“All I wanna do is go the distance” — Rocky
This morning, my last workout. Not even really a workout; I call it “just enough to stretch.” Twenty minutes easy, with stretching. We go out along a path on the bay, surrounded by joggers and bikers and more casual walkers. I feel totally different from these other, relaxed, casual exercisers; its been so long since I went out and did whatever I wanted, I can’t remember when it was. My twenty minutes is on my schedule, so I’m doing it. I don’t enjoy it less, but I do it more precisely. We are careful not to go too long or at all fast.
Its been a hectic week. Monday, at work, we meet a midnight deadline with 2 minutes to spare. I run out for a break and buy a spare hot/cold pack, and go to the doctor. Tuesday’s my last track workout. The lizards are there, and they give me good practice, since they’re all passing me pretty often as I do my three miles at a subdued pace, so I get to practice keeping my own pace. Afterwards, I go inside, and it feels strange not to hit the weight room. Since I’m done so much sooner than usual, I get a last minute massage. Wednesday, I visit the physical therapist who fixed me up after the 2005 Portland marathon. She can only give me a light treatment before the race, but we go ahead and book me for two appointments next week, anticipating the tendinitis won’t be so happy after 31 miles. Last time, she got me racing again, from not being able to put any weight on my leg, in just a few weeks, so I know this is the best approach. This treatment is called A-stym; she digs into my soft tissue with hard plastic tools, to deliberately break down the tissue and let it rebuild. She treats my leg from the bottom of my foot and up the inside, about two thirds of the way up to my knee. Even though it hurts, I know the worst is to come, since she’s keeping it light — last time at one point my entire leg was bruised, but it works and that’s the thing. You just have to grip the table and visualize whatever the hell works until its over. Thursday’s my last real walk, although its not really very challenging.
Friday the whole team visits the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. This is a place where the best US athletes are invited to come and train, with everything provided for them, dormitories and a cafeteria, sports medicine, physical therapy, etc. Our tour guide is excited to learn we’re in town to race, and asks for the name of our team so she can check the newspaper to see how it went on Monday. Before the guided tour, they show a film, and at one point, they show a few scenes of athletes failing, getting injured, having to stop, and I swear we all stopped breathing — I know I did. I’ve never actually stopped for an injury, although I did injure myself around mile 22 of the 2005 Portland Marathon. Afterwards, when I told people I was injured, they would say “oh, did you finish” and that puzzled me. “Am I dead?” I’d reply, and when they said “no” I’d say “well, then, I finished.” The movie makes me cry.
This afternoon, I head out to the ocean at sunset, alone, and walk along in the icy cold water, thinking about the race. I know I’m going to give it my all, and that my all is quite a bit more than it used to be, from training and skipping dessert and eating all those good healthy foods and reading and learning and pushing. But I can’t know what will happen tomorrow. “On any given Sunday…”
All I wanna do is go the distance.