Sunday, October 05, 2008

Abbreviated Race: Report
Would it be a DNS or DNF? I'd known for a while that, barring a miracle, my 2008 Portland Marathon would be one or the other: I'd either sleep in and the race would go in the books as a Did Not Start, or I'd give it a go and end up with my first Did Not Finish. Clearly, this Achilles/ankle/heel injury was only going to get better with an extended break from running (among other therapies). I kept testing it every week or so, only to find the pain rearing its head – yeah, just like Putin in Alaska's air space – after five or six miles.

Today, I felt pretty good through eight miles. By nine miles, there was aching in the ankle. By 10, the Achilles was stiffening. By 11, my stride was off-balance, my Achilles hurt, and it was time to go home. There was no point to putting my long-term health at risk in order to turn in a mediocre time. I'm not wigged out by the letters DNF, the way some runners are. I want to keep doing this stuff for many years and a torn Achilles (or whatever) would be very bad indeed.

I jogged the two miles back to the start line to fetch my clothes, then jumped on the train for the quick ride home. Along the way, I gained some clarity about what I want out of athletics in the next year. I want to run a faster marathon. I want to run a 3:10. That wouldn't win me a prize or get me on a podium but it would be nearly nine minutes faster than my current best, and it would be a fine personal achievement at age 46. I really want it.

So that means:

(1) Mixing regular cycling in with the running, because over the past couple of months that did help my injury. I'd always feel better the day after a ride, and even better after two consecutive days of riding. If I'd been on the bike exclusively during the time period, I'd probably be fully recovered by now.

(2) No ultra running. That 50 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail in July was fun, but on top of everything else, was too much. Next year, after Coeur d'Alene in June, I rest for a few weeks, then spend the latter part of July, all of August and the first half of September completely and totally intent on getting ready for Portland. That doesn't mean running like crazy. It means three or four keenly focused runs each week, mixing tempo running, speed work and a long run, along with two or three stints on the bike. Yep. That's the ticket. I can't wait!