I haven’t run the half marathon distance in about five months. Not even the distance. Close. I’ve touched up near nineteen just last week, and skirted through the high teens on and off both before and after my injury. But twenty-one point one? No. Yet in about twenty-four hours I’ll be queuing up at the start line in a local park with a couple hundred other runners and getting ready to do just that. It’s fair to say I’m starting to get a little nervous. Not that I haven’t prepped. Sure, my distance is a little on the low side (we’re calling it a build-to-the-race style of training instead of a taper) and my expectations are for a solid, running to-complete and not a PR. My calves and back are solid, and I’ve been cross-training those. I’m hydrated (and will be suckling a water bottle for the next day to stay that way) and I’ve got the day off, so I can putz around, relax, get in a stretcher run, and otherwise get my gear in order. Still, there is that same lingering doubt that I’m making an effort to squash and stuff away, the same doubt that I feel before every race and every training run. It somehow feels a little more valid this time.
There’s probably a bit of dread mixed in too, but getting back on the ol’ half marathon horse is exciting.
Logging significantly more klicks than I did in August. Man, did I ever phone it in last month.
As Jenn reminded me during Sunday’s run, it’s was right around the May long weekend last year when I injured my back resulting in nearly a month (not long enough) on the sidelines. In fact, it was exactly the May long weekend last year, exactly a year ago today, when I was unable to move, prone on my bed, with a sciatic pinch of some kind that benched my training and my Calgary half marathon race day. I still get the occasional twinge now and then, a reminder that I shouldn’t overdo it and that I’m not twenty anymore… but nothing so bad as last May. I’d like to say that there were lessons learned or advice I could give, but really the only thing I can say is that a year later, that few weeks of rest seemed like forever but was really only a blip and that I should have rested another month. I’m not worse for rushing, but that time off was so insignificant in the grand time frame of even just a year of training that putting health first and body second should always be the choice. So, if you’re stumbling across this post after Googling for “sciatic nerve” injuries and “running” and wondering about a quick fix: there isn’t one. Rest. Relax. Stop running for a couple months. Don’t follow my example. It will still bother you in a year… probably two… and that’s just part of the struggle.
Considering injury. Considering a reduction in training. Considering hot weather. Considering I gave myself permission to go slow. Considering all that, the fact I got a 1:29:06 in the race this morning is making me feel pretty awesome.