When I left the CIM finish line at 9:35 this morning, I was excited to get back into running and finish my sixth marathon. I could almost taste it. The rush of watching the finishers momentarily distracted me from the reality of what will come between now and that next finish line.
Over the following few hours, I hung out with the Chips who ran CIM, from our fastest finisher at 2:44, to the group I train with at 3:38. The limping and vivid race recounting reminded me of my race finishes, and fed my desire to get to the finish line once again.
As the sun came out over the Capitol, and more Chips migrated over to the tent, something peculiar happened. My longing to get to the finish line gave way to jealousy towards the finishers, for their achievement of running what for most was a good race in horrendous conditions. I stated to think about how I would have been so well trained for this race, and how I would have the badge of honor of a decent finish time despite the conditions. Had I run, I probably would have lamented the conditions for depriving me of the BQ I sought (which I'm assuming I would have missed). Not having run, I lament that I didn't get the experience of running in the downpour and 40 mile per hour gusts that today's race boasted.
Hearing the race stories, and the talk of next races, I started to lose my earlier excitement thinking of the road ahead of me. Since I started running marathons, I haven't taken much time off after each race. Usually, I have an immediate target, and for most races, it has been less than eighteen weeks after my last race. For the most part, I recover for a week from one race and get right back into training.
With my current situation, I don't have momentum to start from. I haven't run, or done any cardio at all, for six weeks. My left leg has lost a significant amount of muscle mass, and my right leg probably has lost some as well. I haven't had the opportunity to test this theory, but my balance probably isn't great, I'm probably not too stable, all meaning that my stride probably isn't in too great of shape.
Unlike previous times when I've started training, I can't 'start out slow' with 30 mile weeks. My doctor specifically told me I can't even start with 15 mile weeks. I have to start run-walking, and gradually build up mileage. My cardio cross training is similarly limited, with rest days built in to make sure I don't develop an overuse injury.
Thinking about all this made me feel pretty down, and really didn't make me too excited to start running (even after the excellent morning rush of the finish line). Run-walking and aiming for a short distance race in a few months aren't things I normally aspire to. I feel like less of a runner, less of an athlete, for having to start from scratch.
At the same time, I feel like a horrible whiner for thinking this way. I've been so good over the past year or so at not being a pessimist, and not worrying about things that don't matter. Obviously, recovery matters, but it isn't something I should let myself get this upset about. People, including my coach (a world class athlete, no less), suffer much worse injuries and much slower recoveries than I'm faced with. I just broke my fibula, which only supports 8% of one's body weight. Sure, my leg muscles atrophied a bit, but my range of motion is mostly intact, and my connective tissues didn't suffer any damage. I really don't have anything to complain about.
The most important thing for me to do is be positive, work as hard as I can without overdoing it, and take solace in the fact that I'm done with my six weeks. Well, I guess I should say I'm done with the first six weeks. I have many weeks ahead.