Finished What We Started

Some of you will already know this. And for those of you who do not, I am pleased to share we finished what we started. Yesterday was a much longer day than I anticipated. Not sure of exact time. We started at approximately 5:40 a.m. and finished the day shortly after Noon. The course was beautiful; orange groves with a mixture of up-and-down dirt trails and asphalt. If you can do this course, you are prepared for almost any event. It was likely the most challenging I have ever worked at any distance in over 30 years of participating in events.

Some things to share about yesterday:

Riverside Road Runners and their volunteers were great!! Thank you Moe, and all who worked with you for so generously accommodating my needs. You all stayed with us right to the end. I understand there was quite a delegation of law enforcement personnel, Explorer Scouts and others who followed us in. Moe even came out to stay with all of us for the last mile or so. She had the finishers’ bling in her hand. No. She did not let me have it until crossing the finish mat. There was food waiting to begin rebuilding energy.

Thank you to my support crew; Nicole Holt, Sky Holt, Head Kahuna…AKA…Dr. Marrs, Kim Marrs, Bob and Maria Gill, Laura Johnson. You all were amazing!! There’s no way the day would have been gotten through without you. Thank you for your encouragement and patience. You all made doing the difficult as easy as it could be made. You made a long day that started with a 3 a.m. get-out-of-bed so much fun!! I’m so proud of you all.

And to Nicole…Thank you for having us all so organized and the day so well thought out. You did it all just right. You’re on my team for life!!

I feel good about the way I trained/prepared. Can honestly say I was never tired the entire day. My conditioning was great. As I had hoped, we were laughing and telling jokes the entire day. I’m very happy with what was accomplished. Dylan and Linda…We did it!! We finished what we started!! But ankle and hamstring spasms were not my friends. They took their toll. They made a slow, measured pace even slower. The course was not easy. My guess is a combination of two kinds of spasms, spasms caused by the C P and “Life spasms”, as Dr. Weatherwax…AKA…Fearless Leader always calls them, compromised my balance in the latter miles. My right ankle and hamstrings in both legs were not happy. The spasms were painful. Had the decision been left to the ankle and hamstrings, I would have spent time on the ground. But my support team made sure I stayed upright, moving and safe. They made this day and its success their own. Other than more core/strength/balance work, I don’t think I could have prepared any better. Thank you, Fearless Leader, for all you shared/ taught me about how to train effectively. Perhaps you, Dr. Marrs and others will have suggestions of things to incorporate into my routine both for running and for life.

Thank you, Warrendini, for coming from Florida to be part of this weekend and run the race. You go home tomorrow. I miss you already.

Thank you to all who cheered us on whether in person or in spirit.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the post-race breakfast/lunch. My bacon craving was well satisfied. And Cheryl enjoyed chicken fingers and fries in Dylan’s honor.

This was also Disney Marathon Weekend in Orlando. Congratulations to my friend, Bruce Hahn. He completed his first half-marathon. Maybe running will improve your golf game!! Proud of you and all others who participated in the event(s) of their choice.

There was an article in yesterday’s Press Enterprise about the race, Gary’s Project, my friend Dylan, and his mother, Linda. Thank you Diane Rhodes. Have already be contacted about speaking/doing a presentation January, 21 at First Christian Church in Hemet. Will be happy to share a link to the story for anyone who is interested.

Thank you, Cheryl, for letting me be me and take on the difficult one more time. You are my biggest cheer leader and supporter. You tell me you are proud of me and that you love me every day. I’m proud of you and I love you too.

Finally, thank you, Dylan and Linda Henke for the inspiration to see this through. “Uncle Gary” and Cheryl are hoping to see you soon.

What’s next?? We’ll see. There’s much to do to keep life rewarding and interesting, including Gary’s Project. I’ll continue to be at Gibbel Park, Wednesday mornings, 6:30 a.m. for anyone who wants to join me. I’ll bother Laura at the gym when doing core/strength/balance work. I’ll continue to train, keep moving and see Dr. Marrs, Nicole and staff regularly. Even if I’m not preparing for a race, all of this is needed in order to keep the world’s oldest preteen living life at the level he desires. Maybe there will be more speaking opportunities and community events to do. Cheryl is certain to have some travel plans in mind. As already mentioned, we want to see Dylan and Linda. I’m sure to find some races to run. Whatever is to be, can’t wait to see what the next life journeys will be. Bring it on!! It’s all about living!! Will continue to keep you posted. I’m just sayin’. Yeah, baby!!

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It’s Time To Go!!

