Life, Adversity, and the Endurance Runner

"Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?" (prophet John "Bluto" Blutarsky)

Wow. What a deep title. I have been through much over the last eighteen months and I can say that I look at life through a slightly different lens.

I'm one month away from the New York City Marathon, and at this point barring unforeseen circumstances, I will "toe the line" for my third world major, fourteenth marathon, and achieve a goal I set for myself early on in my run career--to qualify and race the TCS New York City Marathon. Yes, Seeking Boston is Seeking New York City.

With New York City on the brain (and not getting into Boston 2016--yes, it's been that kind of year,) I popped briefly into #Runchat Sunday night, and they posed the question,

One of the best text photo's I've ever got.
"Q2: What give you the most satisfaction: a PR or finishing despite tough circumstances? Why?"

Great question. I am a "speed freak" (although not very fast this year,) and PR was my initial reaction. Then, I revised my answer to the following;

"A2 Overcoming adversity. My slowest Mary was Boston on a torn labrum with my son able to witness. #runchat"

I won't rehash Boston this last April (you can read about it HERE,) but it was the slowest of thirteen marathons I've run as I discovered after the race that the hip pain I was denying was in fact a torn hip labrum.

I received one reply to my post that struck me as odd.

"@seeksboston26mi wouldn't you want your son to see you run your best race rather than hobble to the finish line?"

At first I thought it was odd, then I was slightly pissed. I guess you can misinterpret a tweet when it's confined to 140 characters. My oldest son was a month away from graduating from high school. Due to other conflicts, my wife couldn't travel so it was just "father and son" in Boston. I ran for a few miles in a shake-out run two days before the race. I was sore, and winded. A whole month of training up to Boston went to the wayside as my hip barked every time I ran more than a couple miles.

There were several times during the 2015 Boston Marathon, that I wanted to pull out. I lacked the proper training, my hip was a wreck, and I was borderline hypothermic, but one thought kept going through my mind...I didn't want to disappoint my son, and wanted to show him what hard work and overcoming adversity earns.

Dad and son downtown
He is not a runner, and I'm okay with that. He is like me in many ways, but also unique which I wouldn't have it any other way. As a parent, I'm 2/3 away from being an "empty nester" with him now in college. There were times during his senior year in high school where he was a bit lost. He didn't want to go to college. He considered moving to San Diego to try and make a living with his guitar (like his uncle Tim did almost 40 years ago.) I reassured him, that I didn't want to force him into doing something he wasn't passionate about, but I couldn't recklessly throw him out on the streets without an ability to pay rent or take a girl on a date without any money. (Don't be a hater...I'm old and old-fashioned.)

He decided to go to Metro State University in downtown Denver and live in a dorm on his own for the first time. I was more nervous than he was. He admitted he didn't try or necessarily "apply himself" in high school. I wasn't sure how he'd adapt, but I've got some reassuring updates in the last couple of weeks including the text he sent with his professor's comments on his paper (shown in this post.)

He didn't have the best grades in high school and didn't seem quite sure about his decision to enter college. He then had his own personal epiphany; perhaps he heard too many stories from his dad about potentially the best years of your life in college, no parents around telling you to pick up your clothes or empty the trash. This adventure was perhaps highlighted by the added bonus that it would be largely paid for by parents and grandparents.

I'd like to think that all those life lessons I tried to share in car rides to school, and the fact that his dad overcame so much to finish in Boston...perhaps some of that rubbed off on him. He's taken to school like a bird to water, and I couldn't be more proud.

My hip is not not quite 100%, I've dealt with a nasty flu from Cairo, and last weekend my foot swelled up in pain with gout before a 17 mile training run. Count me out of New York? No way. I plan to show my kids again, what hard work can do, and how to overcome adversity.


  1. I also saw this tweet and found it odd, but I guess it's because his shtick is generally chiding runners for not training smart (i.e. not hiring him as a coach) and then getting injured, and he may not know the full story of your near fatal crash and subsequent comeback.


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