Friday, February 21, 2014

One more

2 miles on the treadmill, then 6 outside.

Don't stop, run all 6 close to marathon pace.

Cross the short bridge through the wetland. 3 miles done.

I stop. I am in the field.

Motion overhead.

Three crows flying.

Then one more.

And I understand.

Three. Then one more.

My heart breaks.

For you.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

60 at 60

This marks the halfway point of my Boston marathon training plan. Today I was to run 20 miles with the last 4 at marathon pace (MP). Mile 16 was partially run on the steep downhill of the Ravenel bridge; I held back a little and was able to hit the average MP. It did take some focused effort, but so much better than my 2013 training where often I'd have to walk or take some unplanned rest breaks.

I look forward to who and what I will see on my long run. Going up the bridge I got a high five from a couple; on the return trip Jim introduced himself and joined me for the downhill run. There were other waves and acknowledgements to and from my fellow runners soaring high above the Cooper River.

End of the Line
At the end of my 20 miles I was not quite to the Pilot parked near the great oak tree; I decide to push on and reach my finish line at 20.15 miles. I am tired but my spirit is filled with accomplishment. I finished strong and not with a death march. My confidence is building. This 60 year old one footed runner has run 60 miles this week.

8 more weeks until the marathon, 6 weeks of hard training then the start of my taper. The marathon has always kicked my butt and I suspect will feel confident it can do the same this year. I suppose the odds are it will, if so not because I haven't prepared. I am already in better shape than last year, I haven't had any indication of cramping, and I am hitting my training goals.

April 21. I am doing all I can to be ready for you. Embrace us all.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Four

8 miles today, 2 on the treadmill, 6 outside.

The temperature is rising and I throw on a short sleeve shirt. It is the same shirt I wore in the 1997 Chicago Marathon. It is the same shirt I wore under my IFOPA singlet in the Boston Marathon. It is black and I always think of Peter Snell, the great New Zealand runner.

I start whistling Blackbird as I ready myself for the run in the neighborhood. An easy day, with the purpose of fatiguing the legs a bit before Sunday's long run.

I go around our block and onto the path to the open field beyond.

I see them.

Three crows on my right and I think I of...and from behind a cart sign the fourth hops into my field of vision.

I slow. I soften my steps. The little miracle happens.

Krystle. Martin. Lu. Sean.

The four do not fly away. 

I run on. I do not look back.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Week's End

Update to week 6 of training, made 16 miles with 10 at marathon pace. I knew this was going to be a tough workout, and when I was fatigued from the first easy 5 I was worried this might be one of those other days. The not-so-good-day-to run days.

It was tough, but I pushed through the heavy legs and took a couple of short breaks to recharge the batteries. It was definitely a struggle, and when I got to my furthest point out I took a break to make a prosthetic adjustment.

As I was leaning against the guardrail of a small bridge over a tidal marsh, a woman pulls into her drive but stops short, rolls down the window and asks if I am okay. "Yes, just taking a short break," I say. "I thought so, just wanted to make sure." "Thank you for asking!"

I did appreciate the concern from a complete stranger. It was heartfelt and sincere. In a world where usually the sensational creates news, here was a moment where a simple gesture, lasting no more than a few seconds, made a difference. Sensational? No. A few words, some concern for a fellow human being, and I was off running.

On pace.

Finishing strong.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

5 plus 6

My training is going very well, probably the best since just before the time my left knee was injured. Consistent training is essential for any degree of success in the marathon; without it that bad day will be a disaster, with it a good day can be exceptional. I admit, I know the former and have been very patient waiting on the later.

I could probably write a book on every long run. While clearing the mind of clutter, often near the end the quiet of moving one more step, one more stride, reduces running to the essence of life.

Last week's planned 16 to 18 was a strong 17.8 miles. Unlike last year's training when I usually struggled building my long runs, so far it has been better. My training is aggressive, just enough to have an edge of fear, of can-I-really-do-this? When those workouts are completed it builds confidence and strength to prepare for the next challenge.


Hallman Blvd via Google Street View
Over the years I have found an odd anomaly on some of my training routes. There are places where I usually feel good or faster, and other places that make me feel slow no matter what effort I am giving. One such place where I feel less strong is Harry M. Hallman Blvd, a short stretch of road between Mt. Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park and Patriot's Point Road. I always feel like I am barely moving here, that I am supremely aware of my complete lack of speed, that I what I am doing is indistinguishable from walking.

I almost decided not to run this section on my outbound run, thinking I would make up the distance on the other side of the bridge or back in old Mt. Pleasant. My momentum carried me here along with a bit of gristle, not wanting to give in to a perceived weakness.

I pass a family on bikes and head down to the park, immediately feeling sluggish even though my pace has not changed. Jeese. I'm going slightly downhill and no amount of assistance from gravity makes me feel any faster. It would take a high speed camera to capture my I really this much slower than only a few years ago. I am pretty much living inside my head and then look up.

A couple is coming toward me, pushing a child. I smile. He is waving and says what I think is "hi!" I wave and return the gesture but run on. It is only a handful of seconds and they slip through my fingers.

I run down to the park, take a short break, then head up the bridge. I was thinking today's run could not be as good as last week's but it is. Better. I am thinking of Jay and this, his little brother, reaching out to me. Then it occurs to me I have seen this family before on the bridge...and I vow I will not pass them again without stopping to speak. I regret I did not have the presence of mind to do that very thing today, that I still have much to learn.


Sit. Stay.
As I reach the far end of the bridge, I stop to make an adjustment to my prosthesis. A woman comes up to the fountains and stops for a drink, and finding they have not been turned back on since our few days of freezing weather, blurts out "f-a-duck!" and noticing me apologizes. I laugh and say I feel her pain because I wanted water to take my gel with and already shared her misery. "I am running 20 miles and need my water!" she says and runs off toward Charleston. I turn back and run the other way.

Shem Creek
It is a beautiful evening and I stop to take a few pics, not really having time with darkness falling but unable to resist the beauty of this place. I feel a slight anxiousness that I am holding up dinner, yet feel good and strong and wanting to run on and on.

Sunset at Alhambra Hall

I resist the temptation to run an even 18 miles, stopping at the oak tree that has come to symbolize this strength to me, that of BostonStrong. 17.8 it is, and the effort feels wonderful. The moon is overhead, the holy city is glowing in a silent night.

Thank you for this life, this blessing of every day.

For these wings on my feet.

For one more.