Sunday, October 21, 2007

Get me to the Race On Time!

COUNTDOWN-The Marine Corps Half Marathon

09.28.2007, 10:00 AM – It’s going to be a busy day. 4:00 AM is going to be here WAY too soon. Tomorrow I’m lucky enough to participate in the Marine Corps Half Marathon at Camp Lejeune, NC. I pick up my race packet today so tomorrow morning won’t be quite so hectic before the race. A few errands to run first. I just finished a blog post. Oh darn, I’m going to be late for my appointment with Hope for the Warriors at Camp Lejeune.

11:00 AM – How many times can a cell phone ring in an hour’s commute?

11:30 AM – Met with Robin at Home For Warriors Headquarters. Those folks are awesome.

1:00 PM – Just reconnoitered the race route in my van. Don’t want any surprises. Right now it’s blistering hot. Didn’t anyone tell the weatherman that it is almost October? I saw Dan on his handbike going around the course. Man, he looks hot. Now I AM starting to worry. I’ve been looking forward to this race for six months. I hope it cools down or I will be toast.

2:00 PM – Picked up my race packet and met with Mike, the race director. A great guy. Sorry, Mike if I have so many questions, but this is only my second half marathon.

3:00 PM – A quick haircut

3:30 PM – Later than I thought. I won’t have time for that big plate of pasta for lunch I was looking forward to. Maybe we can cook up some spaghetti when I get home. I called my teammate, no answer.

4:00 PM – It has been a long day and I’m starting to get tired. Sure wish I had more than six hours sleep last night and the night before and the night before….yawn… I pull into McDonald’s, park in back, close my eyes, and take a nap.

4:09 PM -- The noise of a big truck wakes me up, maybe I better move on. OH NO! The van won’t start and I can smell smoke. Who am I going to find to fix this van this late on a Friday afternoon? I get on the cell phone and start calling every auto mechanic I know. Neil even calls another mechanic on my behalf and offers to come and get me in his mini van, thanks. It’s starting to look like Saturday is going to be spent replacing an alternator rather than half-marathoning. Am I ever bummed!

4:30 PM – Merchant’s Tire in Havelock says they will wait for me. I make arrangements for a tow truck.

5:15 PM – Finally get up with my teammate and ask her to meet me at McDonald’s and now it is just a waiting game. I am hoping my troubles are due to the alternator even though we just had a rebuilt one put in a few months ago.

6:00 PM – Teammate arrives. I grab a quick bite at McD’s. I was sure looking forward to pasta. The wrecker shows up. Off we go to the tire store.

7:00 PM – We roll into Merchant’s Tire. The wrecker arrives right behind us. This is their normal quitting time. They really want to go home; PLEASE – PLEASE - PLEASE. Did I mention that I had been looking forward to this race for six months? They agree to change the alternator. Yeah! My teammate and I take off for the parts store while the mechanic starts removing the bad alternator.

7:20 PM – We’re back with the new alternator. The old one is out. It’s starting to look like we might pull this off after all!

9:00 PM – We’re back on the road again. THANKS Brian and Miguel!!! You’ll never know how much this means to me!

9:30 PM – Back home. So much to do to get ready. Darn it’s late! How many times have I said that already today? Let’s get started.

11:00 PM – Finally in bed!

10.29.2007, 12:00 AM – Will I ever go to sleep?

2:00 AM – I can’t sleep! I keep thinking about this race.

3:00 AM – Zzzzzzzz

4:00 AM – Zzzzzzzz

4:20 AM – The alarm rings. Oh darn! I wanted to get up at 4:00.

5:00 AM – 60 degrees outside. The forecast is for cool weather. Yeah! I stuff down a smoothie, a banana, milk, & coffee.

5:30 AM – On the road. This is the first chance to go over the course with my teammate. She’s going to ride the bike paths on her bicycle to meet me at miles 4, 8, & 12.

6:30 AM –We ride the course my teammate will take so she knows where to meet me.

7:00 AM – It’s getting late (again). We get to the race start. Let’s get the handbike on the ground and get ready.

7:30 AM – Typical pre-race confusion. I wolf down a Snickers bar.

7:45 AM – They’re calling runners to the starting line. Where are my sunglasses? There’s Dan and Cory. Wow! There will be three hand bikers today.

8:00 AM – Let’s Roll! We’re off! Man! This came so close to NOT happening! There goes Cory and Dan…I’ll not see them again until the finish. Oh well…like I always say, “I’m not a racer, I’m a participant.” The weather is PERFECT! And wow, I’ve even got a little energy. I’m gonna yank those cranks! All those runners that passed me off the starting line…I’m slowly passing them! No way will this last. But I’m having fun while it does! Marines yell in encouragement. Marines are undoubtedly the greatest people in the world.

8:30 AM – A few hills have had their toll and I’m starting to settle into a manageable pace. The fast guys and gals are all gone and I’m blending in with a group that I’m starting to become familiar with. We even get a few conversations started. Even a little friendly banter. I take a ribbing about the hills.

9:00 AM – Hey, that 10K split went by rather quickly (for me). Maybe this is going to be good. I stop beside my teammate and throw down a PowerAde. I’m off.

9:30 AM – My teammate is hanging nearby on the bike trails. That is a tremendous boost. I’m coming up to a water table. I ask the Marine to throw water on me. Man that feels good. Headwinds and hills are starting to slow me down. My teammate cuts off for our rendezvous at mile 12. Marines yell, “Ooh rah” as the headwind slows me down.

9:45 AM – Should have drunk another PowerAde. I’m fading. The pasta dinner would have been nice. Maybe even some sleep. That wind feels nice but it’s slowing me down to a crawl. Shift down. Grind.

9.50 AM – There’s some crowds. I must be nearing the finish. I look at the time. HOLY COW! Do you think there’s any chance I can beat 2 hours? Shift down. YANK! I hear my teammate’s voice, “Go!”

9:57:17 AM – I cross the line. YEE HA! Whooda thunk! There’s Dan and Cory. What a GREAT day!

Life has taught me that: 1) Things are never hopeless, no matter how bad they seem. Jimmy V. put it aptly, “Don’t give up; don’t EVER give up.” 2) There are still saints out there in spite of what you see on the news. So just when my plight seemed helpless, the folks at Merchant’s Tire put forth a little “can-do” and enabled me and my teammate to pull it all together.

Our Nation’s wounded warriors haven’t given up hope. They’ve sacrificed their limbs and flesh to protect your liberty and mine. As they begin their adjustment to new lives with disabilities they continue to display dedication and resolve that awes me.

My campaign, 2008 Miles Of Hope, is dedicated to the wounded warriors. With the help of my beloved teammate, my wife, and with a yellow hand bike, I plan to: 1) ride over 2008 miles before October, 2008 in training and events like this, 2) raise $26.2 thousand for Hope For The Warriors, and 3) complete the Marine Corps Marathon in October, 2008.

Be a saint. Help a hero. And help me along my campaign. Please make a generous tax-deductible donation to Hope For The Warriors. You can use the link below to make a secure credit card donation:

If you would prefer to send a check instead, please print the form at the link below. Make your check payable to Hope For The Warriors. Mail your donation to the address on the form.

Donation Form

Thanks and check back often.
-Let’s Roll

1 comment:

lowtalk said...

whoa! that blog made me tired just reading it. :)
congratulations paul. i couldn't be more proud of you.