Monday, October 4, 2010

17 with Terry

Yesterday I decided to go out for my long run and take it as far as possible. Given my socket issues and the anxiety that is starting to mount that I am getting in a deep hole with my marathon training, I figured I would take whatever distance I could manage. 10 miles was about all I expected I could do.

My prosthesis now feels better since the last adjustment, it is not until I run somewhere north of 8 miles that I starting feeling the intense compression/wanting to explode sensation in my lower residual limb. I donned my blade and hit the treadmill for 2 warm-up miles, which gives me the opportunity to stop and make adjustments before I leave the house for the open roads.

As I filled my CamelBak and got ready to go, the name "Terry Fox" went off in my brain. I knew about Terry from many years ago, having seen a movie about his journey in the early 80s; I think I have it recorded on tape somewhere. But this last special on ESPN "Into the Wind" revived his story, as did my friend Myron with a link to this page on Twitter.

I would like to expound on why this story went so deep for me, but that is for a much later day. Again I am reminded, though, of how I could have never understood what Terry endured had I not shared this amputation with him. Knowing how almost medieval prostheses still were when he ran makes his effort even more...magnificent.

As I head out the door I say these words: Let's go, Terry.

You see, I knew whatever discomfort I have been feeling was not in the same time zone as Terry's. I knew what was possible because of what he did was nearly impossible. Day after day he drove forward, eye on the prize that will be the death of cancer itself.


I decided I would run much slower, taking as much pressure off my right leg as possible, to delay the discomfort that had stopped me in my tracks for all of my recent long runs. My first mile was still a little fast, fast being a relative word, which soon slowed as I worked out my best modified gait.

In recent weeks I would stay close to home in case I had to abandon my long run, but today I decided against this. This run would be the same as if I had no problems; I had my phone so I could call Jennifer if the body rebelled.

As the miles mounted and the pace slowed, I often thought of seeing Terry far ahead of me with his limping hop-run gait. We can do this. Pick it up. Put it down, easy. My right thigh and hip flexors began to complain; I responded by stopping every mile and messaging it as best I could.

Let's go Terry.

I feel the pressure build on my residual but it does not go redline. It also seems to respond to the short mile breaks and does not grow more sensitive.

The sun is low in the trees as I head back toward home, still with at least 6 miles to go: 6 miles because I intend to run at least 16 miles. My old schedule was for 17 miles today...I decided mile 17 will be for Terry.

In the dark I find it is a little disorienting when I cannot see the road in the deeper shadows of the trees. I am amazed at the strength of my left leg that has not complained at all. I smile when I think, hey, I guess it sees what happens when you are as disgruntled as the right foot was.

Nearing mile 17, I start to turn down one road, but think it is a cul-de-sac, and continue on, then realizing it was the road I wanted. Oh well, I modify the course to get back home close to my goal.

It is night and my pace has slowed to something I could easily walk; I do not. Near my house I cross a change in the pavement that served as my old mile finish line, miles I use to repeat in the 6:30 range even with my old foot. Tonight this last mile pace is over 14 minutes.

Let's go Terry.

17 miles comes at my driveway. I bend at the waist, hold onto my knees in the middle of the road, as proud of this difficult run as I am of any race, of any PR. There are no crowds, no medals, not another soul in sight.

Just me and Terry.

Thanks man.

Until tomorrow.


  1. Keep going with each session and stick to your plans as much as you can. You're gonna make this marathon happen and you're going to give it everything you've got, all the way. Terry's story is incredible, too. Thanks for sharing, as always :)

  2. That post made my day, as many of your posts do. I'm proud of you, buddy.

    Let's go Richard.

  3. Thanks Myron, and great getting to know a fellow spirit of this, the greatest of all sport.

  4. Ian, I can say, without some unknown larger problem, that I will run this marathon one way or another. Larry is working hard to get me a comfortable socket for the distance, so we will get there if a little late. I was encouraged by my ability to go this distance..I check my run log and it had been 7 weeks, not 4, since my last long run of 16 miles. I am behind but hanging on!