October 05, 2006

They Shoot Marathoners, Don't They?


They say that with every step you take while you run you are exerting four times your body weight on your legs. At least that’s what the New Balance ad said on the television. Either way, it doesn’t sound good, especially for a chicken-legged guy like me. I barely have enough leg strength to support my own body weight, much less the three others piled on top.


My hamstring feels like a rubber band being pulled by two freight trains. Maybe I should do more strength training in the gym. And when I say more training, I mean more than nothing, which is about what I’m doing now.


It seems to tighten even more with every stride. At any moment its going to snap in half, I think to myself. A quiet little “dink!” that’ll instantly send an atom bombed ripple of pain surging through the nerve receptacles of my body. From my hamstring to my hip, scrambling towards my spine, streaming up my back and neck, all the while building speed and momentum in a mammoth-like snowball effect that would make Calvin and Hobbes proud. Suddenly it will slam into the pain receptors of my brain like a speeding bullet brutally stopped by a metal wall. It will hurt. A lot. I will double over in pain, crying and wriggling on the ground, praying for somebody to put me out of my misery. The horse with the broken leg. Just shoot me.

I slow to a stop, which is not that much of a change at this pace. I hobble over to the edge of the sidewalk and begin stretching out my hamstring. To the passers-by it looks like I’m just standing up straight, leaning on the sidewalk. But, trust me, I’m stretching. It’s stretching. It hurts.

After five minutes I shake out the legs and get ready to go. With a hesitant push, I begin my shuffle once more.

It feels better. A little better. Maybe not a lot. But I pick up the pace. Kick it up another notch. A small notch, but another notch nonetheless. Like Emeril, but without the BAM!. I don’t need the BAM!. I’m too old for the BAM!.

This is a gradual uphill that continues on for a mile. I know climbing is not good for my legs, but when you live in the middle of the hill, you’re going to have to go up at some point. That’s just the way life works. Deal with it. So I shuffle up.

My left calf begins to tighten up, just above the achilles.


I slow it down again but the pain doesn’t go away. In a few minutes I start to get a pain at the point where the top of my right foot meets my right shin. I’m not sure if this part of the foot even has a name. It’s the anti-achilles, I suppose. Truth be told, I didn’t even know there was a muscle there to be pulled in the first place. It hurts though. I’m not quite sure how I damaged this one. I puzzle over that for awhile.


Most of the time these days, my running feels like crap. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but it seems to be fading with every passing day. I can’t go on like this. I suppose I should stretch some more. And when I say more, I mean more than never, which is just about the amount of stretching I’m doing these days.

Catherine and I were supposed to run the New York Marathon in a month from now. I have no doubts that if we toed the starting line, we’d make it to the finish. We always make it to the finish - we’re survivors. We’re good like that. But I have serious doubts about whether we’d even get to the starting line in one piece – or even two, as the case may be. My legs would seize up with the training. I’d end up crippled, crying and wriggling on the ground. I’d end up hearing that “dink!” Feeling that pain. And then they may shoot me.

No thank you.

So we decided not to run the marathon this year. That saddens me. It’s the right decision – the smart decision – but it saddens me anyway.

I don’t even want to talk about it now. Maybe I’ll tell you more later.