Finish line, Chesapeakeman 2011
Finish line, Chesapeakeman 2013
Four years ago, right around this time, I went for a run with my friend Adam. Adam is my Eagleman pal. He’s a talented triathlete. At well over six feet tall, he’s fun to ride with (behind) on a windy day. He also loves trail running, like me. We were running the “Last of the Mohican” run, which included Mt. Joy and Mt. Misery in Valley Forge Park. Ironically, it was on Mt. Joy that I completely torched my ankle. I crawled out on hands and knees while Adam ran ahead to get the car. I have never done that run again. Adam says he always takes a moment of silence at the site of my tumble. That what he says. Quite frankly, I think he’s full of crap.
Anyhoo, a few weeks later, my stress-fractured foot is in a boot. I’m on the couch in front of the television, snuggled up under a blanket with a big box of tissues, getting ready to watch the IM Kona coverage. You have to be prepared for a lot of tears when you watch that heavily but insanely-well produced show. Will the heart transplant recipient make the swim cut off? Will Sister Madonna finish in under 17 hours? The stories they choose tug so strongly at my heart-strings that NBC might as well send someone to chop onions in my living room while Mike Rowe plays a sad violin.
One of the stories was about a woman, maybe about my age, who had broken her foot three weeks before the race. She had qualified for the race and trained extensively, and as a result was devastated. Then she decided to just go for it. She could swim and bike, no problem. Unable to run, she walked the marathon in a boot. As a watched her marching through the dark, I made up my mind. I’m in. I want to go the distance. If she can do it, so can I. Heck, I already have the boot.
Flash forward four years to the present. I completed Chesapeakeman (now IM Maryland) in September of 2011, and again in September 2013. In between the two ultra distance races, I trained for the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon. Mixed in there were over 30 sprints and road races. I’ve ridden thousands of miles. I’ve run hundreds. I’ve swam countless laps in the pool, plus miles in the bay and ocean. And after all of that, the hours and the miles and the training, I’m come to the conclusion that I broke myself.
That’s right. I’m broken. Not my spirit or my enthusiasm. No, those are still intact. My parts are broken. My right shoulder clicks. I can’t sleep on my left hip due to the pain. My left foot goes completely numb after a long bike ride. I’ve treated my limbs like my daughter treated her favorite stuffed dog. He’s been dragged, tossed, pushed and pulled. He’s been mended countless times. One more tug, and all of his stuffing is coming out for sure. My stuffing? Who knows, but I’m worried.
I know I can share all of this with you, because you get it. You may have felt the same way at some point. Maybe you are there now. Maybe you think I’m nuts. That’s okay. I think I’m certifiable. As I crawl along at a 10+ minute/mile run pace or struggle on my bike to climb a Chester County hill due to the throbbing in my hip, I’m still thinking, “Maybe I’ll sign up for Challenge AC next year. Just the half.” Seriously? That is cuckoo crazy, right?
Right. Absolutely. No question.
So, I’ll see you in Atlantic City?
I’ve missed you guys so, so much. Hey, I heard somebody brought donuts.