An example of what losing ones focus on race week can lead too.
Seattle Marathon trip report.
Went down to Seattle on Thursday to enjoy the weekend and do the Marathon. Woke up on Friday to warm sunny skies. The hotel has a free shuttle service that’ll run you around town but there was a parade out front of the hotel leaving the van stuck where it was till the parade was over, in a couple hours. I decided to just walk to Pike Place. Had to walk aways around the parade and got lost a bit (frequently) but got to Pike Place a solid ten minutes before the shuttle van, awesome. Did I mention there were a lot of hills, some kinda freaky steep, went up and down those quite a bit. So then had a great day walking around trying to see everything. While walking back to the hotel my legs were cramping a bit, it was late, grabbed a sub went to hotel and slept. In the morning my legs were tight and really, really sore behind both knees, as the day progressed my hamstrings joined suit. By the time evening arrived I couldn’t tell if the backs of my legs were just sore or outright injured. This is the night before the marathon so I gathered my resources took a deep breath and began to panic. I tried to just relax and hope it’d all be better in the morning. It wasn’t. In the am I couldn’t straighten either leg, calves to glutes in spasm. While trying to figure out what to do my brain went into spasm. Visions of standing at the side of the road in the rain with a torn hamstring, 10 miles to go had me near losing it totally. It occurred to me that I might not be doing my best thinking just then, I really needed advice. I fb messaged Coach Mikey shortly after 6 am. He talked me off the ledge with some calm reason and the advice I needed that fit myself and the situation perfectly. I headed out to the start line excited to get going and with the plan that I’d give it go for 15-30 min and if it didn’t feel decent I’d ride the monorail right back to the hotel at the start. Standing at the start I still couldn’t straighten my legs. When I stepped off the curb onto the street it felt like something might have torn, just doing that. I know that the route gets hilly after mile 21 and I just couldn’t vision in all of my imagination being able to run up and down those hills on those roads right now let alone after 21 miles of some steeply canted road. The race happened to start and I got pulled along with the crowd while I was finally coming to peace with the only smart thing to do is to go have a hot shower and nice breakfast. When I stepped off the curb and felt the twinge in the back of my leg I remembered Mikey wrote that sometimes our bodies can surprise us, as a good reason to at least try. I was indeed actually totally surprised by my body, at how sore my body was. (As it turns out when I checked my watch about Friday I had walked over 20k with an elevation gain/loss reading that must be a mistake, so still being a bit tired, maybe, but this sore, totally surprising.) When the crowd moved from a walk to jog and I expected to cramp and go down, another surprise. As I moved up onto my forefoot and changed gait the pain mostly went away. At 5k the anxiety was almost overwhelming. I was still running in a marathon I had actually decided to quit. Add to that after this there is no good place for me to change my mind, or injure. This past year of triathlon sure has taught me about jogging on tired painful legs, it really is a skill, a strange skill to have maybe, but a skill none the less and that experience was serving me well now. I was running super slow and hyper focused on every step. While taking off my jacket I took out my ear buds and heard some of the conversations going on around me. The ear plugs didn’t go back in for quite a while and there were times I forgot where I was while laughing with these new ‘slow’ fast friends. I used to look at the back of the pack and think it must be people having a bad day, I was wrong, these folks were having a party not focused on breathing and stride but rather on enjoying and taking it all in, interacting with every spectator and volunteer. Then mile 21 hit and the party ended. The first steep, long hill brought silence other than footsteps and heavy breathing. I tried to walk, and had a few times prior, but it simply hurt just too much to do more than a couple steps so I kept jogging. The ear buds went back in and in no time I simply couldn’t believe I was turning into Key Arena, those last five miles just flew by. I teared up a bit, I don’t know why, never have at a race before. I wasn’t ever there for more reason than to just finish, but it felt like something real special happened that race. I crossed the finish line with more gratitude than I can remember having in a very long time. I have to put that one in my top 10 race experiences and there is my last surprise, I have absolutely no idea why. Mikey, thanks again for sharing the wisdom.