Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Seregno, Italy...Here I Come!

What a difference a few days can make. On Sunday I had a high and a low. I ran a great race at the Modesto Marathon and ended up with a 6 minute PR, unfortunately that wasn’t enough for a win that day. I lost the race by 15 seconds. But, another high point was that I was still able to run 10 miles afterward and see my friends and kids I mentored in the Teens Run Modesto program finish their marathons. My plans were to continue training for the 24 hour National Championship the first weekend in May. My tickets had been purchased and I was on track to gear up my training and head out to Cleveland in hopes of qualifying for the U.S. National Team for the 24 hour race in Poland in September. Then, my plans changed. On Wednesday I found out I was bumped from second alternate to first alternate on the U.S. National 100 km team. Then Thursday I found out I made the team. They asked me if I could commit to being in Italy on April 19th. That’s a whopping 28 days until the first official team meeting and 31 days until the World Cup race.

Needless to say, I was shocked, thrilled, scared, excited, and overwhelmed by the opportunity that was laid out before me when I checked my email that Thursday evening. I joked with my wife that late night emails have been pretty exciting and high points of my running career (aside from the races). I found out I was second alternate via a late night email in January of 2012. Thank goodness my wife and I got our passports in order in January after that first late night email. We thought it was all for naught, though, when no one dropped off the team after the notification was made and put the thought of traveling to Italy this spring out of our minds. Then Wednesday I was notified that I was now the first alternate. A confusing email on Thursday made me think I was actually on the team so I called the team captain and was told it was true. I was named to the team because 2 people who had qualified above me had dropped from the team.

Representing the USA in a national competition has been a lifelong goal of mine and I couldn’t believe I was going to have the chance to feel the pride of representing our nation as I stood at the opening ceremonies wearing team USA gear! Yes, we get to wear what the athletes wore in the 2008 Olympic Games. Too bad the race wasn’t after the 2012 Summer Games, maybe we would get the new stuff, but I am not complaining. I will proudly wear the red, white and blue as I try to run yet another PR in a race in …oh my goodness…as I write this it is 28 and a half days.

This has been even crazier because we have been elbow deep in landscaping our back yard .  Wednesday evening we were out in the dark with headlamps to guide us laying sod and spreading dirt. Thursday, more sod and trying to straighten out sprinklers. Friday my daughter had T-ball practice and we had 5 cousins along with our kids for a play date. Then, finally, on Saturday, after a day prepping baseball fields for games that start next week and trying to get more landscaping we were able to start planning for this unexpected trip!

Oh yeah, in the meantime I was trying to keep up with my running so I could perform at my best for the race. On Friday I got in 24 miles (including running the Super Mile with middle school students at lunch). Saturday I ran 18 in between landscaping and more landscaping. Sunday I squeezed in 25 miles after church and before more landscaping. I was too tired after the week’s activities to get up at 4 am like I usually do for my weekend runs, so my wife gave me permission to take off mid-day both Saturday and Sunday.

The only thing that makes my wife and I think twice about this wonderful opportunity is leaving our 2 kids behind stateside as we head over to Europe. We have never left them for this long, and we are planning on making the trip 10 days to enjoy a few sights while we are there and get over the jet lag before the race. Once again, we were blessed by generous offers of family members and friends to watch the kids while we are gone. We are talking to them every day about the trip and what to expect so that hopefully they are prepared for when we go. We plan on using Skype and finding Wi-Fi at every stop to connect with them. I think that seeing their smiling faces on the computer screen will give me the boost I need before the race!

Now, maybe I can begin to sit back and enjoy the ride as we continue to make our plans for this incredible trip. I have already been able to enjoy the support of the wonderful people I know as I have been getting a steady stream of congratulatory emails and Facebook posts. I have been offered donation money by thoughtful friends and my brother is trying to get me a fundraising night at Oodles. The trip is partially funded, but we are trying to figure out the details of how much we will need to make it happen. It seems like everything has lined up perfectly so far, so no doubt, it will all work itself out.

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