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Editor?s note: Bill Vickery, a resident of Bedford, recently ran in the Richmond Marathon. He was invited to share some of the experiences he had in training up for the race.
Training for a marathon is like having to eat your peas before dessert, except in this case, there are so many peas you wonder if it is worth it. I trained for the Richmond marathon for two months. I ran the marathon to raise money for the Bedford Hospice Hardy Fund.
Running is not a sport, or so I used to think. I was used to team sports, real victories, celebrating with teammates. Running was what you did to get ready for real sports. I have completely changed my mind on this. Running is real. There is no faking it. Team sports allow you to make a mistake, and the team may still win. However, there are no mistakes allowed in running. It is honest. How well you train is how you will run the race. Is there integrity in your training? If not, then it will reveal itself during the race. Runners can?t hide.
I was coaxed into running a year ago by the appeal of Pastor Witt?s preaching and my wife?s prayers. I was 37 years old and getting a little lethargic. I needed to do something to spark myself into health.
Bedford has a perfect 3-mile running course for beginners known as the Bedford loop. I often run the loop after work at midnight, when the streets are clear, the sky is full of stars, and Bedford takes on a new beauty. One night I decided to run it twice, and then three times. This is the night when the idea of running a marathon seemed like a good idea.
My wife joined me on a training run at the Peaks. I was going to jog around Harkening Hill, and she was hiking shortly behind me. I waited for her at the top and enjoyed the views. We talked and walked together for a short while on the way down and then I jogged ahead. I was not far from her when I rounded a corner and nearly ran into a black bear. The bear had stepped out from behind some bushes and trees and his body stretched across the trail. He stopped and stared at me. I was about ten feet from him. If I had not been looking ahead, it was possible I could have run right into the bear.
I backed up slowly and then turned around and jogged back the way I had come. I realized this was not a smart idea. What if the bear decided to follow me? With that thought in mind, I scampered up a tree that was angled across the trail. However, I discovered the bear had not even moved and was simply clawing the ground, looking for grubs or other tasty delights. I was now about thirty feet from the bear. The tree was angled across the trail and so I was situated perfectly, above the trail looking down.
My wife was going to be heading down the same trail shortly and would also walk into the bear. She would see the bear before seeing me. So, I did what any normal, sane husband would do in this situation. I eagerly waited to see my wife?s reaction when she saw the bear.
My wife was just wandering down the trail, oblivious to what was about to happen. The bear had moved slightly off the trail but his hind end was still sticking out. ?C?mon bear,? I wished. ?Stay close.?
My wife was very close to the tree when the bear moved off the trail and went back into the bush. I am not sure if the bear smelled or heard her. At the same time, my wife saw me up in the tree.
?Very funny!? She yelled. ?Trying to jump out of a tree and scare me.?
?Oh,? I thought. ?If she only knew the truth of how I really wanted to scare her.?
I have discovered one of the ways your body preserves oxygen to the brain and muscle cells is to short the ?unnecessary? organs. One of the organs that get shorted in long runs is the intestines. The body simply doesn?t want to pay much attention to that area when survival is at stake and so it decides to evacuate. This is like the boat in the storm when the captain throws overboard every unnecessary weight to keep the boat afloat. I have learned this from experience. Throw the contents overboard before you hit the storm.
I was running on route 43 toward the Peaks one Sunday. I was about 12 miles into the run when I realized the captain was about to bail ship. Unfortunately, there simply are not many bathrooms between town and the Peaks. I tried to make it to Mountain Market. About a mile away, I knew this was not possible. I was getting more desperate by the minute. Eventually, my pace had crawled to a fast walk, with concentration on the back area. I even contemplated entering a nearby house when I saw an elderly lady working out in her garden. Then I thought of how I looked, disheveled hair, sweat pouring down my face, lower legs caked with mud and water, and decided I better not scare her.
Just ahead I saw the country club. I made it to their door and it was locked. Sunday. It is closed!
I can?t tell the end of the story since this is a family newspaper, but suffice it so say that everything worked itself out.
My goal for the marathon was to qualify for the Boston. This goal depended on the weather, how I was feeling that day, and what the course was like.
The weather was beautiful. I was feeling great. The course was flat and fast. And I did not qualify. I came close. Remember, running is honest. There are no shortcuts. Five minutes is an eternity when you are adding up seconds each mile.
However, I had a great time. The crowds were enthusiastic. I smiled and cheered with the crowd the last couple miles. I don?t know if another marathon will happen, at least not too soon. But, I had many other adventures while training and met my goal of getting my house in order.
Thanks to all the wonderful people and businesses that donated to the Bedford Hospice House. I can?t list them all here, but you know who you are. A special thank you to the staff at Oakwood Manor at Bedford Memorial for raising over one thousand, four hundred dollars, all in individual donations.
A 5k and 10k race in the spring may be possible. The race would start at the Bedford Hospice House and run the loop. Perhaps next spring I will see you there. C?mon, it?s only three miles.