Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Promise Land 50K 2011

I probably could have finished a little faster if I didn't pause to take in the beauty of this waterfall, and plead with a hiker if he would take my picture and email it to me. The last time I ran this (2007), I vowed that if I ever made it back to this spot that I would take the time to get a picture, and the Lord provided with a really nice person. This is a little over a marathon distance at this point. I was really needing a break as this is a 4.1 mile climb, and it felt straight up, complete with about a thousand man made steps and a gagillion others. It took me about 2 hours to make it from aid station 6 to 7 and lots of people passed me. I was turtle slow and so I just enjoyed the beauty of God's creation, and encouraged the many people who were faster than I. I was just thankful to be here, as I am two years out of R-CHOP chemotherapy, and still have one more Rituxan chemotherapy infusion to go. Every so often I would touch my surgically inserted port and thank God, for His strength and grace. It was just a few months ago, that I had a break down and cried uncontrolably because my compromised health had taken me out of running altogether. (It's the reason my hair is so long. I am hoping to donate it once it gets long enough.) Running ultra's and overcoming cancer and chemotherapy have lots in common.

The day's prior were filled with grand daughter time as we hung out, fished and played. I found a new use for a turkey call as a teething item for my youngest. I was really hoping (and praying) a big striper would latch upon my grand daughter's lure, but it didn't happen (yet).

The day prior to the race was rainy and a perfect day of rest to prepare for the 50 K. My wife was gracious to arise early with me to prepare for the day at hand. We arrived in plenty of time and with the steady rain, I stayed in the car until the very last minute. As Dr. Horton led us in prayer I knelt in the mud to bow my knee and confess with my mouth the Lord Jesus' rule and reign over my once cancer diseased body then up the mountain in the dark we all went. I hadn't run over three miles since the Terrapin Mountain 50K because my left calf would really hurt after two miles, so it was another run of faith. I hoped my calf would respond to the rule and reign of God's kingdom, and it did! The first portion of the race (to me) was not as pretty as in the past because a weather front with very thick fog moved in. I was very thankful for the efficient placement of the trail markers for at times the visibility was about 50 ft. The fog and the gusting wind were a mild distraction from the race at hand. I was glad to have made it to the Sunset Fields overlook without any huge calf issues, and it was now down, down, down, down, and the fog lifted, the sun came out, and it was spectacular. I caught and passed a few people, and headed into the loop. I had to put on some podcasts to keep me moving as I went into a real energy lull. Two podcasts were on healing (Gloria Copeland), and one was on the eternal crowd (Joel Osteen) who cheers us on as we walk/run in faith. I could imagine that the eternal inhabitants of heaven according to Hebrews 12 were quite entertained as many of us run these things by faith. I also imagined my mother and father and recently passed member of our church, being able to witness the struggle and conquest of an ultra marathon. After those pod casts, and some refueling, I felt better and turned on some high energy music for the remainder and envisioned I was in an eternal outdoor stadium, with heaven's inhabitants cheering us on.

After the loop came the huge climb out of the valley mentioned above and it was soon to be all down hill. My calves were hanging in there, and the descent was so steep, I just let gravity pull me down, and kept praying that I wouldn't fall or make a misstep. Eventually, I made it to the gravel road, and it began to sink in, that by God's grace I was going to finish another miracle run, that I entered in early January, by a prompting by the Lord. The Lord had taken the years of cancer and treatments and had suddenly restored me to the ability to run at this level and it is still an amazing thing to experience. I have a hard time believing it really happened, so I doesn't bother me when others cannot believe that God could restore the years of cancer and chemotherapy in a moment. I was experiencing time redemption and I can only thank and praise God from whom all blessing flow.

About a quarter of a mile from the end, I saw a flattened Pabst Blue Ribbon beer can. This was my mother's favorite beer which she and Aunt Marilyn consumed a few million of before her days of Lupus, Emphysema and making peace with God. Whether it was real or imagined, I could hear my mother, like she used to yell in my high school track meets as soon as I would be making the last turn towards the finish line. Above every voice in the stands I can/could still hear her. "Come on Craig! Kick it in! Move it! Kick it! Come on! You can do it!

Well, finishing an 880 yard race in less than two minutes has a much different kick at the end than finishing a 50 K in 9 and a half hours, but I kicked it in as much as I could, looked over my shoulder to make sure no one was coming up from behind, and was blessed to hear my name being called by Dr. Horton and see my lovely wife as I made it the last few steps to the finish line.

Thanks be to God!

p.s. I am still learning how to insert pictures.
p.p.s. top picture (already explained), boat picture with my grand daughter Becca @ Smith Mountain Lake, smores cooking and eating with daughter and grand daughters, calling turkeys and teething, the finish line, the final finish, look of being done, kneeling in the creek to cool off and treat my legs, two pictures of the creek along the start and finish road, a cleaned up me, and a beautiful wife.


  1. Not all Christians can understand your cancer ordeal, but all Christians can understand the miracle that has taken place. God is not finished with you. He has more work for you to do. Congratulations

  2. Thanks Rick,

    I must try to meet you at the next one of these. I look forward to knowing you,


  3. I saw this quote today and thought of you.

    "I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it is forward."

    - David Livingstone

  4. James,

    thanks I may use that in a future book or blog.