I begin 2014 injured, so I abandoned my first ultra-marathon. Those of us who are wired to run understand how frustrating it is to sit on the sidelines. As one blogger, Andy, wrote the other day, “Live and run another day.” So that became a New Year’s goal, to get healthy and run another day.
Ten years ago I decided to run a 10-mile race on the beach in Sea Isle City, New Jersey on an injured knee. As I described in the chapter “Tear and Revival” of my memoir, I felt something twist in my knee while pushing my wife’s broken-down car. I’m an admitted hardhead and continued to run on the knee even though I felt discomfort. That led to my first of three knee surgeries, the third of which was caused by another one of my knuckleheaded moves. That I am back running marathons ten years later approaching my sixtieth birthday seems miraculous to me, and I am grateful. Now I share the lessons I’ve learned the hard way with other runners.
Two years ago, a friend Theresa injured herself about a month before the Philadelphia Marathon. She had already completed a seventeen-mile training run when she injured her knee. She was bummed. I told her not to run again before the marathon, and if she was pain-free on race day to give it a go, after all you can always stop (DNF (did not finish) is only a three-letter acronym.) Theresa finished her first marathon that year, an achievement she’ll carry with her forever.
I didn’t reach the state of health where I’d feel confident lining up on January 4th without causing further damage, so I bailed out of my first race of the year. Surprisingly, I’m not as bummed as I thought I’d be. Maybe at sixty I’m growing up. Nah!!! February 23rd is marked on my calendar–the Ugly Mudder, a seven mile trail run near Reading, PA.