You know when you hear about a pro athlete wanting to “go out on his own terms”? You’ll see an older guy suffer a horrific injury, rehab like a madman to get back to game condition, then immediately retire. Or a player will get cut, have his agent shop him around, sign a minimum salary contract and claw his way onto a roster, and retire in the first week of the season.
I always wondered why. The end result is the same… what’s the big deal whether you got punted out or walked out of your volition? I still don’t really understand the motivation, but today in my own little way I’m living it.
As of today I’ve run each the past 218 days. Tomorrow that number will be zero. Today, I’m out.
Every day since June 1st, I’ve laced ’em up and logged a run. The shortest was 2km, the longest 30.4km. I ran in my neighbourhood along Lake Ontario. I ran on the beach along the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. I ran on an island in San Francisco Bay. I ran in Central Park on Manhattan Island. I ran a half marathon through the vast physical emptiness of Death Valley. The next day I ran a half marathon through the vast emotional emptiness of Las Vegas.
In July, during my first ever 400km month, I developed a hip injury and nearly had to DNF the Acura 10 Miler at the 12km mark. The next day I ran 10km. Just last week I suffered a nasty case of food poisoning (ceviche in the hot sun in Mexico… what could go wrong?) but kept both the streak and my goal of 3500km in 2009 alive with 18km over the next two days. Fortunately these were rare exceptions, my body almost always felt great, and running seven days a week quickly became an automatic thing that I didn’t think about very often.
Personal Best Races at 15km (1:02:52) and half marathon (1:28:45)
But Sunday, in a completely unremarkable jog on the gym treadmill, something blew up in my calf. Literally one step felt fine and the next felt like an ax had been swung at my achilles tendon, and I had to grab the console to keep from being thrown off the belt. I could barely walk the 500m home. I’ve never been one to have calf issues, and I don’t know what caused this or how to fix it. Over the last ten years I’ve had my share of ailments and have learned where different aches and pains sit on the runthroughability scale, but this one’s got me flustered.
Which brings me back to the “going out on my own terms” point. This blow up happened on Sunday evening. I gave it a full 24 hours, wrapped it up really tight, and put in a searingly painful-yet-determined run last night. And survived. It wasn’t pretty and I have to assume I did more damage, but I ran… and if I had to I could do it again tonight. However, I’m choosing to not do so. I’ve got goals for 2010, and they all require solid training volumes and intensities in January and February. Three weeks of hobbling around would be disastrous.
A couple times in the past few months – for reasons of travel, or time management, or hangover – I’ve logged runs in wacky locations, at wacky times of day, in wacky physical or toxicological conditions just to keep the streak alive. I’ve joked to my wife that the streak ends when I say it ends.
Now I’m saying “when”. My fingers are crossed that after a couple days of rest everything will be fine, I’ll start a new streak from scratch, and I’ll wish this two or three day gap never happened. I sure hope so. *Sigh*