I ran three 5K events in November and December of 2010. They were the first time I’d ever run since my weight loss, and they will be the last. Not that I hate running, or think its bad. But just as a person with my severe knocked knee condition should never have attempted these events, so a person with artificial knees shouldn’t run. So while I consider myself as able to to anything, there are limitations I’m not going to challenge. Yes, I could walk the entire course, but that’s a little not what a run is for. So while A Taste For The Woods celebrates what I can do, this post is going to be a memory of what I’m no longer capable of doing.
The passages between the rows of asterisks were written just prior to my first 5K, held the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Phoenixville, and immediately following the event.
Last time I ran was in high school. I attended a private school that had no more clue what to do with a bent, bookish, fat kid than anyone else. When I wasn’t shunted off to the weight room by myself, unsupervised, because they thought I couldn’t handle gym class, they tried to come up with other things for me to do. I ran a couple of times on the school grounds, and one time turned in a 14 minute mile. I was apparently such a wreck afterward the gym coach never had me do that again.
A quarter century later, I ran some short sprints as I lost weight, but nothing serious. First time was by accident – I was late for work and ran to my office. I was so excited I could run I started running in the hallways to show people I could do it. They asked me to stop running in the hallways.
I’m not properly built for sustained running. In addition to the excess weight, my left leg doesn’t have a full extension, hence my limp. Both knees are knocked, and the right one has been dislocated twice. Still, I’d like to try this at least once, if only because five years ago I couldn’t walk a city block, and my limitations are self-made.
While Sayre Kulp has been the guy pushing me to do this, if only because he wants to hold myself accountable to my words and not sell myself short, my interest was kindled by my friend Dan Lucas, editor of Chess Life, who is training for his first half-marathon. (Not all chess players are sedentary.) Dan’s given me advice on running, and I’ll see how much of it I can apply Saturday.
My big fear is that I’m going to beat up on myself regardless of the result. I’m expecting I’m going to have to walk much of the course this weekend. I considered taking on the shorter 1 mile “fun walk/run” simply because I thought I could spend a greater percentage of the time running, but I was argued down. “Don’t sell yourself short” I was told. I’m still not entirely persuaded, but I’m going to attempt the longer distance.
Well, folks, I did it. I walked most of the course, but I completed the “Burn off The Bird” 5k in Phoenixville on November 27. My official time was 50:13, but that’s highly suspect since they didn’t have a clock up and no one had a stopwatch out aside from my friend Sayre. His time for me is about 55 minutes, and that’s seems right.
Here’s my reaction to learning that I finished in under an hour, which was my goal.
My second 5K was in Reading, part of the “Shiver By The River” series of winter running events. In the week between events I was on such a cloud of enthusiasm that I ignored all the danger signals I was experiencing…. the feeling like a stuffy headcold in the kneecap, hamstrings and tendons that were sore in ways I’d never known. Enthusiasm led me on, enthusiasm for both running and my participating in runs with Sayre. It felt good to be treated as a peer by someone I respected; I could never be in his class as a runner, but class wasn’t important for either of us.
While we improved our times – if I recall correctly it was Sayre’s first sub-30 5K – I was a wreck after. I look happy because I felt happy, but my body was screaming “no more!” Also, I’d lost nearly 20 pounds in the six weeks prior to Shiver By The River, putting me that much nearer to goal weight. So even as my knees ground as I walked and I took Ibuprofen by the handful I was bargaining, hoping that I’d recover enough function to run one more time….. and to avoid the knee replacement surgery I knew was coming.
I don’t have any photos from my final 5K, held in Pottstown on a rainy Sunday in December. Sayre wasn’t participating, I felt horrible, and I wound up walking the entire course. II was in constant pain by this point. I saw my doctor, and we began the process that put me on an operating table a year later.
I don’t regret knee replacement. It gave me my life back. But damn, how I miss running.