Saturday, October 6, 2012

She Passes me at Mile 4, the MRI and Possibly My Last Run

Around 6:30am, we arrived at the Springs School in East Hampton, NY early enough to park about 1000 yards from the marathon festivities. Surprisingly, the road was not closed off yet, so I made a u-turn and grabbed the next spot on the side of the road leaving a car length behind a minivan and the puddle. Irene said to pull up, and my chivalry act was shot down. Let the next person step in the puddle instead of my wife, I told Irene! Of course she shook her head in amazement. Actually, it was more like “how in the world did I marry this man in the first place” kind of amazing head shake, not the good amazing.

You have to love the feel of a small town race organization doing their best to accommodate 1650 runners, many of whom are strangers to these parts. Even people who live on Long Island are considered foreigners, called Up-Islanders. The fall –winter-spring season brings a sense of normalcy and calmness to the neighborhood, unlike when the town swells to the hundreds of thousands fighting for a parking spot on the side roads from Main Street. I guess if we lived out there, you would become accustomed to the changes that occur on the first weekend of Memorial Day. We have not ventured out east during the summer time knowing that the traffic would greatly impact our Hamptons enjoyment.

I struggled up the short flight of stairs into the gym (read further down if you want to find out about the struggling), where there were 3 table sections for the 5k, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon races. With a spring in her step, Irene arrived at the table few seconds ahead of me and already told the volunteer our names. As I reached the table and searched for my driver’s license, the cheerful person slid the number 1814 imprinted on the light blue bib. We thanked the person on the other side of the folding table, and she replied with “Have a great race!”

We shuffled off to the side to get our goodies! First came the simple and plain white tech shirts which were embossed on the front vertically “Hamptons Marathon and Half 2012” on the front and on the back came the sponsors, Equinox and JetBlue. We slid over to the right to the table with a bunch of teens manning a pile of really nice canvas duffle bags. The bags would look good enough to carry your stuff to the famous East Hampton Beaches. Well the teens look frazzled as more and more people started to swarm them. So I pointed to the navy blue towel, and they stuffed our bags with them. I pointed to the JetBlue sweat bands, and they placed them into our bags. A young lady at the end of the table asked if we wanted some scented candles, and I said, “Of Course.”

We pinned our bibs on our shirts, and walked back to the truck to drop off the goody bags. On the way back, I was still concerned that my leg still felt asleep, so I made a simple agreement with Irene. If I was keeled over on my hands and knees crying, she would continue on without me and finish strong. She and I knew the NYC Marathon was around the corner and these runs were important. I don’t think she acknowledge my request, so I said, “You must go and I will find someone to bring me back to the finish line for my DNF (Did Not Finish) status.”

Well, the numbness to my right leg started on Tuesday night before the Half. It was a busy day at the office so I decided to do some P90X2 Plyocide instead of running. Half way through, my back started to feel funny. My brain and will was still thinking “Bring it!” As I was about to do my first Burpee Frog Hop, a pain stabbed the lower back and left me screaming. Lying on the ground, I looked up at the ceiling thinking I wonder if I can run in the Hamptons Half, Hartford Marathon in 2 weeks and the NYC Marathon in a month.

And I wonder why my friend, Rich called me “overzealous.” I dragged my leg to the start line hoping a normal sensation would return to my leg. I figured the run would loosen my muscles. As we started our stride past the start line, we gave each other a peck and off we went to keep up with the masses.

Ignoring my leg was a step behind, my pace dropped around mile 3. At mile 4, I felt a slap on my behind, and Irene caught up to me and asked if I was ok. She knew something was really wrong, if she was able to catch me. I told her to keep going and as promised she pulled further and further away. The pink shirt disappeared in the crowd in front of me.

This past Monday, I saw my primary care physician and he sent me to a neurologist. He ordered me to get an MRI. With a few moments of clicking and clacking inside a gigantic magnet, I hobbled out to my car with a huge envelope with 5 sheets of images printed on large plastic sheets. While I am not a doctor and I did not sleep in a Holiday Inn Express, the blob shadow next to my spine should not be there.

A couple days later, the neurologist called and asked me to come in. He looked at my images, and even called his colleague to look at the pathology. He explained that the hernia was probably there for a long time, and a simple movement pushed it over the edge. When I weighed 245, my back would feel horrible everyday. As I dropped the weight the pain went away, however the injury was always there. Maybe it was from the college Judo, climbing Mount Everest or was sparing with Bruce Lee, not a simple leaning over.

The whole time he was explaining the hernia, degenerative disease, medicines and possible surgery to my spine, I kept on trying to figure out how I can keep running. I still have 44 more States to go! The doctor alluded to the fact that I will have to adjust my lifestyle, not sure what that really means. He was careful not to say that I could not run anymore, however I could hear it in his tonality with this carefully rehearse bedside manners. Running was going to be on hiatus for the indefinite time. Eventually, I will make a final decision must after a few more opinions.

This weekend, I will be cheering my boys in their cross country races and a friend that is doing her first and hopefully not last half marathon. I believe she will catch the running bug as I did!

With 7 more days until the Hartford Marathon, I am waiting for some reduced swelling to maybe walk the course instead of dragging my leg all over Hartford. We will see. If not, I will still cheer on the 15,000 runners including my wife.

Unfortunately, the 3:50 time that I predicted and posted on my bathroom mirror for the 2012 New York City Marathon will need to be postponed. I felt really disappointed to let the kids down over at Team for Kids. Instead of running, I requested to volunteer at the finish line to drape medallions of the finishers.

I am really grateful for the gift that running has given me, my family and friends. I’ve met so many incredible people that I would not have meet before. While this pause is quite an inconvenience, I will try to figure out what I will be doing to keep my sanity and blood pressure down that has less impact on my spine. As soon as I get clearance, I will probably modify P90X (less jumping), tune up the bike, and find a place to swim.

This bulge will not stop my support of Team for Kids. They are the ones that got me to start running and healthy lifestyle. I will continue to invite you to support our efforts to give all kids a running head start to health and wellness by visiting

Stay tuned for the next adventure! Please email me with suggestions. All I want is something with a shiny metal objects when I finish the race J

Enjoy the journey and the recovery!

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