Friday, January 28, 2011

Daybreak - Charleston Marathon Part III

Note to self: wake up with 30 extra minutes to take care of additional amp requirements. You can always manage too much time, nothing good comes from having too little of this precious resource.

First thing, feed the cats and pour the coffee. Done. Now for the bagel, one half with peanut butter and one half with almost butter. Yum.

While I eat on go online for a short period of time while and post something I have done before other races: 

I try not to think too much of what has been an emotional week for me. Now is the time to ready myself for the day that is to come, to steel myself for this dive into the unknown. I cannot help but think of races under similar, undertrained circumstances. Once in high school after I suffered a severe ankle sprain - likely torn ligaments - and ran the final 880 in my high school season. I stepped off the track a little after the first lap in searing pain. It was my only high school DNF. Many years later, at the Mystic Places Marathon, plantar fasciitis stopped me in my tracks when it felt like I might have ruptured it.

No doubt, I was going to make it to the starting line with a prosthesis I could count on to be comfortable. Finishing was far less certain, and I put that thought out of my mind as best I could, though it circled out on the periphery, anticipating a kill.

Putting on a prosthesis with elevated vac (vacuum) is best left to a future post, but it does take more time to don. The payoff is a great fit, better, more natural limb health, and, if all goes well, not having to take it off to adjust prosthetic socks or worry as much about sweat. It will be well worth the time investment now.


I jog across the living room floor and smile. Yes, this will do nicely, thank you very much. I allow a small glimmer of light to think...maybe...

Jennifer is getting ready and we try to decide exactly what to wear this chilly morning. The temperature would be near freezing at the start but a pleasant low 50s at the finish. Even as I dress I know I am wearing too warm clothing for later in the race, though later at my speed is quite relative.

A singlet on the skin, then 2 long sleeve shirts, the outermost with a zipper, and the IFOPA singlet over that. My Nike "racing" gloves because they are black and have red swooshes; I decide to wear a second layer of throwaway gloves while waiting for the start. Some Adidas compression thigh-length shorts and my trusty Race-Readys over them stuffed with GU Roctane. The Garmin 305 Santa brought me, IFOPA bracelet, Road-ID. Brooks headband and my beloved G2T visor cap. DryMax sock and on my left foot, an Asics Gel-Cumulus shoe with a Terry Fox shoelace. I fix a bottle of Gatorade for my backpack, and place extra prosthetic socks, a small towel, and a tube of lotion in it, the latter for removing my polyethylene liner should I need to.

Jato comes to life as my good right foot this morning. Bzz bzz bzz goes the electric vacuum pump.

The race starts at 8 a.m. We leave the house at 6:45 but I am calm. The morning air is frigid and the sky is a brilliant blue arc, a day in sharp focus as if everything is new and unused. We discussed the size of the field the night before and there shouldn't be any problem with traffic or parking. I send a few tweets as we drive to the race start from Mount Pleasant, one as we cross high above Charleston on the Cooper River Bridge...the lowcountry spans all around us. "It is a good day to run, a beautiful steel blue sky. Let's honor this day. This life. This blessing. This gift." 

It was a memory of another morning come to greet us, one during the difficult passing of my sister, when these words came to me:

Icarus Unbound

the mist embraces my marsh.
up. UP.
run to it.
embrace this day.
this gift


We drive down East Bay Street and make our way to the garage near the city Aquarium. From early race course maps I thought the start was near the Maritime Center, but everyone was walking toward East Bay so we followed the brightly colored flock. The line is near Laurens Street, the marathon race course map is here. Jennifer gets a pre-race photo of the gimp:
Ready to rumble
Port-a-potties are by the Gaillard Auditorium, so we make one last pit stop and then drop off our gear bags. The gear truck is on Laurens Street so we have to make our way through the even more crowded assembly for me to shed my jacket. Back through the throng to our spot near the back of the pack. I am thinking of my frightening lack of training, whether or not I can finish what I am about to start, and what an absolute poser I feel like. What the hell am I doing here? I am being bludgeoned with clubs of doubt.

Scott Rigsby (center) and Ashley Kurpiel (right)
Stop it. Do what you can do, take each mile as it comes, remember what you did to get here. Draw on your vast resource of support. Remember who you are running this race for; someone else is going with you every step of the way. Run for those who cannot, run because you can. It is a good day, a miraculous day to run.

I kiss Jennifer, thinking I may not see her again until the finish, not yet knowing what the day has in store for us. And we're off. I didn't hear the actual start, suddenly we are moving forward, stopping, and surging again as the runners work their way toward the starting mat. I start my watch as I cross this new beginning and we head toward White Point Gardens.

I am running the inaugural Charleston Marathon.

I have started my race.


  1. And now the 26.2 mile journey begins! "This is the road to Boston" has to be crossing your mind.

  2. I knew if I finished before the cutoff I would qualify, but after I ran this race, well, stay tuned. ;-