Wednesday, March 5, 2008

26.2 Mile Class Room: LA Marathon

Hello Everyone,

Recap of the LA Marathon adventure....

Drove down to LA Convention Center the day before to pick up my race number, a sensor to attach to my non-existant shoes (made an elastic ban out of an old cycling jersey sleeve and velocro to attach it above my ankle.) Drove the coarse from Start to Finish and notices quiet a few rough spots but didnt get out of the car to let my bare feet evaluate what I was rolling over. Not the wisest thing I did.... Coarse changes directions often which is good. No long boreing stretches. Goes through a lot of different neighborhoods, barios, business districts, upscale and down scale. Strange how driving 26.2 miles seems long but running it doesnt? (I know that doesnt make sense to those who have not run that distance before, but even with the amount of time and effort it takes to run a marathon it just seems to give you something good that car driving can't)

Race Day:

The day started out by my waking up at 3 AM ready to have my morning quiet time with the Lord and eventually getting showered, shaved and my stuff gathered for the commute to LA.

Woke my lovely wife and kids in time enough to have breakfast and go over their support roles for the day... Meeting me at various mile markers along the way.

We all loaded up and took all of an hour or so to get to Universal Studios near the Start Line for my drop off. Arrived about an hour or so before Start time. There was already thousands and thousands of people in the streets and massive lines for the hundreds a out houses they had a couple blocks back from the Start area. There were UPS trucks to haul folks stuff to the Finish area for free. I passed all this to head on over to as close to the front of the "Second Corral" which is where I was to report too for Starting.

I had made contact a day or so earlier with a fella out of Huntington Beach called Barefoot Bob. Bob seems to just about run a marathon a month if there is any around the area being put on and of coarse... Barefoot.

He was to meet up with me near the Start Line. (Told me to look for a "Bennie Hat with a Propeller on it!") I got up to about 40-60 people deep from the front of the Second Corral and looked for him. Tried texting where I was but I think the crowds of runners where to dense for him to get up to me before the start.

We were packed in like sardines shoulder to shoulder and someone bumping into my camel back hydration pack from behind. Never been amongst so many people who were committed to doing something that required so many to dig so deep into life itself! The atmosphere was buzzing with energy.

They set off the Wheel Chair racers first... Then a few minute later the Pro Women... then about 19 min later the Pro Men... a few later us.

We were so packed in that it took a few minutes for my row to even begin walking forwards. I quickly realized that the road under my bare feet was covered with dropped water bottles, socks, arm warmers, and blankets folks had used to keep warm and hydrated while waiting. Looked like someone had dumped the Good Will bin in the street.

Eventually I crossed the Start line and we were off.... within about 100 ft beyond that... running... Like a herd of gazelles let loose or water behind dam busting free there was bodys flailing nad flying everywhere.

The challenge initially was to find gaps between people to move forward at a pace I was comfortable with. I forgot about my feet completeley for several miles as the road climbed then descended towards North Hollywood.

Barefoot Bob and a couple other Barefooter's caught up with me around mile around Mile 8 I think and ran with me until about mile 12.

It was somewhere between 8 and 12 that I noticed a prickly sensation developing in the bottoms of my feet. I thought perhaps they were warming up after standing around on the cool pavement before the start. By about mile 11 I began to notice a heat sensation under both in the balls of the feet and big toes. So I knew something was changeing but not sure what yet. By Mile 12 I noticed a squishy sensation under the ball of my right foot... thought maybe something was stuck to my foot...

Just passed Mile 12 one of the barefoot guys dropped off for a Gatorade or Water station and I pulled off to evaluate what was going on with my feet. They seemed to be getting hot and squishy.

I spotted a blister bulge on my right big toe so it was a no brainer to unstrapped my Vibram Five Fingers (See link on the side bar)and knew there wasn't enough skin left to go this speed for another 14.2 miles. My feet felt hotter than I could ever remember them feeling before but I was in the moment and just slipped on the Vibrams and motored onwards....

Over the next few miles I became acutely aware that my foot temperature continued to increase to the point where they felt as if they had been sliced open with razors, dowsed with alcohol and set on fire! I could feel more and more squishiness as the miles clicked off and my speed slowed wwwwwwaaaaaaaaayyyyy down to an almost pedestrian pace. I took cups of water from the aid stations and dowsed my feet, ran through a few firemans hose sprays and fire hydrant sprays to keep the inferno managable.

