15 June 2010

A Perfect Storm

My excuse could be simply, no runny, no writey, since I haven’t run much lately, nor have I written in weeks. Reality is a bit more complicated. It’s been more like the perfect storm of events, conspiring to keep me from my literary therapy.

You might remember The Perfect Storm, the flick with George Clooney when he was still only fabulously famous (as compared to his entirely overpowering fame of today). It was a seriously good flick, so long as you didn’t see it in IMAX 3-D shortly after a meal. New Englanders remember the Perfect Storm – the topic of said cinema – because we lived it. Three weather fronts converged to create an über-hurricane-like storm far too late in the season, far too far north, and with all of its power focused in the water, with far too large and too destructive surf.

I worked with a guy at the time who lived in a house on Lighthouse Point in Scituate, Massachusetts, the epicenter of the storm’s land-based impact. He was the, I think, the calmest guy I’ve ever known, the poster boy for what tranquilizer pharmaceutical researchers try to achieve through their craft. Good thing, too, since the ocean went through his house that night. He calmly reported to us later how he and neighbors went through the salt marsh behind their road on a mission of discovery, finding various things they once owned. He never flinched or showed the least distress or emotion over his trauma. It was calming, but almost weird.

I can’t compare my life to that calamity, but I’ll steal the parallel of three fronts bearing down with powerful effects. A couple of nagging injuries have largely kept me off the roads, which removes the adventurous story fuel for these tomes as well as a good chunk of the inspiration. End-of-season wrap-up duties for the kids I coach have sucked half my non-working, non-eating, non-sleeping hours. And planning duties as race director for my club’s upcoming 10K have sucked the other three-quarters of that time.

Let’s face it, during normal times, most of these columns get written well after midnight and posted far later. It’s only to put on a farce of normalcy that I adjust the posting times to a humane 11:30 PM or so. During times like these, when the wee hours roll around and the race sponsorship correspondence or the track team results compilations still aren’t done, not to mention the stack of typical non-work work that never stops accumulating (and we won’t even talk about real work), well, blog postings take a back seat. Sorry, fans, I’ll send you all personalized apologies once I figure out who all six of you are.

So, in weather front number one, my track team finished their season on a glorious note. While my boys managed to win a couple meets, it’s been a tough year score-wise for the girls, not that that dampens their enthusiasm. When it comes to scoring, we really don’t care, but it was a nice bonus when my girls actually managed to not lose their last meet. Mind you, they didn’t win, but they didn’t lose for the first time all year.

They tied, thanks to a gutsy young lady who on that last day of the season – without being begged, cajoled, or even telling us coaches – jumped into the 1600m – the long event that strikes fear in the hearts of middle-school-aged kids – and slogged out a nine minute mile for third-place among a thin field, earned a point on the score card, and saved her team from going oh-for-life. You’d have to see how this kid never quits to understand the heart she brings to the track. Coaching her is as satisfying in its own way as is having the honor of coaching the superstar boy on the other end of the spectrum who wins everything he looks at. I had the pleasure of giving them special recognition at our year-end banquet this evening, and the team said thank you to me with God’s Perfect Gift for a coach – my very own bullhorn! Lift and drive, people, LIFT AND DRIVE!

Sweeping in from the other direction, weather front number two, that being Chief Poobah, or race director, for our club’s Running With the Wolves 10K, has consumed the rest of my discretionary time. We promised ourselves we’d start earlier this year. Really. Of course, we didn’t, and I take full responsibility for that, but it doesn’t change the mad rush status we’re in now. I’ll expound on the fun at some indeterminate point in the future, but suffice to say sleep is elusive.

And all of this fun – after all, it is fun, or why do it? – would be bearable with my daily hour of road therapy, save for that third weather front that barreled out of nowhere to complete the Perfect Storm. A pesky Achilles strain and an inexplicably long-lasting hamstring pull have conspired to pretty much wipe out any hope of maintaining a decent training program. Suffice to say I’ve run farther in two and a half hours than I have so far this entire month. It’s enough to make a guy grumpy. And as The Hulk once said, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

The Achilles I can understand. It’s supposed to be tough to heal. That’s why it’s the Achilles, of course. And I count myself lucky for never having had this oh-so-common problem in the five years and eight thousand miles of my Second Lap. But the hammy really should have healed when I took three days, then five, then a whole week off to let the anti-inflammatories get the flam out of the Achilles. I’m puzzled, frustrated, and dismayed that it’s still in tough shape. I’ve had to let a few favorite races slip past, and next month’s Boilermaker is at risk.

But all storms die out at some point, and this one will too, excepting of course the case when storms kill off those who try to ride them out. But we won’t talk about that now, will we?

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