You may not know this, but I was planning on running from Lubbock, Texas to the Gulf of Mexico in under two weeks in August 2012. It’s somewhere between 550 and 600 miles.
Training got serious around April after I healed from tearing my achilles in the fall of 2011. I ran and ran and ran. Most of it was on my own. I thought the main reason, besides having a hurt leg, the 50 mile run was difficult was because I always had my Dad as a safety net during my training. He was actually going to be there every few miles for the Gulf Run, unlike the 50 miler but I thought a stronger mind was better to have and not need.
I got up to 220 miles in one week and was planning on doing it the next two weeks leading up to August 1, 2012, the start date of the endeavor. I would do forty miles at a time, sometimes thirty or thirty-five if I wasn’t feeling it.
My shoes were still unlaced when I stepped out of my car to hide my water bladder in the bushes. I had a small blue camel back that I ran with and would refill halfway. There’s a big tree on the opposite side of the highway that marked twenty miles from my starting point, it always looks about five miles closer than it actually is. I blasted pump-up jams as I made my way to the start of the run, this was the fifth time I had done this this week.
I made sure my two gatorades were still in position to be gulped down at mile ten and mile 30, they were. You would not see the two orange tops sticking up out of the grass unless you knew where they were but I always checked anyway. The highway was always bare the occasional truck passing by, but it was a lonely road most of the way.
I laced up my shoes and waited for all the cars to pass by as I pretended like I was stretching. I hated to start a run with judgmental cars whizzing by. It was a slow and steady pace but running none the less. I reached the ten mile mark, drank my gatorade and was on my way before my achilles started acting up. It had not done this in over a thousand miles at least.
It was not a terrible feeling but it worried me so I decided to call it a day and turned to walk back to my car, sipping on gatorade to ease my frustration. This was going to be a problem. I was planning on running 550 miles across Texas in a few weeks and injuries would not due.
The next morning I decided to take it easy and run 6 miles. I could not make it past 4 with out excruciating pain shooting up my leg, nearly as bad as the trail run. I hooked a left and walked the one mile home, careful to use precise form to not strain my achilles. After sleeping in the next day, I tried again. Two miles. It was getting worse.
Throughout my training I went to Dr. Jared Carrey. He does muscle magic. It may be voodoo, I do not know, but it works. I went to see him shortly after my achilles was first injured. I could barely put weight on my foot when I walked in and I walked out with a brand new leg. He had gotten me through the fifty miler and I was hoping he could do it again. The best part about what he does is he encourages you to keep working out, not rest, that was the best part. It doesn’t make sense, but it works.
I went to him after my two mile adventure and got the treatment I thought I needed. Hoping for the best I went for six miles the next day only making it to four with pain throughout. I put my shirt up over my face and pulled down my hat to hide the tears. It had come one thought at a time but now, my dream of running some incredible distance before I turned 18, was over.
I had to tell my Dad, that was going to be the worst part. I don’t know what it was about telling him that made it so hard but I couldn’t do it, I would try and then get asked how my run went that day and I’d lose it. I went on for a few days telling him about runs that did not happen wishing I knew how to break the news. Maybe it was hard because up until this point he had invested just as much time and emotion into the feat as I had.
It was late morning as I sat at my desk wallowing in my failure when my dad came and peeked his head around the door. “How’s the running going?” Tears built up in my eyes as I stared at the ground trying to find the right words, they started streaming as I looked up at him. He shut the door and sat down on the step to my room, “I’m not running.” His eyes were filled before I even said it, he already knew. There was nothing more to say, we just sat and cried. It could have been five minutes or an hour, I don’t know, but we cried and it felt good.