chapter one - impetus

These things usually begin with great innocence, and, occasionally, a touch of ignorance. Perhaps, in this case, a little cosmic stealth, too, as I fell victim to a conflux of events.

Over Memorial Day weekend, 2004, my family and I visited my brother Matt and his family in Kansas City. Not only was this Tornado Weekend 2004 for the Missouri folks, but also my one and only allergy attack deluxe for the year. Matt and my wife Hollis both tell me that sometime during my allergy-induced altered state, Matt mentioned he was thinking of running the Chicago Marathon in October, 2004. I have no memory whatsoever of the conversation. I suspect the idea lodged deep somewhere in my subconscious.

Around this same time, three folks from my company were finishing their training for and running of the Madison, Wisconsin Marathon. I had listened intently for weeks as Craig, Dave, and Michael spoke of their preparation for the event. I found myself both excited and anxious to see how they did. As they relayed their stories to me I was glad, and somehow proud, to hear they all completed the event and I felt a little spark ignite deep inside. Running a marathon seemed impossible to me, but I could certainly pick up my training and begin running 10k races, like I had in my late twenties. I mentioned to Craig one day that he and the others had inspired me and I was going to begin running 5k and 10k races again. Craig immediately encouraged me to go all the way for the marathon and told me about his training regimen and about how a casual runner can successfully prepare for, and complete, a marathon. Perhaps knowingly, Craig breathed gently on the glowing ember inside me.

I had fantasized about running a marathon since my youth but had never committed to turning the dream into a reality. The tiny flame was growing slowly as I researched the training program Craig had described and I began to believe that I could indeed do this thing. I called my then seventeen year old son Stefan one evening and, after a quick "don't tell Mom because she has to buy in and and I'm not sure I've bought in quite yet", I confessed I was thinking of running the 2004 Chicago Marathon. Without the slightest hesitation he emphatically exclaimed, "If you run it, I'll run it with you!" A casual conversation somehow transformed into a commitment in the blink of an eye. The spark had ignited into a full-on bonfire.

To leave the chronology of the story for just a moment, a few weeks later I mentioned to Matt in a phone conversation that Stefan and I were training for the Chicago Marathon. Matt asked if I recalled his mentioning his potential interest and I sheepishly admitted I did not. Although in good shape, he had not followed up on his interest with a training program. Like a champ, though, he committed to the project and dove into his training with the kind of complete oblivion only Matt can muster.

A little innocent and a lot ignorant, but there you have it. I committed to eighteen weeks of intense training culminating in the most rigorous physical test of my life, the Chicago Marathon. All while running a company two hours from home, trying to be a good husband to Hollis and good dad to Stefan and my daughter Kate, intent on being a good and present son to my ailing dad in West Virginia, and continuing with my musical endeavors under the guise of Loren Claypool Guitar Ensemble, ClayLoop, and Claytronica. Smart never entered into the equation.

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