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The women’s winner sold me my shoes!
The title of this post is a quote from a sign I saw several places as I traversed the 26.2 mile route of the Portland Marathon on a cool, rainy Sunday morning in October. It also happens to be one of the most grace-filled and holy things I have ever seen.
I have said this before but it was driven home for me during my race, and during this Year of Memories, that the community that convenes around races, both large and small, is a glimpse into heaven, a moment where you can tangibly feel the support from total strangers who are there and cheer because you are there. They don’t seem to care, why you’re there only that you are. I can even be seen by the people that finish before you, which for me is a significant number, they stand around and cheer you on, “You got this, looking great, keep going!” as they walk to their cars, shiny medal around their neck and finisher’s t-shirt draped over their shoulder.
As I ran the marathon, I began to see it as a metaphor for life. When you begin the race there is a lot of excitement and energy. For me, I have to try and pace myself or I will run out of energy before I run out of race. As you get into a rhythm in the race, or in life, the spectators, the energy, the support gets less and less, until, at least at the Portland Marathon miles 14-18, you are by yourself on the course, just you and your thoughts. Your brain and body are yelling at you, “WHAT THE HELL WHERE YOU THINKING!!! SHOULD HAVE TRAINED MORE!!! THERE IS NO WAY YOU’RE GOING TO FINISH THIS!!! JUST QUIT!!!”
Then you reach “Check-Point Charlie” and you head up the hill to cross the St. John’s Bridge, at the top of the hill is a band playing music and there are people dancing and you think, “I can do this!” You cross the bridge and there are literally a hundred people standing there cheering for someone. They have signs, they have cowbells, they are smiling. Now I know they are there for someone in particular but that doesn’t stop them from cheering everyone else on.
This is when the race gets serious, or at least it did for me. Miles 17-20 were a gut check and when I got to mile 20, I was checked out. I had a blister, my IT band was screaming at me, my blood sugar was dropping, my hips were sore and all the Body-Glide I had used at the beginning of the race had either washed off from sweat and rain or been rubbed off by shear pounding. Let’s just say I was hurting.
That’s when my wife, showed up! She had a banana some granola bars and she walked with me for about 10 minutes. If it hadn’t been for her I don’t know how much longer I could go.
After I left her, it didn’t get much better, but every time I felt like I was done, there was someone thanking me for raising money for Alzheimers, someone with an orange wedge (reminding me of AYSO soccer), some pretzels or a sign that said, “Hey Stranger, You’re Awesome!”
It’s like that in life sometimes, when you feel like you can’t go on and you’re ready to quit there is one person or thing that gives you just enough energy to get to the next thing, they support you just enough until you can reach a point where you can go on yourself.
For me that point was mile 23. At mile 23, I said to myself, “it’s only a 5K”. 5K=3.1 Miles. Now I know I needed to run 3.2 miles but after 23 miles, 0.1 isn’t a big deal. Every time I wanted to stop I said, “5K, 5K, 5K”. At one point, my IT band hurt so much I wanted to cry and as I was walking a woman, probably in her sixties, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Your shirt made me cry.” Which is weird but it gave me a little oomph that I needed to keep going. Then at about half way between mile 24 and 25 you turn on to Naito Parkway and the noise begins, the number of spectators, the bands, energy increases and I was able to push on to the finish.
All along that road I heard people cheering “Go Greg Go”, “You can do it!”, “Almost there!” and it gave me energy. I saw a man up ahead of me, who had passed me at about mile 23, and I decided I was going to beat him. I caught him at mile 26 and then passed two more women before the finish. I sprinted, with everything I had left, to the finish as they announced, “Greg Bolt from Redmond, Oregon!”
I crossed the finish line and was greeted with a space blanket, and a women in a tuxedo, who placed a medal around my neck and said, “Congratulations!” I was handed a rose, someone took my picture, I went around the corner and there was a smorgasbord of food, then I got my t-shirt, then I saw my wife and I lost it. I sobbed while she held me and I realized that I had run the race, I had done what I had set out to do and I had finished. It wasn’t as fast as I wanted, it wasn’t as pretty as I wanted but none of that mattered. It didn’t matter because it’s not that you win the race it’s that you run it.
