According to Phillip Schaff, the phrase ” All roads lead to Rome” is a reference to the Milliarium Aureum – a marble structure speculated to be the base of the milestone in the Roman Forum, the specific point to which all roads were said to lead.
After attempting the Paris Marathon twice and the ‘bucket list’ London Marathon last year , Rome was naturally the next favoured in the quest for more marathon medal glory. Excitedly, we booked our places in the euphoria and invincible post marathon stupor.
Training started in ernest and soon Strava and Garmin became my best friends. Each morning started with updating new stats of my ‘fellow’ runners and evenings were a blur discussing strategies for the next week. I flew higher and higher as the days, weeks and months passed, watching my beloved Garmin track my speed as it improved to below two digit figures. Soon, I was comfortable running 10k in less than an hour ( used to take 70 minutes or more a year ago). In a span of 8 months, from an average of 11, I could navigate sub 10 comfortably.
But alas, like all things, the higher you go, the harder you fall…..that was so true.
12 weeks to go – Jan 28, 2018
We were on our long run, a 12 mile steady trot, steady pace, easy breathing. Floating amidst the bright blue sky and fluffy candy white clouds, i had no care in the world and absolutely no idea of what was coming the next day. 12 miles – 2:02:40 – 10.13/mile pace.
Monday, the next day was the club training run. I knew that I was not prepared for it but greed took over. Within minutes, there was an excruciating pain in my right heel and it was difficult for me to run without wincing every few steps. I was reduced to a miserable hop and my old arch enemy, plantar fasciitis was back with a vengeance.
11-8 weeks to go –
3 weeks of total absence from running was more painful than the physical pain in my foot. When I slowly started, the toughness and tiredness struck , leaving me in tears once again. But I didn’t give up. The next 3 weeks were the most agonizing weeks of my life. Walking was painful and running was out of question. I thought that it would improve in a week, but it didn’t….a week, 2 weeks and in the third week, I ambushed a physio colleague in our car park. He introduced me to John, another physiotherapist, the angel in disguise who tolerated my tantrums and tears. He assured me that running would improve and that i needed patience. Moreover he got insoles for my shoes, and it was as if I had to start learning to walk again, that too on stone hard surface! Slowly I ‘broke’ into those insoles and did a run, gingerly, after 4 weeks! Gone were the days of long runs, here i was just trying to run! Took it gentle and slow, but felt alive! 64 min – 6.2mi – 10.24/mile
8 – 4 weeks to go –
Weeks rolled by and I continued running through the pain, hating it most of the times, sometimes with tears, with fears. But one thing i knew was that running was there to stay….. and so i ran. I limped through ice and snow, through gravel and sand, through howling winds and sleet. My speed slumped further to an all time low but I had faith in John so I carried on. But I did not lose hope. I will not lose hope. Contrary to the usual, I felt stronger and more determined to finish. Asif, my online mentor and angel too, kept encouraging all the time while hubby provided the much needed pampering with ice packs and kind words. 1:42:27 – 9.3 mi – 11.00/mile
3 weeks to go –
Our running schedule is up in the air and the 20 mile run was reduced to a 10 mile trial by fire! Nowhere are we close to our marathon plan. A week ago, I told Subhash that the best plan is to finish half marathon distance after which he can carry on to the finish line while I fade away into the Roman ruins. But this Sunday, week 6 post injury, everything changed. The pain vanished and I bounded like before on the treadmill. I think my plantar fasciitis has turned the corner and Subhash knew that we were back in the race together and stronger. I feel more rejuvenated and now, it is FINISH or BE FINISHED! The fastest run in 6 weeks saw my spirits soar. there was no question of doing up to half distance, it was all the way to Rome, nothing but the FINISH line! 40.34 mins – 4.1mi – 9:43/mile
2 weeks to go –
So here I go , totally motivated, my chimp and angel riding high together. I am in no rush but I keep going back to the same question as to why I have continued, despite the pain, tears and setbacks. And I know it is because it has pushed my boundaries to the limits where I have never imagined I could reach. It has made me feel that I can take on tough challenges in life. If I can bear the pain and agony of a marathon, I can do anything that life throws at me. No matter how many times I fall, I know that I will always push ahead because you never give up till you cross the finish line.
I am marathoner and I will be one, once again!
THE ROAD TO ROME IS DEFINITELY SHINING BRIGHT !