I took a walk around Portland's Glendoveer path early this morning. It had been years since I'd had the pleasure. Once upon a time, we lived just a few blocks away. I used Glendoveer as my prime training ground for several Mt. Rainier to Pacific relays. I'd also do longer runs around the neighborhood, but Glendoveer's two mile loop was perfect for an after-work 4 or 6 miler without having to worry about dogs or cars.
I ran with a group of guys from our church, with extremely diverse ages and abilities. The pastor's son was the speediest. I was more in the not so speedy category. But it didn't matter. We did it to have fun. We named our team "Krazy Kritters Who Krave Kramps".
My first year, I was so nervous that I missed the "hand off" for my first leg because I was in line for the porta-john! The second year was memorable due to our unfortunate choice of waiting spots in the middle of the night. As we waited for one of our runners to finish a leg, we were parked in pitch black at what seemed to be a side road.
We were all half-asleep in the van when we heard the sound of a gun being cocked. It's amazing how effective that sound is to really make you wide awake! We couldn't see a thing but a shotgun pointed at our driver, and couldn't hear a thing but a male voice saying calmly, "Get off of my driveway and move along." You never heard such a chorus of "YES, SIR" in your life! Our driver moved us out of there faster than you can say buckshot.
The third year was my last on the team. My second leg that year was in the middle of the night. About 5 miles on a flat, straight-as-an-arrow country lane. No sweat! But the impossible happened. My new batteries in my new flashlight went dead. I couldn't see, (it was THAT dark!) and ran off the road just enough to take a bad step. Achilles tendon- partially ruptured. (I didn't know it at the time, though. I thought it was a simple sprain.)
Once back in the van after my second leg, I iced my heel and popped six Advil. It seemed to help. My last leg was in daylight, I think it was leg 32, which is described in the relay handbook as, "LEG 32-3.44 MILES-HARD-Uphill and winding, narrow shoulders".
I got out of the van to get ready for this last leg, and my left foot and ankle were stiff as a board! It hurt like hell, too. But I wasn't a quitter, and didn't want to let down the team. My sense of macho (ok, stupidity) was in full form. So I went for it.
3.44 miles. A GRAVEL road. VERY steep. But I kept going, ignoring the pain. I did it. I finished my final leg. But man, what a price I paid for my stupidity. That injury put me on my back for a week, with my foot up. My Achilles wasn't even close to the same for about six months.
I learned a hard lesson. But I still have a foolish sense of accomplishment about that last leg. Damn straight! I'm still proud as hell! Aaah. . . . Glendoveer. Pleasure and pain, and an old friend.