As I told the kids before I started when they asked if I was going to barefoot it the whole way I told them.... You might have to foam the runways when I come in for a landing at the finish as I might be leaving a trail of red if it gets to rough but I ain't quittin! :o)

Well, let's say those words came to mind a few times along the way but having come from all the pain I've endured in my decades of bicycle racing and marathoning back in the 70's I knew I wouldnt quit. Matter of fact I found myself breaking out of my tunnel vision and began to notice all the variety of people around me and how many of them that were now passing me that I had passed early on!

I was passed my 12 yr old kids, married couples holding hands and pushing baby in jog strollers, Elvis - twice!, Maryln Monroe, Mother Theresa! I swear I slowed to grab a couple orange slices from a lady passing them out at about mile 19 and someone tht looked like someones great grand mother came shuffling by me! I couldn't think of anything by praise to God for putting me in the middle of this parade of souls that had do little respect for the grave!

It was inspiring.... I then realized the Lord had put in what most would describe as a bad situation only to get me to notice his majesty amoungst the people he brought along for that days journey. I felt so blessed and priveliged.

Back to the marathon...

Since my speed had evaporated the remaining miles went by ever slower and I found myseld noticing more and more off the souls that pushed on at the back of the field despite everything in them saying "Stop" I was so impressed. I started sharing words of encouragement and hope as I came upone each one that seemed to in more trouble than my poor feet...

By mile 24 my legs decided that my feet had probable lost their entire soles anyway so they upped the tempo a bit even though it felt like running on molten lava! The crowds were filled with souls singing and holding signs words of encouragement to everyone that came by. Never aw that at the 1000's of bike races I've been in....

I thought I loved running over this past year a lot. I am smitten.... I love running with others... The more the merrier!

Any how the Finish Line eventually appeared. Thoughts like... "I don't think I'm going to take my Vibrams off until I get home came to mind.... I was concerned that when I did the whole sole of my feet were going to stay in the shoes and I'd be looking at red raw meat and be unable to walk to the car or get out of it once I got home."

Well I crossed the line at 6:19:03 (not the under 3 hours I'd invisioned) but a whole lot richer for the experience! Someone hung a metal over my neck for having finished and I began walking onwards through the tunnel of people wondering what I was going to feel next since I'd powered down my engine that wouldn't quit. Wondered where my family was.... Then I got a Text... "We see you!" and my spirit rose up once again looking for them.... amidst thousands and thousands of kindred spirits.... I walked about another block or two and waited near a blasting rock and roll band while they worked their way through the crowds to find me while I stretched and felt out my body to see if it was only my feet that were damaged.

Amazingly the burning in my feet began to subside even while I was waiting for Barb and the kids to find me!

I drank some water and soaked up the presence of the Lord there with us all... Absoluelty amazing moments....

They found me! Hugs! Yeahhhhh!

Forgot to mention Barb and the kids tried to meet me at various mile markers (about every 5 miles or so) but we never caught glimpses of each other! There was just so many people lining the road on both sides I could not slow down enough to focus and sort out what I was looking at in the masses to make out if they were amongst them anywhere.

We had come upon the movie 300 nearing it's end just before bedtime the night before and Barb mentioned in retrospect that 2 parts of the movie stuck in her mind....

One was "Come home with your shield or upon it!" and the the other was that the women and kids in the days of old did not get to see their warrior husband - father until after he had completed his battle!

And it was important for me to know they would be there after all was said and done :o)

We made our way to the car and Barb drove us home. I munched the couple of egg sandwiches I made that morning and sipped a bit of water. I fully expected my legs to sieze up from sitting in car for the drive home but they didn't. I expected my feet to hurt even more when I got out of the car and they actually felt better. I expected the climb up the stairs to our bedroom and the shower to be painful but it wasn't... I sat in my up stairs office chair and gathered my courage to remove my Vibrams to unvail the carnage only to find a thumb sized blister on my right big toe, a 2 inch across blood blister on that same foots outer heal. (See picture) and what was hand soft skin over the rest of the bottoms of my feet now thick and leather like from being cooked several layers deep I guess! I was blown away! I couldn't believe my eyes! No skin flaps falling off! I was expecting second to third degree burns that would require 2+ weeks to heal!

