Running The Rock

In 1990 I finished the White Rock Marathon. And it almost finished me.

This year, I get my revenge:

Back then I was a 26-year-old flatbelly, just a couple years removed from competitive cross country and a full-speed dork who would precede Saturday morning flag football at The Village Country Club with a Friday night of partying at Starck Club. Running 26.2 miles? No biggie.

Or so I thought.

I trained by myself, running the streets of Duncanville with my ridiculously bulky Walkman blaring Guns 'n Roses' Appetite for Destruction and - can't believe I'm admitting this one - Wilson Phillips. At the time I was also in my second year covering the Dallas Cowboys for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Made for an interesting mix.

After a failed first attempt in 1986 - still in euphoria from graduating college the night before, I quit after 13 miles - I was determined to Run The Rock.

Leading up to Marathon Day I had never run more than 18 miles. On Thanksgiving the week before I totally pigged out on dressing and bread and giblet gravy. And the night before? I didn't go out drinking, but I did go out. Cheddar's in DeSoto - with the giant ceiling fans - if I remember correctly.

The morning of Dec. 2, 1990 was warm and comfortable. I was fine around the lake but then, at around 20 miles, the weather and the wall hit me. Hard. The temperature dropped from the 60s into the 40s and a mist matured into a 1/4-inch of rain. My feet grew numb. My nipples - irritated by hours of friction with my T-shirt - began bleeding. My mind raced, but my body didn't. I was a mess.

I crossed the finish line in 4 hours, 29 minutes, in agony and in triumph.

It was just the beginning.

After the race I drove home, ate about three lunches and then went to Texas Stadium to cover Cowboys-Saints. I felt okay. But as the game ended and the media headed for the elevators down to the field and locker room, I was confronted by a small problem.

I couldn't walk.

Not only that, I couldn't get up out of my chair. Hours of sitting after hours of running and my legs were locked, useless. After being helped to my car and somehow driving home, I spent the next 24 hours in a soaking hot bath tub.

Now 19 years older wiser, I'm back to slash 30 minutues off The Rock. The goal: Breaking 4 hours without breaking my legs.

This time I'm going to do it right. I'm already outfitted in some spiffy new shoes by New Balance and next week I'll visit the Mavs' team doctor for a pre-torture checkup and then an appointment with a nutritionist at the Cooper Clinic. Oh, I even got some nipple-friendly gel at RunOn!

In this year of ridiculous extremes, I'm book-ending not eating for 10 days with running for nine months. Consider this the first of periodic "Running The Rock" updates.

I ran jogged 2 miles Sunday. My Achilles immediately alerted me that this will not be easy.

To be continued ...

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