Fall marathons… and some perspective…

… so you’ll have to read this whole thing to get it.

Dylan and Rob, Marine Corps MarathonFirst of all, congrats to everyone doing all the fall marathons!  Yes, we are predominantly an open water swim team… but we have lots of triathletes too… and therefore lots of marathon runners too.  Myself included (on a good day, at least!)

I like to go through the results and see how everyone did and put up the results, but got a bit busy (and probably lazy too!)… so that has boat sailed.  But congrats to all the LOSTies and other friends that did: the Toronto Scotia Waterfront Marathon, Corning Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Hamilton Marathon (just got back from cheering Joanne in on the 1/2 there!… but more on that later) and the New York Marathon… which Brian, Scott and are running as I type this!  A tip of the hat to Scott who also ran Chicago and almost did a lifetime PB on his 55th birthday… by running a 3:16!  Also a big shout out to Michael Parker, who finished one of my favorite Ironman tri’s, the Florida Ironman.  LOSTie, Darla, also finished Ironman Florida, her first.  But the real thing to note here is that she attempted Ironman Florida, I believe it was 3 years ago, but didn’t finish.  She was hit by a car during the race!  To make a long story short, she was very, very badly injured… and yet came back and conquered the same race.  Wow.  That is really amazing.

PA260033I was planning on running a smokin’ fast marathon this fall too… and by the way I phrased that, you can probably deduce how that turned out!  Last spring, my son Dylan, graduated from the University of Maryland and 4 years of NCAA Div 1 swimming… but within about a week of graduating and finishing his swimming career he was on to the next thing!  (insert something about an apple not falling from a tree here!)  He signed up for his first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon… so I signed up too!  Thought that would be pretty cool… kind of my Gordie Howe moment… remember when Gordie got to play for the Detroit Red Wings with his two sons, Mark and Marty… every dad’s dream.  (Actually this would be my second “Gordie Howe moment”… the first being when I swam across Lake O last summer and had all three of my kids and my wife pace me… that was cool!).

PA260027The thing is… he was in really good cardiovascular shape… and zero running shape… which equals injury.  Within 3 weeks his cardio was able to get him up to 35k!… but he has swimmer legs… ie) sea gull legs!  And not surprisingly the muscles couldn’t keep up.  He ended up injuring his achilles quite badly and waited until the last minute to decide… and elected not to run… blowing out your achilles is not an injury to take lightly.  Disappointing,  to be sure, but the smart choice.

Lincoln MemorialWell, the day finally rolled around and he and I still met in Washington DC for the race… me to get my Boston Qualifying time of 3:30 and him to cheer me in!

I had done a PB half only a month earlier of 1:36, so I was feeling pretty good… double it and add 10 minutes has me at about a 3:22, lots of room to get under a 3:30!

Yes.  That was the plan.  And as all of us endurance athletes know… things don’t always go according to plan.  ie) this race.

Paratroopers with giant US flags at the start!!!

Paratroopers with giant US flags at the start!!!

The interesting thing about doing a long race, is if and when the wheels fall off, at least you have a lot of time to think about it on your way to the finish!  I was oh so typical of a marathon runner in this race… everything going according to plan at the 10k… 21k, you bet… 30k, still pretty good… 32k, not so much… 35k, that’s it, the lights are out, the party’s over… 40k, okay, let’s just finish this sucker… and at 42k you are amazed how much time you can give back in the last 3 or 4 km!

PA270035The thing that bothered me was I really didn’t know why.  I mean I’ve run plenty of marathons where I’ve blown up, but usually it was from a lack of training… one tends to get what one deserves.  However, this time I honestly thought I was in good enough shape to be under 3:30… I was 3:59!!!

But as I said, when the wheels fall off, at least you have plenty of alone time to think about your transgretions that have lead to this circumstance.  Which is about when it occurred to me… hmm… I guess surgery 2 weeks ago took more out of me than I thought!

You see 2 weeks earlier I had my ear drum replaced.  An old swimming injury.  And the thing is, they don’t give you a local anesetic for that!  You are out… and in the hospital for a few days on morphine and the whole bit.  So as much as I was telling myself that a week off was no big deal and that I don’t run with my ears anyway… apparently that does take more of a toll on your body than one expects.  Oh well, lesson learned.

So then a week later was the Hamilton Marathon.  Tempting to run that and try and redeem myself, but as dumb as I can be about taking on too many things, common sense got the better of me and I decided not to run… and just go and cheer Joanne in on the Half Marathon.

Now here’s the perspective part.

So I went and cheered Joanne in.  I walked a ways up from the finish line to try and spot her.  I found a nice quiet spot by myself and cheered all the runners in while waiting for her.

Cousin Al had a "disappointing" 3:08!  It's all relative.  Jo had a solid 1:52 half!

Cousin Al had a “disappointing” 3:08! It’s all relative. Jo had a solid 1:52 half!

But then a trim, fit looking runner with a Boston Marathon shirt kind of fell in front of me.  He kind of stumbled and collapsed… only about 200m from the finish line.  I ran over to see if he was hurt.  He was lying face down, still breathing, but not answering me when I asked him if he was okay or what his name was.  Then he appeared to stop breathing.  So a woman joined me and we rolled him over and checked for a pulse.  He didn’t have one.  So I yelled for someone to get an ambulance.  And we started CPR.  Several other qualified people stopped their races to help and the ambulance came.  We shocked him with the AED twice.  We did CPR on him for 15 minutes.  And we finally got a pulse!  The ambulance then scooped him up and took him to the hospital.

I heard on the news the next day that he was alive but still in serious condition.

Remember the long story I just told you about my trials and tribulations about running a crappy marathon… ya, who cares.  Every once in a while things like this happen and you realize what has real meaning and what doesn’t.  I can’t think of any pithy line that sums this all up… I suppose there shouldn’t be one either.  Just a good time to reflect on what is important.

Family and friends and doing the things you like to do, I guess.  Which ironically brings me back the marathon and cheering Joanne in.  I guess I was doing what I should be doing.  Spending time with my family and friends and running and swimming (and biking, I suppose) and doing things I like to do.  Probably didn’t hurt to be in that place, at that time to help out the runner either.

I guess it is just good to sit back and appreciate what we have and enjoy it… and don’t take you family and friends for granted.  Enjoy them.  And enjoy the things you do.  Really enjoy them.

You know all those things you were going to do… do them.

And get certified at CPR.  (call me and we can go together… I need to get re-certified!).

AED graph

Cheers,

Rob

aed pic

About LOST Swimmer

I founded LOST Swimming because I like open water swimming and would like to see it grow and thrive in Lake Ontario. I started as a competitive swimmer as a kid and ended up getting as far as a silver medal at Nationals and going to the Olympic Trials in 1988. But I retired after that, I was sick of swimming. So I got into running marathons and have run over 35 to date, as well as a few ultra marathons, including the Marathon des Sables (7 day, ultra across the Sahara Desert). I also kind of fell into triathlons and have done a handful of Ironman tri’s too. This gradually got me back in the water and in 2006 I took the plunge and attempted swimming the English Channel. I didn’t quite make it across, but the circle was now complete and after 17 years I was a swimmer again! Although I still do plenty of pool swimming, I now much prefer open water swimming and like to say that open water swimming is to pool swimming, what trail running is to treadmill running! As a result I hope to encourage more people to join me for a dip in Lake Ontario as often as we can!

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