Mad City Marathon in Madison, Wisc.
I ran a respectable 4:36 that first time out. I also met elite marathon runner Chuck Engle, who's always encouraging his running friends on Facebook to run more.
Six months later, I ran my second marathon, the Space Coast Marathon right here in Brevard County, Fla., my home for the past seven years. I improved considerably, pulling down a 4:06 -- my PR to date.
This anniversary got me thinking about another anniversary that looms ahead like a laughing skull: Labor Day Weekend, when I ran my last marathon two years ago. I blew out my hip at Mile 20 and haven't been the same since.
Eventually, I found a doctor who recommended a series of epidural steroid injections right into my Sacro-Ilial joint. That treatment plus regular visits to the chiropractor and massage therapist, have made running possible. But I am going to need physical therapy to deal with some ongoing joint dislocation issues if I ever want to run another marathon.
And that is the goal. I don't want my sad, tragic performance at the Tupelo to be my last.
But every now and then, life throws you setbacks. The gall bladder surgery set back my training by more than the two weeks it took to recover. Before surgery I was running sub-9 minute miles. Now I'm lucky if I can run two miles straight at a 9:30 pace. But I'm improving, cross-training with bike and swim to rebuild those thigh muscles needed to bring a spring back to my gait.
Spring is all important. You want to strike mid-sole or on the balls of your feet, push your feet off the ground and lift your knee forward, driving ahead with a slight gravitational tilt for maximum efficiency. It's something my running coach taught us over 30 years ago, and it still holds true today. Check out this video on the New York Road Runners website. It is the same technique my cross-country coach at Northport High taught us back in 1974 and I am glad to see it still holds true. I like to call it the Spring Roll.
Form is so important to avoid injury while improving pace and endurance. Run more.
And run like hell.