Tag Archives: Boston Marathon

Best time? Not likely. Best marathon? Yes.

I know, I know, I know IknowIknowIknowIknow, you’re all amazingly sick of hearing me mention the Boston Marathon, and you’ve already blocked me on Facebook. That’s fine. It’s OK. I know. It’s like that woman who got a hate letter from “friends” because she posted too many pictures of her new baby on Facebook. That’s me, but marathons.

I just want to be clear about some things: This has been my actual least-good training ever, worse than last summer, even. I started at the end of December, after 4 months of no running at all. I could start with 10 minutes of running and increase by 5 minutes (with a step back) every week. I only ran hills exactly twice late in training, did no speedwork at all. I haven’t used gels, have certainly not “dialed in my race day fueling plan,” have any idea what the weather will be like, or know where my non-winter running socks are.

I have to figure out when my bus leaves for Hopkinton, how to get stuff to my running club for the 30K water stop and the post-race hotel room, where and how to meet my cheering family. I don’t even know what I might want at that 30K (18.6 mile) stop. Gels? A ham sandwich? A bunch of Cadbury creme eggs? Some coffee? That is how wacky my training has been. It was a long, cold winter here in Boston, and the weather warmed up so recently I have yet to run in shorts. (Ok, I tried last week but stopped after 2 miles, in pain.)

So for anyone who jokes that I might just PR, or I might surprise myself, or whatever, I say:

This might be my slowest marathon ever. I might be limping and crying by mile 3.

But it will be my best marathon ever. Ever since I first accidentally qualified, I have wanted to run Boston. It’s big. There is so much surrounding it, so much history.

As for my predicted time, which everyone keeps asking me about:

You’re supposed to run a half-marathon in your training, which might give you an idea of your race time. I ran my slowest (and most miserable) half-marathon ever, in 1:48 (yes, I ran a faster half marathon when 7 months pregnant). I stopped and walked several times and cried a lot (side note: WTF is up with me and all the crying in races lately????).

But when I plug that into a race times predictor, it gives me a very optimistic finish time. I don’t think so.

I’m going to start at a comfortable 9:30 pace and hold it for the first half (I hope!). Then I can speed up if I want to. Honestly, after all the running on flat icy paths this winter, the 21-mile course run felt great, stretching my legs on the hills, so there is that to look forward to.

I will try not to let all the excitement get me carried away.

I have never felt less mentally prepared for a marathon and had absolutely less of an idea what to expect, time-wise. I know I can get through it, no problem.

But I also don’t want to wreck myself for the rest of the spring and summer. I have a 21-mile trail race I’m really looking forward to, for one thing. Also walking without crutches, showing up at track, etc. are really nice things.

So, for those of you who are asking when I plan to cross the finish line, I don’t know. Maybe at 3 p.m. Maybe 2:45 p.m.. Maybe 2:35 p.m. if something amazing happens. Maybe 5 p.m. Maybe 6 p.m., dragging my left leg.

I don’t know. Don’t ask me. Track me. You’ll know when I know.

But even if it is my slowest marathon ever, it’s my biggest and my best. It’s going to be a really interesting experience, that’s for sure, the most spectators (and hills) I have ever experienced at a race ever.

What time will I cross the finish line? When I get there.

 

 

 

 

Limping Towards Boston — and So Excited About It

It’s almost 10 p.m. and I’m trying to quell what is best described as a feeling of rising panic. No, it’s not about the marathon. That’s a wash. Not a wash — I will be running the 119th Boston Marathon on Monday, amazingly enough, but slowly and probably in some pain and taking my sweet time about it. I was on the fence about how to approach it at this point. I’m trained, but my taper has been terrible, not enough sleep at all, too much wine, not running more than 13 miles total in the past 2.5 weeks, and now I have a gross head cold. And an achy leg.

I was thinking maybe I’d see what I can do anyway (oh hey there ego, need to get knocked down several pegs yet again?) but my tibia is throbbing after an hour of grocery shopping, so I’m just going to get to the finish line under my own steam, no matter how long it takes, and I am going to have a great time doing it.

