|Father in-law after falling off a silo on 8-31-2009|
This past weekend I traveled to run the Fox Valley Marathon which is located in St. Charles, Illinois. I was really excited to be running my first marathon in the state of Illinois. When I plotted my fall travels this was one of the races I wanted to excel at. Not only did I intend to run well, but I also had my sights on winning the marathon while also breaking the course record. These goals and thoughts all sounded logical back in the late summer months when I registered for the marathon, but then of course once race week approached things got a little chopped up. More specifically corn silage got chopped up, which means I spent 10-12 hours per day operating a John Deere tractor hauling wagons of silage back and forth in order to fill silos for my father in-law. My father in-law, Jim, is limited in his mobility due to a farm accident, so whenever he needs help I graciously offer assistance.
|Miles Driving a Tractor|
For those of you who do not have much farming experience, filling silos is a pretty physically demanding job. Every wagon full of silage requires going up and down the tractor 4 times, and we averaged around 6 wagons per hour. So doing some rudimentary mathematics you can easily see that by the end of the work day I was fairly tired. This work schedule affected my recovery from the Sioux Falls Marathon and preparations for the Fox Valley Marathon. Of course I could go on with excuses, such as being in the sun all day slightly dehydrated me, spending four days of the week two hours away from my wife and son stressed me, or eating baloney sandwiches each day was not the proper fuel the week prior to the Fox Valley Marathon, but as we all know none of this matters come race day. Sometimes the difference between a bad race and a good race is the ability to mentally block any negative thoughts. Instead of thinking about how taxing this work was on my body, I arrived in St. Charles refreshed from knowing I showed my in-laws my love through my selflessness to their family.
|Fox Valley Marathon Start|
When standing at the starting line my thoughts were, “If you don’t run well then Jim will feel bad since you worked hard this week. Don’t screw up.” With that the horn blew and we were off. In front of me was a pack of roughly 18 bicyclists, behind me I was being chased by over 1,000 other marathon runners. I tried my best to establish an early rhythm, which was a little harder due to only running 20 miles the past week. My goal was to be close enough to the lead bikers so that I could eavesdrop on the conversations that were occurring over the walkie talkies that each biker was equipped with. I figured listening in on the race officials talking would help pass them time, but unfortunately my idea backfired! At mile 14, which I split a whisker below 5 minutes for that mile, an alert came over the airwaves, “The lead bikers have taken the first runner off the course!” I about died right there. I was assured from the bikers that they alert was intended for the leader of the half marathon. It was a great relief for me and a bad day for him!
|Second time finishing the race.|