As I sit here today at my computer watching my almost 3 year old daughter "play" Wii Tennis, I think about how we take for granted this life we live.
At the beginning of 2012 I set some goals for myself. Not really "resolutions", but actual sustainable goals. This was, and still could be, my best year of running. Even after 10 years of running, this was going to be my "year of firsts." The first time I run at least 200 miles per month. The first time I run new races. The first time I PR my 50k. You get the idea.
Last night, for the very first time ever, I ran on Leap Day. But not only did I run on it, I ran right through it. I waited for my wife Jerri to get home from work to lace my shoes up and hit the road. It was raining and somewhat chilly. But more than anything, it was quite foggy. She didn't want me to go but I had to get some miles in, and some night running under my belt. It didn't dawn on me while I was out there running, how easily a life could be taken. In the blink of an eye, you or a loved one could be gone. I know it sounds morbid to think like that but sometimes we should have that mindset. That would give us the motivation to enjoy our spouses, children, families, and friends.
As I was out there last night, I was having a lot of fun. It was dark and at times pretty creepy when the fog was almost too hard to see through. When there were no cars, I would shut off my headlamp and handheld and run in the pitch blackness of the night. I stayed even and didn't push any, and the miles just rolled by. As I was nearing my 8th mile I stopped briefly to pay respects to a young lady who was 5 months pregnant. They had been hit from the side as they were pulling out onto a sketchy section of road. I normally don't do this but my wife is expecting our 2nd child in October. I just felt it was the right thing to do. Stop for a moment at the spot, pay my respects and move along. I made my way home, logging 11.35 miles with an overall pace of 8:50 per mile. Nothing major by any means, but a good quality run in the books.
I was stoked to be able to get on today and tell a few people that my left foot had made it through the run without any pain. Anyone that is friends with me on Facebook or follows this blog (I don't think anyone does) knows about the problems I was having with possible plantar fasciitis. One person I really wanted to tell was Mike Edenfield. I had met Mike, his then wife, Mica, and a slew of other fast runners from Tennessee back in 2010 while running the Mountain Maryland Marathon. I ran the full and he ran the half. Mica ran a PR in the 5k. I believe she was on the mend from an injury. Ultra fast Tracy Brooks crushed the Womens record in 3:16 flat. Every single member of their Team was real, honest, and very nice.
I have stayed in contact with John, Tracy,and Mike, thankfully through Facebook. Mike was not only a runner, He was a P90X phenom. Just all around "Health and Fitness NUT"...And when I say NUT, I mean that in the best way possible. He believed in living life to the fullest and keeping your body in the best shape possible. Mike would post doing a "plank" to my page. 5 minutes of doing something I couldn't do for 45 seconds. And he did it AFTER working out for an hour and a half. His determination to be the healthiest he could be was infectious. He, like a lot of us, let his body "go" during some of his years. But instead of saying "the heck with it", He did something about it.
And while he transformed his body in to something we would like to achieve, his attitude was even better. His photos, always smiling. His comments, always positive and reassuring. This was a Man's man.
I logged in to Facebook this morning and went to comment to his page about how well last night went. Instead, I found COUNTLESS messages from many friends of his. All saying how sorry they were to hear of Mike's passing. ARE YOU FLIPPING KIDDING ME? WHAT? I must be reading this wrong. So I scroll on his then wife, Mica's page and find even more condolences. Beautiful heartfelt messages of love and grief. All saying how much Mike meant to them. What an inspiration he was. Again...ARE YOU FLIPPING KIDDING ME? I was in shock. Nothing like his family and dear friends, like Tracy, John, Jeremy Sexton, Douglas Dibb, Michael Morrell (the list goes on and on). But shock none the less.
From what I gather from a few emails to me, Mike had went to the gym last night to get his workout in. After he finished he went to relax in the sauna. Something happened during that time and Mike had passed away. There was nothing anybody could do to save him. Just like that, he was gone. I have went back to his page as well as Mica's today to read...and to hope I was wrong. I have caught myself just looking at his photos and wondering how long we really ever have. I am not much younger than Mike was, and he was in WAY better shape. It just puts life in to perspective. It would be different if it was drug related or self inflicted. But it wasn't. He was trying to be the best he could be for his then wife, his family, and for himself. That's what is so wrong with this passing. It just doesn't make sense.
I will end this by saying I will run any and all of my races this year for my friend. No matter how hard the struggle is I will find the strength and courage to reach that finish line. I will strive to be a better husband to my wife because she deserves that. To be a better Father to my daughter, Emily, and to my unborn child. To be there always and to never turn my back on any of them. And to be the kind of friend my friends deserve. I have attached a poem at the top that he wrote just a few days before his passing and a photo below of him. He was a good man and will be missed by more than one could count.
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (1 Corinthians 9:24,25). "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (Hebrews 12:1)