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I Beat the Rhino - London 2018

This almost 60-year-old headed for Europe earlier this month. Marathon runners need to taper (rest) for a few weeks before a big race. I decided the best way to do that would be do a lot of walking and a little running.

My wife and I decided on a cruise for our honeymoon.

It was 10 days, 9 of them taking walking tours of various cities in England, Spain, France and Italy. This trip was a dream come true for us. The name of these countries were written down on various slips of paper in our dream jar a few years ago.

I wrote in my first book, "Follow your dreams, they know the way."

When you have had a significant illness, you begin to realize you may not have a someday. For me, I started living life right NOW. Congestive heart failure got my attention in 2011. I started taking vacations and spending more time with the people I love. Then I was diagnosed with cancer the first time, and the second time, and the third time, and the forth time. Sobering.

My pile of life-long dreams seemed to disappear before my very eyes.

When my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she immediately booked two weeks in Europe, came home from her trip, and never left the house again.

I had fitness dreams, too.

I wanted to run a marathon in every US state and one on every continent. Antarctica is a balmy 40 below zero in C and F. I would have done it. The Great Wall of China has a marathon too.

57 marathons was all I wanted out of life - and airfare and money for hotels. :)

I didn't run any marathons in 2016. I was too ill and had a number of small surgeries. In fact, three surgeries in one week. I missed San Francisco and Dublin. Once because of my first melanoma surgery, and once because I was too sick to run more than 8 miles.

I never made it to Cardiff, Wales to run the half there with my MFP friend, either.

The road to London was tough on me. I ran Berlin in September of 2017. It wasn't my best, but it wasn't my worst either. It was supposed to be a solid base for London. Sadly, I broke my leg in October and sat out 9 weeks.

I fell and ended up in the ER during my 11 mile run in January.

Fast forward to race day. It was hot, very hot for me. At the start, it was about 70 (around 20C) in the shade, for which there was none. I made small talk with Colleen in the starting corral. I was finally off and running by 10:45 am. The sun beat down, and there was no water at the start, or even on the course for over 3 miles! When I finally got some at the first stop, it was in a plastic bottle which I ended up having to carry to the next stop.

I was trying to connect with my wife and best friend, Tim. I missed them at the 10K mark by just a few minutes. There I passed the guy wearing a rhino costume. It must have been hot as hell in there, I thought.

By the time I got to 10 miles, I realized I wasn't going to even meet my goal of beating my time in Berlin.

I cried. I was feeling sorry for myself.

I pressed on in the relentless heat. At mile 11 my MFP friend Jo was on the sidewalk. I got a hug and kept going. I cried some more. I was just too hot. I had a number of summer training runs getting ready for Berlin. At least there was some shade in August. I started altering my course to walk a few hundred feet in the shade whenever there was some.

The guy wearing a rhino costume passed me.

I was looking for some Gatorade at the drink stations and there was none. They had some other stuff (Lucozade) which was just plain awful. It's no wonder the Brits aren't well known for their cuisine. I mean, have you ever heard someone say let's get some English? No, let's get Italian, French, Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, or Sushi.

Never English. ;)

The miles pressed on. I walked more and ran less. It was hot. Repeat at mile 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18... I passed the rhino. I couldn't eat. There was no way I could replenish my hydration and electrolytes. I took almost 7 teaspoons of salt and a dozen candies along the course. I had had no food since my single fried egg and croissant at breakfast.

There were some folks holding a sign. "God loves you, run the race set before you." It was my promise.

At mile 18, there was a tap on my shoulder. It was Colleen who I had met in the starting corral. She had been sick and throwing up. We walked a while. The guy wearing the rhino costume passed me. I needed to get back to running. My wife and Tim were at the 35K marker.

I got a kiss and an I love you from Ruth, and a high-five from Tim.

Off I went, fighting the heat, leg cramps, hunger, and exhaustion. I pressed on. At 38K I was at least feeling like I might make it to the end. I didn't even look at my watch. I joined the throngs of overheated walkers.

Colleen pulled along side again. We just decided to finish it together.

We didn't really talk. We just put one foot in front of the other. 39K - my team captain gave me a hug and took a photo, 40K, 41K, 42K. Finally, we were near the Royal Palace.

I took off my hat, racing to the finish, I passed the rhino. I needed a good picture!

I crossed the finish line of my 5th world major! I got my medal, a couple of pictures, and a few sips of much needed water. I wished Colleen well and she went off to meet her husband, and me, my wife, Tim and Jo.

I was done!

As I was texting my wife to let her know where I was, I dropped to one knee. I felt nauseous and dizzy. I sat there and waited for them for a few minutes. I managed to get upright for a picture or two.

That's when my wife called a medic for me.

The medic gave me a sick bag shaped like a horse condom. They helped me off to a stretcher. There were 3 doctors who attended to me. I got some ice, and then they put bags of ice under my arms.

"My armpits are dripping," I proclaimed.

My feet were elevated and who knows what else was happening. They took my blood pressure and checked my blood sugar.

Soon I felt better.

"How are you feeling?" asked one of the doctors.

"I beat the rhino."

Getting Serious, 7 Years Later

When I first logged onto MFP we didn't even have a LIKE button. If we thought you did a great job, we commented WTG. Under Armor was only a retailer of orgasmic compression gear.

There wasn't even a crappy MFP app back then.

Last week we found out that we have been hacked and all our food diaries are up for sale with various internal organs on the black market. I have a handful of friends I met way back then. Bobby D, John W, Dan E, Cami from CO, and Sean the Enforcer - oh, and Dootzy and Bill, Ken L. and Alicia, Emily D, JMN, Hoppymom, Navygunner, and Annabelle from AZ.

I am sure there are more who have been on the journey with me. If you have a copy of my book, you were here over 3 years ago.

So, I guess you are wondering what I have accomplished since I first logged on? On April 4th, 2011 I had congestive heart failure. I was in ICU for week. I weighed 267 when I went in, and 244 not long after I came out.

When I got home, I just cried.

I was scared, well medicated, and obese. All of that was my doing. I had to make a choice about my health. No more putting it off. No more excuses. No more blaming others. No more feeling sorry for myself.

None of that would do if I was going to live.

I signed up for the gym, got registered for a weight loss class, which I went to twice a week. I learned about nutrition, exercise, and here, I learned about calorie counting.

I hated it. But I did it.

I began writing a blog to manage my emotions. The heart trauma left me scared. The truth was I didn't know what was going to happen next. I wore a heart monitor all the time, weighed in and took my blood pressure twice a day, and digitally answered questions about my medication.

The insurance company wanted me dead or well, but not sucking away their precious profits.

Sunday, June 12, 2011, I started my logging journey on MFP. I haven't missed logging on since then. I had to take control. I just couldn't sit there feeling tired, depressed, fat, and miserable. I started three 30 minute workouts a week - ok, I started running marathons and it was a lot more.

I was time to make a commitment and own my choices.

I have seen a lot of people come and go here. Some of them come back. Sadly, some have died. Yeah. Dead. If you don't want to be fit, that's your choice. Or maybe I should say, if you don't want to work at this, there is nothing I can do to help.

Today I am blessed to have had a second chance at life.

My wife has a co-worker who suffered a heart attack over the weekend. He is 41. Taking care of yourself can be serious very quickly. There are no guarantees. Today is a good day start the journey.

Make a commitment. Make some friends. Get going.
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