My leg was fine for the 21-mile run on the course but, a week later, I went out for a hilly 9-miler (yeah, I don’t know if I ran much in between) and felt a stinging/burning right at the site of last fall’s stress reaction. It’s gotten worse, so it’s a big ache on the bone. I tried to go for a run over the weekend but 2 miles in stopped in tears, limping, and called my husband to pick me up.

I agreed to the MRI my doctor (a runner) suggested and waited breathlessly for the results, which showed no stress fracture or stress reaction. The area could be terribly sensitized to pain, my doctor suggested. It could be shin splints. In any case, she doesn’t see anything that would indicate that running the marathon would cause severe damage (“I mean, you could end up with a stress fracture, anyway, of course, but there’s nothing to give us any reason to expect that”). She said to take a lot of ibuprofen and try a 3-miler this weekend.

I can’t. I will simply go to the starting line instead on Monday. I know it might go badly, but I also know the endorphins will wash over me and carry me through. I have been training for this race since 2012, truth be told, after qualifying and registering for the 2013 Boston Marathon (and then tearing my soleus that January, knocking me out of training). I had to recover, qualify, and train all over again. This has been a long time coming, and I’m doing it, and I can hardly let myself believe it.

I’m also woefully unprepared as far as general marathon prep. I haven’t managed to organize a drop bag for my running club’s post-marathon hotel room. I haven’t thought about what I might have at the 30K elite water stop my running club hosts. I haven’t checked the weather, don’t know what time the bus for my wave leaves Boston Common, etc. Because it’s been so damn cold until last week, I have no idea what to wear. Shorts, right? Where are my running shorts? Which ones do I like  best? 

I keep reminding myself that just 3 weeks ago I blithely ran 21 miles on the course in a sideways wet snowstorm, gnawing on a peanut butter-slathered bagel I carried in my pocket for most of the journey, wearing a fanny pack full of candy. I felt great during and after. I will be fine. I may not be dialed in to a perfect marathon situation, but I will be fine.

I still can’t let myself think about how amazing this will be.

Oh, but the panic. I love my job and am so happy to be working again but we’re operating in a very shaky little house of cards right now with no room for error, and it’s really starting to take its toll on all of us. I’m not sure for how much longer this can continue. I feel like we don’t even have time to hire the full-time childcare that we need.

More on this later, but I really need to make some tea and get to bed.

Thanks for all your joy and support about everything. It was hard not to share with everyone the possibility that I might not run (I didn’t write about it here, but I meant to).

Stonyfield OP Organic Protein Smoothies Fueling Me for Boston #Review

You may have heard I’m training for the Boston Marathon (seriously, I’ve gotten to the “completely annoying” phase of training, I think, and my taper only technically started yesterday!).

So there’s a whole lotta this going on:

Ran to work, took the train home.

Run 7 miles to work, take the train home.

And this:

grocery list: need magnesium

grocery list: need magnesium

And this ridiculousness:

What? I like shoes!

What? I like shoes!

 

And (best of all!) this:

 

YEAH FINALLY!!!!! (That's an official "runner's passport," which gets me my bib, shirt, bag check, and access to the Athlete's Village)

YEAH FINALLY!!!!! (That’s an official “runner’passport,” which gets me my bib, shirt, bag check, and access to the Athlete’s Village)

So when Stonyfield asked me to review their OP Organic Protein Smoothie, you can imagine that my answer was a resounding, “YES!” When I get home from a run, I often don’t feel like making myself a big pile of veggies and eggs, or even bothering to throw some stuff in the blender to make a smoothie. I want something quick, I want something tasty and high-protein, and I want to shower and move on….to stretch, play with my kids, do laundry (well, OK, let’s not bend the truth here).

Oh, hi, lovely stuff!

Oh, hi, lovely stuff!

