Race Day! 5/8/21
I had an incredible experience today!
Disclaimer: I don’t advise anyone to run through an injury but there are some moments in your life when things mean so much that you are taken to un-imaginable places. That was me today. Coming off an IT band injury, I had a new one sneak up on me 20 minutes before my race and given the circumstances, I had a tough decision to make!
If there were anymore curve balls to throw, I certainly don’t want to know what they are! To paint this picture for you, I must start from the beginning but I promise you it's worth the read.
I woke up at 5am, took a shower, weighed in at 134.8 (the lightest I’ve been) and collected my bag, my shoes, and my cooler and was out the door. I made the long drive to the race and felt great the entire way! My knee was feeling good and there were absolutely no issues! I played through my pump-up jam in the truck and looked forward to what was ahead!
It was the second big race of the season and the first of the series of races im planning. For me, the race counted double because I was also completing a virtual 5K to help support a 23 year old in a wheelchair whos raising money for an accessible van. I had stayed up on Thursday night getting my pump-up jam all ready to go. It included some Stallone, Requiem for a Dream, Top Gun, The Dark Knight, Rudy, as well as some other motivation stuff. It sounded good and I was excited to get on the course and get help from the extra motivation lift!
I arrived around 7:30am. I found a great parking spot at the Field House and started to get ready. I pulled off my wind pants and threw on my red shorts (went with red again for luck), tossed on my red long sleeve with a shirt representing the American Cancer Society that said, “never give up” over it. Once I was all dressed, I started in on my warm up routine in a place I found on the grass. Everything was going well at this point until I started a short jog. During this short jog, I rolled my ankle! Not only did I roll my ankle, I really hurt it bad. I was in excruciating pain—to the point I started having doubts on if I was even going to be able to run.
I texted my wife immediately, “I hurt my ankle really bad and don’t even know if I’m going to be able to run. I have no idea what I did, it’s in so much pain. That was at 8:40am, twenty minutes until the gun went off!
I’m in an absolute panic at this point and trying to conceal my situation because I knew if I went over to have them look at it, it was over. If they know about an injury, for their insurance purposes, they won’t let you run. So, I’m debating in my head what to do. Do I cave and call it? Do I try to run on it and see what happens? How do I explain this after all this work!? I decided to take a few more jogs up and down the parking lot. OH.MY.GOOD LORD! The pain was unbelievable.
I ended up taking off my shoe and checking over my foot as if I’m some type of medical professional. Nope, but I know my body. Nothing appeared broken, sprained, maybe? Stress fracture, maybe? All I know is nothing appeared broken or swollen so I put my shoe back on and tried a few more jogs. At this point, I’m concerned people are watching me wondering what’s up because I’m not stretching, I’m out of my routine, and I’m ailing my ankle. I’m trying everything at this point. I had put my brace on early and wondered if that was part of the problem. I made a risky decision to take it off and throw it in the truck thinking that with it off the blood would flow down to my foot easier? I’m not a doctor but it was an educated guess.
I’m jogging back and forth with an obvious limp putting all my weight on my left foot! Ugh! What the F man!
I start walking to the field house and once I get in the field house to line-up, I’m massaging my ankle and hobbling. I ended up just taking a knee and saying a prayer. I decided I’m not throwing in the towel, I’ve worked too hard, come too far, and am representing people. I’m wearing a shirt representing people who have died or survived from Cancer that says, “never give up!” I’ve made my decision, I’m not giving up, I’m going out there and running the F’n race!
I spent so much time ailing my ankle and not paying attention, I ended up having to start out of my placement. I was at the back, which, I kind of looked at as an OK thing because of my situation. If I’m at the back and I have to hobble off, at least the medical cart can scoop me up pretty easily.
Off we go.
They walked us out of the field house, around the building, and onto the course. The rolling start began and I started at the back of the pack.
During the first few steps through the first kilometer of the race, it felt like somebody was taking a hammer to my right foot on every step. Every strike, the pain was excruciating. If I had to rate it 1-10? 9.5! It was the most pain I’ve ever been in during any sporting event and that’s saying a lot. I can’t imagine what the spectators were thinking seeing me hobble during the start. I was literally limping through the start tunnel so I’m sure there were plenty of people thinking to themselves I wouldn’t be back at the end. Heck, briefly I didn’t think I’d make it back to the finish tunnel! But, I had my pump-up jam and I turned it on. The opening theme was Top Gun, the epic movie open and it was a great pace starter. It started me out two weeks ago in another race as well, the difference there was it went into another song and skipped Danger Zone. Not today. Thursday night when I made changes to it, I added Danger Zone and thank the good Lord I did! Once that first aircraft left the carrier and Danger Zone struck, I started getting the adrenaline rush I needed to start moving without thinking about the pain.
At some point on the first mile, I realized I forgot to take my mask off so I ripped it off quickly and my ear piece went with it! Oh crap! I had to stop quickly and pick it up! So now, I’m even more behind the pack!
Well, when I got my ear piece back in things got real. After Tom Petty’s “I’m Learning to Fly” came a mash-up of Requiem for a Dream with Sly Stallone’s motivational speech from Rocky Balboa, once that hit—I found that extra motivational lift I was looking for! I can’t even explain what happened from this point because it’s not believable! I started running hard! I went from an 8:47 first mile cutting out forty-five seconds and I caught up to the pack.
Not only did I catch up, I was starting to pass people in numbers! Once we hit the turn around for the out and back, I was moving as if nothing was even wrong (but it certainly was), my body was just numb to it, tuning it out, and I was focused on the next person, and then the next, and the next until I climbed my way back to the top fifteen! I passed over sixty-five runners and my time continued to improve, as did my speed and my heart rate! Once we got back to the turn home, I started to feel gassed! I didn’t know exactly how many runners were left in front of me but I knew at this point I was moving way too fast and had to back off and I did. I kept a good pace to the finish line and finished strong but once we hit that turn home, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make any more passes. My day was done and I was well ahead of the people behind me. I crossed the finish line in eleventh place of eighty-five!
It was a sight to see. My kids were watching me in the car on GPS, tracking my progress, and I’m interested how that looked! It would’ve been pretty cool to see video footage of it because I felt like Secretariat in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness! Everyone always talks about the Belmont win but the Derby and Preakness were even better. He started in the back and passed the field, it was incredible! I told my wife that if I didn’t roll my ankle I would’ve had a chance to finish top five! My knee never flared up, even without the brace! Can you believe that!? What a strange turn of events!
When the race was over, I spent a significant amount of time walking back and forth on the pavement behind the field house. After that, I talked to some of the runners and encouraged other runners who were still coming to the finish. I grabbed a banana and some snacks and A LOT of water!
I would say for me, other than winning a Hockey Championship in 2001 and scoring four goals in that game—this was probably the most satisfying accomplishment I’ve ever had in sports (maybe in life) and I know that’s saying a lot, but, to think in January of this year I was a bloated 163 lbs, couldn’t skate worth a damn, couldn’t walk up stairs without losing my breath, had a torn labrum in my left shoulder, had no energy and snored like a chimney—to now competing in my third 5K at a weight of 134.8 lbs and doing it through crazy adversity! To go from a knee injury to then rolling my ankle and questioning if I could even run—to then pulling off what I did today—yeah, I’m going to toot my own horn! Damn right!
What I did today, I will never forget. It’s a memory that will live with me forever. Now, time to ICE!
Thank you for your support!