The race for me, I hope, continues to be a metaphor for my life. I hope that there are people there for me when I feel like quitting and I hope that at the end I will be surrounded by people willing to embrace me and support me, not because I ran but because I tried.
I know that God will be awaiting me at the finish line saying, “Congratulations!” I will embrace my Grandmother Julia and sob, she will hold me and congratulate me, not because I won, but because I tried.
So remember as you run your race there are people around you saying, “Hey Stranger, You’re Awesome!”
In 2010 my grandmother Julia Sparks died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. In honor of her, I have set out to run races and raise $10,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association of Oregon. I want 2011 to be a ―Year of Memories.
Here is the plan in a nutshell: Run a 5K in March (Lucky Clover 5K in Eugene, March 19), a 10K in May (Solaire Salmon Run, May 7), a half marathon in July (Smith Rock Sunrise Summer Classic, July 9) and a marathon in October (Portland Marathon, October 9).
So far, I have completed the Lucky Clover 5K in Eugene, the Solaire Salmon Run Bend (10K) and the Smith Rock Sunrise Classic in Terrebonne (Half Marathon). We have also raised just over $1,500!
Now starts the big push to the finish. In the next 12 weeks I, and whoever would like to join me, will be training for the Portland Marathon to be run on October 9.
I have set up a page on the Alzheimer’s Association website so that people can donate online. There will also be donation forms in the Commons Area for other donations. I have also set up a blog (yearofmemories.wordpress.com) and a twitter page (www.twitter.com/yearofmemories) so that you can follow along on our progress.
What I need from you? I need your legs, your energy, your expertise and your support. I have run all the distances except a marathon (I walked the Portland in 2009). My hope is that we will be able to get together for some training runs and maybe even get a ―team shirt to wear while we run the races to bring awareness to our cause.
I hope you will consider participating in the Year of Memories and we can create some great memories of our own and raise money to allow others to help cure the horrible disease of Alzheimer’s.
Last Saturday, May 7, the Year of Memories Team completed the Solaire Salmon Run. Team members for this race were Brad, his wife Lisa, their son Jake and me, Greg. Brad, Lisa and I ran the 10k while Jake ran the 5k. You might think what’s wrong with that kid? Why can’t he run the 10k? But what you don’t know is that Jake is just coming off a bought of pneumonia. In short, he’s freaking awesome!
It was a beautiful and sunny day in Bend, OR…sort of. The sun was out but it was SUPER cold and windy. I had not worn the appropriate amount of layers so therefore before the race I was freezing.
There seemed to be a good turn out for the race, but it was my first Salmon Run so I don’t really have anything to compare it too.
Brad and Jake took off like a light, Lisa followed and I was bringing up the rear. In the first mile I caught Lisa. This is weird for several reasons.
- I don’t normally catch anyone
- I was monitoring my pace with #RunKeeper and it told me I did the first mile in 8:59! I normally run about a 10-11 minute mile.
- I usually start quick then fade.
Even though I was running REALLY fast I felt good (thanks adrenaline). Then I hit THE HILL, this hill went straight up to Mt Bachelor Village. This hill, killed my pace! I hate hills!
Nonetheless, I pressed on but went back to an old training routine of running for 8 minutes and walking for 2. Although that only lasted about 8 minutes because as I looked at my watch after 8 minutes and thought, “I could keep running.” Then as I was walking I was itching to run after about 1 minute. So long story short, I ran some and walked some.
The last half of the race was downhill or flat which was good for my time, I was able to run the last half of the race faster than the first half. As I came down into Farewell Bend Park I looked across the river and saw Brad about to finish the race, I still had a little over a mile to go. Then as I entered Les Schwab Amphitheater I saw Lisa, who was coming out, she was about 1/4 mile ahead of me.
This is where being a Type 1 Diabetic comes into play. My blood sugar starting getting low around mile 5 of the 6.2 mile course. This caused me to walk more than I wanted and I was determined to run hard the last half mile but was thwarted by head winds and diabetes…that is…until I saw the team! Brad, Lisa and Jake were standing at the entrance to Riverbend Park waiting for me and cheering me on. Brad even started to run with me, encouraging me along the way. My fatigue and blood sugar issues disappeared and I was able to finish the race strong.
