Even America's Marathon Man needs a respite from running. Here it is the end of August, and I'm finally getting back in the "groove." I guess those 5,000 miles I put in last year took more of a toll than I thought. Much of my comeback has had to do with my attitude and my motivation, or lack thereof.
After completing number 200 of 200 in a blazing 4:05:30 at the HOPS Marathon by Tampa Bay last December 10th, I didn't run a step until the 20th of December, when Elaine and I held our annual See the Lights Run. (We always host a run/walk around the streets of Spearfish [ed: South Dakota, Dunn's hometown] to look at the outdoor holiday decorations, and then we gather back at our house for chili...we all know you can't have a running event without the reward of food at the finish line). Anyway, less than a block into this little 3 miler, I stepped on a patch of ice, turned my ankle, and had to hobble back to the house and tend to the chili. Not what you would expect to happen to the Marathon Man. Of course I could have sucked it up and made it through the rest of the run, but why? I had already logged enough miles for the first year of the new century to be satisfied, I didn't need 3 more. Besides, I could still smell the chili cooking back home and I figured it needed stirring.
I did go out on New Year's day and run my favorite loop through the park. I had to...if you don't run on Jan. one, you're not really a runner.
My first scheduled event of this new year was the Inaugural Achilles Marathon in early April in Brooklyn, New York. I literally ran no more than 50 miles in preparation for that event. "I don't need to train….I'm da man. I can run 26.2 any day of the week." Well, that is in fact true, but, the ease with which I can do that is directly proportional to the number of training miles in the weeks prior. So, that blazing 4:05 in December, turned into an arduous 5:54 in April. To add insult to infirmity, the course was an 8-lapper which gave me at least 5 opportunities to contemplate bailing out; DNFing; calling it quits; being a wimp. But I had a reputation to uphold, so I ran-walked, ran-walked, walked-walked, walked-ran until I finally straggled in near the very back of the pack. If there had been the need for a one-line description of my performance, it might have been: AMERICA'S MARATHON MAN HUMBLED BY ACHILLES ATHLETES.
So, does this experience get the juices flowing again, and get me back on track? Nope. Just another reason to rest a little longer.
Next up in '01…. Big Sur. As you may probably know, this course isn't billed as a Boston qualifier, or even as a moderately fast course...it's a bear. The magnificence of the landscape does help in taking one's mind off the gale force winds and the undulating terrain, but still, it's tough. Based on my less than routine performance in Brooklyn, (routine meaning a 4:45 every time out the door), I did actually train a little bit for this one. Result...a 4:48:49. I was pumped! I was back. I could still produce a sub-5, even at Big Sur.
Just a few weeks later...BOSTON. as you may or may not know, I ran this course 3 days in a row in '93, as part of my 104 marathon runs in one year. I ran the course 26 days in a row in '96, as my way of commemorating the 100th running of Boston, and I ran the course 17 days in a row last year, as part of 200 IN 2000. So I was pretty confident about staying the course.. .I mean, I own it. Well, not so this year.
Except for Tampa, last year, Elaine and I had run 36 marathons together, stride for stride. This was one of the things we vowed to each other on our wedding day in January of 1995. (Which just happened to be at the 9 mile mark of the 2nd Annual Disney World Marathon...go figure). So here at Boston, we planned to reunite, and make it number 37.
This was Elaine's first outing since her completion of 26 marathons in the year 2000, and she wasn't quite as recovered as she thought she was, so this day became a real challenge to both our wedding vows, and our commitment to marathoning.
Neither of us are quitters, and if I hadn't dragged her off the course at 13.3, she would have finished come hell or Heartbreak Hill. But ya know, between us we have over 500 marathon runs; about 75,000 total miles, and a modicum of wisdom...we've learned a few things. One of which is: "some days, it just ain't happenin'". We got on that bus with a light heart, and lived to run again, which we did on July 9th, in San Francisco, at the Chronicle Marathon.
This was the debut marathon of the Run for the Lungs team, of which I am a founding member and coach. We, meaning the other team members, Elaine and me, were all successful in reaching the finish line. For the "first-timers" it was...well, you know what it is like to cross the finish line of that first marathon...exhilarating, emotional, exciting. For Elaine and me it meant..."we're back." We're a team again. We can do this.
So that's my marathoning chronicle for the first 8 months of 2001.
When I realize that this time last year I had completed the marathon distance 136 times as compared to just 4 times this year...I'm amazed.
What does the rest of 2001 and early '02 look like?
Chicago Marathon on the 7th, and I'll be working for Green Foods at the expo on the 5th and 6th.
Baltimore Marathon on the 21st.
Marine Corps Marathon on the 28th.
December - HOPS Marathon by Tampa Bay on the 2nd
February - Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham
March - Washington DC Marathon on the 24th.
As always, I'm available to answer questions about running, about nutrition, about life in general.
Imagine yourself there!
America's Marathon Man,