Should I run this marathon?

This weekend I’m running over a decision.  Should I run Seattle Amica in 3 weeks?

I’ve had my eye on this marathon since summer but it’s been a financially tight year as the family budget only budges when it plunges downhill.  So, my husband, Curtis, and I didn’t register.

Then, last night I was offered a complementary entry by Carol Dellinger, an amazing woman who has run more than 250 marathons to date. (See my 2010 article about Carol here.)

I so want to go.  We’d still need to pay for gas to get to Seattle and either bum lodging with friends or spring for a hotel, but I think I could tamp down my spending angst because we’ve reigned in our expenses.  It’s amazing how much you can save when you mostly stop eating out.

The quandary is if my body can handle 26.2.  I’m under-trained and coming off an injury.

In September I ran a 10 mile race and half-marathon back-to-back weekends, with little recovery in between.  I regret that.  The Sundae Sunday 10 miler was great, my fastest ever.  Then I ran the Sandpoint Scenic Half on 9/18.

Sandpoint is a gorgeous, mostly flat race in North Idaho along a paved running trail with gorgeous views of evergreens and Lake Pend Oreille.  I’m not a fast runner but I was
super happy because I knocked almost 9 minutes off last year’s time and beat my race goal by 3 minutes.  Even better, I ran the same pace the whole way.  The only issue was picking up a rock at mile 9. Hoping it would shift in my shoe, I ran for two tortuous miles before finally stopping to remove the boulder (thumb nail size).  The last two miles were blissful without that impediment.

But that night I began limping.  It wasn’t the normal post-race fatigue and stiffness. Multiple parts of my right leg hurt –calf, achilles, hamstring, shin and hip flexor.  I should have gone to the doctor or PT, but I didn’t want to budget copays.  So, I tried rest, cross training and limited running.  It got better, then worse, then better.

Throughout October my low mileage runs would start out stiff and painful.  Then the endorphins would kick in, my leg would limber up and I’d finish fine.  Then I’d hurt more the next day.  Some days I limped whenever I walked.  But over the month my leg gradually improved with about 10 miles/week plus cross training and a lot of rest.

To my surprise, when I did run, my training times dropped.  This week I knocked 30 seconds off my favorite 5 mile run.  I took the next day off and then ran my longest, hardest run since Sandpoint, an 8 mile hill route with 500 feet elevation gain between miles 2.5 and 3.5.  Though I’ve run this route more times than I can count, I hadn’t done it since early August.  I expected to be sluggish at best.  Instead, I felt great and PRd by 4 whole minutes.  I’m flabbergasted.

That was yesterday, the day Carol offered me the complementary entry to Seattle.

Looking back on my training log, I haven’t run a 20 miler since the Coeur d’Alene marathon at the end of May.  My longest run was an 18 miler on 8/27, a full three months before Seattle.

So, I’m taking today off and I’m going on a long run tomorrow to see if my body might possibly handle a marathon in 3 weeks.  Depending on how I feel, I expect to run between 16 and 20 miles.  If I can walk on Sunday, should I go to Seattle?  Am I crazy to consider it?

What’s the least amount of training you’ve done before running a marathon? Was it worth it? 

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