The night before the Marathon. Â Hours away from doing my first Boston. Â It is an exciting and nerve-wracking time all at once. Â I probably should already be in bed, but an inevitable restlessness has kicked in.
I have an additional source of nervousness, on top of the usual ones. Â A few weeks ago, I tore the muscle in my right calf, making it somewhat painful to even simply walk or to go up and down stairs … forget about running 26.2 miles. Â I had to skip my last long training run, and had to force an earlier tapering to my running routine as my leg simply could not take the pain.
I visited my primary care physician, who referred me to a sports medicine specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and to a physical therapist at Joint Ventures. Â All three them had the same thought written all over there faces: You really should drop out of the race, let your body heal, and try again next year. Â But none of them actually told me to do that. Â They all seemed to understand that my heart was set on trying to complete the race; that I had put in too much training and come too far to stop now; and that I was caught in the spirit of this historic event. Â So instead they focused on helping me deal with my situation to give me the best possible chance of getting to the finish line … prescribing a regimen of rest, strength exercises, elliptical workouts, stretching, ibuprofen, icing, etc. Â I thought that was pretty cool. Â It was another small indication of how everyone seems to appreciate there is something special about the Boston Marathon.
Of course, I now am that much more impressed with — and humbled by — older athletes who are still running the Boston Marathon year after year well into their 70s and 80s. Â Being injured in this way also helped me gain a better appreciation for the effort and strength that people with physical impediments — whether as a result of age or an underlying illness or disease — have to bring to bear to everyday activities that most of us take for granted. Â As the physical therapist said to me: “You only get one body … make the most of it, but also take good care of it.”
More importantly, I also now have a whole new level of respect for Nick, my “Patient Partner” for whom I am running this Marathon. Â Â Nick inherited a rare genetic disorder called MPS I disease. Â It is a horrible and debilitating condition that impacts many different parts of his body. Â Symptoms can include joint stiffness, reduced breathing capacity, heart problems, visual impairment, pain, neurological symptoms …. the list goes on (you can learn more from www.mpssociety.org or www.MPSIdisease.com). Â But none of that slowed Nick down one bit. Â He has a tough spirit that makes up for any physical limitations. Â He does not take “no” for an answer. Â With the help of therapy provided by Genzyme, he joined the wrestling team at his high school in Providence, and then eventually joined the football team! Â Nobody … not his family, not his many physicians … could have predicted that Nick would successfully tackle such physical challenges. Â He did not allow his body to tell him “no” …. he continued to set high goals for himself, and then just went out and achieved them. Â Nick epitomizes the kind of hope that the National Organization for Rare Disorders stands for.
So Nick is my inspiration for this Boston Marathon … even more so now than when I first started training. Â I’ll have a picture of him pinned to my back during the run. Â That little tear in my calf seems puny compared to what he has had to contend with. Â I don’t know for sure if I will be able to finish … but I owe it to myself, my supporters, my running team, and to Nick to at least give it my best effort.