Sunday, May 20, 2007

Law Enforcement Memorial Run-Philadelphia to D.C

(group pic of Police and Survivors who covered the 150 miles from Philly to D.C.)

Hi everyone,

Finally posting the results of the Law Enforcement Memorial Run, AKA, AJ's Run For Trinity. I want to thank everyone who sponsored me. That's what kept me running hour after hour; knowing everyone was counting on me to run as far as possible. OK, I know some didn't want me to run 81 miles, even my wife told me it was now going to cost her $81 dollars. First the facts: Over three days of running I covered 81 miles, ran for a total of 13 hours and 1 minute and burned 8650 calories........and got some sore legs and worn out shoes as a bonus. NOW THE STORY.
I arrived at the Philadelphia Naval Yard at 7:20AM on Friday and began my normal race preparation. Only this wasn't a race. It was going to be a run to remember all the men and women in law enforcement that that were lost forever while doing their job, that job being, "the quest to preserve both democracy and decency and to protect a national treasure that we call the American Dream, the quest for Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It was also a run in which I was going to attempt to do something I haven't done before; run far for consecutive days. I had promised to run at least 50 miles but also desired to run the equivalent of three marathons in the three days of running. I've run both marathons and ultra marathons. I've run for 9 plus hours at a time, but never tried it again the next day. It was going to be a test both physically and mentally. Luckily I had a great group of guys to run with, not to mention all of the rest of the people that I would be sharing the road with from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. The opening ceremony began at 8:30AM and lasted for over an hour. There were many dignitaries and mayoral hopefuls that wanted a turn to talk, and talk they did.
During this time I prepared my drinks for the run, knowing I probably wouldn't be eating solid food for the next eight or so hours, oh well.
Around 9:40AM the run began. We ran through a line of policemen and women from numerous jurisdictions to begin the journey to D.C. The pace during the first mile was slow, somewhere between 9 and 10 minutes. Then for the next several miles the pace increased to 8-8:30's, a little faster that I and several of the runners around me expected. In fact some told me that this was definitely faster that previous years, not a good omen for someone who expected to run for several hours today; that someone being me. The weather was also beginning to play a big part in my endeavor. What started out cloudy with a misty rain had turned into a cloudless sky with heat and humidity that was projected to go into the 80's, not runner friendly temperatures for sure. I was starting to think that the 50 miles that I had promised to run might be a task. The pace was quicker than expected and the temps were rising quickly. I figured the only thing to do was drink up and tough it out. A couple of hours and many miles passed when an escort vehicle approached the pack that I was running in and asked for a volunteer to pick up the pace for the next 3-4 miles due to being behind schedule. I figured that I had been running for 2 hours and close to 15 minutes so naturally I volunteered to do it!(duh) So I went into race mode while everyone else jumped in the escort vehicles. I lasted for a little over three miles averaging about 6:15 per mile (according to the lead vehicle)when I ran up to the lead car and asked, OK begged, to have someone take over so I could take a break. So after nearly 20 miles of running I took my first rest. After drinks, a banana and a Cliff Bar, it was time to hit the bricks again. It was like this until we arrived in Wilmington Delaware; run for an hour or so and take a 15-20 minute break. We arrived at the Wilmington Police Department for what would amount to several ceremonies over the next three days where plaques would be presented to "survivors." Survivors are family members and friends who had lost someone in law enforcement. Each time was a moving experience, bringing home the thought that there was always the possibility that a ceremony could be held for me someday. At the completion of the ceremony I made more drinks and re-lubed my feet and changed my socks and we were off again. Hours and miles passed and we finally made it to the Holiday Inn in Aberdeen Maryland. It was now time to begin the recovery process. I'm a big believer in vitamin supplementation and the use of carbohydrate and protein recovery drinks. If anyone is interested in that let me know, I don't want to bore anyone with what happens to the body and how to facilitate recovery at this time. Once in the hotel I completed my recovery attempt by taking an ice bath! What fun that is. Sit in a tub slowly filling with cold water and then add a couple of buckets of ice to try and reduce the inflammation that you usually get from running for 5 hours and 35 minutes and covering 37 plus miles. After having more fun than a guy can handle, I then showered and got ready for dinner. During dinner, which was downstairs in the hotel restaurant and consisted of your typical buffet, we honored more families, or survivors. Once again, every time a family was honored it was a very emotional experience, something you can never get used too. During dinner I stuffed myself as full as possible, trying to "reload" for tomorrow. Afterward, it was time to go back to the room and prepare for tomorrow, which consisted of making more drinks and putting them on ice. Then it was bed time which came with it the worry of how I was going to feel when I woke up, not knowing how well I'd be able to run. I awoke in the morning feeling a little stiff but surprised that I could actually walk without much pain. After a light breakfast (you can't each much before you run), we were off again. The pace was a little more reasonable today, more like running an ultra marathon. I resumed the 1 to 1 and a half hour runs with 15 to 20 minute breaks. The most moving moment for me came when we made a stop in Baltimore at the Inner Harbor. While there we had more ceremonies honoring survivors.
