Julie Wankowski: December 2010

Although she’s a veteran marathoner, with many runs at Chicago and elsewhere in the midwest and (and Florida) under her belt, this was Julie’s first try at the the California International Marathon, her goal marathon for this fall. Here’s her race report.

A tough day. That is how I would describe my experience at CIM. Having had a few days to think over what happened, I have gained some perspective on the past few months and how I was trying to force a situation that just was not going to happen. I should have given myself the time to allow the hamstring to heal properly instead of continuing to try to train hard under less than ideal circumstances.

Stubborn as I am, I wanted to give this race a shot and hope for the race day magic to kick in and yield a miracle. And for the first ten miles or so, it almost seemed that this might happen. The early miles felt effortless, my 6:50 average pace felt like a jog. Having driven the course the day before, I knew I would need to negative split based on the hill profile. So that was the plan.

However, the stabbing pains in my hamstring that started around mile 7 were getting harder and harder to ignore, and by the half (at which point I still stubbornly felt like I had a shot at a PR), my stride had already altered (based on my husband’s observation) in anticipation of the pain that each step would bring. By about mile 17 my splits were progressively slowing a few seconds each mile and I had a decision to make.

I chose to “do no further harm” and relaxed enough so that the stabbing pains faded to a dull ache. Of course, at that point I started to do the silly math that I am sure we all do: “What will my finishing time be if I slow to a 7:30 pace? 8:00 pace?” I decided at that point that I would be thrilled with sub-3:10 so that is just what I did.

In retrospect, I learned a hard lesson this year regarding recovery and healing. Right now I have no desire to run and will take some deep rest so that my next run will be pain free. I am not willing to continue to compromise myself as I have been the past few months!

If all goes according to plan, I will add a spring marathon to my schedule (Green Bay, most likely) to give myself another shot at improving before I race Chicago in October. I have also changed my coaching direction and will self-coach for at least the next training cycle. I have a couple of training plans that I am studying now and will choose one or a hybrid within the next few weeks. Right now, I am maintaining my strength training and physical therapy and may hop on the elliptical in a week or two, but I will have no shot at achieving my goal without a 100% healthy hamstring. Healing that will take time and whatever it is going to take, I will give it.

I don’t regret my decision to “go for it” last weekend, and am really proud of my effort. I know that I am capable of much more under less-painful circumstances. Here’s to better days ahead in 2011!

— Julie Wankowski

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