Stephanie and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday and came away with two compelling reasons to never give up or never give in.
Despite achy knees, hips and assorted other "infirmities" we hopped on Metro (itself and act of bravery these days) before eight and made our way to Foggy Bottom to support Steph's cousin Al Richmond as he battled to finish his 41st consecutive MCM. He started the day as one of two remaining "Ground Pounders", a group of Marines (no such thing as "former" marines) that had finished all MCM's.
It was a great day to watch a marathon but a bit too warm to run one. We met up with Al at miles 8, 14, 15, 18, each mile taking a progressively bigger toll on Al's seventy-something year old body. Ever the old school runner, Steph has worked with Al over the years on nutrition and using the bike as a cross trainer. The nutrition, especially, proved critical in MCM 41.
At mile 18, "The Bridge", Al was suffering. Eight miles to go. When we asked how he was doing we got a slight shake of the head "no". Thats as much complaining you'll get from this stoic warrior. We made our way to the VIP finish area to await his finish. It was not a question of if but when. This is an athlete who embodies the "finish what you started" life style that we all embrace. And so it was at 6:39 on the race clock Al ran through the Marine Corps Arch to finish number 41. Marine Corp Colonels and brand new recruits snapping to attention and saluting the living definition of a Marine. He's also one heck of an example for anyone who lives our crazy lifestyle.
Shortly after Al finished another competitor was finishing a four plus hour 10k. Pretty slow, right? Consider this: the athlete is a veteran, paralyzed from the waist down. He ran/walked with a remarkable device that enables him to stand and make forward progress. He wanted to do a 10k. He did it!! It was an absolutely stunning display of courage, guts, determination and never give up attitude. Everyone who witnessed this guy finish was moved to tears.
It should move us all out the door to do something positive. I'm getting on my bike....right now!