Saturday, May 5, 2007

Thirty Two Years Ago...

....and on a warm, sunny day. My father, then 34 years young, was living in Ridge, NY. Ridge is out in Suffolk County, Long Island, about 40 miles due east of me today.

Dad, an avid tennis and soccer player, felt that it was time to show off his stuff on the asphalt. Long Island held it's first ever Marathon only 3 years earlier, but the buzz was all around, and it apparently stung my Dad full boat.

David (my father), decided he would train hard for this Marathon. Therefore, without wasting a minute, he started to train diligently about 2 days before the race. Oh sure, this strenous conditioning program would be sure to test even the most able-bodied Adonais, but my father felt that he could rise to the challenge. After all, no one had ever trained like him (and thankfully, no one ever has since).

On the day of the race, David was rarin' to go. Despite the 70 degree weather, someone REALLY WISE, must have versed him on the fact that most humans lose heat through their head. And so hence he wore a winter wool cap.

To further prepare for his sure victory, he decided to eat a high protein diet the night before. This consisted of Mexican food, and plenty of high octane, Piels & Schmidt's beers (as Schaefer was not a recommended fluid source for the energy required).

With his 3.6 miles worth of training, a belly full of Frijoles beans, and a six-pack of beer, which alone was valued at around $1.37, my father was fully prepared.
Here he is, proudly holding up his running number.

As the gun went off, my stepmother Carmen, took more photos, and cheered him on before she got into her car to meet him on the other side of the LI shore. Based on the average winner's finishing times back in the era, he felt that he could finish his first race, somewhere between 2 hours and 47 minutes, and 3 hours and 15 minutes.

As my father started running, all he could think was how much of a shame it was that this race was not being televised for all his co-workers at Iberia to see what a real man was all about.

As he was completing the first mile, he saw the water station. "Bah. I don't need no stinkin' water!" he thought to himself. After all, while everyone was wasting their time, and looking lazy stopping for water, he decided to get ahead of more runners. My father was always a fierce competitor. Seeing runners congregating around a table, was like his office personnel hanging 'round a cooler. Lazy punks!

Halfway through the next mile, something suddenly hit him. No it was not the 75 degree weather. Nor the wool winter hat that was cooking what was left of his brain.
And no, it was not his sideburns, which I'm sure by now, was offering plenty of wind resistance. It was his bowels.

He did not understand why his stomach bothered him so. After all, he had a hearty Mexican dinner the night before, plenty of beer, and a full buffet breakfast before the run. He wanted to make sure he did not run on an empty stomach, after all.

Unfortunately however, there was a rumbly in his tumbly.

By the time he was crossing the second mile, he started to realize he was having even more problems. They had warned him that all men hit the wall at around the 18 mile mark, but now he was wondering if the information that he took note of, should have had a decminal point. As in, having a decimal point between the 1 and the 8.
Forget the wall, a freight train called "Unprepared" slammed into his legs, with a sidecar called "Negligence", along with it.

The pain caused his incredible stride to shorten pretty quickly. Soon enough, sixty year old women were passing him by. He could not believe what was going on. "This is just a Marathon after all. And I am better than that!" or so he thought.

Carmen, my stepmother, started driving the Fiat past some of the trailing runners,
when, whoa, what a surprise, noticed a stick-figured looking specimen in red clothes just up ahead. He was all alone by now.


At this point the shell of what was once a thriving, Mexican food eating man turned around and looked at the car steadily. He stopped in his tracks. I was told that if this scene would be compared to a movie, that hands down, it would be Cujo. Namely, the scene where the dog is giving a tired, catanoic like glaze as the white foam was spewing out of his mouth.

David did not wait. With the top down on the Fiat, my father, like a zombie, robotically made a diagonal B-line to the auto. And then without warning, dove into the moving car. He hadn't even waited for the door to open either.

The morale of the story is this. If you plan to dance with the devil, be sure you are wearing the right shoes. Nevertheless, I love my father, and his enthusiastic optimism, has taught me a great many things about living life with a smile on, even in the worst of situations. My father did (and still does) have a good physique, and with all kidding aside, if he had had a better knowledge of the race, and possibly a good trainer, he REALLY could have been a force to be reckoned with.

Now, if we are talking about Basketball, Tennis, Soccer, Gymnastics, Winter Skiing, Water Skiing, WeightLifting, and Poker Playing (hahah), then I will tell you ... to this day, he completely kicks my butt. Dad, I'm proud of you and your achievements, and always loved that humorous story about your only Marathon experience.

But with that wonderful tale, I now must decide upon an equally difficult decision.

Four days ago, and during my second 7 miler, I felt my left leg even more sore than usual. I did not rest the next day, but did the same course again. My leg's was on fire, so I took off yesterday. Today I went to the Mitchel Athletic Complex (located near the Nassau Coliseum) to pick up my running number. Afterwards, I played wiffle ball with my kids. My legs was still hurting, on and off.

The big question. Do I run and risk a possibly worse injury, or do I walk away, lose my $35 dollar entry fee, ruin my weekly mileage, miss out on an incredibly flat, fast course, with optimal weather tomorrow?

I have always been my worst enemy.

I hate to quit. I ran the New York City Marathon last year with a partially torn calf muscle.

Aerobically, I'm in great shape to do the run.
Just a little while ago, I was walking around, and everything felt good again.

What do I do? What do I do???????

Stay tuned....


Anonymous said...

that was a great story on your website. and told so well! i actually laughed out loud
a few times. that would normally be hard for me to do being that it is 2.30am.

the computer was on, (i rarely turn it off) and i was hungry
so i had some cereal and read what you had to say.
i had no idea what i was in for! omg, it was freaking hysterical!
remember now, i am groggy! it is 230 and i didn't even get to
sleep until 1230...had a long day here babysitting a total of 5 kids.
etc etc....could go on...but you get the idea.

well i hope your leg is doing all right.

ill read later and see what you decided to do.
thanks for the late-night laugh.

ps the part of the wool cap about killed me.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see that that somebody else's myseries can inspire other people's laughter. was pathetically funny!