Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Two Weeks 'til Little Rock Marathon!

That's all. Just two weeks before I run my second marathon and Janice runs her first 10K!

When I crossed the finish line at the Marine Corps Marathon, running another was the farthest thing from my mind. I was tired, stiff, sore, and completely and totally drained. I went back to the hotel, showered and climbed into the bed. After about a three hour nap, I was still tired and sore, but the next marathon was dominating my thoughts. What I did right, what I did wrong, what I would do different, and which would be my next one were the thoughts racing through my mind. I moved from the bed to the computer and it didn't take long before I was entering my credit card information to enter the 2012 Little Rock Marathon.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us," -- Hebrews 12:1

Now here I am, almost four months later. I've pretty much been training ever since MCM. I've logged 462 miles since then, and will log another 70 or so by the time I cross the finish line in Little Rock. Included in all those miles are five runs of 20 miles or more.

I had only done two 20 mile training runs before MCM, and learned the hard way that wasn't enough when I crashed hard after mile 20 in that first marathon. So I decided to do at least one 20 miler per month when I trained for Little Rock. The first came at a charity event only two weeks after MCM. It was 20 miles on a high school track, and the hardest of all my long runs by far. Something about running around that little loop makes 20 seem much longer than it really is.

My next 20 miler came on December the 17th, my late grandmother's birthday, and a fitting tribute I think to honor her memory. She desperately loved Amanda and I can imagine they were sitting together on a cloud watching me make the miles.

I did my January 20 miler on the 14th. That morning when I woke, I had a text that a dear friend from high school, a teammate on the football team, had passed away in the night. That long run I dedicated to my good friend and teammate, Vance "Pig" Dotson. The last time I had seen him was in my living room after Amanda's funeral, almost a year earlier. He was a really great guy and God got a great angel that day.

Two weeks later, on January 28, a friend and member of the Cabot Country Cruisers had a 22 mile run planned, on the Little Rock Marathon course. Several Cruisers were going, including many that I run with regularly. That was really awesome, to actually run the biggest part of the actual course. More than all the others, I feel like this was the most important run of the entire training period. After it, I feel that nothing can surprise me about the course, and that makes me feel prepared.

Finally, yesterday, I ran my last really long run before the race, 20 miles in Cabot. I started at 5 AM and ran the first 10 alone. I was doing 5 mile loops from the parking lot of a local elementary school. After the first two loops, other Cruisers showed up to join me. Together, we got through the next 10 miles and I finally had my last long run in the bank.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." -- Matthew 11:28

Now it's time to taper! Two relatively easy running weeks to prepare the body to endure the strain of 26.2 miles in a 4 to 5 hour (hopefully) stretch. I'd have never reached this point alone. I have many to thank for helping me get here.

The fact that I can run at all, let along 20+ miles at one time, is nothing less than a blessing from God. It's Jesus Christ I thank for giving me the ability, motivation, dedication, and direction to accept the challenge of marathon running.

I couldn't meet the time demands to train for a marathon without a loving, supportive family. I am so grateful to my wife and daughter, Janice and Courtney, for being patient and understanding of the time and effort I have devoted to achieve this goal. They are the best family any man could ever hope for.

"If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up." -- Ecclesiastes 4:10

My friends in the Cabot Country Cruisers have helped me more than I could have imagined. It was these ladies and gentlemen who helped to push me and motivate me to make it through the long runs last summer, when 15 miles seemed impossible in the searing heat and suffocating humidity. They got me to the MCM and they have continued to be there through these past four months. There's little doubt that I would have probably quit before finishing some of those long runs mentioned above if it hadn't been for these friends pushing and encouraging me. I'm proud and grateful to be a member of the Cabot Country Cruisers!

I'm grateful too for all those who read this blog, who follow us on Facebook, and who donate to the charities we support in Amanda's name. I can't tell you how much of a motivating factor it is to know there are people from across the country, and even the world, who are standing behind us on this journey. Your support and your donations are an invaluable part of our ministry. We couldn't do it without you and I want to thank every single one of you!

At Little Rock, and every time I race from now on, I'll be wearing pictures of young people whose deaths were in some way a result of teen substance abuse. So far, I have 8 pictures other than Amanda's. It's my hope that people will see them and ask about them, giving me the opportunity to tell them how important it is that our kids avoid drugs and alcohol.

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. "--Colossians 3:17

God has blessed me with the ability to run and honor Amanda's memory, but with it comes a responsibility. Without His grace, without the knowledge that I will one day be reunited with Amanda in Heaven, I couldn't run marathons, or run at all. I honestly don't believe I could have gone on after her murder. It's my responsibility to tell our story so that others can find that saving grace that makes all things possible through Jesus Christ.

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." -- 1 Peter 5:8

It's also my responsibility to try to prevent other senseless deaths due to teen substance abuse. Amanda died at the hands of a man who was so stoned and drunk that he pointed a gun at her and fired! I believe with everything in me she would still be alive if that 19-year-old man would have been sober. Some of the pictures I'll wear are of kids who died in drunk driving accidents, one was shot like Amanda at a party, and several overdosed on drugs.

Teen drinking and drug abuse isn't just a phase to grow out of or to pass through. It's dangerous, and too often deadly. Please talk to your kids and everyone else to warn them of the dangers.

At the Little Rock Marathon, we'll be racing to raise awareness of the dangers of teen substance abuse, to tell people how the saving grace of Jesus Christ saves us and strengthens us and keeps us going, to raise money for charities that save kids' lives, and to honor the memory of Amanda Marie Allison! Look for us in our new blue long sleeve Running with Amanda shirts.

Hope to see you there!

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

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