Have a Dream
Have you ever heard “before you make a plan, have a dream”? Well, I am not sure if I was thinking straight when I dreamt of 1000 miles of racing to honor my dad. Whether I was under the influence or not, once I committed to this dream, I had to make it a reality. As you have shared my journey with me, you know that October and November were difficult months with 1 ironman, 1 50K, 2 marathons, 2 half-marathons, and a 5K.
Coming into December, my body was tired and needed a break. December was going to be another big month with 2 marathons, 1 half and a 5K all in the span of 2 weekends back to back. I craved rest, and not just from racing but from traveling. Surprisingly, December proved to be the pinnacle of excitement as my journey drew near to completion.
Memphis - Maryville weekend (26.2 + 3.1)
St. Jude Marathon - Although I was not officially entered in St. Jude, I was asked by a friend to run her bib at the marathon. The honor of representing her at this prestigious event overshadowed all concerns I had about being found out. Our Fleet Feet Training Program had a large group running the event, most in the marathon distance, but few running the half. My most emotional moment of the race was the run through St. Jude hospital where employees, parents, and some patients greeted us with open arms and touching signs. I don’t think anyone was able to keep the flow of tears as you were reminded of those whose lives we touch when we care. After all, Running Changes Lives and I continually get reminded of that small fact with gigantic footprint.
The race itself proved to be a strong one again. Although I crossed the first half in 1:58:30, the heat and quad issues slowed me down to around 2:18 for the 2nd half. I returned to my classic 4-1 interval around mile 14 and was able to muster a negative split for the last 3 or so miles. As I was nearing the finish line, I remembered the question I had asked my friend “how busy is the finish line” to which she had replied “very busy. Don’t worry. Just go out and have fun”. Well, once I realized we were finishing in a baseball stadium with a public announcer blasting the name of each finisher, I got worried. Finishing under a female name would not go unnoticed unless I was able to blend in with other female finishers. Coming towards the final quarter mile, I noticed a St Jude Hero runner with “Running For Marissa 17” taped to her back. She proved to be the best ally in my disguise. I ran into the finish right on her shoulder while urging her to finish strong, especially for “Marissa”. I did not realize that in doing so, I was helping her to a memorable finish. In fact it was so special, that as we kicked in the last few yards and crossed the finish line, she stopped, turned around and gave me a big Thank You hug. I melted! I quickly blended in the crowd. Later, I found out that the announcer actually knew my friend whose bib I ran under personally.
The next best part was the post-race festivities. With access to the Memphis Js club house, I was able to lounge around, stretching, showering, and all around resting until it was time to make the 2 mile journey to my friends. A tram ride and a mile walk brought me to rest while waiting for my FF Buddies to have dinner and reminisce about this difficult race.
Reindeer Run 5K – Granted, I had finished the marathon in Memphis, but my Maryville Training group was slated to run their graduation run on Sunday so I had back to run and celebrate with them. So while my fellow FF buddies were enjoying the spirit of Beale Street, I rushed on the tram towards the 10:40 Megabus leaving Memphis arriving Knoxville around 6:50 am. The rest is history as that Sunday I finished another 5K in support of my Maryville group.
Huntsville – Sevierville weekend (26.2 + 13.1)
Rocket City Marathon – Next up was the Rocket City Marathon in my hometown of Huntsville. So, my daughter, Anna and I packed up for a father/daughter trip and headed down to Huntsville. It was meant to be that my journey would include Huntsville at its ending weekend. I was able to return home to Huntsville, visit old friends and catch up with many more during the marathon. As I told a group back in Knoxville, I gauge my success at Rocket City by the number of hugs I get on the course. I lost count after 20 or so encounters with friends I had not seen for a while. Life is too short not to enjoy it. I was running with my friends and insane 12-in-12 marathon companions, David Vannier and Andrew McClintock. As always, the race proved to be a fun challenge. I ran the first half with David right under 2:04. As the conditions got tougher and warmer, I slowed down a bit but was still able to come in right around 4:15.
Santa Hustle Half Marathon - With the race behind us, Anna and I started our 4.5 hr drive back to Knoxville and onto Sevierville to meet up with Cheryl to run the last race of the year, the Santa Hustle half marathon. As a side note, dressing as Santa on a warm day is really not the best way to manage your hydration but it’s fun anyway! The race started with a small hiccup as we missed the mass start while celebrating this monumental event. As the announcer calls out for any stragglers, Kyli Wooten, Kelly Ross and I crossed the start line for the funnest 13 miles. And with the finish behind us, we enjoyed the water park with its slides, wave pools, and other fun activities in the water.
Every time I was asked whether I had made the miles, I was not sure and I truly did not worry about it. For me, by December, the quest was complete. I had traveled far and near, met many people, felt the support of my Fleet Feet Family and accomplished what I had set out to do. Whether I had reached the actual mileage was secondary for me.
But I still had to know how close I had come. So the analytic side of me when to work, listing race after race and tried to remember what I had done before and after each race. I know some felt that I was taking the easy way out by counting 20 miles of bike ride to the start of a 5K as a failure to meet the goal. Not only was that part of the contract but I would urge the naysayers to try to do that: ride 108 miles in the heat knowing that the next day you have to run a marathon. Unfortunately, what did not count were the multiple travel miles, such as the overnight bus trips to go or return from a race. But that was the point: honor my dad and walk in his steps.
So I did and here are the results, of course in a tabular format:
Like an ever-good statistician, let me share with you some accomplishments:
Keys to success
You may ask what training secrets help me succeed. The coach in me will tell you:
Now it is your turn. Dream big and let me know how I can help you reach it.
Live Well, Train Smart, and Make a Difference
… 1048 miles closer …