The Costly Miscalculation (Part I)

When it comes to asking for help…I simply won’t do it. Actually, that’s not completely true. I will ask for help, but only as a last resort, after I’ve exhausted every single option first. Is that a guy thing? Regardless, I think it explains why it was so difficult for me when I had to ask Carol for help.

Carol and I were running buddies. At the time, we were in the same running club and always managed to run together during the weekly interval training. Over time we became friends and would even do long runs together on the weekends. I was in training for my first marathon and was grateful to have someone to train with like Carol. You see, she had run numerous marathons and triathlons already and ended up being a great resource on everything from my diet to the amount of miles I needed to get in each week.

    Not an actual photo given that I’m a guy!

And then I made a costly miscalculation.

Although I was in the best shape of my life, I failed to think through what it meant that the marathon I was training for was in Boulder, Colorado. Or put more simply, I never thought to train on hills during my intensive three-month regiment. It just never occurred to me.


I’ll never forget that day. Although sunny, the winds were blowing anywhere from 20 to 50-mph and directly into the faces of the 400+ marathoners. I remember starting out in the middle of the pack before slowly slipping farther and farther back. Did you know that running uphill uses different muscles than running on a flat road? I didn’t. Now throw 50-mph winds into the equation and you get me, a guy who was suddenly way out of his element.

I believe it was around the 13-mile mark where I first began to walk. The lactic acid build-up in my legs made every movement so painful that walking was the only way I could still move in a forward direction without coming to a complete stop. I panicked…surely this wasn’t happening to me. What’s worse, I came alone to the marathon. There was no support team, let alone anyone to run with for encouragement. Another miscalculation?

And then it got worse. So bad in fact that I could no longer walk as I approached the 20-mile mark and literally had to be scraped up and thrown into the back of a truck by race officials. And if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, they drove us (there were four other disabled runners in the back with me) down the remaining six miles of the actual course, as if we were in a parade, except that we were on the loser float.

But wait, there’s more.

As we drove past the finish line, we were all awarded with our very own “participation” medallions. You know, like those green ribbons they give to all the kids just for participating in the basketball tournament. Same thing. What’s funny is that, to this day, I still don’t know what to do with it. Do I display the medallion or continue to hide it?


I couldn’t walk for days. Okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration. I could walk but not without a lot of pain. But even the pain wasn’t able to cover up the incredible disappointment I had about not finishing the marathon. It felt like I had just tossed three months of training down the drain and all I had to show for it was a lame participation medallion.

And then, on the fourth day after my aborted attempt, the idea of all ideas came to me while I was getting a leg massage at the club. I grabbed my cell and dialed Carol.

“You’re going to do what!” she yelled. “You’re absolutely crazy!”

To be continued next week…

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