This is how it works-
I love to run but there are times when I would rather not. This is when the voices start. Chants, name calling, guilt and reverse psychology is how they get me up and out the door. I don't really mind the voices and have actually started looking forward to their daily calls. Together we have formed a running club that supports, encourages and competes with each other. I love these peeps. They are much more experienced, talented and tougher than I am. Pushing me out the door, through the hard miles and up the monster hills when I am feeling lazy or want to give up. Some people have "real" training partners, coaches and support crews. My team is ALWAYS with me and helps me to keep my eye on the prize and not veer off the track. Sounds crazy- Yeah, probably is.........

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Night to Remember

There are times on a run that I want to quit, just give up, go home and call it a day. But I don't. I don't give up and quit because I know that the only way to achieve the impossible is through perseverance, hard work and dedication. This is not a secret, many people understand this. I was fortunate enough to see, in person, SEVERAL people with this attitude last Friday night at the Ozark County Relay for Life. The passion and commitment displayed by everyone involved, made me very proud to be a part of such a great community and AWESOME event. Without the support of everybody involved, I don't believe my “little” run would have been successful. Thankfully, it was, and many people carried me through the night.

Usually when I run a big event or a long distance, it has an early morning start time. This was just a little different with the Relay scheduled to kick off at 7 pm. Because I would be running for such a long period of time, this event was treated as a race. Most runners have a “race-day” routine and I am no different. The late evening start made this difficult and I spent my day doing “normal” things- a trip to the recycling center, in an effort to save the world one piece of plastic at a time, only revealed just how hot it was outside. Not a good sign but a little late to back out. Finally, around 6 pm. I ate my normal pre-race meal. Oatmeal. Much easier to eat in the morning but I needed to stay with the same routine.

At the track, I changed into the shirt with all the names wrote on it. Front and back, very cool. After setting up my “aid-station” with water, Gatorade, some candy and food, it was time. I thought. Never having been to a Relay before, I didn't know how things worked. The Survivor lap started and was pretty awesome to watch but I was a little disappointed because this meant that I would not be running the full 12 hours. My friend, Charley, showed up and we started running about 7:30. It was very warm and humid still but we kept the pace very slow to start. His mom, also a runner, joined us for a few miles before she had to leave.

I did wear a pink tutu for about an hour. It got a few looks and comments but that's okay because I know I looked like a beautiful princess or ballerina. Not sure how Charley felt about running with a dude in a dress but he is a great friend so he stuck with me. We ran together for about 3 hours before the track was cleared for the Luminaria ceremony. Again, I felt a little disappointed but Charley, who always makes the best of things, gave me some great advice before he left. Just enjoy the Relay, take it all in and focus on running the event, not a specific time or mileage, just run until the Relay ends. Great advice from a better runner- I'll take it every time.

After the ceremony, which only took about 15 minutes, I was back on the track. Things were still dark and it wasn't long before I found out why. Fireworks. Lots of them. Loud and bright. They were really cool but it made running difficult. Between the noise, flashes of light and the humidity, I was starting to feel rough and, just a little, cranky. I thought about quitting then, only 17 miles into the run, but decided to press on. I told myself to shut up and quit complaining, this was not about me. The run was to Honor others and not about me. The challenges they faced were a million times tougher than a little noise and some hot weather.

The lights came on and I was lucky enough to get a new running partner. Billy is 12 and as we circled the track together he told me about his mom. She passed away from cancer when he was in the second grade and we were running together in her memory. He surpassed all my expectations and even his own as we ran together for 3 ½ miles. We passed the time by talking about the world, the universe and everything in it. I can't explain how much those few mile meant to me, they are miles that I will always treasure. Thank you, Billy.

About 12:30, I was close to 25 miles in and starting to wonder. This is when the reinforcements arrived. Another friend, Tom, showed up and pushed me along for the next 10 miles. I know this was tough for him because of the humidity and the late hour but this is his nature. As we ran, the miles got easier and I managed to get my mind focused on finishing. Thanks for the help, Tom.

There were a lot of activities going on all night and it looked like everyone was having a great time. My wife, who is my biggest supporter and the greatest aid-station worker of all time, skipped all the fun and games to attend to my needs and track each loop around. I was afraid my GPS watch would not have enough battery life so, as a back up, she was marking each lap. She kept me hydrated and made sure that I was eating to keep going all night. I couldn't have made it even half the night without her help.

Around 4:30, the miles were getting hard. I had started walking a lap about every 1-2 miles and this was helping but mentally it was getting hard. Two more great people showed up to run with me. John and Norman, both had been at the event all night, changed into their running gear. They pushed me through the next hour. Bad weather started blowing in and they had to quit in order to pack up tents that were starting to blow away. Thanks to both of these guys. They kept me going at the loneliest time and I appreciate their help.

