Tuesday, September 16, 2008


The goal I set for myself nearly a year ago of qualifying for the Boston Marathon this fall is officially washed out. I had to shave 11 minutes off of my personal best from March, and since I was injured throughout April and May, it was contingent upon me following my training plan to the letter. I've now missed over a week due to a viral infection that I caught during the VA Beach half marathon, and the runs I was able to do last week weren't all that great. Missing all this time might have been acceptable back in June or July, but not at this critical time. With just six weeks to go, training is critical, and even my book says to revise my goal if I miss 10 days or more. Which I have.

I knew I should have stopped running at mile 6 of the half marathon. Something felt really "off" and yet I kept going. Mainly because I knew I had to get back to the finish line, and I only had 7 more miles to go. But it really did me in, and I haven't felt the same ever since the race.

After a major setback into the illness on Sunday, and a failure to complete even half of my long run, I decided to stop running until I can get a proper diagnosis from the doctor. My heart rate was 10-12 BPM too fast and I was completely fatigued by the end of it. I spent the rest of the day in bed. At this point, I will be thankful to simply complete the marathon. I've been to the doctor twice and yet I'm still having pressure/tightness in my chest. Specifically, on the left side around the area of my heart. At first, the doctor suspected it was a virus of the heart, but she ruled it out through my EKG, which was normal. It's not overtraining, because that wouldn't involve chest pressure-- and people who "overtrain" typically lose their motivation and desire to run. (And I haven't!) I won't speculate anymore in this blog as to what I have, because I don't want to un-necessarily frighten my blog readers. Hopefully I will have some answers on Wednesday when I go to see my sports medicine doctor.

My mother and many others have reminded me that my overall health is much more important than running. Somehow, this concept isn't so easy for me to grasp. Really, the main reason I want to be well is to be able to run. I'm more passionate about running than anything else in my life. I don't have a husband or a family like most people my age, so this is what I have devoted my heart to. It's probably hard for non-athletes to understand this passion, but for me, it's been the organizing principle of my life for a long time.

My personality suits me perfectly for running. I'm extremely motivated, goal-oriented, passionate, perfectionistic, with a strong belief in the "effort-result" system. I have a need for structure and control in my life, and running every day provides me with that. Even when I wasn't running because of my knee injury, I still was able to exercise, and now I am not.

I've had a lot of disappointments in life because I believe that I should be acknowledged for my hard work and dedication. I can name quite a few examples of it now, but I won't go into it. I thought that with running, I would be exempt from that. Since the judge is 100% objective (the clock) and I'm only competing against myself, really, then dedicated marathon training should yield results. So far, it always has. And it's provided me with a huge sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

But now, I feel like all I really got out of it was this illness that could potentially prevent me from running this marathon, or worse, marathons in the future.

No wonder my heart aches.


  1. Elizabeth, your entry breaks my heart. Listen to your family though (and your body), your health is important and if it means needing to take time off from running, please do so! I know, easier said than done, especially coming from someone that is still running with a broken toe, but please wait until you find out more from the doctor...don't push it. Keep me posted on things, I'll be thinking of you!

  2. Hey Elizabeth...things will improve before you know it!! Keep your head up. I hope you feel better soon -- the time for running is right around the corner, I'm sure.

  3. Thank you both. The doctor said that my heart was fine (I had a chest x-ray and he listened to it). He said that the virus attacked my chest and can stay in my system for weeks! He said I might not be up to my normal energy level for up to 8-12 weeks! But that I could train as tolerated. I managed to knock out 19 miles on Saturday without feeling exhausted afterwards.