Recap of… Tribute & Fundraising 50km Run for Parker Adventist Hospital & Foundation Staff
In case you hadn’t heard yet, yes I finished the 50km run on Saturday, most importantly, I made it all the way up to the Parker Adventist Med/Surg floor with the big Thank You card and cake to pay tribute to the staff that saved my life 5 years ago. About 6.5 hours after I started at the Castle Rock Adventist Hospital I arrived and hand-smacked the brick wall next to the entrance to the Parker Adventist Hospital. It was a fun, challenging, weather-crazed, and at moments emotional run.
Thanks to everyone who showed support by either cheering me along the course, running with me, joining in on the fun with Fit Explorers at Heritage, making generous donations to the Parker Hospital Foundation, and/or passing along their cheers via Fb, email, etc.
I know I pulled this event together on short notice, but it was the first in many efforts I’ll make over the next 5 years (and beyond) to inspire other ostomates and organ-less folks to excel in their new life, as well as, show support for those that help save lives everyday at Parker Adventist and hospitals everywhere.
If you have time and interest, a ‘play-by-play’ of the run is below…
Saturday, November 10, 2012-
Raised the US Stars & Stripes and USMC flags on my dad’s memorial flagpole in our backyard. It was a crisp, 40ish degree, partly cloudy morning. The high, front range mountains were covered in clouds and it looked like bad weather squalls were headed our way. (Just what I needed, a weather challenge to add to the long run ahead :) )
Mark Strobl (good friend, college NROTC bud and fellow Marine) picked me up for the drive to the Castle Rock Adventist Hospital starting point. Of course, his greeting started with the obligatory, “Happy Birthday, Marine!” greeting and slap on my back. My birthday beer and cake would come later in the day. (And, unlike 5 years ago when Mark marched into my hospital room with a cold beer and cake much to the disapproval of my doctor and nurses, I’ll be able to enjoy the goodies this time.) We loaded up my gear (a bag of extra running clothes, refueling Clif bars,PowerBar gels, bagels, and lots of water) and departed for Castle Rock.
[Yes, for those that don't know, all Marines celebrate the US Marine Corps' birth on November 10, 1775 in Tun Tavern as their "team birthday." That's right the USMC's birthplace / first recruiting effort was at Tun Tavern, a brewery and pub in Philly. Brilliant recruiting move! What better place to recruit the first Continental Marine Company for the Revolutionary War effots than at an unruly bar with mugs of free beer flowing to entice sign-ups.]
We arrived at the parking lot of the Castle Rock Adventist Hospital and were greeted by Ryan and Belinda Hollingshead, friends now living in Castle Rock.
So, I slipped on my CU knit cap, tied up my “new” Nike Free Run shoes, … (which were actually about 3 years old, but had been buried in my closet waiting for a special occasion. I ordered custom “Da Buffs” embroidered, black&gold colored Nike ID shoes to motivate me to get back in running shape and try another marathon someday. Nike running shoes are a sentimental favorite of mine because my first pair of running shoes at age 11 were 1979 Nike Pegasus. I wore those old waffle shoes in elementary school races, German countryside Volksmarches, and the Junior Olympic Games when my family was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany – good times) … slipped on my running gloves, turned on my MapMyFitness GPS tracking app, and selected some kick-off tunes on my Spotify app – the “Marines’ Hymn,” and then “Not Afraid” by Eminem. Ryan, Belinda, and Mark chuckled at my diverse music start, then snapped a few photos, wished me “Good luck,” and…
… off I went across the parking lot heading out onto Castle Rock’s Meadows Parkway. Of course, as I turned on to Meadows Parkway I was greeted with a squall spitting icy rain and a stiff headwind in my face. Inside I was laughing and cursing at the weather – what a way to start a 50km run. I think God was playing games with my mind because after a few minutes of stinging BBs of rain hitting me in the face, I looked ahead to my destination to the north, the hills of Castle Pines, Cherokee Ranch, and Daniels Park, about 6 miles away and was awestruck by a beautiful FULL RAINBOW that stood like a gateway to great run I had ahead of me. It was an inspiring sign and as I turned on to Sante Fe and headed towards the rainbow gateway it quickly disappeared, blocked by the squall moving through. I plodded along on the narrow white highway stripe heading into Santa Fe (Hwy 85) traffic with cars whipping by at 55+ , thankfully now with little wind and no rain. I was heading towards my next turn, Daniels Park Road, about 3 miles ahead where Mark Strobl, my “safety vehicle officer,” would have some water for me. I checked my pace on my phone’s MapMyFitness app and recall it was somewhere around 9:30 per mile pace – just ahead of my intended 10 minute per mile overall goal.
