Sunday, October 3, 2010
Gamblers have a term for betting the dice will come up double fours in a craps roll. Hard eight. The odds are so enormous that the payout is huge. There's a great character study of a film by the same name, directed by Paul Michael Thomas. It stars John C. Reilly and Philip Baker Hall and Gwyneth Paltrow as a hooker with a heart of coal.
Hard eight is what I ran Sunday evening. For me, it was the first time in more than a year that I ran eight miles without stopping, and ran it at a sustained pace of about 10 minutes. Not bad considering I laid off running for a year and am being treated for a SI Joint inflammation, which was misdiagnosed alternatively as diskitis, lower disk protrusion and rheumatoid arthritis. It's an inflamed joint, and the anti-inflammatories I'm taking have knocked it down enough that for the last four weeks I've been able to run four times a week, with at least one big run thrown in the mix just to see if I can do it. I can do it.
The first few times were tough. I'd run two miles, rest, maybe walk a bit, jog over the causeway, rest, walk a bit, and do the same on my way back. Last week I managed to run over the causeway without a break, a full 3.7 miles. I stopped for a water break, stretched and ran back over the causeway, took one more water break, and then home.
After two days off, with about 240 miles of driving to West Palm thrown in, a barbecue, some kayaking, much beer drinking and a depressing night watching the Gators get torn to shreds by Bama, I was back home Sunday, doing the laundry and decided to lace up -- still running in my year-old-plus Brooks Adrenalines. I can safely say, without any doubt, after tonight that the spring is shot, and I need new shoes.
For some reason, I felt pretty pumped. Bouncing off the balls of my feet, shoulders back and cruising along pretty nicely, until some kid motored by me like I was standing still. I decided to push up my game. I leaned into the causeway incline and kicked it at the top, then settled into a nice amble on the decline. By the time I got to Douglas Park, I thought, why not go all the way to the four-mile point before turning around. Why not go the whole eight mile?
My second attack of the causeway was better than the first. I drove up that hill as hard as I could, and when I got to the top I pumped it before easing into a nice trot down the hill.
The rest of the run was mostly flat with little ups and downs, and it was getting on twilight. A nice time to be running when the weather turns cool enough here in Florida. So I just kept pushing myself, willing the piriformis to loosen up and quit acting like an old codger. I ran the last half mile or so balls out.
And I finished in under 90 minutes. Maybe even 80. I should get a watch. But that means I was running right around a steady 10 minutes for a whole eight miles without stopping, except for some water at the halfway mark.
For me that is a huge milestone on the road to recovery. I was lucky to plod through four miles in 40 minutes or longer when I started running again two months ago. Running eight miles in a little over 80 minutes is huge for me, and that is saying a lot. I mean, my best running time about three years ago was a 5k where I broke 23 minutes -- my best! I used to run seven miles in 54 minutes during workouts. My time at the half-way mark for the Space Coast Marathon was 1:52, and my pace for the entire run was 9:27, for a 4:07 finish.
It's possible that three months from now, with a couple more steroid injections, ice packs, massage therapy, yoga and chiropractics, I could be close to those old times. It's just as possible I may never hit that 9:27 pace again, but I'm not saying I can't do it, either.
Now, for something a little different, a great scene from Hard Eight, where the duelling Philips -- Baker Hall and Seymour Hoffman -- test their wills against each other over a craps table: