My son came in late Tuesday night after wrestling practice literally crawling into the kitchen from the garage with a huge look of disbelief, disappointment, and pain. His spirit was crushed as he told me about his knee popping out during practice, and now he could not even walk. How was he ever going to run a half marathon in 82 hours. The same injury occurred last summer during wrestling camp and it took three weeks before he could do a slow jog. He sat on the kitchen floor thinking about all the hard work he had put into this race for it all to be taken away. He was so ready physically and mentally for the challenge, as the weekend approached with grand dreams of accomplishing his goal of running his first half with Dad. I paused for a minute, gathered my thoughts, and thought about what my brother would have said to me if I was in this situation. Ok Josh, we have time and we will get your knee back to run this half. Lots of ice, knee brace, massage, and prayer! We can, and we will do this! We have come too far for this to derail us at the last minute. We will overcome this also. I saw a glimmer of hope in his expression as I helped him hobble to the couch to start the healing. His friends gave him no chance of making it to the starting line, but we were determined to hold our course till the last minute.
Friday afternoon during race packet pickup, Josh was still hobbling around in pain. Laura looked at me with a dose of reality, as we both knew the odds of him running in the morning were very slim. I told Josh we will see how things are in the morning before we make any final decisions with the run. Laura saw a KT-Tape display at the Disney Exhibit with a guy getting his IT-Band tapped. Laura had that look of “We have tried everything else, what can some tape hurt”! We talked to the guy about Josh’s problem, and although he was not real optimistic after looking at his knee, and the bad limp, he said to give it a try. He also said the knee brace was not helping and possible making things worse. We got back to the resort and watched the online video on how to tape an injured knee for max support. We applied the tape and Josh already noticed a difference while doing some light walking.
That night I slept for maybe 2 hours because I was worried about my son. I kept running through my head how was he going to run 13.1 miles if he had a hard time walking from the car to the room.
The alarm went off at 3AM to give us enough time to catch the shuttle to Epcot and be in our starting corral by 5AM. The back of his bad knee was tight and slightly painful because he had put stress on it from limping around the past few days. I had him do some stretches, messaged the area around the knee, and attempt for the first time since the injury to slow jog down the corridor. This would be the moment of truth if he was going to participate. After a few trips back and forth, his knee and tendons were starting to feel better. I had him do some more light stretching, messaged the area again, and did some more easy jogging down the corridor again. Josh said it was starting to feel really good, no pain, and wasn’t nearly as tight as it has been. He said “Dad, I want to do this and see how far I can go. I may not finish, but at least I didn’t quiet before making it to the starting line.” I told him my only concern was doing more damage, and there would always be another half to run. He was strong with his conviction and assured me he would stop if it got painful.
The race started with firework and lots of energy in the air. I told Josh lets go slow and easy with some walking and stretching breaks to preserve the knee as long as we could. We would run half a mile slowly with lots of walking and stretching breaks. After a few miles of this his knee was feeling really good and felt like running further. I kept his thoughts positive by focusing on all the funny and strange costumes other runners were wearing. It was still dark when the first pee break hit. I told Josh don’t bother with the Porto-pottie for the lines are way too long. There were plenty of trees and bushes on the side that needed watering (Ultra style).
As each mile passed, I could see Josh’s confidence increase with hopes of possible finishing his first half. As we made our way through Magic Kingdom, I told Josh we are half way and still looking strong. He wanted to push it a little harder, but I told him today was all about getting you to the finish line - this had nothing to do with time.
After about 8 miles into the race, I could tell he was blocking out some of the pain and stiffness of his legs because of changing his stride which put a lot of stress on other ligaments and joints. Nonetheless, his knee was feeling great and his spirits were high knowing he had gone further than he ever imagined he would when he woke up this morning. We stopped some more and stretched to keep him intact to make it to the finish.
|What was he thinking!|
|Not enough money to wear this!|
We also had a lot of entertainment from reading other runner’s shirts to keep his mind occupied. Then we came up on a marine with an artificial left leg who was really struggling, as his two fellow team members ran beside him giving him encouragement. Josh looked at me and said “if he can do this, who am I to be complaining about my issues.” As we got closer, I would give Josh some visual perspective of how close we are to the finish line. “All you have to do is run to the end of the street, and back to the house.”
As we rolled into Epcot for the final stretch, Josh had a huge smile on his face and said “Dad, we are really doing this, I can’t believe I made it.” I told him his faith was strong, he believed he could do this, and I was very proud of him for not giving up, even when all other have. He said he wanted us to do the airplane thing across the finish line. I told him to take the lead, and this time we were staying together. We glided across the finish line as the announcer said how much he loves the airplane finish. We got the half finishers medal placed around our necks as we made our way into the greeting area to find Laura.
Again, I told Josh how proud of him I was not for just finishing, but having faith in yourself and battling through this injury. Most would have never attempted such a battle, and yet he was determined to not give up until he no longer made forward progress. There are a few moments during your life when absolute pride overwhelms you because of your children, and this was one of them. Not so much because of running a half, but for having such strong faith and conviction at such an early age - Never give up.
Of all my races, this was one of the most memorable because of my son.
It was a fantastic weekend for the Bussiere family not just because of the race, but because my daughter Renee was competing in the National Cheerleading Competition and her team brought home two 1st place national titles for cheerleading and hip-hop dance.
|Hip-Hop to MJ's Thriller|
For me, well it was a great way to start a training week by running the Goofy race (half on Sat and whole on Sunday – again). Although my overall time was way slower compared to previous time running this race, but not bad considering the only training for the past 2 and a half months was getting Josh ready for the half. It was down time and recovery for me. After the race, we hit Universal Studios for 7 hours of fun, good food, and ice cream.
Some of my favorite things I heard that made me laugh (inside) during the full marathon were:
- · OMG – There pissing in the bushes.
- · Keep driving and pushing up this hill – You can do this. Walk if you must. (It was an overpass – No hills in Orlando, FL).
- · This Half was so hard; I can’t imagine going one more mile.
- · Runner’s conversation over the details of a specific marketing software (boring) and the listener who wanted her to be quiet. She never made it out of the office during the race. I sprinted ahead when I could stand no more.
Good news on Josh’s knee – Doc looked it over and signed him up for 4 weeks of physical therapy. No major damage, and the running didn’t hurt it (my concern). It was the side to side motion of wrestling that would have caused further damage if not treated. He is already planning his next race, and plans to start training after a full recovery. As for KT-Tape, this stuff really works. I’m a believer after seeing it work miracles.