Sunday, December 12, 2010


My first marathon was Kiawah in 1991. It was a foggy, warm, humid day and I struggled through cramps to finish in 4:09. It was a hard race and I did say those immortal words: "never again." It would take 6 more years before I restored my gumption to run another, which would become my PR in Chicago.

Yesterday Jennifer and I ran the half marathon 2010 edition of the race under cold and rainy skies. Our friends Kelly and Brian Luckett both ran the full marathon, Kelly participating in the new Mobility Impaired Division of the race.

We awoke at 4 am to get ready and make the drive down to Kiawah. I added some extra time to take longer back roads to avoid the traffic congestion as much as possible. We arrrived at the island and parked in the designated field, hopped on the bus (me, literally) and were driven to the race start, all without any anxiety.

There were plenty of port-a-potties, and even so I had to wait on an able-bodied person to use the only handicapped unit. We checked our gear, waiting as long as possible to head out into the chilly drizzle which picked up some enthusiasm before the start. I wore my old trusty green Hind top, which I knew would keep me warm once we got underway.

Thankfully the race started right on time. The road is only two lanes wide, so the first mile is very crowded, made worse but those who almost immediately start walking two abreast. I just can't understand how this happens, as these folks had to be far out of place in their starting positions to be walking ahead of 8 - 9 minutes runners. Always very exasperating.

A woman sidles up alongside and we chat a bit. Normally I want to concentrate on running but in my current configuration I know others are interested my story. In a 5k I'd be running too hard to talk but it is no problem in these early miles. She has run Boston and tells me when I go to watch out for the train roundabouts, which can often be slick...I am hoping my brain filed this away to be remembered in 2012.

Right at mile 6 my right hip flexor starts whining. I am on pace to run a good race and not happy with this development. I massage as best I can but that pushes my leg down and I scuff my blade on the road. Damn. I take mile 7 easier, trying to get more weight off the right leg and relaxing through the gait cycle. My sub 9 miles are ended with a 9:20.

Ok, fine, I am not stopping AND I am picking the pace back up. I am also thinking of those who have supported me through all this time, some praying, others offering neverending supportive words. And then, somewhere in mile 8, this pain falls away and I am running strong and free again. There are no more 9 minute miles, that is owned by mile 7 alone.

The miles do start taking their toil on all us. At mile 10 I am still feeling good and think: a 5k to go. At mile 12 the battle against the mounting fatigue begins in earnest. We are running on an asphalt walkway and many tree roots take my concentration off running and onto not falling. A number of runners give me words of encouragement which I try to return. Mile 13 comes up and I dig a little deeper, bless this day, this gift...thank you for letting me run again.


We are entering the last tenth of a mile, and I am aware of a tremendous roar from the spectators, much louder than I would expect from the size of the crowd. I am running with all I have left, eyes on the finish line, and then I am there, hands on knees, wheezing.

With my medal around my neck, I head for some chairs and rest a bit, chatting with another runner from Waycross, Ga. As I stand up to head over to the gear tent, I notice the end of my stump is tender and I am limping. Outside the tent - because I am still sensitive to the appearance of my residual - I check it out and it looks almost like watery skin is coming off, something like what you might find from a blister that is losing its protective layer of skin.

I head over to the half marathon post-race food tables and wait for Jennifer in the restaurant, being offered a chair that is gladly accepted. The door is at my back and I'm quite chilled, but don't want to leave in case Jennifer comes looking for me. I have a good conversation from a mother and her son-in-law waiting for their daughter/wife to finish; Mike McKenna and his girlfriend Megan come by and we talk about the race and the upcoming Charleston marathon.

Jennifer finally came in from the cold and the rain, her ITB had bothered her during the race, causing her to have to stop and stretch many times. She ate and I checked the half marathon results. I was hoping to see both the Wheelchair and Mobility Impaired divisions listed but only the able-bodied were posted and my name was there:

                                KIAWAH ISLAND HALF MARATHON
                                      13.1 MILE ROAD RACE
        KIAWAH ISLAND,S.C.  DECEMBER 11,2010, USATF Cert# SC02030BS
    Results compiled by Race Management Systems(RMS),

Place      Div/Tot     Name              Age S      City            St  Chiptm  Time    Pace
=====      =====   ============  ==  =  ==========   ==  ======  =====   ====
557/2542    12/57  Richard Blalock 57  M  Mt. Pleasant  SC  1:56:02 1:57:23  8:58


That evening we have dinner with the Kelly and Brian at one of our favorite restaurants, Hominy Grill. My brother David had cut out an article about this place many years ago as he wanted to go there sometime, I can't help remembering that every time I eat there. We had some delicious food and without guilt, their fabulous chocolate pudding. Yes, we talked about running and of course, more running. Kelly gave me some useful information about the Boston Marathon and prepared me for the hotel cost price shock as well.

Good race, good food, good company, good day.


And now for the bad: this morning I noticed a large nodule on my old incision line. I have had a red, irritated spot there for many weeks and made sure Larry took it into consideration with my new carbon fiber socket that I am suppose to pick up this Wednesday. It has been a more sore and red after my last big workout as pictured in this post.

I had my breakfast then took another look at the owie. As I pulled the skin back slightly to see it better since it is on the distal end of my stump, blood spurted out. I immediately sent Larry a text and decided to try to see Dr. Ohlson tomorrow to make sure something else isn't going on like a bone spur.

The bad
My best guess is if there are no special complications that I will take at least two days off and try to heal to get a long run in next weekend. If I am not confident I am well enough I may take the entire week off and run long in 2 weeks. I am deeply disappointed and concerned that I continue to have problems like this. As long as no anatomical complication is apparent I will not be deterred from running the Charleston Marathon.

I accept my limitations but I have none that I surrender to. I do not quit. I expect nothing from others I do not expect from myself. 

And I expect to cross that finish line, upright, not limping, on my own two good feet.

I have someone to see there who does not quit either. And that is why I know I will finish.


  1. congrats! as always i love reading your posts. you toughed out a really tough race and finish with all you had! great job :)

  2. Thanks Karyn and congrats again on your amazing DWR finish. Just saw your splits and that last mile and all I can say is SUPERB!

  3. Way to RLH Richard! Just hope the owie isn't anything too serious.

  4. Congratulations! I know this race had a lot of meaning for you and I am so happy that you did so well. Sorry to hear about the sore spot - hope it heals quickly and without any complications. In the meantime, congratulations!

  5. Hi jaydee,

    The problem is with the socket, my x-rays were near-model perfect. I'll need a few days to heal up before I try to run again, likely after I get my new running socket on Wed.

    - Richard

  6. It was a good race Sue, thanks! I will be resting the leg as much as possible to let it heal up for the marathon. I feel confident I will make it to the starting line and will have to run smart to finish. Hmmm, do "run" and "smart" belong in the same sentence?

    - Richard

  7. Way to go Richard! So happy for you and as always, so very inspired.

    You are EVERYTHING that is right with our sport.

    Thank you for all you do, and for the memory of Hominy Grill .... you always make me miss the low-country.

    Best to you ramping up for Charleston!

    Your pal from Austin,


  8. Thanks Joe, it feels so good to be racing again, it's the icing on our training cake. This is not a sport we'll ever retire from!

    - Richard

  9. great post RB....can't wait to see you guys next month!