Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pushing the Wall: A Memoir

What kind of idiot would run a marathon without training for it first? Me. 
Sure, I’d heard all the horror stories. Endurance athletes always fear “hitting the wall,” that point where the body runs out of energy and, BAM! Roadkill. With no conditioning, I feared smashing into this wall hard enough to leave a dent.
I wanted to train for the 2010 St. George Marathon, but after breaking my foot, the only marathon I could handle was on Netflix. When the race came, I just wanted to pick up the shirt I paid for, but peer pressure and the energy of the other 7,000 runners convinced me to go for it. My plan? Push the wall past the finish line. Then I could grab some ice cream, crawl into my truck, and drive home.
This memoir details my love/hate affair with running, why I didn’t prepare, and how I survived 26.2 grueling miles that I had no business attempting. This book also includes running tips for anybody looking to maximize their training experience, covering topics like:

---Finding the right running pace
---Speed workouts
---Running safely at night
---Tapering and carb-loading before a race
---Basic first aid for runners
---Injury prevention
And more!

It’s whimsical, yet educational. It’s whimsucational!
Foreward by Aaron Metler, winner of the 2010 and 2014 St. George Marathons.

Setup: I signed up for the marathon the next year. That night, I thought I'd take it easy and not jinx myself for a run. Instead, this happened:

My son had a better idea. He and his friends wanted to play a little baseball and asked if I’d drive them down to the local softball field. I love baseball—it’s one of my favorite sports—and I agreed to not only drive them down but ended up participating as well. Out of everybody there, I was the only one who could consistently put a fastball over the plate, so they elected me the full-time pitcher.
We only had a handful of players, so it wasn’t a real game. The kids took turns batting while the other kids went into the outfield to throw the balls in. I pitched a bucket of balls until it emptied, then we filled it back up and moved on to the next batter. One kid popped up and I chased after it, thinking it would be an easy out.
Then I rolled my foot.
The kids in the outfield were throwing the balls back in as they retrieved them. There just happened to be a ball on the ground and my left foot came down on it. Yep, the same foot I had rolled the year before. Again, the flash of pain. Again, I screamed. I fell, unable to sustain weight on my foot any longer.
My wife was nearby walking the dog and came running over. “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” All the kids had come in as well, overcome with curiosity. None of them knew what happened. They’d just seen the ball go up in the air, heard me scream, and saw me go down on the ground.
Remember earlier when I said I’d done a lot of stupid stuff to my body? My wife started going through the list.
“Is it your back?” she asked.
“No.” I’d hurt that trying to dead lift a power generator. Don’t ask….
“Your shoulder?”
“Not this time.” I’d had rotator cuff repair surgery only a year prior.
“Your head?”
My head? Where had that one come from? Oh, yeah, I once played chicken with a tree while skiing with some friends—the tree won. I wondered how many accidents she was going to rattle off until she got to the real problem. Despite the pain, I started laughing.
“What?” she asked.
“My foot!” I finally said. “I stepped on a ball and rolled it. The same foot as last year.” I was still cracking up at this, despite the fact that I was in agonizing pain.
The kids began to chuckle uncomfortably, wondering what joke they were missing. My wife asked, “So what’s so funny?”
“I signed up for the marathon this morning!” My wife and my son burst into laughter. Two years in a row I end up rolling my foot the same day I set my sights on the marathon. Oh, the humanity!

So, I have been thinking of running a half-marathon, and eventually a marathon, more and more...and, after reading "Pushing the Wall," I am thinking of that part of my Bucket List more and more. James Duckett tells of how he came to run a marathon with little training...but it is clear there was much education beforehand and strategy along the way. I am thankful for having read this. The book is a great look at the processes one goes through when beating the series of mental hurdles a marathon raises. I could easily see myself running, walking, people-watching and coming to truly appreciate Bengay. :-)

I sit here as a woman whose thyroid is trying to die out (used to be underweight and now I struggle with overweight/bloat), flat-footedness, bow-legedness, pigeon-toed, a long history of sciatica, suffering Raynaud's phenomenon (so must avoid cold sensations and stress) and having a good chance of asthma. Yet, I feel it is just a matter of pushing "the wall" further, strategy and recovery strategy..I am sure others run with worse. My goal is 5 years from now to run one of the Walt Disney World events and the Army 10-Miler (the Pentagon). I need to do a bunch of research and save for some really good shoes. Most of all, I need to stop procrastinating about starting training because I am afraid of announcing I actually have a serious intent on this (I have a few overly critical people who live to criticize just about anything). I guess I should thank Mr. Duckett for helping me run my own race already. Today is my Training Day 1. :-)


James loves to write, but he doesn't like to brag. Just kidding, he totally loves to brag. And refer to himself in the third person. Because both those things are cool. Right?
James Duckett is a founder and Chief Technology Officer of the Authors' Think Tank Facebook Group and Podcast. He wrote his first story in the 2nd grade and has been excited about writing ever since. He wrote his first book when he was 14, but one of his friends did the world a favor and accidentally threw it away.
“Pushing the Wall: A Memoir” is his first book. A contemporary romance (yeah, you read that right) novella will appear in an anthology on March 31st, 2015. He's introverted, geeky, funny looking, unpredictable, and easily distracted by the latest gadgets.

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