Monday, April 5, 2010

Pain is Relative.....

I once heard someone say “Success is relative….the more success, the more relatives.” Some might say the same for Pain….the more relatives the more pains. I would never say that. I love my relatives. Especially the ones that donate to my marathon charities (sometimes subtle doesn’t work with them).

But as you might imagine the real topic of this blog is not about relatives. I promised myself that after three years of moaning and whining about injuries leading up to the marathon that this year I was going to be conspicuously quiet no matter what. The fact that my credibility was totally shot after managing to complete the 26 miles (and 385 yards) all three years despite injuries had a bit to do with it. And of course it was easy to make that promise early on in my training seeing as for the first time in 4 years I was in Feb. feeling good and ahead of last year’s training schedule.

In reality, almost anyone can run a marathon. It’s strictly a question of how much pain you are willing to endure to achieve the goal. I’ve mentioned in past blogs that your body fuel and shoes give out on you somewhere around 17 to 19 miles (earlier if you don’t do the training) and at that point it is strictly a matter of mental toughness and stubbornness that keep you going. For the next hour or so you are waging a battle with your body that resembles a World Wrestling Federation title bout. In this corner in the white running shorts we have the Captain of Confidence, the Top Dog of Training, the Prime Minster of Stubbornness our hero “The Finisher”. In the opposing corner, we have the Prince of Pain, the King of Cramps, the Injector of Insecurity, the challenger “Race Terminator”. Somewhere after 13 miles the battle between the two gets into full swing. At this point your training, the weather, how fast or slow you might have started out, how much (or little) liquids you took early on all factor into your ability to keep the Race Terminator at bay. On a good day you can keep him on the ropes until you reach that 17-18 mile mark. Then the second half of the race begins. It doesn’t help that in Boston, just as you need something to help you keep going you find yourself in the middle of 5 miles of hills. Heartbreak is the perfect name. It’s a body slam both mentally and physically.

From here on it is not a question of whether you are in pain, only a question of how much. From an early age our bodies teach us that when you are doing something and it hurts…don’t do that. Part of marathon training is teaching your body to deal with the pain without panicking. It doesn’t mean the pain goes away, it just means “The Finisher” is able to stay ahead of the incessant mental niggling of “Race Terminator”. The hard part is knowing the difference between pain that is permanent damage to your body and pain that is temporary from overuse and fatigue. The original Greek marathoner actually ran himself to death.

There is an old song I remember singing as a kid that went something like this…”The knee bone is connected to the thigh bone. The Thigh bone is connected to the hip bone.” . Back in late Feb. I couldn’t help but think of this song as I went out to run one morning and the pain from the knee and hip of my right leg stopped me flat. I still don’t know what happened. I could blame it on doing a long run and climbing on an airplane and flying for 6 hours (we all know what it’s like to be jammed into one of those seats designed for people less than 5 feet tall) but I actually have no idea . All I know is that the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone and the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone and in my body they are all yelling at each other. So I took two weeks off hoping that would help and then started up running again with a few miles every other day. The pain hasn’t gone away but with the help of ice, Aleve, a knee brace and a much slower pace, I have learned to deal with it and as of today I believe I can cover at least half the distance. At that point I will be well into the battle with the “Race Terminator” and the jury is out on who will win this time. I have one thing going for me…. Pam says I can be one of the most stubborn people in the world.

It occurred to me that often what keeps me going in the later stages of the race is knowing how much farther I have to go to get to the end. Can you imagine what it would be like if you were facing significant life challenges and could never see an end in sight? I can’t even begin to guess what it is like to be trapped in a situation where no matter what you do you can’t see a way to the finish line. Sometimes we just need people to point us in the right direction, show us there is a way out and give us a helping hand to get us there. That’s what Citizens for Adequate Housing does. It’s not just about a place to live; it’s about teaching life skills and helping families find their way to self sufficiency. To see the finish line or at least a way to get there. And while the analogy is a bit of a stretch, your donations are like the spectators on the side of the road, giving encouragement and water to help get to the finish line. It’s hard for me to separate the support you give me to get to the finish from the support you are giving to help others face their “Race Terminator”.

Thanks to everyone who has helped with support and encouragement. I know it is a tough year for everyone but please help if you can.
In the mean time I’ll be out there slogging the last of my miles as that crazy song goes round and round in my head. “The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone. The thigh bone’s connected…”

Till next time…

1 comment:

Corey said...

Great post. Thanks for all you do for Citizens for Adequate Housing. Found your blog through their Facebook page.