The Stonyfield OP smoothies come in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. I normally hate strawberry-flavored anything (including, sometimes, actual strawberries — it’s a long story for another blog post), but I like these. A lot. Anyway, I only tried the chocolate and strawberry, but I’d very happily try the vanilla, too. Thankfully, it seems to be increasingly available, meaning I can find it at the Stop & Shop down the road.

Besides being absolutely delicious, the 10-oz. strawberry OP Organic Protein Smoothies have 15 grams of protein and 15 grams of sugar (chocolate flavor has same protein, 19 grams of sugar). The sugar content led to a lively discussion on Facebook. So let’s bear in mind two things:

1) I hate a ton of added sugar.

2) I hate artifical sweeteners, including the “natural” ones like monkfruit and stevia.

3) Milk itself (and thus yogurt) has its own amount of naturally-occurring sugar, in the form of lactose. One 8-oz cup of milk has 11 grams of sugar. These smoothies not painfully sweet. And despite the fact that I cannot stand the taste of stevia, I actually didn’t notice it in these. My husband read the label and pointed it out to me. The smoothies contain some organic cane sugar (yay for real sugar!!!) and a little bit of stevia. The combination works for me. (I’d happily consume them without the stevia, too, because I think yogurt smoothies, like life, should be tangy and not so sweet.)

So I ran 17 miles and came home to gather this:

Cold Stonyfield OP smoothie, bag of ice for my ice bath, hard-working Garmin, and a mug of hot coffee.

Cold Stonyfield OP smoothie, bag of ice for my ice bath, hard-working Garmin, and a mug of hot coffee.

Ice baths suck in winter, by the way, in case that’s not totally obvious.

A week later — two days ago!! — I drove to Newton, got a ride out to Hopkinton, and ran the 21 miles back to my car with my running club, other running clubs, and a ton of charity runners. It was wet-snowing, and it was hilly, and it was fabulous. But at mile 16 or 17, I thought, “Oh, no!! I forgot to bring a smoothie with me!”

So when I got home, there was this:

Happy runner after 21+ miles, refueling.

Happy runner after 21+ miles, refueling. WHO’S EXCITED ABOUT THAT MARATHON IN 3 WEEKS???

And I also ate some pickles, and later enjoyed a beer or two while soaking in an Epsom bath (there’s that magnesium again!), and I am so ready for the big day on April 20. So incredibly ready.

Oh, and did you know Stonyfield is one of the big sponsors of the Boston Marathon? I’m not on the Stonyfield Marathon Team (that would be pretty awesome!), but I look forward to enjoying something Stonyfield after the run! (Yes, run; I’m not racing it, for a million reasons; I am running it.)

[Disclosure: I am a Stonyfield YoGetter, which means I’m an ambassador for Stonyfield. All products were provided to me free for review; all opinions are my own honest ones. All the excitement is mine, too!!]

The 20-Miler on the Marathon Course

It’s like I’ve completely forgotten how to train for a marathon.

The first time I ran a marathon, I did it with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. I had a very specific training plan, a coach and guidelines and weekly phone calls and everything. They offered great support, and I followed the plans to the letter, including all the stretching after the runs. I felt really really good during my race and really happy.

The next time I ran a marathon was after having two babies. I was doing a lot of long runs and decided to run another marathon. I stuck very close to a training plan for that and followed all the “rules” of training, and not only did I qualify for Boston but I PR’ed with a time of 3:36.

Huh.

Last summer I trained kind of badly for a marathon with blood, sweat, tears, and a leg injury that I ignored. I qualified for Boston but paid the price of having to take several months off, which meant I started training for Boston with no base mileage to speak of.

I seem to have backslid and regressed even further. This time around I don’t quite exactly even have a training plan. I ran a half marathon two weeks ago and forgot to eat beforehand. Can you believe it? By sheer luck I had one gel on me but I had to eat it too early in the race and it was a kind I’d never had before and I didn’t have enough water to wash it down. Isn’t a basic rule to fuel up before and during?

Oops!

Last week I went out for 17 miler, again not exactly fueling well and realizing by mile 14 that my shoes (the Ghosts I ran my September marathon in….but haven’t really run in much since then, since I took the fall off and spent the winter running on ice in trail shoes) didn’t have enough support.

