I had to write my first "race exemption" email today, and I didn't like how it felt. The Los Angeles 13.1 Marathon is this Sunday. I signed up shortly after completing Ironman Arizona, thinking that more running would equate to becoming a better runner. I desperately wanted to improve my marathon time, and figured I'd be fine to resume training after about two weeks off. Unfortunately, while my heart has and continues to be willing, my body just hasn't quite cooperated. That's not to say my recovery is going poorly. Far from it, once I accepted and embraced that I needed a recovery period. I'm feeling stronger every day now and my lingering leg pains are starting to subside. But the point is that I don't really need this half-marathon, or my Surf City full marathon in a few weeks, to elevate my running. I didn't know that at the time, though a few of you tried to warn me. More running can equal more pain.
Still, the frustration at having to bow out of a race gnaws at me. On one hand, I know I'm doing the smart thing. I keep telling myself, "follow the plan," repeating that mantra daily with each workout. On the other hand, I feel like I've failed myself by not being able to perform. It's like some joker pointing his finger at me and saying with a laugh, "You're getting older!" What's more frustrating though is that I know I could have completed the half-marathon this Sunday. I might have done it at my current Ironman pace, but I could have run it. However, at what cost? My psoas might have tightened up. Or my knee tightness may have increased.
Further, now I can continue to work on improving my new fore-foot strike running technique, which is much more valuable. There's no pressure of an upcoming race to worry about to take me off my drill work, though I do plan to turn my Surf City marathon into a half-marathon run since I have so many friends doing it too.
So today is a bittersweet day for me as a triathlete. By taking a step backward physically, I think I've taken a step forward mentally. I'm practicing what I've been preaching lately. I'm going to work on getting faster by forcing myself to go a little slower.
For us Type A personalities, that's about the hardest thing there is to do! Outside of completing an Ironman.
162 days and counting.