The Death of a Dream and a New Beginning

1983 TshirtI have had this dream to run the Marine Corps Marathon this year, 30 years after I finished it in 1983.

Today that dream died.

It is something that I have wanted to do and worked towards, since I put together my initial running Bucket List post back on December 4, 2011.



Over the last month I have tried every trick in the book, some outside of the book and nothing has helped to get my Achilles tendon issue to heal any faster. so that I can start my marathon training.

The Questions

During my physical therapy session today, I sat and talked honestly with my PT and even though she knows how much running in this race means to me, she did her job and asked the hard questions, so that she could make her recommendations to the doctor for my appointment on Monday:

She asked me to answer her honestly, when she asked the questions and I did.

Does your left foot area still hurt, when you walk in the door for therapy and give me the honest number?

  • Yes it does, usually around a 3-4, but after the last PT session a 5-6.

Have you run since the last PT session?

  • No, it was too uncomfortable.

Are you taking anything for pain management?

  • No

Do you have difficulty or pain walking up or down steps?

  • Yes

When you run on it, at the end of the run does it hurt more than at the start?

  • No, the pain and stiffness stay about the same, somewhere in the 2-4 range.

The other day when I saw you running on the treadmill, you were limping noticeably and were unable to properly toe-off while running. That is not your normal gait is it.

  • No, normally I run a lot more freely and easily.

Could you go out and finish a 10 mile today if you had to?

  • No

Do you think you are ready to start marathon training next Monday or even the week after? Knowing that you need to be able to run 30 miles a week and probably be able to run at least a 10-mile long run to start your marathon training.

Long pause, many thoughts of how I could answer this question and not lie to her or myself.

  • Then I quietly answered – no.

Big Disappointment

At that point, I just laid my head on the pillow, a tear or two rolled down my cheeks and I knew that my dreams of running the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon had died.

We were both quiet for a couple of minutes; she gave me time to compose myself.

Although I have been preparing myself for this decision, it was still tough as hell to finally admit it. I knew that deep down in my mind, that my Achilles tendon was not healing fast enough to allow me to train properly to run the Marine Corps Marathon in October.

When I finally acknowledged that I cannot train properly or run the Marine Corps Marathon – it felt so – final and hurt so bad. No one knows what running in this race really meant to me and how much I want it!

Yes I was pissed and frustrated with my body for betraying me and thought about saying screw it and just go for it – train for that marathon and damn the consequences.

My mind raced with all of the crazy things that we all do, when we finally realize that we have lost a dream we have had and worked so hard and long to attempt to achieve.

A Different Perspective

Then a sense of calm washed over me and I relaxed. I thought back to when I got this injury at the Miles for Mills 5K and how afterwards I said then that I would do it again and even with everything that has happened – I still would.

Travis Mils

I also thought about my wife and the health struggles she is going through and how every single day, that she gets out there and does some exercise, even when she sure as hell does not feel like it.

Looking at my not being able to run in the Marine Corps Marathon from those perspectives, it is not really a very big deal. Yes, it is a disappointment and this Achilles injury is a setback to my running, but it is not the end of the world!


I talked with my PT for a while about the decision and what her recommendations would be to the Doctor for my appointment on Monday.

We talked that in all likelihood; I will run and train hard again, just not right now – AS LONG AS I STAY SMART ABOUT MY RECOVERY!

We both believe that I will be running within a month or two, which is not that long a time in the overall scheme of things.

Best of all, she agrees that I should run, as much as pain allows, BUT NOT FOR MORE THAN 30:00 MINUTES. That way I can start to re-establish my mileage base, do some fun running, after a while some easy trail runs and work on any form issues that need to be corrected.

It gives me time to get ready to run, without putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on me, to do more than I should right now, which I know I would have if I had started training for the MCM.

Emotional Eating

Tonight I am going to give myself permission to eat emotionally and assuage my grief over the death of an important to me dream. This afternoon I had a big bowl of coffee ice cream and rainbow sprinkles

Icre Cream 7-3-13

and tonight I am going to have a Whoopie Pie from the Middle Road Bakery

Whoopie Pie 7-3-13

and probably even one of my Sam Adams lagers that I have stashed away in the back room.

Starting Over

Then tomorrow, I will get back to workinghard on my recovery plan that we put together and no running until Friday when I can do 20 minutes, if my leg is not hurting any more than a 3 on the pain scale.

When I got home, I did need to work off some frustration, so I mowed the lawn for an hour and half. Yes, my damn leg hurt after, but it gave me time to think and yes I know in my heart and my head that not running the Marine Corps Marathon this year is the best decision for me to make.

I will come back stronger and better prepared for my next running challenge, now I just have to figure out what that challenge will be.

It still sucks though!

I read this post about The 5th Tenet: Passion! from Mark Hadley’s – Maximum Performance Blog and today it really just fit.

Have you ever had a dream race that you planned to run and due to an injury could not?

Any ideas for a goal race in the New England area that I can use as a focus to train for in the late October, early November time frame?