During our ’06 Christmas vacation at Disney World, my, then 13 year old, daughter suggested that we enter a Duathlon in the Spring. For being in my mid-40’s, I wasn’t in real bad shape and had been run-walking for over a year anyway. So, in January ’07, we started running in the mornings before sunrise. In years to come, we may forget exactly when we began, but we won’t forget how we were greeted that first morning with this incredibly brilliant falling star. It was one of those “wow!” moments, as if the sky had just welcomed us into our new routine with a gift - like the bank gives a toaster to new customers, but much nicer.
Anyway, we had no particular running plan, other than to gradually increase our distance until we could endure two 5k runs at the March in Okarche. We figured that with our mountain biking experience, the 30k bike ride would be no problem. At the time, mountain bikes were all we had and I wasn’t about to buy anybody a roadbike for what could be a first and last event. Well, for me it was pure wonderful hell — if that makes any sense. Because of leg cramps, I could barely get off of my bike and change my shoes to start the second 5k run. Nevertheless, by the finish, we were hooked on multi-sport. Abbie took 1st in her age group. I took 6th in my age group (6th out of 7 – oh well), but, 30k of paved hilly roads on a mountain bike in 20 mph winds was an experience not to be relived. So, we went out and bought two Cannondale roadbikes just in time for the next duathlon in May.
By October 13, Abbie and I finished our fourth and final duathlon of the season. I was running with a messed up leg. At the time, I only knew my leg hurt, so I had sharply cut back on my running about two weeks before the event. I competed, then rested through the remainder of the month. I picked back up again in November with considerable pain. So I got an MRI, started physical therapy and kept running against my therapist’s advice. With the pain just getting worse, my smart physical therapist at Physical Therapy Central called the MRI place and asked them to take another look at the images, and what do you know, my quad had a 20-30% tear that the radiologist didn’t see the first time. Needless to say, that news got me to stop running. I continued physical therapy until my insurance year ended, and babied the leg through January ‘08. In February, stairs were still a problem, but I began to run-walk again, running only until I felt it. However, I felt it too often, and my lungs always hate the pain of starting over. So it became kind of a bummer and I stopped again.
So, here it is March and I’m starting again in the morning – again. If it hurts I’ll walk, but I’m going out. Sooner or later, my leg will be completely healed and I will compete again. In some ways, it might be easier to just forget running altogether and stick with cycling through my old age. For me running is grueling and painful, especially to start again. But, I am drawn back. I’m drawn to that early morning stretch at 4:00 a.m., that first 1/2 cup of hot fresh coffee, the solitude downstairs before anyone else is up. I’m drawn to trying to beat the morning train to it’s crossing, and the expectation of once again competing along side my daughter. For every tomorrow though, I’m drawn to the chance of another priceless moment when the sky says “hello” like it did on the day we first began.
“Blessed is the man who never stops starting to do what he should.”
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