This will be perhaps the final update prior to next weekend’s Citrus Heritage half-marathon. Packet pickup is a week from today. Had a very good weekend following last Friday’s stroll. Other than daily stretching, followed Dr. Marrs recommendation and took the remainder of the weekend to rest. Moved the legs on the road for about an hour Monday and Wednesday. Worked out on bike for an hour Tuesday and today to change things up. Very pleased with Monday/Wednesday road work. Legs were much lighter. Turnover was faster. Low back, hamstrings, quads, right ankle much more cooperative. Saw Dr. Marrs and staff three times this week for extra work to aid healing and recovery.

Brought 2014 to a happy conclusion enjoying a night of games and snacks with friends New Years Eve. Smiles and laughter rule the room when Cheryl and I are surrounded by our game night group. It’s a great way for all of us to step away from whatever else may be going on in our daily lives.

Took New Years Day to relax and travel to Pasadena for the Rose Parade. Cheryl, her sister, Jennise, the Marrs and I had a great time enjoying the music, beautiful floats. Lots of eating and laughter was also interspersed throughout the day.

Bumps and bruises are healing nicely from last weekend’s fall, including the black eye. Toughest heal seems to be right index finger. Not really surprised since brunt of injury/bruise is around a joint. I know those types of injuries can take longer to feel better than we would like.

Hard to believe we’ll be in Riverside this time next week. But that’s been the goal since this journey began shortly after Cheryl and I arrived and called Hemet home. In spite of hitting a bump last week and at various times along the way, I’m entering race week healthy and looking forward to the challenge. I’ll do enough to keep moving, eating, resting while having Dr. Marrs and staff work out any kinks they find…all the standard stuff that’s been found to work best for me when in taper mode. Haven’t taken on 13 miles or more since training for New York in 2012. Looking forward to Warren being here to join in on the fun. Thankful for the opportunity to dedicate the weekend and the miles that come with it to my young friend, Dylan, and his mother, Linda. Dylan has C P. But Dylan doesn’t live with Cerebral Palsy. It lives with him. And his mother expects nothing less. Thankful for all who will be there on Saturday whether in person or in spirit to provide support and encouragement. Thankful for Cheryl. She’s not only my wife. She’s my biggest encourager and supporter. Other than the two people who brought me into the world, I know she loves me unconditionally like no one else. She was the first one to tell me to take this on. She tells me it’s important for me to keep doing what I do and share it with the world. I can promise her this. I’ll keep doing what I do for as long as God allows. Life is more than about a half-marathon. It’s about living life to the fullest. It’s about using the gifts God has given me to serve Him and those around us. He expects nothing less from me.

Thanks to all who have held me accountable throughout this journey. Excited to see what the body of an old dude with an attitude can do. So let’s do this!! It’s time to go. I’m just sayin’. Yeah baby!!


A Black And Blue Weekend Stroll

Well with two weeks to go, I decided I might benefit from one more weekend stroll in the two to three-hour range. Took it on Friday morning. As the previous weekend, took this stroll to 3:05.

Wish I could tell you I felt as good about this one as previous efforts. Unfortunately not the case. The good news is what needed to get done was accomplished. But through it all, was never able to establish a good rhythm. Legs, hamstrings, quads and low back never really relaxed as much as needed to be out that long. Form and mechanics got very sloppy in latter stages. Right ankle decided it was not interested in cooperating during one of my final turnarounds. Dealing with some bruises, a swollen upper lip, road rash and a black eye after this mishap. Haven’t lived as a distance/endurance athlete until you’ve earned some road rash. Right? A driver from CR&R (Waste management company.) saw me fall, stopped to help me up and make sure I was okay. Stayed with it another 45 minutes or so after trying to see if there was any possibility of getting into a rhythm. But it was not to be. Decided I would be better served by saving additional energy and effort over and above 3 hours for January, 10.

You have no idea how much I wish I could say today was all good. But if I did not share the good and the bad, I would be less than truthful, huh? We have all had difficult days no matter what we were trying to accomplish. Sometimes it just ain’t easy. Or, as I have said many times, accomplishing the difficult IS DIFFICULT!! But don’t think I’m any different from anyone else in wanting the best from myself each and every day. And while the day may not have gone as well as I would have liked, I can tell you this…I did the best I could!!

