So on Sunday I got dehydrated while running the Boston Marathon, and only finished ten miles before I was cooked.
But along the way, something remarkable happened and I want to share it with you.
My friend and mentor Lee Brower suggests that we ask ourselves, “To whose prayer can I be the answer today?”
So there I was, about two and a half miles into the race, talking a walk break, as prescribed by the running coach Jeff Galloway.
Galloway says you should run five minutes and walk one minute, or run two minutes and walk thirty seconds, to take the strain off your body, so you have a better chance of finishing.
I’ve done more than 40 distance races — marathons, half marathons, and triathlons — and I always follow his approach.
So I was walking when I heard a woman’s voice behind me calling, “Are you injured, too?”
“I’m taking a walk break,” I explained hastily, and most likely, defensively.
She was injured.
She told me her story.
The night before, she had fallen six feet from a subway platform in Boston while taking a photo of her kids, tearing up her left knee, her right IT band, and doing untold damage to her back and her spine.
She had gone to Mass General, but they did not accept her insurance since she comes from Utah.
So the condition was undiagnosed, and she decided to run anyway, because she had run nine consecutive Bostons, and this would be number ten.
Her left knee was going backwards with every step, so I suggested we link arms and travel together, and that’s just what we did.
She wasn’t making any sense — the decision to run was insane, because she could have further injured herself.
And then she was justifying it by explaining that she really wanted that tenth medal, and so on.
Clearly she was still in shock from the accident.
It’s utterly insane to run after undiagnosed injuries to one’s knee, back, spine, and maybe one’s brain.
I told her that all she had to do was take one extra step and she could blow out her knee entirely.
She might never run again and she might never walk again.
I mentioned what had happened to Tiger Woods.
I told her that I would accompany her only to the train station in Framingham at mile six, and that she should take the train to Boston and stop the madness.
She agreed, and then we reached a medical tent.
“Let’s go to the medical tent,” I suggested, and to my relief, she agreed.
We got there, and I made a motion with my hand across my throat indicating that she was done.
The cop outside thanked me.
Cops never thank you.
So that was it.
I’m sure she never got out of the medical tent and back out onto the course.
At least I hope not.
So maybe that’s why I was supposed to go out there and run today.
In all the distance races I’ve done, I’ve never gotten dehydrated.
I know how to hydrate.
But maybe I wasn’t supposed to finish today.
Maybe I was just out there to keep her from causing herself further damage.
And then when I had my go/no go moment eight miles later, I knew exactly what I had to do.
Quit to run another day.
I hate not finishing.
I hate failing.
But sometimes you just have to know when you’re cooked.
So it might not have been my day Sunday, but it made my day to help someone else.