September 14, 2015
STANKY CREEK 25K/50K 2015
It’s 4am on Sunday morning September 13, 2015. The alarm goes off loudly. I fart louder. I open my eyes, and immediately blame it on the dog, my protest muffled by the sound of my still attached CPAP mask. After this, I perform the same ritual that I perform every morning that I get the chance. I slap Amanda on the ass and I say, “it’s gonna be a good day today, red!”. I played high school football for the Germantown Red Devils. Not a day went by (win, lose, or draw) that one of our coaches, Charlie White, would walk onto the practice field and loudly pronounce that statement: “It’s gonna be a good day today, red!”. I admire his positivity and enthusiasm. I try to make this part of my every morning. Do I always believe it? Absolutely not. Do I always do it? You bet your ass. I read a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that states, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”, and I believe it to be true. I go to get dressed and begin mentally preparing for the day. Amanda has to be at work at 7am, but wakes up with me to support me and wish me good luck. She requested the day off, but had no such luck. I start to gather the things on my list that I need to make sure come with me to Stanky Creek. The things on my list include pre-mixed Tailwind along with 6 individually wrapped ziplock containers with 200 calories each, 10 gu’s, 2 extra pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of socks, 4 immodium, 2 extra shirts, 3 extra headbands, nipple covers, body glide, extra water, a towel, and salt stick pills. I will leave at 5am and arrive 1hour and 15 minutes early. My friend David Lomax? ….Arrives 10 minutes before the start and brings a water bottle. (I’m a worrier).
I arrive at Stanky Creek at about 5:45am for a 7am race. I want to have plenty of time to set up a tent and lawn chairs, and lay out my display of running “stuff”. The sun is not quite up when I see Von’s car pull in beside me with a girl I did not recognize. Upon nearing, I see IT’S AMANDA!!! It turns out that a co-worker had called the night before and volunteered to work for her. I was SO excited. My energy level was through the roof. It was most certainly going to be a good day, no question about it. Stanky consisted of 4 loops with each going through the parking lot, so I would be able to see her and the other supporters about every 7 miles, and this makes things MUCH easier. Last week Amanda, aka The Honeybadger, finished her first marathon. There was a cutoff time of 6hours and she reached the halfway point at 2:54,. The fact that she was able to maintain pace after 13.1 miles in temperatures that had become 20degrees hotter is a reminder that you can do anything if you are willing to push through the discomfort. On top of this, Amanda has done about zero conventional “marathon training”. She runs about 6 miles a week, and does CrossFit (where she suffers from Rhabdo, constant injury, and drinks the blood of all the new members) about 4 days a week. She has done some longer, slow runs with me of about 10-15 miles, but mostly just grinded this thing out on toughness and desire. With her there, the concern of not being able to finish was immediately removed from my mind. It is always fun to see the supporters and participants at these events. Everyone is so friendly and supportive that you cannot help but feel loved. We snap a few photos, and off we go.
The first loop was incredible. I am far from a fast runner, but my legs felt really good. I had taken 4 days off from running and CF, and it was the first time I had run without being sore from some form of training. I knew that I was going faster than Beefcake need to go, but what the hell. This was all about having fun, and that is what I was having. I was running with Cory Adams and Amber Huddleston, so the conversation was nice. They had both done the Tupelo Marathon the week before, so this was just “another day at the office” for those two animals. Cory said that if he finished the 1st loop in 1.5 hours, he could pretty much walk the last 3, so I felt like I would push it a little bit, and not worry about hitting a wall. Before I knew it, I had popped out of the woods and was in the parking lot. I got to slap high fives, kiss Amanda on the cheek, and Von on the mouth, mix up some Tailwind and get back on the trail.
The second loop was going surprisingly well. My pace was down a bit, but not seeing much reason to walk, and had little desire to. The race field had spread out enough to where it was just me and myself in the woods as far as I could see, which was just the way I wanted it. I was excited to get to the place where I could reflect and enjoy all of the great things that have happened in my life since doing the Stanky Creek 25K last year. I was brought to tears, and emotional at just how good everything is in my world. I began this running bullsh*t in an effort to achieve the goal of being made part of Von’s “LIFTHEAVYRUNLONG.com” group of athletes who achieve the goal of successfully completing a 50 mile race, and being able to deadlift 400lbs. I am signed up to run the Tunnell Hill 50miler in November, and hopefully achieve what I set out to do, but in so many ways my perspective on this has been laughable. When I started running, I was at a different place in my head, and I needed validation to prove to myself that I was a worthwhile person. I craved a strict training plan, and someone to tell me what to do. The only problem is that I don’t like being told what to do, I am too lazy to follow a plan. Somewhere along the way I found validation in myself, and at least a degree of satisfaction with who I am as an overall person. With this came the realization that my “plan” is to do what I enjoy the most, at that time. I run when I want, CF when I want, lay on the couch when I want, and eat sh*tty food when I want, and no one seems to love me any more or less. I started making a great deal of progress as soon as I stopped focusing so much on my progress and started focusing on my happiness. I was happy with myself and happy with my pace. I came to and aid station at about mile 11 and I asked if anyone had seen Brian Williams. One gentleman asked me why, and I told him that if he knew I was going this fast, he would expect me to keep it up. He responded with, “tell him to run it with you”, and I said, “that’s crazy, cause he will”, and he jokingly responded, “get his son Adam to run with you”, and I said, “that is beyond crazy, that is fu*king suicide” (Adam Williams is an 11 year old ANIMAL who has a huge future in running….I am a 38 year old pizza lover, who is doing just enough to avoid a heart attack). I fueled up on M&m’s, PB&J’s and some Gatorade, and I continued at a pretty fair waddle.