How was the remainder of the weekend spent? Tapering, of course. Friday highlights were a combination of eating, resting and waiting for washing machine repair man. (So glad the washing machine repair was a simple one. Don’t need anything to agitate me right now. Sorry. Couldn’t resist putting a spin on this.) Other than eating and stretching, followed Dr. Marrs recommendation, giving myself a Saturday/Sunday off the legs. Not easy for one who loves to go outside and play in the traffic at whatever pace his legs will allow. He and Kim gave it their best shot at making it easier for me by joining Cheryl and me for Saturday morning breakfast and lending a hand with moving a piano and other large pieces of furniture into the house. We are so thankful to have them in our lives. Not only do they monitor/take care of many of my physical needs, they are great friends always willing to extend a helping hand.

As for today, it was back outside for just under an hour. Took a few minutes to get all the parts moving but was pleased overall. Post-workout message and adjustment that followed was time well spent. Another reminder regular treatment is not just a luxury if my body is to function at its best. It is a lifestyle necessity.

Not sure why I struggled so much over the weekend. But unless anyone has a better idea, will continue weight, core/balance work, back down on time spent on the legs but keep them moving, spend as much time as needed with Dr. Marrs, Nicole and staff for adjustment and message. We’ve already decided extra work would be a good thing this week.

With less than two weeks until race day, it may be the best thing I can do is give myself the gifts of eating good food, rest, healing and an excursion to Thursday’s Rose Parade. We’ll have third row seats near the start of the parade. Cheryl’s sister, Jennise, and the Marrs will be there too. That’s got fun written all over it!! HERE’S TO TAPER MODE!! I’m just sayin’. Yeah baby!!


Three weeks To Go!!

Some portions of this will be old news for some as I sent a training update to my race day support team and a few others after completing my training exercise Saturday (December, 19) afternoon.

A training update and a litte more…

Had the privilege of spending the day with Dr. Marrs and staff at Lifestyle Chiropractic and Wellness promoting Gary’s Project. What an honor it is to promote doing the best you can/being the best you can be in whatever manner you can do it…walk, run or crawl. What an honor to spend the day meeting new people and making new friends in such a positive, caring atmosphere. We’re still meeting at Gibbel Park on Wednesday mornings at 6:30 a.m. Doesn’t cost a thing to join us other than your time and whatever effort your body will allow you to give whatever you health or level of fitness. So if you’ve been thinking about coming to join us, COME ON AND DO IT!! You’ll meet some great people. And who knows. You might even get a little healthier in the process. It’s NEVER too late to become a healthier you!! You just have to start by taking the first steps.

As for the upcoming Citrus Heritage half-marathon, with three weeks to go until race day, I shortened up the weekend “long” stroll a bit this morning…3:05. But there is a kicker to include…entire stroll was completed in the Ramona Bowl and surrounding neighborhoods. For those who live in or around Hemet, you know the bowl is built into the side of a hill. So there is not much of anything “flat” around. And what little flat there is comes in short segments. Again pleased to report things went well.No major problems, falls or other bobbles. Feeling like I could have continued on.

Want to extend a big thank you to Riverside Road Runners for sharing a photo for the completion bling on Facebook with the tag, “Gary Oakley…This one is for you!!” Thanks for your support of what this athlete is doing. Would do and will continue to do what I do with or without the bling. But your interest only fuels the fire and motivation.

For Dr. Weatherwax, Warren and anyone else who is interested…The turnaround/recovery from last weekend’s long workout took longer than I expected. Left hamstring and upper back were tighter and more restricted than I expected through mid-week. May well have been the result of lots of activity that included extended periods of sitting over the last couple of weeks. As we know, sitting is not my friend. Shortened duration of workouts for remainder of the week. Made a conscious effort to, as you both would tell me, to “honor” what my body is telling me. Built in an additional rest day and made certain Dr. Marrs and staff had all the time they needed for adjustment and message. The extra rest day was Friday. That is if you consider going out and doing several hours of yard work a rest day!! The good news is I was feeling better by the time I went out this morning. But can honestly say the body feedback from last week’s workouts and living life were major contributing factors in the decision to back down a bit on this morning’s workout.

Not sure what the plan will be for next weekend. I’m open to suggestions. But my inclination is to keep moving but begin backing down a bit as this time next week will leave us just two weeks out. Will be sure to get a stroll or two on the legs. But will also mix it up a bit with a bike ride or two, some time in the water; joggers’ belt or swim along with strength/balance work in the gym. It’s also time to rest and eat lots of good food. And, of course be sure Dr. Marrs and staff can get their hands on me. Anyone have any other thoughts? I’d love to hear from you. Even taking time to say, “Hello” is a good training motivator and inspiration.