A gentlemen stepped to the microphone to tell us his story. He (I'm sorry I forgot his name) was a member of the Baltimore City Police Department for nearly 30 years. He told us of the happiest day of his life when his son was born many years ago. He went on to say that when his son was six, he told his father that one day he would be a policeman just like him one day. That day came about 20 years later when his son graduated from the Baltimore Police Academy and he was proud beyond words. The saddest day in his life followed about two years later when his son was murdered while on duty in Baltimore City. Needless to say there wasn't a dry eye in the place. Just typing the works brings me right back to that day and how I felt. After the ceremony we were off again. Some how the running didn't bother me, almost like I was floating along yet still thinking of the mans painful speech. How could I possibly feel pain or gripe about anything after that. It seemed that the group was some what subdued, initially quiet. Then conversations began again. I found it to be mentally stimulating to run with so many people. I met people from as far away as Canada and exchanged story's with many of them. I normally run by myself for hours on end, so this was a great change. Anyway, more hours and miles passed until we reached reached the Holiday Inn in College Park, Maryland. For Saturday I had covered 32 miles and ran for 4 hours and 56 minutes. My normal recovery ritual ensued with the supplements, drinks, all of which were followed by the awesome ice bath. Only this time I nearly passed out in the tub. After regaining my composure, I stayed in for my allotted 15 minutes, showered and headed to dinner. Someone later explained to me that I probably had a rapid drop in blood pressure due to the extremely cold water which caused the near passing out. Dinner was at the local FOP Lodge. Our transportation to dinner was very luxurious; we were driven there in a prison bus with the complimentary cage and all. Luckily the cage wasn't locked for our 20 something minute ride to the lodge. Upon arriving we again honored more survivors and then had dinner. We were then taken back to the hotel where I attempted to hang out with the group for a little while at the lounge. We talked about the days events and about the job. It was then back to the room for more drink making for the next day. I was a bit more concerned than I was the previous night. My legs were feeling very stiff and appeared to be somewhat swollen. I was wondering if I would be able to cover the 12 remaining miles on Sunday
morning. I awoke Sunday morning barely being able to bend my legs to get out of bed; I was in trouble and didn't know what to do about it. I tried a hot shower, pacing back and forth in the room and even trying the stairs to loosen up. It all just made me feel as if my thighs had been whacked with a baseball bat. All I could do was pack up and hobble down stairs for breakfast. This time I ate a lot: waffles, eggs, yogurt and orange juice. I knew better than to do that and I would pay for it later
during the run with a stomach ache. Prior to starting the run I began pacing back and forth in the parking lot trying my best to loosen up. As the run was about to begin I was still trying to figure out how I was going to run on legs that wouldn't bend. The run began about 9:30AM and luckily it was a very slow pace, a pace that allowed me to loosen up completely. I was now feeling good enough to make it the last 12 miles to D.C. While en route to D.C. we stopped at the Hyattsville Justice Center for another emotional ceremony. At the conclusion we were off again. I could sense the group was again quiet and subdued after watching yet another still grieving family being honored as survivors.
We struck back out on the run which now had 7 more miles to go. It was during this time that I began to go over the the last three days in my mind. I had met a lot of great people, made some new friends, and created many new memories. The Law Enforcement Memorial Run had left me both mentally and physically invigorated, sore and soon to be very sore, but invigorated. We continued on our run and soon found ourselves entering Washington D.C. limits where we met up with members of the Washington D.C. Police Department who were to be our last escorts for the final miles of the run. The run was itself now turning into a celebration not only for the memories of those no longer with us, but for life itself. We were now joined by several survivors as we made our way into D.C. for the last couple miles of the run.
The group was clapping and chanting and we were also being cheered by people on the street. We finally made it to the D.C. Metro Police Department where everyone exchanged and congratulations for completing the journey. It was now time for the final ceremony, one in which 12 families were to be honored. At the completion we walked to the Law Enforcemen Memorial where we ran around the memorial itself. There are more than 15,700 names on the memorial and I was able to find several names of New Jersey State Troopers who had died in the line of duty. There were numerous hand written notes and pictures from loved ones taped near the names of the fallen officers. This too was very emotional for everyone, especially when actually seeing people grieving at the memorial. We then gathered for some final pictures and goodbyes. I took one final walk around the memorial, trying to take it all in. It had been a memorable three days ; it was an honor to have particapated and to have met so many great people. Thanks for reading. New Jersey State Police Team