There is a legendary story about NFL Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott that epitomizes toughness and gladiator-like mentality. In the NFC playoffs, Lott had his left pinky finger badly mangled in a collision – supposedly part of it lay on the field — but he came out briefly, taped it up and continued to play. Later, when given a choice between a bone graft that would mean missing playing time but could eventually give him full use of his finger and hand, he opted for the second option, which was to amputate the top of his pinky and keep playing. Dude played eight more seasons without the top of his pinky. I fucking love Ronnie Lott.
So you can imagine how much of a loser I felt last night.
I drove down for packet pick-up for the marathon, got my bib and super cool shirt, and headed on back to my car. I stopped to sit on the beach as it was sunset, and I don’t get to the beach much even though I live in LA, so it was a rare treat. Anyway, I just kinda sat there for a while, looking at the waves. It had been a busy couple days both at work and in my personal life with a dead battery to top it all off. But finally, some peace. And the thought came: I’m going to downgrade to the half [marathon].
In my last post I was sure that I’d be running the full marathon. I had started visualizing how I’d like the race to go and had even begun my race week rituals by doing some visualization, taking Juven and being careful with hydrating and what I was eating. I even juiced for Chrissakes! But the decision to run the full was mostly based on the certainty that my upper body would continue to heal at the pace it had been. I figured I’d be at 80%. Alas, friends, that’s not what happened. While the chest area inflammation calmed down a bit, there was now referred pain along my forearm that until now hasn’t improved. It feels like I broke it or there’s a cramp or, I don’t know, it just hurts, and it’s intermittent, which is why at times I felt hopeful thinking it had gone away…only to return.
Thursday I was told by doctor number two that he didn’t think I should run the race; however, he did offer to give me a steroid shot if I insisted. This kind of freaked me out. I saw yet a third doctor on Friday morning, who confirmed the other two doctors’ diagnoses of chest inflammation most likely done when the masseuse hit a lymph node under my arm, but she did not think I would do further damage by running. It was just a matter of how much discomfort and pain I wanted to withstand. What a relief?
My FMC mentioned that her husband would be camped out a little past the midway point, so that if it got too painful to continue, then I could get a ride back to the start from him. She was so kind in letting me know that DNFing was not a bad thing and offering me an out. So I now had a Plan A (run the damn thing) and a Plan B (DNF if it got too painful). Sitting out on the sand, Plan C materialized — run the half instead. My chest was aching and my forearm was throbbing, and I know from experience that a small pain can turn into a large pain during the long course of a marathon, and I just wasn’t up for it. Knowing that there are two local marathons in the next eight weeks that I can run instead was the final factor in my decision.
I went back to the registration tables, and less than one minute later, I was officially listed as doing the half. I had mixed emotions walking back to my car. I was relieved for sure, but, well, is self-condemnation an emotion? “Quitter, loser, wimp” and variations of those monikers ran through my brain. I called my husband and burst into tears. Ugh. And my husband, who is the walking antithesis of my loving but hard-driving Asian Tiger Parents, god bless him, my husband said “I couldn’t be more proud of you.” He has watched how uncomfortable it’s been for me to sleep and had hoped I wouldn’t run at all of course…but I mean, that’s crazy.
So blogging family, after eleven weeks of training for a marathon, I sit on the verge of running half a marathon instead. The plan is to get the cortisone shot Tuesday morning, after which I’ll have to wear a sling for 24 hours. I’m so over this. Hopefully later next week I’ll be ready to go back to marathon training for either Long Beach, or most likely Santa Clarita in mid-November.
Oh, and it turns out that my hero Ronnie Lott…well, it turns out that he regrets amputating his finger and cautions that type of tough-guy mentality. OK, so an achy chest and painful forearm isn’t quite the same as cutting off the tip of my pinky, but if my disappointment is any indication, then bowing out last minute for a race that I trained ten weeks for is pretty tough too. Side note: I’m hoping that I can run angry tomorrow and get a PR.
Hope everyone gets in some good runs this weekend!