For a runner getting injured almost always does two things: slows down our overall pace and messes with our mental state when it comes to running. Since mid-May I’ve been moderately injured and too lazy to see a doctor about it. I’m not entirely certain what the injury is, but I do know that my right hip hurts and sometimes my lower back also hurts. I only ran about 80 miles in May and didn’t even run once in June. Last week I started running again, and it was painful.
While there is some pain from the horrible heat in the New York area, and some pain from the fact that I my hip still hurts and that my pace has fallen about two minutes per mile since I hit my best back in May. However, the biggest pain is that I now question myself. I question whether or not I can run Chicago. Heck, yesterday I was questioning whether or not I could complete what used to be a very routine seven mile training run.
What I needed was confirmation that I could complete a good run. Today I had that. The New York Road Runners had their first long training run in Central Park. Comprising of four loops runners could choose to do either 6, 11, 16, or 20 miles. It seemed as though most people were looking to either 11 or 16, with only a few die-hards doing 20 as the NYC Marathon training schedule doesn’t have people at that distance yet. I joined a pace group that was slower than I thought I could run — 10 minute miles, and ran at a moderate pace and finished 11 miles without any major difficulties.
The race started, however, with some significant concerns. I was worried about whether or not I could even complete one lap of Central Park. I was worried about maintaining pace. I was worried about my hip hurting too much. I was worried about my knees and ankles. Luckily, I spent the entire race talking to another guy who was doing the NYC Marathon for his first marathon. This (and the pacers ahead of me) forced me to not over exert myself and not try to be a superhero. As we came around from the first loop after six miles I was still feeling great. Around mile 9 as we were coming up to the east side of the Reservoir I began to wonder if maybe I should go sixteen. Were it just me I might have been stupid enough to try. However the guy I was running with, who I never got his name — sorta like an seat buddy on a flight, reminded me that I said 11 miles was going to be my max. I realized he was right, and at the end of the second loop I pulled over, grabbed my pretzels, bananas, and some recovery gatorade and bowed out.
I realize that three months I was doing 20 mile runs on the weekend for fun, and at a much better pace. But this, even at it’s reduced pace and distance, felt good. It was the first time that something good happened while running this summer. Sometimes that’s the most important thing. The mental wall is cracked. And equally important, I think that I might be able to run the Chicago Marathon in October. We’ll see how the next two or three weeks go before I make my decision and book tickets or decide to let the registration fee go away.