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Indy Women’s Half: You don’t know, until you know

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SIbbetson

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Sometimes it’s difficult to know whether to toe the line or DNS. It can be even harder to know when a DNF would be the best call. I now know I should have made the first choice about the Indy Women’s HalfMarathon, but if I had to start the race again I would have made the second choice, pride and other considerations aside. But I’m getting ahead of myself...

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Expo fun

After I PRed at the Plaza 10K at the beginning of the month, I felt really good about trying for a half PR in Indy. Typically I don’t have to slow down much from a 10K to a half; last year my differential between the 2017 Plaza 10K and the 2017 Indy Women’s half was 8 seconds/mile. To hit my big goal time of sub-1:20 at Indy, I could slow down about 14 seconds/mile from what I ran at this year's Plaza. I felt really good about going for that, and thought if the weather was good and I could get in a fast pack that 1:18:59 would be realistic.


Starting about 10 days before the race, I felt a niggle in my calf (another post coming with full details about this). Initially it was too tiny to even worry about, and loosened up after a few blocks or at most a mile into my runs, but 6 days before the race it started getting worse and I started worrying.  I did not enjoy my runs like usual during race week, because I was worried that my body was betraying me. I also had a short but intense stomach bug on Tuesday during race week that certainly didn’t do my recovery or body as a whole any favors. I had ART for my calf twice during race week, hoping for relief.


I really vacillated on whether or not I should start the race, and had pretty much backed out, but the lightened up mileage of race week had me feeling like a race horse and I became optimistic that I could race and then take a few days off afterward to address the issue. On Thursday morning I told my parents my decision to race, since they were traveling to my home that day to leave for Indy with me on Friday morning. When I went in for ART on Thursday evening my coach told me he did not think racing on it would make it worse or that it would jeopardize CIM in any way, so I felt validated in my decision. He didn’t even think I’d need time off afterward as I expressed. He said it was a minor strain to my peroneus longus, a stabilizing muscle on the outside of the calf. I also rationalized it away by deciding that if this turned into a season-ending injury, I would be happy that I went to Indy to go for a PR because I might never get to my current fitness level again. Worst case scenario, I wanted a last hurrah.


Throughout this time, my instincts were screaming at me: “Don’t do it! This is a bad idea!” I wouldn’t listen; I told myself I would power through the pain, mind over matter.  I was honored to be featured as one of the Five Women to Watch in the race, but this honor also greatly contributed to my stubbornness about a DNS. I was already printed in the race program; what a loser I would be for pulling out last-minute. The weather forecast was also perfect for racing, at 50* and light wind (bad weather would have made pulling out much easier).

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This was NOT the photo I submitted to be published, & IS

the worst photo of me from the 2017 event...not sure what

happened there, but it disappointed me

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Starting photo from 2017 - can you find me?

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Posing with bib #3

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My sweet mom

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My sweet dad

Race morning my calf hurt on my warm up, but I was used to the feeling from the week before. It wasn’t terrible and I figured I’m just power through.  Prior to this race, I'd never really tried to race with an injury so didn't know the reality of your body simply not allowing it to happen, no matter what your mind says.  As the race started, adrenaline took over, and I told myself, “See, you’ll be fine.” I could tell I was running tentatively but thought maybe it would warm up more and I could speed up then; I wanted to go out conservatively and negative split anyhow. I felt like I was in my own little world, just me and my calf, not like I was in a race; although I knew by mile 3 I’d moved up to 5th place in the all women's field. I looked at my first 3 splits and then stopped checking them, disheartened, because my leg wasn't working right.

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Trying to stay optimistic pre-race

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Start

By mile 4 I was limping. I couldn’t focus on racing or the women ahead of me; all I could think about was my leg. I tried changing my stride slightly, varied my foot-strike, anything for some relief, but nothing helped. I went back and forth between telling myself “this was a terrible idea” and “you’re going to be just fine, it’s just getting warmed up, just don't think about it.” My body was fine otherwise; I wasn't putting out a race effort, which was discouraging. I kept telling myself to toughen up; to just power through. Mind over matter. Make that leg work; force it to feel normal.


