For the past 2-3 weeks I have been trying to locate an old friend, and I feel like it's turned into a puzzle that is finally about to be completed. The reason I'm trying to get in touch with this old friend (Doug C) is because to my knowledge, he is the only ultramarathoner that I know. If my memory serves me correct, I have not seen him since I was about 9-10 years old. We used to go to church with him back then until he moved to Katy, Texas. I've always thought he was a neat guy, for several reasons. In 1970, he led, with Joey Abboussie, the Wichita Falls High School Coyotes' football team to the state championship game as the quarterback. They lost by one point. He used to take a bunch of boys from church to Lake Texoma for an annual camping trip. It was on one of these trips that I experienced my first snipe hunt. It was either me or my brother that got so scared at the sight of these snipe birds that I(he) literally ran across water. It was also on one of these camping trips that Doug got out of his sleeping bag (not in a tent) and approached the female park ranger who paid a visit late one night in only his underwear! HA! I also remember being in his wife's Sunday School class and getting in trouble with 2 other boys for writing bad words in the Sunday School book. We were in the 2nd or 3rd grade. Doug sat us down like adults and explained to us that we should not have done that, told us he understood we were just being boys, and told us he wouldn't tell our parents what we did. It was also Doug that participated in a Hands-On-Marathon where he kept his hand on a truck for many many hours (maybe a few days) hoping to be the last one standing to win the truck. If you took your hand off the truck, you were out of the competition. On occasion, the contestants would get a short break, and Doug would choose to run instead of rest. He made it pretty far, but got tricked into checking a little message attached to a sandwich causing him to remove his hand from the truck and consequently himself from the competition. It isn't until now that I more fully appreciate something else he once did. He, along side a doctor, giving him a special solution of electrolytes, attempted to run the 100 mile course in the Hotter 'n Hell Hundred bike race. He made it approximately 75 miles before stopping. Amazing!
So lately, I have had this burning passion to become an ultramarathoner. For those still reading who don't know what an ultramarathon is, it's basically any run that is longer than a marathon, or 26.2miles. My goal is to run a marathon in December and then run my first ultramarathon next spring. I'll start with a 50k race, which is 31 miles, and over the next few years, hopefully work up to 50 or even 100 miles. I LOVE the challenges of endurance running - you have to have a lot of stamina, learn how to treat your body during the run, stay hydrated, stay fueled up with carbs/protein, stay smart and focused, and ignore the pains until the endorphines kick in and then keep hydrating/refueling so you avoid exhaustion (the wall) where your muscles fill up with lactic acid and are unable to burn up anything else. It's much more a mental challenge than a physical one. Anyway, I'm very driven to train towards this.
One of my philosophies in life is in any new endeavor, educate yourself as much as possible by going straight to the horse's mouth. Talk to people who have direct experience with whatever endeavor you are seeking. So, I've decided to try and contact my ultramarathoner friend, Doug. I've gone through quite a series of twists and turns to get in touch with him. I started out by trying to find him on the internet in Katy, Texas, but was unsuccessful. My dad told me he recently ran into an old friend who said he had recently talked to Doug. So, I called this guy's dad wanting to get in touch with him, who coincidentally was sitting right beside him! He recommended I try contacting these other 2 guys who are friends with Doug. I tried contacting one, but haven't been able to connect. When I tried the other, it was actually this guy's father I was calling, whose wife informed me had passed away 5-6 years ago. However, after explaining my situation, she gladly gave me her son's phone number as well as her granddaughter's number (my age) and said either could probably tell me how to get in touch with Doug. I tried her granddaughter several times but could never connect. This guy's mother informed me that he would be out of town until this past weekend. So, I called him tonight and actually got in touch with him!! I also knew this guy from 20+ years ago, so it was neat to talk to him. He said he hasn't talked to Doug in several months, but he knew Doug was about to move to Dallas. He didn't have his home or cell number, but he gave me 2 possible phone numbers to try at Doug's work. He wasn't sure if either number was actually good, but it was more than I had before so I thanked him. After trying the 2 numbers, one was not in service and one was the technical support line for some energy company. So, for grins, I typed in the company name and Houston in google.com. Low and behold, there's a company by that name in Houston! I called the number and maneuvered my way through the voice prompts to the directory. I punched in the letters for Doug's name, and guess what I hear on the other end? A recording of Doug saying his name! So, I pushed pound to connect to his line, heard his voice mail, and left a message. WOW - what a journey to finally reach him!! So, I finally feel like the last puzzle piece is being put into place. Hopefully tomorrow he will return my call and my journey will be a success. Then I can pick his brain about being an ultramarathoner...and if all the stars line up, maybe if he's in Dallas, we could actually meet up and run together! This other guy that gave me Doug's number (sort of) said Doug just had a rare form of leukemia 2 years ago, was treated, and is now completely cancer free. He said he stopped running for awhile during the treatments, but he thinks he's started back up recently. So maybe that was a long and boring story, but it's a big deal to me, and I look forward to talking to Doug. I'll let you know how it goes.
I'm finally able to run again. I've been running 5 times in the last 9-10 days, and each time I feel better and better. I am now completely pain free and am back up to 5 miles. My pace is only about 10-15 seconds per mile slower than my pre-injury pace. I suspect I will be back to my 6-8 mile runs at a sub-10 minute mile pace within another week or two. Last night was the first time I was able to let go, relax, and just run...as opposed to counting laps and worrying about aches and pains that could be a lingering injury. All of my running recently has been at the track, which in some respects has been a complete beating! Do you know how intensely boring it is to run 20 laps around a track?? However, I am sooooooo grateful that I'm able to run again, so I'm not complaining.
OK, just so I can say this blog is not JUST about running, is it just me or is Drew Carey an odd replacement of Bob Barker on The Price Is Right?