People wiser than me have said that a marathon is not conquered the morning of the race...it is conquered in the weeks and months leading up to race day. For me the LA Marathon had all of the signs of being a failure instead of a success. First I got sick...and not just a little cold that keeps you down for a few days...I had bronchitis...so from January 23 to February 23 I logged a total of 0 miles...big fat goose egg!! Instead of taking a rest week like most marathon training plans suggest, I was running 19.5 miles the weekend before the race..the first 18 miles were really good...but then about 1 ½ miles from home my foot started to really hurt...up to that point my run had been really good, so I just kept trucking on...I can run 1 ½ miles with a sore foot ram through my head over and over. Then next day it got worse...I was hobbling from the pain...in my semi-expert medical opinion I had plantar fasciitis...the pain was so intense I dared to ask that question no marathoner ever wants to ask - what if I really can’t run the LA Marathon? I decided that I would take it easy until the marathon...I ran on Wednesday and it hurt...the outlook was bleak. The day before the race I took a short leisurely run and experienced little pain...YEAH!! I was ready...or so I thought.
The alarm sounded and I bolted out of bed...since I had to be at the finish line to catch my 3:30am shuttle to the start line I was awake at a crazy hour. I dressed and walked out the door still feeling a little concerned about my foot. I walked as little as possible but in the hours leading up to the race the pain in my foot got worse and so I went through a cycle of trying to sleep, massaging my foot, tying my shoes at varying tightness and taking short walks to the restroom...in pain. Finally about 2 hours before the race I decided that I would stop the craziness and try to sleep as much as possible and completely ignore my foot...I also accepted that I would drop out if I needed to, but I would go as far as I could. I dreamt about being on a bus with sweaty and stinky runners that had dropped out of the race...and I was suddenly wide awake. The small crowd of runners in the bleachers in Dodger stadium around me had grown exponentially. I sat for a little while and tried to take in all of the sights and sounds...then I got up, turned in my bag and decided to go to the restroom one last time. Even the restroom line was an adventure..there was a group of Students Run LA in front and to the side of me in the restroom lines and they were stretching as they waited. The girl who was leading was like a drill sergeant...I almost felt guilty for not stretching with them. These kids had worked hard in the months leading up to the race and even minutes before they hit the street, they were doing everything they could to ensure they had a successful race - even if it meant shuffling forward in their restroom line as the simultaneously tried to stretch their hamstring. As I walked to the start line, with chatter ever where, the announcer talking non-stop, I said a little prayer, “You take care of the foot; I’ll take care of the running.” And that was it...in short order we were off into the streets of LA. I had never given myself permission before the race started to drop out; I felt that I would surely fail if I went into a race thinking dropping out was an option....but the reality was that there was no way I could run 26.2 miles with the pain I had felt in the hours leading up to the run...or could I?