Life’s Ups and Downs


I’m not going to sugar coat things here – it’s been a tough week, ranking right up there with this.

On Easter Sunday, I found out that my uncle Frank had passed away.  His sudden passing came completely unexpected and left my family and I in shock.  I called my boss and requested to take the week off.  It was a sad, difficult and trying time, much of it spent in a lawyer’s office and a funeral home.  Not the ideal way to spend vacation time – Disney World it was not.

And in the will, I was left with significant responsibilities.  On the one hand, I am proud that my uncle thought highly enough of me to entrust me with the enormous duties of trustee.  On the other hand, I am a bit overwhelmed.  I’ve inherited a full-time job.

With this new responsibility, something had to give.  I’m spinning a lot of plates at the moment.  I wasn’t sure what to do but I knew I had to give up something.  I can’t quit my job – I have to eat and pay my mortgage.  Should I quit running?  I think we all know that’s not happening.  After much deliberation, I decided, regretfully, to resign from the board of the Charlotte Running Club.  As much as I hated to do it, I knew I wouldn’t be able to devote the time and effort needed, not now that I have new obligations to perform for my family.  So I wrote the board and told them I needed to step down.

All the while, I continued to run.  Running for me, as I’m sure it is for many of you, is a respite from the stresses of life.  It’s meditation, it’s therapy.  Wednesday, I was scheduled to do mile repeats.  As I started on my warm-up, my left achilles tendon hurt.  I soldiered on, thinking, hoping, it was just one of those little pains that we runners are so accustomed to – one that suddenly flares up and just as suddenly goes away.  But as I began my first mile repeat, the pain did not go away.  I slowed and yet the pain remained.  Once I realized the pain wasn’t going to dissipate any time soon,  I called it a day and slogged home and started the ol’ ice and ibuprofen routine.  I took Thursday off.


By Friday afternoon, I was pain free so I ran a nice, normal 8-miler.  My spirits were lifted a little as I looked forward to Saturday’s Skyline 5k at CPCC.

When I awakened Saturday morning and stepped out of bed, the achilles pain was back.  Insert curse words here.  I felt like I couldn’t back out now as I had hastily thrown together a last-minute team of masters ( runners over 40) and creatively dubbed it the CRC Mixed Masters Team.  (I had wanted to join the team Fast and Pretty, until I realized it was a women’s team and I met none of the criteria.)   I had to be there for the team.

I drove to CPCC and started warming up, hoping all the while the achilles pain would leave, but it persisted.  I made the rounds, talking to various running friends, and then I began my warm-up.  And still the pain was there.  I spotted Dean and we warmed up together.  After about 2 miles of jogging, while still sore, the pain seemed minimal.  I felt like I’d be okay to race.

We lined up at the start.  So many of my running pals were there.  I asked Danielle what her plan for today’s race was and she said, “Just break 19.” Ah, same goal – I decided to try and run with Danielle.  Stan asked me how fast I planned to run the first mile and I said, “Hopefully about 6:00” then I rethought it, remembering the big hill at the beginning, so I changed it to, “Well, actually probably more like 6:15”.

Tim Rhodes handed a mic to Fox News Rising’s Anna Kooiman (who I found to be more attractive in person than on TV.  Anna, if you’re reading this, call me.)  Anna called out, “On your mark, get set, go!”, before handing the mike back to Tim and then jumping in the race with us.

As usual, I took off.  After maybe a quarter mile or so, I glanced back and noticed that Alice Rogers (one of Charlotte’s top runners and a solid sub-18:00 5k performer) was behind me.  I came to my senses and backed off.  Alice blew past as did Danielle moments later.  I locked on to Danielle and went with her.  I was happy that I felt no pain – apparently the adrenaline was drowning out any achilles problems.

We cruised up the tough hill on Kings and I felt comfortable.  I forced myself to throttle back.  Just a stride or 2 behind Danielle, I was reminded of Thunder Road when I ran behind her and Kevin for a few miles before they eventually gapped me.