Tomorrow I run 20 miles on the Boston Marathon course itself. I can’t wait. My running club is totally supporting it, with four food and water stops. I think there’s a police detail to control traffic. It’s a big day, because it’s generally the last and (for some of us the only) 20-miler for almost everyone before the race itself.

Of course, I haven’t had a chance to go buy new running shoes. So I ordered some from Amazon. I took a test run in one pair (Saucony Mirage 4) this morning and realized they’re not going to work for me. The other pairs arrived tonight. I won’t have a chance to try them before the run tomorrow. So I’m going to pack my old shoes and will wear a pair of the new shoes (Saucony ProGrid 7, a model I don’t think I’ve run in before) and hope for the best. I also have big plans to eat breakfast before I leave and will bring food with me. Brilliant, right? It’s like I’m already on top of this.

I know the long runs are a time to hammer out the kinks, but this is getting ridiculous. I can’t find the running gloves I wore all winter, the gloves I ran with just two days ago. I think I left them at a cafe near work. I don’t know which are my favorite socks, because I’ve been wearing the same pair of high wool running socks all winter. I have no idea which of my ankle socks don’t slip down, because I haven’t worn them in so long. I still need to check the forecast, I’m out of gels and sport beans, and you know what? I don’t care. It’s very freeing, this not-running-for-any-sort-of-time-goal. It gives me so much room to do so much so half-assedly. I mean, this isn’t ideal, but it’s not going to ruin much for me, ultimately. And I ran 17 last week and it was tough but I did it, so I’m pretty sure I can get through 20 tomorrow, especially since there will be so many others out there, and so many water and fuel stops along the way.

Here’s to tomorrow and the confidence it will give me!

And here’s to having the new shoes work out just fine for me!!

 

Less Than a Month Until Boston

I should be working right now. Making lunches, or folding laundry, or proofing articles. It’s almost 9 p.m. and I’m wiped out and should ice my ankle and research running shoes.

Here’s what’s going on: That little twinge in my right leg (that’s right, the leg that did not have the posterior tibialis problems and stress reaction last fall, the good leg) has gotten worse and some quick “Ask Dr. Internet” has me pretty certain it’s again the posterior tibial muscle, but this time where it attaches to the foot instead of the shin (also known as posterior tibial tendinitis, or PTT). Yesterday’s long run was 17 miles. At mile 15, I stopped and decided to catch a bus rather than further irritate my leg. No bus came, I kept running into the cold wind, and got into an ice bath as soon as I got home.

Hypothermia, anyone? The “real feel” temperature outside was 13 degrees, and I’d been running into the wind for 4 miles straight. You take an ice bath at that point and try not to scream.

I don’t have time to see a doctor. I leave for work around 7 a.m. and get home at 6 p.m. and that’s that — then it’s making dinner, breaking up fights, homework, bedtime, clean-up/lunches, etc. Work is an hour from home, and there’s honestly just not time in the schedule right now for seeing a doctor for myself.

But. It’s weird this happened last fall and again now, right? I’ve been so careful about training — hills only twice, no speedwork — except for that half marathon weekend before last, which was hilly and which I ran way too fast (and also forgot to eat before and forgot to bring fuel for during — crash and burn at mile 9!!!).

Thanks to Dr. Internet, I’m pretty sure my shoes have a lot to do with it. I’m going to try to get out this week to get shoes with just a touch more support (shoes for slight overpronators, if you will) in hopes of fending off further injury. I’m running 21 miles on the Boston Marathon course this weekend (it’s a huge official annual tradition, with police details to control traffic and everything), then it’s a lot of taper and icing and hoping hoping hoping, and then the big race itself, which I am going to take very slowly to avoid exacerbating this. After all, I have a big trail race in May and would also just like to not be injured, for a change.

As for the working life: The schedule is wearing on all of us, and things are unfolding at home. I’m not sure this is sustainable — not for my sake, no. I love it. I love the work, I really like the company, I like working again, I like the schedule.