Approx 1040am (about 5 miles in to the 32 mile run):
I got the first reinforcing, inspirational moment of why I was doing this run. A big blue pick-up truck passed me and pulled off the road near the Castle Pine Country Club maintenance garage. About 100 yards ahead of me, Chase and Connor Crockett popped out of the truck and ran to me with a bottle of water and hand towel. I was surprised, impressed, and grateful to see them. I drank the water, wiped the mix of rain and sweat wetness from my face and forehead, and thanked Chase and Connor for showing their support. As I passed their truck and got a “Way to go, Coach!” from their dad, Alan, it donned on me that they took at least an hour out of their day backtracking to find me along my intended route – out to help and support my efforts. It was a real inspiration to me – reinforcing why I spend time on Friday mornings to lead Heritage Elementary’s FIT EXPLORERS / Run Club, teach Junior Achievement classes at 3 different grade levels, and help coach the 6th grade Track & Field “Hexathlon” team in the spring. I was now motivated to charge up the looming climb to the top of Daniels Park.
I reached the Daniels Park parking lot, the highest point of my run (6600 feet), and I had to “piss like a race horse.” (I don’t know where that expression came from, but I sure pee’d long enough to feel like a ‘full’ race horse :) ) So, I hit the outhouse overlooking the beautiful “Sanctuary” golf course. When I hit the road again, a long pee later ;), I was also wondering where Mark, my wingman safety driver, went. I figured he knew I was doing well and would meet me at the Grigs Road – Douglas County Trail parking lot about 2 miles ahead. So, I texted Tom Mirande, another college / Marine bud, that I was running a bit behind schedule and would see him in about 20 minutes for the 3 mile run down to Heritage Elementary. Between now and then, I also, expected to see another college roommate / Marine bud, Scott Husband, who intended to run a big portion of this run with me, but his recent skin cancer surgery was more extensive than planned and he had to stay home recuperating. My mind drifted back, as it had for the past couple miles, to thinking about how to take this run and this day and turn it into something bigger – something that wasn’t just me trying to honor those that saved my life, trying to pay forward to the Foundation that helped me so much, and attempting to inspire others to challenge themselves with a similar ‘my mind over matter’ approach. I do some of my best thinking, even work-related creative thinking, while running. So, I was dreaming and planning on how to take this event to the next level… more on that another time ;)
About a mile past the Daniels Park lookout, I came to another of my favorite run/bike destinations, the buffalo herd near Sitting Bull’s ranch. Being a University of Colorado “CU Buff” alum, it always motivates me to see buffalo, especially a herd that includes about 15 new baby Buffs. As I cruised down the hill towards the herd, I could faintly see Boulder’s Flatirons way off to the north – home of the CU Buffaloes, where I ran in the hills of Boulder some 20+ years ago as a student / Marine Officer Candidate. I was fired up and ready to pick up the pace. But first, I needed a photo with this buffalo herd.
Just then, I heard some honking from behind. It was Ryan and Belinda Hollingshead, who wished me well at the start of this run in Castle Rock, on their way to their kids’ sports events in Highlands Ranch. They pulled over to check on me, Belinda hopped out to take my photo with the buffalo herd, and they headed off while wishing good luck on the miles ahead.
While approaching the Grigs Road – Douglas County trail parking lot (about 10 miles into the 32 mile run), I was greeted by yells and claps from family and friends. Tom Mirande, a college / Marine bud, my son and his bud, Carter, came to run the next 3 miles to Heritage Elementary with me. Jamie Mirande and, my wife Julie, snapped a couple photos of us, Mark refueled me with water, I grabbed our dog Baylor, and off the 5 of us went along the Douglas County trail. Tom was appropriately wearing a relic from our CU Marine platoon days, our infamous red “PT” (Physical Training) jacket. We had a couple good laughs thinking about the how silly we must have looked back around 1988 wearing those ridiculous red jackets everywhere in Boulder – sweat strained and stinky from our Marine Platoon runs, beer stained from our parties, and blemished with face paint from CU football game, Marine Corps birthday, and “Kinetics Race” escapades. Those 3 miles flew by as Tom and I talked and watched the younger runners, Garrett and Carter, stay ahead making it look so easy.
