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Last year at this time, I was just coming off a two-month hiatus from daily running. I was training, but staying away from over training in my primary activity.
The long-term break was necessitated by an overuse injury and complications brought on by my foot being stepped on by an Icelandic horse. I wanted to keep my finger on the pulse of what was happening in the world of running, so decided to go through with everything I had scheduled and let the chips fall where they may.
After a couple of races, I knew things were starting to go awry. I was getting slower, running hurt and the joy was fading like a runner who went out too fast at the start and had his legs fold in the homestretch.
Contrary to what I would advise another runner, I took my first run while acting as USATF’s liaison to the 100K Trail US Championships hosted by the Bandera 100K in Texas.
I was heading down the trail when a guy known as Sharpie asked if he could run along. I told him I just wanted to go out for 10 minutes and back.
Before I knew it, the 10 minutes turned into nearly 3 hours. Not exactly the way to start all over, but once on the soft trails and making a few turns, I really didn’t know where I was and had to stick with him.
The scenery was breathtaking, as were the climbs, especially for one that had been away from aerobic training. The area known as hill country certainly lived up to its name.
Last year, most of the races and running went much better, but I learned to balance some of the running events with other aspects to keep it fresh.
Like wearing the same pair of Wigwam socks everyday without ever washing them leads to problems, including being shunned by other runners, I discovered the importance of backing off and refraining from pushing the limits every time out on the roads or trails.
One of the most rewarding runs I did all year was with the team called Jennipede. We linked together to run and complete a marathon, all 62 of us, for an aspiring Olympian, who was severely injured after being hit by a car. It was later confirmed to be a Guinness World Record. But, the most important thing was exceeding our goal to raise $75,000 for one year’s care for our friend, who still requires constant therapy. Oh, and every runner received a pair of “fresh” socks from Wigwam too.
At the end of the year, I was asked to join another group to help challenged individuals. I found the experience of doing something for another individual, rather than “just” a charity, to be worthwhile.
Joining the “Million Mile March” online was the first step. Then I created a page for fundraising. I then joined the Wisconsin Chapter of myTEAMTRIUMPH who are committed to not only purchasing race-chairs to enable disabled vets and athletes to compete, but actually getting out there and pushing those that have not found the strength to participate in a 5K, a marathon or a triathlon.
I will serve as a speaker on the evening of March 16th at Secura Insurance in Appleton joined by two other vets that evening, Go to www.myTEAMTRIUMPH and view the details.
The next day I will team up with fellow veteran Brian Gruender and run 135 miles in the Promises to Keep and Veterans Relay Flag Run. We are looking for vets to join us in relay fashion carrying the American flag for three miles or so each to honor the 158 Wisconsin servicemen who died in Iraq or Afghanistan and all that have served or are serving our country.
I have found that keeping my finger on the pulse of the running world can take different forms than just racing. We should all try to help someone through our involvement in the sport of running and discover the true joy of running.
See you in a few miles….roy