All in all it was a great race! We had four team members and several people asked us what we were doing, so the word is getting out about our goal of reaching $10,000 by October and the Portland Marathon.
So far, we have raised $1,270 from 10 donors! Every little bit helps. Donate to our cause or help us spread the word by going to our Team page.
Thank you all and we’ll see you again on July 9 for the Smith Rock Sunrise Summer Classic
The Results- 10K– Brad finished 35th (6th in his division), Lisa finished 81st (2nd in her division) and I finished 97th (7th in my division) out of 127 in the 10K.
5K Jake finished 42nd (1st in his division) in the 5k. That’s 2 first place finishes in 2 races for Jake. WAY TO GO!
So far this has been an amazing experience and I am continually overwhelmed by the support we have received in our quest to raise $10,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association this year.
One of the ways I have blindsided by the generosity of complete strangers is by two separate companies. Bear Prints and The LongRun Picture Company have gone out of their way to help with this process.
Let me tell you a little bit about how they came to be sponsors of the Year of Memories.
My wife, Heidi, suggested that during my races I should have a jersey. She thought that my shirt should say why I was running and because I’m picky she told me to go pick one out. I looked around online but I couldn’t find anything I liked so I went to Bear Prints (who I had worked with before on some shirts for work) and started talking to a women who was very helpful and knowledgable. I talked about what I wanted and what I was going to use it for and then as she was adding up the price of a performance t-shirt and two iron on screens (that would be designed by her graphics guy) I could tell she was discounting everything (which I appreciated greatly) but then the blind side.
After adding it all up she cut the price in half!! She said, “I think it’s really good what your doing. So we can help a little.” I was dumbstruck. It was completely unexpected!
So here is the finished product:
Here is a picture of the shirt in action:
Which leads us to our next sponsor…The LongRun Picture Company was taking pictures at the Lucky Clover 5K that we ran a few weeks ago. After the race we were grabbing some shots on our own of the team and Michael Lebowitz (the photographer) said, “Hey let me get a few of you guys and drop me a note when they go up. I’d love to help out.”
About a week later the photos from the race went up and there were some really good ones (see above) of me and the team, so I sent him a note telling him which photos we were in and if would be willing to donate some digital copies to us. Not an hour later I had 10 awesome pictures in my inbox!
Here they are for you to enjoy.
So that’s how we got sponsors. Hopefully, we’ll get more and I’m sure we will continue to get support from those around us. It has been a great journey so far and we can’t wait until the next step.
When an angel came in the form of an email.
The email was from DoLocalDeals.com and the subject line was “Deal Certificate for $20 for One Month of Unlimited CrossFit Classes at Empire Athletics from DoLocalDeals”
I jumped on it! For those of you who don’t know what CrossFit is click here. In a nutshell it is a relatively short, super intense, dynamic work out that kicks all portions of your ass at once.
The gym I signed up with is called Empire Athletics, they are new and basically all they do is CrossFit as far as I can tell so far. Normally, CrossFit isn’t cheap, the unlimited package costs $110 per month. In case your interested, here’s what else they offer. Here’s their flickr feed so you can see some of the stuff they do and who does it.
I called them up and claimed my certificate. The first thing they do is run you through a “baseline” workout.
The Baseline= 500 Meter Row, 40 Air Squats, 30 Sit-Ups, 20 Push-Ups and 10 Pull-Ups as fast as you can. (Holy ____!, right?) Well, I came in just under 10 minutes at 9:53. I was told by another CrossFit trainer that I know that “under 10 is not bad”. So there’s that.
After I finished my workout, I laid on the ground for approximately 15 minutes and then almost passed out when I got up. That was on Friday.
Monday, I went back and completed the workout with out passing out but it was still hard as hell.
So here’s the new training plan.
Tuesday= Tempo Run
Saturday= Long Run
We’ll see how this goes, but the first week in I’m more motivated to not only exercise but also eat better. I actually turned down ice cream while watching the Biggest Loser last night.
[photo: Dain Sandoval