Thursday, January 27, 2011

Not Any Friday - Charleston Marathon Part II

Friday would be a busy day, and not at all what one should do before a marathon.

My original plan from was to take Friday off, no work. Run 2 miles, carbo-load, and then stay off my feet, uh, foot as much as possible. It's usually tough to get a good night's sleep before a big race, so I thought getting rest would be very important. I did sleep soundly on Thursday, and that may have prevented a complete meltdown.

I decided I would work on Friday since we close at noon; I had burned off too many excess vacation days and thought working would help keep my mind off tomorrow. Tomorrow. Running 26.2 miles on minimal training. On who knows what leg. TOMORROW. What the hell am I thinking? You get the picture.

While at work I received something mid-morning that caused me to smile and choke back a happy tear right here. I began receiving more tweets and emails and FB notes of support. So much for work distraction. As I've said many times in the past, I have found the support I received since my operation to be more than words. It goes deep down, somewhere in my center, and attaches to my heart.

I also receive a phone call from Mike McKenna. I've written about how I thought I could have never come to know or understand the people I've met since becoming an amputee, those like me or with other disabilities, that it is truly not possible to understand unless you are. I think, though, Mike has an empathy for us, a desire to help, and this he has done in action, not only in words. But the words do mean something to me, and his friendship means a thing that is true.

Thanks Mike.


My new prosthesis was shipped Thursday night and Sheila from ProCare emailed to say she had checked tracking and it was already out for delivery. I wanted to make sure the package was left at the house, so I drove home and, contrary to my current luckless streak, found Jato waiting for his master at the front door. I unboxed my blade, admired the coolness of the carbon fiber frame (Jamey at ProCare does incredible work!) and the ingenious mounting of the LimbLogic VS elevated vacuum pump under the post.

My revised afternoon plan was to purchase a memory card for an HD sports movie camera Jennifer gave me for Christmas. Stephen Schulte at ProCare wanted me to video myself walking and running when I got my prosthesis back so he could do a cursory check of the alignment. But first, a Texas-sized helping of pasta with my mom's homemade spaghetti sauce. One look at the heaping bowl and I thought there was no way I could eat that supersized meal. 10 minutes later and it appeared an invisible army marched through and dismantled it, leaving a cabinet-ready clean dish behind.

I picked up the memory and decided to call ShowOffs and see if my IFOPA race shirt was ready; no, not yet, but it would be ready today and I could come by closer to 5 pm and pick it up. It is now around 3:30; I decide to go home, don Jato, and take some movies of me crossing the living room floor, hoping the few steps will be enough for Stephen to discern any significant alignment problems.

I work with my prosthetic sock fit, and it feels...good. Real good. Like...YAHOO I'M GOING TO WEAR THIS PROSTHESIS AT THE CHARLESTON MARATHON GOOD. There, one indefinite thing now made clear. I make the movies and send them to Stephen in HD, thinking he will view them on on computer, but I think he uses his smartphone and they are just too large to be usable. Later in the evening Jennifer converted the files to a smaller format, and Stephen was able to tell there were no significant alignment issues.

There is a tiny detail though: the vacuum pump operates with either a push of a button on the pump itself, or with a small fob that has a small display that indicates the vacuum level, battery charge, leak sensor, and some other details. The fob was not sent with the prosthesis, so there is not way to check what vacuum level the pump is set to or other details. This data will needed during the marathon and will become more apparent tomorrow.


Jennifer picks up the IFOPA race singlet on her way home for me. A change of clothes, and off to packet pickup and the pasta dinner in North Charleston. The expo is held in a large tent; packets are not put together but it is not much trouble to pick up our race numbers, bus ticket for a return ride to the start, and our technical Charleston Marathon shirts. There are only small and x-large ones available; this should not happen, I suspect others traded sizes and we got whatever was left over.

The pasta dinner was also disappointing and I am glad the Kurpiels missed it. I don't mean to be so negative, but it simply was not very good. I hope they are able to do better at future races as this was one of the lessor dinners I have attended. The volunteers are cheerful and always appreciated for the work they do making any race a success.

While at the dinner I am texting Stephen; he makes some phone calls and finds he can send a fob via Delta Dash. There is a rub: I have to go pick up the package at Charleston International at 10:30 pm. There won't be anywhere close to 8 hours sleep tonight.

Jennifer and I decide to head home from North Charleston to Mt. Pleasant since we can't see spending 3 hours there waiting to go to the airport. I am feeling the first tentacles of fatigue come over me; I have been on the go almost all day and still have to go to the airport. Back home I lay out some clothing choices for the race and get most of the rest of my gear together.

I write some thank yous for the donations we received and then it's off to the airport. Jennifer drives which helps rest my legs and I am thankful for this. The package is waiting - Yay! - and then we drive the 30 minutes back home. This is not how one should be resting for the marathon but there really is no choice. Again, the only blame here is me for waiting so long to make a hard decision. Stephen and Jamey and the ProCare team have worked wonders to get me a great prosthesis in time for the race.

Sometime during the day I lost my anxiousness about all that had been going wrong since after the Kiawah half marathon. I found some peace with myself, knowing despite mounting odds no one was quitting. Not me, not my prosthetist, nor my supportive friends. Indeed, I was going to be on that starting line in the morning. I felt connected in a way that is hard to explain, as if out of so much chaos the universe had embraced me, all of this, this singular challenge that lay ahead. I would meet it; whether I finish it would, in the end, be up to me.

Cutie keeping me company during recovery
Just before midnight Stephen and I got my vacuum levels programmed with the fob and a good thing too, as they were set too low. At 11:38 I wrote to him, "It's a go then. Get some sleep yourself!"

I laid my head on my pillow, at ease with all I had been able to do for tomorrow, and feel asleep. I had vivid dreams, one was with our cat Cutie, her fur was somewhat matted but she looked me in the eye as she always did, and I petted her. Gone but not gone.

I slept until three minutes before my alarm would have gone off.

The gift had arrived dressed in morning.

Time to rise.


  1. wow. so much for friday being a relaxing day. i love the breakup of recaps posts. can't wait for the next!

  2. I knew Friday was going to be a little busy but that was crazy. It did keep me from sitting around and worrying more I suppose.

    Glad you are enjoying the recaps!

    - Richard

  3. Haha! I thought Part II would take us to the finish line. Looks like a mini-series in the making. Great sense of humor, too!

  4. Thanks John..I gave an arm and a leg to get to that starting line, well, half of that anyway, so a mini-series it is, an abbreviation of the novel!

    Good luck at Naw'lins.

    - Richard