Sunday, September 2, 2007


Today was a culmination day in many ways, a day I will never forget. I ran the Virginia Beach Half Marathon in a personal best 2:01:02, 5 minutes and 40 seconds faster than my previous best.

The race started at 7 a.m. under bright sunny skies and perfect Chamber of Commerce conditions. Race organizers had to be pleased, race participants even more so. The temperature was about 68 degrees at the start, maybe 74 at the finish, and it was not humid. Navy buddy Dave Baum and I headed to the start line about 6:40 since our hotel room was right next door. My sister, Anne, and Vandy buddy Dan Flagler came to cheer us on. Anne and I walked to the course together with arms around each other, both of us thinking about beautiful, wonderful, sweet Dori, the best person I know in this world. I have to admit I got a little ver klempt, as Linda Richmond would say, before the start.

I started off semi-nervously in the 7th of 20 some-odd corrals, getting to the first mile in 8:32. Slow down, big fella. I settled in to a comfortable pace, and felt very good, alternating my thoughts between Dori, who has so courageously battled leukemia this summer, and my sore calf muscles, which have hindered my training since an arduous session on Aug. 11 in Nashville. I prayed to my Lord, asking His help to keep my legs loose so I could attain this important goal.

I saw tons of Team in Training race participants and their supporters on the sidelines, each one of them reminding me of Dori and bolstering my spirits. I saw other people running for other causes. Many people were running for Virginia Tech, and many VT supporters were screaming their lungs out along the course. You cannot imagine the emotions watching this outpouring. Along the way, I also thought about the 150-plus wonderful people who contributed more than $20,000 so far to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of Dori. I thought about Candy Rucker, Chuck Hendry, Kim Swindall and other leukemia patients, and their caregivers. I thought about my training partner, Ann DeNunzio, who paced me on our longs runs, encouraged me, and referred me to Keith McCord, the invaluable therapist who helped loosen my legs with some deep tissue massages this past week.

At the 5K and 10K splits, I felt calm and comfortable, right on a 9:00 minute pace. The legs felt good, too. At around mile 8, I saw a black lab who reminded me of my beloved Otis, who I had to put to sleep just more than a year ago. We made eye contact, and I saw a look I hadn't seen in a while ... the look of an old but content dog.

When I got to Rudee's Inlet at about 8.5 miles or so, the course hits its only elevation point. Over the bridge I went, again feeling good. At the bottom of the bridge, I saw Anne, who was smiling and cheering for me. Later, she told me I looked like I was having fun. I was.

The race then finds Atlantic Avenue, which is one block off the beach. For two miles, you run past hotels, retailers and restaurants, with people lining boths sides of the street. I hit the 10 mile mark at 1:30:30, which is a 9:03 pace. My goal of sub 2 hours was well within reach.

At the 11-mile mark (now running on the concrete boardwalk), my right calf, which hasn't been bothering me like the left, began to tense. At 11.5, I had to stop briefly, maybe 20 seconds, to stretch it. Keith recommended I do this if I felt stress in the legs. After the short stop, I began fighting fatigue. This is where not running much since Aug. 11 began to catch up with me. The left calf then began to tighten considerably. I really slowed down, thinking the 2:00 goal was going to be tough. I stretched again after mile 12, again for about 20 seconds, playing it conservative for a good finish and a PR, rather than try to be a hero. It was the right move staying within my limits. Finish, don't flop.

I crossed in 2:01:02, happy as a lark with the effort and the results. I looked around and saw other tired but happy people. I thanked God, then all the people who supported me. My heart thought of Dori, then I saw Dan, who handed me the phone to call Dori. She had been following my progress on the Internet, and she knew I would be happy. It was a celebration call, no doubt. She told me she was proud. I told her I love her. Later, I called my Mom, who was ecstatic. The kids were with her, and they also gave Dad some love over the phone.

Anne joined us, and we looked for Dave. We couldn't find him, and began to wonder if he had a tough race. After roaming for awhile, we stumbled upon him. He had a GREAT race, finishing his first half in 2:02:43. STUD. I thanked all three of them for being with me, then we headed back to the hotel on a two-mile walk that was actually nice (get out the lactic build-up). Yes, I'm sore, but it is the sore of achievement.

I'll blog later this week about other fun stuff we're doing and post some pics. If you like hearing about steamed shrimp and Yuengling, you'll enjoy.

I am grateful to everyone who loves Dori and all of you who have been cheering me on this summer. Your love in this little corner of the world wide web has been good tonic during tough times. God bless you all.



lcreekmo said...

Jim!! Congratulations. This is a great achievement for you--and not just the PR. You all have climbed mountains this summer.

Runcie Clements said...


I'm glad to share this with you over the internet. Congratulations on the run and on meeting your goals!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your blog page several weeks ago while keeping up with my friend from Dalton, Chuck Hendry and his battle. I have been following your families journey with prayer- Congrats on the run and the healing of your precious wife.

Dan said...

You da man! I was really happy to be able to attend the event and lend a hand. (Social Director of Team Jimbo!) The spectacle of 22,000 folks running with a cause was awesome to see.

bert said...

Jim, you're a rockstar! Congratulations on your half marathon finish. Drink a recovery beer for me!