When Pain is Your Running Partner

Posted on 08. Dec, 2009 by in Uncategorized

Photo Credit: Peggy Truong

Photo Credit: Peggy Truong

By Peggy Truong
At home in Vancouver, British Columbia, Mark Wallace wasn’t able to walk without limping or grinding his teeth. But he was determined to run the New York City Marathon on Sunday. It’s one of the items on his to-do list, along with skydiving in Switzerland, running with the bulls in Spain and traveling to every continent.

“I just don’t want to do any permanent damage. Sometimes it’s better to run than not to run,” said Wallace, 24, less than one week before the race. He doesn’t need to be reminded that injuries are part of the sport. Wallace has been through so many injuries that the pain has become second nature to him. For the past nine months, he trained for the 26-mile race with shin splints and a bad right knee.

In a phone interview from his office at Deloitte in downtown Vancouver, Wallace said his training schedule changed with recommendation from his physiotherapist. “I’m a little anxious having this injury going into the race,” said Wallace, who shortened his trials by half to 8km per run. “The question is how the 8km will translate into 44km on Sunday,” said Wallace.

Growing up in Vancouver, Wallace was notorious for playing sports with injuries. “During our playoffs, he wrapped up his ankle, strapped into his sneakers and played the entire series with a bad ankle,” said Godfrey Tsao, who has been friends with Wallace since their days at Argyle Secondary School. He said Wallace has always had a high level of endurance.

Tsao would see his friend shooting hoops, playing hockey in front of his garage or jumping on the trampoline in his backyard. “He was a bit crazy sometimes at all sports or outdoor activities,” said Tsao, 25, an actor in Taiwan.

Wallace was previously registered in the San Francisco Marathon earlier this year but never made the trip due to a late training schedule. His girlfriend, Jamie McCulloch, said the biggest difference has been his attitude.

“He changed his diet, looked for running advice on the Internet and started buying running magazines,” said McCulloch, 25, who waited near the finish line in Central Park on Sunday. “I realized then that he was really going to go through with this.”

Photo Credit: Peggy Truong

Photo Credit: Peggy Truong

Days before arriving in New York City, Wallace played the race in his head, mile by mile. “Eighteen-mile mark, I’m going to hold my breath. I just want to finish. Twenty-mile mark, I’d be happy to walk the rest of the way,” said Wallace.

He didn’t walk the New York City Marathon on Sunday. He crossed the finish line under four hours, beating his personal record by 32 seconds.

“The pain was just a normal feeling to me,” he said. “There was pain in my shins, but I really didn’t notice it too much.” His knee was another story during the race. Wallace ran the last three miles with enough pain to extend his recovery time, which was originally estimated to be twelve weeks.

“It was worth it though,” he said.

With the race now under his belt, Wallace is looking forward to something he’s held off for too long: pizza. “It’s one of my favorite foods and I’ve been missing that for months.”

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