Friday, February 22, 2008

Marathon Saga: Part III

Mile 21 suddenly seemed endlessly far away. As I hit mile 17, my left knee, which is supposed to be my GOOD knee because it actually has an ACL, but which is actually my BAD knee because of severe arthritis?, began smarting painfully. I stopped and rewrapped it with the Ace bandage. After a few strides, I stopped again, this time leaving it unwrapped. And so it went for about a half mile, until I was in so much pain as my left foot pounded the pavement that I had to rewrap it again, this time very tightly (see picture above.) The numbness in my leg due to the restricted blood flow was a good compromise for the reduced pain. I tried to take my mind off it by focusing again on the scenery.

There was a misspelled sign, "Roger, your the best!" There was a guy dressed up like a giant order of French Fries (or was I just hallucinating?) Then the "4:15" pace group passed me. My pace was slowing. My knee was hurting. Another sign, "There's cold beer at the finish line" helped press me onward. I was still ahead of the 4:30 pace group. My goal of sub 4:30 was still alive. As I approached the next major intersection, I realized that I was back in the neighborhood I went to school in 24 years ago. St. Louis Catholic school was to my left. As I passed the church, I recalled all the "Our Fathers" and "Hail Marys" I recited in 5th grade. I decided a few more at this time would help me to the finish line. As I quietly prayed, I could almost feel the nun slapping my knuckles again with her ruler.

At mile 19, I decided that my bladder finally needed to be emptied. Having stopped at each water station along the way, it was getting a bit uncomfortable having to remain continent, although it did provide a nice diversion to my knee problem. Lucky for me, I happened upon a port-o-potty that was unoccupied, my luck was turning. Prayer works! I welcomed the break from the running, took my time, then rehydrated outside with water and Powerade. I felt like a new man. Well actually, I felt like a slightly used man, but better than I did before the pit stop. My family waited just two miles up the road. Off I went.

As I approached mile 21 coming up a long, steady hill, I could see that mile 21 was a popular place for people to congregate. I tried to position myself in the wide open so that my family could clearly see me approaching and perhaps take a great "action" photo. After passing so many people, none of whom I recognized, I began to think I had missed them, but then ahead on the right, I saw my 4-year old "Pink and Purple Punky Princess" holding another sign for me. I stopped again giving sweaty hugs and stinky kisses to all that wanted them. I even read the personalized signs this time: "ACLs are for Wimps,"read my wife's sign. "E equals M C square[d], but My Dad equals Marathon Winner," wrote my 7-year old son. "Daddy. Jenna," wrote my Punky Princess. I didn't want to admit to them at that point, but I was beginning to struggle with pain. Not only was my knee bothering me, but my back showed the first signs of "knotting up," and my hamstrings and calve muscles were beginning to quiver along the hills. I took the apple wedges my mom had for me and proceeded down the road, running as gracefully and swiftly as I could, at least until I knew I was out of their sights.

"Just stay steady. Stop at the water stations. Stretch when you needed to, and most importantly . . . . Don't let the 4:30 pace group pass you!!" I kept repeating to myself.


Anonymous said...

I am soooo proud of you and your determination to run through the pain, but am also glad you didn't share too much of that with us as we cheered you on the sidelines. Reading your entire race account brought back all the excitement & thrills of our spectator experience. Wow!! Thank God for Thomas & all the prep suggestions he gave us as spectators--after all, he is the "Experienced Spectator". He also served us well as our navigator--we missed you only once, due to your speed. Kevin, as proud as I am and ready to tell everyone of your accomplishment, I also hope that you won't punish your body with a repeat performance next year--but, who knows!! No need to sign, you know who this is from!! Lots of love!!

Anonymous said...

Epsom salt: $9
Ace bandage: $12
Orthopedic consultation: $250
MRI: $1200
Finishing a marathon: Priceless