At about this time last year I had finished my 2010 season and was trying to figure out what I wanted to do athletically in 2011. My running felt somewhat aimless and duathlons were a dead-end road so I decided to take the plunge and train for triathlons again, except this time seriously. I'd done a few in '07 and '08 but barely earned the term "finisher." This time I was in it to win it. I logged endless hours of time on the bike and in the pool (I still hated the pool) and cut back significantly on running. Unfortunately, it was all for not as I came up pretty darn short of my goal at the Columbia Triathlon in May. I had a complete nervous breakdown in the lake for no logical reason and never fully recovered the rest of the race. Chicken poop.
This is what happens when you try new things you shouldn't do. You catch on fire. (tundracomics.com)
However, all was not lost as I managed to hit some road PRs despite only logging about 30 miles a week. Cherry Blossom was a big success and the good times continued to roll at Pike’s Peek and Race for the Cure. Also around this time I made the big decision to part with Pacers and jump on board with GRC. I owe a lot to Bridget’s guidance and my training partners for bringing me along from someone who, in the fall of 2008, was scrambling to run sub-20 minute 5ks and sub-40 minute 10ks. Two years and many growing pains later I was legitimately competitive in the area. However, the logistics of AU and Pacers just ended up being too much. The workout time and location for GRC was much friendlier for someone working full-time and once I heard that there were actually women training as well, I knew what my next move was going to be.
I joined GRC in mid- March and started working with Jerry who quickly decided that I was “made for the marathon.” I, on the other hand, wasn’t as quick to believe him since up until that point I thought marathons were lame (I ran 800's and 1500's in college. Even the 5k was lame). After about 3 months of subtle and not-so-subtle hints I was finally convinced a marathon might actually be doable and committed to running the full monty in the fall. I figured if I was going to do it, this might as well be the time as we were coming up on an Olympic year. Carpe Diem! I closed down my spring season in June and turned everything towards training for the marathon with the distant hope of qualifying for the Olympic Trials in Houston in 2012.
How I imagined things would go down when I qualified (Rudy)
I had a month hiccup in training due to my own stupidity (the great orthotic debacle of 2011), so my goal marathon shifted from Twin Cities to Philadelphia. Other than that, training could not have gone better. I had no idea what to expect as I had never spent that much time running before in my life. Lucky for me, Kate was also on board with training for Philly and she proved to be an essential piece to the puzzle. Her experience and overall awesomeness was just what I needed to keep my head on straight as we built up to 22 mile long runs and 10 mile tempo runs without issue. We also picked up Drea along the way (she suffered an injury that forced her out of Chicago, but refocused her for the Philly half) and the three of us became the splintered group of nutjobs on the team training for super distance. On mileage ravaged legs I managed to run a couple PRs at the Run Geek Run 8k and Wilson Bridge half. And before I knew it, we were tapering for the big day. And then it happened. And then it was over. Just like that. All the details have been erased, like any other traumatic experience one might have. All I know is I dedicated almost 6 months to the Philadelphia Marathon and in return the wily bastard delivered me a big ol’ slice of humble pie. Live and learn.
I know now that I won't let the marathon defeat me and in a few years I will try again. However, it's taken me almost a month to even consider racing again, let alone running another marathon. The first week post-race I fed my inner Chunk and ate cake and donuts for lunch and drank beer for dinner. Why not? I just ran a marathon. I deserved it. I had to replace like 46,000 calories. I've read that's how many you burn in the race. I'd burn off any surplus calories I consumed with a little truffle shufflin'.
Fractured Prune donuts are the cat's meow.
Week two resulted in more gluttony but my feasting had devolved and was driven by a need to feed the growing sadness.
When making holiday treat boxes, it is customary to adopt the strategy of "one for you, one or so for me."
I swore off running for eternity and bought the new Zelda game for Wii. I’d rather live in a fantasy world where you are rewarded with beautiful rupees for slashing your neighbor’s pumpkins. (Ironically, in my escape world I discovered Link has absolutely no aerobic fitness and practically has an asthma attack if you make him run for any more than 10 seconds. I yelled at him to do some damn cardio as I shoved food in my face hole). By week three I was a sad dumpy version of my former self and had hit rock bottom. It was about that time that GRC sent troops to do battle at the XC Club Nationals in Seattle and I saw this photo:
courtesy of Mike Scott
I mean, seriously... SRSLY. Wertz, you are an animal. My competitive fire, which had been thoroughly snuffed out, kinda sparked a little when I saw it. You can’t ignore that kind of intensity, you can only hope to contain it. I suddenly wanted to be like that again.
I dusted the cookie crumbles off of my shirt, put Zelda on indefinite pause, and vowed to get back on the bike and get my butt in gear. I would have run right out the door right there and then but I was still on running bed rest as I healed from the cortisone injection (which, btw, CHANGED MY LIFE. My foot is healed!) There's nothing like squeezing into snugger than usual, hug every fold and curve, lycra to really motivate you to get back at it!
So, in a tidy end to this story, yesterday I celebrated, er, acknowledged, the one month anniversary of my first marathon by running for the first time since that fateful day. It was most awkward but at the same time felt like a big welcome home hug. I was happy to be running again. I was even happier that I WANTED to be running again. It's been one helluva year, and an even more helluva fall, but I am now super amped for next year. While I didn't manage to grab a star, at least I now stand on a higher earthly elevation than I did before. I credit the great philosophical teachings of Pitbull for this gained perspective. I am now ready to kick it Sloane-style and use my marathon experience as a springboard to obliterate my 5k to 10 mile PRs in the spring. Here's to high rollin' in 2012!