This fall, neither my training nor my performance lived up to my expectations.

Three separate injuries caused three separate training setbacks, all of which certainly contributed to my slowest, most miserable half-marathon to date. And when I thought I was finally healed and back on track, my last-ditch effort to salvage my January races lasted all of five steps because my left calf staged a mutiny.

I mentioned this in one of my Festivus grievances last week, but since then, things have gotten much worse.

After my failed attempt at the track workout on Tuesday, I kind of hoped to fit it in on Thursday (Christmas) afternoon or evening. But (not surprisingly) that didn’t pan out, so when Friday morning rolled around and me leg seemed to feel okay, I thought I’d give it another shot. Not the track workout, because I wanted to run 12-14 the next day, but running the neighborhood loop would let me see how it felt.

I got five steps before that sharp pain jammed into my calf again. I turned around and limped back inside. I tried a bike ride, but even pushing on the pedal was uncomfortable and kept me from working hard at it.

Saturday’s long run was out. I turned off my alarm and slept in. Fourteen miles had sounded daunting a few days before, but now that I couldn’t do it, I wanted to. Even when it looked like this outside:


I lit a fire in the fireplace and snuggled under my race t-shirt quilt on the couch with one of my my cats and a book. It was pleasant and cozy, but I’d eaten a lot of Christmas cookies and felt like a slug. Considering I couldn’t even walk normally without pain, though, I saw my January race goals slipping further away.

Sunday turned into another couch day. I’d left the door to the garage cracked when I went out to put stuff in the washing machine, and one of my cats darted out. As I leaped to chase her, guess what? It hurt. A lot. It was exactly zero percent improved after six days of not running. And since it was the weekend, I had exactly zero options to find out what was wrong–all I could do was sit and stew about it until Monday.

With those steps chasing the cat, denial was gone. I was now angry. Frustrated. Mad. Pissed off. But I couldn’t even stomp around the house, or run to let off steam, or much of anything. Now in worst-case-scenario mode, I started looking into deferrals (no practical options). I texted with a couple of running friends (they commiserated). I sulked on the couch (my book distracted me temporarily). And then I opened the fortune cookie that came with the Chinese food I’d had delivered (because it hurt to push my car’s clutch):

IMG_2550Slowly I began to come to terms with the fact that my two January races might be off the table completely. I mean, even if the pain was gone by then, I have hardly run at all since Thanksgiving and am clearly undertrained for a half-marathon. I’ve never not run a race I’d registered for, and the thought of doing so now frustrated me further. Still, I started thinking about having a Plan B in case it turned out I couldn’t run. I could volunteer at the Distance Festival, and that might be satisfying. And a friend is coming from out of town to run 3M–I could still chauffeur her to the race and find good spectator spots along the course. That would be fun too. I began to accept those scenarios as possibilities.

Monday afternoon, I realized I was walking on it almost normally–something I hadn’t done consistently in about a week. I saw my sports doctor, who suspects that the recent problem with my right hip caused me to shift my gait, which overcompensated to the left side and caused that leg to become overworked. The calf–the same one that gave me problems a couple of years ago–was not appeased by foam rolling, and it rebelled. But my worst-case scenario fears seem to be unfounded–it’s likely not structurally damaged. Treatment and time should do the trick. Since he’s fixed me twice before with this strategy, I’m willing to go down this path and see what happens.

I plan to take it easy the next couple of days, foam rolling and doing some core work instead of running. I’m holding out a little hope that it’s healed in a couple of days and I could try a long run Saturday–I’m allowed to run if it’s pain-free, so I pretty much just have to assess it one day at a time.

I may be able to run my races, or I may have to be a spectator for one or both. But I’ve accepted either possibility.


Have you ever bailed on a race you’d registered for? How did you deal with that?

Would you skip a race you weren’t properly trained for, or muddle through it anyway?


7 thoughts on “Acceptance

  1. I am exactly in this place myself, so I completely get how you feel. (I won’t go into details here, that’s a good topic for a post of my own.) I have 36 hours to decide if I am dropping down from the full to the half, 20 days from now; in truth I’m not even sure I want to do this race at all, but I think that is mostly fear talking. I have missed a few paid-for races, due to illness or circumstances, but I always try to finish what I start – and so far my only DNF was the 50-miler fail earlier this month. I will most likely stay on the full (I’m also on a challenge team, so there’s that. ) I will run as hard as I can, as long as I can, and then drag across the finish. .. just like last year. Maybe 2015 will be the year I learn to apply what I learn?

    You always amaze me with the level of self – awareness and maturity you display when it comes to making the best choices for the long haul. (It’s ok to get mad and feel immature, it’s what you DO that counts! ) Trust those instincts again, and you will do exactly the right thing! Good running to you, soon!


    • Oh man, I’m sorry. You’re a tough dude so I know it pains you do be in that position. I hope whatever you decide, it works out well.

      My leg is feeling a lot better today,so I’m holding out some hope. Good luck on your decision!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So sorry you’re having to deal with this! I had to defer my marathon in January due to my horrid shin splints. I’ve taken so much time off running, and now I’m not doing speed work yet, so I know I’m behind, but I’m willing to be patient and give it my best shot. I think the best thing you said to do is just taking things one day at a time and evaluating the healing process. These things are so tricky and can sneak up and bite us when we think it’s all healed up. Ugh. Keep your head up!


  3. Oh my gosh do I ever understand this. As a runner it is so hard to accept that we cannot do the thing we so want to. But the best lesson we can learn is how to take time off and heal our bodies. For me it was learning to stop worrying about gaining weight and learning to change my eating when I am not running. Having a race that you know isn’t going to happen makes it worse. But for me the best thing was to take it as a learning moment and also to find a way to enjoy the rest. Snuggling under the race quilt is a good start! Feel better!


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