Day 5 - Tomball to Downtown Houston

Today we woke up and got everything ready for the last day of this trip, with just 38 miles to go.  After packing the truck with all our clothing and gear, we drove to Salem Lutheran School where I helped make the announcements over the intercom.  Then, all the students lined the hallways and cheered as we made a victory lap.  It was a really cool moment for all of us, and a great way to start out the last day.

Pastor Stephen DeMik and Nancy Hagaman joined up to run with us for the first 20 miles, and they were a great encouragement, adding some new conversation into the daily mix as well.

From Salem, our next stop was Concordia Lutheran High School in Tomball where we met with the Head of School Joel Bode.  It's always nice to have an excuse to stop for a few minutes, and he encouraged us to continue on to the finish.

Running from Tomball through Houston's Northwest suburbs turned out to be more challenging than we thought.  There weren't any sidewalks on the streets that we could find.  Where there were sidewalks, they only lasted a couple blocks before appearing on the opposite side of the street.  It would be very difficult to walk anywhere, even a few blocks to the store.

At 20 miles, Stephen, Nancy and Pat ended their run and we celebrated the fact that we were getting close to the end. I spent some time in the back of the truck tending to my feet and changing into dry socks, which felt amazing.

I let my wife Natalia know I'd be at Trinity by 4pm, assuming I'd keep up a steady pace for the remaining 18 miles. (It's funny how I could still do running calculations in my head with run-depleted brain abilities.)  The last portion of this run was bittersweet as I started to feel at home on the streets and paths that I normally run.  It was a great feeling to know that I was finally in my own city, with all its good and bad. I didn't have to look at my watch at all for distance, because I knew exactly how far it was to downtown from where I was.

With the rain pouring down, I just kept moving my legs despite the overwhelming desire to just stop.  "I only have 2 hours, 1.5 hours, 1 hour, etc" At some point, my mind switched to "I STILL have over an hour of hard running to go!" and I had to disassociate a bit to get my mind straight and keep my legs working.  I passed a few runners on the path in the Heights and tried to imagine that I looked as fresh as they did, but I'm sure I was a bit wobbly by then.

Turning on to Houston Avenue, I only had .5 miles to go and it was 3:50pm.  To my surprise, there were school staff and some kids there waiting with signs and balloons.  It was so good to see my wife (who had a busy week as school principal), my beautiful daughters and my friends who were waiting there for me.  It was great to be finished!

Total Mileage via GPS - 199.8 (missing .5 miles from when my watch was stopped, so I'm actually over 200!)
Total Running Time - 36 hours
Total Calories Burned - 30,902

I can't thank the following people enough!

Pat Fick who ran every day with me and kept me focused on why I was doing it.

Raymond (the Hawk) and Desine Norris for being the best support crew I could have asked for.  They spent the whole week driving, getting supplies, taking pictures, etc. from Monday to Friday.

Each of our amazing host families.

The Schools we stopped at: Concordia University, Texas, Immanuel Lutheran School in Giddings, Salem Lutheran School, Concordia Lutheran High School and Trinity Downtown.

Each and every one of our donors. Donations are still coming in and we will keep updating the site through the end of November for final numbers.

Coach Caleb Masland and Team Wicked Bonkproof - He and our whole team inspires me, and Caleb has given me the knowledge I've needed to train and recover properly.

My Wife Natalia - for running the household alone for 5 days while also running a busy school.  You are amazing!

Now, it's time to get some work done.

FAQ's:

How many calories did I burn each day? - According to Strava where I upload my activities, I burned an average of 6,000 calories each day from running.

I would get bored, do you run with headphone? Sometimes yes, most of the time no.  I have an active imagination and don't get bored running.  I'm sure I've solved all world problems at least twice in my head while running.  I also meditate and talk to God, the activity helps me zone in.

Didn't your legs hurt? Yes.

