Friday, November 7, 2008

Run for Missions 2008 Report

The run began promptly at 6:30 am Monday, November 3rd, at the Friends Ministry Center in Wichita. The morning was unseasonably warm and windy for early November. The send off was special as several friends and family joined us for prayer and cheering us on as we began. Allen and I sprinted down the first block just for fun and show, only to slow down into our pace of between 10 and 12 minutes/mile that we would sustain for the first many hours. We stopped at mile 5 at a gas station parking lot to meet Nancy and the Crew Van with our supplies. A couple minutes later with full water bottles and some brownies and bananas eaten, we took off again. We met Nancy at approximately every 5 miles through the first 35. In addition to foods already mentioned, we consumed Ramen Noodles, pretzels, yogurt, energy gels, Gatorade, Mt. Dew and Coke.

At about mile 30, we were running right next to Cheney Lake and Allen’s pace began to slow, so he decided that I should go ahead without him. I ran from mile 35ish to mile 48 alone, but picked up a lot of time because the sun was setting and the temperature dropping and I received a second wave of energy. Nancy had the challenge of crewing in two directions, but she always managed to meet us at just the right time.

In a one hundred mile run, the first 20 and last 20 miles are really exciting. The middle 60 are kind of tough, needless to say! Our selected route in this first ever “Run for Missions” went west out of Wichita on 21st street which turned into NE 50th once it crossed into Kingman County. The first 61 miles are all on paved roads, which makes a great running surface. Allen and I regularly referred to the reason we were running and the verse on the back of our special shirts, Hebrews 12:2 “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” So we were not running for ourselves, we were running for missions, specifically scholarships for students preparing for the Friends Church missions fields – a worthy investment!

Right at 6:00 pm, which was dusk, my brother Andrew found me at mile 48, strapped on my extra reflective vest and headlamp and set out with me on the journey. “For only a few miles”, he said. It was so good to have company and fresh legs to challenge me to maintain a good pace. It is also helpful at that stage in the run to have someone to carry your water-bottle and food as your arms get tired in addition to your legs. Andrew helped me sustain a steady pace for 12 miles! Mile 60, at about 9:15 was the first turn off the one road we’d been following over 55 miles. Andrew went back to run with Allen for a few miles as my friends from Barclay had arrived!

Brad and Chelsea Carpenter came “to watch for a few hours” around 9pm. As Allen and I got further and further apart it became harder and harder for Nancy to meet both of us regularly with the crew van. I saw her at 9:20 pm, then again at about 1:00 am, and that was the last time until after I crossed the finish line. Nathaniel Carlson, a friend from Barclay, joined me from about mile 60 to 72, with Brad only driving ahead one mile at a time. Closer to midnight, Casey Roberts arrived with 6 guys from Barclay who joined Allen and I, three with me and three with Allen, for several miles. We were now almost to Pratt, which was mile 80 (in front of Pratt County Community College). Chelsea ran with me the last two windy miles into Pratt.

Overall, I really felt just great all the way until mile 60, but between mile 60 and 80 I had nausea. For several miles I ran with a bottle of 7UP in one hand and a handful of Tums in the other. I can’t really explain why the upset stomach happens but it is common in this sort of event, especially when you have such warm weather throughout the day (almost 80 degrees). The problem with nausea is that it prevents you from hydrating and eating like you should and will make you really run out of energy quickly. This slowed my pace down from about mile 60 to 75 and was a discouragement. But as I saw the lights of Pratt get closer and closer, I began to pick up the pace more and more and ran fairly steadily those last four miles into Pratt, at between a 12-13 minute/mile pace. At 3:00 am, I arrived in Pratt and was joined by my good friend Manny Garcia who also committed to “a few miles”. About half way through Pratt, Brad and Chelsea met me with food they had bought from the 24 hour Wal-Mart! And finally I was ready to eat it – mostly because I was just so desperately in need of energy. I ate a whole big bowl of Ramen Noodle Soup and a whole package of Peach Rings (for which I had a craving), and drank some more Coke (which helps immensely because of the sugar and caffeine). Within minutes, the third main surge of energy came! By the time I was at the west edge of Pratt (in front of the Kwik Shop by the railroad tracks) and ready to head off onto the dirt roads towards Haviland, my energy, excitement, and enthusiasm returned!

