#DadsRun4Boston: when quitting isn’t really quitting

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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I wasn’t sure how to call withdrawing from my first ever marathon anything but a failure.

I failed my daughters, I failed myself and I failed all the people with all the cool signs who litter the Ottawa Race Weekend marathon course as people both younger and older than I run their 26 mile challenge without me.

My body, plain and simple, wasn’t ready to take on the challenge. I followed my marathon training plan as best as I could and one Sunday before my 35th birthday, went for an 18 mile run. I ran all 18 miles and have run twice since…with a combined distance of less than a kilometre. My achilles tendon hasn’t been the same since that run.

So, it seems like I’m a quitter.

For weeks I left it to heal itself, knowing that if I went to physiotherapy, they’d never allow me to continue to train. I tried twice to see if I could resume running and came back walking each time. I threw my headphones, I threw my shoes, I acted petulantly, because at 35, I wasn’t supposed to be too old to do anything I really wanted to do.

“I’ll just run it anyway and if I ruin my foot forever, so be it,” I told my wife when in one of my moods. It was a stupid statement then and it’s a stupid statement now.

So, I was a quitter with the attitude of an angry five-year-old.

Then a group of dad bloggers with the voices of the Daddy Files‘ Aaron Gouveia and How To Be A Dad’s Charlie Capen at the forefront proposed an idea to honour Boston Marathon bombing victims: What we’re asking is that the week leading up to Marathon Monday, you get out there and run. I don’t care if it’s a quarter-mile or a marathon, get out there and run in memory of everyone impacted by the awful events that day. And while you’re doing it, snap a picture. Of yourself, the landscape, a homemade sign…doesn’t matter. Take a picture and post it with the hashtag ‪#‎DadsRun4Boston‬.

That, I thought to myself, is how I can turn my failure into a success. If this go around I make it 800 metres, well then that’s how far I made it. But at least I can do it for a reason. There’s no need to get angry at myself for having a bad left achilles and there’s no reason to think my marathon dream is over just because I won’t be running one on May 25. There will be next May and another marathon. Or the May after that, or another marathon after that.

I’ll happily be one of the many people, dads or otherwise, who do something this week to remember the victims of a year ago and to recognize the resilience they’ve shown in overcoming much bigger obstacles than me.

I don’t think my kids are going to look at me as a failure if I don’t run this May but they may look at me as a quitter if I let this one moment become so big that it keeps me from trying again. That seems to be what #DadsRun4Boston, and more importantly, the resilient victims from last year, are about—not quitting.

That’s something I’d be happy my daughters see in me.

6 responses to “#DadsRun4Boston: when quitting isn’t really quitting”

  1. Nick says:

    Sometimes it’s simply about getting out and doing something. If you have a goal, a reason to keep at it, then you can do anything! Keep that positive mindset and run (slower and shorter, as your doctor would recommend) anyway!

    • Mike says:

      Thanks Nick. It’s the first time in three weeks and a bit that I’ve felt at all comfortable talking about running and a great reminder that we don’t always meet goals on our own schedule.

  2. Dashing Dad says:

    Injuries suck. there is no other way around it. A great website to go to for stretches, exercises is runnerunleashed.com – she is also a huge inspiration. Also when it comes to doctors, if you can find a doctor who runs, they will help you get back to running. My doc is an ex Army Ranger and a triathlete. I have talked to him about some bad injuries and he said, “Ibuprofen, stretches, and get out and run.”
    But definitely take it easy and rest that injury. you will be out longer if you push it too soon. Try other cardio like biking or swimming. Hope it gets better soon and good luck.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for the awesome site for stretching etc. In the meantime I’ve been biking but there’s something about running that biking isn’t filling. slowly but surely I’ll get back to it.

  3. Sharon says:

    You aren’t a quitter. There’s a huge difference between quitting because you think you can’t do it and stopping because you physically can’t do it. Aside from throwing your headphones (and I’ve had a few of those moments) you showed your family that your body and your health are worth caring for. Repeat after me: Pushing your body past its physical limits and into the point of no return is dumb. Stopping because you could permanently injure yourself is smart. Now get your ass to physiotherapy, dude. 🙂

    • Mike says:

      Much appreciated. The throwing headphones phase has now passed and the smart person phase of getting treatment has begun.

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