So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad* Training Specialist. Runner. Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) Certified Official, Category 2. RRCA Representative, Florida (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sidelined. Not Benched, But Sidelined.

"I don’t question his toughness, he’s tough as hell. He’s one of the toughest....He doesn’t complain....He goes out there and plays...he practices every single day, so no we don’t question his toughness....Yeah, I love jealous people when they are watching our game on TV while their season is over." - Brian Urlacher, Bears linebacker, during post-game press conference, January 23, 2011

I had a sneaking suspicion something was not "really" right when we started the second of three planned seven-mile loops yesterday afternoon. My right heel and achilles tendon had behaved well through the first loop and we were gliding at a relaxed low-to-mid eight minute-per-mile pace. For Deena, one of my athletes in training for the Rock n' Roll/Mardi Gras Marathon, this pace was right where she needed to be, give or take a few seconds. However, this pace would not do me on the day; I'd need another fifteen to twenty seconds each mile. But pace was the least of my concerns.

My mind and my legs were having one of those James T. Kirk and Montgomery Scott moments which played out in every Star Trek episode or movie I've ever watched. Unfortunately for me the legs were Patrick Doohan, the mind was William Shatner: I'm giving 'er all I got, Kept'n...

About two miles left in the loop, I was deep in the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross stages of dealing with death and dying: Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. Two of three poor half marathon performances in three months were a clear message something was biomechanically amiss, and getting angry about it would not fix the problem.

I figured I would make a bargain with my body and try to finish fourteen miles; if I could do fourteen then tacking on an easy two miles to make the run twenty-six kilometers would be an acceptable compromise.

We stopped briefly at a Circle K. I grabbed a bottle of fluid; Deena took a quick stretch break. As we started again I broke the news. I decided, rather than to back down from the full marathon and run the half in three weeks, repeating the "ten miles of decent running, followed by three miles of character-building" insanity - and insanity, according to Einstein, is doing the same thing over and over with the hope of different results - I would back down immediately to rehabilitation. This vicious cycle of train, injure, recover and reinjure has to stop. And this cycle had to be broken before I repeated the same ten kilometer walk-of-shame I did in Jacksonville...followed by recovering from a high-grade achilles tendon problem.

When you find yourself in a hole, the smartest thing to do is stop digging.

After a hot shower and a cold beer, in front of the television watching the NFC Championship with my greyhound Rubin, I saw Jake Cutler come off the field with a slight limp. Most quarterbacks in his position would have been selfish and said: 'I'm fine, I'm staying in the game,' and continued down the (painful) path of self-destruction. It may seem suicidal for a team who wants to make it to a championship game to put in their third-string quarterback, but I think it was wise of Cutler to know he would only do more damage to himself and to his team's slender chance to win by trying to earn ego points.

Sure, from the outside looking in it seems weak. But Cutler's teammates, the guys who know him best, seem to be in support.

We always look at the "manly-man" approach to training, racing, and endurance sport, but we rarely remember one of the best lines ever spoken by a "manly-man" in the movies:

"A man's got to know his limitations." - Clint Eastwood, as "Harry Callahan," "Magnum Force" (1973)

So, I'll watch from the sidelines for now. Much better than watching on the TV while my season (s a runner) is over.

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