Archive for the ‘2015 Tour’ Category

The Beginning of 2015…

Posted: December 27, 2015 by Roberts in 2015 Tour, General Post, Races
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Be good,
Learn something new,
And be awesome!

These are the words I recite to my kids every day before they leave for school. Hard words to live up to, yet we keep trying. Having failed on many occasions to live up to this, I went into 2015 with the goal of having an awesome year. Epic even. As with all challenges, it doesn’t start on day one. It starts days, even weeks, before the countdown begins.

During the summer, my kids stay with my parents for a month. It gives them the chance to enjoy swimming every day, rodeos and dude ranches with my parents. It also gives myself and my wife, Lauren, a break from them. We live in Virginia and my parents live in Texas. The past few summers, we’ve done what we jokingly refer to as the “prisoner exchange” in Tennessee. After handing the kids off to my parents in early July 2014, we stayed a night in Knoxville. There in the hotel room, as I surfed the internet on my laptop, the seeds of 2015 began to sprout.

It started with the idea to go after the Rock & Roll Gold Medal Heavy Medal award, which requires you to run ten of their events in a calendar year. The amount of travel involved would be significant, but with some careful planning, it could be possible. I’ve lived in several cities on the East Coast over the years, so many of the races would not only be within a reasonable driving distance, but more than likely I could crash on a friend’s couch in many, if not all, of the cities. Some I would travel to solo, for others Lauren could join me, and for a few the entire family could come. Looking over the tour stops, I plotted out 10.

It looked simple and easy on a computer screen. Four of the races would be full marathons, and the remaining ones would be halves. Right then and there I went online and signed up for their 2015 Tour Pass, then started registering for the races. While on the site, I realized that many of the tour stops hosted multiple races on the same weekend. Since it didn’t cost me anything more, I decided that I might as well sign up for those, too.

2015 was being planned and 2014 wasn’t even finished yet; there were still 5 months to go. I still had the Rock & Roll Las Vegas Marathon ahead of me that November, and I was already plotting out my training plans for 2015. Over the course of the next three months, I added other, non-Rock N Roll series, races to the schedule for 2015, races that I’ve done a couple times, that were local or were fun trips for the family. Over the next few weeks, friends started asking me if I could join them on their first races. Before the Vegas race, 2015 was shaping up to be a busy, epic year, but still doable.

However, nothing goes according to plain. A simple misstep can cause a cascade of issues. And so my first obstacle for 2015 appeared the Tuesday before the race weekend in Vegas, in November 2014. It was my final training run before heading out west, and suddenly, a single crack in the sidewalk had me crumbling to the ground less than a mile from my home. Trying to stand, it was evident that this was more than just a stubbed toe or sore ankle. As I limped home, pushing the fear of what this could mean from my mind, the pain steadily increased.

I took all the needed measures to fight the sprain I knew I had. Ice, compression, elevation, everything in my arsenal was thrown at the injury. The ankle fought back and changed from a light red, to a rose, to a purple. Through consultation of friends and experts it seemed unlikely I could do this run, and if I did, that I might do serious injury to myself. The only person I did not consult was my doctor, for fear she would say, “don’t race.”

The tickets and room were already purchased, so I was going to Vegas either way. There we would meet up with a couple old friends and enjoy the town. Still hoping I could run it, I brought all my gear. To make the flight doable, I wore my compression sock to prevent as much pooling of blood as possible. On the plane, the seat next to me looked like it was going to remain open. As a 6’3” man sitting in the middle seat, this was a present from fate that would give me the gift of room to stretch. As we waited for the door to close, one last man boarded. He wore an air cast and limped to his seat… The aisle seat next to me. Alas, leg room was not my destiny that day.

As you do on a long flight, he and I started talking. We covered the basics. Personal or business. Home or traveling. Looking at the air cast I had to ask. He then began to weave the tale of the sprained ankle he had acquired while completing a Spartan Race. This Spartan had hurt himself, had never gotten his injury looked at, and continued to race other events. The previous Christmas Day, while returning home from a hike with his family, he had reinjured himself. After consulting with the doctor, he had discovered that he needed surgery. Now he was now almost a year into his recovery, still wearing the air cast. Was the universe trying to tell me something? Perhaps, but if it was, it fell on deaf ears.

While visiting the Health Expo, we met up with several friends from college who were in town for the race, as well as a fellow “Runner 5,” a player of the running app Zombies, Run! Walking around the massive event in Sin City, I decided to commit my own sin. I would run the races. All I needed was a plan.

That day it was decided. A decision was only the first step, though, the real question was how to accomplish it. My plan was to prepare the ankle by limiting its movement, and then test it. After using tape, a wrap, and a compression sock, my foot was effectually locked down. What better way to test an injured ankle than in a 5k race? During the race I tested it at various speeds to determine what it could handle. The answer, a 34:30 5k pace. My worst 5k to date, but it was passable. The ankle gave me no issues. After consulting friends, the next stage of the plan was decided. Begin running the marathon, and at mile 10, the half split, if the ankle was angry, turn left and bring it home. If not, continue to go forth and be awesome.

Under the bright lights of Vegas, I ran through the dark. I ran and I pushed myself. At the split, with excitement in my heart, I decided that it was moments like this that define you. So at the split, I turned right. The second half of the race is all desert, wide open space. The only bright lights were on the horizon, and I pushed toward them. At the various switch backs, I could see the sag bus. But it wasn’t going to be for me that day. Keep pushing, I told myself. However, the pain in my ankle was slowly increasing.

With my slower than usual pace, I would be on my feet longer. It was no longer a race for time, but a race against time. One of three things would happen. The sag bus would pick me up and I wouldn’t finish, my ankle would give out and the medics would take me in and I wouldn’t finish, or I would finish.

Passing the 4:45 pacer, I asked her if she was on pace, which would mean that I had caught up. She informed me that no, she had fallen behind her assigned pace as she simply walked along. Still not a single step walked, I pushed myself. Finally, after what seemed like forever, I turned the corner back onto the strip. I had less than a mile to go. I caught up to a woman and in a pained voice she asked me, “Am I too late, will I still get my medal?” I knew we were past the five hour cut off time, but I also knew the sag bus hadn’t caught up to us. Turning to her, all I could muster was, “run with me, and we will make it.” So we ran, or maybe it was more of a waddle… either way, we worked to close the distance.

As we closed in on the finish line, they were already starting the dismantling process. Finally, we crossed the finish and I reached for the medal. Clasping the cold metal between my fingers, I stumbled through the finish corral looking for my friends and my wife. I had done it. It wasn’t my first marathon, but it was the hardest I had run up to that point. My ankle had survived. If it could survive that weekend, I would survive 2015. Or so I thought. Three races still remained for 2014, let alone the impending 2015 tour.

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