Light Up, Light Up (As If You Have A Choice)

There’s no turning back now.

Abbi and I hit the New York City Marathon Expo at the Javitz Center last night. We breezed through packet pickup in just a few minutes (dodging wide-eyed first-timers and slow-poke internationals), then grabbed a few Power Gels (you know you’re a runner when you exclain either of the following: “They have green apple!” or “Oooh, they’re just a buck!”).

Abbi made another loop around the cavernous, crowded space to snag a few few free packets of Tylenol 8-Hour (Advil is a no-no in marathoning: bad for the kidneys) — which Lord knows I’ll be needing — while I stood outside the Expo shifting my weight on my legs, cognizant of each tiny ache and pain, wondering whether I’d made the right decision in picking up my race packet at all. Because, perhaps obviously, I decided (long ago, perhaps) to run the race despite my tendinitis. The decision did not, of course, occur in a vacuum.

Abbi and I ran eight miles Sunday morning (along West Gulf Drive to Sanibel lighthouse and back). The first few steps were pain free, but it didn’t take long for the knee to hurt. It’s a hallow, bruised feeling, like someone took a big, pewter spoon and whacked my kneecap. Over time, it begins to shoot up my quad, and down my shin.

But it’s sustainable. Or so I told my sports doctor, Iron Man triathlete Mark Klion.

“After eight,” I told him, “It felt 50% better than the day after the injury.”

“Listen, you’ve put in the training, so if you want to do it, I won’t stop you,” he said on Tuesday morning. “But if you think you’re going to pull a PR out of your butt, well, you can forget it.”

“And you should know,” he went on, “That your odds of rupturing the tendon are higher than the average Joe’s. I don’t think it will happen. But God forbid someone pushes you, or you step funny; it could tear.”

So why am I doing it? I’m not exactly sure, except that I don’t want to give up. I don’t want this injury to beat me. I want to do my best, to push myself through this challenge, to become stronger. “We are made to persist, to complete the tour. That’s how we find out who we really are.”

The question is, when will the pain strike (probably within the first mile), how intense will it become (probably as bad as during the Staten Island Half three weeks ago), and whether I can actually sustain it. Abbi will be right next to me, as will some three million spectaters, and a least a handful of friends scattered along the route. We’re going to try and enjoy what I’ve come to call “a pleasent stroll through the five boroughs.”

There is also, of course, the question of what it all means.

Earlier this week, my friend, Lisa, and I were talking about my decision to run despite my knee injury.

“Remember when I was worried about my heart?” I said.

“Better to slow down than fall over dead,” she said.

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