The Run 4 It Endurance Training team, coached by Jeff Hall, was well represented at the Phoenix version of the National Veterans Day Run. Jeff, Victoria and your RFYL reporter showed up at Paseo Neighbourhoods Park in Glendale for a 7:11 am race start. I brought along my digital recorder to do a before and after on our race goals, and also for me to see how I sounded at certain points along the race route.
All three of us had the goal of celebrating our veterans by putting some skin in the game, 6.8 miles of skin to be exact. Our personal goals were similar but unique to each of us.
Jeff: Have fun. Support Victoria and Garry. Honor our Veterans
Victoria: Other than surviving it, I’d like to go at a 12 minute pace
Garry: No feet or hip ailments. A few miles in the 11’s. Negative splits.
The opening ceremony was Top Drawer. We saluted the flag during an inspiring choral rendition of the National Anthem. This followed by a moment of silence for our fallen heroes. \
The course: goodly number of hills, long stretches of semi-rough canal, asphalt and cement.
The weather: perfect, cloudy, cool, very little wind.
The highlights: For me, there were three;
1) Garry does the King; About two miles into the run, feeling good, chatting up Jeff and Victoria I wanted to take a voice check to make sure I wasn’t working too hard. So I pushed record and burst into a rendition of Elvis Presley’s Blue Suede Shoes. I may have been out of tune but I wasn’t out of breath and I really laid into the final chorus. I got a “Whoop” from Victoria and a long story from Jeff about following two Elvis impersonators pushing a third impersonator in a baby carriage through an entire marathon.
2), Garry eats canal: Literally out of the blue I took a rocky smack-down that bloodied two knees and an elbow while making my hands feel like they had just been peeled by a dull paring knife. Hurt? Would it hurt to get sandwiched between two NFL linebackers? You gotta love the human condition though. I’m too shocked to move, but I’ve got Jeff and Victoria looking down on me like a was a big rag doll that just fell off a shelf.
Victoria: Are you all right? Can you get up?
Jeff: No wait, let me get a picture of this.
Jeff & Victoria: Do you need some help?
Keep in mind, we’re talking about a marine and a fire-fighter here. I know they have handled worse cases than this, but somehow their total lack of technique almost caused them to fall down on top of me. And when they do get me up and going again Jeff is talking about putting the image of my sprawled body all over the Internet. Victoria got a big kick out of my dusty rear end that wouldn’t have been dusty if they hadn’t dropped me while they were getting their rescue act together.
3) Garry receives a random act of kindness: In defence of Jeff and Victoria, I looked a lot worse than I was. It wasn’t long after the spill that I got into a nice pace and soon after that that I remembered about my negative split goal. Enter Sharon Campbell, a lovely lady who had passed me around mile three. Luckily for me, she took a long time putting distance between us. I sort of figured that was my reward for sticking to my pace.
But after another mile I was surprised to look up and see that she was walking. As I passed her I gave here a few words of encouragement and continued on. I couldn’t have gotten more that a quarter mile ahead of her when here she comes again. “I knew it,” I said to myself. “She’s one of those run-walk- run-walkers and she will just leave me in the dust again.” “Good job,” she said as she eased on by. Only this time she wasn’t putting distance between us. In fact I stayed on her heels, losing ground only when we had a long uphill to negotiate. And then the nicest thing began to happen. Whenever she would pull a few meters ahead, she would look back to see how I was doing. This happened so often I concluded that somehow we needed each other to meet our race goals. Both of us were outside our comfort zones, yet neither of us wanted to give in.
Not a word was spoken, not even when we hit the six-mile mark indicating that we had slightly less than a mile to go. Stride for stride we approached the finish area. The crowd, small but mighty was roaring. My whole life I have been a natural sprinter. The horse heading for the barn never had a thing on me. And I sensed something similar in my partner. We are about 400 meters out and I say to her, “Let’s give ‘em a show.” She knew exactly what I meant. Race crowds love nothing more than a dual down the stretch, especially between a man and a woman. So all of a sudden we’re duking it out and people are going wild.
“Come on honey. You can take him”
“Look Look. She’s gonna get him.”
“No, no he’s picking it up. Her’ll nip her. Just watch.”
“Whoohoo, she got ‘im! You go girl.”
I didn’t look but I have a feeling that going through the shoots her smile was as big as mine.
Jeff, Victoria, Garry and our new best friend Sharon Campbell got to hang out for awhile after the race. I told Sharon she was a good runner and she returned the compliment. The coolest part was meeting Sharon’s parents who are both marines and very proud of their daughter.
Turns out Sharon and Victoria are going to do the Tough Mudder in January, one of the most challenging running events in the world. Jeff and I have already agreed to volunteer for the event.
Did we meet our goals?
Jeff: My goal was just to have fun and support Victoria and Garry with thier goals. They were awesome.
Victoria: Well, since my goal was just to survive I guess I made it. I really need a do-nut.
Garry: Thanks to Sharon, I got my negative splits.
Sharon: It was a hard race but I finished it.
Of all of us though, Jeff had the most fun this day. He truly enjoys encouraging his runners and goes out of his way to make their running fun.
Victoria: Jeff you really are a strong athletic supporter.
Garry: Hey Jeff, I think Victoria just called you a jock strap.
Ok, one more-I’m trying to interview Jeff and he doesn’t like having my recorder in his face.
Jeff: I’m not going to say any thing until you put your “thingy” down.
Garry: But Jeff, I’ve spent my whole life trying to keep my “thingy” up.
Victoria: You’re a dog, Garry