We came through the first mile in 6:14.  With the one major hill behind me, I started trying to pick up the pace but so did everyone around me.  Danielle pulled away as Stan strongly surged past me.  I tried to lock on to Stan, and was successful for a bit as he slowed down slightly after the initial surge.  But after maybe a quarter of a mile or so, I felt like I wouldn’t be able to maintain this pace so I backed off.

Things were mostly uneventful from there.  With Stan and Danielle now out of striking distance, I just kind of settled into cruise control.  I came through the second mile in 6:09.  When we hit Elizabeth Avenue, I worked with gravity and let the long downhill stretch pull me along.  I passed a few folks, and sprinted it out with some guy at the end which was a waste of energy as the results revealed that he beat me by 2 seconds on chip time.  But some people at the end cheered my name loudly as I kicked so that was kinda cool.  I forgot to stop my watch for a few seconds and when I did it read 19:13.  I guessed I ran about 19:10 so that’s what I told everybody when they asked, but the official results claim I ran a 19:05.  Our team won the mixed team division.

I cooled down with Dean, Todd (yes, the PMT 3 Amigos were all there for 2 races in a row!  What is this, 2009?), Anthony Monaghan, and Jamaar (who didn’t run the race) and the stupid achilles started throbbing – highly annoying.  Afterward,  Todd handed out fliers for his church’s 5K while Dean and I sat and chatted during the awards ceremony, with me icing my problematic tendon the entire time.


With Saturday night came the Charlotte Running Club social at the French Quarter (a bar in Charlotte, not the area in New Orleans).  It was nice to relax a little, drink a couple of beers, and chat with many of my buddies.  The high point of the week came when Adam Mayes told me there might be a slot available on his Hood to Coast team.  I’ve been trying to get in that race and am very excited about the possibility!  Much fun was had by all – here are some pics I stole from Facebook (all from Caitlin) – these are some of the few that I could find that hopefully won’t overly embarrass anyone or jeopardize their jobs:

Aaron and Caitlin, 2 of the 3 founding members of the Charlotte Running Club

Some of my best buddies in the club, Lo and Tom Patania, a girl I don't know, and Scott "my man Amsterdam" Helms

4 of the most social club members at the social: Rebecca, Larry, Jay, and Caitlin

2 phenomenal runners, Meagan and Caitlin, that held hands yesterday while winning a race together - I had to find a way to mention that in this post somewhere.

More socialites, Rebecca, Caitlin, and last but not least, Jen, whom I met in person when Ben yelled my name randomly to passing strangers.

Ben holding an imaginary sign which I can only assume reads "This is Allen Strickland" with an arrow pointing to me.


I left the party pretty early, 11ish, so I could get home at a decent hour.  After all, on Sunday morning, several of “the fast kids” would be running their long run on the Davidson trails, in my neck of the woods.  I wanted to try and get some sleep so I’d be fresh and have a shot at keeping up with them in the morning.

Waking up Sunday morning, the achilles was worse than ever.  I limped while getting ready.  But I made my way to Davidson and met the gang.

We all took off into the trails.  I struggled to keep up even while my Garmin told me that we weren’t going nearly as fast as the pace felt.  The achilles screamed with each step.  At about 2.5 miles I turned to Sarah and said, “I’m sorry.  I’ve got to head in.  My achilles is killing me.”  I turned and slogged back, each step on my left foot painful.

So here I sit after a week of ups and downs.  I have my left foot resting on a bag ice.  Time to recover and regroup.  I hope I can heal up enough to chase the Gypsy Kid in a 5k next Saturday.

2 Responses to “Life’s Ups and Downs”

  1. kati robertson Says:

    that second photo is mine. how dare you give credit to caitlin?

    i kid!

    i’m sorry to hear about your uncle. speaking from experience, losing a loved one is pure misery. and handling the “business side” of things is a nightmare of an entirely different variety.

    also sorry about your achilles. think you caught it from jordan? 😉

    but congrats on the ups!! it was good to see you last night!

  2. Todd Says:

    Allen-I’m sorry to hear about your uncle. Hang in there. Things will get better.

    And don’t forget I owe you that beer. Todd

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