Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Broken Down Old Man

I’m a broken down old man. I came to this simple truth over the past week. I’ve started to reach some milestones in my training and each milestone created new challenges (problems) that made me realize the obvious – I’m a broken down old man. Even when I started to feel like I was making progress to the point I could smile just a little, peril was just around the corner.
Case in point, my workout with Adam the Terminator on Sept. 28. It was my hardest workout yet. I ran a mile at about what I think is race pace, 6 mph. I’ll have to average 6.5 mph to reach my goal of under 30:00 for the 5K. It was a challenge but I made it through.
After a short break, the Terminator said he wanted me to do a half-mile. Trusting his judgment and not mine, I jumped on the treadmill again and couldn’t wait for those minutes to fly.  Between the 0.3 and 0.4-mile mark, he sped up the treadmill to 7.0 mph. I looked at him, thinking, “Dude, what’s the deal?” He smiled and said, “It’s just for a short time to get you use of pushing through the run.”
After another short break, he said he wanted me to do one more half-mile, but I found out later this was a ruse. I started grudgingly, wanting to get this over as soon as possible when the Terminator did something unexpected. He covered up the digital distance readout on the treadmill. His excuse was that I wouldn’t have that aid during the race so he wanted me to get use to running without it. Again, grudgingly, I believed him.
So I’m running . . . and running . . . and running. I’m thinking, “This should be over soon shouldn’t it.” When the Terminator took the sticky note off the distance readout, I had run 0.65 miles. I felt like Admiral Akbar. “It’s a trap!”
“Look how far you’ve gone? You’ve got 0.10 to go. That’s so small, you can’t even measure that on a course,” the Terminator said.
“Since they can’t measure it, that means I can stop now, right,” I responded. Not a chance. He just kept pushing me to get to 0.75. I was the happiest person on the planet when I reached that point. Total running mileage for the predawn morning: 2.25 miles, mostly near race pace.
I slid off the treadmill thinking, “He’s fired. He’s so fired. Wait until I catch my breath and I swear he’s fired.”
I never caught my breath until after my shower and by that time the Terminator was long gone. And a cooler head prevailed. He did exactly what I needed him to do. In fact, he really should have made me run the entire mile on that third repeat (Yeah, I wasn’t thinking that on the treadmill then.)
I was really hurting, sore but as the day went on, I thought about the milestone. Easily the most distance I had gone at that speed. I’m really getting close. Man, I’m about ready to rock!
The Terminator then emailed me my weekday schedule. Saturday, he wants me to do four 400 repeats at 8.5 mph! Whoa. Really? But look at what I’ve just done. I’m ready. I had to judge a Toastmasters speech contest in Logansport Saturday morning, taking me out of my routine, but no problem – the TREC and my fans will all be waiting on me when I get there in the afternoon. I was confident. Cocky even.
I walked into the TREC about 2 p.m. with a John Travolta Saturday Night Live strut, with “Who Let the Dogs Out” playing in the background. I felt everyone was looking at me and I was looking at them looking at me. I wanted to tell them, “Come over to this treadmill and let me show you how it’s done.”
I stretched with this big smile on my face that would have made people think I just won the Lotto. I strolled to the treadmill with the confidence of Rick Perry at a Tea Party Rally. I turned on the treadmill for a two-minute warm up before my running show for all of these folks. Ready to go, I started to kick the treadmill up from 3.0 to 8.5 mph.
Well, okay. That’s kind of fast. Uh, that’s really fast. Now, I’m falling to the back of this treadmill. Wait a minute. Maybe I should slow this thing down.
I went the entire 400 at 8.5 but it was not the fun I thought it would be. Now mind you, that’s roughly the speed my wonderful Washington D.C. lobbyist daughter use to run 5Ks in high school – on her slow days. I always knew I couldn’t keep up with her on my best days, but wow. That was ugly. I tried the second 400 at 8.0 mph.
I managed to stay on the treadmill this time but the result wasn’t much better. I was sucking every bit of oxygen out of the TREC and I had two more 400s to go. That’s my workout so I was determined to get it done. I took a longer rest before jumping on the treadmill again for another stab at it.
Midway through third 400 I felt it – the right hamstring. Pain. Hurt. The last time I had a hamstring pull? It was Odom Jr. High, seventh grade football game. We were playing Vincent Jr. High and we were just crushing these guys. I was starting defensive tackle and chasing this little quarterback who ran the option. By the third quarter, this quarterback had performed several Houdini escapes from me but this time I was going to get him. He faked the handoff to the full back and made a wide turn toward my end and I chased him with everything I had and then I felt it – the right hamstring. Pain. Hurt.
It’s a feeling you don’t forget after all of these years and I exited the treadmill immediately, hoping – this time – that absolutely no one was watching. Grimacing, I walked away, a broken down old man. After that Odom Jr. High game, I was out for three weeks. I knew three weeks would put the Turkey Trot in jeopardy. I started to think for the first time for all of my good intentions, I actually may not be able to do this thing.
I left the TREC. No John Travolta strut. No Who Let the Dogs Out. Just me – sweaty, humbled and with a noticeable limb. I emailed the Terminator Sunday after I woke up Sunday and noticed the hammy wasn’t feeling any better. He put me on the shelf until our session on Wednesday, reminding me that it’s no sense trying to workout if you’re hurt.
For the next three days, I was bummed out, worried about if I could really do this. When I get like that, I turned to the one thing that made it all better – Golden Corral. Yeah, I know I’m doing Weight Watchers, but I needed a pick me up. I really paid for at my weigh-in, too, but that’s another story.
I got to Wednesday morning’s workout and the Terminator is nowhere to be found. Probably given up on me. Broken down old man. I decided to do one of the easy workouts, a 30-minute walk to test the hammy. About 15 minutes in, it was so far so good. I still felt a tweak, but I had to see how far I could go. I pumped up the treadmill from 3.0 to 5.0 mph. So far so good for the next five minutes. Okay, let’s try this at 5.5 mph for the next five minutes. Tweak but nothing that would say stop. I did that for another five minutes before a cool down. Hmmm. It’s not heeled but I can still jog. Wow.
I jumped off the treadmill with a sigh of relief. I’ve had a setback but this was the first sign this broken down old man may recover in time for the race. During the day, I saw this video of the 61-year-old guy who went back to college and is now the field goal kicker for his college team. I have to admit that fired me up again.
I don’t really know where these future workouts will take me as I get closer to Thanksgiving, but I’m doing this Turkey Trot if I have to crawl. This broken down old man is back in the game.


  1. Your blog is amazing! I LOVE this post! I'm happy that you were able to overcome your injury. I like The Terminator's style--he tested your endurance! I think you'll be just fine for the Turkey Trot 5K. You may even surprise yourself. Shall we run a 10K next Thanksgiving??

  2. I don't know about overcoming it. It's still there. Just trying to make sure it's not coming back and, as Larry the Cable Guy says, 'Git er done.' Who ever thought I would be quoting Larry the Cable Guy? LOL