One last marathon; one last 26.2 finish; one last marathon medal. Unfortunately that one last marathon was three weeks ago and just as unfortunate, the terrain in that race tore up my knee. Thusly, 17 miles into the Houston Marathon, my knee was finished and so was I.
Before I reached Lady J, who was near the 17 mile marker, there was clarity and acceptance. But as I signaled I was done, I lost it emotionally, for a moment. Unable to speak, unable to comprehend, just sitting on the curb, head hung low. But it passed shortly thereafter and I made my way, with the help of Lady J’s shoulder, to be transported home, short of another goal.
The race began with miserable conditions. Cold rain, bone chilling wind, and temperatures struggling to stay above the mid 40’s. Many runners, who were not prepared for the weather, were picking up discarded clothing as we made our slow walk to the start line. Other runners got cold feet and abandoned their quest barely a mile in.
The weather, as bad as it was, didn’t bother me too much. I was interfacing with the hardy spectators who braved the weather, and thanking police and race volunteers who make Houston such a great course to run.
The running was easy and once the rain cleared out and the half marathoners broke off, the course became easier to navigate as well. And then things went down hill. Quickly. Like railroad spike to the knee quickly. My pace began to slow and I am sure my gait changed as well as my body tried to find the least painful stride for my knee.
Lady J was waiting for me just prior to Mile 12. I wished I would have stopped then. The subsequent miles saw my leg trying to compensate and my IT Band was none too happy about that, to the point of burning. Even before the halfway point I knew I was done. The pain was too much to be a temporary condition.
We can always look back in search of a root cause. We can congratulate ourselves on a “smart” decision to forego the remaining miles. We can look for an excuse that will strengthen our emotional fortitude.
Instead, I’ve opted to move on. There’s no need to dwell. There’s no talk or thought of a do-over. New challenges await. I think I would like to take a shot at an olive eating record...
Big thanks to my fabulous wife, Lady J, who supported me through 26 full marathons and most of a 27th. Us runners should always remember we are not the only one giving something up to follow our passion. Our significant others have to give up things too.
Because some of you wonderful people care about such things, my post-race brew was a Stone Arrogant Bastard.