Au Revoir, Marathon de Paris

Okay, it’s time.

I think I am finally ready to let go of the Paris Marathon.

Nothing has seemed to work with my IT-band injury. I keep thinking it’s better (this has been going on since late August) and then I start running more, and then it hurts again. Last week I hurt it again, for real, really badly. Maybe I just needed one more really painful run to get it into my thick head that a marathon is not in the cards, not even running/walking it and taking it “easy.” At this point, I would probably injure something different if I tried to run/walk 26 miles on April 9th (just 5 weeks away).

The prospect of running that far doesn’t even seem feasible anymore, let alone fun.

No 26.2 this year.

No 26.2 for me this year.

But it’s still very hard for me to let go of, because I had big plans to run my friend’s first marathon with her, and to run what might be my only European marathon, at least for a while. I don’t know where in the world I will be living next year, but I definitely won’t have the whole month of April off to study for exams travel like I do this year. I’ve already skipped two 10Ks, one half marathon, and will have to skip another on Sunday. Needless to say, I won’t sign up for any more races in the assumption that I’ll surely be healed by race day.

It’s obviously going to be a while.

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I’m supposed to run the North London Half on March 12th…but that’s not going to happen either.

Aside from the very difficult task of trying to let go of my Paris Marathon dreams (Running my third marathon in the City of Lights! Breaking 4 hours! Running my friend’s first marathon with her! Or just somehow getting across the finish line!) it’s not being able to run pain-free that is even harder to deal with.

Like most runners, I depend on being able to run for my sanity. It is my greatest stress reliever and often my therapy. I need to run even when things are status quo, but my life is anything but status quo right now. Aside from all the highs of living in a new country – getting to travel to many new places, meet new people, experience life in a new way – there are plenty of lows and stressors, and I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to deal with them if I can’t run.

I just want to run!

I just want to run!

It’s been a particularly challenging couple of months: I moved to a new country, I’m doing a very intensive graduate program, went through a break-up, lost one of my best friends to cancer, am far away from my friends and family, am in the process of applying to jobs for next year, and therefore have no idea how long I will be staying in London, or where in the world I will be living in six months.

Add to that the stress of worrying about my leg and anxiously trying to figure out whether I’ll be able to do the Paris Marathon (answer: no) and it becomes clear to me why I haven’t been responsible or listening to my body, but instead have been impatient, irrational, and reckless in not allowing my leg to recover. I know the mature thing would have been to stop running for several months when I first got injured, but I selfishly felt justified because I needed to run, and I was over-confident in thinking that my body would be able to heal quickly, and on my timeline.

Run/walking the Oxford Half in October on little training worked well, but still wasn’t a responsible decision.

Aside from all that, running is such a big part of my identity. I love setting goals and challenging myself to reach them. Having running goals is sometimes the only thing I feel I can control, and not being able to control that (What’s that? I can’t control everything?!?) is disorienting, disheartening and disappointing.

But what can I do? I’ve tried seeing two different physical therapists, and that hasn’t seemed to do much, but I’ll keep going (currently only every 7-8 weeks, thanks a lot free UK healthcare). I’m trying acupuncture. I’m doing yoga. I’m foam-rolling. I’ll cut back on running – for what seems like the hundredth time – and will try not to push beyond what’s comfortable.

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An optimistic four mile run in Paris before Thanksgiving dinner in November.

I’m still going to Paris in April to stay with my friend who’s running her first marathon, and to cheer her on. We signed up for the the un-timed 5K the day before the marathon (a route that goes past the major sights, and includes a t-shirt and breakfast), and I’ll probably run a few of the more scenic miles with her during the marathon. I’ll be envious of her medal, but I’ll try to remind myself that getting one of my own would likely have been at the price of a further (or another) injury.

All in all, this is probably just one big lesson in letting go of control. I have to accept that things won’t always go according to plan, and that healing an injury is a process that must be respected. Someday I’ll hopefully run another marathon, maybe I’ll break four hours, and maybe I’ll even run the Paris Marathon, although logistically it seems unlikely now.

I’m just sad that it won’t be in 2017.

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15 thoughts on “Au Revoir, Marathon de Paris

  1. I feel you! After struggling with plantar fasciitis most of last year, I thought I’d be able to train for some spring races. Not so – it’s been a really slow comeback to where I left off last March and I DNS’ed yesterday’s Cambridge Half. Fortunately, the charity for which I was supposed to run London this year is allowing me to defer to next year, so I’ll have a place there for 2018. I wish I was in better shape now, but I know the extra time will help me in the long run.

    • Oh I’m sorry to hear about your DNS and your plantar fasciitis Karen! That’s great that you can defer the London Marathon for next year. I’m trying to keep that kind of perspective and think of what will be best for my body in the long run!

  2. Oh Gabrielle I can relate SO MUCH to what you’re saying! I was planning to run Marathon #3 in Rome next month (I’ll have a place there for 2018 though), and I was hoping to run NYC next fall, with lots of races in between (such as the Paris half marathon yesterday), but I had and have to let go, and it’s heartbreaking. Like you, running is “my place”, when I run I feel powerful and in control of my fate, but my body tells me it’s not so true…
    I have so many injured friends those days, we’re in pain together but I guess the worst part is to hear “maybe you did too much”.
    I wish you a good recovery and I’m sure you’ll get back much stronger.

    • Oh Marinette I’m so sorry to hear about your injuries as well! And sorry you had to miss the Paris Half yesterday. I’m glad you’ll have a place in the Rome Marathon for next year. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one in this position…but at the same time I wish we could all just be healthy and run our races! Wishing you a speedy recovery. And glad you got that sweatshirt – I wear it nearly every day! (It helps…a bit.)

  3. I must also say that thanks to you, I bought myself the “marathoner” sweatshirt from Sarah Marie Design Studio, I can’t wait to wear it! I’m still a 2-time marathoner despite the injury!!!

    • Thanks Nicole. It’s hard to believe and remember but hopefully soon I’ll be back in the game. Hope your ankle is feeling much better these days!

  4. So sorry to hear that, girl… I had to skip two marathons in the past and Boston is still a big quetsion mark, so I feel your pain. But you are being SMART with your decision… Un abbraccio <3

  5. Sending you a long distance hug!! I’m so sorry you’re hurting right now (in so many ways). Just for the record, I think you’re incredible!! Give yourself a break and go buy yourself a pastry!!

    Your cuz,

    Paula

  6. Ugh that is tough. No matter how much you logically know it’s the right choice, deciding not to run a race is the hardest. Sending running hugs your way!

    • Thanks Nicole! Yeah, my brain knows it’s the right thing but my heart still wants to run. It’s so hard!

  7. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for some months now and am sorry to hear you are having a hard time. I am also struggling with IT issues and found the stretch in this yoga video amazing, perhaps it can also help you:
    https://youtu.be/of2spyCtUkw
    Good luck! Lucy, France

    • Thanks for sharing that, Lucy! I’ll definitely check it out. Hope your IT band issues feel better soon!

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