Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pain and Sacrifice

On Sunday I headed down to the Marine Corps Marathon and watched some of my teammates and other friendly faces run the 26.22 mile race. I got to see my colleagues in a number of spots but the most sobering of all was watching runners shuffle up Rt 110 towards the Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima). It was around mile 25.5...and it was mostly uphill. It resembled a death march. Everyone appeared to be broken. They were running on fumes. At first they came in ones, then two and threes and then small packs. Their backs were hunched and their faces twisted in pain. One of the runners looked at me and he seemed to ask with his eyes "when will this all end?" Eventually teammate Patrick Reaves came around the bend and began the final stretch towards the finish. I ran alongside him and tried to talk about other things in an effort to distract him from the pain. He only muttered "it's not my day". Later I saw Jason Dwyer. He was shuffling on the sidewalk, bib number in hand. He had dropped out and as he put it was "just trying to get home"...literally a half mile from the finish line. Finally Melissa Tanner rounded the corner. She was running the race of her life; a 5 minute PR and while securing the "bronze" medal. And they kept coming. For literally hours they kept coming. Some limping. Some walking. Some screaming. It was quite a sight. It was quite admirable.

I share below an excerpt from Jason Dwyer's log. It nicely outlines the commitment we all make for this sport and the sacrifices we endure for making such commitments.

BEGIN EXCERPT Retirement. I had a lot to think about and a lot of time to think during the last 4 miles walking in. The most dominant thought being that building back up for another marathon was just too daunting and I no longer have the desire. I peaked a few weeks ago for this one, and I think I was in shape for my goal, the workouts and half marathon were indicating this. I think that the marathon would have been my best distance, and I think I had a few more years of physical capability... but I also think I have a good envisionment of my capabilities and potential, I wanted to know how deep I went. my 10k pr was 31:30 which calculates to roughly a 2:29. My only half marathon was a 70:36, and I did it as a workout out. So, if I had the right conditions, didn't get sick, and peaked at the right time, I think my limits were around a 2:28-2:30. But the problem with a marathon is that you gear your training to one day, register months in advance, pay a 100 bucks and you are pretty much are locked in. for shorter races, if something goes wrong, you can strike again next week. or any other week for the season. I had thought about richmond as a backup- but only if I knew early on and could pull the plug without any training interuptions. At 10 miles I felt it was in the bag. at 14 I was sliding, but was still optimistic. I had to give it a shot... by that time, my legs were already blown, coming back for richmond was not in the cards. During the walk, I thought, yes, it would be nice to say I ran sub 2:30 and could claim an "elite" status, that I could stamp a new PR on my forehead (to refer to Once a Runner), but I also thought, I give it a long, honest, and sincere commitment (no matter how unorthodox my trainig approach may have been). when I was running 2:45-2:50 marathons off 50-60 miles a week, I was curious to know what I could do with more mileage. I gave it... as much as I could without being a monk. It clearly takes more than 90 miles a week, but 90 miles a week is a lot of commitment for someone who knew there was not going to be any big returns. my PR of 2:36 was a nice bench mark of a sub 6 average. sub 2:30 was the next benchmark. I wasn't going beyond that, no matter how much I gave, not even if I holed myself up in the mountains and only trained. even if I did this, I would be lucky to run 2:28. and what would I have gained and what would I have lost? What I would lose is too much. I'm 29, married, am a student with no clear direction, and work in a shoe store. If I thought even just making the trials were in the cards, I would do it. there have been too many sunday mornings when I've left chrissie asleep, driven an hour to a scenic location, ran with my buddies for a long run, driven home by noon, with chrissie waking up alone, drinking her coffee alone, and waiting for me to return... quietly asking if I wanted to go on a walk/hike, and she's wanted to join a unitarian church for a while... for me to tell her I was tired and needed to study. Ending it is difficult, and dreams die hard. It will be awkward for the next few months as I am on a "racing team" and I may eek out a few local races of the 10k variety. I look forward to becoming a quiet jogger. Most of all, I look forward to coaching again. Running has been too much a part of my life, and I know I like coaching. I write this to record my thoughts. I intend on priting out this log at some point and keeping it as a sort of diary for the last few years. END EXCERPT
I put a fair share of miles on my legs on Sunday while running about so I decided to take Monday off. This morning I ran my first morning run and it's my worse day (for my hip) yet. My muscles behind my left hip (upper butt?) are very achy so I iced for 15 minutes. This is the first day my hip has hurt me DURING my run. It's a step backwards...

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