Week 33: Nine days and counting

For nearly all of what has turned out to be an eight-month training gestation, the marathon has seemed a remote happening. An abstraction somewhere in the ever-distant future.

For weeks, if not months, I've been wishing for the whole thing to get here already. As Coach Scott put it last Saturday: "You're trained longer than any group in AIDS Marathon history."

Yet now that it is finally about to arrive - a week from Monday, no less-- I feel completely unprepared.

The fear that worked so well for so long in motivating me to get out of bed every weekday morning at 5:30 to squeeze in a quick run ("If I don't get out of bed and get running, I'll never be able to run the marathon") has been overcome by a debilitating, fatalistic malaise.

"If I'm meant to run the marathon, I will run it," I tell myself as I turn off the alarm and pull the covers up to my chin. So my regular running routine is, um, a little off.

This circumstance has been brought on in no small part by the knee ailment I've been battling for the past few weeks, a common -- albeit uncommonly painful--condition caused by swelling of the illiotibial or IT band.

Last Saturday I ran ten miles with my pace group. I was running and chatting and feeling fine when the pain hit somewhere around mile nine. The last mile left me wondering how I am ever going to drag myself through the full 26.2.

To combat the (literally) crippling pain, I've been dutifully undertaking the stretches and exercises recommended to me by my orthopedist, which are pretty much the same old boring stretches you do in P.E. (Arms against the wall, feet flat, lean. Cross legs, bend at waist, hold. One leg back, one leg forward, lean. Yawn. Repeat.)

Just for fun, I've thrown in the stretches recommended by my co-runner (and co-IT band pain suffer), Rachel. Her physical therapist recommended that she position herself lengthwise atop a foam cylinder (like a hair roller on steroids) and move across the pained area multiple times daily.

Which I have, and which results in unnerving crunching sounds emanating from somewhere deep within the knee-thigh-hip region accompanied by evermore pain. But pain is weakness leaving the body, at least according to the Marines. If that's so, then weakness sounds like potato chips.

And which, look here, really are potato chips! Of which I've been eating more than I should as a palliative for what ails me, and which seem to have fallen under the roller. My chip consumption would horrify any serious runner (Ack! The saturated fat!) and will certainly only exacerbate my sluggish pace.

My co-runner Dwayne thinks all this roller/stretching stuff is nonsense and I should just get a cortisone shot and be done with it. "Get the shot and get back out there," he whispered as I limped toward the finish line. "That's what the pros do."

I'm calling the doc now.

4:00 PM Friday, May 15 2009 • Link •  
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