My ability to run in the half-marathon, the one for which I've trained now for over six months, is in jeopardy.

I have been nursing a double calf strain for the past two weeks. My left calf is feeling better. My right one is not.

To say that I am wrecked right now is a drastic understatement.

My training program, the one to which I've religiously held for so long, has been basically untouched for the last 14 days. My last long run was on a Saturday a week and a half ago. I did 11.5 miles in 1 hour, and 39 minutes (an 8:36 per mile pace). My calves hurt a bit then, but it was still possible to run relatively pain-free. The handful of short "does it still hurt?" test runs I've done since then have not gone well. I've slowed down my pace, but pain radiates through my right calf even then.

I have spent a small fortune on various products and services to try and heal this injury. I have bought: heel lifts, Blue Emu, compression sleeves, Allieve, a calf massage at my health club's spa, ace bandages, athlete's tape, and soon, I will purchase a new pair of sneakers, since mine are almost shot (again). I am on a chiropractor's cancellation list, someone who was recommended to me by a trainer friend at my gym as the best chiropractor for runners in my city. I was able to have an evaluation at the physical therapy center, which is also located inside my gym, and the PT determined that my soleus and gastrocnemius muscles are indeed tight and strained, likely due to my training. He gave me two stretches to do, three reps of each leg, 1-2 times a day. I have to hold each stretch for 90 seconds, which seems like an eternity while I'm doing them.

The PT also said I should do seated and standing calf raises. I needed to get over my loathing of the weight machines at the gym in a hurry.

He recommended laying off the running for awhile and cross-training instead, which is what I've been doing. I've been doing interval workouts on the elliptical and the Arc Trainer, desperately trying to keep my fitness level up. He told me that if and when I do run, I should slow down. That if I'm able to run the half, I might have to be content with 10-minute-miles.

I did not train for this long and this hard to run my half-marathon at this pace. There is nothing wrong with running a slower race, but it's not what I've worked for. My goal all along has been to finish under two hours, and this is what I've trained for. It's only been the last month or so when I've believed that through the quality of my training runs, this time was possible. I cannot fathom running a slower race. But that might be my only option, if I'm able to run it at all. And if that's the case, I'm not sure I want to do the race. I had planned to do long runs up to 15 miles, so that when it came time for the race, 13.1 would seem very do-able. I've done two 10-milers, and one 11.5-miler. That's as far as I've gone. Even if I'm able to resume training in a week, there's no time to work up to a 15-mile run.

For the last six months, I have dedicated a large part of my life to training. I have dragged myself out of bed at 6am every Saturday and Sunday morning when I would have given anything to stay under the covers so that I could get my runs in before the heat and humidity arrived.

I have packed up two or three kids, every Monday through Thursday morning, and taken them to the gym daycare so I could train (Friday is my rest day, and Saturday and Sunday, I ran outside). With preschool or camp drop-off and pick-up, various errands, and my mounting freelance work, my schedule has become a chaotic mess, in part, because of this training.

But this was my choice. Running this half-marathon has been a dream of mine for years. I arranged my life as I did so I could reach this goal.

And now? The goal might not be possible.

I appreciate the support and advice some of you have given me on Facebook and in emails. I know if this race isn't possible, there are others. I know I only have one body, and that I need to take care of it, or else I might jeopardize my ability to run in the future. My mind knows all of this.

My heart, though, is breaking right now.

I have given my training everything I've got. I did not skip runs or workouts. I did not run 5 miles when the training program called for 7. I did speedwork, which I loathe, because I knew it would make me faster. I ran in the rain and the wind. I competed in four races and placed twice in my age group. I juggled and scheduled and rescheduled my life with three kids under the age of 4 on a daily basis to get my training in.

And the thought that this was all for nothing is literally destroying my spirit.

The half marathon is 3.5 weeks away.

I'm not sure I'll be at the starting line.

13 Responses to “Broken”

  1. # Blogger Rachel

    I'm sorry!  

