The 1 Day for the KIA honors those who have sacrificed their lives and given for others. As 27 runners repeatedly circled the OSU Oval for 12 hours yesterday, the names of nearly 1,000 OSU alumni were placed around the course. While each name tells an individual story, the collection of all of them shows the impact upon a community.
On an uncharacteristically clear Saturday morning, runners and volunteers gathered together. Most were college students connected with ROTC programs. There were also representatives from veterans’ organizations, volunteers, and even a group or researchers doing EKG tests to evaluate the effects of long-distance running on the human body.
One of the things I love about the running community is that it is truly a community. In the most individual of sports, people shared each other’s names, ran with each other, offered words of encouragement, and supported each other. While I continually thanked the team of people who organized and volunteered to put this event on, they responded saying how much fun they were having watching us. It is hard to imagine how watching people run the same loop 70-some times can be described as fun, but we were all in this together. Not only did I have the support of the race community, but of eight friends who drove me to the start, ran with me, gave advice, brought trail mix, and inspired me. Coupled with those who were physically present with me, I also carried with me the names of the 32 people who pledged a donation. I assigned a mile or two for each person and as I ran those miles I imagined that person being with me, offered a prayer for them, and thought of the ways they have been a blessing to me.
With the most beautiful day of the year giving us low humidity and perfect temperatures; and, this cloud of witnesses journeying with me, the stage was set for a remarkable day. It took me a few miles to loosen up, learn the course, and get in to a rhythm. After that, laps passed quickly. At about mile 10 my left ankle (the one that always bothers me) started getting tight and uncomfortable. I tried periodically stretching it, tried to make adjustments to my running form, but thought this is just the way it is going to be. I sarcastically thought to myself, “I hadn’t had any ankle issues recently, so why not race day?” But somewhere around mile 25, the ankle loosened and I was back to good form.
Reaching mile 25 marked the half-way point of my 50 mile goal, not long after that I showed my watch to Caleb as we passed 26.2 miles and I said to him, “I’ve run a marathon and am only half way there.” Todd carried me through the next hour in to the 30s and not long after that I passed 38.5 miles, my previous record of longest distance run. Every step from here was a new personal record.
The first 40-some miles went fairly easily. When running marathons, people talk about “hitting the wall” around mile 20. I don’t know that I ever hit the wall. With a food table stocked with bacon, burgers, peanut butter and jelly, trail mix, Gatorade, and water, there was an opportunity to refuel every lap. I tried to balance eating and drinking enough without becoming bloated.
While I didn’t hit the wall, as the miles went by in the 40s, my legs were getting tired. In earlier laps I ran about 2/3 of the time and walked about 1/3. With enough time in the bank to achieve my goal, this number reversed and I was walking more than I was running. Yet, I always found the strength to keep running. In fact, the more I would walk, the tighter my legs would get, so I wanted to run more and particularly wanted to finish the last miles strong.
My strength came in the last three miles as Jennifer and Noah accompanied me. Their love and pride carried me through. At one point I asked Noah if he was doing okay and if he could keep running? He responded “You are the one who has done 50 miles, I can run as long as you want.”
With five minutes still on the clock, I reached my goal of 50 miles. 50 miles run in the year I will turn 50 (because no one wants to do this in August!). And more important than my individual accomplishment, the people who supported me donated $2,150 for the Living Legacy Scholarship fund, of the over $10,000 raised.
Thank you to all for being the people who support me, encourage me, and strengthen me to do things I never would have imagined.
NOTE: My actual distance run was 50.84 miles. I think someone missed me when counting a lap at some point.