Two Certainties in Life

Posted: August 7, 2013 in Motivation

For many of you out there who have chosen to follow this journey of mine from the earliest days when Run for Dom was an abstract notion of how I was going to do my part to try to raise awareness, funds and most importantly hope for a sick friend who was battling cancer to what is now going on three years since Dom’s death from that disease – I am sure some of you have wondered where I have been.

I had not ever gone more than 5 days between making a post at Run for Dom.

Today marks two weeks since my last entry.  I have had a lot to say during those 14 days, but most of those thoughts started like this:


Two Wednesday’s ago in the middle of my track workout – while I was ticking off my miles in 5:58, 5:55, 5:54 I felt a twinge in my left Achilles.

Without finishing that turn on the track, let alone the entire 400 meters I immediately shut it down and walked gingerly across the field to my water bottle.  I knelt down, loosened the laces on my flats and I paused for a moment and silently said a prayer.

It was short, but directly to the point.

“If this is what I think it is, please be merciful.  Please know just how hard I have worked to come back from this injury last December.  To rebuild my body, my mind and my spirit to pour everything into this training cycle.  Please give me the strength to recover from this set-back quickly and let me toe the line on Race Day in Utah as close to 100% as possible.  This race is bigger than just me.”

I started therapy immediately.  I have seen a specialist, had ART (Active Release Therapy) twice, visited a Chiropractor for two adjustments.  I’ve iced, taken anti-inflamatories.  I’ve rested.  Absolutely no running.  And today I am no closer to running than I was 14 days ago.  Only slight improvement has been made and for the second time in a row – my marathon is now lost.

I will not be racing in Utah on September 14th and frankly, I hope to just be running again by then.  That also means that Steamtown – my back-up plan – is also out in October.  I have been a bit depressed.  A bit irritable.  And in a moment of weakness even allowed negative thoughts enter into my head.

It is during those times that I realized that I was not going to say anything in this space until I could honor the memory of our good friend Dom by being positive.  By searching for the good in all of this and for remembering what true loss really is.  How it is final.  Unrecoverable.  Unchanging.  That is loss.

Missing a marathon or two is not loss.  Never being able to see your wife, daughter, son, father, brother, aunt, uncle again – is what “loss” truly is.

I believe that there are two certainties in life as I know them.

1.     There is a God.

2.     I am not Him.

I have no idea when I will be well again.  I only know that I will be.

I have no idea when I will run again.  I only know that I will.

I have no idea how long it is going to take me to get back to where I was not only 4 weeks before Houston last year when I was injured, nor how long it will take me to get even more fit, more prepared and more ready as I was 6 weeks from Big Cottonwood.

I only know that next time, for Houston in 2014, I will once again be even MORE prepared to break through and run the marathon I have hoped to since 2011.  2:59:XX.

Dom, I owe you an apology as you taught me the greatest lesson anyone ever has in my now 46 years on earth.

Take nothing for granted.  Cherish everything.  Never give up.

I’m sorry that it took me a couple of weeks to come back around.  Stop feeling sorry for myself and getting my sh#% together.

Trust that in 8 days on the anniversary of your passing I am going to give this foot a try.  If all I do is make it down the block before I have to stop, that is going to be fine.  It is in the trying where winners are revealed, not in the succeeding.

Thank you for reminding me of that lesson and perhaps this injury is the reminder I needed to not assign success or failure by a race clock suspended over a line on some street.  But in being willing to take a swing at that achievement with love in your heart and true fearlessness.

If things align for us down in Houston, TX this winter I am going to make sure that my wife and daughter are there to see the greatest 400 meters I will ever run in my life.  I am going to do it with great passion, great effort and ferocity.  And it is going to make all of these trying days just a side-note to this journey.

And God, if you are listening – I get it now.  You have a plan for me and I’m not privy to all the details at this point.  That is what faith is.

Thank you for keeping me honest and reminding me just how blessed I am and how wonderful a gift it is to be able to share watching my daughter grow up with her amazing Mother.  I have a front row seat for the greatest show on earth.  I may not be able to run right now – but I remain a runner.  It takes a heckuva lot more to keep us down than a little pain in one foot.

