Action 477 – Make Them All Count.

I’m down to the last few days before I run the marathon, and that raises the stakes on each of the last actions. I’m confident that the past 90+ days have been good for me, and I want to finish strong.

Action 477 –  Make Them All Count.

This week, I won’t be introducing anything new. I’ll stick to foods I know and eat regularly, so I won’t have any worries about nutrition. Physically, I’m planning a short run on Tuesday and Thursday, and I may run again on Friday if I feel like it. I want to feel loose and ready to run on Sunday.

I have been hyper-focused on this marathon for more than three months. Mentally, I think the next few days will seem a bit of a blur. But emotionally, I think I will be a bit overwhelmed by the time Sunday gets here. It’s a lot to process, all that has led me to this point.

Spiritually, I feel like I am in a good place. With the help of very generous friends, I have managed to turn this all-about-me marathon project into a chance to make a real difference for other people. That feels pretty great.

All that said, I will not coast this week. I will work just as hard as I have all the weeks before. I will be ready.

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Action 475 – Influence The Family.

I’ve been running for over a year now, and my family knows that it’s become very important to me. And this weekend, I got a chance to see the effect my running is having on other people.

Action 475 – Influence The Family.

In November, I am running the Silver Strand Half Marathon on Coronado Island. And my cousin, who lives in Washington, had already decided to come down and run it with me. It will be her first half marathon, and I’m excited to run it with her. (Plus, a friend of mine is coming down from Las Vegas, so we planned to be a running party of 3!)

But this weekend, my two other cousins surprised me by saying that they are going to run the event, too. Neither cousin has every run that far, but they have already registered and are ready now to start training. Both of them are responsible for their own decisions to run, but I know that they would not be coming along if I wasn’t running. Influencing other people feels great, but influencing family? Love it!

Even though I have to say goodbye to the family tomorrow morning, it’s exciting to know that I get to see many of them again in November.

Action 470 – Honor Heroes (Mile 25).

I am dedicating each mile that I run in the Pasadena Marathon to another Marine Corps hero who has made the ultimate sacrifice, so that in my own small way, they may be honored, acknowledged, and remembered.

Action 470 – Honor Heroes (Mile 25). I will run mile twenty-five in honor of SSgt. Stephen Dunning. He was killed when a booby trap connected to a device he had just disarmed exploded, his father said. Almost a month before his death, he had been promoted to staff sergeant.

I will run this mile in honor of this fallen Marine warrior, son and brother. Semper Fi, Staff Sergeant.

Marine Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Dunning died October 27, 2011 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom; He was 31, of Milpitas, Calif.; assigned to 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan; died Oct. 27 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.

(Photo and summary courtesy of militarytimes.com.)

Action 450 – Honor Heroes (Mile 24).

I am dedicating each mile that I run in the Pasadena Marathon to another Marine Corps hero who has made the ultimate sacrifice, so that in my own small way, they may be honored, acknowledged, and remembered.

Action 450 – Honor Heroes (Mile 24). I will run mile twenty-four in honor of Sgt. John Huling. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006. He deployed to Iraq in 2007 and was on his second combat deployment. He was an explosive ordinance disposal technician, assigned to the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group at Camp Pendleton in California.

I will run this mile in honor of this fallen Marine warrior, dedicated husband, son and brother. Semper Fi, Sergeant.

Marine Sgt. John P. Huling died May 6, 2012, serving during Operation Enduring Freedom; He was 25, of West Chester, Ohio; assigned to 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died May 6 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of gunshots fired by someone wearing an Afghan National Army uniform.

(Photo and summary courtesy of militarytimes.com.)

Action 444 – Be Proud Of The Right Thing.

At Sunday’s OC Half Marathon, I ran a PR. I crushed my previous time. And still, that PR is the thing I am second-most proud of from yesterday.

Action 444 – Be Proud Of The Right Thing.

Yes, I am proud of my time. I worked very hard over the last year… especially over the last couple of months… and my speed and stamina are definitely increasing. I continue to do well and I love it.

But yesterday, the run was not the best part of the day. For me, the best part came after the run. I have already talked about how I spent the morning and early afternoon as part of the Jester Crew. But today, seeing a photo of all of us, I really felt the power of what we had done.

One of the other Jesters out there, Shawna, described it best:

This is where the magic happens. Ed and crew bringing in the very last runner at OC. This is Ms. Elaine Karmen. She is 65 years old and rocked her marathon in 7:06:37.

Tonight, I am going to feel proud of myself. But I’m going to feel even more proud of the Running Granny, Ms. Elaine Karmen. Her determination to keep going is the absolute embodiment of the spirit of the marathon.

Action 442 – Honor Heroes (Mile 23).

I am dedicating each mile that I run in the Pasadena Marathon to another Marine Corps hero who has made the ultimate sacrifice, so that in my own small way, they may be honored, acknowledged, and remembered.

Action 442 – Honor Heroes (Mile 23). I will run mile twenty-three in honor of Cpl Michael Dutcher. At his memorial service, it was said of this diehard and dedicated Marine that he “represented the very best of our mountains.” The Reverend at the service mentioned a past slogan of Buncombe County, “Men to match our mountains.” “Michael indeed matched our mountains in courage, faithfulness and integrity,” Brown said. “He’s one of our sons, and he’s one of our heroes.”

I will run this mile in honor of this fallen Marine warrior, dedicated son and brother. Semper Fi, Corporal.

Marine Cpl. Michael J. Dutcher died September 15, 2011 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom. He was 22, of Asheville, N.C.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died Sept. 15 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.

(Photo and summary courtesy of militarytimes.com.)

Action 438 – Be Part Of The Jester Crew.

For me, running has been a rather solitary endeavor. I have amazing friends who have joined me along the way for training runs or on race days, but more often than not, I’m on my own. And I’m okay with that.

But there is more to running than just logging miles by myself. And today I got to experience that in living color.

Action 438 – Be Part Of The Jester Crew.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Run Jester is a gentleman named Ed who loves to run. A lot. Like 100 miles at a time kind of runs. And that’s not the neatest thing about him. He also likes to run marathons, stop at mile 26, and wait to cheer on other runners. All the other runners. Literally, every single other runner on the course. The Run Jester stands at the end of the race for hours, until the very last marathoner (or half marathoner) finishes. Then he will run in with them.

I decided to do that at the La Jolla Half Marathon, and the experience was unbelievable. And today, I joined up with Ed and the mini-Jester, Colby, and helped them cheer in the runners at the OC Marathon.

As expected, it was an absolute highlight of the day. First, it’s impossible to be around the Jester and not be affected by his spirit and his passion for the run. And he cheers and encourages every runner – seriously, every runner – with “good job!” and “26 down, only .2 to go!” or “look at you, you got this!”

And that cowbell. Lord, that cowbell. It’s loud. It’s hear-it-a-city-block-away loud. And he’s a hard guy to miss. So every runner knows he is there long before they actually get up to him. But when they do, they have a big smile and a recharged kick in their step.

And so it was today. Ed and Colby were kind enough to let me join them, and we (along with Shawna, Chris, Tammy, Bill, Patty and Billy… did I miss anyone?) did our best to welcome every runner as they came by. And hours later, when the very last runner came by, we gathered up our stuff and walked in right along with her.

It’s powerful stuff, this whole idea of giving back to the running community by paying it forward. It reminds me that running can be more than a solitary outing. It can also be a tight-knit, supportive group of people celebrating the accomplishments of all.

Thanks, Jester Crew. You will definitely see me out there again!