For the last three years I have waited for the day to come when I would finally run my first race since spine surgery. Four days before I would run in the Illinois Marathon Relay with my Body n’ Sole teammates on the “Slugs Racing Team” I still wasn’t sure how I would hold up running 6.7 miles. My brace was still causing pain on the bottom of my foot during runs over 30 minutes and unless a miracle happened, it was going to take longer than that. That evening in the local newspaper (The News gazette) I read an article about a runner (Lisa Victorius) that was competing in the Illinois Marathon, that also had foot-drop and running with a brace. Her foot-drop was caused by a running injury to her leg that happened in 2009 and wearing a brace had allowed her to run and compete in marathons.
The timing of this article couldn’t have come at a better time and I was hoping that I would get a chance to talk with her but with 20,000 runners in the race that would probably be unlikely.
After a busy week at the store and being on my feet working at the expo, by the time race morning came my legs were dead. I had warned my team that I would not be flying through my part of the relay but I would make it to the exchange one way or another. With a breakfast consisting of coffee,a Hammer Bar, Gatorade and one Aleve (The meal of champions) I made my way to the starting line.
Stepping into the back of my starting wave I looked around for someone to pace off of. Moving through the crowd I found myself near the front of wave and spotted Chris Migoski, an ultra trail marathoner that I knew. After discussing the usual runner things that you talk about before a race I decided to try to run with Chris and see if I could keep up. As the race unfolded we cruised through the U of I campus at a steady 8:40 pace and I tried to keep relaxed and ignore the feedback from my legs that were wanting to sit down on the curb. Whenever I would start to drop off pace, Chris would look back to see where I was and I would summon enough energy to catch back up. Around three miles my foot was burning from the pressure of the brace on the ball of my foot, but slowing down wasn’t going to help, plus my teammates were waiting for me hopefully unless they got stuck in traffic. As I got closer to finishing I thought about how lucky I was to be running again, but If I’m going to consider doing an Ironman (Did I just say that?) I have to find a way to make this brace more comfortable or find a better one.
Coming into the exchange zone I didn’t see my team,( I was thinking, oh ….) and as I was near the end of the exchange, Carol came running towards me taking the handoff and my run was over.
The rest of the race went smooth with everyone putting in impressive efforts and as we drove from one exchange zone to another, cheering on my teammates and other runners reminded me why I like relays so much.
Finishing the race running into Memorial Stadium with my Team was the icing on the cake.
After we were given our medals and had team pictures taken we all started to head out of the stadium and there in front of me was Lisa Victorius the runner that I had read about. I introduced myself and for next few minutes we talked about our races, discussed living and running with foot-drop and how lucky we were to be able to run again. She told me about the team she runs with called TeamUP that has runners with foot-drop running races all over the USA to promote awareness about foot-drop. If Team Up is looking for another athlete to help with the cause, sign me up.
Next on my racing calendar is an open water swim in June (Back to the pool), then some short course triathlon’s to start my next phase.
To be continued…………