To sum it all up, three weeks out, I’m feeling good about my preparation. Could I benefit if I had another week or two to train? Who knows. I do know whatever happens on the course three weeks from today will not be for lack of effort, preparation or support. I am happy, content and totally at peace and looking forward to the challenge when it comes to that. So unless anyone has other thoughts, I’ll keep the body moving forward, get mentally prepared for what’s ahead and focus on finishing what we started smiling all along the way. I’m just sayin. Yeah baby!!


Training And Race Day Updates

I’ve had an opportunity to update a few people in the last few days via Facebook, text message, email or casual conversation.  For those of you with whom I’ve not had a chance to share by any means mentioned above or if you just can’t hear what’s happening enough, this post is definitely for you.

 

Had planned to make yesterday’s training stroll a “short” one…in the 2-3 hour range.  Well, so much for a short stroll.  Crossed the 4+ hour threshold, (4:03 for those requesting specifics.) on the legs for the first time since 2012.  Was preparing for the NYC Marathon back then.  As with last weekend’s effort I was very pleased.  Held everything together very well for the first 3+ hours.  The last 15-20 minutes were a challenge as my body and mechanics got “sloppy”.  As much as I would have liked to have stayed with it a few minutes longer, I made the decision to be thankful/for celebrate what had been accomplished and extend time on the legs another day.

 

A little more than 24 hours since this training exercise, the news is all good.  Was a bit tight in the low back and the legs were tired until late yesterday.  Cheryl and I still managed to work in a late afternoon lunch at Polly’s.  Love their Saturday chicken with wild rice soup-of-the-day.  So 4+ hours resulted in nothing unexpected or unusual.  If anything it led to an even louder post-workout cry of, “What’s for lunch?” on my part.

 

Even though the plan was to give the body a break and work toward 4 hours next weekend, I’m glad yesterday worked out as it did.  This will allow me to duplicate this act at least, “One more time.” as the Gong Show’s Chuck Barris would have said, should I choose between now and race day.  Yes, I probably will.  And yes.  I LOVED the Gong Show.  I wanted to be Chuck Barris’ replacement when he retired.  I would have been, “Oh!!  Oh!! So good!!”  So much for TMI!!

 

As for race day, the Riverside Road Runners have graciously agreed to an early start for me and my support team.  Course officials and volunteers will be at the race venue as early as 5 a. m. preparing for the day.  My crew and I can start as early as event staff begin their day.  Haven’t made the final decision about a start time.  But the consensus from the supporting cast seems to be 5:30.  That’s what I’m leaning toward.  That will give event workers time to shake off the early morning cobwebs and down a cup of coffee or two as the complete last-minute preparations.

 

That’s all I know for now.  Race day is less than four weeks away.  Wow!!  Any comments, thoughts, suggestions are welcome as preparation enters its final stages.  Thanks to all of you who stop by for a read for your continued interest.  You keep me motivated, inspired and accountable as you share this journey with me to its completion.  Can’t ask for more than that.  You’re the BEST!!  I’m just sayin’.  Yeah baby!!

 

 


What Can I Say…It’s Been A While

After  being out of commission with computer challenges/repairs, taking a surprise, unexpected trip to Maui and having painters turn our house into a construction zone, for several days, I can get back at those of you who follow my scribblings.  I know.  It’s been a while.  For those who were following previous postings, hope you are still interested/curious enough to come back.

It is now less than 5 weeks until the Citrus Heritage half-marathon.  I am pleased to report training is going well.  Have completed two long “strolls” in preparation for the big day January, 10.  For me, a stroll means moving smart not hard.  The goals are to stay upright, stay strong, keep body mechanics in tact as long as possible…Don’t allow the right side of the body to become so overworked and fatigued that I don’t pick up the foot, drag the leg, “scrape” the right big toe.  It’s what I call getting sloppy.  The only way to minimize the possibility of this occurring over the 4+ hours I will need to complete the race, is to prepare employing an LSD pace…(L)ong (S)low (D)istance.  LSD means work smart. Start slowly.  Don’t force the pace, especially in the early stages of the race.  Let the race come to me and pick it up in the latter stages if the body says okay.  That’s the best way to keep it all together over 13.1 miles.

With LSD clearly in mind over the last two weekends, the two longest training exercises to date were completed; 2 hours 45 minutes November, 30.  Three hours 33 minutes December, 6.  Yesterday’s 2:33 effort was at Hemet’s Ramona Bowl.  The significance of this venue is it’s built into a hill.  So ain’t nothin’ flat about it or the neighborhood around it.  The workout was intended to incorporate several training objectives at the same time…Spend an extended period of time on my feet, challenge balance on what, for me, is difficult terrain, build strength and log in some much-needed miles.

