Chronicle of a Comeback (vol. 23)

That was a huge step back.  

As I said some of the words above aloud, they sounded like “set back,” but this was anything but that.

Much of what I think about when I am at my in-law’s beach house at the New Jersey shore, is running.  I have run down here for decades.  It’s rare that a day passes that doesn’t include running.   Part of my daily routine each day at the beach is to run from the house on Chadwick Beach Island to various destinations on routes I created long ago. I have the distances of each run etched into my brain, as much a part of my consciousness as anything else:

  • One loop of the island is .55 miles
  • A round trip to where the Thunderbird used to be is 3.1 miles
  • To the end of the Lavalette Boardwalk and back is 6.2 miles
  • (My favorite long run) The Point Pleasant Inlet and back is  a 16.5 mile journey

In between these “standard measurements” are variations on these themes – loops and circles and various running paths that take me to West Point Island and Seaside Heights among other destinations.  

To be at the beach, for me, is to run.  

Last summer my New York City Marathon dream ended when I couldn’t complete the Point Pleasant run.  It was at that point that I realized that the injury to my Achilles wouldn’t allow me to do the marathon.  Surgery came a few months after.

Today I wanted to see if I could cover my old 3.1 mile route without stopping.  I have not run even two miles outside without needing a walking break.  If life is measured in small steps, I was ready to attempt a big one.

A week ago, when running with my son Ryan, I realized that the troubles I was having when I ran outside came because even though was trying to run slowly, I was still running too fast.

I determined today to just go slowly, painfully slowly.  I needed to go slowly so I could cover the miles… even if it would take me forever.

Well, it took a while, if not forever, but, in short, I did it.

Today I took a huge step back – back to where I want to be.  Where I need to be.

Today I ran 3.1 miles, a full 5K, without stopping.  I don’t know how long it took.  I didn’t check the time when I left, nor when I returned (though that wouldn’t have mattered at all).  All I know is I was slow.  

But I also know I did it.

With the cancellation of the New York City Marathon, I now don’t have to concern myself with trying to run farther and farther in a very short period of time.  I can take this return to running slowly.  While my heart is sad that the big race is cancelled, my Achilles (and the rest of my body) is happy.  I don’t have to try to force the issue, I can build my strength over time – over a long period of time.  

And I’ll make it, as long as I keep taking steps forward.

Like today.



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