I made it through the halfway turn around in a solid 5th place. I knew by that point that my sought after PR was for sure out the window, but I hoped I could stay in the top 5. By mile 7 I was becoming increasingly concerned about my calf, and by mile 8 I was truly dragging my left leg along. My body kept saying, “just stop” but my mind wouldn’t listen. I thought about my seeded race ranking. I thought about my parents who’d traveled to watch me. I thought about how this could be my last run for awhile...what if this was my last race ever?!

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Mid-race

By mile 10 I was truly worried my leg was going to give out with each step. My body begged me to stop, and my mind acquiesced that I would if I couldn’t hang on to a top 10 spot. I stumbled along, and a slight decline in mile 11 truly made my leg scream (had this course not been so flat I would certainly not have finished). At mile 12 I was still in 5th but I could tell someone was coming up on me. I knew I’d have no response when I was passed. She blew by me like I was standing still, and I figured several more were coming, but there was nothing I could do, and I was so close I knew I'd finish even if I crawled it in. Effort-wise I felt like I was out for an easy run, but my leg was shooting pain and wouldn’t move any faster.  My positive splits told the story of my increasing discomfort.


I was so relieved to see the finish line ahead; I was going to make it in.  It's funny how adrenaline carried me to the line but not a step farther.  I had no idea what my time would be, but it didn’t matter at that point. I crossed in 1:24:18 and immediately broke into tears. If I’d just had an off day and run this time it would have been quite disappointing, but it wouldn’t have shaken me in my pursuit of a marathon PR; my recent 10Ks showed me my fitness was at an all-time high. I cried because at that moment I was certain my season was over. I got my last hurrah race but I couldn’t show my fitness in it. I was too stubborn to quit but not stubborn enough to over-ride my own body; I couldn’t force my leg to be okay.

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Exactly how I felt photo 1

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Exactly how I felt photo 2

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Finally!

Hindsight is 20/20, and I should have listened to my own body and head instead of what others told me. The whole week my gut told me no. I prayed about it and thought God told me no. I did it anyway. I was wrong. But I also didn’t know until I knew, and by then the damage was done.


Post-race I couldn't walk without holding onto someone or something. My cool down mileage wasn’t an option, and my dad ended up walking to the car and coming back to pick me up. To add injury to injury, my poor mom tripped and fell while trying to get from the start to a spot a few blocks away where we would later run by. She scraped and bruised her face, broke her glasses, and bruised up her knee and body. I was just sick about this happening to her; I felt like it was all my fault for not staying at home in Missouri like I clearly should have.  Instead of having fun in Indy post-race, we headed home since we both couldn't really walk.

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Most of the top 10, in no particular order

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Winnings

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We both visited the med tent for ice!

I’m thankful I was able to finish, even though I shouldn’t have. I’m thankful I held on to 6th (video of the awards here; official results here).  Happiness is based on happenings, but joy is based on Jesus. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t very unhappy, but I am aiming to choose joy. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9


Going from running 80 miles a week to 0 is a huge mind-trip, but I know that is what I have to do until I'm pain-free. I’m not going to do anything to risk permanent damage.  As much as I want to run CIM 2018 in 2:44:59, I want to run for the rest of my life so much more.  The good news is that I've had significant improvements every day post-race, and no longer fear that this is season-ending (plus I was able to go to work on Monday then walk across the Missouri State campus to teach on Tuesday, both of which I'd been quite concerned about!). 


I didn't know I shouldn't have run until I did...now, I know.  

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Post-race meal at Texas Roadhouse

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Fitting rest stop on the drive to the race

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2 days after the race while I was on the spin bike

my cat knocked my award on my workout room

floor...it felt sadly symbolic

 

 

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Reminds me of SFO last summer. Everyone said, "Just go for it. You might surprise yourself." What I did was suffer through a long, long morning of pain. So glad to hear this is just a short term setback.

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Its so hard to listen to your body when its telling you to stop. All our mental training tells us to push through pain, not give in to it.  We all would have raced. Don't kick yourself.

Best wishes for quick healing.

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Any of us would have made the same decision, especially if a coach is telling us to go for it. 

Also, I'm sure you've been told this, but DNS-ing or DNF-ing would have disappointed absolutely no one. I'm so glad things are on the upswing now!

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I totally understand the "you don't know until you know."

Hoping your injury is short lived.

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Why don't we listen to the voice of wisdom? Glad you are feeling better as of this post (hope you are really feeling better by now). You have the best attitude.

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