When Tom, Garrett, Carter, “Baylor” dog, and I arrived at the Heritage Elementary field, there were about 15 brave members of the FIT EXPLORERS / Run Club cheering us on as thick snowflakes began to pelt us. The group of Heritage students and parents had gathered for a quick workout and moment of ‘Thanks’ to the staff of Parker Hospital. It was a good showing of support considering all the Saturday sports conflicts and cold, wet weather. To kick-off this brief rest for me at the 13 mile mark, I asked Mark and Tom to join me for a ‘song.’ Yes, there is a rare occasion when I do jump up and sing – it happens along with other Marines :) I picked the Marines’ Hymn on my Spotify playlist and Mark, Tom, and I did our best to sing the first verse of the hymn – which appropriately in the cold, snowy conditions drew some looks of wonderment from the Heritage kids and parents (or were they looks of ‘these guys are crazy’ or ‘boy, they are bad singers’ or ‘so that’s what it means to mean Marine brothers’ – running, fighting, and even singing together).
After that, I led the FIT EXPLORERS through a mini-calisthenics session (with 4-count jumping jacks, push-ups, cherry pickers, and quick feet drills) and a group lap around the Heritage field – all still with a Colorado – snow squall dropping big, wet flakes on us. It was awesome – especially at the end of this stop when the kids gobbled up the USMC birthday cake, scrambled to sign the big ‘Thank You’ Parker Hospital card, and handed us some envelopes with donations to the Parker Hospital Foundation.
As I was about to end this 15-20 minute respite, Rich Soares, dad of a couple of FIT EXPLORERS and 4x Ironman Triathlete, offered to run with me to Littleton Hospital. I was happy to have his company. My wife, Julie, also offered to run with me as well. As we got ready to take-off, Lisa Sandoval, Exective Director of the Parker Hospital Foundation, arrived and took a couple photos with us. I connected her with Mark, my ‘safety driver wingman,’ to keep her posted of my progress. Rich, Julie and I started running again…
Having run through a couple miles of cold, wet-wet snow, brief moments of Colorado sunshine, and side-walk pounding down Broadway, Rich and I completed our approximately 4 mile leg – arriving at Littleton Adventist Hospital. Along the beginning of the route, Julie and I got to learn a lot about Rich’s triathlon training before she peeled off to head back home. Then Rich and I compared notes about our the tech work we each do and finished this leg of the run joking about our college days. Mark, my safety vehicle wingman extraordinaire, had swung by his home to get his CU Marine Platoon relic – he greeted us with his own infamous CU Marine Platoon red jacket . Strangely enough that red and gold-lettered jacket was a ‘connecting dot’ between the past college lives of Rich and I (Rich at UNC and me at CU). Rich was in Air Force ROTC at UNC at the same time I was in Navy-Marine ROTC at CU. Each year, Rich had to come to CU to get some drill team swords from our Assistant Marine Officer Instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Billingsley. Of course, he got off on the wrong foot during his first visit to Gunnery Sergeant Billingsley by saluting him inside his office. Gunny Billingsley lit him up, berating him for his saluting error – a lesson that Rich would carry for years and years, to the point where he could recount the Gunny’s name to me even after not recalling him by name for 20+ years. We had a good laugh recalling Gunny Billingsley.
At Littleton Adventist Hospital, around mile 17 of the trek, Rich and I slapped the building wall and then posed for couple pictures shot by Mark. I grabbed another “Peanut Butter Crunch” Clif bar (I love, love PB) and some water from Mark, and then, we were off through the neighborhoods of Littleton making or way back to County Line and then up University Blvd. Along this route Rich and I talked about how I came up with the idea for this tribute and fundraising run, the adjustments I’ve made to living without my colon, the medical help I got a few months ago to finally get my plantar fascitis under control; thereby, enabling me to run long distances again, and Rich’s inspirational story of all the weight he lost to get back into running shape himself and now competing in Ironmans.
[ yes, I do have a rambling, run-on writing style :) ]
Rich and I reached the top of the climb up University Blvd into Highlands Ranch. At the intersection of Highlands Ranch Parkway and University Blvd, Rich turned to head home. I thanked him for running some 8-9 miles with me and we set plans to run again soon.
Now, it was me, the road / sidewalk, and about 10 miles to go. My pace slowed and pains increased after Rich turned off – proof again that it’s best to workout with a partner. I plodded along University Blvd sidewalks, dove down into a ravine by the driving range for a “pit stop,” and then reconnected with Mark at the post office at University and Quebec around 250pm. Mark refueled me with water, another Clif bar, some gel, and a bagel. He could tell my pace and demeanor was starting to change. I checked my MapMyFitness app and it showed I was 24 miles into the run with 4 hours of elapsed running time (the app auto-pauses when I stop for refueling, pics, etc.). So, I was running at my goal pace of 10min per mile. That was good, but I was a bit worried about the aches and pains in my feet and calves. I had to keep moving.