The last 45 minutes were solo miles and this gave me time to reflect. After 50 miles and almost 10 hours, I was an emotional mess. I choked back a lot of tears as I thought about all of those that have battled the MONSTER, from the many survivors that have fought and won to those that fought and lost. I was tired and hurting but the knowledge that, because of the dedication of so many, we will win the battle one day, I pressed on.

The Relay closed out a little early because of the weather and after one final lap, walking with everyone that stayed all night, it was over. I thought it would be cool to show my gymnastic skills as we finished. The cartwheel felt like Olympic caliber but I have watched the video and realize that I need to work on it a little, well, a lot.

The final numbers were 10 hours and 33 minutes (exactly, if you can believe that) and 54.08 miles. The pace was perfect and just were I had wanted it to be. My original goal was to reach 60 miles and I was on pace for 62. Oh, well there is always next year, get the checkbooks ready.

I also want to thank Alyssa, Wayne, Randy and Jodi who ran some laps with me and to Lisa, Melinda, Kay and my wife, Gayla, who walked with me when I needed it most. Thanks to everybody that donated and helped. Karla, Karen and the Brantingham Cattle team who helped bring in over $1300 in donations for this run, I am very proud to be a part of the Ozark County Relay for Life. There are so many dedicated and hard working people involved- they truly make a difference.

There will always be people that say something can't be done, make excuses why you shouldn't even try and outright laugh at your ideas. Ignore them- they are liars.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Running in Circles for 54 Miles

This video was a lot of fun for me to make. Probably not near as much fun for you to watch. It has a little bit of everything from running with friends, a REALLY good looking dude in a pink tutu, a lap around the track at 4 a.m. and a WHOLE lot of WOOOOO!!!!!'s. Oh, did I mention a cartwheel?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In Their Own Words - The Ride

Time to try something new. In case you haven't figured it out yet- I LOVE ME SOME ME. True story. I also love to hear about OTHER people pushing themselves beyond what they think is possible. It motivates and inspires me to hear about their journey and celebrate in their success. I hope to make this a regular part of the Voices Blog, so if you have a story to tell let me know-

This one is very inspiring and from a guy with a big heart. On June 13, 2010, Christopher Beltz participated in the Tour de Cure. A fundraising effort for the ADA held in Kansas City and a grueling test of endurance and dedication. Here is Chris- In His Own Words....

-The Ride-

"I have always been an active person and always loved the going to the gym, but I never really did much cardio. Hitting the weights is and will always be my favorite. But as I got older I noticed that my metabolism slowed down and I started to pack on unwanted weight. Dieting helped, but I still could not get that lean look. I realized that I needed to start doing cardio = not fun.

I tried running, but falling off a ladder a few years prior pretty much did my ankle in. So I took up a Spin class at the gym. I took it every Friday for a little over a year. After a year, I got the itch to buy a bicycle. It had been years since I was on a bicycle. I think the last bicycle I owned, I was 14 and it was a BMX bike. I had no idea what to look for, so to keep it simple I decided to buy a cheap beach cruiser. Nothing fancy, just a single gear cruiser. I missed being on a bicycle. I rode that cruiser around for most of the summer of 2008, but by the end of the summer I was looking at other bicycles. The cruiser was a good start, but I needed something that could pick up speed and get me to where I wanted to go, faster. Spring of 2009 is when I purchased my Schwinn Cutter. It’s just a single gear road bike. No bells and no whistles. I just can’t afford those fancy multispeed bicycles. I rode that bike all summer, making personal goals for myself. The largest goal that I made for myself was to ride 300 miles in one month, which I accomplished. Achieving a goal like that makes me want to set bigger goals. I always like pushing myself to the next biggest thing.

This year started out slow on the bicycle. It seems the forecast has called for rain every day. Needless to say, riding has been limited. Just a little over a month ago is when a co-worker asked if I wanted to ride in the Tour de Cure with him. It’s a benefit ride for diabetes. Without thinking twice, I told him I was on board. He said he and two other guys would sign up for the 40 mile ride and should have it done in 2 hours and 30 minutes. I started calculating in my head what that means to me. Now all I have is a single gear bike. Top speed before I bottom out is around 23 mph and that is pretty much all out peddling. So in order for me to finish the ride in that time, I needed to keep up a pace of 15 mph. The longest I have ever ridden in one day was 55 miles, but that was in a span of about 4 hours, taking my time. This was going to be a little bit of a challenge for me, especially since I have not ridden that much this year.

First and foremost, I wanted to help raise money for the ride. The first week out, I was able to raise $400! It’s a great feeling to know that I have wonderful friends and family to support me. I had such good response that I had to raise my goal twice. I ended up raising $670 total in about a 3 week period!
Now as far as training went, I was able to squeeze out a few rides here and there, but not as much as I would have liked. The weekend before the race, I was planning one more long ride. Friday night came and was almost over when clumsiness took place. I tripped and put my hand through a plate glass window, and I had to go to the ER. The cut was so deep that I lacerated the tendon on the side of my right hand. I left the ER with four stitches and my arm in half cast. The only thing I was concerned about was, how am I going to ride with this cast and stitches in my hand? I wasn’t about to cancel the ride. I had worked too hard to raise this money and well…there was a little pride in it for myself. It was a goal that I set and I wanted to accomplish it.