But the small ones are having a challenging time, and that’s all I can really say about that here, and this may not be the time to seize back my career after all. We have some tough decisions and talks ahead, and some things to figure out. It’s unclear where the path is right now, but my well-being isn’t the only well-being at stake. Let’s hope the next post is a joyful one.

 

Does My Body Look Strange to You?

The Marathon Jacket. Every year, Adidas and the B.A.A. (that’s Boston Athletic Association, for you people who somehow aren’t Boston Marathon aficionados) comes out with a new official Boston Marathon jacket, which is an awesome, hard-earned thing.

Sure, they can be spotted at outlets after the race, but does it really count to wear it if you haven’t crossed the finish line? For many runners I know, the answer is a resounding, “No!” I’m thinking back to my old friend and running partner Tom, who tried and tried but kept missing the qualifying time by 58 seconds (I’m not kidding — 58 seconds, less than a minute). This is a guy who did speedwork, who had a running coach, who was fast and fit and worked hard.

“But I just want the jacket!” he moaned, only half-kidding, after one of his last attempts when we were still running together. It was unspoken: You can’t wear the jacket if you don’t run the race.

I loved it last year — a glorious orange, with blue details. This year it’s a bold purple, with orange details. I like it. I’ve asked around about the best course of action; apparently they sell out of some stores before the race, and other stores get them off the racks pretty fast after Patriot’s Day (when the storied race is run, for those of you who somehow don’t know this). For logistical reasons, I need to buy mine before the race, but I’ll keep the tags on and won’t wear it until after I cross that finish line (and I will probably be crying when I do, because that’s what I seem to do these days when I race, and also I was downtown today near the finish line and got all teary-eyed telling the kids that I’d be crossing it about a month from now; running-wise I’m kind of an emotional mess these days).

But I wanted to try it on, at least, so we popped into Marathon Sports near the finish line and I grabbed a women’s medium, because I’m a women’s medium in almost all things.

Tight shoulders. What? The rest fit perfectly, but the shoulders! Couldn’t move my arms. I tried a large. “That’s way too big on you!” called my husband from across the store.

I tried a men’s medium. Enormous and long. A jacket-dress! I tried a men’s small. Excellent…except tight in the hips. WHAT???

I’m not sure if I have abnormally wide shoulders or a huge butt or what, but I think my proportions are pretty normal. Is the jacket sizing always like this? What do medium-sized women runners with bigger shoulders (i.e., I do burpees and push-ups sometimes) do? What’s my size in this jacket?

I’m going to figure out it, because I cannot WAIT to wear it.

Running: Aiming for My Celebrity Marathon

I have been running. Regularly.

I’m afraid, I’ll admit. After a recent six-mile mistake—wherein I met my friend for a trail run on solstice, ran out of light, headed for the road, and had to run an extra three miles back to the car, totally overdoing it for my poor leg—I panicked, in fact. I saw a massage therapist recommended by an ultrarunner massage therapist (she lived too far for me to see). He spent a full hour on my calves, making them feel the best they’ve felt in months.

But it wasn’t enough.

I still feel a twinge when I run, right at the tibia, so I went back to my physical therapist. He kicked me out after the second session, insisting I’m fine.

Maybe.

I’m still supposed to increase by 5 minutes every few runs. I have no idea of my mileage, but I know I’m slow right now.

But I’m up to 45 glorious minutes on trails now (gnarly trails, icy trails, icy rocky singletrack that goes relentless up and down and up and down and watch that ice whoa!) and 33 minutes of road (because road, of course, involves no other motion, so the endless foot after foot after foot is just brilliant for re-triggering what is essentially a repetitive stress injury).

I’ll keep building up. I’m starting to run with other people again, being very clear that I’m limited to 20 minutes, 25 minutes, 30 minutes, and then I will ditch them in the woods and walk back to my car.

