Press On, Regardless

I probably should not start a brain dump at 0500 on the Monday of race week, but I wanted to move the last post out of the top slot.

Saturday morning, I made the decision to do the last 6 mile training run with the team. It was just driving me crazy not to run, so I went and I am so glad I did. While the route drove me absolutely bonkers with zigs and zags through unfamiliar streets, I guess trying to keep track of where I was going helped keep my brain off other things. I was fighting a lot of negativity at first; I hated the route, I started out kind of hot trying to pace with a faster runner, my knee was pinging earlier than it had on the previous 12 mile run. At the 15 minute mark I was so aggravated that if I hadn’t already been desperately lost, I think I would have turned back to the stadium (maybe that’s why they chose this nutty route???).

Fortunately, I was able to turn it all around with the phrase “Press on, regardless.” I picked it up last week while sitting on a stationary bike, aggravated with my injury, aggravated not to be outdoors on the floodwall on a perfect day, and just aggravated. I read the article “My Wife’s Spandex” from a back issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors, about a guy on his first century bike ride and his sufferings and travails with that distance, particularly when NOTHING went right for him, down to grabbing his wife’s shorts accidentally before the ride. At his darkest moment, another rider came along and helped him work through it, and said to him “Press on, regardless.”

I think I am going to write that on my forearms in Sharpie marker on Saturday morning. It is the choice I have made thus far; to press on, regardless, and now I have to see it through to the very last.

So that came into my aggravated brain on Saturday; about the same time, I passed the guy who I had followed on the 10 miler and had tried to pace with at the start of the run that morning. I knew he and I were both dealing with IT band issues, both of us getting sports treatment for our injuries, and both of us committed to finishing out, regardless. He had stopped and was stretching and clearly hurting. I asked if I could help, but of course there isn’t anything I could have done, so I uttered the same words, “Press on, regardless.” I moved on and didn’t see him again until he got back to the stadium a little later, but he did finish. I hope he can heal up this week.

Same as I hope for me.

I could have deferred my race to 2013. The only financial loss would have been the cost of the training team, and I would find the $75 or so dollars to run with them again next year; the hours and time spent training are never a loss, no matter what. I chose not to defer out of pride (you know, the chief of all sins …). I have chosen to press on, regardless.

Early this morning, I decided to go look up my chiropractor’s Ironman race results on the Ironman website. I was just curious; how long DOES it take to swim, bike, and run 140.6 miles? For my doctor, about 11 hours and 37 minutes. I was trying to wrap my brain around it as I looked over his splits. This was where I found a major surprise: in his marathon splits, he started out running sub-8 minute miles (after just finishing a 112 mile bike ride!!!). But around mile 13, he started slowing down towards paces that are in my rage of normal speed (which is to say, slow); and then somewhere around mile 19, he suddenly pulled up to a 24 minute mile pace; meaning he almost assuredly stopped. You don’t stop at 19 miles in a race except for one reason. You’re hurt.

His next split was a 19 minute mile pace (brisk walk), then the last two splits were in the 14 minute mile range; he was probably walking and running to finish his 140 mile race. He pressed on, regardless. That kind of hit me: my doctor was hurt; the guy who is helping me just try and finish 13 miles just completed 140 miles and finished anyway, even though he was hurt. Now, I don’t know the story and I don’t have the courage to ask him (I’ll ask him how his race was, but I don’t expect these details), but you can work out all kinds of scenarios in your head.

Having already done 12 miles on my dorked up knee, I know what to expect. I know what level of pain I am looking at finishing in, what pain I will feel for the 24-48 hours after the race, and I also know that a couple of days after the race, I will be okay, and officially fulfilling the “R” of RICEing my knee. An IT band is not a serious deal; it is painful, and it can be lingering, but it won’t lead to long-term or chronic injury, it won’t cause structural damage, and it won’t land me in the hospital.

I can do this but I will admit I am struggling with fear. Not fear of failure, but fear of pain. I am working on my brain to quit anticipating the pain (the source of my fear); while at the same time accepting that this will hurt (the source of the courage to do it anyway). Even on a good day, for me, 13 miles are gonna hurt, so Saturday won’t be any special exception. I will force the fear aside, into some lockbox in the back of my brain where it can do no harm and I will press on, regardless.

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