I drank an extra 2 oz of my GBG Liquid Multivitamins and made a Silk Soy Milk shape with MA Plus and a bit of extra protien powder and off to the showers.

Stretched a bit more and Barb asked me if I wanted to go to church in an hour... I felt pretty dog gone good! Christian made me some large zip locks of ice cubes and water to rest the soles of my feet on and off we went. Barefoot and all :o)

Kept my feet on the ice throughout the service and enjoyed the worship, chatting with all those who prayed over me the night before at our pre marathon carbo party and came home to lanch the now almost exploding blisters.

Kids got a kick out the fountains that erupted and to my surprise by the next morning 40% of the tenderness was gone! Resting heart rate was at 46 BPM only up 4 over normal waking rate.

I discovered I had some tightness in the right front of where my thigh and hip meet which I've come to realize is probably the last residiul tight spot from my appendectomy from when I was about 12- or 13. So I've got some work to do to open up the tissues in that area. (Hint Hint: Tucker Sharp my Body Tune Up Pro: See link on the right: Hellerwork!)

I had Barb take me into work on Monday and I worked a full shift.... walked kind of slow but ok... Tuesday: Waking heart rate back to 42 BPM so I ran the 10 miles round trip to work work and back no problem with Vibrams (I washed them of coarse! Well, Barb did :o)

We went out to our Small Group Bible Study and Worship gathtering in Moreno Valley after work and got home about 11 PM I think....

Slept like a brick last night and as normal woke up at 5 AM ready for another day.

No gas in the tank this morning so had Barb drive me into work and bring me home. Feeling hungry for another run already though... Think I'm ready to bare foot it again!

Let's see.... A whopping 3 days have gone by since my feet caught on fire (oh forgot to mention I know now what the tingling sensation was at about mile 12... GLASS! I picked a total of 6 shards of glass out of both feet! That's what set off the initial "Fire Alarm" and escalated it over the miles! I didnt realize they were in my feet until I began lightly massaging my feet and would hit spots that reminded me of getting Fiber Glass in my hands years ago. They were all beer bottle glass (brown) and tweezers and a needle fished them out fine.

As I reflect on all this I see the hand print of the Lord all over this experience!

The wonderful friends in the Lord I have the prayed for me in this journey!

The fact that my work paid for it when I couldnt afford it. My parent company being the primary sponsor of the whole event. My wife and children being there and not being able to see me once they dropped me off until I finished despite them having Navigation and being able to easily zero in on each mile marker and get to them.

Having a "Foot Blow Out" only to become aware of all the souls the Lord was running with that day and the work he was doing in their lives along with mine! The pain I had to become larger than through his grace and encouragement.

The magical healing of my feet in record time! By the Way.... Back in my Bicycle Road Racing Days I was in some really nasty crashes where I slid sideways on my side throught corners at over 40 mph and burned off all the skin from ankles to shoulders only to find that 3 days later the scabs fell off and I was back to pink skin and riding again pain free! No human can heal like that alone! That's all God! Gods Grace! He's been with me all along! I feel so blessed.

Thank you Lord Jesus :o) Thank you for loving on me when I didn't know that you were there for and with me in person.

Despite all the drama and gore I've portraited here upon this page. I want all who read this to get it that the pain is temporary.... The Victory.... Last forever.... Bring Jesus into whatever it is he puts into your heart to bring glory to his kingdom.

Remember him in everything you do... In every thought you ponder... He is power, the beauty, the glory behind all things.

Gods Kid,


PS: There is a "Comments" icon below if you have words of wisdom, comedy, prayer or just want want acknowledge that I am not normal nor what society calls sane :o)

PSS: The Lord has put it upon my heart and SOLE(S) that there is not only more 26.2's ahead but 50's and 100's... Barefoot of coarse.... Walk and Run in Christ... All things are possible...

1 comment:

Ritz Henson said...

Praise God! You made it...and learned somtjong great along the way. Whether by Devine design, or circumstance ( what we call it when God chooses to remain anonymous), you were forced to slow down. In doing so you were blessed with yet a DEEPER appreciation of our LORD. If for no other reason at all... That alone, would make this marathon a success! I'm happy to have friends like you. Peace, Ritz