So forlorn, carting my running gear on the Block Island Ferry.
My training is not going well... or anywhere at all, for that matter.
This week I turned off my morning alarms and swapped my gritty city for the serene vacation locale of Poland, Maine. Each summer we make this trek north to spend at least a few blissful days at a friend's family's house on the edge of a quiet lake called Tripp. One of the best perks: An eight-mile scenic run around the lake.
While I enjoy the frantic energy of running through New York City's loud, stinky streets, running in Maine is a welcome holiday. Instead of choking on exhaust and loose pebbles from passing trucks, I take deeply luxurious inhales of fresh pine air interrupted only by whiffs of fresh-cut grass or wild flowers. Rather than jumping around steaming garbage, I meander through shaded wooden trails and down gravel roads dotted with cottages named Camp Chipmunk and Twin Pines.
Tripp Lake at sunset.
Sounds divine, right? Well, it was too good to be true this time around.
Before leaving, my calf was awfully tight. While I dutifully stayed away from running, I indulged in some stationary biking, which only seemed to aggravate the muscle's already fragile state. I made an emergency 30-minute deep-tissue massage appointment, and my masseuse pummeled my calf muscle until it resembled a bag of Jell-o. I left the city bruised but hopeful.
After a few days of lounging, swimming, and eating, I decided to try a run. I strapped on my sneakers and started off with an awkward gait, letting my legs slide back into their once-familiar running groove. There was no tear or acute pain, but my calf felt immediately tight and seemed to only inflate with each passing step. While I longed to make it all the way around the lake — calf be damned! — I stopped after three miles and took a swim in the chilly water. The next day, I walked with a limp.
To dull the itchiness of my forced-idle muscles, I made three physical therapy appointments for the week I returned to New York. And in the meantime, to quiet my low-burning rage, I did what any red-blooded, emotionally ripe American would do: I went shopping. Poland, Maine, is home not only to the bottled water you've heard so much about, but also a spacious New Balance factory outlet. I figured, if I couldn't run, I might as well look the part.
I wandered through the aisles, grabbing bundles of soft, brightly colored shirts, shorts, and spandex, feeling the weight of my injury growing lighter as my basket tugged ever harder at my arm. Before I knew it, I had acquired an entire racing outfit, complete with tank top, shorts, hat, hand-held water bottle, a colorful pack of socks, and a windbreaker that came in fantastically helpful over the course of our rainy vacation.
My New Balance running swag.
By mid-week, our little crew — my husband, our two friends, and their five year-old — and I drove from Maine down to Block Island, a tiny T-bone-shaped slab of land just east of Rhode Island. Instead of running up and down the beaches and across the zigzagging dirt roads like I had hoped, I tried to stay active on a rented bike. The options were limited, but I went with a fat-tired, rusted-out bicycle built for two and spent the last few days of my vacation carting around a 40-pound toddler. The hilly, thigh-burning rides to the beach and back each day easily rivaled the calorie-busting intensity of a Soul Cycle class. If you can borrow someone's kid and a vintage ride, I highly recommend it. And while I doubt you'd be able to find a pint-sized stretching partner as good as mine, they are fantastically motivating during those post-workout cool downs.
And so I remain sidelined. In two weeks of training I have run only three miles of the suggested 70. I haven't felt any tightness or soreness for days, but I'm still afraid to test these problematically injury-prone legs of mine, lest I drag this recovery period out. And while I'm feeling desperate, out of shape, and kind of sad about my whittling training time, I am forcing myself to feel optimistic about the third week. I have three physical therapy appointments and I am throwing all of my running shoes in that basket, so to speak. It's not impossible to start cold and train for a marathon in 12 weeks… right? If Olympians and world record holders can do it, why can't I?
Read more training diary entries:
* Diary of an injury-prone runner: Week 1 training for the New York City Marathon