I started drinking lots of water again and ate another package of Peach Rings and was getting really excited about the last 20 miles into Haviland. Manny was helping me to keep an excellent pace, running consistently at 12 minutes/mile between Pratt and Haviland. There are several great downhill stretches on the dirt road just north of Highway 54 which makes for great running.

At about 6:00 am when I was just north of Cullison, my friends Neill and Kay from Haviland met me on the side of the road with breakfast! Sausage biscuits, breakfast burritos, cinnamon rolls, cold Pepsi, and bananas! Their visit was a great encouragement - not only to me but also to Manny, Brad and Chelsea, who were also hungry after staying awake all night being an impromptu crew for me. (I called Kay at 3:45 am and asked her to please wake up and please make breakfast real quick, and please bring it 10 miles into the country on the dirt roads because I’m really hungry after running 94 miles. I was so grateful!) Manny ended up joining me for 11 miles! Brad joined me running for about 2 miles and then Chelsea for 2 more. Then as day had fully dawned, and the sun began to shine and warm me up, my friend Jeremiah Williams from Barclay met me to run with me all the way to the finish – about 7.5 miles. I was running 12 – 13 minutes/mile again consistently and still feeling strong. My eyes stung red from the wind and dust all night and my legs were stiff but not throbbing. Ryan Kendall joined us with 5 miles to go and was surprised at the pace we were still maintaining. As we were 4 miles out, I began to pick up the pace and give it all I had. We clipped off 11:40, 10:30 and then 9:45 minute last miles right before entering Haviland. Chelsea, Jeremiah, and Ryan ran right beside me those last miles into town, stopping in front of Phillips Hall at Barclay College. It is difficult to explain the emotion that wells up inside your mind and heart upon finishing a 104.2 mile race. Of course you’re just so happy to finally be done, but you’re also overwhelmed by the awe of the distance covered and the thought that “with God all things are possible”.

I ran the 104.2 miles in 26 hours, 12 minutes and 10 seconds, finishing about 8:42 am on Tuesday morning, November 4th. I couldn’t help but think about Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith…” My “huge crowd of witnesses” in this “Run for Missions” were named Allen, Nancy, Andrew, Brad, Chelsea, Nathaniel, Casey, Daniel, Patrick, Bayron, Kyle, Jacob, Manny, Neill, Kay, Jeremiah, Ryan, my friends and family who saw Allen and I off at the start line, and the hundreds who welcomed us home to Haviland, along with the 117 units (families and churches) who have pledged almost $12,000 for missions scholarships!

“…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus…” Perhaps the strangest and hardest, but very best part of the whole event was the 10:30 am finish line celebration. After finishing at 8:40, I walked over to Brad’s apartment to sleep on the couch for a few minutes. At 10:00 am I had to get up and learn to walk again and warm up enough to run again those last couple blocks across the finish line. At first it was a painful, awkward looking stumble-jog but then when I saw how many people were there to celebrate, it became easier to actually run a real pace and to smile and cross the finish line to cheers, high-5’s, hugs and lots of “congratulations” and “you must be nuts!”. Not only were all the students and faculty from Barclay there, but many from the community and Haviland Friends Church, and even the whole Kindergarten through 8th grade from Haviland Grade School (where I used to work as an English as a Second Language tutor and Substitute teacher)!

You may be wondering about Allen? I believe that Allen was truly the brave one, with guts and determination that I don’t even know a thing about. He stuck it out all night long and kept going through pain and set backs. A little before noon he had finished 100.1 (!) miles and was only about 4 miles from town! Nancy and the Stanwood Friends Pastor, John Potter, picked Allen up and brought him back to Haviland in time for a celebration and testimony at the end of the Barclay chapel service. By that time I was already sound asleep…

Now doesn’t this sound like fun? Maybe next year you, too, can “Run for Missions” or certainly, keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus, “run with endurance the race set before you”!

You can still give $100 for missions scholarships by sending your check written to EFC-MAYM (memo: “Run for Missions”), to 2018 Maple, Wichita, KS 67213 by November 15th.