it may sound like it at times because all i can share about is my personal reactions to what was going on around me, but this post is not about me. this post is about adam and about what God put in adam's heart three years ago to raise money for a missions scholarship. it's about what adam was able to do monday with God's help and a little encouragement from a friend or two.
at midnight on november 1, adam started running. he left the friends ministry center parking lot and immediately turned west toward haviland. beside him ran his friend zach. zach was there to pace adam for the first couple of hours and, from what i hear, he did an excellent job. their pace was just under ten minutes per mile when zach stopped and went home. adam kept on running.i honestly don't know what happened next. i'm pretty sure another friend of adam's came along and paced him, but i don't know who that friend was or how far they ran together. my knowledge of adam's night run is minimal. all i know for sure, is that at some point gabe (on the right in the photo above) showed up. i know that because gabe, a very young cancer survivor, was running with adam when i showed up to join the fun around noon. i drove up beside the two of them with my van window down. "how are you doing?" i asked. adam's honest answer shocked me: "not so great. my stomach keeps cramping." still he kept running.
i drove a mile or so ahead, met up with the support vehicle, transferred the gear and food i needed over and hopped in with jesse and larry for the ride to the corner of NW 40th street and NW 170th avenue. that was where i was supposed to join the run. when we got to the intersection, i hopped out and stretched a bit then climbed back in the van. it was windy and cold and i didn't want to tighten up too much. i sat on the small square of van seat available to me next to the boxes and containers of adam's stuff and watched the horizon to the east. soon adam and gabe cleared the rise and ran toward us. i jumped out. they slowed at the intersection, but did not stop. i pushed start on my stopwatch and jumped in. (photo above was taken right after i joined the run.) gabe had run around 13 miles with adam. adam had run sixty miles in twelve hours.
when i had run only a few feet, adam gave me my assignment. "i want to be running 12 to 13 minute miles," he said. i was to keep track. we ran for a bit and walked for a bit my first mile. "we covered that mile in twelve and a half minutes," i told my companions.
the next mile was a bit tougher for adam. his cramps were getting worse and we had to walk a bit more. gabe and i kept urging adam on. "just keep moving." when we got to the next intersection, i checked my watch. that mile had taken about thirteen minutes. we stopped for some water then continued on.
i don't remember all the details of every mile, but at the end of my first hour of running and walking, we had covered about four and half miles. we averaging just over thirteen minutes per mile. on target still.
that's when the bottom fell out. the cramps adam was experiencing kept getting worse. they would subside when he was walking, but every time we started running they'd come back with a vengeance. adam was also beginning to feel the effects of sleep depravation. the last time he'd been in bed was 6:30 sunday morning and it was now after 2:00 monday afternoon.
we caught up with the support van and adam said, "i need a power nap. i'm going to lay down. make sure we're not stopped more than ten to fifteen minutes."
we climbed in the back of the van and while adam reclined on one of the bench seats and at a few grapes, gabe and i ate power crunch granola and took in liquids. i watched adam with an emt's eyes as he tried to rest. he looked exhausted and wasn't resting much. he fidgeted this way and that. he couldn't seem to relax. then he started shivering. his whole body shook. he asked for his hoodie and we covered him up with it. his body continued to tremble.
i told adam when ten minutes had passed. "a little longer," he said. i told him when fifteen had passed. "five more minutes."
"it's been twenty minutes," i said and adam sat up slowly.
"let's get going," he said.
as we crawled out of the van, he warned gabe and i, "it's going to be hard to move for a little while." it was. he sort of hobbled as we set off on the next mile. i looked in his eyes and for the first time noticed they were bloodshot. i mentioned it to him.
"i know," he said. "it's the wind." the wind was pretty intense, so i let it go.
we kept moving. walking more than running now. still it was moving. i carried a large bunch of grapes and handed them to adam when he wanted them. i also carried his water bottle now. he didn't need any extra weight.
the grapes seemed to perk adam up a bit after they were all safely in his belly. we ran a bit more for awhile. at least that's how i remember it. were we getting past the awful cramps?
adam's phone rang about the time we got the answer to that question. he handed the phone to gabe, told him to answer it and proceeded to vomit up every grape he'd taken in. gabe talked with the woman who'd called. in the calmest of voices, he said, "adam can't come to the phone right now." it wasn't funny at the time, but in a few miles later that single phrase would cause uproarious laughter.
