After a rush job to get ready for the Boston Marathon in April, I was relieved to come off that marathon feeling healthy and motivated. I turned my focus to the track, getting my speed back and thinking about running times in the 10,000 meters that I hadn’t run in years. I was really enjoying my training leading up to the USATF championships in Des Moines Iowa. Even though I knew my big goal for the year was to knock it out of the park in the big apple, I was loving the track sessions and the change of pace from my normal marathon training. Unfortunately, I faltered in the 10Kin Des Moines. A combo of a bad race strategy and tough weather conditions left me outside the top 3 required to move on to the IAAF World Championships in Moscow. I was devastated, but quickly found the silver lining in the fact that I could now do some summer road racing that I have never had the opportunity to do before. I felt hopeful. Things happen for a reason, right?
Before Shalane left for Europe to begin her altitude stint before the World Championships we did a 10.5 mile tempo together. It was great, working together like we did before the Olympic Marathon, pushing each other in a strong fast tempo. But on the cool down my right foot began to ache. I stopped and retied my shoe, but it just kept getting worse and worse. I hobbled back to my car and drove home to put my foot in a bucket of ice. Hours later it still swelled. What had I done? Had I tied my shoe too tight? Did I take an awkward step and twist my foot on the run? The next morning I woke up and my foot was still swollen and still very painful to step on. I made a decision to take the day off. For those of you who don’t know me, this is a very big deal. I run every day. Every day. It makes me feel normal. Sane. I only took one week off after giving birth to my son before returning to running. I realize this makes me crazy, but in fact it makes me not crazy. I need to feel my body move. Anyway, when my coach, Jerry Schumacher heard I was taking the day off, his immediate reaction was to ask me if it was broken. Since I never ask for a complete rest day, he knew it was bad. But I was sure that it wasn’t broken. It came out of nowhere. Surely it would clear up in a day or two. After hobbling around for a week, and getting increasingly cranky, I went in for an MRI. I was devastated by the news. Jerry was right. My 2nd metatarsal in my foot had a stress fracture.
After lots of frustrated tears and a meltdown or two, I focused on my cross training. If I couldn’t run, I could still cross train. My body would feel like it was building a base, and when I finally got healthy enough to run, my cardiovascular system would be ready. I started with aqua jogging and then added the elliptical when I got permission from the docs. I cross trained for 850 minutes a week (Two+ hours a day.) Every week I would do my “long run” which was 1 hour and 55 minutes on the Elliptical. Why did I stop at 1:55? Because I told myself that only a psycho would Elliptical for 2 straight hours. I worked hard, visualized racing in NYC, and kept my spirits up.
Eight weeks later, it was time to start running outdoors. The marathon was now 10 weeks away, and I needed to get after it! The transition did not go well. My foot ached and my cadence was slow. I recently went back to the doctor and found out that my foot, is healing, but is not healed. I needed to pull the plug on the marathon, get healthy, and stay away from outdoor running for a little bit longer.
Pulling out of NYC is very difficult for me, for so many reasons. First of all, as I stated earlier, this was my chance to finally enter a race healthy, fit, and ready to go. I had suffered through the fall and winter for my chance to shine in NYC. Secondly, I love the NYC marathon! It was where I ran my first marathon. It was a bit of a deer in headlights experience, but I loved every minute of it. I felt like I discovered myself there, really learned to appreciate myself and my strengths as a runner. I had waited patiently for 5 years to return to the place where I fell in love with the marathon. I couldn’t believe I was going to have to wait longer. Finally, I wanted to run this race for my family, fans, and the NYRR. They know what I am capable of doing and they have supported me through this entire journey. I wanted to have the opportunity to perform for them all.
In the end, I had to realize that this was not the year for me. I have run two of my last three marathons with rushed preparation and I deserve to run a marathon at my best, so that I can truly be a contender again. I realize that my family, sponsors, and fans all want me to be healthy and run at my best. They don’t want to see me out there at 70%, trying to outsmart people rather than being able to freely run my own race.
- Kara Goucher