When I left South Jordan, Utah on my way to the Denver, Colorado Rock n’ Roll Marathon I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. This would be marathon number 11 and the first one I would go to by myself. My wife Lynette or one of my children usually accompanies me but I was unable to get anyone to go with me for this one.
It was early October and the weather in the Salt Lake area was a little cool but nothing too bad. When I got up to the Park City ski area after driving for about forty minutes I hit a snow storm. It wasn’t coming down too hard and after all I am from Utah and used to a little snow, not usually in October though, so I wasn’t that worried. My trusty Saturn still had it’s ‘summer tires’ on instead of my super ‘winter tires’ but again I wasn’t too concerned. The snow increased and by the time I got to Wyoming it was getting really bad.
The roads weren’t plowed very good and I saw several cars off to the side of the freeway. I had left at 5:00am so I had plenty of day light and my GPS told me it would only be an 8 hour drive so that gave me some hope that I wouldn’t have to drive in the darkness. The storm increased and I had to slow down from 75mph to 50mph.
The real scare came when somewhere in the middle of ‘Nowhere, Wyoming’ the pickup truck in front of me which was pulling a recreational trailer started do a fish-tail! The driver after several attempts could not correct it and just flew off the road and into the ditch. After seeing this the other pickup truck on my left slammed on his brakes which started him fish-tailing as well and this continued for a minute or so until he landed in the ditch as well!
I was now all alone and freaking out. Just then for no reason my Saturn started to do the shimmie! It was now my turn to fish-tail out of control. Instead of hitting the brakes I took my foot off the gas and gripped the steering wheel hard and fought it out until I gained control. I slowed down to about 40mph and then began to say a HUGE prayer.
It’s a good thing I run everyday and have a very strong heart or I might have had a coronary heart attack right there. My eyeballs were bugging out of my sockets and my head was pounding so loud I couldn’t hear. I figured I just stared Mr. Death right in the eye and lived to tell about it.
By the time I reached Denver the snow had been replaced by rain. Not normal rain but chubby rain. Rain so fat and chubby that my wipers couldn’t get the water off the windshield fast enough for me to see. Instead of being an eight hour drive it turned into about ten.
When I got to the Denver Conference Center where I needed to pick up my race packet my arms and shoulders were exhausted and shaking from the death grip I had kept on the steering wheel.
The Marathon Expo was gigantic with over 150 booths. I walked around a bit and got my packet with my bib number and timing tag along with a map showing the course and starting and finishing areas.
After leaving the Expo I drove over to the starting line just to make sure I knew where it was and set the location in my GPS.
Finally I was off to find something high in complex carbohydrates for dinner. Sounds delicious huh? I had been eating pasta and bread all week and was sick of it so I looked for a Chinese restaurant and had a big plate of rice and chicken. I was all alone and felt a little lonely so I sat next to a nice looking family so I could listen to their conversation and pretend I was with them.
There was a dad, a mom, a 15-ish yr old boy and a 2-ish yr old baby boy in a high chair. Minutes after sitting down the 15 year old asked his mom if he could spend the night at his friend Tommy’s house. She said she didn’t like Tommy and his family because they were ‘Mormons’ and she doesn’t agree with Mormons having 8 wives!
Her son then told her that Tommys dad only had one wife not 8. She told her son that was because they lived in Colorado and not Utah. She told him that in Utah it’s legal for Mormon men to have as many wives as they want but if they leave the state they can only take one with them.
What the What….?
Wow, did I hit the jackpot or what? Here I am, a Mormon from Utah and the people next to me are so confused about my religion and my state I wasn’t sure if I should just sit there or jump up over the booth and set her straight.
Where did she get this crap from? T.V.? Movies? If you are reading this blog and I am the first Mormon or LDS person you have had contact with. I need to set some things straight. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) has been around for almost 200 years with millions of members all over the world. First off Mormons or LDS people to not practice polygamy anymore. The ones you hear about on the news are off shoots that have been excommunicated from the main church they have kind of made up their own rules not. So, NO I have only one wife and am pretty happy with her.
I decided I was too tired from battling the snow and rain so I just sat there and ignored them. Next I had to figure out where to spend the night.
Denver is a huge city and there’s not a lot of open areas a guy can camp out at so I thought for a moment on what would be the best place to park and sleep at and then it came to me…Walmart.
It has been my understanding that Walmart lets motorhomes park in their lots over night. I may not have a motorhome but it was worth a try. I found a Walmart very close to the start of the race and pulled into the parking lot. I crawled in the back of my Saturn Vue where I had a thick foam pad laid out and several sleeping bags and fell fast asleep. The next morning at 4:30am my alarm woke me up and looking around I could see I was the only car in the lot. No one disturbed me all night. As far as I knew I was perfectly safe and sound all night. I love Walmart.
The sky was cloud free and looked like it was going to be a beautiful day for a marathon. I drove to the starting line and parked in the lot just across the street then I got my running gear on and made my way to the starting line. There were about 15,000 thousand runners and the place was like a small city.
The energy and excitement of all the participants is hard to describe. It’s addicting and anyone who has ever run a marathon knows exactly what I mean. Immediately people started to approach me and ask me about my prosthetic leg. All assumed I was there to run the half marathon or a 5k or 10k. The looks of amazement I got when I let them know I was there for the full 26.2 mile marathon was great. I had several people ask if they could snap a few photos of me and everyone seemed interested in how I became an amputee and how it was possible to do what I do. Most of us are taught beginning from when we are very young that when something bad happens to you the best thing to do is to curl up in a ball and give up. Someone will then take care of you. We are also taught that no one will ever expect anything from you if you have a physical challenge. If I sat at home all day and refused to do anything most people would never have the guts to tell me to get off my lazy butt and go accomplish something. I guess what I’m saying is never give up. Never let anyone tell you that your dreams are too unrealistic and you’ll never complete them. Find a way to improvise, adapt and overcome. Commit yourself to proving all the nay-Sayers wrong. It doesn’t matter how big or how small your dreams are. It doesn’t even matter if you have a handicap or not. Everybody has dreams but most of us are too afraid to see them realized. The best things I’ve done I did when I was the most afraid. By the way driving to a city in another state I’ve never been to before, all by myself, in a snow storm and sleeping in a Walmart parking lot to then run a marathon is very, very scary.
The marathon was wonderful. Very well organized, beautiful coarse, great people. The Denver Police and all the other volunteers deserve a big Thank You. They did a fantastic job. A marathon would be impossible without all the great people that take their time to help out.
I almost forgot to mention that this was a Rock ‘n Roll Marathon as well so that means lots and lots of great music to get you moving! Other note worthy occurrences were…I saw Elvis running! I saw Mario of Super Mario Brothers running! And my favorite were about half a dozen guys dressed up in full Spartan garb complete with swords, helmets and shields running! As I ran past them I yelled in my most commanding voice,”Spartans!”, to which they all answered by barking out,”HUHHH!”, in perfect unison.
My time was right around five and one half hours which is pretty decent and the drive home after the race was full of clear blue skies and not a single trace of the snow that had fallen the day before.