The way I think sometimes…

…I just don’t get it.  It must be some kind of personality disorder because normal people don’t think this way…

First an explanation of my absence…

I was pooped.

Tired of training.  Talking about training.  Obsessing about crap I couldn’t control.  Loaded with work stuff.  I needed a break.

So since Redman I have done only what I wanted to.  A couple of road rides… I got back on my mountain bike (love!), started running trails again (more love!), even swam a little (damn little).  Oh.  And running.  Mostly running.  Nothing to report.  Nothing really to say.  Just exercising as I pleased, when I pleased.  With groups or alone, as the mood struck me.  It’s been quite refreshing.

But now to my current self manifested quandary.

It’s back.

You know (OK… maybe you don’t…).  That need to do something stupid?

Yeah… That.

And the worst part of it is my sufferfest at Redman did nothing to discourage my thinking.  In fact, it even bolstered my confidence a bit.

So I was on this run… see.

And the lead instigator, we’ll call her… the Enabler… says to no one in particular, “You know, BOB and I are the only ones in this group that have yet to run Heart of America (the local marathon, dubbed by many including an old Runner’s World article, as one of the hardest non mountain marathons in the nation).

Yes, she called me out by name.  She might as well have hit me in the face with the gauntlet.  I secretly cast a plague on her village…

But then…

I started thinking.  And it hurt, so I stopped.  But while the swelling in my brain was going down I considered my past year of training.

At one point I was swimming 3+ miles a week, riding close to 130 and running 30.  Even though the Redman race itself wasn’t what I had hoped for, I managed to get myself into (barely) shape to complete a half ironman distance triathlon.

While this in itself is an accomplishment it is not the most important part of this line of thinking.  What dawned on me as I was pondering all of these events was something that I had overlooked while I was actually training.

It didn’t hurt…

I mean, yes, it hurt.  All the miles were exhausting.  The cramps on the run in the race were agonizing.  But it didn’t HURT.

What I mean is, the last time I tried to ramp up for anything longer that a half marathon (Kansas City Marathon in 2007), I suffered a life changing injury that forced me out of exercise for almost a year.  The side benefit of all this, though was that I found triathlon as a sport and it probably saved my life.

That horrible injury (stress fracture of the pelvis where the two halves meet on the bottom) was directly caused by running.  A repetitive stress injury.  What it boiled down to was a “kicked in the groin” feeling for 9 months that had me holding on to railings just to go up stairs.  All because I was putting too many miles on my body and it couldn’t handle it.  This all had me convinced that I just wasn’t genetically capable of these types of endurance events.

Side note:  All of this “thoughtiness” happened DURING our normal, 10 mile, Saturday run.  Of which, I remember little.  It’s amazing how going inside your own head for a while makes the miles fly by.

Anyway, for years after I started running again, I was fine up to about 12 miles and then the old injury would start to ache again.  So I marked the half marathon as my “top end” and moved on.  But as I looked back at the summer of training and the several runs of 13-15 miles, some after a long bike ride, I couldn’t remember it hurting… not once.

So the next Sunday, since I had missed the Saturday run, I decided to push it to see what would happen.  I ran 15 miles.  No pain.

…hmmm.

NOW do you see my quandary?

I personally think that I am capable of running a marathon now.  I think my mileages have slowly increased and my base is around the 10 mile mark.  If I give myself 5-6 months to slowly increase and don’t do too many really long runs… I think I can safely run a marathon again.  I also think cross training on trails and the bike will really help.  And if I start hurting again… I’ll just back off.

But I’m scared.  At the ripe young age of 45 I can’t afford to take another year off if I tear myself up again.  And I know I can’t train “tentative”.  That usually causes me to get hurt more!  I have to go for this if I’m going to try.  Part of me says I’m being safe but part of me says I’m getting too chickenshit in my old age…

Anyway… the plan for next year looks to be:

  • Spring marathon.  Probably GO! St. Louis, since it is closest, cheapest (if I pay before the end of the year) and at about the right time (April).
  • Switch for a month or two to triathlons to let my legs recover and get some use out of my gear.  Just local stuff and day trips.
  • Heart of America marathon.  Labor Day weekend.  …just saying that intimidates me.
  • Fall.  If I live that long I would REALLY like to do a 50K someplace.  That would be the perfect year…

Just looking at this makes me think I’m crazy.  I couldn’t even handle ONE marathon a year…  This is nuts.

But… That which doesn’t kill us makes us limp and walk funny for a few weeks… so what the hell.

Crazy…

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