My fall in Cape Town two weeks ago apparently wasn't as minor as I had thought at the time. Although the radiologist studied the x-rays and determined that there were no broken ribs, my absolutely non-medical hunch is that either something is cracked or I did a pretty damn good job of bruising the bones. Whatever it is, it is not healing quickly and I was not doing anything to help. This week I tried working out again, going to the gym on Sunday, running in Central Park on Monday and then back to the gym on Tuesday. But, all that activity seemed to make my breathing even more painful and any twisting or lifting motion really hurt.
So, I've just finished taking four days off, hanging out in my recliner chair computer setup, working online but taking it easy and giving whatever has broken in my chest the chance to get better. And, while here, I filled some of the time by going through a box of old photos, scanning some of the better ones and posting them to my Facebook page Photos from Decades Ago
From those photos, there are a few that merit some comment, particularly as this blog has become more and more athletics oriented recently.
In 1977, after a six-year break after high school during which I was doing stand-up comedy and nightclub performing, I started running again. I'd run in high school, but poor coaching and lousy shoes in 1969 had left me with bad shin splints and an association between running and unenlightened authoritarianism. But the years of late nights, bar food and alcohol had taken their tool. One night a young woman asked me how old I was. "Twenty-five," I said.
"Oh, too young for a pot belly."
That did it. Within weeks I had a membership at the Aerobics Center in North Dallas, run by the reluctant guru of aerobic sports, Ken Cooper. I started going out to Dallas White Rock lake each morning, to run the 9.2 mile loop with a group of guys called the 7:11 Group. Many of these guys were airplane pilots, but there was also a character named Irving Adelstein, a local jewelry store owner, who grew to be one of my personal idols and was an excellent mentor and father-figure. Between 1977 and 1984, I'd either run around the lake in the morning or meet up with a group of hard-core marathoners called the "Kamikazes" who met at 5:00 am each morning at the Cooper Center to run intervals and hill sprints.
My first marathon, in San Francisco in June 1979, was a respectable 3:14. My second, a few months later in Denton, Texas was below three hours. However, in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 1980, I needed to run at least a 2:50 time. So, at the Dallas White Rock Marathon, the first week of December 1979, I finished the 42 km in 2:48, just a tad under four minutes per kilometer. The photo above was taken that day, at 67 kilos and twenty-six years old. Now ten kilos and twenty-eight years later, I wonder if I will ever be in that great a shape again. It is certainly something to work towards!
There is the old saying that you can tell a tell an athlete by asking him or her, "How is your injury?" If they reply, "Which one?" then you know they are in training. These last nine months, between the torn cartilage, gout in late August/early September, the recovery from knee surgery and now two weeks healing my busted ribs, if it isn't one thing, it has been something else keeping me from getting out there and training on a consistent basis. Hopefully, I've had my quota of mishaps and can get on with the business of preparing for the upcoming season.
The good news yesterday was:
Entry number: 248404
NYRR member number: 05247
Dear Langston J Goree,
We have received your guaranteed entry to the 2008 ING New York City Marathon.
After being rejected in the marathon lottery in 2005, 2006 and 2007, I'm guaranteed an entry this year. (However, it still irks me that while a member of the New York Road Runners Club and a taxpayer in the city that hosts the event, I can't more easily get into the marathon in my own home town, run by my own club.) So, my big goal for the year will be to qualify for the Boston marathon in 2009 by running better than 3:45 in November and, if possible, run New York better than 3:30 so that I don't have to enter the lottery in 2009! So, twenty-six years later, is it possible to run just forty-two minutes slower than my best? We'll see.
This week there was a very interesting RadioLab show on WNYC about "Deception." One of the segments, called "Lying to Ourselves" points to research that shows that athletes who are self-deceptive tend to be more successful. Maybe, to really do well in sports or life, we have to tell ourselves that things are possible that really just aren't, in order to achieve them. It probably worked for me in 1979 and may work again. So, here goes, "I can qualify for Boston again in November!" There are lies, damned lies, and personal challenges.