This morning was the very last Minneapolis Marathon training run, and for the first time since I've run with the group, I couldn't finish what I had scheduled.
This first week of tapering has been a big struggle for me because of my blisters. I thought my taper couldn't have happened at a more perfect time after last week's blister-laden 22-miler, but every time I put on a shoe (work shoe or running shoe), my little toe on my left foot kept getting progressively worse and worse. I had to take more days off of working out than I did actually getting out there (cross-training included), and ended up wearing sandals everywhere because I couldn't fit a shoe on comfortably. It's been really hard dealing with the idea that I can't run, even though I know I should be starting to do more resting anyway.
Yesterday Team Ortho posted the coolest video about their training runs to spark more interest in their foundation and the other practices they'll have for upcoming races this year. I saw the camera crew down at Historic Fort Snelling last weekend during the training run, but I tried to avoid the filmographers. Inevitably, the I made a few appearances in their kick-ass video.
The past few weeks we've had record numbers of runners showing up for the training runs. It was pretty sparce this morning for reasons unknown. Perhaps the late night Twins-dominating-the-Brewers game? Maybe because it was hazy and unusually warm at 6a.m.? Perhaps because the forecast called for early-morning thunderstorms? We're supposed to get some blistering 90-degree/high-humidity weather starting tomorrow, but I didn't figure that was going to affect people today. Perhaps it did.
We waited around for a few announcements, got some tapering advice, and headed off on our 8-mile loop of the West & East Mississippi Parkways, crossing over at the Franklin and Ford Parkway bridges. Right before I took off, I heard the co-director of the marathon say something to another runner: "You should be knocking down your volume these next two weeks. Get as much rest as possible. Don't quit running; just don't run as many miles. Nothing in your training will help you now, but it can hurt you."
Nothing in my training will help me now, but it can hurt me.
I kept this in mind as I hobbled away in my bandaged toes. I took off with the 9:30-minute milers but somehow made my way to the front of the bunch. Even while gimping, I managed to keep ahead of everyone and even pass a few others. Mile 1 clicked by, then mile 2, mile 3, mile 4 ... and all the while I was managing less than 9-minute miles. Miles 5, 6, 7, and 8 -- I was back at the start with an average of an 8:49 pace. None of this was easy, though. My little toe was throbbing uncontrollably, I was starting to change my gait to favor my left foot, I felt a new blister developing, my ankle and knee started to twinge, and I knew it was going to be ugly when I took off my shoe.
My training plan had me going 12 miles today, but I kept trying to tell myself that I was going to seriously hurt myself. For whatever high-achieving/high-discipline reason, I couldn't get it out of my head that I had to do 12 miles. That's what my plan said; that's what I had to do.
After grabbing some water, I headed back out for mile 9, then mile 10, and then finally mile 11. That's when I couldn't handle my toe anymore and thought for a second I was going to cry in front of everyone. My littlest toe felt like it was taking up my entire shoe, and I could feel the "heat" inside my toe box. If you've ever had that "heat" feeling, your heart immediately drops knowing that you're going to have a bloody mess, one less running sock, and one ruined shoe.
Despite all that, I still managed to average an 8:48 pace for my last three miles.
Even though I had a seriously fast run by my usual standards, I know that I pushed it way too far today. I need to take more time off this week to be sure these blisters heel before the race. I'll be devastated if I end up walking half of the marathon because I'm in so much pain. At least I know that taking time off makes me a hair faster, right?!
Resting during a taper is a good thing. I need to get this into my head. Nothing in my training will help me now, but it can hurt me.
14 more days!
11-mile splits (1:37:04; average of 6.8mph):
Air Temp: 68F