Running through adversity

I’ve always wanted to see Cambodia and its temples of Angkor Wat, the lost civilization that was rediscovered in the jungle. So, when my wife and I heard there was an Angkor Wat half-marathon, we rushed to sign up. Not only would we see the wonderful old temples, we would get to run around them. And it was for a good cause – artificial limbs for landmine survivors.

But then, two weeks before the race, I pulled a calf muscle on a run and could barely limp home. So, should we cancel the trip and do it next year, or persist and see if I could finish the run, even walking? No brainer. Persist!

Doctors say that runners make terrible patients. They should really call us “impatients,” because we’re so impatient we won’t stop running long enough to heal. And that same impatience also makes us go out too fast at the beginning of a race. I’d done it before with a minor calf injury – didn’t let it heal and went out too fast at the start of the next race – and the minor injury turned into a major one when searing pain brought me to a crashing halt halfway to the finish line.

This time I needed to squelch the desire to run a fast time. But how? The answer was sitting on the table in front of me. My camera! Maybe carrying a camera might shift my mindset from fast-run-mode to photo-mode. So, I tried it on race day and it worked. I kept stopping to take photos, which gave my calf a break, and focusing on the people and scenery took my mind off the pain.

I talked to the local people lining the road and high-fived the kids. My male ego didn’t even get pissed off that other runners were passing me, because now I viewed them as photo subjects rather than competitors. As I hobbled over the finish line, it was one of my slowest times, but I didn’t even care because I had such a great time. And I have some good photos that would not have happened without the injury.

Adversity really sucks, but not being able to do one thing often pushes us to problem solve and try something else that results in a different kind of success. As the great Dale Carnegie once said, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

(Click here to see a few photos of the run, people and temples.)

  • David – SKORA

    What a great adventure Richard! A testament to persistence. Great photos too! Cheers and happy running. David @skoraRunning