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 21, 2016

Run the Line Half -- What an Adventure!

Well...a PR in the half marathon will have to wait for another day. This weekend turned into quite the adventure, but God allowed me a decent finish with a time of 1:58:51.

Last night a prior commitment meant leaving for Texarkana around 9 PM. That should have put me there about 11:30. My plan was to sleep in the back of the Blazer close to the start, so I wouldn't need to wake up until 6 or so. That would have made for a good night's sleep before the race this morning.

But, about 80 miles before I got there, I had the cruise control set on 70, humming down the freeway, with everything seeming fine. Suddenly, the vehicle jerked, started, jerked, then quit. I popped it into neutral and watched the tachometer drop to zero. I turned the key to try to restart it, but no go.

Thank God the next exit was right there. I mean RIGHT THERE. I steered down the ramp. The light was red, but nothing was coming. So I rolled through in a right turn. Another blessing was the Pilot Truck Stop right there beside the exit. I had enough speed to coast right into a parking spot.

I tried several more times to start the vehicle, to no avail. I popped the hood, but couldn't immediately identify the problem. I was a little over halfway to Texarkana at 10 PM on Saturday night, and I was stuck.

I called Janice and she asked if I wanted her to come get me. But I had a different idea, not such a bright idea in her mind. I told her I was going to try to hitch a ride with a trucker on to Texarkana so I could run this morning. She wasn't too keen on the idea, but didn't threaten to divorce me. So, I went to the fuel island and began hitting up drivers for a ride.

Several turned me down. One driver of a pickup with a horse trailer told me they would take me but they weren't leaving until the morning. Then, finally, an older fellow pulled up in a pickup pulling a camper trailer. I repeated my story, even offering to ride in the back of his truck if he gave me a ride. He looked at me with a measuring eye and said, "Sure, I'll take you." So, I ran back to the Blazer and gathered my gear.

He didn't make me ride in the back, and we ended up having some interesting conversation during the 80 mile drive to Texarkana. I even got to witness to him when religion came up. He told me about his kids, and heard about mine, including Amanda's story. All in all it was a pretty good trip.

He dropped me off at the exit ramp for State Line Ave right around 12:30 AM, about three miles from the race start. And I started walking, carrying my bag of clothes and my sleeping bag.

At first, the walk wasn't too worrisome, but three miles into the heart of Texarkana carried me through a variety of areas. The first half mile from the freeway was well-lit, with lots of hotels and restaurants. After that it turned a little more seedy, with car lots and pawn shops and other businesses that are closed that time of night. Then I passed by a smattering of bars and night clubs with plenty of patrons milling about. The last half mile or so was downtown, mostly deserted, but more populated with government buildings and law offices.

A couple of times I encountered other pedestrians, who fired my precautionary instincts. Once, a car load of late night adventures turned down a street behind me yelling something I couldn't quite make out. But again, my instincts were kindled and I was spying escape routes and looking for suitable battlefields to make a stand if the need arose.

But the need didn't arise. Upon reflection, I think carrying a sleeping bag that time of night probably made me look like a not-so-great target for robbery.

About a half mile from the race start was a small, ancient motel. I stopped and rang the bell beneath the neon "Open" sign. But nobody answered and no lights came on inside. So I decided to go the last little bit to the start area. I finally reached the start line of the race, where I took advantage of the port-a-potties to change clothes, then went about spying a place to sleep.

It just so happened the start line was right in front of the Bi-State Justice Building. I walked around behind the building and found a loading dock area with a corner protected by an overhang and out of sight from the road. It looked like as good a place as any to spend the night. It was after 2 AM at this point.

I woke about 5:40 and packed up. I couldn't carry everything when I left my Blazer behind, so I'd left my ice chest with my breakfast. There was a McDonald's about a half mile away, so I trekked there, stashing my gear in some bushes not far from the starting area.

When I got back, packet pickup was underway. A friend had already offered to give me a ride back after the race. So I stashed my gear in his car and mingled with the ever-growing crowd of friends who were there.

When the race started, I was actually feeling pretty good, in spite of the 62 degree temperature and 85% humidity. My goal was a 1:50 finish. I started the race running between 8:00 and 8:10, holding that for the first five miles. But, by the end of that five miles, it became obvious holding it was going to be tough.

The adventure and the weather were taking their toll. So I slowed down and began walking the hills. I was still hoping to get a PR at this point, but it by mile nine, it became clear that wasn't going to happen either. It then became a struggle to just finish under two hours.

I was able to pick up the pace after mile 11, and a two hour finish seemed more and more doable with each step. I was glad to cross that finish line, and even more glad we weren't running a full marathon today.

I want to say a special thank you to my friend, David Edwards, for driving me back, going well out of his way to do so. And, of course, thank you Jesus for keeping me going through a race after so many challenges.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That's quite a story! I can definitely see why your wife wasn't too keen on the ideas! LOL....Glad you survived your adventure safely!


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