A week later, Sunday morning, it’s time for Tour de Cure. The half cast was off, but the stitches were still in. I’m stoked and ready to go. The forecast…rain of course. None the less, I packed my gear and wrapped up my hand to make sure the stitches stayed intact and headed out the door with the full support of Mandy; she was my pit stop crew, waiting on me at various points along the course. We got to the event and met up with my other 3 teammates. Here I am pulling out my single gear bike and they rode up on their $3000 plus road bikes. Talk about bringing a knife to a gunfight. I told them, “Try to keep up” jokingly as we rode up to the start.

Shortly after the start of the ride is when the rain started. This was the first time that I rode in the pouring down rain. It rained for the first 20 miles. I thought it was kind of nice and figured it might keep me cool. Around mile 22 is when the rain stopped and the hills started. Holy crap and talk about some hills. It seemed that no sooner that I topped one hill, the next one was going to be steeper. There was a moment that I felt my legs locking up on me, but not once did I stop in the middle. If I stopped, it was going to be that much harder to start up again.

Mile 24 we took our last pit stop. Knowing that the hills were not going to stop, I took off ahead of my teammates, figuring that they will catch up with me later. It wasn’t until 15 minutes after I finished the ride, they finally caught up. I ended up finishing the ride before them with a time of 2 hours and 42 minutes. I fell short of my goal by 12 minutes, but considering it was my first long ride, I was on a single gear bike, in the rain, stitches in my hand and the hills we endured; I will take that extra 12 minutes in stride. It was a sense of accomplishment that I have never experienced before. Best of all, it was for a good cause. I’m on the email list for more rides and benefits, but maybe I should start looking for a geared bike? Too many of those rides on my bicycle just might require knee surgery later on in life.

A special thanks to Mandy. She’s a marathoner. I’ve seen her accomplish some things I could never imagine doing. It was because of her that kept me going up those hills. Thanks Mandy, I love you!"

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Together We Can Make A Difference sucks. I guess this is something we all know but, for me, it has only been within the last 6 months that the realization of just how BAD IT SUCKS has set in. Of course I have always known that this disease is a monster but it was in a “scary movie” and not “real” sort of way. I now understand completely, just how real it is. Thankfully, BOTH of my parents are recovering, though at different paces, and the outlook is very promising but, like anything with this MONSTER, there are no guarantees. I should probably consider myself lucky and move on....but I won't. Not until we find a way to win- EVERYTIME, GUARANTEED.

I will (attempt to) run the 12 hours at Friday's Relay for Life event to honor those touched by this disease and hope to raise a few dollars for the cause. The question, for me, has been HOW to do this. The Honor Scroll? It crossed my mind, but let's save THAT for next time. A friend, and really the “brains” behind my nut-job ideas, came up with a great answer. We will write the names, that you send, on my shirt- they will be with me while I run. Also, we will put the names on a poster board and honor them on specific laps, miles or time of night. Numbers have significance- pick one that means something special and that will be devoted to the name you send.

I wish that was it but there is more......I have thrown the idea out on Facebook that I would do ANY stunt or gimmick for a fee. Smart, huh? It wasn't long before someone took me up on my offer. $100 bought my dignity- pretty cheap for this one- and I WILL wear a pink tutu for part of the run. If anybody has something else they would like to see- just make a donation and I will do it. (within reason- there will be children present) I promise there will be pics and hopefully some video.

Money does make a difference and I am not overlooking the importance of funding but as with the Honor Scroll, you do NOT have to donate (unless you request a stunt/gimmick- THAT does cost) just send me the names and time/lap/mile. They WILL be honored. I do this for a couple of reasons. First, I believe that what this is all about is HONOR. Second, cancer is expensive and the battle often has a HUGE financial impact on families and this should not add to that burden. If you can't afford to make a donation now- that is fine, I REALLY do get it, but let us still honor those that have fought or are fighting the battle, regardless.

The running will start at 7 pm Friday night and I expect to feel a little nervous and scared at the start, wondering what the night has in store for me. As the miles tick off and the clock moves ahead there will be some long stretches where I feel like quitting- but with your support- I won't. When I feel like giving up the most, the sun will rise to start a new day and I will be finished. Unfortunately, those with cancer will have to repeat this same scenario over and over until we find a way to beat it. PLEASE help make the difference.

If you want to run or walk some laps with me in honor of someone, please come and let me know. It would mean a lot to me that WE could do that together- you do NOT have to wear the pink tutu. If you want to “pass the hat” at your workplace or go door to door for donations- that would be pretty awesome too. I know that I ask for a lot but how else you gonna make things happen? Again thanks for all your support- TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.