From spectator to marathoner
|"I think I can do that"|
My niece was running in the Marine Corps Marathon 10 years ago this weekend. I sat on the corner of Wilson Boulevard and Lynn Street in Rosslyn, VA. I was waiting for the Marathon to start. I was positioned at mile 1, hoping to catch a glimpse of her as she ran by.
|Spotting my niece in the runners|
I saw several athletes pass by on handcycles, or crank wheelchairs, they are sometimes called. I said to myself, “I think I can do that!”
I went home and began training. And training. And training. I also began looking for a cause. Something to benefit casualties of the post-9.11 war. In March of 2007 I took part in my first race. It was a local 10K. I was hooked.
|Training and training|
I began looking for another local race. I found the Run For The Warriors at Camp Lejeune. I emailed Sally, “Here’s our cause!” We had a great time at the race. We met many motivating individuals from the military and civilian communities. We learned about Hope For The Warriors and their mission to give Hope to wounded military, their families, and the families of the fallen. They also had a Team Hope For The Warriors for the Marine Corps Marathon.
|Run For The Warriors 2007|
Team Hope For The Warriors
Team Hope consisted on military members, community members, and wounded military, all united on a mission to raise money for Hope For The Warriors. I vowed to be on that team at the Marine Corps Marathon.
Later in the spring of 2007, I visited Washington, DC. Sally and I drove the entire Marine Corps Marathon course. I knew I would have trouble with the hills. Particularly the last quarter mile, the entrance to the Marine Corps Memorial, the last steep hill known to Marine Corps Marathoners as, “Iwo.” We got a chance to ride the bike path next to that stretch of course. Or, I should say, attempt to ride. The hill was too steep for me. I thought I could just use lower gears. They just don’t make gears that low.
|Marshall Drive, the final qurter mile, or better known as, "Iwo"|
Ironically, during a workout about two weeks before the ’07 Marathon, I learned a climbing technique with my handcycle that would get me up the hill called Iwo. It was a bittersweet success. The technique would get me up a steeper hill than ever before. But its discovery came too late to get into the race I had my sights set on.
The climbing technique I learned that night eventually got me to the top of Iwo. My focus was no longer on discovering “if” I could climb the hill, but “when.”
2008 Miles of Hope
2008 was to be my 30th anniversary of living with a disability. I have been a quadriplegic since 1978 when I broke my neck in a pool while teaching swimming lessons to kids. That’s another long story for another time. I was going to celebrate my 30th year with a disability by conquering Iwo--completing the Marine Corps Marathon.
I started a fundraising campaign I called 2008 Miles of Hope. All the money we raise goes to Hope For The Warriors. Friends, neighbors, family, and local businesses support us with generous donations. As of this writing, we have raised over $80,000 in donations for Hope For The Warriors.
|The Marine Corps finish line|
But most importantly, it will be my 100 finish of a long stretch of full and half marathons for Hope For The Warriors. The journey has taken Sally and me to races in 15 different states. My total mileage rolled in races, training, and fundraising events has well exceeded the distance around the world. I completed the Chicago Marathon earlier this year and the NY City Marathon four times in previous years. I completed the Air Force Marathon, the Army's All-American Marathon, and the Soldier Marathon; but the Marine Corps Marathon is still my favorite.
|All American Marathon, April 2016|
Help us spread Hope
Runners often ask each other, “What’s next?” It’s an acknowledgement that you can’t quit. For me the answer is simple. Another marathon.
Please help us with our cause. Donate to Hope For The Warriors. Their mission is still critical. Use our secure donation website: http://www.active.com/donate/2008Miles. Spread hope.