Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Challenge Begins

This has not been a normal week. Monday I received a postcard confirming my registration to the Boston Marathon. On Friday I go in to have arthroscopic surgery on my right knee to snip off the frayed edges of my meniscus. The doctor tells me I could be back to running in 4 to 6 weeks. The MRI indicated some tearing in the meniscus and a tiny bit of arthritis. Even though the cartilage around the knee looked good, he thinks that I would be susceptible to arthritis in the knee – something my Dad had.

What I like about my doctor is that he does not talk in absolutes. Yes I can run again, but it will put additional strain on my knee. If I run a lot, it may get worse quicker, but I will have had the enjoyment of being active. Cross training will lengthen the life of the knee and low impact training will help even more. He does not say “This is what you must do”, but rather “These are some likely outcomes based on your actions – choose what you think fits your lifestyle best”.

So here is the plan. Get the operation, work aggressively at rehab and get back to running up to 20 miles by the middle of December. I will start my training for Boston using the FIRST training program which incorporates 3 days of running and 2-3 days of cross training. The cross training for me will be biking, since I swim like a rock. I am getting a trainer for my bike so I can ride indoors during the bad weather.

Boston will likely be my last marathon. After Boston I will keep my running to about 20-25 miles a week and see how things go. If I get a chance in two or three years and my knees are holding up, I may try to run New York or Marine Corps.

Tomorrow I have my last run for a month or so – my regular 7.2 mile loop around my neighborhood. I can run about 20 miles a week without much knee pain, but any more than that and it starts to hurt.

Running has always been a challenge for me. It is a way to push myself and test my limits. Now I will be faced with the additional challenge of coming off surgery and preparing for the biggest race of my life. This race will truly not be about time, but about finishing and enjoying what may be my last marathon. While not exactly what I would have hoped for, it is a challenge I relish.

So if you see a pair of worn Nike Pegasus left behind at the finish of the 2009 Boston Marathon, you will know I have run my last marathon, but not my last race.