  2. # Anonymous Anonymous

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.  

  3. # Blogger Rachel

    I really hope your calves get better soon!  

  4. # Anonymous Ness at Drovers Run

    Believe me, I understand your heartbreak. I've had an injury more than once that has put the kibosh on some big event that I was qualified to compete in. Hell, my BFF (the one who lives in Seattle now) qualified for the Olympics, was pre selected, and then pulled her hamstring so badly that it put her out of competitive running for good. So, believe me, I understand. But try to focus now on getting better rather than what you may *not* have (the half marathon). Yes there will be others, but you can't replace your muscles, so look after them!  

  5. # Blogger serenity

    I am so sorry about the injury, and if it were me, I would feel the same way. It sucks to feel like all the WORK that you've done means so little. :(

    But. Having done an 11.5 mile run? You can do 13.1. Not at the pace you WANT, but you can do it.

    I'm learning through my training this time that running slower isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes listening to your body is just as important as pushing it, you know?

    Still. Huge hugs. I am hoping that it heals quickly.


  6. # Blogger Melissa

    I certainly understand what it feels like to plan and actively work for something for so long only to have it start slipping through your fingers. It's beyond disappointing. All I'll say is, I'm so sorry.  

  7. # Blogger Jesser

    Kristi, I am absolutely heartbroken for you. You have been working so so hard and sacrificing! I cannot imagine how crappy this must be for you.

    I am certainly no expert, but you might want to look into barefoot running and correct running form. The ideas put forth in Born to Run made a lot of sense to me and I've done some further research on the subject. I'm trying to improve my form and I notice a difference in how my body feels when I concentrate on getting my form right. Let me know if you're interested in the book (Born to Run).

    I will say a little prayer that you're healed up and ready to go for your big day. Hang in there. I don't know of anyone who deserves a shot like you do.  

  8. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    I am so sorry. I wish I knew some special stretches or rubs for you. I hope that your calves start to feel better.  

  9. # Blogger Veronica

    I'm sorry too! I completely understand! I've been doing something similar, but it's not with running (it's losing weight) and yeah, it sucks when you can't do what you want and it's not anything that you've necessarily done wrong (it's your body, goddamnit!).

    Your heart may be broken, but when you're done mourning the possibility that you may not run this half-marathon in under two hours, do remember that there are wonderful things that have come from this -- you've proven that you can juggle three kids and marathon training schedule, you have probably kept yourself healthy through it, you've met wonderful people, and NONE of that goes away for when you start to train for the next one.

    I think it sometimes sucks that we live in a society that tells us that we can do anything if we just put our heart/mind into it. Because it's not always true. There are sometimes walls that we just can't get past as quickly or as immediately as we want.

    Yes, you will run that half-marathon in under 2 hours. But it may just not be this one. It's okay to be sad about it.  

  10. # Blogger Jamie

    I have no advice or anything to say as I'm just beginning my running journey and feel like I'll be at the pinnacle if I can run a 5K. However, I know how hard you've worked and how frustrating and disappointing this must be for you. I just want to say that I'm sending *hugs* and hoping that there is some way that you can still meet your goal!  

  11. # Blogger Amy R

    Kristi-That just sucks. I know only a small percentage of how hard you've worked so I can only imagine how you must feeling. I totally agree with your friend Veronica though...all of the great things that you've gotten out of your training for this 1/2 won't go away. I know I'm not. :-)  

  12. # Blogger Kristi

    Thanks, everyone. I cannot tell you how much these comments mean to me. It's hard to let this goal go (for now), and actually, I'm not ready to just yet. I am feeling better. Not 100% yet, but better. I'm doing intervals on the elliptical. I'm weight training. I'm doing everything I can to keep my fitness up while my calf heals. I'm hopefuly I can still run. The sub 2hr goal, though, might not be possible. Stay tuned!  

  13. # Blogger Mary Finucane

    I am sending good vibes your way, for head and heart!

    (Visualize world peace and strong, healthy calves!) :)  

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