Progress report: Between the darkness and the dawn
Darkness and light
I am ten months out from the race of my life (NYC Marathon) and eleven months past the loss of my life partner Bernice B. Wagner. This Progress Report finds me almost in the middle of a journey that I know began with despair and I hope will end with celebration. At this point I find it almost as difficult to asses my progress in training as it is my progress in the grieving process. It is possible that this mid point is the darkness before the light for both.
Both processes, training and grief are laced with irony. In conversation with a friend (also grieving) I described a day spent crying and writing, almost in equal parts. How I put it to her, “I have never hurt so much and wrote so well in my life.”
In conversation with a running pal I remarked, “I’ve never run so poorly and had so much fun in my life.”
The day spent crying and writing in equal pain, while inexplicable, can at least speak to a known premise that all good art is born out of pain. The running poorly and having fun will take a bit more fleshing out.
I have been extremely fit for some time, give or take a few reps. Also I have laid in my base over a period of three years. Yet I am slow even for a near seventy-year-old man. There are some reasons. I have recently been diagnosed with arthritis in my right hip and have been nearly hobbled with a combination of hip and groin pain. The decline has been somewhat alarming. On November 11, 2011 I achieved negative splits over an 11K course, running the final two miles in the mid-tens. Two weeks ago I barely averaged a fifteen-minute mile on my long run, a twelve miler.
Why or how am I so happy? I’m surrounded by joyous opportunities. I belong to a running club, Run 4 It Endurance Training. The members are among the most dedicated, supportive and humorous people I’ve ever met. I am privileged to be working with the Pat Tillman Foundation, its mission: to invest in veterans and military spouses through education and community. I’m also on a Ragnar Relay Team made up of a bunch of delightful crazies. Our team, the Ragnar Blue Line Crew is working with the 100 Club of Arizona to provide support for the families of fallen officers. In addition to that I have a coach (Jeff Hall) who has squeezed enough drive out of these old wheels that just last week I ran the best eight miler I have run in several months. Nothing beats a good workout partner, though so I have to give Tough Mudder Sharon Campbell a play for pulling me through the last two miles of that run.
In wrapping this up I’m reminded of a Paul Newman Line from movie Philidelphia Story. About his life he said, “I’m not as good as I hoped to be, but I’m not as bad as I was afraid I was.” That is pretty much me mid-journey