RACE DAY (CONT.)
It’s cold. No, I mean Ohio, mid-October, damp to your bones cold. This is not good. Seriously. This can’t keep up. And then… here comes the downpour. Not just some typical California drizzle. No, it’s a thunderstorm. It has not rained in years, so it makes sense for it all to come down today. The temperature has dropped at least five degrees and being that I’m dressed so appropriately…. I’m going to freeze.
The miles become a blur as we fight the pelting raindrops.
Mile 7. The pain kicks in. The same knee. The same damn knee. My left knee. What’s up with that? I had surgery on the right knee! I have a knee support for the right knee. The pain is bearable for now, but if it gets to be anything like I experienced during the Santa Clarita run…
Sudden, sharp pains trip me up every half mile or so. The best way to describe it is to have you make both hands into fists, press them together as hard as possible and begin to grind them. I can hear my mom’s voice; “You probably don’t have any cartilage in your knee.” Of course, she was talking about the other knee. The right knee.
A thought comes to me: What if I switch the knee support top the aching knee? Maybe that would help. But what about the right knee? This is too difficult. I will be a typical guy and try to live through the pain.
Peter has a brisk walk. I feel like I’m holding him back. Great. Now the guilt. Not only did I tell him to throw away the poncho, but now I’m slowing him down. Stop it! Stop it! You’re not in the Midwest anymore. They don’t have guilt in California. This is L.A.--- sunshine, swimming pools, movie stars…and painful rain in December.
Around mile 9 we head on to a bike path that slopes down along the river. Yes, an actual river in Southern California, and it’s swelling. There are signs posted that read, “Caution, path may flood with heavy rain.” Wouldn’t it be ironic if that happened? Hey, it could be the OC Bi-athalon. Parallel to us, across the river, is another bike path. Runners are heading in the opposite direction. Could there be a turn around up ahead? I think I see a mile marker. That could mile 10. That would be phenomenal. Then, we run up an incline and head off in another direction. Those runners I just saw were passing mile 15. 15? We’re not even to 10 yet.
Man, I‘m being so negative. Focus, Malchus. Clear your head. Clear your head.
“How ya doin’?”
“I’m managing. The knee’s killing me.”
Robert calls. He’s somewhere around mile 11. I think we’re close to 10 so he’s going to slow down for us to catch up.
“Oh boy,” Peter laughs, “you better be with me. Robert scares me. Ah don’t know if ah can keep up with him.”
Boy, do I know what he’s talking about. I recall vividly, in Hawaii, between miles 22 and 23. We ran together and I nearly died. He’s a machine. The Terminator (though, I like Robert’s politics better than the original T-100).
“Don’t worry, it won’t be that bad, Peter.”
A couple more steps and I have to walk again.
“What do you think?”
“You want to stop?”
“For a break?”
“No. To stop.”
I smile at Peter. He has a big heart. He doesn’t realize that I don’t quit in the middle of anything, not when I’ve committed to someone and raise a lo0t of money. I’m not out here for me; I’m out here for my son. This is about Jacob. This is also about Peter’s nephew. I’m crawling across that finish line if I have to (hopefully with a better time than Hawaii).
“No way, Pete. We’re running across the finish line together.”