I have run a countless number of races in my life. Yes, this includes 20 marathons. (I always keep an accurate count of my marathons.)
I love to run.
I have often stated that the marathon defines me.
More, I think the marathon actually runs me more than I run it.
But this year, due to a host of circumstances, many of which I have articulated on these pages before, I had to shut my running down. After that last run, I actually wrote in my running log, “Nothing left to give.” I never write stuff like that down. When I looked back today to see that date in my running log, I was actually surprised to see those words. In recollection I was shocked to realize that I had actually gotten to the point (for one of the very few times – in my live in any endeavor) where I had absolutely nothing left. At all. I was done.
In the subsequent weeks, I let my body rest. Or, at least I let my legs rest. (I still exercise every day.)
As the aches and pains from daily running subsided, I realized that I had actually ruptured my Achilles at some point during my training. (“Ruptured” was the word used by my chiropractor, the great Dr. Alfonse DeMaria of Franklin Lakes, NJ.) It’s funny how when we’re so focused on training, and accepting the aches and pains that go with it that, that we ignore real pain. I didn’t even realize that my Achilles was that bad.
After many visits to Dr. DeMaria (he is a miracle worker), the last few days I actually woke up without any pain in my Achilles. That pain in my right leg had been the last thing holding me back. Over the previous days, and weeks (and weeks, and weeks…) my mind has been very ready to get back to running.
It’s been 48 days since I last ran. (It’s actually been a long 1,152 hours – and I think I’ve counted every single one of them.)
The worst day was last Sunday – watching the New York City Marathon on TV and not being part of it. As I saw the elite women come down off the Queensboro Bridge and on to First Avenue – and as I tried to explain to my wife the euphoria that goes along with that moment – my eyes filled with tears.
How can we love a race that much? (But I do.) How can a race be that much a part of who we are? (But it is.)
I love running, but the thing I most love the most about running is the New York City Marathon.
It took every ounce of discipline, all day long, to not run, at least a little bit, last Sunday. But I knew my body wasn’t quite ready. It was close, but it wasn’t there yet.
I think it is today.
Today is the first day of the rest of my running life. Today I begin my comeback.
I have a few big goals that should be attainable. I have already mapped out a logical and modest running plan to get me there.
There will be a half-marathon in the spring…
In August, I’ll run the Lehigh Valley Marathon. It is such a great race, but the bonus is that it ends in Easton, Pennsylvania where my son Ethan attends college at Lafayette. There is nothing like seeing your son at the finish of a long race. I can’t wait for that moment.
After a few weeks of rest, before some fine tuning, I’ll the hit the streets of New York in the 2018 NYC Marathon. (I can’t imagine ever missing that race again…)
And, then, on what will most likely be four cold days in January 2019, I’ll run the Dopey Challenge in Disney World. It’s something I just have to do. Most people don’t understand, but it is something I have to do.
But, before I get to any of that, I need to get running. Today. For just a mile or two.
It’s Day Number One – and I couldn’t be happier!