Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Runner Keeps Going When Walking's Hard

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Runner Keeps Going When Walking's Hard

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, Times-Union staff writer

Addison Palmer looks like a distance runner. Tall with little body fat, he looks like the sort who can finish a marathon and then go for a leisurely jog, just for fun.

But the doubts come when he walks. Rising from a chair in Palmer Gallery on St. Simons Island, he walks slowly across the room with his knees never quite straightening and without any spring in his step. Runners don't walk that way unless they're Addison Palmer, who even as a 6-year-old ran other kids into the ground and sometimes just ran and ran and ran until his parents asked him to stop. His sister, Elise, who is 3 years older, pretty much did the same thing, once running away from a state champion as an astonished crowd watched.

There's a lot of difference in the young adult who was logging 65-mile weeks in training for the marathon in the 1996 Summer Olympics and the 31-year-old of today who runs all he can. For Palmer, all he can isn't much.

Until tomorrow that is. At noon tomorrow, Palmer will join thousands of other runners living a dream in the 106th Boston Marathon, the king of marathons. Running by special invitation, he'll cover 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston.

That distance is more than God intended a man to run without stopping. Around 20 miles of a race, all the body's fuel is gone and it starts tearing down muscle. They call it "the wall" and some, hitting it harder than others, just quit.

Palmer knows walls. He's hit plenty since the 1995 Marine Corps Marathon. The marathon was a qualifying race for the trials for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Palmer was on pace to easily make the qualifying time of 2:19:40.

"I was on a 2:18:00 pace. I knew I had it. I felt wonderful," he said. "The next corner is when things in my life changed."

About four miles from the finish, a runner bumped him and he went down hard on a knee. The knee immediately blew up like a balloon and Palmer limped on with his Olympics dream shot.

Surgery left the leg feeling like cement, but Palmer wishes an injured knee had been his only problem. Ever since he was a boy, Palmer, who blazed through 6.2 miles in 38:01 as a 9-year-old, has had problems. …

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