|Preparing for an adventure
There is only so much preparation you can do before it’s time to perform, and I was ready for the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon: injury-free, didn’t forget anything, and at the starting line early. The first 9 miles of the course was a breeze. I followed my plan including running “10 and 1” intervals, and controlling my starting speed (my nemesis). Then I felt a pin prick of a Charlie horse in my left calf, just like my first marathon six months ago.
|Limping with 100 metres to go
I knew what would come next but felt confident because I had been there before and this time I didn’t have shin splints. Just like watching a movie for the second time, my legs atrophied in the same way: at 12 miles both legs got intermittent Charlie horses, at 16 miles both legs got them at the same time, and at 20 miles my legs seized and locked when I got them. When a leg locked I would slow to a limp and would have to smash it on the road to unlock it (like cracking the barrel of a shotgun). The first time this happened, Barb, my wife, saw me and came over to help, which was so caring. At 22 miles, both legs locked, which was like walking on electrified stilts. This pattern went on until I was 400 metres away from the finish line. Then, both legs went into spasms and both tendons pulled my toes underneath my feet (just like last time). When this happens your feet are twice as thick and a third shorter as you are forced to run on the tops of your toes. I don’t know why but an image of Fred Flintstone flashed across my mind. I hobbled across the finish line to cheers and shouts of encouragement. I had finished my second marathon in 4 hours, 8 minutes, and 12 seconds – 1 minute and 48 seconds faster than my goal and 21 minutes and 14 seconds faster than my first one. Mission accomplished!
|Well, we do dress alike…
There are many lessons gained from any quest and two stand out about this one: perseverance and preparation. No matter what, you have to keep going and your preparation will pull you through. One of my favourite quotes is from Muhammad Ali: “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” It’s as true for this goal as it is for my goal to write a book.
Another lesson I learned a long time ago comes to mind: always appreciate and show gratitude for friends and family (and strangers) who help you along the way – thank you all. There was a sign along the course that said, “If Oprah could do it, you can.” Thanks Oprah, I did.