challenging--but boy, oh boy is it better.

So I have no time goal in Boston.  Not at all.  I'll run with my Bedford friends, and I may even run behind them.  But, assuming the IT band holds up, know that I'm out there focusing on the many blessings in my life.  Run free, friends.

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