After a New Year’s-inspired wager, I trained rigorously for the 1979 Peachtree.
For six months I ran up stadium steps. I ran up and around Stone Mountain. In weeks before the July 4th race I tried out the course by running down Peachtree.
I was 20 and working in a gas station. One afternoon in late June I was changing the price of a gallon of regular on the sign, while standing on an upside-down plastic trash can.
If I have foreshadowed correctly, you already know the can tipped over. When I landed I twisted my ankle. With a week or so before the race I had a serious hitch in my getalong. I felt like I had trained enough to do well, so I stayed off my ankle and hoped for the best.
It was still sore the morning of the race. You could say I was a bit naive about taping up an injury. I knew we had some Duct Tape in the garage. A sore ankle, it turned out, was one thing Duct Tape can’t fix.
I ran the race – sans-tape – the fastest I’ll ever run it.
I’ve been dinged up one way or another a few other years. I hope I can avoid that in 2010.
I wrote here in April that I aimed to better my 2009 time by 15 minutes this year. A few nights after writing that, I clumsily kicked the leg of a coffee table, which turned my left middle toe black and purple. It was uncomfortable running for a week or so, but I felt like a blogger’s word should be a blogger’s bond. I ambled on.
I know lots of people try to keep pace through adversity. My friend Kathy ran three races in the early 2000s, despite chronically sore knees. In this photo taken in the Midtown section of the race, she is adjusting a Band-Aid she used that morning to cushion a blister on her foot.
The next year was her last year, as her knees balked at what she was asking them to do near Cardiac Hill. The last three miles down Peachtree were less than pleasant and the experience motivated her to find alternatives to get exercise.
The sports cliché says it’s OK to play through pain, but it’s foolish to play hurt.
Have you pressed on in the AJC Peachtree Road Race when you had to grind through a bit of pain? Have you ever run with an actual injury and wished later you had stayed home?