Unfortunately, I did get a bad case of peroneal tendonitis after the United Half Marathon in March. But I can say that I learned my lesson after last time. I rested restlessly. I painfully only moved between my apartment and work and nothing in between. It is not fun. I learned my lesson last year though, and I’m proud to say that I was good. I rested. I took it easy and let my foot heal completely. I actually had to get pretty creative with my workouts. I learned to get in a really good workout while still being in a cam boot walker, which are surprisingly cheap on Amazon.
I had two months between the United Half and the AirBnB Half, which meant 4-6 weeks to heal completely and then 2-4 weeks to train. That’s not a lot coming back from an injury. I waffled back and forth trying to figure out what I should do. I thought about running the whole thing, running half and walking the rest, doing some sort of run a couple miles then walk a couple miles pattern. I thought about just opting out of it. I know myself and I thought if given the slightest opportunity to do it, my competitive nature would takeover and I’d run it. And given my history, I’d injure myself and be out again. That’s the absolute last thing I wanted to do.
I waffled the two days before. I thought I had settled on not running it, and then when C and I went to go pick up our bibs at the expo, I thought I should do it. Leaving the expo, I got really upset thinking about not finishing and not getting my medal. I thought I could do it. Waffle waffle waffle.
Over our pre-race pasta dinner, I decided I would run the first 6 miles of the race and then leave the race to hop on the subway and meet C at the finish line. 6 miles was still the longest distance I would have run since the United Half. It would also be the hardest part of the course since it was through hilly Prospect Park. I knew that those 6 miles would be a challenge in itself and I did not want to the risk injuring myself in the latter half of the race. I had to keep reminding myself of this. Just six. Just six. It was my mantra. I reminded myself of the pain I had last year injuring and reinjuring my stress fracture. Not. Again. Just six.
Race day came. It was a cold, rainy day. C and I huddled together before the race because I’m a total wimp about the cold. I was so upset thinking about having to leave the race halfway I thought about not running it at all and just meeting C at home. I was still waffling. 10 minutes before the corrals closed, C and I parted ways and I repeated my mantra.
I stuck to my plan. Just six. Leaving the race was a truly horrible experience, though. I felt so embarrassed. I could only think about what the onlookers thought of me — that I was weak, that I was a failure. As I left the course to find my way to the subway, I cried. Passersby on the sidewalk looked at me, confused. One person, I hope trying to be lighthearted, joked “You’re going the wrong way! The race is over there!” I was in a horrible, terrible mood. The train to meet C was embarrassing because most of my fellow riders were also heading to the finish line to meet their successful finishers.
I met C at the finish line, still selfishly thinking of myself. Instead of celebrating his accomplishment, I was bitter at my situation. Looking back, I’m embarrassed of how much this affected me. I shouldn’t have been so selfish or embarrassed. I was taking care of myself. Winning, competing, finishing, anything, isn’t nearly as important as taking care of yourself. I know that now and I knew that then. In the moment and during that experience, it was difficult to remember. I can allow myself that because if I had to do it over again, I would again to just six because if it comes down to pride or my health, I choose my health every single time. Another humbling lesson learned.