|"Do it for the Cannoli" ~ Anthony DiFiore
In August I made the first appointment I could find with doctor who seemed qualified to help me. That appointment was mid-Septemeber and I knew nothing would be figured out or resolved by the time I ran this race.
Kim and I wanted to run 20 miles. We also wanted to be present for this Team Championship. In the event that my back felt ok, I might be able to help the team score some points. Kim had some unfinished business here so she wanted to return as well.
|Photo by Becky Wiechman
Kim and I get into the corral. I move up front, finding Rich and Nikki, who were both racing very closely in pace and had similar race goals. I remind them to not go out like banshees and to save it for the end. This race is windy and the sections along the water are usually bad. Between 6 and 8.5 we usually fight the wind. By 8.5 it is usually much better as we move away from the water. I remind them to not worry if their pace fall during that section. I also explain that despite my back pain, I am only starting up front so I can yell at them to slow down during Mile 1.
Gun goes off. My back is a little loose. Usually after I stop running, the spasms settle so just standing around for a few minutes helped. I also found that running faster sometimes hurts less than running slower, so I decide to just go out relatively fast to see what happened. I hit M1 at a 7:05 pace. And for a moment I think, "Oh this feels good. Maybe this race will go better than I thought!" (LOL!)
|Photo by Elaine Acosta
Between Mile 2 and Mile 10 my pace slowed from low 7:00's to 8:40 per mile. I was simply trying to find a place where I could feel the least amount of hurt. As I clenched my side, pressing my thumb into my back, trying to find a way to provide support or relieve, runners blew past me sharing their sympathy.
I was given lots of great advice, like how I should not go out so hard next time, or if I keep on training the side-stitches would eventually go away as I got fitter. I was also running, at one point, behind a woman taking selfies repeatedly which made me laugh.
I was overcome with emotion at that point. Not because I could not run like I was running last year, but out of sincere fear that I may not ever be able to run fast again. If in just a few months time, I have deteriorated this far. The initial diagnosis was that I have Scoliosis and that is all. There is not explanation for why NOW did the scoliosis start to hurt me. I was told to do some sit-ups and stretch. It that was my cure, I had little faith this would resolve my pain. Since it is not clear what is going on, it just may be a matter of time before the obvious solution is suggested: "If it only hurts when you run, then don't run!"
I started to feel grateful that I could run an 8:40 pace. An 8:40 pace is not too shabby, especially when considering that some people can't run at all and soon I may be one of them if this back pain doesn't resolve.
|Photo by Elaine Acosta
In Mile 9, Liz caught up with me and asked if I was ok. I said "No." It was clear I was not. We start taking and as we chat I start to feel slightly better. She mentions that Anthony has asked her to try to break 1:45. Our average pace was 8:08 and we were approaching 10 miles. For some reason, as my back starts to loosen, I start to focus on trying to help her reach that goal. I am pretty sure Liz really didn't want or need my help (and the next time I see her I will apologize for offering unsolicited advice to her in the middle of her race). I suggest that we just try to slowly pass people one at a time and not focus on how we feel. We talk and when I tell her we have already passed the 10 mile mark and are almost to 10.5 she seems happy to have passed almost a mile quickly. But she tells me to go ahead. I wasn't ready. We had dropped our pace from an 8:40 to an 8:08 by the time we reached Mile 11 and I wasn't sure if I could go faster.
But then I suddenly begin to feel like myself again. The back pain resolves and I can open my stride. I am pain free, completely. It took 16 miles of "warm up" to get my back to be on my side. I can't believe how good I feel, I don't know how long it will last, so I kick. I feel like I am flying. M12 - 7:15
I havent run a 7:15 mile in a long time, but it doesn't even faze me. I keep pushing and see Anthony up ahead. I yell out "Where's my Cannoli?!" Anthony glances back and starts dropping the pace. I try to catch him, but he is fast! M13 - 7:05
The last .25 (long course) miles is intense. Anthony is about 20 seconds ahead of me, and he won't let up. I try to dig and I can't get any ground on him. He is digging too. We are really moving. Anthony holds me off, but it was awesome. Last .25 6:19 pace.
Time: 1:45:15 (8:02 pace)
I was happy to find out later that I actually did score for the team, so all that pain wasn't for nothing.
After all was said and done, Anthony officially challenged me to race him in November. Winner gets a cannoli. I better get this back thing figured out soon!