Thursday, March 29, 2012

Go the Distance

I began watching "Field of Dreams" last night while on the treadmill, and many memories and thoughts floated up through the images. I have some personal history with the book, but tonight a couple of the movie scenes became more poignant. One was the excerpt below and the other was seeing the Citgo sign over Fenway Park, a sign to a runner of a Great Thing.

via Google images
In the movie Shoeless Joe Jackson is talking about being banned from professional baseball for life. And the pain he had was...

"Like having a part of me amputated, slick and smooth and painless." Joe looks up at me and his dark eyes seem about to burst with the pain of it. "A friend of mine use to tell about the war, how him and a buddy was running across a field when a piece of shrapnel took his friend's head off, and how the friend ran, headless, for several strides before he fell. I'm told that old men wake in the night and scratch itchy legs that have been dust for years. That was me. Years and years later, I'd wake in the night with the smell of the ballpark in my nose and the cool of the grass on my feet. The thrill of the grass..."

-  Shoeless Joe from "Shoeless Joe" (W.P. Kinsella)


That is me. I don't think so much of the cool of the grass, but I do think of a cold North Carolina mountain stream, and my two doggies dangling blue in it.

Blue as the deep endless sky.

All around.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Back in the Saddle

My physical therapy with Dr. Will Avery of Private Therapy Services will soon be coming to an end unless I choose to extend it a couple of sessions. I must continue many of the routines to keep my left leg strong and the knee free from undue stress. This may be my new lunch hour activity.

I am not back to my running groove yet, the longest run to date was 4.25 very slow miles last Sunday. My knee did not bother me in the least, but my residual has taken up the whining slack. I can feel at the distal end of the fibula where it seems the bone is rubbing over a ridge; it may be the skin is being pulled across the bone and the socket needs to be a wider there.

At my last therapy session I asked Will if he could hear the actual sound this makes, as I wasn't sure if what I thought I was hearing was correct. Yes, he could hear a muted 'thump' as I moved the socket back and forth. After this session I called ProCare for a followup to see if we can get this attended to before I start piling on the miles in preparation for the late summer marathon. It is somewhat painful and the discomfort is very distracting to the runner.


I am not sure when my next race will be, likely May or maybe June. We will be doing the beloved and horrendous Hannibal Cannibal in July, where I crashed and burned last year running the 10k. Since it has a been a year I may utilize my Stupid Card and try it again. Or perhaps the 5k and leave the card at home.

As my next goal race is a marathon in August, I will not be competing much over the hot summer months.  I will train to requalify for Boston and not take chances on hurting myself and particularly my knee. My training will be geared toward that goal only, and then next year I will be putting more effort into the dream that is running Boston.


My plan is to try to run 6 miles this Sunday if the residual does not bother me too much. I'll ease back into the routine through April, taking extra days off to make sure the last of the recovery is not compromised. Beginning in May it will be back to the future...taking a detour through Sonoma and Napa could be far worse than...well...hmmm....

Monday, March 12, 2012

Taking A Knee

Testing compression wear on 0.5 mi run
 "Men, today we die a little."

 - Emil Zatopek at the start of the 1956 Olympic Marathon.


Here, five weeks before the Boston Marathon, I have had one of my harder running decisions to make. Having only starting back to running after my arthroscopic meniscectomy surgery, I can do one of two things: show up and struggle through the race, or take a knee, start over and plan on 2013. My first post-op run was half a mile on the treadmill on Saturday, causing only a few twinges in the outer incision area. I jogged a mile on Sunday with a couple of breaks.


All along it was my intention and goal to run Boston to the best of my ability. After the test that was the Charleston Marathon, I know I can finish the race off minimal training and feel I have nothing to prove on that count. Boston, however, is a different beast. It is one of the planet's greatest marathons; I respect its traditions and value the work it takes to toe the starting line.

I had considered earlier that I would go the distance even if I could not perform my best, best being relative to what my body could offer on race day. I have come to realize that would neither honor the race nor my ability. Giving a second best effort is simply not in my constitution, nor is asking for a special exception. 

