I have a good friend in Va Beach who is a tremendous runner and athlete. When I say tremendous – I mean a runner who at every distance from the mile to a 12-hour ultra marathon could thump me without breaking a sweat. We are approximately the same age, yes, he has more experience as a runner than I do, we both work hard – but he simply is more talented than I am or will ever be. Among all of the runners I know, he is the one that I admire the most and try to emulate whenever possible.
Over the past 10-12 weeks as my mileage has been mounting preparing for our first half-ironman in two weeks, Steve has been absolutely crushing his training for a 12-hour race 5 days from today. He then has the Cayman Island Marathon on his schedule for the beginning of December, then the Houston Marathon on January 13th. The same race we have circled on our calendar to try for our first sub 3 hour marathon.
On Wednesday, without any warning signs or signals that he was pushing things too hard he pulled up injured on a run. A strained glute. He has not run since. He is in Va Beach as he put it “hoping for a miracle”, going to his chiropracter, sports massage therapist, using ice, rest, compression, hoping against hope that his condition will clear and allow him to compete this weekend to the best of his abilities.
This past Thursday, I woke up with soreness in my right calf. The first chink in the armor that we experienced throughout our training cycle. I made a decision to skip my hill repeat session that would tax my calf muscle that morning and instead ride the TRI bike that afternoon.
It was a minor blip as I was able to jump right back into my training with an 11-mile run on Friday morning, a 2-mile swim Saturday morning followed by a 56-mile bike ride. On Sunday I ran 16 miles at 7:24 pace with my closing two miles at 7:05 and 6:43.
We are right as rain two weeks from race day.
It affirmed for me that for a training cycle and race to come together for you it takes more than hard work. It takes a little bit of luck along the way as well. There are only two kinds of runners, those who have been injured and those who have not been injured yet. Knowing your body, its’ limits and the difference between pain and injury is all part of the deal when it comes to being able to push hard in training but stay consistent and injury free.
So this morning with 13 days to go until we slip into our wetsuit and wade into the Guadalupe River with hundreds of other swimmers for the biggest endurance test we have ever faced I know two things for certain.
1. We trained as hard as we possibly could have for this event.
2. We are very fortunate to be healthy entering our taper.
Race days are a gift. It should be a celebration of all of the hard work, the 4:15 a.m. alarm clocks, the 11-mile runs in the pouring rain, the 56-mile bike rides in 25 mph winds. The swims at lunchtime, on the way home from work and early on Saturday mornings.
On race day, there is no reason to feel any way except for incredibly fortunate and blessed to be able to go out there and do something that you love to do.
Steve, I hope things improve for you and you can go out there and compete this weekend. You are everything that is right and good about our sport. I know you will make a smart decision and if there is any way for you to be out there safely, you will do it.
If you have to pass on race day, I will make a little room for you on my race flats next to Dom’s name. When I get off that bike and see your initials on my shoes as we hit the run course, I promise we will leave everything out there.
It won’t be the fastest half-marathon we have ever run, in fact it may be our slowest. That doesn’t mean it can’t still be our greatest. I plan on making sure that at the end of 70.3 miles, everyone knows we were at Kerrville.