Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Beautiful Day

Don't you just love those days where all is right in the world. A nice 2 1/2 hour run in the sunshine, knowing that your plans for the rest of the day are to get a Jamba Juice, go see a movie, watch your son at track practice, buy your wife a coffee(you're welcome sweety)then have dinner with family and friends. Ahh...Life is Good! It's often hard to block out the images that this is my last day off and tomorrow night I'll return to work an 8 day stretch, knowing I'll be hungry and sleep deprived wishing I...but I digress, it is after all a beautiful day! Here's hoping that all of you who will read this(Mom&Lisa)seize the day and enjoy what it has to offer.
Happy Trails,

Monday, May 5, 2008

For Wayne

I was eagerly anticipating the 30th annual Wild Wild West 50k since I got in the truck to drive home from Leona. It is one of my favorite races of the year for several reasons. The scenery never disappoints and the company is always memorable. This year the early season rains provided a better than usual flower show and the company was as great as ever.

The morning started with a "jumpy" Froggie getting down into a track-like starting position for the "ready, set...", as the chill of the morning kept us gladly huddled close together at the starting line. I love camping at the top of Tuttle Creek, and as I ran by the tent I waved to Lisa and Shane who awoke early to wish us all well. The run slowed into a fast walk as we settled into the long climb ahead of us. Bob and Robert and I hung together as we ascended towards the portal road, and I also ran into James and Summer. We talked of running, running, and oh yeah, running!(running always dominates the first 15 miles, food the second!) I stopped briefly to lend a hand to Summer and James at the river crossing. They probably didn't really need help, but know that it made me feel good to lend a hand. After the portal road and one more climb we gratefully welcomed the several mile down hill.
I would like to give a big thanks to all the aid station volunteers who graciously gave up their Saturday to come support all of us crazy runners. A big thanks to Margaret who brought home made oatmeal, chocolate chip, raisin cookies!!
I started talking to a runner who was wearing a shirt that had the picture of soldier on the back. It said in memory of Cpl. Wayne Geiger. Pictured was Wayne, 23, from Lone Pine, who gave his life in service to our country. I started visiting with the runner, Jeff, and he told me the story of Wayne and the shirt. We leap frogged each other for the next 10 miles or so chatting as we passed or got passed. We came to the turn where marathoners go left and 50kers go right. Jeff said it's too bad I'm going this way I've had fun running with you guys. Seeing my opportunity, I seized the moment and gently twisted Jeff's arm into coming with us. He'd wanted to run an ultra, but was thinking more for next year. He was feeling great at this point, so with some quick work from a red sharpie in the hands of the aid station volunteer Jeff was now running the 50k.
The rest of the race I stayed by Jeff's side. We ran and talked about Wayne and the sacrifice he made for our country. How what to many is just another number, a statistic to help make a point, is to the small town of Lone Pine, a tragic story of a life cut short. But also, a story of tremendous conviction, courage, and commitment. Wayne's courage to willingly choose a path that he knew would put him in harms way gave Jeff and I a perspective and renewed energy to continue when the race got hot and we got tired. For Jeff and I the worst case scenario would hurt our ego, but would be nothing beer and pizza wouldn't fix. Wayne faced life threatening situations every day. And ultimately paid the highest price.
Each mile after 26, Jeff and I would celebrate his new distance PR. At 30 he told me he was trashed but we continued to run all the way to the finish where my boys escorted us in. Jeff became an ultra runner that day and earned the title. He honored the memory of a fallen soldier and inspired me with his grit and determination. I am proud of Jeff and Wayne and indebted to both for what they have taught me.
After the run we met at the Dow Villa pool with pizzas and Robert supplied the beer and wine. Peg, Lisa, Bob, Scott, Elana, Jack, Guru and I relaxed away the afternoon indulging in the best Pizza we've had in a long time. We reminisced about the day and of runs gone by. A fitting end to a great day.
I'm not sure what my finish time was, and frankly I don't care. All I know is that when the starter finally gave the "go!" Froggie led the race for at least 10 feet!
Happy Trails, Mike.