Archive for September, 2011

Starting over: a humbling, thrilling adventure

Posted in Uncategorized on September 28, 2011 by Trail Boy

I used to hop out of bed before sunrise and run 20 miles. Now I consider it a victory if I can run 200 yards without stopping.

My goals are modest these days. I chug down the street to the third mailbox. Then I stop and walk for 15 seconds.

I run to the big tree. I stop and walk a little more.

I run to the stop sign. I walk some more.

I feel like a newby runner, not someone who has completed 10 marathons, nearly two dozen half-marathons, a 50K, and more short races than I can remember.

It’s humbling to try to come back from an injury, the blown-out iliotibial band in my right leg.

It takes patience and discipline and hope. And some therapy.

It is something of an adventure. Maybe I can do it. Maybe I can’t. But let’s see what happens.

It’s a sensation I haven’t felt in a long time — maybe since I began training for my first marathon in 2002. Back then, I felt a thrill every Saturday, as I pushed my long run into new territory: 7 miles, 9 miles, 11 miles….all the way to 23 miles, and then the taper, the anticipation, and then the big race, which went just fine.

At the end of the first season, I could say “I did it.” Who knew it was possible? Every week during that year was a new adventure. It was a coming of age, from a couch potato to a running fanatic.

I never became super-fast. But I became more healthy and happy. Like most runners, I kept records of my best races. And I stapled my dozens and dozens of running bibs to the garage wall.

Now, I’m starting over again. Can I do it? Is it possible? Will I ever run a marathon again?

It’s way too soon to answer the question. But, really, that’s the beauty of it. I’m recapturing my first training season all over again — all the uncertainty, the hope, the setbacks, the incremental accomplishments, the aches, the doubts, the unknown, the joy, the journey.

There’s no sense rushing it or trying to leapfrog back to where I used to be. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Yes, I could get frustrated and impatient, and try to start running five or ten miles before I’m ready.

But my IT band will scream, and my legs will shut down.

I know. I’ve tried that a half-dozen times already in the past 14 months. It’s no fun. I end up on the bench again, frustrated and bitter, gaining weight and missing my endorphins.

I have to go slow and steady. Do lots of stretching. Go through lots of ice. Keep patient.

This morning, I did a 1.5-mile run/walk. It was the fourth time in five days I’ve done this.

While I chug around the block in first gear, my mind is flipping back and forth. One moment, it whispers: “Man, are you are out shape. Listen to your breathing. Listen to your heart rate. You call this running? You stink.”

But I keep going.

I run up a slight hill, and then walk for 15 seconds. I run to the “Slow Children” sign (and try not to take it personally), then walk for 15 seconds. Then I run down the hill to the third driveway.

And a minute later, my voice whispers, “That wasn’t so hard. Keep it up. Your leg feels fine, and that’s the important thing. Don’t worry about your heavy breathing. Your fitness will improve in its own time.”

And I keep going.

Maybe I can come back. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to run 20 miles again. If not, at least I tried. Just like back in 2002, when I pulled on my running shoes, headed out of the door, and headed down the road for God knows what.

It’s a new season. Let the adventure begin.

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Why do you run?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2011 by Trail Boy

I get something in my eye every time I watch this. (Guess it must be plaster dust, falling from the ceiling.)



That special smell

Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2011 by Trail Boy

I went out for an easy run at lunchtime today: walking and running for about 20 minutes around the Downtown Canal and Military Park.

The weather was beautiful: 50-something, with overcast skies and a fall snap. As I ran, I breathed in deeply, taking in the air.

I believe I smelled something special. I will call the scent of hope. It’s the sweetest thing any injured runner can smell. It smelled like the combination of joy, endorphins, rain in the air, coffee, a swelling in the heart, a renewal of spirit and the filling of a deep void.

I ran and walked, and then ran and walked some more. I came back to work refreshed.

When I came home, Mrs. Trail Boy said: “You went running, didn’t you? You have that happy, slightly tired look.” It was the nicest thing anyone had said to me in weeks.

And just think how I’ll look when I get back up to 10 or 20 miles.

Hope springs eternal.

I got back to the office, did some stretching, iced my leg and continued work with a happy glow.

I’m baaaaaack

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24, 2011 by Trail Boy

Enough of this sitting around. A person can only take so much rest and recovery.

It’s time to jump back in.

Bicycling has been well and good for the past six months. But it was only exercise. It wasn’t joy.

I’ve missed the joy of running.

This morning, I dusted off my running shoes and got back into it. I did a very easy, very tentative run-walk in my neighborhood. Run 100 feet, walk 100 feet, repeat for 20 minutes.

It felt good. Then I did a bunch of stretching and iced my right thigh for 15 minutes.

I sure hope I can get back into this. Leg, don’t let me down.


So why did I pick today to get back into it?

Because  today is the Akron Road Runner Marathon, one of favorite fall races. Lots of my Ohio friends are running it — and posting photos on Facebook and Twitter. I felt happy for them.

But I felt sick for me. I hate, hate, hate just reading about marathons when I’m not running them.

I want to do one again, more than anything else. Dare I dream?

I’ve run 10 marathons and a 50K. I’ve done at least one every year since 2002.

This is the first year I have run a long race. I’d hate to say my marathon days are behind me. I’m only 52.


So today was the beginning of my marathon training for next fall. That’s my dream, anyway. It’s a journey a few million steps.

Sometimes dreams come true; sometimes they don’t. But you’ve got to have a dream. Or you might as well lie down and die.

I’ll give it my best. We’ll see if my leg is interested in cooperating.

Wish me luck.