Monday, June 08, 2009

A tough day...

(To any of you who strictly want to read about running, I apologize but this post will be a little more 'personal' than usual...)

About a week prior to the Green River Marathon I started, once again, toying with the idea of shooting for a 3:30... even went so far as mention it to 2 other 'cowboy' Maniacs (sorry, that's sort of an inside joke). But 'toying with' and really planning on doing it are two different things - my 'toying with' usually means, I do what I always do and hope for the best, and I was content to do that once again, well that is, until Friday morning...

Without going into the full details, I'll just say, I received very unexpected news Friday morning that my friend Stever had died early that morning, losing his one year battle with Leukemia (you may remember, he was my inspiration behind the '13 in 12' this past November through February). Among the million other things in my mind, was the thought that I wouldn't be running the next day, I was fine with that, but as the day progressed I was told by both Stever's wife and mother that I should run. Johanna, Stever's wife phrased it perfectly, she told me 'we have to do what we know how to do, I now how to garden on my hands and knees in the dirt and you know how to run... I'm going to garden tomorrow morning... you should run.' I can't say I was sure it would be the right decision, but never the less, I said I'd do it.

Friday night was a fairly late evening and Saturday morning seemed to come quite early (despite the 8:30am start time). I woke up, put on my shorts and "Stever's Fan Club" t-shirt, and prepared to head out. Once at the starting line I felt very out of place waiting for the race to begin, I couldn't exactly ignore other runners that I know but at the same time, I couldn't really announce 'hey, I'm only kinda, sorta here right now.' I faked my way through a few conversations and waited for the start.

(Stever's Fan Club shirt, only mine is orange)

Once the race began I kept to myself for about a whole 5 minutes, something about running makes me talkative I guess. I said 'hi' to a few familiar maniacs including race director Steve Barrick, and eventually found my self running with *tc (does he go by that name anymore?) and Pete Nicholson (MM # 207), whom I hadn't meet before. *tc blazed ahead after a bout a half mile but Pete and I continued to run the same pace for the first 14 miles, give or take. Pete's company allowed for good conversation, but regardless of what we talked about (mainly running, go figure) my thoughts would always drift back to Stever and his wife and family. Eventually, I just said what was on my mind - poor, Pete, I sure I was sort of a downer - I had to though, verbalizing it only seemed fair, it was that, or I could continue to try and hold a conversation while occasionally zoning out.

(Pete looking strong, me, on the other hand - I'm just keepin' up)

Somewhere around mile 14, Pete told me he was going to peel off and use a rest room, I was fairly confident I'd see him again as he was still running strong and I really had no idea how long these 8 minute miles would last. I continued on, keeping an eye on the Garmin trying my best to stick to the pace. At about mile 17 I caught up with *tc and asked him if he had a 3:30 in him, he said he didn't (he was still recovering from a recent 100 miler) but suggest I try and keep up with the person in front of us for pacing, we wished each other well and I continued on pushing my pace.

(Essential running gear for Saturday 6/6: fake smile & "Stever's Fan Club" t-shirt)

By the time mile 23 came I felt spent, I opted to walk momentarily for just a short break, as will sometimes happen that walk just kept getting longer and longer - 'the next light pole... no, no, the next light pole...' I was literally walking away from the 3:30 goal. I thought long about my next move, I thought about Stever, and, despite not being a spiritual person, I thought to Stever... I thought about all that was going on, then I started to run again... hard.

Miles 24 through 26 were sub 8 minute miles with the final .2 being run at a sub 7 minute mile pace. I felt every step of it. I finished gasping for air and drenched in sweat with a 3:29:39 to show for the effort . As soon as the running stopped the hobbling began, my right foot had cramped up right under my arch, it felt like I had a softball lodged in my foot. I wiggled my way down the beach, took off my socks and shoes, and stood in the sound for a few moments hoping the cold waters might help - it did, but only slightly. I hobbled around a bit more until I was able to arrange a ride home from the ever helpful and friendly Jon Yoon (MM# 467).

That's essentially it, I must admit, I'm at a loss on how to end this post, so I'll instead of a tidy little wrap up, I'll just say this... right now, until June 22nd, the National Marrow Donor Program is offering Marrow Donor Registry kits for free, these kits are simple and give you the opportunity to possibly save a life. Please follow this link, 'click the "Join" button, and GET REGISTERED! -


Steve S said...

My best friend mine passed away a few years ago. We were golfing buddies and I haven't played much since. Go ahead and be in your grieving space for as long or short as you feel. Talking about them, the good memories, and your sense of loss is great therapy, so express yourself with friends and family. They are there to help. We have to accept but don't have to forget. Take care Nic, you will be always be his good friend.

Ovens2Betsy said...


I am SOOOO sorry to hear about Stever. I wish I had known on Saturday, as I would have given you a great big hug. You made him proud, I'm sure.


Melinda said...

I'm so very sorry, Nic. But what you and Rachael are doing now to spread the word about being a marrow donor (and what you did in running the 13 in 12) is a wonderful way to honor him and all those who love him. Take good care.

Matt said...

There isn't any tidy little wrap-up, but that's a good thing. Your memories of Stever will linger the rest of your life, offering encouragement when you're really having a rough time (or just kicking my butt in a race).

jessica said...

what a post, i'm sorry for your loss, but you have a lifelong friend in Stever and now his family too. I registered to be a bone marrow donor through Team in Training and I regulary give blood - the importance is too great not to give when you are able. You did an amazing thing running that race - it was your therapy, I completely agree - you have to do what you do to grieve and recover. You made Stever proud! Keep up the good work and take care of yourself!

Aaron Cunningham said...

Sorry to hear about Stever.

I think that his wife was right, you did what you know how to do, and the kick at the end was the best tribute you could have given him.

Life is a messy, unfinished thing, even at it's end. Keep him in your heart, and keep spreading the word.

Jon said...

Dude, my condolences to you and the people affected by your friend's passing.

It was good seeing you at GRM (and your neon green house).