So the weekend was here upon me – really it was Wednesday, but for training purposes it was the weekend. The weekend of truth. Back in November when I met with Jeff Galloway post injury (like 2 hours after and still in tears), he told me not to worry and that as long as I could walk and finish this weekend’s simulation miles, I’d be OK to do Dopey in terms of training. He even said that for the longest day – 26 Miles – I could break it into two or three chunks resting no more than 30 minutes in between. This would accommodate needing to ice or eat since walking is a lot slower than running. But would it be OK?
Wednesday, I started. I had to bring my car in to the shop and was sick and didn’t feel like I should drive to work with the allergy medication I was on. So while I was there waiting, I took my scheduled 45 minute walk. This was after physical therapy, and I was pretty sore. So I took it nice and slow. Completed it and earned 2.46 miles toward training. The 5K at Disney World is untimed and so I know I can finish as long as I don’t just hang around for every character photo. And it was to be 100% walking. Day one completed.
After I got home, I started getting messages that corrals were posted. Shortly after that bib numbers were released. I will be in corral E of H. Larger corrals than before, but I’m told likely there will be waves within them. Hoping this will be enough buffer, but I’m a little worried. I tell people that if you trained, corral placement shouldn’t really matter. But I’m seeing things differently with injury. Maybe I’d feel better had I done the Dopey Challenge before, but I haven’t and I don’t know what to expect to feel with the back to back days. But that’s what training is for, right?
Thursday we had a scheduled 5 miles in lieu of the 10K. This would be timed, but as it’s a shorter distance and I should be OK corral wise, I decided to walk. I was going slowly but managed to keep a 16:16 mm. My first mile was the slowest and what threw me off. This is not enough over to be concerned about finishing. Day two complete.
Friday I had physical therapy again. I reported my results from Days 1 and 2. I gave my PT my plan for completing days 3 and 4 as I need to increase my pace to avoid the dreaded balloon ladies. For those who don’t know, Disney races have 16mm pacers, generally ladies, but I’ve seen a few men too, and they carry Mickey Balloons. (during Star Wars races it’s Death Star balloons, but I digress) They start at the back and maintain a 16mm pace throughout the race. They are the signal that you are in danger of being swept. The actual sweepers are behind them on bicycles – I’ve just been told. I’ve never seen them on course as even slow below pace races, I’ve had enough buffer. For the half and the full it will be important to get that pace so I have the buffer time for med tent and bathroom stops if needed. My plan was to run 15 seconds and walk a minute. This is what I did for 12 miles on Friday. 15:22 pace. Awesome for what I’m up against and my revised goals. Except I hurt. My glutes were on fire as if I had never used them. My knee (original knee injury from 2012) was throwing a minor tantrum as I didn’t remember to use a brace since I was mainly walking. Lesson learned. I went to cryotherapy, I foam rolled, I stretched, I moved around my apartment. Just to stay loose for the next day.
And then it was here. Day 4 of the simulation. 26 miles on the plan. So much second guessing – orthotics or inserts? Which would be more comfortable? (I went with inserts – the orthotics felt hard and I had gotten used to not using them for several months) Yesterday, glutes hurt….too much walking? Should I go to :15/:45? :15/:30???? Or is that too much? I could switch it later I guess. The only thing I didn’t worry about was weather. So perfect out. Just a buff to cover my ears from the ocean wind that gives me ear aches and I was good. I made it out of the apartment to the lobby. But I couldn’t bring myself to leave. I posted an SOS on my Facebook page, and my running friends, injured or not, told me to go. My stomach was in knots but I finally made it out the door. Music. And I was running. Then I was walking. And then I was running? Already? OK, so :15/:30 was not feeling good after 3 previous days so reset to :15/:45 to keep myself a little faster but not uncomfortable.
Never underestimate the power of the musical beat. Whatever it is that makes you bop your head….run to it. Suddenly I was lost in my tunes and every song on it was either chosen for beat or chosen by someone supporting me during my first marathon. I am using the same playlist because it works for me. And then I was at mile 2.5. A snow globe in the park. Took a selfie. That’s when I saw it. My crazy running friend texted me, “Are you OK?” Then it was followed by “Forward is a pace.” And it’s true. Like my other friend said 2 years ago, just one foot in front of the other and keep going. So my pace was forward. I wanted to turn around early several times as I wondered if I could make it. But I didn’t. I went all the way to the 13 mile marker and turned around. By mile 17.25 my glutes were on fire again. There was a winter wonderland event in the parking lot with snow. I wanted to go over and sit in it. I ran and walked another mile or so and then my entire leg seized up. I felt the hip flexor tighten. The IT band and hamstrings all the way down and through my calf to my ankle tighten up. I couldn’t even walk. I hobbled to a bench and paused my watch – just in case this was a JG approved break. I sat for 5 minutes stretching my glutes and piriformis. I used some extra supplements and oils to relieve the pain. And again posted my SOS while I had a little meltdown. I my confidence was zapped. I wasn’t sure I’d make it home. But within 10 minutes total I was up and walking. Just walking. My knee hurt and my glutes were sore but I wasn’t cramping. It was manageable. I walked and stopped to stretch on random benches all the way to mile 25. I decided to skip one of the miles just because if I was hurting I could be home faster, and if I felt I could continue I could to another loop around my building to make it up. At mile 24, which I’m told is the last hard sweep point where they shove you on a bus, my overall pace was 16:00. On the nose! That was after some – no A LOT of – 19 minute miles at the end.
So off to cryotherapy and for French fries. Don’t ask. I wasn’t hungry. I managed to drink a recovery shake. But all I wanted was French fries. And orange soda. I know. Not clean. But that was what I could handle. So I did it. And I can finish this. I’m still scared, but I’m going to do it anyway. Now that my nerves have simmered two days later, I’m starving. Later…..
“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” – Carrie Fisher