At roughly 7:35 am on Saturday morning Frank Lilley began to run. His goal was to complete 50 miles, and raise money for our Relay for Life team. To do this Frank would use the half marathon course, because it was a measured distance. He could not rely on a GPS watch, because the batteries would not last long enough to cover 50 miles.
Brad Weisner decided to pace Frank for the early miles of his run, so the two of them headed off on the beginning of a long journey. Frank parked his car by the tennis courts, so he would have an aid station he could visit for food, drink, and any medical needs. The two completed their first loop and had 13.1 miles under their belt. Brad decided to stick with Frank a bit longer. At mile 19 they were back at the start, and once again Brad said he we could keep going. At mile 26.2, Brad called it quits. Yup. . . Brad ran a marathon distance on Saturday morning!
Elaine and Misty joined in the pacing as well. I am not sure the exact distance, but they covered at least 10-miles with Frank. Along the way, they watched Frank drink cold chicken noodle soup from the car. It was easy on the stomach for Frank, and gave him the protein, sodium, and carbs he needed to keep moving.
Andy and Carol came out to witness the event as well. The two bundled up and road their bikes for several miles with Frank. 50 miles is a long time, and Frank always appreciated the company.
Just think about how many things can go wrong when running a marathon. Those potential problems quadruple once you have over 30-miles on your feet. When Frank was somewhere in the "30s" he stopped by Chico's for a bathroom break. On the way out he turned an ankle on the curb. This gave everyone a scare, because no one wants to quit once you have come this far. Although the ankle hurt Frank every step for the remainder of the run, he kept on trucking.
Around 8:30 pm, I grabbed my "blinky light" and headed out to find Frank. Lucky for me he had his cell phone, so I knew where to find him. At this point Frank was wearing his head lamp, and running in total darkness. I was surprised to see how well Frank still looked. We worked our way through the West Haven neighborhood together, heading back towards City Lake. Frank feels like we were barely moving, but we ran much more of the last three miles than I imagined we would.
Crossing Sunset Ave for the last time, Connie called Frank to see where he was. A car was coming quickly down Sunset, and I must admit, I had a brief moment of panic as I imagined Frank's tombstone reading "Here lies Frank. He only got to 49.8 miles". Fortunately, Frank had more 'giddy-up' in his step than I thought, and he hurried across the road.
We ran most of the last .2 miles heading back to Frank's car. Connie was there waiting for him. At 13 hours and 44 minutes, I was able to snap a few pictures of the grand finish. We congratulated Frank and watched him sip on a little more cold soup. Within a few minutes he was getting ready to drive home.
There was no medal. There was no t-shirt. The post race food was horrible. And only one fan showed up at the finish line. But you know what. . . I bet Frank drove home feeling like a champion!