When the alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. Saturday, I didn’t feel much motivation to get up. Resetting it to chime 30 minutes later didn’t do much good as I slept through the alarm. At 6:15 a.m., I awoke and looked at the clock.
It was decision time. For a moment, I thought about whether I should run the half marathon in Fargo, which was less than 2 hours away.
Reasons to skip the race entered my mind: out of shape, poor running fitness, chillier than I like, not the right clothes, finding a parking spot would be a nightmare downtown and it would simply hurt to race after running just a handful of times since late March due to injury.
Quickly, I decided that most of them were just excuses. If I had let a little rain deter me from a 10K race in Fargo’s Lindenwood Park back in June 2007, I would have never gone on to complete 15 marathons, an ultramarathon and 10 long-distance mountain trail races.
It came down to one determining factor: was I willing to put up with the pain? A day earlier, an MRI ruled out any bone or muscle damage in a leg that had given me plenty of problems since January. The lack of running while enduring constant shooting pain in my shin meant that I had done little running. My leg muscles, as a consequence, are not used to the pounding that I had become addicted to.
And then I thought about my friend, Jason Boutwell. He has endured a ruptured appendix, surgery to remove a third of his colon and began chemotherapy. Certainly, I could endure some pain from racing while not being in running shape. I set off for downtown, where I easily found a parking spot in a ramp.
And then there was the weather.
Never in its previous 10 years has the Fargo Marathon had such terrific weather. The plan to hold the marathon downtown proved to be a unique experience. And while I didn’t run fast during the half marathon, I enjoyed it almost as much as any race I’ve done. This race will be locked in the memory bank as a highlight.
Afterward, I let Jason know that he was my inspiration to complete a race that I had many excuses to avoid. If I had skipped it, I certainly would have been the loser. Instead, I’m fortunate to again be blessed with an opportunity to enjoy life and health.
It’s a blessing I’m convinced Jason will enjoy again, too, after he beats cancer. He’s already inspired hundreds of people with his positive, humorous attitude.
This Saturday, a special benefit is planned to help offset the bills incurred during Jason’s fight against cancer. The donations have been generous – so generous that the goodness of others has restored my faith in people, especially those willing to help even people they don’t know.
There are hundreds of terrific auction items: tickets for the Beach Boys, Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers, and Minnesota Twins, an autographed Adrian Peterson jersey, Lasik surgery and dental discounts, and a range of gift certificates and donations for businesses around Fargo-Moorhead. If you’re a North Dakota State University fan, there are some items of particular interest: signed footballs by Brock Jensen, Billy Turner, an autographed Chris Klieman helmet and a Ben Woodside jersey from Italy.
The benefit also received a very special donation offered up by Mark Knutson, on behalf of the Fargo Marathon. Those attending the benefit on Saturday will be able to bid on two lifetime entries into the marathon.
One of the lasting thoughts I’m left with from this past Fargo Marathon weekend, my friend’s courageous battle and the upcoming benefit is simply how other people can really be a source of inspiration.
Everywhere I looked on Saturday, during and after the race, I found inspiration: people pushing themselves to new boundaries, reaching for their goals, overcoming temporary pain to achieve a lasting reward.
My development as a runner began after watching the 2006 Fargo Marathon. A year later, I entered my first race and I’ve been hooked. That rainy race in Lindenwood a few weeks after the 2007 Fargo Marathon sealed my fate: I would be a runner. Now, several years later, after the race again has inspired me to push myself to evolve as a runner – with these steps being the first on my way to the New York City Marathon in November.
That inspiration led me to take Coby out for a run Sunday, and intervals on the treadmill this morning. I’m ready for the long journey back.