Friday, April 1, 2011

I am a Failure

It's taken me a few days to screw up the courage to write this. It's not often the word 'failure' enters my vernacular-especially when the words 'I am a...' proceed it.  But, as this blog is about my life here in London-the good and the bad-it's only fair I post about the bad too.

This past Saturday was to be THE run.  The run that I've been training for since January.  The run that has been the catalyst for me loosing 13 pounds.  The run that I've commented on a few times on this blog.  The run that has well & truly sucked a good portion of my free time the past 3 months.

The run that I couldn't complete because my knees would let me.


Two weeks ago, I ran 28.8k.  Well technically, I ran 27k and hobbled 1.8k.  My knees simply said f-you. We're done.  The mind was willing, as was the body from the knees up.  But the knees themselves weren't so willing!  That really made me nervous, so I tried to take the next two weeks easy-fewer runs, shorter distances, lots o' anti-inflammatory drugs.  The whole lot.

So, when this past Saturday came, I knew there was a pretty good chance that my knees would say f-you again.  But, I had a plan:  If I can at least make it to the 30k mark, I'll hobble the last 12k even if it takes me until the gym closes (effectively meaning it would take me 8 hours to complete THE run-2.5 hours longer than my target time).  Alas, my knees first started protesting at the 7k mark, and by the 14k mark when I took my first break, I knew I was in trouble.  I didn't know what to do, and perhaps more importantly than completing the run in any level of respectable time, I was concerned that continuing would cause damage.

At the 21k mark I threw in the proverbial towel.  Intellectually, I know it was the right thing to do.   Emotionally, I'm still feeling grumpy about it-and though 21k is nothing to sniff at, it's still only half of what I set out to do.  Training had gone so well for me for the past 3 months-I was genuinely surprised at how well my body seemed to respond to the effort, and as the weeks passed, I felt more and more confident at what I was trying to accomplish.  The longer runs were hard, but I really enjoyed them-and past a point was truly looking forward to THE run. And on some level, more importantly, I was looking forward to enjoying the feeling of completing such a daunting task.

Sigh.  Well, there's always next year.


  1. Your knees are telling you something. As someone who used to run and now has back and knee problems, just find something else. Running is so hard on your body and it's not worth lining up problems for yourself in later years. Believe me.
    How about competitive swimming?

  2. You are unfortunately right, but my stubbornness struggles with admitting such a thing outloud!

  3. It's understandable that you feel disappointed... but there is absolutely no shame in making what was obviously a very wise decision. There will be other races... or maybe you'll find another passion that means much more, and doesn't exact such a big physical toll. Personally, I'd rather be able to enjoy London and all that it entails with knees that worked! :-)

  4. Sorry to hear, that really sucks. :( You really did put in a great effort and Karen is right, being disappointed is understandable but you did the smart thing, esp. right before your wedding, you wouldn't want to spend that day with miserable knees. What you did accomplish was HUGE, though, be proud of it!! :)

  5. As gennifer 6 says... it was a huge accomplishment that showed you how much you're capable of when you set your mind to it. You kicked a$$ in every way. Had it not been for those grumpy knees, you would've finished. Am I right? You know it's true!

  6. I know that it's upsetting, you just have to think about how much more exciting it will be when you actually do finish the race.

    You know that you are capable of doing it, that's all that really matters.

    Have a glass of wine and a bubble bath and don't be so hard on yourself.

    I'm freaking out about running a 5k in 7 weeks. I can't imagine even going 21!

  7. I'm with expat mum. We are moms, after all. And as a former competitive swimmer with no sport related injuries, I highly recommend it.

  8. Thanks everyone for your kind words. I am incredibly proud of what I was able to do, but darn it, the other 21k would have been nice too!

    I'm not giving up, just rejiggering the tool-box so to speak, and will try again at some point over the next 18 months (before I turn 40). That's been my goal for 5 years, and I'm not giving up on it yet!

  9. Dropping out was definitely the right decision, but I don't blame you for wanting to try again. Have you considered trying the Galloway method, using walking intervals to break up the running? After spraining my knee in a bizarre office chair accident, I switched to the run/walk method and have subsequently finished 2 marathons and many other shorter races. I started out running 2 minutes, walking 1 and am now up to 4 minutes running, 1 minute walking. I was with Jeff Galloway last October for the Athens Marathon and witnessed him do 30 second running, 30 seconds walking and still complete the marathon in around 4 hours. So don't think adding walking makes you any less of an endurance athlete. Let you knees get a bit better and then try again. You can do it!

  10. @Val, bless you for thinking I could run that far without walking! :)
    The run/walk is the only way I've ever trained-funny to see that there's an actual 'method' for it. Who knew?
    Thanks for your kind words. I *will* try again.

  11. Sorry to hear about your knees, but you're right 21k is nothing to sneeze at. I've just started running for the first time in my life.
    Looking forward to reading your blog!

  12. Oh I'm so sorry!!! I know that was disappointing to you. But I have to say for me, even still what an accomplishment.

    I do echo the swimming though :) (and acupuncture for the knees...)