Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Is it worth it to push beyond your limits?

Living life as an injured runner who cannot run is not fun! I cam happily ride my ElliptiGO (170 miles last week!) with no problems, but if I try to run it just mucks up my body. I ran for the first time in a over a month a few days ago and my body still has not recovered from the tightened up muscles and joints that are left pulling at each other and I only ran an easy 2 miles on the treadmill. I have learned that I need extreme patience if I am ever to run again pain-free. Each time I try, I realize that I am not ready yet, and go back to enjoying my ElliptiGO.

When I was young and long before I knew about the realities of a marathon, I recall reading with fascination about Dorando Pietri's struggle to the finish line of the 1908 Olympic Marathon. I was talking with one of the teachers at my school this week regarding the Boston Marathon and the struggling runner who was carried over the finish line. She was fascinated with the drama.

WHDH-TV 7News Boston

I have seen these dramas unfold many times at the finish lines of marathons, cross-country races, and Ironman Triathlons. In fact I was one of the countless numbers of runners inspired by Julie Moss and her crawl to the finish line of the 1983 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. Within months I was swimming and biking and that same year I too, completed an Ironman Distance Triathlon. I wish I had saved a copy of a Boston Herald photograph of a man crawling to the finish line of the Boston Marathon one year. In the photograph and in the videos that played on television of his crawl you could see a female runner stop, pat him on the back, and I assume give him encouragement.  I don't know how many people besides myself understood the significance of that photo. It was none other than Julie Moss herself offering encouragement to the crawling man. Who better knows what it feels like to be crawling at the end of a race? Well, I guess it was in 1999. I did a Google search and the only information I could find was a post I made that year so maybe I am the only person to have caught that (Julie was correctly identified in the Boston Herald photo, but there was no mention of her struggle as a triathlete).

This morning, I am again reminded of the frailty of runners and their dogged perseverance to finish a race. First was a story about a runner who finished a 1/2 marathon with a broken leg.  The previous year's champion, Krista DuChene had to limp across the finish line in third place, with a broken femur, at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Montreal. I would say "good for her" but that can be damaging to your body. She is not, however the first person to finish a race on a broken leg. Sadly, it has happened a few times that I am aware of.

The other story involves a Kenyan elite runner at the 2014 St Anthony’s Marathon in the Italian region of Padua collapsing and struggling towards the finish line. The video of  Eliud Magut could be considered disturbing, but not being a doctor, the scene looks similar to many I have seen of runners who have hit the wall and no longer have the energy, despite their fortitude, to keep moving as they wish.

As someone who has pushed the limits for years, I no longer have a desire to run through a serious problem that can damage the body, like running on a broken leg or on a hip that just won't work correctly, and I would hope someone would stop me if I ever got to the point of making a spectacle of myself by trying to finish a race by crawling to the finish.

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