Tuesday, March 31, 2009

David And The Little Rock Marathon

The following is a post from my very first ever "Guest Blogger"!

My brother David participated in the Little Rock Marathon. This has been, by far, one of the biggest accomplishments he has ever done in his life.

I asked him to share with you, my readers, and he sent this to me telling me it wasn't very "bloggable".......That I needed to shorten, edit or cut it up.

I think not.

The official finish line crossing photo at the end of his post is priceless to me. (I ordered it off of the official marathon web site.)

Here's David's post,...just like he wrote it:


Sunday March 15th 2009, I ran in my first marathon. I ran it in memory of my niece Jae Lynn Russell, who tragically died on March 18th 2004.

As recent as 9 months ago, running a marathon was inconceivable to me.
3 years ago, my wife and I decided that we needed to get in shape and so we joined a local gym.
We both started walking on treadmills a few times a week.

After about 6 months, a friend (Jack Long) who attends church with me, and who was a member of the same gym, approached me and asked if I would be interested in running on a relay team over a ½ marathon, in the upcoming Little Rock Marathon. His daughter was a runner from high school, and was going to run the half marathon, and Jack felt we were both needing a challenge, and proposed that we compete against his daughter (with us running the ½ relay).
I agreed, and neither Jack nor I have looked back.

We competed in that race (2007), ran the ½ marathon ourselves (13.1 miles) in 2008 and this year, joined a Little Rock Marathon training group in July 2008, with the intent of a possible marathon run, but still not committing. We actually didn’t commit until January 2009, still thinking that it was not possible for us to do this.
As the date approached, Jack would not get to compete in the 2009 Little Rock marathon, (instead he is doing the Nashville marathon in April 2009).

The training has been very thorough and tough, but I felt I was as prepared as I could be.
Somewhere in the fall of 2008, we discovered that the 2009 Little Rock Marathon, would be on the same date as the 3 Cheerleaders annual fundraising banquet.
The dates were set for March 15.

At that time, I still had not actually registered for the marathon, wanting to wait, to see if I could actually complete the training, and really run that distance. Anyway, I decided that if I did run, I would run in memory of my niece Jae Lynn Russell, one of the 3 Cheerleaders and that I would try to raise some monies for the scholarship goals, that have been set in memory of Jae.
Jae would have been 21 this year and probably still in college.

The more I considered this, the more I was motivated to run the event—but still hesitant, and afraid of the unknown.

The race was Sunday (3-15-09) and I have completed the marathon.
It was definitely harder than I expected.
My race time was not exceptional—rather it was fairly slow.
However, I am proud that I did run and proud of the opportunity to run for Jae.

There were several significant moments, when I look back at the event.

1) Showing Becky the race shirt that was monogrammed on the back "In Memory of Jae Lynn Russell" and on the pocket "Gone Fishing Jae Lynn Russell".

2) The bible verses in Hebrews Chpt. 12: v1-2, that my oldest daughter left me in a note that morning, referencing the fact that we are "surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses" and that we run the race of life not for ourselves, but for the glory of the Lord. (Jeffers paraphrase)

3) Starting the race with my daughter Amanda and her husband-Ryan (who were running the ½ marathon)

4) Around mile 14--Listening on my ipod to the David Crowder Band singing the song "Indescribable (Oh Praise Him)", and thinking about Heaven and Jae, and my dad, who have both gone on to Heaven, and listening to the words of the song, about the sounds of Heaven, and just as I am nearing the Pulaski Heights Baptist church, --suddenly hearing the church bells start ringing—
It was a praise the Lord moment.

5) Around mile 17, another runner running alongside me, asked me who Jae Lynn Russell, was.
After I told him about Jae, he told me that he understood the grief of losing someone as he had lost his wife, 4 years ago.
As he passed me, I yelled out to him, "What was her name?"(remembering the significance of a name) and he turned and yelled back "Nancy". I repeated her name out loud, thinking how significant a name was, and that he probably needed to hear her name again.

