Tag Archives: injury

When Running Away is the Bravest Thing To Do

I was at NXN – the Nike Cross Country National Championships – with my team.
It was the night before the race.
I saw Joan Benoit Samuelson coming down the stairs.
I thought “I need to make my move. Screw all these kids. They can get in line behind me.”
I broke into a jog.
I’m a firm believer in thanking the people who inspired me. And, shaking their hand.
“Hi, I’m Chris Bennett. I made a video of you.”
My slow run combined with the weird video comment may have set off some internal alarm bells with JBS.
I thought, “at best I’m creepy and at worst I can expect a restraining order delivered to me before the race tomorrow.”
Luckily, JBS is used to people coming up to her and saying or trying to say thank you.
Unfazed, shook my hand and asked my name again
(Probably for the detective she would be talking to later I thought)
“You made The First Gold, right?”
She’d seen the video I made!
(I made videos on YouTube for my HS athletes hoping they would become fans of the sport.)
“Yes. That one! It’s about your ’84 Olympics…Gold Medal…the Marathon…in LA.”
Speaking coherently was becoming a problem.
“Thank you for making that.”
I was losing consciousness but I knew I had something to do before I did.
One of my heroes just said “thank you” to me.
But I was the one who was supposed to say thank you!
OK, rewind…Joan Benoit Samuelson was my first running hero.
And it wasn’t because she did anything superhuman.
I’m not that inspired by the idea of “superhuman”.
I’m inspired by super humans.
JBS was my hero because she took the lead 4 miles into that ’84 Olympic Marathon.
And no one went with her. 22 miles running alone.
That had to be terrifying.
And at 7 years old there’s a lot about the world that can be terrifying.
But she ran brave.
Watching her race made me realize that it’s the scary stuff that gives us a chance to be brave.
Fast forward…
I stayed conscious and I said what I needed to.
Thank You.
I was speaking for the runner and coach I had become and for that 7 year old boy I was.
She walked away.
I walked back to my team.
They had a race to run tomorrow and were probably nervous.
And I wanted to tell them a story about running brave.


Half is Greater Than the Whole

It was definitely not my longest. Not even close to my fastest. I didn’t hear any cheering or have any great epiphanies. I remember being scared. But I was excited too. Scared it was going to hurt. Excited that it might not.

It was my most important run.

February 4th. 1993. I was a junior in HS. It was a 1/2 mile run from my front door. That’s it. My most important run was only 800 meters long.

5 months earlier I had started my XC season with the fastest time by a NJ runner at the opening meet & that was soon followed by an invitation to the 5th Avenue Mile in NYC. I thought I may actually be a runner.

Then my foot started to hurt. Then it hurt worse. Taping it alone, icing it alone, screaming at it alone, throwing things around my room alone – it only hurt more. September would be lost.

October. Misdiagnosed – again & again. Told to take a few days off. Told to run on it again. Told it would get better. It didn’t.

November. I got mono. I got over the mono. My foot still hurt.

December. The bone scan said 4 cracks in the foot. Well, that explained the pain. And it would explain the knee high plaster cast I was put in.

It had been 5 months of knowing that every time I put my right foot on the ground it would hurt. It got to the point where I would flinch BEFORE I put my foot down. I anticipated the pain. Every. Other. Step.

The cast came off in late January.

I put on the shoes again – the shorts & the team jacket. I even put the team winter hat on. I didn’t need to. But I did it anyway. I wanted to feel like I was on the team. I wanted to feel like I had a purpose again.

Would it hurt?

I knew that I was going to start & finish this run at the same place. I knew I wouldn’t be gone long. I also knew I wouldn’t be the same when I got back.

I took a deep breath.

I know it now. I’m a runner.
You took it away. I want it back. Please. Give me this. Please.

I started down my front lawn.

It was the only run my Mom ever took a picture of. I didn’t even know it existed until she showed it to me after graduation 15 months later. Hundreds & hundreds of miles later. Miles without a flinch. State Championship miles. All American miles. So many miles.

None of them as special as this mile though.

And it was only half of one.