How did you train for this? Actually, 6 weeks ago I had to pull myself out of the Twin Cities Marathon because of an injured hip.  I couldn't run at all for two weeks.  I then ran a half marathon with my family and again could hardly walk the next day.  Things were looking bleak for me to even start this 200 mile run.  I started to do more work on the bike trainer and went for long walks just to get my legs moving.  With about 2 weeks to go, I just forced myself to go run, no matter how slowly or painfully.  I ran 2 - 20 milers and a 10 miler within 4 days, then I rested again.  I ran 16 miles the following week and decided that, even though it was still painful to run at a normal pace, I would just go into this knowing I may have to walk most of it.  Thankfully, God gave me the ability to run the whole way.  All the miles I ran during the summer must have given my legs the strength to do this despite my current lack of running fitness.

What did you eat? I normally started out with a big breakfast of eggs and oatmeal, or whatever was available.  During the run I drank a mix of Infinit nutrition that was carbs and electrolytes as well as some Amino Acids to keep my leg muscles from catabolizing themselves.  About every 1.5 hours I ate some kind of energy bar (Bonk Breaker, Powerbar, Clif Bar, etc).  I also ate PB&J Sandwiches.  When I stopped, I tried to get in some Gatorade and a protein bar. Then, at dinner, I ate a big plate of food and was normally hungry again an hour later.

How much weight did you lose? Over the whole week I only lost about 7 pounds, mainly because I kept eating during the day and packed in the calories at night.

Would you ever do something like this again? Of course, who wouldn't?

Day 4 Recap - Brenham to Tomball

We began today with the sad news that Pat's dog had to be put down due to kidney failure.  As soon as we got to the starting point, she was on the phone with her husband getting the news.  The last time we saw him was at the Veterinarian en route from Concordia.

After we prayed a bit, we began our long run to Tomball.  Needless to say, our legs were not feeling very fresh this morning as we waddled out to the truck.  After a few steps, or maybe 100, they were quickly reminded that they had to run.  The route started out very peacefully on back country roads out of Brenham.  One of the highlights was running through Chappell Hill, TX, the "Birthplace of Texas."  In fact, I've never spent any time there, but would love to bring the family back for a day to look around.

From Chappel Hill, the only way across the Brazos River that didn't require a 10 mile detour was Highway 290.  So we just put our heads down and ran on the shoulder for about 7 miles or so.  With the wind and the traffic whizzing by, I assumed it would be the most difficult section to run, but I was wrong.

I looked at my watch, and knew that I had to start running faster already if I wanted to make Tomball by our goal time of 6pm.  So, for the first time, I left Pat to finish her 20 miles on her own. I felt bad that it was on the busy freeway, but our trusty support crew was there, so I knew they would take care of her, but according to the pictures below, they were just having fun with the chickens and pigs.

I strapped on my camelpak, grabbed some food and took off.  I got a bit lost going through Hempstead, but eventually found my way to Old Houston Road which took me to Waller.  Once I passed under Highway 290, I started the long 18 mile trek on 2920 to Tomball.  If it wasn't the only direct route, I would have chosen another way.  But, I really didn't feel like running 60+ miles today, so I just had to deal with it.  Because there was non stop traffic, and there was no real shoulder to run on, the last 17 miles were ran mostly in the ditch.

I had been telling everybody that I love running in the rain, and God granted me that wish.  The last 2 hours or so, the rain started picking up and was blowing against me, so that was great.  At with about 8 miles to go I started to have a little pity party that lasted a couple minutes.  My legs were not liking the cumulative miles, and this running in a wet ditch wasn't helping. 

So I started thinking of all the things God has done in my life, and deep sense of gratitude came over me as I thanked Him for each one (out loud over the traffic and rain, which may have sounded a bit nutty but nobody could hear me).  I thanked Him for my family, my amazing wife, my three beautiful daughters, my mom and dad, my house, the people I work with, etc.  It's amazing how a change in perspective can turn a tough situation into a joyful one.

I finished at the sign for Salem Lutheran Church, and was really glad to be there, but a little disappointed that I didn't hit 50 miles for the day.  Total miles were 48.5 and 8 hours of running.  We drove to the Kym's house, took a shower, and went to eat at a local smokehouse.  I'm still full, but feeling good.  Tomorrow, we begin the final leg of the journey to Houston!

