Today I bit off way more than I could chew.
I was fortunate, all three of my sons were home to celebrate a birthday, and two of them, Ryan and Ethan, are training for some upcoming long races. Because of that, they were both willing to slog along on a twelve mile “run” with me.
Our goal was to complete the entire Saddle River Bike Path, from Ridgewood to Rochelle Park, and then back again…a twelve mile jaunt.
In a word (or five), I didn’t have it today. I ran a respectable first mile with my sons, both in their young 20’s, before I had to walk. And walk I did. They stayed close with me for much of the run, but I implored them to push ahead without me. They did, at times, but they were polite (and respectful) enough to never get too far ahead.
I kept pushing forward, but it wasn’t easy. It was very hard. It was a painful run.
I realized, early on (some of this I knew before we started, of course), that I had a few things going against me today:
- I have only run outside this training season once (the 12.7 mile slow jog/walk) two weeks ago. Because I have not run outside, the pounding of asphalt shocks my body in ways that my treadmill does not. Every stride brought with it unwelcome pain.
- The hard plastic brace I wear when I run to (hopefully) help decrease the pain in my right Achilles makes running uncomfortable and changes my stride (although I don’t want it to).
- The pain in my right Achilles
- The fact that I still have not recovered from the 18-miler I did on my treadmill only four days ago.
Of all those factors, I think the fact that I was coming back from an 18-miler hurt (literally and figuratively) the most.
Prior to the 18-miler, my longest weekly mileage this whole training season has been a mere 22.9 miles. Along with the 18-miler, I was attempting to run 30 miles in just five days.
It was too much.
I bit off more than I could chew.
Let me take a step back first. I was given the “go-ahead” to run by my orthopedist in mid-July. Since then, it’s been a long, slow (but steady) journey back. My weekly mileage has been as follows:
- Week of July 14 – 6.25 miles
- Week of July 21 – 5.45 miles
- Week of July 28 – 10.94 miles
- Week of August 4 – 8.25 miles
- Week of August 11 – 9.34 miles
- Week of August 18 – 13.3 Miles
- Week of August 25 – 13.25 miles
- Week of September 1 – 17.2 miles
- Week of September 8 – 18.2 miles
- Week of September 15 – 19.2 miles
- Week of September 22 – 5 miles (I had some traveling and save my long run for the next week, a day off on Monday)
- Week of September 29 – 22.9 miles
- Last week – (Including the 18 miler) – 26.2 miles (how appropriate)(I didn’t plan it that way.)
Trying to run 30 miles in just five days, with that as my training, and with the tears in my Achilles, was asking too much of myself.
After that first mile today, I never got in a groove. I ran from distance marker to distance marker (these are located every tenth of a mile). At times, one-tenth of a mile was too far. I thought, constantly, of quitting. Everything hurt and I couldn’t find any rhythm.
I gave up my 2019 marathon at least a hundred times today. But, still, I kept moving ahead.
Somewhere around Mile 3.8, I found just enough of a burst of energy and rhythm to cover about three-quarters of a mile without stopping. This is what running is supposed to feel like. Then, from about the 4.6 mile mark, all the way until the end of the trail, at Mile 6.0, I saw my sons running together, just about a tenth of a mile ahead of me. I couldn’t close the distance, but I remained strong and finished just a few minutes behind them at Mile 6, before we had to turn around and do it again.
Mile 7 came with relative ease. But then I needed to walk. Again. I told the boys to go ahead, that I’d make it. Ethan eventually went. Ryan stayed with me for about another mile and a half, or so, putting up with my slow pace and frequent walking breaks (each only about 20 to 30 seconds) before I told me to also run hard ahead of me. Ryan then took off.
I would have loved to do the whole path with them, but they’re also training for races and to keep them with me would have been very selfish on my part. They slogged with me for a long time. They needed to get some real miles in.
I knew I’d make it back, eventually, but I had to fight each tenth of a mile. I won some, the miles won some, but I eventually finished the twelve mail trail. Ryan said I did it in about 2:07. For the pace I “ran,” that seems fast, but I’ll take it. If that pace holds true over 26.2 miles in New York, I might still break five hours. (Honestly, I think five hours, in my condition and shape is a pipe dream.)
It was a great run, made better by the companionship with my sons. They were encouraging, motivating, and a delight to be with. I keep telling them that I want to RUN! again and not feel like a old man when I get out there.
I have a surgery date scheduled for December. Before I decide on that completely, I’m going to work with a physical therapist (now the third doctor to add to the mix along with my chiropractor and orthopedist) to see what she thinks. Maybe she can help heal me. She and her partner specialize in athletes – runners specifically. Further she said, “I had interstitial tears in my Achilles too and worked through it.” Hope is a great thing.
I have suffered with this Achilles problem for years. It’ll be nice to get it behind me, one way or another, and to return to the runner I used to be.
I have a special 18-miler planned for next week – again outside and again with someone special. My goal will be to run more of that than I walk. I’ll go light on the running this week so I’m as rested as I can be for that big effort.
The New York Marathon is in three weeks, just 21 days from today. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to be a long and difficult day.
But it’s New York and I love it.
I just have to be there.