Saturday, November 4, 2006

Injured, But Not Out.

This is my first post-post. That's a post that took place before I found this great website. This particularly entry was of the email that I sent to my family and friends, the night before what was to be my 5th attempt at the New York City Marathon (2006). Which, by the way, I am happy to report that I did finish, torn calf muscle and all!

Hi Family,

Tomorrow will be a big day for me. It will mark the 5th time I run a marathon.

Until now, every marathon has had a different and special theme for me.
In 1984, it was about running my first marathon ever and whether or not I could do one at the age of 19 (of course, we all know now that some of the best athletes in the world actually peak around that age).

In 1985, it was about really attacking the coarse without remorse. And I did, it was my best performance ever at 4 hours and 9 minutes and 31 seconds.

In 1986, it was just about whether or not I could finish a race while completely out of shape. I had completely lost interest in the race, as I moronically did in most things after marrying Lorraine, and my last day of training was June 28th. God was smiling upon me that November 4th day however, when he allowed my youth to overcome my stupidity.

In 2005, and after a 19 year hiatus, I decided to put my best middle aged foot forward and achieve a throwback to yesteryear. My first half of the race, I was on a 3:48 pace. Unfortunately the second half I injured myself, but still proudly achieved what few have, finish a marathon, in my forties, and do it after being sedentary for so long.

This year will be completely different than all the others. I give each big race my own title. This year's Marathon was supposed to be called, "Lessons Learned", and from those lessons learned from last year's run, I was to go out to seek nirvana.....a sub 4 hour race. How naive... Just as in life, where we all learn that 'class' is never really over, I too learned, perhaps in a cruel way, that I have not learned it all, not by a long shot. If I had, I probably would not be running tomorrow with a pulled (and possibly, partially torn) calf muscle. But yet, after 40+ weeks of training, that's what happened as my training entered into the last lap.

For those reasons, I have entitled my run for tomorrow, "Whatever It Takes". While most, sensible people would have gracefully postponed, I have decided to go for it anyway and do "Whatever It Takes" to finish. Now, I know I don't have to prove to anyone that I am not a quitter.....It's just that to me anything less than running a race that' I've been training for a year....IS quitting. I make no mistake when I say that I expect to be under incredible pain for most of the 5+ hours that I am afoot, so I probably won't do very well at all (probably even worse than my 5 hour 27 minute finish in 1986), but I must do "whatever it takes" to pass this latest, ultimate test in my life.

Other than my injury, I have been blessed to have had good health. But more than anything else, I am very happy to call all of you (including those whose emails I do not have) my family. I love you all, and I will be dedicating my race to everyone, including my grandparents, for whom I pray will help me from above.

I will be awoken at 4am, and head out to the dark streets to make my way to the subway train by about 5am. At Grand Central at 5:45 to catch one of the 800 chartered buses to take me to Staten Island, where I will wait, with 37,000 of my unknown comrades with their own stories (probably much more heroic than mine for sure) in the 37 degree weather.

My fate begins at the edge of Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island on Sunday, November 5th at 10:10am. Please wish me well.....I love you all.....



Mike said...

Great letter! I think I will do the same prior to the Chicago marathon. I'm proud to say that my running addiction has inspired a few family members to start walking or running. I'm sure you words, if they haven't already, will inspire as well!

Thanks for sharing...


Alex Gonzalez said...

Thanks for your kind words. I was planning to start posting some of the more meaningful running moments in my past, and ran across this letter by accident as I was cleaning out my saved mail folder.

I was actually quite worried that day, in fact I almost thought that I would do irreparable harm by running with a torn calf. Even worse, I was a running toxicology lab. With all the pain killers that I took, I was already dizzy even before the cannon went off.

I am extremely grateful that I finished in one piece. Doing it in less than 5 hours, was by far, a humongous bonus.

I have a lot of family and friends around the country, so I probably will come back to this time period to post more things that happened to me around this timeframe later on.

Thanks again for your comments, Mike!