6) Nearing mile 21, my thoughts drifted to considering what I would do, when I crossed the finish line. Should I just raise my arms,… just smile, …do nothing or what?
I decided that I would raise one arm up to Jae, and to look up at the heavens, and also raise 1 finger –showing Christ is the only 1 way.

7) Realizing around mile 19 that I was going to have to go to work to complete the race in under 6 hours.
I did lots of mental calculations in my head, and when I crossed the last relay point 20.1 miles at 4 hrs 27 minutes, I knew I was behind.
I was exhausted, and had horrible running form then, hearing the scraping sounds of my shoes, as they barely lifted off the pavement.
I challenged my self to fix my running form and at the same time, mentally committed to run a long run again (during the past 3 miles, I had been running and walking).
I started at mile 21 and ran to mile 22.
Then I walked mile 23, then started running again, setting goals as to where I would give in to fatigue.
I got to the point of the race called Dillard’s Hill—a large bridge and hill. I walked the uphill portion of this section and ran the downhill portion, still mentally checking my time and whether I would finish under 6 hrs.

8) As I neared the finish line, I really wanted to be below 6 hours, and didn’t have a lot of time (or energy), as it was close to the 6 hr mark.
My son, Nathan, had ran out about ½ mile from the finish and met me, and urged me to finish strong. I jogged in (exhausted at this point) and with his help, was able to keep it up for the entire ½ mile, making my goal of finishing under 6 hours.
Without his help, I would not have been able to do this.

9) As I approached the finish line, a group of friends and my family were there to cheer me on, and the encouragement it gave me was immeasurable. I looked at each of them intently as I passed them, and waved to my granddaughter Emma, as I passed her.
Nathan and Aundra yelled for me to "dig" and I sprinted the 200 yards of the chute towards and across the finish line.
As I raised my arm and looked up, and raised my one finger pointing to Christ, I became very emotional.
I had not expected this from myself, but did not hide it as I wept and as I praised God for finishing.

10) The prayers offered up for me, as I ran the event. Some of them are; My Sunday school class participants, the people at the 3 Cheerleaders fund raiser, my friend Jack who was visiting his father’s SS class in North Carolina and many of those who I had informed that I would be running the race.

11) This feeble comparison of what happens after you finish a race like this-to what happens when you enter Heaven—they call you by name as you finish, you don’t have to do anything, it is done for you by others in the finish area, you receive new clothes, you receive nourishment, you receive accolades for finishing, you get to finally see your loved ones, you receive a medal (crown), there are special areas for the finishers.

It was harder than I expected.
The joy of running for my niece was more than I expected.
The training periods and runs were longer and more than I expected.
The mental challenge of running a marathon was greater than I expected
The monies raised on behalf of Jae’s scholarship were greater than I expected.
The achievement was greater than I ever imagined possible, even now, I do not really believe I am a marathoner or actually ran that far. Will I run again?---Yes
Will I run a marathon again?---maybe.
I am not scared of it, but the commitment to do it was and is significant.
I am most thankful for the significant moments that I encountered and glad that I did it.



TheBrownings said...

I am so glad you had dad write that! Something to keep forever! I love the picture too!

Rhonda Rae said...

what an awsome blog. and the pic is amazing.

Cindy Adams said...

Okay, I am commenting on this through my tears.....congratulations David! Better move over sister!....it was definitely bloggable!

Kevin Brooks said...

Wow...What a photo and what a testimony. I knew you could do it. I am glad that you shared your story and I know you cannot put a value on the scholarship funds you were able to raise out of the generous hearts of friends and loved ones.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.



JTCRangers said...

Makes me extremely proud to be a part of this family - way to go and what an accomplishment!!

Harold Hicks said...

David, what a great testimony to Jae, your Faith and your Family. Non-runners don't realize the comittment required to run and to do so later in life requires even more. It would seem Jae is still inspiring others all the way from Heaven.