Whew – what a weekend! The Midwest Half & Half Challenge started out on Thursday morning as I (Sue) drove the 450 miles to Battle Creek, MI where high school friends, Cathy and Dana, graciously offered me a resting place for the first night. While at dinner, I learned more of the story of Dana’s brother, Gary as he navigated the ALS journey until it took him in 2014. Although I knew Gary since we are godparents to Cathy & Dana’s daughter, Dana Sue, I really didn’t know much about who he was or how he lived his life. I heard stories of him being THE uncle all the kids loved as much as he loved them, I heard of his marvelous sense of humor, I heard the compassionate stories of his caregiver Howie, I felt the sense of sadness his absence had left as it intertwined with the joy he had brought to so many. It continues to amaze Rhonda and I how many times already we have heard the stories and made connections with ALS on this running journey. It fortifies us on each and every race.
The next morning I headed up to Gerald Ford Airport in Grand Rapids to pick up Rhonda and we were on our way south to Indianapolis. For some reason, this seemed like the longest drive ever. But we managed to fill the time with a lot of chatting…imagine that! Despite this farm girl not being overly experienced in city driving, we managed the downtown traffic throughout with only one minor incident all weekend. Can I help it that my GPS was sending me left when I needed to go right which elicited the “B” word from a not-so-patient driver? The expo and bib pick-up were relatively uneventful, but I at least managed to say hi to Amy, a fellow Fanatic from Green Bay working the Bondi Band booth. Unfortunately we were only able to gaze at Meb from afar as they had already closed down the line. Maybe we will get closer at Air Force in September!
The rest of Friday was taken up with checking in to the hotel, finding dinner and, and getting ourselves set for the morning, which came plenty early enough. Let me just say the Indy Mini is one big race! It’s billed as the largest half marathon in the US. With that in mind, I must say the organizers have it down to a science. It ran very smoothly and the course support, both by volunteers and the community, was top notch! We took our time and took plenty of pictures. But my personal preference is a smaller race; anyone who knows me knows crowds are not my best environment. I think Rhonda felt the same, so needless to say once we finished, we did not stick around long. Besides, we had showers to take and needed to get back on the road.
By 5pm Saturday we were in Kalamazoo, MI, and picking up our packets for the Borgess Run for the Health of It! With only a few of the tables still set up, we were in and out in record time, checking into another hotel then off to Walmart and to grab a pizza to bring back to the room (after watching the Kentucky Derby, of course). Another quick evening of setting up for the next day’s run and a good sleep before getting up and heading the 15 or so miles to the race. This was a much less crowded race that we took quite a bit slower since we were both a little fatigued and sore from all the dodging we experienced the day before. Again, it made us realize how insignificant our minor aches and pains are to what someone with ALS experiences on a daily basis. We continue to be humbled and honored to be able to run for those who can’t and raise funds to find a cure. Please consider a donation to our cause by clicking here ALS Therapy Development Institute.
Back at the hotel, we took advantage of an extra day in the schedule to unwind and recover; and of course work on more race and fundraising plans. I was sad to drop Rhonda off at the Grand Rapids airport the next morning; but thrilled that I will be picking her up at the airport in my home town less than two weeks later. Oh oh! I think we may just go through withdrawal after that.
Stay tuned as we continue to run and share more stories of both our adventures and those who are battling ALS.