Day 3 Recap - Giddings to Brenham

This morning we started out Immanuel Lutheran School in Giddings where Pat and I led chapel service for the kids.  I don't know how she did it on sore legs, but she was bouncing around like a teenager while leading action songs.  The theme of the day was Thanksgiving, and all the students brought donated canned goods to give away to families in need.  When chapel was done, they gathered on the sidewalk in the cold weather and cheered us on.  That was such a special moment that gave us a nice boost.

After that, it was just a lot of beautiful miles on back country roads.  Pat and I ran the first 20 together and, again, just kept each other going with great conversation.  We then stopped for a bit so I could sit down and get some more food in me and change out my socks and check the blisters on my toes.  It looks like I'll only be losing two toenails after this week. :)

I tried to just hammer out the miles, and got to run the Texas Independence Trail for a portion of it.  The hills are just starting to get bigger, and will only continue today through Chappel Hill.  Surprisingly, I held a decent pace and finished 43 miles when I got to Brenham.

After a long shower, we ate another huge dinner and then Desine and Raymond went grocery shopping for breakfast while we did a little email work and such.  Ready or not, day 4 is here and it's about 50 miles to Tomball, so yay!

My prayers on the run today were for the mission efforts of the Texas District LCMS and for the FiveTwo Network.

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Day 2 Recap - Elgin to Giddings

Today we started out from Elgin with perfect weather in th low 30’s.  It stayed perfect all day long with a beautiful clear sky.  We ran mostly on country roads with hardly any traffic at all.  We kept a good even pace through mile 20 when Pat finished for the day.  

We had lots of fun along the way, stopping for pictures at random landmarks.  Especially fun was the Little Free Library in McDade.

From there it was another 14 miles or so to Giddings, so I kept things at an 8-8:30 minute pace for the remainder.  That is, until we hit the end of the road, and 290 as our only option.  With no shoulder on the highway, that plan was scrapped.  

We moved to our backup plan of running on the abandoned railroad track, so that’s what I did.  Needless to say, it slowed things down a bit running on the railroad ties and rocks the size of baseballs.  In the end, it all worked out and I got to town 30 minutes early, so I went out and did a couple more miles, made painful because my legs had already cooled down.  

All in all, it was a great day.  My prayers today during the run focused on the families in our communities living in extreme poverty.  I pray that we can find new ways to help families lift themselves up and be empowered to become self-sufficient.

Here are some photos from the day.

Day 1 Completed

Today was the kick off for our run from Austin to Houston.  The day began at Concordia TX where our team led chapel.  Then, Concordia CEO Dr. Don Christian escorted us out of the parking lot along with Dr. Joel Heck.  I'm glad they stopped when they did, because I was getting nervous with all the competition.

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From there, Pat and I ran easy for 20 miles through Austin.  With her 20 done for the day, I continued on to Elgin and finished up before the sun went down (which was the goal).  

My view this afternoon on the Southeast side of Austin.

My view this afternoon on the Southeast side of Austin.

Pat Fick and I running through Austin, having a good time.

Pat Fick and I running through Austin, having a good time.

 

The wind was strong all day, and it started to get cold again in the late afternoon, so the gloves and hat went back on.  So, a short day today with only 35 miles, but it was a good warmup for the rest of the week.  Desine and Raymond kept the truck warm and the water bottles filled without voicing a single complaint.  They are the best crew ever!

As I was running, I had lots of time to reflect on God's grace and mercy in my life, and to pray for each one of our missionary leaders, many of whom met together tonight back in Houston. 

Our hosts for the night are Mark, David, Denise and Janie at Saddlecreek Farms in Elgin.  An awesome two couples who live in community together and seek to do what God has called them to do everyday.  Visit their website at www.saddlecreektx.com.

We had a great dinner and now it's time to get some sleep so we can do it again tomorrow.