the phone conversation and the puking done, we trudged on. adam, contrary to what we all expected, did not feel better after the grapes were discharged. the cramps came back again and again. walking was fine. running was a chore. we seldom ran for more than a quarter mile at a time.
a short time after the grape incident, we neared my original goal distance. i had planned at the beginning of the day to cover a half marathon, then call it quits. a reasonable goal, i thought, considering i'd done nine and a half miles before with little trouble. thirteen couldn't be that much harder. at the pace we were going it would be a piece of cake. i decided i could keep going. i couldn't leave adam in the shape he was in. i ran past the half marathon mark, looked at my watch - 2:55'20" - shouted woohoo and kept right on going.
a short distance later, we met up with terry and sherri. terry, a seasoned ultramarathoner from wichita, was going to run adam on into haviland. gabe had reached his mileage goal of just over a marathon, so he said goodbye and a new threesome was formed - terry, adam and me. two experienced distance runners and the newbie to running. i was in over my head, but i felt the need to be with adam for a few more miles so on i went. i could do a marathon at this pace.
adam was bone weary. the sleepless day and night were about to kill him. that and the cramps. he talked with terry. "am i going to make this?" he asked. "when does it become unreasonable to expect that i can finish?" the words were spoken hesitantly. they hung in the air. then terry answered. i don't remember his exact words, but they satisfied adam. he'd keep moving. for now.
some time after terry joined us, adam's wife, sarah, met up with us. we stopped at the support van and she began fussing over her husband. she cooked him some noodles. she made him drink the broth. she spoke with him. terry and i grabbed a bit to drink and eat and slipped away, giving adam and sarah some space.
while we waited, it started getting colder. i looked at terry as i sipped pepsi and munched on sun chips. "i'm putting on my tights," i said. i walked to the van, grabbed my bag and pulled out my windproof leggings. i also grabbed a jacket and a long sleeved jersey. i walked to terry and sherri's jeep and pulled everything on. the change was immediate. i felt warmer which made me feel better. i'd been a bit down for the past few miles and suddenly i perked up. my upswing caught terry's attention and soon he was donning cold weather gear too.
a little while later, adam was as ready to go as he could be at that point. the three of us started running. the details of the next little while elude me. we went up and down hills. every road looked like every other road. there were turns we made that are just fuzzy memories. i remember only remember two things from this section of the run. i remember passing the elk farm. i also remember asking, "how much longer is a 50K than a marathon?" terry laughed.
the fact is, looking back, everything blurs together. what i've reported to this point could be out of order. for the life of me i'm not so sure now that gabe left at the same time terry arrived. there might have been four of us for awhile. i honestly don't know.
what i do know is that sometime after the "sarah has arrived" break, we arrived at highway 61, the busy, paved, north-south road that would take us to pratt. we crossed the highway, waved at sarah in the van and ran south - and this time i mean we ran. it was like a switch was thrown and adam got his second wind. sarah passed us and then pulled off on a side road a short distance ahead. another car pulled up to the van and someone hopped out. adam handed me his water bottle and said, "go fill this up. i'm going to keep going."
i took the bottle from him and picked up my own pace. i dropped off the highway and ran to the van. jesse was there and he took adam's bottle and my own and refilled them. the person who had gotten out of the car turned out to be ellen, a new running compaion. we'd been expecting her sooner or later. when i told her adam and terry were continuing on, she turned and ran off after them.
when the water bottles were filled, i thanked jesse for his help and hit the road running. it felt good to put the hammer down. i chased ellen as she chased adam and terry. my spirit soared as i turned west onto highway 54. things were going to be better now. only twenty miles to haviland, adam's goal! i looked ahead. terry had disappeared. ellen had caught adam and they were moving. there was very little walking going on. when i caught up, i found out terry had stopped off for a pit stop at a gas station a block or two earlier. i decided i could go for one too, so i swung off at pizza hut. "i'll catch up in a bit," i shouted. ellen and adam ran on.
i couldn't have been inside for more than five minutes. honestly. but when i exited the restaurant and ran out to the sidewalk, i couldn't see anyone. they couldn't have gotten that far ahead, i thought as i started running. i was wrong. i had to run for a good long time to catch up with adam and ellen. terry wasn't with them yet. his pit stop was of a different variety than mine. he wouldn't catch up with us for some time.
