This is where I run the most!
This is where I run the most!

With my work and personal schedules being so crazy hectic, it is a rare thing for me to set an alarm for 7AM on a Sunday morning.  Heck, it’s difficult for me to set the alarm during the workweek, let alone on the day where I get the only chance I get to sleep in on a semi-regular basis.  But this last Sunday, I set the alarm for 7 and was up by 7:45.

I did it because one of my best friends was doing something very courageous.  She was running her first half-marathon in Washington, DC.  The gun time for her race was 7AM and she projected that based on her corral spot that she would cross the start line around 7:15.  Since I wasn’t able to fly out to DC to be there to support her, the least I could would be to run with her in spirit.  Yes, I figured I could run in Kalamazoo at the same time that she was running in DC.

My plan was to run 6 miles but something funny happened on the way to the KRVT … I made a wrong turn.  As I got to the bottom of the Nichols Rd Hill (approx. 1.3 miles from my house) something told me to turn left rather than right.  So that’s what I did.

Now, the distance from, what I call “the bottom part of the KRVT” (where the trail crosses Ravine Rd and shares the bike lane to the Kalamazoo City Limits) to the trailhead is about 3 miles.  The distance from the bottom of the Nichols Rd hill to the trailhead is about 2.3 miles.  So in turning left, I added about 1.4 miles to my run.  So what’s 1.4 miles added to my loop … aside from adding 15 minutes or so to my run?

Turns out, it was a fortuitous turn to make because it would add-on just enough time to finish my run at the same time that Angela finished hers (something we figured out thanks to the very “Big Brother-ish” Nike tracking website for their race).  That did bring a smile to my face when it hit me that we finished our respective runs at about the same time.

At one point during my run, that familiar Achilles pain started to set in on my right leg which I’ve been told is a part of my pronation issues with my right foot.  I keep trying to do exercises to correct it and I’ve found to be the only thing that helps is to stretch my calves before I start running.  Whenever I don’t stretch before are the times where my right leg begins its total revolt against all things running related (including watching other people run on TV).

At any rate, I was about 3.3 miles in when it really hit me hard, which just so happen to be the bulk of the upward climb on the KRVT.  Now, it’s not all that big of an incline … it’s just really long (basically from the 2.3 mile mark to the 1.35 mile mark) and at one point I felt like just turning around and walking back home.  As I slowed down, I looked to see where Angela was on her race.  According to Nike … she had just passed the halfway point of the race.  In fact, Nike posted on her FB wall the following: “Washington Monument. Check. Lincoln Memorial. Passed it. I’m halfway to completing the Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC.”

The Nike DC Half-Marathon Course
The Nike DC Half-Marathon Course

It was here that the peacefulness that I find every now and then during my runs hit me and carried me through the rest of the run.  I started thinking about what Angela was currently doing at the time and how she got there.  You see, in order for Angela to run her race she had to raise $3,200.  She ran the race in conjunction with the “Team in Training” organization (a part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society), an organization that raises money to fight Lymphoma and Leukemia.  Reaching $3,200 got her to the race and covered her travel and hotel stay.

My friend Angela, however, is more daring than that.  She didn’t think that $3,200 was enough when she could give more to save another’s life.  So she said “If I raise $3,500, I’ll shave my head!”  Now take note, she has a good head of hair.

Angela Clock
Angela Clock

As of today, she’s raised almost $3,800 and has decided to keep pushing to $4,000!

She was running her race and she wasn’t quitting.  She raised her $3,200 and she didn’t stop there.  She was running her race in a place where leaders like Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr, and others walked and showed us what true courage can be.

I thought, “Who was I to stop running on a Sunday morning?”

Another thought hit me, as I reached the trailhead and started my run back towards home. A year ago, this same person who was running in DC talked me into running along with her for our first 5k.  I’ve previously posted about my first Kalamazoo Klassic, in which I ran my 5k in 35:01.  In the time since we started running, I’m down 25 pounds, I have suits and pants that I can wear again because I’m becoming slimmer.  And in just under a year since we started, I ran my first timed 10k (I still won’t call it my first “official” 10k because I’m saving that for the Bayshore Marathon 10k later in May).  I just wanted to run it in less than 65 minutes.  It appears that I did because according to the Consumers Sunburst 2013 clock, my time was:

2013 Consumers Sunburst 10k
My 2013 Consumers Sunburst 10k time

I thought, “What an amazing thing it is to inspire other people.  What an amazing thing it is to be inspired by those you admire to become better than you are.”

I am very grateful to my friend for setting me on this path … which just so happens to be the KRVT every few days or so.  I never imagined that I would get to the point where I no longer thought of 3 miles as “driving distance”.  I never imagined that I would get the point where 6.2 miles was just a jog.  I never imagined that I would find myself at the point where this map isn’t so scary:

2013 Kalamazoo Half-Marathon & Marathon course
2013 Kalamazoo Half-Marathon & Marathon course

I’ve already made up my mind that this year I would do my first half-marathon.  But on a Sunday morning in April, at a time where I was running by myself (but I wasn’t alone in my thoughts), when I had once again reached the bottom of the Nichols Road hill to make my turn towards home, as Dave Matthews sang in my ear “Maybe carry on just a little bit longer and I’ll try to get you what you need” … that’s when I told myself I will run a marathon  and maybe I’ll even run it in my hometown.

Another thought that hit me as I made it back up the Nichols Road Hill and turned into my neighborhood.  I can carry on just a little bit longer, just like Angela was doing.  I can carry on and go further than I believed I could go.

The last thought that hit me as I turned onto Sweet Cherry Lane and once again saw my home in the near distance was “Thanks, Clock Bananas!  Thanks for running your race!  Thanks for everything that you’ve done for the Team in Training.  Thanks for everything that you’ve done for me.  You’ve changed the way I think about many things … including myself.”

In the meantime, my friend Angela continues to raise funds to fight cancer and if you’re interested in helping, please check out her website!

Check out the Team in Training in your area!
Check out the Team in Training in your area!
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