As followers may know,I have an entry into this year's New York marathon. If you are a member of New York Road Runners and run in nine NYRR races in a calendar year and also volunteer for one race, you have a guaranteed entry for the following year. Thus, in 2009, I ran in 9 races and volunteered on one race (on what felt like the coldest morning in history) to secure my spot for November 2010.
But I won't be running on November 7. Why? Well, a combination of injuries, lack of preparation, life stress and just general ... didn't get it done, put me in a place where, realistically, training to run 26.2 in November would be difficult and probably result in an injury.
A rewind button: March 2009, I began a diet and to run again after a year or so layoff. I lost 50 pounds and ran a 3:42 in the 2009 NY Marathon (a legacy of a guaranteed entry from 2007 race season (for the 2008 marathon, which I deferred to 2009)). After running consistently, watching every single thing I ate for 8 months, I then sort of lost focus. Ok, not sort of, I took a break from the Spartan life discipline I had been maintaining. Plus, life, work, etc., all seemed to crank up to 11 right then, which, coupled with colder weather, meant I just didn't run. I didn't want to run; or, more precisely, to put the mental effort into a dedicated plan of exercise, training, etc. So, I didn't run. I ate, drank, was merry.
Ok, so about March of this year I said to myself, the fun's over and time to get ready for NY 2010. Except I felt this pain in my right foot. Maybe a stress fracture, maybe a pinched nerve, but it cost me a month or so. And then, my left foot really hurt (turns out to be an arthritic toe), but, truth be told, I could have run through it. I just didn't. And I didn't do what I promised myself I would do during my next running injury: keep up the cross training, or lift weights, or diet to get my weight back.
So I woke up in July, again overweight, and without a consistent running history since last November. I knew NY 2010 was toast. I probably could have whipped myself into some kind of shape and run in November, but I knew I was setting myself up for 2 bad results: injury and a performance worse than last year. Most likely, an injury would have knocked me out of the box, so I never would have made it to the line to turn in a disappointing performance.
And I was OK with deferring my entry to next year (2011). Really. But now we are in marathon season. I see people training in the Park and on the West Side highway. On my route in my little town, I saw someone's water bottle and Gatorade stash planted in the bushes. All of NYRR's races are geared towards the big show in November. The running clubs and groups are all focusing on long runs. My runs, on the other hand, seem kinda pointless, just building base and endurance, burning calories I accumulated since the last marathon. Blogland is full of people training, worrying, anticipating Chicago or Marine Corps or New York.
But I won't be part of it because, well, I let the guard down and fell off the bus for awhile. And that is disappointing. That discipline and drive to push forward, to hold tight, to go, to run 20 miles in the rain, etc.,...I just lost for awhile. I can blame my foot injuries, but I know that they were not that bad, and if I had (i) lifted weights with same rigor as running during that spell; and (ii) maintained a normal diet during that time, I would have been in fine shape come July 2010 when I decided to pull the plug on this year's marathon.
So, this post is meant to salute all of you on your way or have stayed the course. And to remind myself that running NY 2010, which was the product of literally years of planning (begnining in March 2009) was cratered by some bad months this spring.
And this winter, I will keep the discipline. Or at least don't backslide.