Running Moments to Remember

Many people run for different reasons. I guess you have been asked many times how you started? Do you remember the “Forrest Gump” movie line where one day he just decided to start running.

The news reporters caught up with him and asked him ” Sir, Why are you running?” Are you doing it for world peace? Are you doing it for women’s rights? Or is it the environment? Or maybe for animals? Or nuclear arms?

Forrest answers: “I just felt like running”

Running to Win

Running has become a passion for many of us reading this blog. Some of the special moments experienced in running can last a life time. If you stay out there long enough – these experiences will create those “Kodak” moments. One of my most special moments in running came in my first marathon where I was running with Paul Conn. I dedicated every mile of that marathon to someone who had made an impact on my life. I wrote letters to many of them to tell them how much I appreciate them and told them which mile I was running in their honor. On mile 14, I had dedicated this mile to a special friend who had passed away (Dale Goff). We had worked 14 years together at Lee University. He was such a great encourager at work and he would ring a cowbell to celebrate special achievements. As I began that particular mile – I had the names written on a wrist band by each mile. As I began thinking about this individual, I heard a fan on the roadside ringing a cowbell. I heard no other cowbells during the race except on mile 14. That moment was a special memory that I will never forget. To this day, every time I heard a cowbell ring – it reminds me on that day in DC on mile 14 in the Marine Corp Marathon.

Another special memory happen one Saturday when my running partner Tim and I were doing a weekly long run. It was before sunrise when we started because rain was approaching the area. About 3 miles into the run, we ran into the morning rain and fog. The thought of running in the rain was depressing but I quickly noticed two people standing in the rain just ahead. My first thought was who would be out this early and doesn’t have sense to get out the rain. As we approached them, what we saw was a soldier and his girlfriend saying their goodbyes while waiting on his ride. They were not about to let the rain separate them during these closing minutes. It made me think how much sacrifice is made everyday to make us safe. We both felt proud as we passed – maybe we were the only ones that got to experience this on that dark cold rainy Saturday morning. An image I will never forget.

If you run long enough – you will have these special experiences. What are those moments for you? I could go on by telling you the money, tools and other items I have found on the road side or maybe the time I outran a pit bull but I will save those for another day.

So you may ask “Gary, Why are you running? I am racing now for the “Running for Food” organization because I believe we all have a responsibility to give back.

Running can be a great way to reach others. So join the team and together we can make a real difference – one race at a time!

“You also need to look back, not just at the people who are running behind you but especially at those who don’t run and never will… those who run but don’t race…those who started training for a race but didn’t carry through…those who got to the starting line but didn’t in the finish line…those who once raced better than you but no longer run at all. You’re still here. Take pride in wherever you finish. Look at all the people you’ve outlasted.”
– Joe Henderson

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5 thoughts on “Running Moments to Remember

  1. “Running, Bicycling, Skating, Swimming or other sports for charity is great – so long as you aren’t in a venue where automobiles are among your closest competitors”.

  2. The most encouraging person I knew at the Air Force Academy was Eric Miller (88′). He wore the biggest smile on his face and always asked me how I was doing and then quickly helped me along in activity to foster my growth. After my roommate had invited me on three four-mile runs a week around “The Overlook”, Eric eventually invited me with him to Denver and other cities to run 10K races. Eric was much faster than me but he always told me to run for fun and just focus on the breathing and to take it all in and enjoy it. So I saw him at the beginning and end of every race. I ran my first 10K with Eric.

    The year of Eric’s graduation he asked me to train with him and run the 1988 Denver marathon. We got on a program, attended a special class once a week, ate at the athletic tables in the chow hall, and kept running. Eventually the day came to run 26.2 miles and since it was my first time, I was quite nervous but Eric said it would be great. It was 39 degrees and rained for 24 miles but Eric said, “You won’t get hot and you won’t loose any water because you won’t sweat, this will be great.” He made me take my watch off before the race and I could not believe it but he said, “Don’t wear your watch, you will only look at it all the time and it will take all the fun out of running; just run and enjoy the view and don’t worry about your time.”

    Well, we had a great marathon. Eric was way ahead of me but he was there three hours and 54 minutes later when I finished and I never hit the wall but actually sped up the last 10K and finished feeling 10 feet tall. I had quoted every biblical scripture I could think of and sang a lot of songs to myself. I was hooked on running for sure and very thankful to Eric for his companionship and constant encouragement. He was the kind of leader that you could follow anywhere and he made you feel special like you are the only person in the room.

    I lost touch with Eric for the next couple of years. He went on to pilot training in the Air Force and then got his A-10 assignment. He then trained in the A-10 to become a competent and skilled fighter pilot. He called me a few years after my graduation and I was within a week of completing pilot training. He said he was off to the desert (Oct 1990) and he asked me to pray for him. I remember him saying that it was the thrill of his life and it was everything he had ever hoped to do–fly fighters in a war but that his sister was worried about his safety and upset that he was deploying.

    That was the last time I spoke with Eric. About a year later I was stationed overseas and our new wing commander gave a safety speech about how the most experienced and accomplished pilots in the world can still make mistakes and if you don’t think it can ever happen to you–then you are wrong. He then told the story of a young fighter pilot who had deployed to Iraq in 1990, had numerous successful air-to-ground combat missions supporting troops. He even won the Distinguished Flying Cross for risking his life with no assistance and low fuel to protect a downed airman awaiting helicopter rescue.

    That pilot came home and was flying a formation lead upgrade sortie against another A-10 pilot who happened to have more time in the A-10 than any person alive and somehow the two fighters collided in mid-air and they both died. I asked General Sawyer who that young pilot’s name was and he said, “Lt Eric Miller”.

    I have since run 12 additional marathons and at every start and every finish I just image Eric’s wonderful smile and words of encouragement. If he can encourage me then who can I encourage?

    Lord, guide and guide the men who fly
    Through the great spaces of the sky;
    Be with them traversing the air
    In darkening storms or sunshine fair.

    Gaylon Richter

    • Gaylon, Thanks for sharing your experience with Eric and running. Friends that challenge us to reach beyond our own dreams and goals are sent from God. Friendships are built on common values, great conversation and some great laughs.

  3. No surprise that more guys with Eric’s affable persona can also be found at your local Cycling and Inline Skating club meetings, on neighborhood Bicycle Trails, Public Green Ways, ‘Rails-To-Trails’ and State Park Multi-purpose Trails. A fitness-oriented person is most often endowed with a pleasant personality.

  4. Eric was and remains one of my heroes. College life for me was not easy and I don’t know if I would’ve made it without him.

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