Monday, August 29, 2005

Continuation of previous post

While stumbling across the marathon ad, I was on administrative leave from work wondering if I was even going to have a job to go back to. I also went through the workbook "Experiencing God" which helped a lot. As I was reading the ad for this marathon I started thinking to myself that I was going to run it. Now first let me tell you the physical shape I was in at this time. HORRIBLE! My blood pressure was high. I had no aerobic fitness whatsoever.

I joined the Mountainside Fitness gym on Cooper and Warner which is about a mile from our house. I jumped on the treadmill and just started running. After about 1 minute of all out sprinting I was totally out of gas. I'm serious. I had nothing left. But I stuck with it. I had to start out just walking for awhile and riding the stationary bike. Then I graduated to running, or jogging slowly and my stamina started to build. I also started lifting weights.

During all of this time, the marathon was still on my mind. I was approaching 40 years old and I thought to myself that this was crazy to even consider. I started researching and reading about running on the internet. I found out about Runner's World magazine and quickly got a subscription. Then I read about training plans for these marathons. I decided I liked a program by Hal Higdon for beginning runners. Hal Higdon is in his 70's and still runs marathons today. To celebrate the year he turned 70, this man did something that amazes me to this day. He ran 7 marathons in 7 months and LIVED! The Lost Dutchman Marathon also had a half marathon. I used Hal's beginner half marathon training plan and trained with a buddy from my old church. We trained together and ran the half together. I finished in something like 2:19 if I recall. I was in the best shape of my life. Even better than when I was in my 20's.

The following year I trained for the full marathon. But I thought I was so cool and so good that I was going to use the intermediate plan instead of the beginner's plan. I figured the more miles I ran each week the better I would do. I was SO WRONG! I've told people that the biggest mistake you can make in starting a running program is to do too much too soon. I had read this from the experts but I chose not to take their advice. To make a long story short, I ended up hurting myself before the marathon even started. I used the Tucson Half Marathon as a tune-up and did well in that finishing in 2:11. But about a month before the Lost Dutchman Marathon I had a nagging pain in my lower right leg that hurt like hell. It was sort of deep in the leg between the shin and calf muscle. I finally broke down and went to the doctor and he said I had tendonitis. So I said fix it. HA! I wanted a shot of cortisone but he wouldn't do it. He said it could rupture the tendon and if I wanted that I would have to see an orthopedic Dr. I did not have time. The race was coming up. He prescribed prednisone and no running. I was a few weeks away from the marathon, injured, and was told to not run while it healed. I had completed the longest training run in the program at this point which was 20 miles. So I stopped running and used the elliptical machine at the gym in place of running to finish out the training.

By race day I had tapered off of the prednisone and the leg was feeling good. I was ready for this. My parents came up for the race and Patty and Shannon were there too as well as friends from church. Started off great but by mile 4 of the 26.2 mile distance, I felt something pop in my lower right leg. It was back. So I was sort of limping while running the remainder of the race. By about mile 18 I was in so much pain I was ready to quit. But the Lord sent an angel my way. While I was contemplating calling it a day, I heard this "thump, thump, thump" behind me. This man, no, this BIG man ran by me. The thumping sound I was hearing was his artificial leg. His leg had been amputated at the knee. He stopped a ways ahead of me, took his leg off to wipe the blood off of his stump, put it back on and continued. This motivated me enough to keep on going.

I finished the marathon. My wonderful mother ran almost the last mile with me. It was one of the most emotional moments in my life. I belong to the forum online at Runner's World and found out about this man that ran past me. He is attempting to run a marathon in all 50 states was 2/3 of the way there already. They had to give him a 2 hour head start so he could finish before they took everything down.

I learned a lot that day. I did too much too soon. John Bingham has a famous quote that I love to use. "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start". I will be 44 years old in September and since I started running in 2000, I have finished 4 half marathons and 2 full marathons. I don't take myself too seriously about it anymore. I just have fun. I had the wonderful priveledge of running the Tucson Half marathon with my wife Patty a year and a half ago in her very first distance race. We ran across the finish line holding hands. We also did the R&R Half last January in Phoenix. We will do it again this January with a group from the Vineyard. I will also run the full marathon again in February using Jeff Galloway's run/walk method.

I have found that running has become a habit for me. But this is a healthy habit. I enjoy the serenity it brings me and when I am out for one of my longer runs, I find myself talking to God. It is my prayer time. Happy running folks. I hope you enjoyed my story. Godspeed to you all. Peace out!


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