In retrospect, the wheels began falling off more than a month before I crossed the start line. Initially, the pain in my right knee was so slight and intermittent that I didn’t even consider it. On some runs, the ache would make an appearance; on others—including a 21-mile run three weeks before the race—I’d be pain-free. In any case, I simply pushed through discomfort and disregarded injury concerns with an ignorant sense of invincibility.
A rush of panic washed over me. This was different. This was a problem.
On Thanksgiving—17 days before the marathon—I ran an eight-mile turkey trot with my brother-in-law, Jared. My legs were dead and I was slow, but it was just an off-day, I reasoned. Nothing to worry about. I skipped my scheduled 10-miler over the weekend and headed out for a short maintenance burst the following Tuesday, less than two weeks before race day.
Almost immediately, I knew something was wrong.
As I took off down the street, the pain on the outside of my knee—sharper than ever before—was there to greet me. As I reached the corner of my neighborhood, limping severely, a rush of panic washed over me. This was different. This was a problem.