Friday, October 25, 2013

If I Never Run Again

I am recovering, slowly, from my marathon leg injury. It seems to be two knots, one in my lateral compartment and another in my gastrocnemius (hopefully not a third behind that one in the soleus). They are responding to all of the usual knot treatment, except that these knots are at least as bad as the gluteus knot I had back in February 2011. Plus, it's pretty tough to get me to actually rest. This week I was in the weight room trying to bench press 125 pounds, doing medicine ball circuits, pull ups, push ups, abductor and adductor exercises... So I do plan on recovering from this injury and going on to set more personal records, at just about every distance.

That being said, the end of a season, good, bad or ugly, plus an injury, makes for a good opportunity to imagine if I never set another personal record. This day will come. Hopefully I can still set bicycling and ultra running PRs into my 40s, but regardless of the details, I will slow down. I may even be sidelined by an injury permanently. So what if this injury, this marathon, was my last?

Well, I didn't get as far as I wanted, not even very close. But I did accomplish far more than I ever expected. I learned so much about perseverance, consistency, hard work, and gifts. My running is a gift. Yes I work incredibly hard at it, but it is a gift that many, probably most, others don't have, similar to my math and science passion. In high school my three best 5ks in cross country were 18:26 (senior year), 18:33 (junior year, and 18:34 (senior year). Two weeks ago in Chicago my first six consecutive 5ks were 17:08, 17:06, 17:19, 17:29, 17:50 and 18:13. In high school I struggled to run a 5:03 1600 meter race. In March I ran a 4:31 mile, roughly 34 seconds better than my 5:03 1600 in high school. I look at that kind of development, and I'm okay with it. That is real, concrete improvement. To know that the process works, that development happens over years and more than a decade of practicing the craft is rewarding. I can tell you about development, but you won't understand it if you don't go through it personally. There have been so many injuries and setbacks. So many challenges and seemingly lofty goals that many internal questions are asked. I have learned what I can do, and what I can't do, often painfully.

If I never run again I will think, 'I did what I could with what I had. There are things I would change, but I didn't know them at the time.' Looking forward, I will be healed. When I return to training and racing I will go after my specific goals. I have done some bouncing around and ancillary goals now and then, but it's time to be specific.

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