Friday, September 19, 2014

Satan Starts Me Out On All My Runs

That probably sound pretty strange but I feel it is true. Just about every run i begin wondering what in the world I'm doing? Knees ache, Achilles startes to hurt, I can't breathe and everything else that generates doubt in my mind.

This last weekend was no different. Let me bring you up to speed a little first. My first marathon was this January down at Disney in Florida. 25,000 runners, 19,235 finishers. I finished 14,076 place, pretty much in the middle of the pack. After finishing it I decided I wasn't going to stop at just one. I set a lofty goal for an overweight, bald old man of 48 years old with bad knees.......I decided to do six marathons in my first year. Yeah I know.....I need a tight white jacket. That's what my family said.

My time isn't great. I'm not really built for running but I need to do it to fight off the diabeties. Agreesive exercise is what helps keep it under control. Keeps my weight down, gives me some ridiculous goals and of course that feeds my competitive appetite. Hey, I get to travel a little too.

So I set off planning my goals and my races. Marathons aren't easy to find locally so I need to travel a little. I look at my schedule and places I want to certain times of the year. I also set up all my 5K, 8K, 10K and half marathons along the way. A few are favorites.

My second marathon was right in my backyard in Virginia Beach, the Shamrock Marathon in March. Great run, I did better. Lots of blisters on my toes and feet. 2793 runners.....yep, a lot smaller. I finished in 2550 place. Do the math, 243 from last place. I guess that is par for the course.

My third was a self inflected wound by creating my own sort of marathon. In June our wedding anniversary was approaching.......our 26.2 anniversary. Yes, you read that right. I decided to show my love to my wife and run around our neighborhood 42 times. Boring maybe. Persistent, most certainly. My neighbors cheered me on as I continued each loop. Only one runner!

Long gap occurred between number 3 and 4. Didn't feel like I had properly prepared. Never take a marathon for granted.....EVER! Number four was in New York in early October. The Wineglass Marathon was in Corning NY. A beautiful place and the fall leaves were just beginning to change. Yep it was tough. Yep the runner field was smaller. 1,962 runners and I was 1,869. 93rd from last place. This isn't getting any better.

So a few month before this I had planned on going to Allentown PA to run my fifth marathon. I didn't sign up right away because I wanted to make sure I could complete this crazy thing I started. Well I goofed up and didn't sign up in time. So I had to find another one. I couldn't believe how stupid I was. A searched all over and most were too far away or not the right timing.

There was one in Jacksonville Florida.......on the 28th of December. That wouldn't work. I didn't want to go down there during the holidays. The other one......near my kids in Colorado. Grand Junction Colorado. So if any of you know your geography, you understand what I faced. This was the Rim Rock Marathon that took place through Monument National Park.......elevation starting at 4800 feet. Yep....go ahead and get me that white jacket now.

Not just a high altitude but a climb of 2200 feet during the first half of the run......with a descent of 2500 feet to the finish line. Pretty ridiculous. Oh yeah, let's through in that the run takes place on November 1st. Average temperature: 50; Record high: 72; Record low: -2........yeah, that's what I was thinking.

I can do it......I signed up. I bought the plane tickets. I was more than one way!

So why does Satan start off my runs? Well I go to bed the night before with a gazzillion worries and doubts in my mind. I don't really sleep well the night before. I keep waking up for fear I will over sleep. Waking up at 5AM to dress and get ready. That in itself is crazy.

6AM: I go over to the start line which is only five minutes from the motel. That part is great. Standing around in line while race officials search with a flashlight to find my bib number in a box. The guy behind me talking about how last year he ran the marathon in the morning and then went skiing for three hours afterwards......butthead! This is over my head. 

6:15AM: I get my bib on and am so glad the temperature is warm. It's around 55 in the morning. Chilly with the wind so I wear my new running jacket. I poop for the third time. Sorry.....TMI. Nerves and making sure I don't have any problems on the run. I saw a banner once saying that 1 out of every 10 marathon runners poop their pants......WHAT!? Any way, that ain't gonna happen here.

6:30AM: I kiss my wife good bye and board the buses to the start line. It still dark. She tells me to have a FUN RUN. It's a tradition of ours. A neighbor one time told me as I began to have a "fun run", it stuck. Especially when we feel less than motivated.

7:15 AM: We arrive at the site, still dark. Out in the middle of no where. Are we sure their not going to kill us? I sit around waiting, stretching, trying to relax. Not easy. I'm out of my element. All these people look fast. Skinny and fast. The guy from before that was behind me in line talks too loud. He is getting on my nerves. I here him talk about running an ultra in the past. REALLY!? Oh, I guess I would talk about it too if I was able to accomplish those goals. I guess that's why I am doing this thing anyway.....TO BRAG.

8:15 AM: Start time is here. I go to the back of the pack. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. I looked up the number of runners..........106. Yes......I will be last. The sun is up. The mountain range is in view. I know the challenges that lie before.......Satan giving me some doubt. Yep, hard to breathe, Achilles hurts, knees creak a little. Go away Satan, get thee behind me.......cause no body else is back there!

8:40 AM: I hit the hills and on mile two. What the heck was I thinking!? This is a mountain.....not a hill! And it hurts. Why did I sign up......I can't do this. Satan get behind me.

9:20 AM: I pass the first check point. Mile post 4.6 +\- I needed to be here before 90 minutes. I'm good. I'm also at the top of the steepest climb.....or so I think. First water break. Cheerful volunteers encorage me on. It is so beautiful out here. Only 22 miles more.......WHAT!? I keep running.

10:chyfx246 AM: I have no clue! Near mile post 7 I stop to pee. Porta potty has an adult diaper on the floor. ITS TRUE! I get out and run faster. Run between giant split in rock formation. Amazing! Lo do I walk through the shadow of the valley of that how it goes? Can't think. Runner walking back to post, she is quitting. Satan get behind me!

