Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Running Hope Through America

With much anticipation and goading by TZ, I have finally sat down today to write about my experience last Saturday for being OK State Captain for Lisa Smith-Batchen's attempt at running 50 miles in 50 States in 62 days. I am amazed that anyone reads this blog, let alone is waiting to read my report. I have not had much time to blog lately, but I will try to do better for those of you who do read it.
At about 1 AM this past Saturday morning, the RHTA crew rolled into Tulsa. This is the start of fruition of many months of planning and coordination between people I have never met and making sure that their needs were met. I understand the dynamics of what it takes to complete Ultras, but what it takes to complete 2500 miles in 62 days is another thing. This all started because of a thought on Lisa's part to raise money for Orphans worldwide. Lisa does not think small, so instead of just running across the country and just hitting a few States, which is still a monumental task, why not do all 50 States. Her plea went out across the Internet and I threw my name out there by saying that if they happen to need someone to help in OK, I would be glad to help. Not knowing or expecting that I would ever be chosen to head things up, but I am glad I was.
Lisa does not do this on her own by any means. Her main job is to put one foot in front of the other for 50 miles. One of her main friends and crew support is Sister Marybeth. You may have heard of the flying Nun, well she is the running Nun. Fully clad in habit and outfit, she logs at least 20 miles a day or more with Lisa and tends to her needs. Sister and Lisa go way back to when Sister Marybeth was coaching girls cross country and was needing a coach and Lisa applied for the job and the rest is history. Sister puts most runners to shame by the amount of miles she logs all while wearing wool, which she did at Badwater to help Lisa. One of the many great things of the day was Sister was looking for a place to attend Mass and we found a church off of 49th & Peoria, which is at least a good mile or so away. She said she would just walk over there. I felt really bad about letting her walk and offered her a ride and she said that it was not that far away and she preferred to walk. This was after already doing about 20 miles that day. Truly amazing.
One of the main reasons this even took place was because Brian & Kathy Hoover stepped up and volunteered to help with the aid stations, publicity, and anything else we needed. When I knew that I was going to be in charge of this, I knew immediately that I needed to get TATUR and Runnersworld involved. If anyone was going to know the needs of an Ultra, it was them. They both put in countless hours sending out e-mails and posting things on the website to make sure that the word got out and it did. The are truly one of the most giving people I know and the kindness that they have shown my family, really got shared with the RHTA crew.
At 5:30 AM, there were a few introductions and Lisa said, "which way do we go?" The crew that had assembled headed North and it was to be a long day of 50 miles. Lisa starts out walking the first 10 or 15 miles to get her legs feeling good and then starts mixing in walking or running, depending on how she feels. The amazing thing about this was the amount of people that showed up, but more importantly the amount of people that stayed with her all day. Several comments were made about that this the largest amount of people that stayed with her all day of any State. We have such a good group of runners here in Tulsa. I am very proud to be a part of them.

I did not head out on the first loops, because I wanted to make sure that everything was coordinated and that we were providing them all the support they needed. Michael Evans, one of the support crew from Idaho, went out a few times for a run and I joined him and Elaine Palmquist for a few Zink Loops. I managed to get in 16 miles, while still maintaining coordination of all the activities. I had a lot of good help from Brian and my wife. With them helping, things were going smoothly.

They predicted a washout of rain all day, but instead we just got some mist and overcast skies, which made for a great day of running. You could not have asked for better weather to run in. After our tornado on Thursday and massive storms on Friday, it was not looking good. We made sure and prayed for better weather and we were blessed to have it.
The RHTA crew had a table set up by the RV with some information about the run, the causes, and a jar that people could donate to. It is amazing that amount of people who stopped and dropped in some money. Thank you!

So, what does Sister Marybeth do while Lisa is still out running, what any smart Nun would do, catch a snooze. No, she is not praying. I cannot imagine the stress of all the traveling, let alone the running takes on you, so I would be catching some Zzzz's whenever I could too.
Why are all these people really excited, it is because they are headed for this.
The finish line. After a long day, 12 hrs., and her 22nd State, Lisa was finally done. The day went by extremely fast, but a lot happened during that time. A lot of stories were shared, some lives were changed, and history was in the making. That is one thing about running, once it courses through your veins, it is hard to get rid off. It pulses throughout your body and life, molding and shaping, and changing the fabric of who we are. No matter our backgrounds, lifestyles, upbringings, or current circumstances, running peels away that very existence and for one one moment in time makes us all part of a very special group of close knit people who can come together for one special purpose. To raise money for Orphans around the globe.Once the run is done, another State is marked off the list and it is time to pack them up and head them out.
But, before you go, how about a massage. I was able to have good friend Dr. Peace come out with his massage therapist and give Lisa a free massage to help her in journey across the USA. Thank you Dr. Peace for coming out and being a good friend.
Well, the OK journey for Lisa was finally over, but her mission still lives on. Her fight for those who cannot necessarily fight for themselves goes on as she travels across this great land of ours bringing awareness to their plight. I thank God that I am a runner. What running has given me, is something I can hardly put into words and give the proper voice for how it has changed my life. Because of that, I the least I can do is give back to what has given so much to me. Please consider that also, by going to runhope.com and giving something back to help those who are less fortunate than us. God bless Lisa and crew and may God bless all the runners, volunteers, and people who donated on Saturday. Thank you all so much for making this happen and it is my privilege to call you a friend.