For anyone interested in the runner’s story, here it is. Running a marathon is something I only recently imagined I would ever attempt. Using a bit of Q&A I’ll share about this journey with you.
Q. When did you become a distance runner?
A. School year 2015-2016 my son decided to join the RFIS Running Club. Most students join the club because if they complete all the requirements, they have the privilege of undertaking the annual Mount Cameroon Climb, a 4-day event. Several adults are needed to “chaperone” the event and assist during the running club season. So I volunteered and thus began my distance running training. Prior to this, the longest distance I would occasionally run since my days in the LA Co Sheriff’s Academy (Class 232) was about 3 miles.
Q. Any participation in other distance running events?
A. Twice now, the school year mentioned above and this past school year, I completed a Half Marathon in association with the RFIS Running Club’s annual Run-a-thon event, aimed at helping students raise the funds to cover costs of the Mt Cam Climb.
On July 23, 2017 I completed my first marathon in San Francisco. This was the event that launched this campaign.
Q. What made you want to run a marathon?
A. I’d always thought that it would be “cool” to run one, but never really imagined that I would be fit enough. Yet it occurred to me that if I could continue the training that helped me prepare for the Half Marathon, I’d have a great start toward preparedness for a full Marathon. So, with that in mind, I kept the running going past February (season over for Running Club members). If ever I was going to attempt a marathon, this was the right time. My body is only getting older and opportunities to participate in a well-organized event don’t come my way very often.
Q. Why the San Francisco Marathon? Why the Yaounde?
A. First, it’s great for beginners. It doesn’t require a “qualifying time” as do other many annual Marathon events. Secondly, the location and timing work well for my traveling schedule. San Francisco is but a day’s drive from where my family is staying this summer, Pasadena. So without great expense, we all can go experience this together. (And my son will also run the same day in the SF Half Marathon event). But really important is the timing. July 23rd allows me about 5 weeks of training time here in California before the run, and about 2 weeks recovery before we return to Cameroon.
As for Yaounde, well, it’s right here in my home city in Cameroon. I hope to continue inviting folks to give, pray and advocate for these projects.
Q. What has your training looked like?
A. I’ve tried to more-or-less follow a recommended plan for beginners that involve 4 runs per week, with only one being a “long run”, increasing in distance over time. It was modified a lot due to my flying schedule, heavy rains in Cameroon, a calf injury, etc. Hopefully in beautiful, sunny Pasadena I’ll be able to follow more closely the prescribed plan during these final weeks of training. But most beneficial was having a running buddy, especially for the long weekend runs. In Cameroon, my pal Jeff Angell (who also will be completing the SF Marathon on July 23rd) helped enormously in accountability and comradery.
Q. Where does the fund-raising fit into your story?
A. In registering for the San Francisco Marathon on the official website I viewed a page about charity fund-raising. I know there are many good causes. But I thought that since I have a unique view of some very special projects in Cameroon that need funding, why not highlight those and invite people to consider being a part? These are very close to my heart, thus giving energy and strengthening my resolve to press on in training, hopefully to witness the training efforts having much greater results than simply a Marathon finishing time, which, by the way, I don’t expect to be very stunning.
Q. Any idea what the SF Marathon course looks like?
A. Here’s a link to a YouTube video of the 2014 Marathon, which has been the same course ever since. https://youtube.com/watch?v=OAg9jk4ckAk
Q. How about a summary report of the day’s actual event?
A. I write this some weeks after the Marathon. It was really fun. The enthusiasm, anticipation and excitement was contagious and energizing. The Expo day before the race really pumped us up. Caleb, my son, registered and ran the 1st Half Marathon. On race day, we started together, along with Jeff, my training partner from Cameroon. Our wave of runners began at 6:01 a.m.. I was grateful for the training efforts that we had made in advance. As for endurance, I felt strong. But unfortunately, I hadn’t anticipated how cold it would be along the SF bay at 6 a.m.. The cold induced pain in my right knee began about mile 3 and worsened greatly over the Golden Gate Bridge round-trip (miles 5-10). The coastal fog had completed engulfed the bridge. We could see neither the coloumn tops, nor the water surface below. The fog and cold wind caused some deep knee joint pain that came early and was concerning. My goal quickly retreated from a faster time, to “please Lord, I really want to finish this marathon, running throughout.” I praise God that I was able to complete the marathon, running nearly the entire distance, but having to throttle back my pace to prevent a serious injury. In Golden Gate Park, about halfway through the marathon, I took one stretch break for 2 minutes, and twice I was compelled by deep knee pain to cease running, instead walking for about 200 meters until the pain subsided. Then cautiously I would resume the run (more like a jog), attempting many times to hasten my pace but suffering for the attempt. So, in the end, I finished with a modest 4:44:50 time, which fell somewhere very close the middle times for finishers in my age bracket (50-54). Early on in the race I needed a brief pit stop. My running mates continued on. I never did catch up to them, although I did catch a glimpse of them on the Golden Gate Bridge, opposite direction, the two of them having already completed the turn-around and heading back into the city.
Q. Would you do this SF or any Marathon again?
A. I would, under the right circumstances. Mainly, I must have a training partner and Marathon comrade(s). So… any takers???
Yeah! Jeff has again agreed to train together. So, here goes another Marathon attempt, in Yaounde, known as the City of 7 Hills.