You all know that I’m running on the ALZ Stars charity team for Twin Cities Marathon, and fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association in memory of my Dad (CLICK HERE to donate – PLEASE and THANK YOU!!!). So much of the inspiration and motivation to do this is for him. But, if I’m to be really honest with you, and with myself, it’s also about me. It’s for me too.
Truth be told, I have my insecurities. I’m almost 40. I’ll hit that milestone next month. This marathon is part of my mid-life crisis. My parents weren’t dealt great cards, and they did not get to enjoy their retirement years. Instead they were plagued by more health conditions than are justifiable, given the lives of service and compassion that both of my parents exemplified. My Mom died just shy of her 68th birthday. My Dad was 71. My grandparents (both sides) also did not live that long…only my maternal grandmother lived to see 80 (and not much more). If that’s any predictor, I hit mid-life a few years ago. I’m going to do what I can, with the factors that are under my control, to change that pattern so I can stick around to enjoy my retirement years with my family. My parents didn’t really get to know my kids and my kids either don’t remember much or anything at all about their grandparents. That’s not right.
I’ve also got a history of foot injuries…stress fractures and bunions. I had my right foot taken care of surgically last summer, and it sidelined me for months. Too many painful months. The physical pain was not too bad, but the mental aspect of not being able to get out for a run, or any sort of physical exercise (my orthopaedic surgeon forbade me anything that could be categorized as “exercise” for 7 weeks following my surgery) was what just about did me in. Then the gradual process of acclimating my body and my new foot to running again took several long months of run/walk intervals, adding only 1 minute of running each week to those intervals (it takes a long time to work up any distance when starting with 1min run:1min walk!). Couple that with less-than-encouraging pre-surgery words from my orthopaedic surgeon, who reminded me that it was pretty major reconstructive foot surgery on an important part of my foot that I need for running, and that I should be reasonable and realistic about setting my post-surgery running expectations. He told me not to expect to run more than 10 miles a week. He told me not to plan on running another marathon. Why yes, I DID cry all the way home from that particular appointment.
I don’t like to be told I can’t do something – particularly if it’s something I love to do. I don’t know why I feel like I have to prove myself…my almost-40 year old body on a reconstructed foot that I shouldn’t expect to tolerate the kind of mileage that marathon training racks up. But I do. I need to prove it to myself that I’m not “past my peak” and “over the hill” – instead, I will hit 40 next month in the best shape of my life. I emailed my surly, yet brilliant, orthopaedic surgeon the other day to thank him for his expertise, and to update him on my my recovery and progress, now 14 months post-surgery. I also invited him to come out and cheer on the runners at the Twin Cities Marathon so he could see his handiwork run by.
This is the reply I got:
“Thanks for your kind words. I always tell my patients that my job is 40 mins long, but yours is 6+ months long. Who should take most of the credit then?!?!? Without determination and hard working from your part, there is no way you would be where you are. It doesn’t matter where I put your bones if you don’t work like crazy to get where you are, which was discussed before surgery…. it is waaaaaaay further than anybody could have anticipated. Thanks again for your e-mail and the most of luck on your running career!!! I’ll be watching…”
This IS for my Dad, but it’s also for me. And just for good measure, I’ll show my orthopaedic surgeon what I thought of his “don’t plan to run another marathon” advice too.