I wish that I was writing this blog post with news of a fantastic marathon today. I wish that I could say I ran a PB and crossed the finish line smiling. Hell, I wish that I could say I crossed the finish line.

Today was not the triumphant return to marathoning that I had hoped and trained my heart out for. I have never felt this fit in my marathon build-up before and, as I publicly stated in my last post, I was fully planning on gunning for a personal best time. So what happened? Well, a week before race day I started feeling twinges in my left hamstring when running - nothing major, but enough to change my stride a bit. I thought it was just part of those mystery aches and pains that always crop up during the taper, so I didn't worry too much about it at first. By Wednesday, my entire left leg was aching constantly and the hamstring pain was actually preventing me from running. I went to a couple desperation acupuncture treatment sessions, where it became clear that the nerves from my lower back down through the back of my legs were badly flared up, and more likely the cause of the pain than the actual muscles. By two days before the race, my original symptoms had eased a bit, but I was periodically (while walking, running, or even just standing still) getting sudden, searing pain high up in my hamstring that actually made me gasp out loud and almost fall over.

Not the best way to be starting a marathon.

You may be wondering - why did I start? (Aside from the obvious fact that I am just really stubborn). I started this marathon because it is what I have been working toward for 4 months. I started because 7 months ago today, I had a major surgery that left me unsure of my own body and unable to run at all for 12 weeks - and this race was supposed to represent the end of all of that. I started because I didn't know what might happen, once I got into a good rhythm and was warmed up - and I didn't want to not start, and always be wondering what would have happened.

What happened, unfortunately but somewhat predictably, was that the pain never went away. It flared up repeatedly throughout the first 10k of the race. Frustratingly, I was easily able to maintain my goal pace - my fitness was there, no doubt - but I kept getting (almost literally) tripped up by this terrible electric shock-type spasm that would happen suddenly and then pass, but leave a dull ache behind. I knew without a doubt that if I continued running on that leg, it would only get worse as the kilometres ticked by. I thought about the exciting season of trail races that I have planned, and I thought hard about whether it would be worth it to try to run through the pain to finish this marathon and risk losing a good part of my summer running to an injury that I had just made much, much worse. 

It wouldn't be worth it.

And so I dropped out of the race, at 10.2 k. Brendan was there supporting me, and as soon as I saw him I burst into tears. Why? Because I don't like not finishing what I start. Because I was upset that this race that I had worked so hard to get to was over, almost before it even started. And because I had built this day up in my mind to be so significant, such an achievement, that when it didn't turn out the way I had visualized, I just didn't know what else to do.

And yet.

I did get to that start line, in probably the best shape of my life. I had an incredible training cycle loaded with personal best times on long runs and workouts, and I had an enormous amount of fun doing it. As I said in my last post, I feel strong, healthy and happy again - and maybe that is all I really needed. Maybe just getting to the start of that marathon was enough, for now.

Am I still disappointed? Of course. It was a perfect day out there, and I would have loved to crush that race. But it's over - and this is where I start again. 


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