I was out in the parking lot for another round of high fives and kisses. At the last aid station before entering the woods, there he was (dammit), Brian! He said, “you are doing great you sandbagging son of a bi*ch. I expect you to average 14minute miles from here” (24 hours ago, he expected 16:40). I laughed and knew that this wasn’t gonna happen, but was glad to see him. The third lap was relatively uneventful, but it was still primarily at a run. I started doing intervals based on the amount of roots in my path. The problem was that the roots were swelling with each passing moment. The same root, which I was using as a spring board to the next root 7 miles earlier, had somehow grown into a fallen tree, that required all fours and a curse word to get over. My caveman grunts and words under my breath were coming to life. I was starting to die off, but mentally felt great. Last year, I did the 25K in 4:10 and was dead, and this year I had rounded the halfway point at 3:31 and still felt RELATIVELY alright. I kept smiling and thought of Amanda, the kids and I watching Finding Nemo the week before, “just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” I laughed out loud to the thought of Amanda telling me that I was exactly like Dory, “ always happy, always positive, and can’t remember sh*t”. I was laughing at my brain’s ability to convince my body that I was really in pain. I remember Brian telling me that there is a big difference between “bad” and “horrible”. I was feeling bad, but far from horrible. I remembering telling a friend during a hard workout that he had made decisions in his life more painful than this, and that was exactly the way I felt right now….this freaking sucked, but it was far from the worst I have ever hurt, besides, I got Amanda about 3 miles awa…, just keep swimming.
Round 4 Ding-ding-ding. I was told that my time was great, and the goal was to keep forward motion, that’s it, fall forward. I felt as if every nook and cranny of my feet were being injected with molten lava. I had told Amanda that my Mad-Eye Moody hips had kicked in. I was literally laughing at my legs unwillingness to listen to my arm’s desires. Just keep swimming. Run gosh dam*it, run! I would get a few gallops in, and before I knew it, I looked like my lower body was doing a C-3PO impersonation, while my upper body looked like Brobee from Yo Gabba Gabba all hyped up on Mountain Dew (Drew Womack is dying laughing right now). I looked like a mall walker with a lot of crack and little co-ordination, but through all this my spirits were great. These damn roots though! All I could think about was making it back to my friends in the parking lot. I have a friend of mine who does a good job of checking in with people on a regular basis. I have heard him make numerous phone calls to people and leave this exact message, “hey muther fu*ker, just checking on you. I love you and am thinking about you.” That’s it. Just that simple. He told me this, and I believe it to be true, “sometimes, all that anybody needs to know, is that somebody gives sh*t”. Personally, it has been one of the most powerful things that I have ever heard. “Sometimes, all that anybody needs to know, is that somebody gives a sh*t”. I like that, and at this point in the race, I was surviving by only this. The one and only thing that kept me going was the thought that there was a group of supporters on the other end of the woods who were out there “giving a sh*t” about me. I kept waddling and somehow made it to the finish line, where I was greeted with all love and excitement. 7hours 30minutes 17seconds. I will take it!
It was amazing to see the friends who came and spent the entire day, just to cheer, as well as the folks who finished the 25K and waited around an additional 4-5 hours to socialize and encourage. A friend of mine’s wife and kids came to surprise him at the finish. Amanda and I both agreed that the smile coming from his face, fresh off 30 miles, to see his wife and two children waiting on him, was one of the most beautiful sites of the day. It was extremely moving. Being active is really a fun “sport” (or whatever) that has enhanced my life greatly. One thing that I have to remember is that people are extremely opinionated, and all belief themselves to be right. CrossFitters, runners, and the adversaries are certainly no exception, as we are all humans. I have found that the only way for me to train is the way that makes me happy. If it doesn’t make me happy, then I don’t want to train for it. Runners believe in running, CrossFitters believe in CrossFitting, Zumba-ers believe in Zumba-ing, Yoga-ers believe in Yoga-ing, and haters believe in hating, and they are all absolutely correct, but don’t let anyone have you believe that the way for them is the only way for you. The way that I enjoy is the way that involves other people, people who are passionate and enjoy whatever they are doing at the time. My training log from April-August, I have averaged 11 running miles a week and about 3 hours of CF (I am in NO WAY saying that this is good or bad, right or wrong). I have had people tell me that I am doing too much CF and not enough running, and visa versa. I have been given advice on everything from religion to cholesterol. I believe that there is truth to all theories, even the ones that we tell other people because we too want to believe them. My free advice is, do what you enjoy doing and believe to make you happy, and do it often. My enjoyment of what I do has been largely due to my decision to enjoy them. My happiness is a choice, and I can choose to be as happy or miserable, as I would like. I enjoy watching people make decisions that will increase their happiness.
My dad recently made the decision to get off his ass and set a goal of running a 5k. True to form, he started chipping away at it, walking….walking….little waddle…walking….little run…mailbox to mailbox…walk…walk…light post to light post…walk…run…run…walk. He called me last Saturday to let me know that he had left the house without telling anyone, went to Overton Park, registered for a 5k he found online, and completed a 5k! He was quick to point out what he perceived to be a slow time, and I was quick to point out that I don’t give a fu*k. It is so inspirational to see someone make a decision to make a change and follow through with it. I am not proud because I want to see a 5k increase to a 10k, into a half, and into a marathon. I am proud because I get to see a walk around the block turn into an increase in happiness. The hardest part for me is not the exercise, but the ass kicking that I give myself during the exercise. Now that I have made it over that hurdle, the rest is just socializing in motion, good days, and better days. And remember……
“IT’S GONNA BE A GOOD DAY TODAY, RED”
Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,