As I crossed Quebec, University became Lincoln Ave and I pushed myself up the hill towards Lone Tree. About 1/4 mile past Quebec a car pulled over and the drive asked for directions to the Southridge Rec Center. I was perplexed and confused how he could be so far off (about 4 miles from Southridge) and wasn’t using a smartphone GPS or something, but I obliged and quickly gave him directions. Come On Man – you gotta get GPS.
The next hour or so of running along Lincoln was mostly uneventful, but mentally challenging (except the moment I jumped off the road for another ‘got to piss like a race horse’ moment – jumping in to a 7-11. And guess who I found? Mark getting some ‘supplies’ for the finishing drive ;)
Thankfully, Mark continued to meet me along my run, giving me recommendations on which side of the street to stay on for safely, providing needed water and bagels, and some motivational ‘You’re almost there. Stay strong’ kick-in-the-shorts I needed :)
After fighting through the rolling hills and light headwind on Lincoln, I was finally able to get away from the noisy traffic and turned onto Stonegate (near Chapparal HS). Every step up and down the curb to cross streets or get out of the way of traffic was now starting to shoot some pain up my quad and hamstring. When I reached good ol’ Mark about 200 yards up Stonegate, I realized that I could now see the Parker Adventist Hospital. That motivated (and relieved ;) me. We were approximately two miles from the hospital and I knew I could kick it in now.
But, the last two miles were a real challenge. Seeing the hospital made things tougher in some ways. I wanted to and felt like I could quicken my pace, but every time I did that the tightness in my calf and hamstrings pained me to slow down. For the last 6+ miles I had been changing my foot strike, stride, etc to find ways to keep away the mostly foot and calf pains I was having. I took care to make sure I didn’t pull something and prevent myself from finishing. So, I took it easy and ran with as good of a mid-foot strike as I could for the last mile and a half. As I reached Parker Road, I avoided the traffic light crossing and opted to keep moving and cross wherever I could race between traffic. That ended up being a painful route because just that 10 step sprint across traffic nearly knotted up my quads and hamstrings. As I turned onto the last street, Crown Crest Blvd, leading up to the Parker Adventist Hospital, I could see the floor and the patient waiting room looking out to the western mountains – reminding me of how far I had come and how thankful I need to be for the staff that saved me 5 years ago.
As I made the final turn off Crown Crest Blvd in to the Parker Adventist parking lot and valet route, I could see about 10 folks standing in the cold outside. Apparently ;) they were waiting for me. I could here cheers and whistles as I strode down the last 100 yards to the entrance of Parker Adventist. I ran past my greeters and smacked the building wall – signaling the end of my 50km+ (32.5 to be exact) tribute and fundraising run. The cheering greeters [my family - Julie, Kiera, Garrett, and Delaney, along with Grama Dori and Karl, Lisa and Sean Sandoval, and the Strobl clan - Mark (my safety driving wingman), Carla and their kids Tyler and Bridgette (less Brianna)] all got hugs and we gathered for some photos.
And now for the best part and the main reason I did this run…
Mark, Lisa and I headed up to the Medical/Surgical department on the 2nd floor. It was a Saturday late afternoon so the hospital was quiet and unbusy – a good time to hopefully see the caregivers that I missed on past annual visits. With a big Thank You card signed by a bunch of the Heritage Fit Explorers, a celebratory, Thank You cake, and a Thank You balloon in-hand we walked down the hallway I spent 7+ days slowly shuffling along 5 years earlier. We were re-routed to the new Med/Surg nurses station. As Lisa introduced me to nurses currently at the station (none of whom were there 5 years before, but that didn’t matter), Gail (the nurse who cared for me more than any other during my 10 days on the floor) popped out of a patient room and was elated to see me. I hadn’t seen her the past few times I made my annual visit to the Med/Surg floor, but she recalled the Thank You cards I had left in the past. The nurses then called over to have Nef join us. Nef, looking 75 pounds slimmer than the photo with me 5 years ago, was equally emotional about seeing me again. She and I had both changed considerably, for the better, since my stay there 5 years earlier. Lisa then told the nurses about the tribute run I had just completed – most couldn’t believe I wasn’t looking worse ;)
We posed for some photos and then I gave them some highlights of how and why I came to be there that day paying tribute to them. A few hugs and near-tears and it was time for me to get out of their way so they could care for their patients. I told them I’d continue my annual visits, but I wasn’t sure it would be after running 50km next year :)