“If found on ground, please drag to finish line.”
I haven’t been to the surface of the moon, but my guess it would look similar to North Sherman Blvd in Milwaukee, WI. Broken and cracked with large potholes. It was mile 20 and I had just fallen for the second time. The fall at mile 19 bruised my ego, my hand and knee but this second fall was bad. I landed straight on my upper right cheek and my teeth weren’t quite lining up. My head had bounced against the pavement and I was a tad worried about a concussion. After cursing and gingerly getting back up, I started to walk it out but it wasn’t easy. My knee hurt, my shoulder hurt, my head hurt and I could feel my face swelling. I knew I had a decision to make, accept a DNF (Did Not Finish) or press on. During this internal decision, a race official on a bike came up and said that he had seen me fall at mile 19 and since this was a second fall, he was going to have pull me from the course. Decision made.
“Sir, I fell because your roads are crappy. I am not quitting so you’ll have to catch me to pull me off this course.”
With that said, running or something that resembled a forward motion resumed. 6.2 miles remained. Anger at the roads and my clumsiness carried me a couple more miles. I had gotten some encouragement from my family after that unfortunate bump but now I was basically running alone, in pain and begging the old and new gods just to carry me to the finish line.
I really had no business toeing the start line that morning. Regrets of not dropping to the half-marathon distance filled every part of my being. I had a rough start to the year after a seemingly simple gall bladder surgery went wrong and I ended up with three additional surgeries, so my training wasn’t where it should have been but I was too stubborn to accept defeat. Many of you can relate to this stubbornness, especially if you fought to overcome a disease that was trying to sideline your life. The current healthcare system in many countries is crippled with archaic treatment options. Many physicians are either busy lining their pockets with pharmaceutical money or not willing to put the time in to research new treatment options. HSCT is no different except that the trials that have been done are clear, HSCT works to halt MS and many other autoimmune diseases.
Back to the final 6.2 miles. Unfortunately, those 6.2 miles were extremely difficult. Tears were shed crossing that finish line. Not out of pride but of absolute relief that it was over. I grabbed some ice from the medic for my face and grabbed my allotted token beer with my daughter. That beer may have been the best beer of my life.
Milwaukee Marathon 2019
Thankfully I only suffered a black eye and some bumps and bruises in the fall. I am now the the butt of countless jokes on how not to run. Especially since the fall of 2017 during our local half, which was appropriately dubbed “collision with planet Earth” at mile 7. This fall awarded me face stitches after crossing the finish line. Evidently the vision of me face planting has many thinking that I run with my arms on my side. I can assure you that I just have an uncanny ability to use my face as a bumper. For me, there is only one way to finish a race, cross the finish line. But if you do see me crumpled in a heap, please just drag me as far as you can.
But in all seriousness, I have only face planted in America and I have had the good fortune to run for fun in several other countries, so the odds are still pretty favorable that I won’t face plant in London. But on the off chance that you do like playing the odds, how about helping me raise money for that chance? All bets will benefit AIMS, no actual winner will be announced but you will have bragging rights by predicting the future of my face.
Celebrating with The Fonz.