It's All I Can Do

Day 86, Sunday, August 24, 2014

This morning Adam picked me up around 7:30 from my hotel. First stop? Mickey D’s for my drive through breakfast. I love me a breakfast burrito meal, or two. Off to the park we went where we met up with “The Human Guard Rail,” the man, the myth, the legend, Matt.

We turned into the wind and began putting time and distance behind us. As we ran we were joined by three other people, mom, pop and daughter – Debbie, John (I hope I am correct with his name), and Katie. Lots of runners mean lots of fun conversations – and there was.

Katie is a nurse, working in a cancer ward, and enjoys what she is doing. I have a great deal of respect for those who work in medicine. That respect is even greater for those who work with people who are at the end of their lives. A positive though, is the increasing majority of those who battle cancer and go on to live long lives.

After completing one loop around the park, about five miles, we headed off to the Trinity Lutheran church, where Pastor Jim Page is one of the pastors. I sat with Adam, his wife and their family.

In case you were wondering, yes. I was still in my wet, smelly running gear. On top of that, I had not had a haircut since early June. So there I was, bushy and smelly in a church pew during a Sunday service.

Near the end of the 45 minute service (the Trinity Lutheran pastors pride themselves on getting everyone out quickly on Sunday services.), Pastor Jim asked Adam to bring me to the front of the church. He allowed me to speak to the congregation about the run and why I was doing it. Then we returned to our pew. At the end of the service, Pastor Jim said there would be a collection plate in the rear of the building for those who would like to donate to the run/cystic fibrosis and that I would be in the entrance/exit area for those who would like to talk with me. I’m not sure how many people I spoke with, maybe ten or twelve. (By the by, running gear “ripens” as it dries on a body. Those were brave people who spoke with me, or, they had no sense of smell).

After the church crowd thinned out, Adam hurried me along so he could get me to the next group of runners who were going to be running with me and were patiently waiting. As we approached Adam’s vehicle, Pastor Jim came out to the parking lot and handed me a bank bag and said it contained roughly $800 in donations. Talk about a “Kodak” moment. “Huh?” “What?” I replied. I was hoping there might be maybe one or two hundred dollars in donations to cf, but $800? Did I hear that right? Yes, however, I certainly did not want to be handling that kind of money, that amount of generosity, so I asked if it could be sent to Renee to take care of. No problem. Adam, who owns his own business, would take it and convert the cash into one large check and send it to her along with the individual checks that were included in the bag.

Whew, what a load off of my mind. THANK YOU members of the Trinity Lutheran church. THANK YOU Pastor Jim. THANK YOU Adam.

The next people I ran with were Paul, the president of a local running club, who is a semi-retired computer science professor, and Tracy. Tracy will be doing the Wisconsin Ironman on September 7. The heat and humidity were already high, but we ran on a trail that, for the most part, had plenty of trees.

We ran an out and back course, and, as always with runners, we had some great conversations. Turns out that after the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, an opportunity opened up for Paul and his wife. Some people who were to go there and teach computer skills backed out. Paul got the call to fill the void and took it. The movie “Lord of the Rings” was filmed there. Paul said it was every bit as beautiful as shown in the movie trilogy.

A little over five miles out, we started our rewind. Roughly one mile from the parking lot where we started, I was out of water, and we were out of trees. Not a good combination. The sun was beating down on us – that was brutal.

I said good-bye to Tracy and went home with Paul for lunch. He offered me some orange juice to quench my thirst. You know, when you are thirsty, orange juice goes down very nicely, and quickly. Paul made a load and a half of scramble eggs with veggies for me, his wife, and himself. All that food went down well also.

After being stuffed like a Thanksgiving day turkey, I was whisked off to my room so I could shower and get some down time before heading off to the next in this day’s adventures, a trip to Scheels, an outdoor store that also carries running gear.

Pastor Jim and his son picked me up for that shopping trip. As we sat, waiting in the shoe department for a sales clerk, Pastor Jim’s son was making “fart” noises somehow with his hands. I think he was doing them by placing his hand behind his bent knees. Pastor Jim politely asked him to stop doing that several times. Me? I was trying to figure out how he was doing that, and try it myself. I am not the person you want around when your children are playfully being, well, children. My “inner boy” is always looking for an opportunity to play with other children. Fortunately for Pastor Jim I could not see how he was doing it, and gave up.

My first day in Eau Claire when I ran with Pat Toutant, he told me that he took over directing the Eau Claire marathon, and had directed it for the first time this year. Pastor Jim expanded on what Pat told me about Pat’s impact on the marathon. The former director did an okay job, but Pat took it to a whole new level. From what Pastor Jim told me it was very well organized. One thing that was obvious when running with Pat is that he is always thinking about how to improve the marathon. I am thinking that if the Eau Claire marathon is not on your radar, rethink it.

When the clerk asked me what I wanted in a running shoe, I told him “Vibrams.” He replied by telling me what I already knew, that they are facing a law suit. He wasn’t keen on Vibram’s, that’s for sure, and he kept yammering against the company. I told him that prior to wearing Vibram’s, I suffered from severe and chronic plantar fascitis but since wearing them for running, I do not any more. He kept yammering. I told him I used to suffer from severe and chronic blisters, especially on my left heel, but not any more, since running in Vibram’s. He kept yammering. Seems like we had a pattern going, huh?

Scheels sold the shoes at cost and Dan picked up the rest. I just could not bring myself to pick out anything else as Dan had suggested yesterday.

Pastor Jim and his son then dropped me off at Heather’s home. Originally Heather was to run with me, but she is a wise woman. With the heat and humidity she leaned against the idea and instead, her husband and her put together a very nice dinner, complete with burgers, brats and hotdogs, plus all the fixin’s.

Her parents were also there and an offer was made that I could go out on their pontoon boat after dinner. I knew, after eating all that food and the day being so hot, humid, and draining, that if I went out on the boat it would not be long before my eyeballs were checking my eye lids for cracks. Heather drove me to my hotel and I went out to the parking lot and walked back and forth to get the last of my miles in for the day. Walking around the park near my home in DeKalb, Illinois, or out on good old Nelson Road, I can walk a mile in 18 to 20 minutes, but in hotel parking lots it takes 25 to 30 minutes. I have to be very cautious in parking lots, so I walk slowly.

Got ‘em done. 20 miles on the button.

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