This blog will chronicle my training and hopefully culminate in the successful running of my first marathon on Sunday, April 13, 2008, The Glass City Marathon, in Toledo, Ohio. What does this have to do with anything you may be wondering to yourself and why should I read? Well, as I said, I feel the Lord has blessed me in many ways, not the least of which is my physical health. With the proper training, the Lord has given me the ability to attempt to run this race. And this, after years and years of abusing my body via tobacco use (cigarettes), ingnoring exercise, eating poorly, and taking for granted what God had so graciously given me, a physically healthy body.
Through the inspiration of my oldest daughter, Chelsea, who had been running cross country and track since junior high and, as a freshman in high school competed in the Michigan Division I State Cross Country Meet with her XC team, I too began running early in 2005. At that time, I wouldn't have called myself a runner though... more like a walker who jogged occasionally on the treadmill and prayed that the time to walk would soon be up again. I did progress though, as did my wife, Tammy, to the point that we were going to run The Glass City Marathon in 2007 as a two person team, each running a half marathon. However, Tammy developed problems with a tendon that runs down the outside of the knee and we knew that we would not be able to run the race together in 2007.
In March, I was still training relatively hard for the half marathon and felt that I may be able to run the full race on my own in April. I set out for a long run one Sunday afternoon after church without any knowledge of what I was doing training-wise and was attempting to do 20 miles. Needless to say without educating myself on what was necessary to do these long runs and having my furthest long run prior to this 10 or 11 miles, I totally bonked (my legs would go no further) at 12 miles at which point I humbly and graciously accepted a ride home the rest of the way from a friend (thanks, Wayne) who happened to be passing by. That put an end to any thoughts of grandeur of running the full marathon on my own in 2007. I started up running again slowly in May after taking April off out of the disappointment I felt in flopping in preparing for the 2007 race. I didn't have a race goal in mind at that time, but I wanted to stay in shape and continued running for fitness through the summer.
About July or August I began logging my runs on a website called RunningAHEAD, primarily to keep track of the miles I had on my shoes for replacement purposes. The site happened to have a forum community of runners of all abilities, from just starting to seasoned runners that could run a sub-3 hour marathon. I began to frequent these forums and found the community of people there to be incredibly inspiring and encouraging. The things these folks were accomplishing in a pair of running shoes (or a few not) amazed me. The dedication, heart, and enthusiasm these folks had for running was more than evident in the multitude of race reports that I would read. I was moved to tears at times by the passion of these folks, which didn't stop at their own individual accomplishments, but flowed out toward their fellow runners by encouraging them to push the envelope, test their limits, and see what they could do as well! I began training in earnest for my marathon quest in October of 2007 following the inspiring Detroit Half Marathon report of a fellow RunningAHEAD (RA) runner in Brighton, Michigan. I have not looked back since... because the Lord has blessed me with physical health and I will no longer take that blessing for granted.
Not everyone has been so blessed. We able-bodied folks don't like to think about it or see them, but not everyone is blessed with physical health. I have a cousin, Cassy, who is now in her mid-30's, who sometime after birth was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. I remember first meeting Cassy at my grandparents' home in Milford, Michigan when I was just 7 years old or so. She was a baby yet, sleeping away in a crib in a spare room. I remember sitting by the crib for a long time just watching her (I was told it was two hours), occasionally coming out to the dining room where my parents, aunt, and grandparents were still chatting after dinner, and asking if I could wake her because I wanted to hold her. They would repeatedly say no, let her wake up on her own and then you can hold her. So, I waited. This was a most difficult task for a 7 year old child who was likely ADHD although, there was no such diagnosis back then. I still remember holding her for the first time. She was so beautiful and so filled with joy (once her diaper was changed that is) and smiled at me to no end.
My Aunt Denise (Hi Aunt Denise! Love you!) ended up moving to Texas settling into San Antonio, which is where they live now, along with Uncle Clifford (Hi Uncle Clifford! Love you!). So, now this story somewhat comes full circle and makes a little more sense. I was on a 6 or 8 mile run one evening in September and feeling kinda fatigued toward the end of my run to the point I wanted to stop. For some reason I started thinking about Cassy and how she has never taken a step on her own and tears welled up in my eyes as I ran, spurred on by the thought that she could never do this. I continued to think about the blessings of the times I have visited with her over the years and her gentle, joyful, and loving spirit that she has always displayed when I was around her despite her circumstances. I began thinking about running the full marathon again at THAT point and knew that if I did attempt it, that the race would be primarily on behalf of Cassy. And now, my heart and mind are made up, so Cassy... this run is for you!
Sorry for the long intro... future posts will not be as long so, stay tuned... this should be an interesting odyssey.