Mile 13.1: Some where just past three hours. Yes it's a poor time but exhilaration is it is downhill.....for the most part. Half way done doesn't exude exhilaration because it is still a long way and I have another check point at 19.5 by a five hour cut off time. Six and a half miles away.....90 minutes.....I think......I try to do the math......brain isn't really working that well......cannot do math. I think it will be close. Satan get behind me!

Mile 15: I look down the cliff below me and think that it would be fine to climb down and rest for a while. No! I look back and can see the safety truck. It's about a mile back and closing in. I'm not last but I'm sure close to it. Hey what if I don't make the cut off point? That would stink. Hey, I wonder if there were any westerns filmed out here. Or any bank robbers hide outs.....I need to Google that when I get back to civilization. Whooooo, a big wind from behind pushing me along. Hold on God.....don't push so hard. I'm going, I'm going! Satan get behind me.....God is with me!

Mile 17: Truck is closing in. I see bike riders pass by......can I catch a ride? No that's cheating! I'm not going to make the cut off. I make up a poem......I forgot it already, four and a half hours and I'm delusional. Here is a car......can I pay them to take me up the road a mile? I don't have money.......just lots of's about 70 degrees. Is that a record high? Who cares? Keep running. Am I going to make the cut off? I'm tired. Satan get behind me! Where is that friendly wind? It tries to push me off the cliff. Satan is catching up if he is pushing now!

Mile 19.5: I think I see the ranger station. Is that the milepost? I cannot remember what the race official said. I think so. There's another hill! Who made up this run? Crazy! Yeah......who is that ahead? I see my wife running towards me. I see my son and daughter-in-law. Familiar's the best thing ever. They tell me all down hill......steep downhill. I see the little building about a hundred miles below......surely that cannot be the finish line? Just run.....not going to stop. Pinky toe hurts.....keep running.

Mile 21, 22: I meet Noelle, she caught up with me. We chat....between gasps for breath. Her first fifth. We try an encourage each other. Not going to stop. I'm going to make this. God is carrying me the rest of the way. I'm tired. Walk run, walk run.

Mile 24......Mile 25......push......push......I pass an old guy......that's not motivational. His first marathon too. Run walk run walk. Pinky really hurts. If thy pinky toe offends thee......pluck it off.....okay that is a bit much. Easier to run than walk. Last water stop.....mouth is dry. Running on to be near.

No more mile markers.....Runkeeper battery music. I'm on my own......NO....GOD is with me. I must be at 26. I see the turn off up ahead......I must be close. The volunteer is sitting on the grounds....he gets up. I know I'm keeping him waiting around. He points me through the trail and says its 600 meters.......yeah......wait how far is that?

Next volunteer cheering me on.....says its about a quarter mile.......Yes! I see my wife running towards cowgirl boots.....right now she might be faster. Where is the finish? Just around the corner.......yes......I sprint to the line. I hear my name and city over the speaker. I made it!

I finished my most difficult run. In the most difficult venue. Not my best time but.....I knew......I knew I can do all things through Christ that strengthen me. I finished! Satan might have started out but God finished the race. 

Eugene Thompson
ET This I Believe

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Dinosaur PJs

I woke up about 3:30AM squished in our normally very sufficient queen sized bed. Nearly falling out of one side of the bed I realized that the occupants consisted of myself, the dog, my wife and 9 month that order. By far the ones taking up the majority of the space was both the dog and the baby stretched out comfortably while my wife and I slept on our sides to conserve space.

Truthfully grandma and grandpa couldn't be any more happy to have our grandson say the night. After some kicking the dog out and putting the baby in between us......there was a bit more room. Certainly a queen size bed isn't ample enough to share with guests. Unable to fall back asleep I began to here I am writing.

Glancing over tucked under the covers between his grandma and grandpa, the sweet little shadowy face sleeps away soundly in his dinosaur pajamas. We just bought those things a month ago and he is bursting out of the feet! It is amazing how quickly they grow. I had seen him in almost two weeks and he seemed huge. Becoming less of a baby every day and more of a little boy.

Last night when I got in from work, grandma and Slater were in the front window watching me come up the walk to the front door. A hearty welcome home from both The baby and dog......the dog always greets us with an abundance of joy. Grandpa joined Slater on the sofa while grandma fetched us some dinner at the store. We ate goldfish crackers, read books and made silly noises to keep us occupied.......grandpa makes really funny noises that makes us laugh. That sweet smile melts our hearts every time.

Grandpa returned with food in hand and new toys.....of course. Chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans......and think grandma was buying dinner for Slater not grandpa! Dinner was a big hit.....from ear to ear. Afterwards Slater played with his new musical toys and nearly walked back and forth between pieces of furniture. He is going to be walking any day now........however the scuttle crawl is in high gear. He moves fast all over the house.

Struggling to stay awake it is time for bath splash where grandma gets equally wet. Still fighting sleep.....too early anyway. Slater sneaks a few bites of grandpa's ice cream.....yummy. Also he steals a drink of tea almost drowning himself. That is tasty too. Still fighting sleep......must continue to move from sofa to chair......must stay awake. Grandma fixes a bottle of milk......but he knows what that means. Won't stop. Must keep moving. But that milk is so good.....maybe a sip. No....must resist! Scoot to grandpa again......see what he has.......oh no.......grandpa's sleeper! Must squirm....wiggle.....get of grandpa's grip.......oh what is this?.......milk?   Yum.....yum.....yum........out in five minutes.

Grandpa wins again.

However Slater's bedtime means it is everyone else's too. Grand kids are the best.

Enjoy every bit of time you can my is amazing how time flys.
ET This I Believe
Eugene Thompson