The Hills.....the runner's worst nightmare. This is where I wore out fast. My legs had reached their limit. My mind was saying keep going but the legs said they need rest. At this point it was all mind games. With those large mile markers on the side to inform me of how far one has to go, I decided not to look at how far to the end but break up each mile into sections like run three quarters of a mile and then walk a quarter mile. Look! There is mile marker 11! Come on 12 I would say to myself and keep repeating it in my mind. My mind got confused and I was saying 13 miles for a long time and then what showed up on a turn? #12?! I miss-counted and had to run that same mile over in my mind. That almost did me in! A few more people asked me if I was ok. My thought was why were these people asking about me? I decided to take longer drinks and more of them. The problem was that I stood too long and my legs were tightening all the more. That was not good. The next few miles I saw Mrs. Hunter, from church, and she was yelling and was taking pictures and encouraging me onward! When I saw her, I know that she was in a location that signaled that John Ball Park was just around the corner. That meant that I only had 2 and 1/2 miles to go.
John Ball Park, a place with lots of good memories but for the first time, today was not one of them. You see that the plan was to run this U-Turn and which meant that for a while I would run away from the finish line and not closer to the goal. This is where the organizers needed to add some distance otherwise it would not be a full 15 miles. At the first turn into the U-turn, another family from the NCF church plant was holding signs and yelling at me to go and way to go! I had to stop and chat just for a second. (Now you know why my time was so long.) I asked if the Hoven's had any water? Right away they opened their backpacks and share some refreshing water with me. It was soo goood! Onward! I made the next two turns and a man behind me yelled out in pain. He pulled something and he went down. Medical staff were right there to apply first aid and I realized that that could happen to me at any time. As I continued to run, who was at the other end of the U-turn? The Hoven family again. They walked to greet me on the other side too! My thirst kicked in again and I asked the second time, "Do you have any water?"
Off again to the sounds of cheers. Go Army Strong! Go Army! Way to Go Army guy! I felt I was back in the Army in 1973. Felt good! Now the road was flat and I picked up the pace. "One more mile to go!", someone yelled. O good, number 15 must be very close now! I ran even faster for what I thought was an eternity. And then I saw that big blue mile marker #14! What? Who yelled one mile to go? Now I was really dragging and was walking and running off and on. Just one more marker to go and then I was done with this. There were more people now on both sides and I could hear more people shouting their cheers to keep going. The tall buildings that looked so far away was now in front of me. There is #15. I can do this! No!, no!, no!, why are all the runners in front of me still running past the sign of #15 mile marker? WE need to stop. Then it hit me. Everyone calls this a 15 mile run. What I did not know is that if one does the math, 25K works out to be 15 and 1/2 miles. I have a half mile to go yet. Then Mr. Hunter, a fellow elder and one who completed the 25K already saw I was struggling. He came through the barriers and started running with me to talk me through this last stretch. Everyone was yelling, Go Army! Way to go! I saw my wife, my two daughters, and a few more people from church to get me across the finish line. Thank you Lynne! And then, the race was finished! The organizers tell you to keep going after you cross the finish line because others are coming up behind you. No worry there. 5,500+ had already gone before me but this was a race to finish for me. My muscles all tightened up on me and I spent the next few hours walking like Frankenstein. I picked up my medal for finishing and wanted my wife to drive me home right away. I spent the next 1/2 hour in the tub soaking in epson salt and hot water while doing leg stretches. For Sunday and now Monday has been a day of recouping and that is what is happening. I feel much stronger this evening as I just came from two hours of Physical Therapy and a mile walk at the Grandville Mall.
Today I sent in my notice to Harvest OPC that I have retiring from running and have done so leaving on my own terms with a personal best (only time) for running the 2014 River Bank Run. Time? Who cares.
This is my last entry to my blog. Thank you for reading and your interest in the Capital Campaign for the New City Fellowship Church. Gifts may still be given by using this website and watch for more activities at NCF as our prayer is that God will use this new church plant for his work and glory.