Yes, woods. Trail running feels so much better. It always has. There’s a reason I was a trail runner for 10 (almost 11) years with minimal injury and then joined a road-running club last year for a spectacular year of injury and failures. Road isn’t for me.

I’ll run trails as much as I can, and run road as I have to, and I am still looking forward to the Boston Marathon. I’ll run it, but my goal is “Copley Before Dark.” I won’t be fast. I’ll approach it like an ultrarunner: slowly, and I’ll walk all the hills.

Another aspect of my plan was to let go of all ego and pretend this is my “celebrity marathon,” thinking of celebrities who run marathons in five-and-a-half hours or longer (which, I know, at this point is a time I will be very lucky to finish in). But then I looked it up.

 

  • P. Diddy: 4:14
  • Christy Turlington: 4:20
  • Alannis Morissette: 4:28
  • Oprah Winfrey: 4:29 (for real)
  • Mike Huckabee: 4:37 (please let me beat him)
  • Al Gore: 4:54 
  • Valerie Bertinelli: 5:14
  • Katie Holmes: 5:29 (now we’re talkin’)
  • Pamela Anderson: 5:41
  • David Lee Roth (yes, really): 7:04
  • Al Roker: 7:09 (ok, maybe I’m with him)

 

 

Whatever. It doesn’t even matter. What matters is not reinjuring myself. I’m loving the magnesium baths, the foam roller, and all the circuit training I am doing (oh, hey, my core really rocks right now).

Though I have qualified for Boston twice, when I actually run the Boston Marathon I’m not going to beat P. Diddy or a supermodel. I might not even beat Katie Holmes’ time. What is awesome is that I don’t actually care. If I end up walking the whole thing, fine. If, a few weeks before race day, I realize I just can’t do it and will re-injure myself, fine. I can let go of Boston.

Then I can get back to trails and get back to where and why I run, running in a place that has always made me happy.

Let’s see where this goes. By next week, I’ll be up to 40 minutes. Someone please calculate out what kind of time I’ll be on April 20. I’m not going to.

I’m just going to keep on running, for now, and I love it.

 

My Gear Box is Failing: A Runner Hits “Pause”

“Dusty, your gear box is failing. If you push it into the red, your engine will seize. You’re done racing, Dusty.” So explains the trusted mechanic in Planes: Fire & Rescue to Dusty, the famous racing crophopper. Dusty is an old plane, and no one makes his gear box anymore.

His racing days are over.

I am, right now, watching Planes: Fire & Rescue with my husband. We rented it for the kids, and my husband has never seen it before (I saw it with the kids when it first comes out). It’s an oddly fitting movie to watch tonight.

So about my leg. I haven’t blogged much about running here lately, if you’ve noticed. The comeback has been long and trying. I finally got cleared from my physical therapist to start running again. Five minutes at first, and after a few of those five-minute runs, I could try a ten-minute run, then rachet back, then ten and then fifteen. And so I’d build up.

knew I was cutting it close, in terms of mileage build-up, from the end of physical therapy and the start of my marathon training. I started my training plan last week, and I’d chosen a total beginner training plan. I was keeping it as mild and easy as possible.

But I still needed some base mileage.

I met my running friends for their runs, dropping out at three miles (more like turning back to make that my total) while they ran six. I knew I should probably run alone for the first few weeks until I was absolutely comfortable with my pace and was sure I was pain-free, but I love running with my friends and running groups. It’s my social time.

Of course I made the mistake of finding someone to run my “long run” with me last weekend. The training plan said six miles, but I was going to keep it to four miles.

Great plan, except my friend and I met in an unfamiliar patch of woods on the shortest day of the year. Hello, Winter Solstice, and why did I leave my headlamp in the car? As darkness fell fast we left the woods, whose trails got us no closer to where we’d started, and ran back to our cars by road…three miles, giving us a six-mile run.

I’m paying the price, so hard. I keep waking at night with my calves seized. I can’t massage it out. I use the foam roller, my thumbs, a lacrosse ball. An ointment called Traum-eel. Heat. Ibuprofen.

Seized, seized, seized.

