Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Man With No Legs

I've been on many runs in the past 15 years or so. In a way, all of them have been difficut but in a more important way, all have been good...some better than others. One of my most difficult races also ranks near the top of my most memorable and fulfilling runs.

It was a 10k race in the south loop of Chicago, a charity run for the Chicago Rehabilitation Institute. This institute helps people recover from severe physical impairments.

My long time running buddy and good friend "Bambi" had the bright idea to run this race, in the heat and humidity, on the hot asphalt, in the summer of 1999 or was it 2000? Doesn't really matter.

Bambi was in shape, had another brilliant idea to run a couple of miles before this "wonderful" race so we would be loosened up and ready to roll. Like a dumbass I agreed with her, pretty girls can still talk me into more darned trouble than I could ever discover on my own.

I wasn't in shape but figured a 10k wouldn't be much of a problem, and it wasn't too bad until the last 2 miles. For whatever reason, the proverbial freakin "WALL" came tumbling down on me or I ran headlong into it or whatever. I was drenched, cussing, pissed off, tired and decided I would never run another step the rest of my life. Oh sure!

Bambi was just cruising, talking...girls talk a lot...and having a grand 'ol time then we ran into our old running coach and they started up a just marvelous conversation, getting caught up and all about how fantastic we are as really cool runners...you know how it goes.

Coach made the dumbest observation and comment I ever heard from him, and I had heard a lot. He had the nerve to smile at me and say "Man, you're looking great." Jeez, I guess I do hide my pain rather well.

I managed to hold pace and keep up with them and stumbled over the finish line, walked a few steps and came face to face with a middle-aged man or older...maybe in his 50s which was about my age at the time. He was sitting in a wheel chair, under a shade tree and had the biggest warmest smile on his face and this saint had no legs. I stared at him in a fog and he asked me a most difficult question.

"How was your run?"

I looked at this man with no legs, enjoying the circus of sweaty runners and through the humiliation of a really difficult and "character building" run I smiled, then started to laugh and in all honesty I could say:


I just got in from a bit of a difficult 7 miler, still trying to get in shape...whatever the hell that may be...and through much of tonight's run the memory of the man with no legs kept me moving. Tonight my legs are both attached, a bit sore, but in the morning...spirit willing... I'll be able to swing out of bed, walk into the shower and tackle a new day.

And this summer, assuming that race is still in existence, I'm going to lure Bambi back to that starting line and: KICK HER ASS!

Damn, I love running for a living.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Okay, I'll keep running

I've been beating the hell out of myself for I don't know how long for not training better, not running a Boston qualifying time, for getting too damned old too soon.
Then Saturday morning I ran a 5K with my son's girlfriend. It was her first ever go at that distance, first time running outdoors, first time running with a group of crazy goddamned fools!
I ran with her, thinking she might want to walk a bit but noooo!
Then we hit the one and only aid station and I suggested a cup of water thinking we might sip our drink and walk and talk a bit. Hell noooo!
She took a drink, threw the cup in the waste barrel and took off.
So, I said to myself...self...this girl is on a mission...and you know something funny...I started smiling as I BSd with her to around 3 miles then told her we needed to sprint finish and scare the hell out of some people.
She thought that was great and away we went.
To make a long story short, I don't remember now what I have been bitchin about.
To run with someone in their first ever race and see them finish strong and with a big proud smile tends to make any bump or bruise I may have ever had disappear in a big hurry.
I'm signed up for Chicago's Soldier Field 10 miler the end of May, the Distance Classic half marathon this summer and....of course I'm in for my Chicago Marathon on Oct. 2.
And I'm for sure going to get in as many 5 and 10ks as I can this summer.

Guess I'll keep running and training.