So I feel I must run Boston by giving it my respect, and that respect requires me to train to run it the best I can on Patriot's Day. There can be no excuses and no quarter asked or given.

Therefore I will train to requalify for the race before the September registration, likely the Santa Rosa Marathon in August. I certainly know through all of this that there are no guarantees I will qualify again or make it to Hopkinton on April 15, 2013. But I do know if I am there I will be ready and can accept whatever the day brings.


I do regret I won't be able to bring more recognition to the IFOPA at Boston this year. We have raised over $300 more for a total of $2356 with the addition of the Charleston Marathon efforts. Ashley, you inspire so many with your courage, kindness, and joy. Wind beneath wings. Yes.


We all have different goals in life. This is a good thing; it makes each one unique and keeps us alive. But we have to live with ourselves and the choices we make; as a runner there is no one to come off the bench to give us a breather. If we sit on the bench we do not run. Life is indeed what we make it.

I think of all the days I woke up at 4 am to run before work, the miles and sweat and planning and dreaming of how it would feel to stand on that starting line on Hopkinton. For me none of the journey is wasted, for it is the act of running that I love. Am I disappointed I will not be there with Jennifer and my friends Kelly, Shariff, Scott, and Mike this April? Not to see Ashley at the finish line? Yes. It hurts. It will hurt more on April 14. I will be wishing them the best, knowing they would feel the same in my shoe, and hope perhaps the thought of a friend not there will help them strive to keep.  moving.    forward.


I know this: on April 15, 2013, the impossible can happen. The Boston Marathon will mean even more to me and I will honor it the best way I know how.

I will fly.   And remember.   It all.


My face is set to a grim and determined expression. I speak in all modesty as I say this, but I discovered at that moment that I have a fierce will to live. It's not something evident, in my experience. Some of us give up on life with only a resigned sigh. Others fight a little, then lose hope. Still others - and I am one of those - never give up. We fight and we fight and we fight. We fight no matter what the cost of battle, the losses we take, the improbability of success. We fight until the very end. It's not a question of courage. It's something constitutional, an inability to let go.

- Pi, from "The Life of Pi" (Yann Martel)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Longing to Fly

A treadmill with a view
 Wednesday night I was briskly walking on the treadmill, again cruising along the Capetown ocean cliffs and occasionally racked with laughter as I watched a small truck cross the English Channel on Top Gear. This served to keep my mind off of The Race. The Marathon. Boston.

Despite all the sensory input, the brain still found a little room to think. A small upper room, away from the static, the distractions, the attempt to not think about The Race. The Marathon. Boston.

I thought about all the people who supported me, unconditionally, friends and family and some strangers who only know me through the transmissions of electrons. In another corner of my mind I had begun quiet preparations for what might have been this year and would have to wait until next.

I walked on.

In a quiet epiphany it occurred to me that I was able to walk without pain, that I could walk and walk and walk. It would be slow but it would be time on my feet. Four miles walking could be three miles of easy running. And as my running came around I would have a base to build on, not ideal but something that could keep The Dream alive.

In my mind I was preparing myself to not be disappointed, because the disappointment would be too great should I not make the starting line. In truth it would be impossible to run well, in reality would it be possible to run at all?

No one except little me doubted this. My inner struggles are hidden; I know I will never give up, never ever quit, that I will run to my potential. But it cannot be this year.

But it can be.


Doing today's PT session, after some of the first routines, I walked over to get drink of water. As I approached the fountain, Will mentioned that I should bring my running prosthesis to therapy next week. This means he sees enough progress that we can think about running again.

My throat tightened and my eyes grew distant...and I was thankful I could lean over and drink some cool water. Well. Well. The rest of the workout is attacked. When the vines of hurt wrap around me, I look to a distant point, clear my mind, and think...I could make it after all.

To The Race.

The Marathon.


And the pain falls away. I find myself.

Longing to fly.