I’m going to see about starting physical therapy again, but in the meantime, tonight I saw a new massage therapist. He spent an hour on my calves. We talked about everything I’d done wrong to get to this point (which was, pretty much, everything).

I asked him about running. He suggests I keep moving, even if I can only do an old-person shuffle (thanks, guy).

“And what if I keep running?” I asked. “Can I do that?”

He paused. “With everything this tight, if you try to run through pain or tightness, you’re risking rupturing your Achilles tendon. Your gastroc can just snap.”

Oh.

Oh.

OK.

I then mentioned the irony, that I’d damaged myself this badly to qualify for Boston and that my training was supposed to start last week.

He gave a soft, kind chuckle. “Just take it one day at a time,” he said.

Dusty, for his part, gave up racing (he had to) and went to become a fire plane, except he couldn’t pass his training because he couldn’t rev up enough to get under the bridge. “Why’d you back off?” the fire chief asked.

Dusty held his secret. I’ve been wanting to hold mine. But it doesn’t matter. I’m not giving up racing (and, unlike Dusty, I wasn’t exactly a champion runner, just a mediocre but happy one). I’ll return to physical therapy and take my time and run alone until I am sure I can handle a full six-miler without damage.

Until then, I might actually need to find a new thing. I’m not ready to give up running, but I obviously am not ready to resume it.

Maybe it’s time to pull a Dusty, if you will, and take up EMT training or something in the time I’d normally use for running.

 Never left a comment here? Feel free to! Now’s the time! Something like, “Don’t panic! You’ll run again! Don’t worry! Your running life isn’t over! Really!!” Cheesy cyberhugs are also welcome.

Thank you. 

 

Let’s Talk About My Leg

I had grand plans this fall, plans that would have been attainable if I had been smarter about my approach, if I hadn’t been trying to qualify for Boston, and if I hadn’t let stubborn pride get in the way of common sense.

Training was hard for me in early summer, because I felt like crap and didn’t feel like getting off the sofa. I was at the point of my training when my long run was 16 miles, and though that distance has been easy for me even last spring, I really wasn’t sure I could do it.

In part thanks to the support of my running and online community, and a visit to my doctor for depression, I did all my training runs. I stayed on schedule. I ran my 18-miler in really bad worn-out shoes that hurt my feet, legs, and hips. I got new shoes and ran my 20-miler and felt great. Running was hard, running was okay, running was on track for me to finish the marathon and possibly qualify for Boston.

But my calves. Did I ever talk about my calves? At least a full month before the marathon, they cramped up when I was running. They cramped up at night and woke me up. On my last long run, they cramped up so hard that I literally hobbled—not ran, not jogged, but hobbled—the last 2 miles home.

They seemed kind of permanently seized, and I wasn’t sure I’d even finish the marathon.

I have not been able to run since. Not more than one step before I collapse in pain. And then it hurts to walk for the rest of the day.

I should’ve been seeing a massage therapist or my active-release sports doctor most of the summer. Instead, I waited until two weeks before the race—when my calves were pretty seized up—to see my ART person. She also works on the Harvard teams, including the cross-country and track teams, so I have a lot of confidence in her.

But I was seeing her too late. There wasn’t much she could do for me at that point.

I limped into see her a few days after the marathon, and since then she’s been doing what she can for me every week. It’s painful. She’s released most of the tension, but the leg is still not okay, and I still cannot run at all. My shin is killing me, even at rest, and more at the end of the day than in the morning. She thinks dry needling is the next step, to release the adhesions in the muscles.

She thought I should be able to try light jogging for at least 10 minutes yesterday. I forced myself to go for nearly a full minute before I stopped jogging and started crying and limped home in misery. A minute.

Something’s not right.

I saw my doctor today, who sent me for x-rays and referred me to an orthopedist. Maybe it’s a stress fracture. I did everything one needs to do to get a stress fracture, including overtraining, ramping up mileage much too quickly, running in bad shoes, running on asphalt all the time instead of mostly on trail, and not giving myself enough recovery time but instead doing things like running 5K races the day after my long run.

