I woke up Friday morning, April 29, thinking to myself, “This time next week I will be on a plane to Arizona…to Run that Big Hole in the Ground.” The Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim…start on the south rim at Bright Angel Trail…down the 4500 feet….across the suspension bridge at the Colorado River…up to 5200 Feet…along the North Kiabob Trial to the North Rim…touch the fence….and come back…all 48 miles…at one time. I was also thinking to myself, “Did I eat something bad as my stomach was aching a bit.
So on that Friday, I go on to work…come home and get ready for the weekend…a Y Princess camping weekend with my 8 year old daughter Macy. We were staying at a place where a lady insisted we call her Muddy and who ran a water ski camp for 30 years. That ought to tell you that the cabin was on the lake…and lake activities were required. We fished…and Macy caught a fish…and Muddy taught Macy how to water ski. There were two boats going…one skiing…one tubing…and Macy did both…and I was told by another dad on the boat that Macy was fearless…at the got the boat up to nearly full speed with her signaling for “FASTER” while hanging on for dear life to that tube. Her dad went tubing as well…and when the 25 year old, alpha male from that lesser Texas university whose mascot looks best served on a plate as a medium rare steak for a boat driver learned that the 41 year old, slightly cocky dad with a mouth was an Aggie…did everything to shake me off that tube…at one point another Dad said I was about 4 foot airborne. When I climbed back into the boat…he grinned and said, “Not bad old man.” Overall it was a great weekend…with my daughter…and bunch of great guys with their daughters.
Saturday my stomach still continue to hurt…and the pains were coming more frequent and with more intensity. I wasn’t nauseous or had bowel issues…just pain. By Sunday when I woke up…ready to pack up and go home…I now had gone from mild discomfort to actual pain…and on the 2 hour drive home downed an entire bottle of Pepto Bismol. I get home…unpack…shower…and went to bed…now the pain was constant…and 2 hours later, texted my boss saying I would be going to the doctor on Monday morning. Two hours after I penned that text…I couldn’t stand up straight for the pain…and told my wife to get me to the ER. Four hours, a CT Scan and two shots of narcotics later, I learned that I had severe inflammation in the small intestine…probably caused by a bacterial infection. The doc prescribed 2 antibiotics…and I left the ER thinking that after a couple of days on the antibiotics I will be good as new…in hindsight that was probably the pain killers talking.
I stayed home all day on Monday and rested. I told my wife that by Wednesday I would assess how I felt…after all on Saturday I was to go for a little run in Arizona.
Let me take a moment here and express the gratitude I have for my wife. She looked at me and said if there is anything she can do to get me ready for the trip let me know. She said that she trusted my judgment completely…and whatever decision I made, she would support me completely. That’s a good woman.
Wednesday rolled around…and I was getting better…but now I needed to start thinking about running 48 miles the coming weekend…and access my body…honestly…with my mind…not my heart. I was far from 100 percent…this was evident out at Luke’s baseball practice that evening. I knew what it was to be…and I despised it. You have to get into the psyche of an endurance athlete to completely understand. A person who sacrifices so much to push his body…many times past discomfort into pain. Where tenacious, bull headed determination when most others have decided, “NO MAS!” is more common than not. The hours in the weight room...literally thousands of reps…waking up at the most ungodly hour to go run…ticking off the miles…the hours…the back to back long days…the tearing down of the body…the building up of the mind…where quitting simply isn’t an option.
I made a handful of calls to some of my inner circle…all endurance guys…and received confirmation. It didn’t sweeten the bitter pill.
So here I sit. I just prayed for Marlee, Jenn, Char, and Fred…they are probably over half way…descending down the North Kiabob…reveling in the glory of the creation.
It was the right decision…I don’t have to like it…the last thing I wanted was to have things go south…being medivac’ed out…ruining the trip for everyone else…and never living it down with my bud Clive. Clive told me, he was putting it on the calendar next year…the trip to the Grand Canyon…and Marlee told me if I run it…she will run it again too. Those are good friends. My wife, Bren, has already started looking at dates…did I tell you that she is a good woman?