Today I was supposed to run the Austin Marathon. All 26.2 miles of it.
But I didn’t.
Remember a couple weeks ago when I wrote about my IT Band giving me grief? Well, it never fully healed.
I started the morning really pumped and totally ready. After all, I trained hard for this and physically and mentally was in shape to do it.
Around mile 8, I felt a pain in my hip/butt more severe than anything I had felt before. It immediately had me in a limp/hobble. I panicked immediately but decided to remain as calm as I could.
At mile 10 my leg seized up to the point that I couldn’t extend it fully to touch the ground and I thought I was going to fall a few times. I moved to the side of the path, put my head in my hands, and cried. I cried out of pain and fear.
The Austin Marathon is known for being very hilly, but I looked forward to the hills because I was in the least amount of pain going up them. I had zero muscle fatigue and felt great, but my IT pain was so overbearing. The more I ran, the more it hurt and felt like I needed to stop. But when I did stop, even to tie my shoe, the pain would be worse when I started up again. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t escape.
At mile 16 I actually thought to myself “I only have ten more miles of this hurt!” Let me tell you, when a thought like that runs through your head, you ow you’re in a messed up situation.
I kept telling myself to stay positive and to focus on good things. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.”
My gait started to seriously suffer because I was overcompensating on my other leg and that’s never a good thing.
At mile 17.5 or so, a paramedic on a motorcycle came up to me and my mom (she was walking by me at this point) because he noticed that I looked like a wounded animal (that’s my guess). He stopped me and asked what was going on. I explained that it was just my IT being tight and that I could finish the last 9 miles.
Unfortunately, he (as well as many other people) didn’t think that’d be a good idea. If you don’t let it heal, ITBS can become chronic and can sideline a runner for months. Of course I didn’t want that, but I also didn’t want to leave the race. The paramedic spoke with finality and followed my mom and I until we were off the course and walking to her car.
And I cried.
Not only from pain, but because running is my thing. The worst part is that if it hadn’t been for this stupid band in my leg, I would’ve crushed this race. I was ready to negative split.
But you know, life doesn’t work that way. I trained for months and months and it just didn’t work out.
I don’t run because everyone else does, I don’t run because it’s good for you, I don’t run because I want to win anything.
I run because I really and truly love to. I run because it actually brings me joy.
Today has been hard because I’ve kind of had that stripped away from me. It sucks to work so hard for something that you don’t get to achieve.
Let me tell you something though, I may be down, but I am not out. Not from running. Not from training. Not from life.
We have options in this world believe it or not. Sometimes IT bands bring you to your knees in tears and pain. Today I learned how to get back up.
Today was not a failure. It was not a loss. It was a victory. I walked away from that race a better person than when I started it. It’s not the mileage that’s important. It’s not the medal that counts. Did I want those things? Absolutely.
But another reason that I love running is because it teaches you so many lessons, even if you don’t realize it.
Today I pushed through 10 miles of extreme suffering. 10 miles. And not once did I allow myself to believe I would fail. It took a medical professional to get me off that course.
Running taught me how to fight. It taught me how to keep on going.
And I’ll utilize that lesson until the day I die.
I’m going to let my leg heal and rest, but the next time I step outside to run… It’s going down. Don’t doubt that for a second. (This Is War by 30 Seconds to Mars came on as I wrote that and it was pretty awesome.)
P.S. With all that being said, I’d still be down for a bunch of hugs.
P.P.S. (Or P.S.S.?) Afterwards, I went to Chipotle with my family and it helped ease my woes. (Miss you, Sabrina and Mathew!)