Post-training effort you can call me very pleased all things considered.  Yes, I’m sore.  Left hamstring and low back are letting me know I did something yesterday.  Does that mean I’m complaining?  No way!!  Why would I?  Me, you, anybody should expect to feel something after being on you feet for that long!!  What needed to be accomplished was done.  Think I could have done a short workout today.  But chose to stretch and rest instead.  Will be back at it on Monday.  Likely on the bike or in the gym.  Need to change-up the routine/continue building strength.  A visit with Dr. Marrs and staff for message and adjustment is also on the schedule.  That will help A LOT!!

Okay.  So you want to know if training continued while in Maui.  The answer is yes.  And we had a great time while touring, relaxing and attending the Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament.  There are ways to keep training even while having fun. Try a 90 minute barefoot stroll on the beach to build strength, challenge your balance, maintain your conditioning, for example.  Or take a hike near a once volcanic crater.  Working out/training is so much fun in paradise!!  Can we do this one AGAIN, please?

Must tell you about an amazing lady Cheryl and I met in Maui.  Her name is Linda.  She works for Diamond Resorts International.  When introduced to her, she asked me if I had C P.  When I answered with an affirmative “Yeah baby”, she told me about her young son, Dylan, who also has C P.  We share similar histories.  He currently receives services from Shriners’ Hospital.  I am an alum of Shriners and their services.  Linda shared stories with me about how Dylan has learned to live his life.  Simply put, when you fall down, you get back up.  You have taught him well, Linda.  You are leaving no stone unturned to make sure Dylan has opportunity of living life to the fullest.  Sounds like the two heroes who had the most profound influence on my life…Mamma Esther and Pa’pa Spud.  Unfortunately Cheryl and I did not have an opportunity to meet Dylan before returning home.  But we have made a promise to stay in touch.  (And we are.)  Hopefully we will meet him one day.  In the meantime, the stories Linda shared about her amazing young man will only fuel my fire and remind me how important it is for me (All of us.) to be the best I/we can be each and every day.  Ah, the passion and exuberance of youth.!!     Thank you, Linda, for coming into our lives.  Thank you for sharing Dylan.  Maybe I will one day have the honor of doing a race with him, if he’s interested.  Thank you for sharing the pictures you showed to Cheryl and me.  I now think of him EVERY day!!  Dylan and Linda…The Citrus Heritage Half-Marathon…THIS ONE’S FOR YOU!!  And Dylan…When I grow up, I want to be just like YOU!!  I’m just sayin’.  Yeah baby!!


Back At You

Good afternoon from Hemet. I know. It’s been a long time. Cheryl and I were away much longer than expected. Almost five weeks. The good news is during the extended time away, we were able to sell the last Florida property. We are elated to know we now have only one property to be concerned about…the one we reside in here in Hemet. It wasn’t easy. Moving never is. And the difficult was made even more challenging for Cheryl when she unexpectedly had to send her beloved, longtime companion/Hurricane Katrina rescue dog, Spud, to doggie heaven.  Thanks to all who assisted in getting us packed, organized and out of the house in a very short time, under very difficult circumstances, in just over three weeks.  Thanks also to our partners-in-crime here in California who picked up the mail and made sure the house stayed in one piece while we were away.

In the middle of all the challenges and stress moving can bring, I managed to make the annual trip to Plains, GA for the Plains Peanut Festival and 5K.  As always, had a great time.  Jan Williams and so many other residents make time there feel like you have come home.  The former president and Mrs. Carter graciously signed a picture for me.  Thanks to my friend, Christine, for making that happen.

Much more that could be shared. But going to keep this post short. Computer is not acting right. Will need to get someone here much smarter than I to have a look at it before putting too much out there. And it’s a birthday weekend for someone around here.  It’s today in fact. Won’t mention any names. But let’s just say he’s thankful to be happy, healthy, blessed to still have his legs underneath him and be surrounded/supported by the best family and friends the world will ever know.  It’s going to be a party weekend.  Looking forward to Hemet’s annual Autumn Elegance fundraiser tonight and brunch with a cast of who knows how many tomorrow.

As happy as we are to have sold a house while in Florida, we are sorry we did not have opportunity to spend time with those we miss, love and care about while there.  We’ll do better next time as future Florida time will be ALL FUN!!

Feels good to be home, gradually getting readjusted to the Pacific time zone and getting life back to “Normal”, whatever that is.  More soon.  Promise.   I’m just sayin’.  Yeah, baby!!