So Close…


A diagram of the calf muscle

With only two weeks until the Richmond marathon I did it again.  Still a little tight and sore from my Sunday 20-mile training run, on Tuesday I decided I’d try to do several fast-ish 2-mile repeats, about 20-30 seconds faster than marathon race pace, or about 7:20 per mile. 

During the easy warm-up mile, I noticed that I was exceptionally tight and sore, but otherwise felt fine.  I seemed to be loosening up sufficiently, or so I thought, as I started the first repeat.  I cruised comfortably, albeit a little tightly, through the first mile, right on schedule in 7:20.  But as I began the second mile, I looked down at my watch and noticed I had dropped off the pace considerably, down to about 7:40 pace or so.  I quickly surged to speed up and that’s when it happened – a sharp pain shot through my right calf.  We runners get these silly little false warning pains all the time so I initially ignored it and continued on for another half dozen strides.  The pain did not subside.  That’s when I uttered a few obscenities and stopped running.  I stretched the calf and walked a couple of hundred yards before stopping and stretching again.  I jogged a couple more strides – the pain remained.  More obscenities.  I quit for the day, went home, and iced the calf down, and continued to curse my luck.

Today I tried to go for an easy run.  After the first few steps, pain shot through the calf.  I stopped.  Again.

I was so close to making it to the starting line injury-free (the Richmond marathon is exactly two weeks from tomorrow).  I’d been running and feeling great the last couple of weeks, running a 1:07:49 15K two weeks ago, and a 34:49 5-miler last week, both at a significantly faster pace (7:13 and 6:58 respectively) than I needed to run during the marathon to qualify for Boston (7:39 pace for a man my age).  I think I got a little cocky, broke the 10 percent rule, and ran a little too hard when sore – a nice little recipe for injury.

But hopefully, I caught it soon enough to ensure this minor injury doesn’t become a major one.  I just finished emailing my racing partner Dean where I said, ‘With only 2 weeks until the marathon, it’s not like I was going to get a lot fitter between now and then.  I may try and stay off of it until there’s no pain, even if that means not running between now and race day.’ If I can just maintain my current fitness level (via cross-training, utilizing the elliptical machine,stationary bike, etc.) without exacerbating this injury, and hopefully do some healing between now and race day, I should still be able to PR.  But can I qualify for Boston?  Seems highly unlikely at this point.  I better start searching around for the next marathon, hopefully a flat and fast one.  And maybe the next time, I will be smart about my training for about 2 weeks longer than I was this time around.


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