I’ll be back and back with a vengeance.

  1. ttrodriguez says:

    I have actually been following your journey since before Boston last year. I was there and had a DNF and you made it across the finish line. For some reason, your race plans and injuries fall right along in line with mine. My ankle has been bothering me for over a month now and I think about all the hard work I’ve put in, and how desperately I don’t want it to go to waste. It’s a hard battle… between the downtime from running you need and the need you have to run. Out of the 6 (and a half if you count Boston) marathons I’ve run, I have yet to arrive at a start line healthy and as prepared as I would like to be. In fact, the first time I qualified for Boston, I signed up 3 weeks beforehand and had absolutely no expectations. The second time I qualified, I spent the month and a half before cross training and preparing mentally because I was injured. (Story of my life.)

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. You are a very talented runner and you will have your race. Keep believing!

    One other thought… I know you do a lot of running. Do you ever do any type of yoga? I have learned that by ankle hurts because my right back and hip muscles are extremely tight. My running coach, who is a 2:22 marathoner, would dedicate at least 1 hour to yoga every week when he was training for the Olympics trials. Ever since I’ve gotten a little more flexibility in my right side, my stride has improved and so has my ankle. Just a thought 🙂

    Feel better soon!!!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Tracie – thank you for the visit and for the kind message — I always enjoy hearing from you here on RFD. I am so sorry to hear about the struggles you have had staying healthy approaching big races. I really was so fortunate until this last 6-7 months as anyI setback I ever had was always very minor. This has given me a lot to think about and I need to realize that at 46, I’m going to have to take care of my body in different ways than I did even 5 years ago. Yoga, stretching, rolling, more swimming all are on the table as I’m not ready to just start mailing in races to collect T-shirts and medals just yet 🙂 Thanks again for your support!

  2. So inspiring! I missed your posts and how crazy of a runner you are. I’m sure in the past when I used to run 10 miles, that you would zoom by me at Brushy Creek. I haven’t been able to run those 10 miles like I used to but I run what I have time for. I’m in the hospital with my husband who is 42 and just had both hips replaced due to arthritis. He just wants to walk pain Free again. God has a way of using our circumstances to make us stronger. I laughed when you said that there is a God and that your not him. So true. We forget that sometimes. God is in control and he sure is listening. Praying.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jennifer! Thanks so much for stopping by and I am so sorry to hear about your husband and his surgeries. Wow, when did 42 or 46 get “old” right? I wish him the best in his recovery and we need to run a few miles together out on the trail next time we get a chance. Take good care and best to your husband.

  3. I’m so sorry. What a disappointment, As someone who has been in those shoes, I can only offer heart-felt sympathy!

  4. Ann says:

    I am so sorry Joe. Injury sucks. I too am giving up my fall marathons after I shattered mentally into a million pieces. I know I will come back but just not yet.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Ann – So sorry to hear that you are struggling right now. I’ve battled the “loss of mojo” a couple times in the past and in the summer, it can really be tough to get it back. Sounds like a break from racing is in order for sure. Best wishes to you.

  5. John Potts says:

    Hi, Sorry you hurt yourself. Here is my suggestion. Based on your previous experience it took you five weeks to run pain free again. Rehab the same way. That leaves you week of August 26th starting up, three weeks prior to race day. Run an easy 50 that week, like 9 min miles. Ramp to 70 next week, again easy. You are already rested, now you are just loosening up. Maybe do a 3-5 mile tempo run that week just to stretch out. Run 35 race week, but do strides 2-3 times. Make sure you do 40-80 heel raises after every run. Lay off of heavy stretching. Go run Cottonwood, start easy ramp it down to 7:30 pace. That still qualifies you comfortably for Boston.

  6. David H. says:

    Joe, I’m sorry to see this! I’ve been away from the blogging world for so long and keep missing out on things. I know that you’ll be back stronger and better than ever. As far as blogging goes, that break will help. I haven’t been injured, but taking time away from talking about things so much has become of great help. It’ll all just come back and the words will flow soon enough!

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