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.........

Friday, April 27, 2012

Some Days.....

The 3rd Annual Honor Scroll Run.... I’ve been struggling to find the words to properly describe the events of that day. I still don’t quite have the words but I will give it a shot here.

Some days are harder than others. Some days are more challenging than others. Some days ask more from us than we want to give. These are the days that test our physical ability and mental toughness. This was one of those days. To say that I was surprised by this would be an understatement. Coming in, I felt fully prepared and ready to set a PR for me on this course. I was very confident that this would happen. Uhhhhh......

I love running. I love ultras. I love the trail. Everything about the Ouachita 50 Mile Trail Race screams my name. It’s a rugged trail that starts with a huge climb over Pinnacle Mountain at mile four that leaves your legs begging for mercy. Normally, I love this climb but not this year. I could tell even before starting the ascent that it was going to be a loooooong day. My legs were toast before the climb which was not a good sign.

I felt completely drained and didn’t seem to have any energy right from the start. This wasn’t too alarming because, like many runners, I have a lot of days that start this way but get to feeling a little better with each passing mile. This is what I expected to happen but, oddly enough, it went the exact opposite. By mile 5, it felt like I had ran a marathon and at mile 10 I was ready to quit. Yes, I said quit. Of course I didn’t but I was ready to. At mile 10. Ridiculous but true.

There is an opportunity to drop down to the 50k at mile 15. Take the left fork and tell the race officials you’re scaling back- no big deal. This option was added for days like this and people like me that just weren’t “feeling it”. ~Take the left fork. Do the 50k. Otherwise you are screwed, dude.~ Yeah. I never was good with directions. I took the “other” left and continued on the 50 mile trail. Why? Because that’s what WE came to do.

WE? Oh yeah.... WE. There were 110 names on the Honor Scroll this year and WE were on a mission. 50 miles. Each year I draw strength from those names and their stories. This year, I had to tap into that power much earlier in the race than I had in the past.  The emails and stories that come in during these events are unbelievable and inspiring. I really don’t think I would have made it much past 15 miles without that “secret weapon”.

From mile 15 to about mile 22 there is a long, lonely stretch of trail that seems to go on forever. I always end up running this part by myself and this year was no exception. It is a great time to reflect on life, the universe and everything in it. This time I spent these miles in a silly and senseless state of self pity. I was very disappointed by my progress, pace and the lack of energy I had. I was less than 20 miles in. ~20 miles? I can do that in my sleep. What the hell is going on??~ Basically, I was in “crybaby” mode and looking for excuses.

I hit mile 26 and the turnaround area at just under 5 hours. This was about 45 minutes slower than I had planned. Whatever. I decided to spend about 10 minutes with my drop bag and tried to regroup. This strategy has worked in other events when I was starting to feel zapped. It seemed to work. I jumped back on the trail and took off with a smile. Things felt great. Time to find my stride..... This lasted about 30 seconds and then things returned to “normal”.

At this point, I decided to embrace the fact that “my” day was shot. I reconciled with the notion that this would not be a PR day. In fact I knew that it would be my slowest 50 mile time yet. I had been humbled by the trail and I decided to just shut up and run. Self pity is not something I’m good at or accept from others. Time to get it together. ~Some days you set a State Record and other days the trail kicks your ass.~ This realization helped put things into perspective as I continued through the miles.

It still hurt, I still struggled but it was with a new outlook. I was back to joking with people and screaming WOOOOOOO!!!! as I hit the aid stations. This always gets a positive response from the spectators and volunteers. I passed a few runners and was passed by a few. It was a strange feeling to be passed in the late miles of a race and NOT really care. I was just happy to still be moving in a positive and relentless forward motion.

Coming down the final stretch I thought about my day. It was hard. It was tough. It was, at times, miserable. It was over. It was NOTHING compared to a tough, hard or miserable day for those on the Scroll. They’ve all had days that were 100 times more difficult before breakfast. Mine was a simple mind game not the horrible reality faced by those I had the high privilege of carrying with me that day. ~It could be worse. Much worse.~   Anybody that has raised money knows what an emotional drain it can be. I’m a teary eyed kind of guy so it wasn’t surprising to me that I cried with only a few miles to go.

In the end, WE crossed the finish line in 10 hours 21 minutes for 19th place overall. Not exactly what I had planned but the fact is that I have been blessed with MANY good days- one bad day is fair. In the end, I didn't carry the Honor Scroll, it carried me. The event raised over $1,600 for the ACS and brings the yearly total close to $5,000. That blows me away and makes me tear up when I think about how AMAZING your support has been. By myself I am just a wanna-be runner but with your help I have a purpose. Thank you. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kate's Story

Sometimes fundraising can be mentally draining and I question whether or not it matters. Then I get an email like this. Thanks Kate. You are an inspiration.

-----Original message-----
From: Kate Themel 
Fri, Apr 6, 2012 19:37:51 GMT+00:00
Honor Scroll
Hi David,
I would be thrilled to be added to the honor scroll. Is it okay to put my own name? I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2003 at age 32.  (Fully recovered now).