It might not be a stress fracture. It might be severe muscle adhesions. I may not know for a little while. I do know that I can’t run at all right now. I can’t do a lot of the boot camp workout without modifications of the cardio part. I got a one-month discounted gym membership and I’m going to spinning and will be using the pool, too.

I will not be running my first ultramarathon this fall, as was the plan. I will volunteer at it instead. Nor will I be running the Manchester City Marathon with my running club in November.

I don’t know when I will be able to run again. It could be a couple of months. It would be pretty ironic if I damaged my leg this much trying to qualify for Boston, and then my leg was too damaged for me to actually be able to train for Boston, don’t you think?

Bracing Myself for the Boston Marathon

The marathon is on Monday. The anniversary of last year’s bombing and subsequent days of confusion and unknowing and “shelter-in-place” is tomorrow.

The rehashing of all of it has been going on for weeks.

I don’t know what TV and local newspapers are doing. I do know that our local NPR station, WBUR, has had nonstop talk of it, at least in the mornings. I know there are art projects and documentaries and Sports Illustrated did a photo shoot at the finish line last Saturday.

I was out of town last year, for better or for worse. I was shaken then in part because I was so far away.

This year, I’m shaken because I’m so close.

I’m not running Boston this year. One of my best friends is. Another friend from high school is flying in from overseas, where she lives now, to spend the weekend at my house and run the marathon. Between my running club, which has several people running it, plus an official cheer zone, support station, and post-race hotel room; and my friends; and the logistics I’ve been dealing with for my overseas pal, I’ve been far more aware than I’ve ever been before about the logistics of the pre-race luggage drop, getting to the starting line, getting to the airport afterward…

…and the next thing you know, I offered to my friend Justine that I’d be at the finish line to welcome her.

So, listen, I’ve never gone to the Boston Marathon before. I’ve never bandited it, I’ve never run it, I’ve never cheered anyone on. The closest I’ve gotten was one year, maybe 12 or 13 years ago, when some friends (and pub buddies) and I had a picnic in the Public Garden and then went to a pub near Fenway, spending the afternoon drinking and shooting pool, laughing that we were spending our day this way while others were running 26.2 miles.

Yeah. And then I qualified for Boston and registered and got excited to run it last year…and blew out my calf early in training. So instead of running the marathon, I was out of town, visiting my father, that whole awful week last year, checking in with friends surreptitiously, so my children didn’t know a thing about it.

Yesterday on the radio they interviewed a counselor who deals with post-trauma symptoms. She has a lot of marathon-related patients: people deeply and adversely affected by last year’s events, either the bombing itself or else residents of Watertown, and everything in between, not physically but emotionally. Listening to them talk, I got shaky again. I thought, “Hunh. Why am I so afraid to go near the finish line this year?”

I was going to go to the Somerville Road Runners 30K cheer zone and support stop. I was going to help set up tables, cheer on runners, hand off gels and such to our SRR runners.

But no. I’m delving into the fray. I hate crowds. I hate cities after crisis. I hate wide-sweeping security measures that sound really restrictive but, in fact, are often shot-in-the-dark and miss the C-4. No one could have predicted last year’s bombing and manhunt, and I really don’t think they can prevent any determined destroyer this year.

I’m not actually afraid of a repeat or copycat bombing this year. But I’m afraid, strangely. I wouldn’t be if I were running. But as a spectator, I’m terrified.

Last year I vowed the extremists wouldn’t make me afraid. I swore we wouldn’t cower in the face of the bombings. At the time, I thought I’d be triumphantly running Boston this year.

I won’t be. I’ll be a spectator. And yes, I’ll be honest. I am afraid.

But I will be there. I’ll be there for my friends who have worked so hard to run this. I’ll be there because we can’t be afraid.

Justine and Jody and everyone else, I will be there, for you and for all of us. We’ve got this, and we’ll be fine.

Damn. It’s much easier to qualify for Boston than to go to the finish line this year. Really.