In February, I started to get the hang of it. I even added strength training back to my routine. But a week in, I felt something in my back and was sidelined. I strained a muscle in my lower back, probably while lifting weights. Great. Another setback. Determined not to let this get me too far behind, I decided to make an appointment with the my physical therapist. Shot out to Saint Vincent's Sport Performance. They helped me get back on track after a horrible car accident a few years ago and helped me through this as well. They are a great group of doctors, physical therapists, strength coaches, sport psychologists, dietitians and athletic trainers. The great thing about St. Vincent Sports Performance Staff is that they are all very active and understand their patient's need to continue their chosen activities. My physical therapist also happens to be the president of a local running club so from day one he knew my goal was to start running again as soon as possible. He prescribed some exercises, brisk walks and 4 weeks of therapy sessions. I still counted my walks using my Nike+ watch or GPS app and ended the month with 46 miles. March wasn't much better with only 38 miles of just walking. Now 108 miles behind schedule.
Once I was able to run again, I finally got on track with running an average of 20 miles per week. I decided not to stress out about being behind schedule and just press forward with meeting the immediate goal of 20 miles per week. April was much better with 75 miles. Only 5 miles short of the 80 miles per month goal. Here is where I learned to better accomplish this goal. I decided to set multiple goals over the coarse of the month, instead of strictly focusing on the 20 mile per week goal. The primary goal became running 80 to 100 miles per month (needed to add more to start catching up), while 20 miles per week was now the secondary goal. This allowed more flexibility from week to week as my work and travel schedule changed. I didn't worry about only running 15 miles one week, when I knew I'd have a long weekend coming up where I could get in a long run or two. Some weeks I would finish 20 miles by Thursday or Friday, so I would rest one day and go for a somewhat long run on Saturday or Sunday. This helped me to reach my goal for the month as well as begin to catch up. May and June were great with 107.4 and 89.3 miles, respectively. 72 miles behind schedule.
The main reason I didn't stress out so much about being behind and why I didn't give up is because I knew that I would at some point begin marathon training. I knew that marathon training would bring in 100+ mile months and 30+ mile weeks. In July, August and September I ran 112.2, 144 and 119.1 miles respectively.
I was back on my game and had effectively made up the difference. August's 144 miles is the most I have ever run in a month or even a week. I was averaging about 35 miles per week. I chalk this up to marathon training long runs, but also to Sunday morning runs with the BGR! Indy ladies. When I wasn't traveling, I loved getting up on Sunday mornings for a recovery run with the ladies. I don't get to run with them as much as I want to and I hope to be able to run with the group more consistently next year.
In September, I backed off a bit because I started to feel the effects of overtraining. After talking to a sports dietitian, I learned that I wasn't eating enough. I made some changes to my diet. started prepping meals on Sundays and felt much better going into the final weeks of marathon training.
Even though I was finally back on track (ahead of schedule actually), I didn't want to let up so as to give myself a cushion after the Marine Corps Marathon. The last thing I wanted to do the week following a marathon was try to force myself to run 20 miles. I wanted to be able to rest and recover as necessary without the burden of set weekly mileage. My plan worked and I was able to chill and walk around in compression tights for a week. I finished October with 111.1
Having accomplished my goal of running the Marine Corps Marathon, and setting myself up to be ahead of my 1,000 mile goal I entered November with less than 100 miles to go. I initially thought that I would just split it 50/50, but then decided to resume my goal of 20 miles per week. I finished November slightly shy with 72.6 miles. Only 21 miles to go.
December was going to be a piece of cake. At only 11 miles left, I posted on social media: How should I commemorate these last few miles? I really got to thinking about this. With 20-degree weather in Indiana, I was relegated to the treadmill. I really did not want to run the last mile of such a monumental accomplishment on the treadmill. Knowing that I would be going home to Charleston a few weeks later, I low-key decided not to run. I just somehow couldn't make the time to get it done. I got home to Charleston and ran a few times in my neighborhood. I wanted to runt he last mile over the Cooper River Bridge, but then decided that the best way to celebrate was right here in the neighborhood I grew up in. The neighborhood that made me a runner. So that is what I did. On December 18, 2013 at 3 pm, I ran the final 3.1 miles.
I did it. I set out to accomplish a goal and I did everything within my power to make it happen. I worked through an early set back, adjusted my schedule, my attitude and my plan. I didn't do this for anyone else or because someone thought it would be cool. I did this for myself. I did it for the love of running. I did it for self preservation. Here's to another year of running and miles and miles to go before I sleep ...