I know you have heard me advocate the importance of listening to your body. Like you, I’ve made mistakes and learned. Still, there are times when the message is hazy. One wonders if the absence of pain today will continue into tomorrow. This was the case with me on Saturday night. The half marathon that I’d written off on Friday was suddenly an option once more.
I ran a short 1.5 mile run. My body did not complain. So I proceded with caution to the starting line on Sunday morning only to find out that indeed my body was not ready to go the distance. Although I knew I couldn’t run or even walk the entire course without paying dearly for it but, on this beautiful day, it occurred to me that I’d made the early morning trek for a reason. So I continued on a bit further — taking in the scenary. After traveling a little over 5 miles, the course had reached a two way section. After the lead runners whooshed past, I decided it would be a good time for me to head towards the finish myself. I covered my bib and crossed to the other side of the road.
As the finish line got closer, the number of runners moving past increased. As if being pulled in by the finish, their pace increased. I resisted the urge to run and took it in. As I did, a particular runner’s drunken-like weaving caught my eye. He bumped into another runner as he wobbled to the left. He appeared to attempt to correct himself, heading to the right in a lackadaisical wandering-like movement. He cut off other runners as he went. A policeman said, “Hey! Are you okay?” as he went through the intersection. He was now a bit ahead of me as I was still walking – though briskly. A runner moved past and cut off my view and then he was gone. No, he was on the ground. I rushed over as several of us yelled “runner down!” Thankfully, we were by an aid station. The event’s first aid crew came right over and helped me to keep him from getting back up. He murmured, “I have to finish.”
Fortunately, or not (depending on your perspective), he didn’t have much of a fight in him. We got him to lie down while the policeman sent the call out for EMS. He was pale and his heart was racing, but able to answer simple questions. I stayed with him, observing the crew at work, but not really adding much to their efforts. They seemed to have a good handle on it with the lead personnel asking the appropriate questions and assessments. I left when I heard the siren sounding.
The finish line quickly came into view and people were staring back at me as I walked past. I’m sure they were wondering why I was walking, rather than running. The calf pain was the last thing on my mind. I thought of scene I’d just left and how hell-bent that man was to finish the race. I hoped he’d be okay with a bit of IV fluid and prayed it was nothing more. And then I noticed that I was IN the finish shoot, without a plan, and with no other option but to cross the line. I stopped just behind the chip pad, removed my d-tag and, handing it to the volunteer said, “I did NOT run the entire race.” And then I crossed, walked past the cool medallions, and got some much needed fuel for my trek home.
Life is too short to let race finish lines cause you to compromise your health. I’m glad I chose not to run (or even walk) the entire half marathon course today. Even more, I’m glad that I was able to catch the runner who didn’t listen to his body’s cry for help. Suddenly, it seemed like a great day to drop in on my dad.