Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The run of my life

Well, I've gone ahead and done it!

Yesterday, I became an official entrant in the Austin, Texas Marathon. Originally wanting only to run the half-marathon, I thought, "what's an extra 13.1 miles at the end of 13.1 miles?" and registered for the whole race. I think one of the deciding factors was my trenchant desire for value and practice of making the most of my money. You see, the half marathon had an entrance fee of $75. Being twice as long, the FULL marathon would, therefore, be $75 times 2 = $150 . . . you would think . . . but it wasn't!!!! It was only $110!!!!! That's a bargain I couldn't pass up. That's a savings of $45 on the second half of the race. A 30% off sale on distance races, if you will. By stretching out the distance I now have to run, I am essentially stretching my dollar.

I applaud my wise decision based on its financial soundness, regardless of whether it makes sense physically. It's like going to Sam's Club or CostCo and finding the 5 gallon tub of mayonnaise too irresistible to pass up. Even though you know only need one small jar of it, you realize that the same amount of mayo in the local supermarket would cost twice that much, so you make the purchase, feel proud about it, then tackle the problem of USING it later.

That's how I currently feel about the race. I'm excited and nervous at the same time. I've never ran that distance before. Although I've averaged about 30 miles per week for the last year and a half, my longest distance was a paltry 12 miles--not even a HALF marathon. I'm not worried about my stamina or conditioning, but rather the daunting psychological battle I will have to face, running without my beloved headphones. The real object of my solicitude is my knee--both of them. My "bad" knee, the one without an ACL in it (long story involving three surgeries and two MRSE bacterial infections), has now become my "good" knee. My previously "good" knee (the one WITH the ACL) has now become my "bad" knee.

I have been unable to run for the last two weeks because of an excruciating pain that feels like my femur and tibia are crashing together with each step, causing me to limp and wince even when I walk. I went for a run last week from my house and couldn't even get out of my driveway before I was grimacing and aching. I'm guessing that all the accrued miles spent pounding the pavement the last 18 months has taken a toll on my 33 year-old body. I know I sound crazy, in light of this information, signing up for even a 100-yard dash, much less a marathon, but that is EXACTLY why I did it. I feel my window of opportunity slipping away.

Not really interested in surgical attempts to fix the knee (I have a surgical "aversion" now), I figured if I'm every going to do it, now is the time. I would just have to force myself through any discomfort (discomfort = aforementioned excruciating pain.) With the race exactly one month and one day away, I now have the undesirable, paradoxical challenge of training for the race by running, running, running AND resting my knee by NOT running, running, running (which seems to be helping, somewhat.)

I think when the time comes to actually run, I will find the strength, with the support of my family, running partner, the exuberant crowd lining the course, my adrenaline, and large amounts of pain medicine. I keep telling myself, "If Oprah can run a marathon . . . . . If Will Ferrel can run a marathon . . . . If JoDee Mecina can run a marathon . . . . If Ryan Hall (the current US marathon record holder, crossing in record time above at the recent Olympic trials in New York) can run a marathon . . . . then so can Kevin Korpi.

Without my music to carry me through (headphones are not allowed), I truly believe that when needed, I can draw inspiration from acclaimed author, Holocaust survivor, and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. Although he never ran a marathon with a number on his bib, he did run for his life, in much worse, almost indescribable conditions. In Night , his memoir of his survival of the Holocaust, there is a unforgettable story of how he, his father, and the other Jewish prisoners, in switching to a different concentration camp near the end of the war, had to run mile after mile after mile, hour after hour after hour, through the night, into the unknown, through the snow and freezing temperatures, through their hunger, through their malnutrition, through their pain, and through their fears, knowing that if they fell, or fell behind, they would be brutalized, or even killed, by the armed German guards. Many did not make it.

He was running for his life. I'm running for glory. He survived. I will prevail too if I have even a fraction of his courage, determination, and hope.


Anonymous said...

You and your crew will do us proud. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

may the force be with YOU! hope you have off the next day from school too!

Anonymous said...

I'm so worried about your knee!!