we ran on through pratt on highway 54. terry showed up again sometime before the edge of town. don't recall exactly where. he and i followed adam and ellen. i overheard bits and pieces of their conversation. adam was asking his friend about the cramps. did i forget to mention that ellen is a doctor? she listened and offered advice.
when we reached the far side of town and were able to get off the highway again, we met up with a couple of college students. their arrival was crazy! a blue car roared past us. it turned around and came back. when it stopped, these two young guys jumped out and the car drove away. sammy and marc - these college students do have names - were there to run with adam the final twenty miles.
as the six of us continued on, the road turned from asphalt to the much more forgiving sand again. we ran down rollers and powerwalked up them at adam's command. the conversation was great! we spotted some deer in a little valley. the sunset was beautiful! ellen dropped back to capture it on her camera phone. she had it uploaded already when she got back to us. crazy!
we ran on. the night grew dark around us. somewhere along that lonely road i became a marathoner. not sure exactly where it was. there was no woohoo moment. i had already decided i was going to be an ultra runner by day's end, so i just ran and walked and enjoyed the company.
seventeen miles from pratt, a pick up pulled up next to us. the driver shut off his lights and jumped out. it was marshall, a friend i'd run with on sunday in the 10k. he was there to help keep adam going.
marshall and terry and i ran together behind the others. moving was becoming a bit painful for me. not sure why it took so long, but it was hard to start running after our shorter periods of walking. talking with my running mates helped.
at some point, sarah gave up driving responsibilities and joined the rest of us. she ran beside adam and among his friends. jesse pulled up next to us. he spoke to me. "we left sarah's car up the road at the 92-mile mark." i nodded my head. the 92-mile mark was where i would hit 50K.
sarah climbed back in the car and the rest of us ran on. mile followed dark mile. the support van stopped ahead. as we approached sarah called out to me, "mike, it's only a mile from here."
it's hard to explain what happened next. marshall said, "you want to run?" i said no, but i meant yes. i wanted to run my final mile. i wanted to let my legs fly. i wanted to be done, but couldn't leave adam. we jogged past the van with the rest of the crew.
crew. it dawned on me suddenly. adam had a large group of people to take him home. he didn't need me like he had earlier in the day.
"marshall!" i shouted. "let's go!" with those words i took off. when my friend didn't appear at my side immediately, i yelled his name again. "marshall! you coming?"
a short time later, marshall ran up beside me. "you said you weren't going to run, so i stopped to tie my shoe," he explained. "when i looked up, you were gone." i laughed and we ran. i mean really ran. we ran that entire mile, full tilt or as close to full tilt as a guy who's run more than thirty miles can run. i have no idea my time split for that last 5280 feet. it felt like no mile i've ever run. i ran right up the the intersection and stopped my watch. i'd run or walked for seven hours, six minutes and two seconds.
it wasn't until i stopped that i realized just how cold i'd gotten. i started shivering almost immediately. i went to the van and grabbed my bags. as i was pulling things together. adam ran by and shouted his thanks to me.
he RAN by! did you catch that! he was doing well.
i drug my bags over to my ride back to my car. i pulled out warm dry clothes and jumped in the front seat. jesse slipped in behind the wheel. he had to get me to my van thirty-some miles away and back to haviland before adam and his support crew.
i don't remember much of the trip to my van. we stopped in pratt for gas and i ran in for water and gatorade. i grabbed some gummy worms too. back in the car, we sped on. my legs were a mess. my abs hurt. i was tired.
jesse absentmindedly started whistling the chariots of fire theme song. i couldn't help but laugh. a perfect song for running.
we turned north at cunningham on NW 170th avenue. we turned again at NW 40th street, the corner at which my accidental ultra began. two miles later, we were at my van. jesse grabbed my bags from behind his seat and handed them to me. i walked slowly to the van and threw everything inside. with a wave, jesse was off and i was alone. i started up the van and drove home.
i logged onto facebook and clicked over to adam's profile. he wasn't in haviland yet. he was still running.
i posted my miles along with a brief description of my day on dailymile, then went to bed. i could not get comfortable. finally i crawled out of bed, grabbed a blanket and headed for the couch. i didn't want my wife to suffer a sleepless night as i tossed and turned.
before i shut off the lights, i checked facebook one more time. on adam's profile i read: "run for missions 100-mile run live update! finished! time: 23 hrs. 24 minutes. thanks to everyone for the prayers & support!"
i smiled. adam had made it 103+ miles. he could rest now. no more running.