With just under a quarter of my 20-mile training run for the Pittsburgh Marathon completed on Saturday, a car whose driver was texting and driving pushed me off the road forcing me to step weird on some dried mud. I immediately felt pain on the top of my right foot. I also immediately panicked, due to the foot injury I endured after the Pittsburgh EQT 10 Miler last November. I ran a little longer in the direction of my 20-miler before deciding that pushing on a potentially injured foot with only two weeks before the marathon qualified as a bad choice.
I turned around, came upon my best cheering section ever and had her drive me home. In all, I only logged 6.28 miles. My medic husband looked at my foot, I took a shower (during which I cried all the tears), and took a two hour nap—but not before researching the following search strings.
- I only ran 16 miles as my long run for marathon training
- Am I going to fail my marathon because I only ran 16 miles?
- I flunked my marathon training omg what do I do?
Tweets began to trickle in from fellow runners and friends, assuring me that I had put in all of the hard work, that I would be just fine, that anything over 16 is just a mental game anyway, that the adrenaline of race day would carry me through, that walking remains fine, that I can totally do this.
I kept Googling, of course, to continue making myself feel better. I learned all kinds of things. Like that the 20 mile distance is an arbitrary number; there’s no magic number to get you across the finish line. That some training plans rely on the 16-mile run. I read a number of posts from people talking about their failed training seasons and the mental/adrenaline aspect of race day. And finally, I just nodded my head and said, “I’ve got this.”
My foot is “fine” in that it doesn’t hurt more when I put weight on it. My husband thinks that I stretched it weird on the dried mud. I am taking the train of thought that stopping was the right thing to do, that if I hadn’t done so, I wouldn’t be able to run at all come Marathon Day on May 4th. To focus too heavily on the arbitrary long-run number would be setting myself up for unnecessary failure.
My only goal time is not to be picked up by the sweep vehicle and transported to the finish line. Oh, and not to pass out on the course. That’s it at this point. I want to run my best, and I recognize that my best isn’t quite what I thought it would be way back in January—but that doesn’t make it any less than my best.
Next week I’ll give you all my last minute details to follow me on race day, what I’ll be wearing, what I’ll be listening to, what I’ll be eating and drinking, and so on. But before that, I’ll turn 33 on Friday. BOOM!