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Lowering Expectations

The Savannah Marathon is three days away and I’m doing what any red-blooded runner would do: I’m lowering expectations.

Not yours, of course, you don’t have any. The six readers of this blog are all supportive, wonderful people who will be happy with any result I achieve. I am lowering the expectations of me, the guy upon whom this task is laid. So, without further adieu, let the lowering begin….

First and foremost, I have missed a TON of training since injuring my calf on a routine ten mile run September 3rd. While diligently nursing my calf heart attack (see for a definition of the injury), and noting significant progress, I have not been forthright about my fears surrounding this mishap (I am, by the way, in good company when it comes to not being forthright about attacks in September, but I digress…). In truth, I have been massively disappointed AND terribly afraid.

It was my hope to not only qualify for the Boston Marathon (3 hours, 55 minutes for my age group), but possibly run close to 3:30. All the signs were there: my training had been going very well, I was consistently and effortlessly logging 70-80 mile weeks, my long runs between 16 and 20 miles were getting easy and frequent, I was entering the quality training blocks and finding myself up to the task. And the weight was rolling off. Having begun my 18 week program at 220.8 pounds, I was down to 192.2. It was the lightest I have been since the year 2000. I was on my way to 175, which was my race weight at the Flying Pig when I ran 3:10 twelve years ago. Then, the calf heart attack struck without warning and with complete disregard of my hopes.

I’ve had one of these attacks before. It was 1993 and I was at the 18 mile mark of the Long Beach Marathon. I was on a perfectly flat stretch of brand, spanking new asphalt (and sub 3 hour pace, by the way), when out of nowhere my calf exploded. Exploded, you say? Yep, exploded. I’ll tell you what I did: I stopped and looked back at my calf for blood because I thought I had been shot. That’s what I mean by exploded. Unfortunately that injury lingered for close to a year. So when it happened on an easy (and I mean EASY) ten miler a little more than 8 weeks ago, I knew that magnitude of what had occurred. Frankly, it scared me a bunch. I also knew that the Savannah Marathon would not be what I had wanted it to be. HUGE disappointment.

My last seven training weeks have been 0, 3, 19, 25, 43, 52, 44. That’s compared to the seven weeks prior… 80, 72, 71, 80, 78, 72, 72. My longest run since the attack has been 11 miles. My pace has slowed considerably. Add to that, the extra 12 pounds I’ve accumulated as a result of some pretty depression-style eating (worse, by the way, is that this isn’t just 12 pounds, this is a 24 pound swing. I would have losing another 12 during this time period had it not been for the attack). Worse than all of that, my confidence is shot. Deep breath…….

Okay, it’s not ALL doom and gloom. In this time of recuperation I have discovered the world of compression socks, calf stretching and self-massage with The Stick. Oh, I am not kidding. Compression socks, despite looking terribly girlie are VERY effective. Stretching my calves is exhilarating and Stick massage? Stick massage, when performed correctly, is an express line ticket to self-inflicted pain of the highest order. Exactly what I deserve for allowing this attack to happen in the first place.

SO, new goal: I plan to make it from the start line to the finish line without incident and without a major calf occurrence. Maybe I’ll run close to four hours. To be honest, I don’t know. I have no idea where I am at this point and completely unsure as to the potential benefits of some really great base training. We’ll see. And, bottom line, that’s the story of running a marathon….. we’ll see. 

26.2 miles is a long way and a multitude of issues may arise. Even the best in the world can have perfect preparation and succumb to the realities of the long race, so why would I expect my experience to be any different?

I will give it whatever shot I have available and we’ll see what my 16th marathon has in store.  It could be fun. I won’t, however, be that skinny old guy you see in the pictures.