But a year of surgery, chemo, radiation and steroids left my lungs & body a total mess.  I once spent a week in the hospital for a pulmonary embolism and later for a toxic reaction to the chemo drug bleomycin.  By the time I was done with treatment in 2004 I could barely walk up the stairs without being out of breath, my muscles had atrophied to the point where I needed to hold onto something to get from kneeling to standing.  This was me at 33 years old – I felt like I was 90!

The first big step toward reclaiming my health was “running” a 5K with my sister in 2005.  We came in dead-last and second-from-dead-last.  Oh well, guess that’s why they call it a starting point!  We didn’t even make it onto the results board that year. The following year we finished in just over 45 minutes, mostly walking.  We’ve done races every year and have steadily improved our finish times.  My biggest problem has been learning to control my breathing and staying mentally focused. 
When I first started running I would get a little out of breath (big surprise) but then I’d start to panic.  It reminded me of those treatment days when my Oxygen level was so low I’d get dizzy and my skin would literally look bluish gray. Not a good look.

Good news:  My lungs are now functioning at 100% and I’m so much stronger than I was before. But it was hard to get past that fear & lack of trust in my own body.

I may not be the fastest runner out there but I think I’m at a turning point right now.  This year I hit 2 big milestones – finished a regulation 5K in 37:45 (first time under 40 min).  And the 2nd milestone was even better; I finished with a smile on my face!  That had never happened before.  I didn’t get panicky, mentally yell at myself, freak out or sabotage myself with excuses.  I switched those voices in my head to “This is easy. Your legs are strong. Your lungs are fine. Just look around. It’s a nice day to run.”  It really was a beautiful day.

I don’t know if you need all this kind of back story, but I wanted to share it with you because I’ve read your blog for a while and it has inspired me in a lot of ways.   
Even if my name doesn’t get on it, I’d like to send you a donation for the Honor Scroll. I can do PayPal if you have that.  Let me know what works for you. 
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on running & life in general.  

Wishing you MANY years of good health and fun trails,
~Kate Themel
(Twitter alter ego: KatesOwnRants)

Kate Themel, artist

Friday, April 6, 2012

3rd Annual Honor Scroll

At the finish line in 2010

April 2010. This is when it started. I was struggling to understand how cancer has suddenly and silently slipped into my life. This disease that affected "other" people had decided to attack BOTH of my parents in the few months prior. It was difficult for me to comprehend that something this vicious could so quickly alter the quality and direction of life. I spent a lot of time questioning the how and why of things while sitting around the hospital as my Dad underwent surgery for esophageal cancer. Less than 2 months later, I asked these same questions again as doctors operated on my Mom for colorectal cancer.

Sitting around asking questions without answers did nothing but confuse me more. I am a runner. So I would slip away and go for a run when I could. These were the mind clearing, therapeutic, stress relieving, all around feel good runs that you hear runners talk about. Most were short but a few were longer. It was on one of these "longer" runs that I quit asking "Why" and started asking, "What are you going to do about it?"

Huh? Me? What could I do about it. I can't do anything about it. I'm not a doctor, scientist, or wizard. I don't have unlimited funds to donate for research. I don't have anything special to offer. I'm just a normal dude. That runs. A lot. Wait..... I'm not a genius so it took a few more miles before it all clicked. Run. Raise money to fight back. Seemed so simple....

There are some wonderful people in my community that unite through the Relay for Life and share the common goal of a world without cancer. With their help and passion to fight back, we were able to put together the Honor Scroll Run. The original idea was to add 50 names of people that have battled cancer to an "honor scroll" and carry it for 50 miles in the Ouachita 50 mile trail race in Little Rock, Arkansas and raise a couple of bucks for the Relay......

This started as a personal journey, to see what I could do, to find a way that I could help, to help ME cope, deal and understand this horrible disease. I understand so much more now because of the incredible character and desire of so many. By the end of that first 50 miles, I was crying. Not because of anything to do with me- It had NOTHING to do with me. That was an amazing and game changing realization. WE are in this fight together. WE all hate cancer. WE are on this journey together.

On April 21st, WE will once again climb Mt. Pinnacle and travel the rugged terrain of the Ouachita 50 while carrying an Honor Scroll. We will again beg ask for donations of $5 per name. This will be the 3rd year for the Honor Scroll event and over the past 2 years, about 350 people have been honored and close to $3,000 donated to the ACS for this. THAT is amazing. Please join us to make this year the biggest and best yet. You can DONATE ONLINE HERE.

2010 and 2011 Honor Scrolls unrolled on the stairway to my basement.

I do want to remind you that donations are secondary and are NOT mandatory, I will carry the names REGARDLESS. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DONATE in order for their name to be listed on the scroll.
 Please just take a minute to think about it. Remember- I will be honored to carry the names with me even if you do not make a donation.

You can contact me by email me at to add a name. Or catch me on twitter. Or facebook. Or text/call if you have my #. Or chase me down if you see me running. Or just fill out this FORM.

Checks can be made out to the American Cancer Society and mailed to my address:
David Murphy
HC 72 Box 324-8
Wasola, MO 65773

To donate through my Relay for Life page....

Donate HERE

To donate through PayPal.....

In times of great despair and uncertainty, it helps to know you’re not alone and that there is an answer–hope.