Running Against the Wind: Training for a Marathon in a Tornado-tastic Twist

Earlier this week, a few interconnected events took place. I told the people involved that the collision of these events was not a coincidence. It was the Universe conspiring in our favor. This saying comes from the book, The Alchemist.
In November of 2018, I ran The Original Marathon in Greece.  26.2 miles from Marathon to Athens. The marathon ends in Panathenaic Stadium. It’s still one of the most memorable adventures I’ve had. In October of that year, a funny set of events took place. Here’s that story.
October 12, 2018 – Remember a few weeks ago when I found a cell phone in a mud puddle while I was out on my run? Well, today a lady pulled up in a car just as I was heading out for a training run. She rolled down her window and waved to get my attention. I stopped running. She said, “You’re Chris right? You found my cell phone a few weeks ago. I saw you and wanted to thank you for what you did.” I smiled and said, “You’re sure welcome. Not a big deal.” She replied, “My life is in that phone and I don’t know what I would have done if I had lost it.” I’m not exactly sure what I said next, but it was most likely something like another “You’re welcome” or “Glad I could help.” That was at about mile .3.
I would have never guessed that in a couple of hours, The World would throw me a curve ball, and The Universe would send favor my way.
Today, was my long-run training day; 17 miles. The only part of the first 13 miles that was interesting was an unopened container of Whataburger ketchup I saw lying on the side of the road. I thought to myself, “Damn, what a shame.” Hey, it’s really good ketchup.
At mile 13, I could tell bad weather was coming in quickly. That said, the last 4-miles or so of my run was in a full-blown Texas thunderstorm. The storm was complete with heavy rain, wind, and lightning. In less than 30 minutes, the weather deteriorated. Yes, it sucked. But, it was a nice distraction.  When I run long distances, I do some crazy stuff to redirect my thoughts and keep my body moving. At one point when the storm was raging, I thought of Captain Dan in Forest Gump. It made me laugh. Then in Captain Dan style, I started hollering obscenities at Mother Nature. Little did I know she would soon respond. By the way, I run and live out in the country. Yup, in an RV down by the river.  I can get as crazy as I want, and nobody will see me. Anyway, I noticed the sky was getting green to the west. “Shit, that’s not good,” I thought to myself. Right then, ahead of me and to my right, I could see rotation in the clouds and what looked like a nicely formed wall cloud. When I saw the little weird white puffs of clouds magically appear and then get pulled up into the rotation on the back of the wall cloud, I said to myself, “Oh Sh!t. This is bad.” At this point, I was almost a mile from my house, in wide open fields, with no shelter anywhere close. Instantly, I started running faster. I could feel adrenaline shoot through my veins. I could also feel my heart beating in my temples. I thought, “Well, maybe it isn’t a tornado.”  Confirmation came about 10 seconds later when I heard the tornado sirens in the distance. My pace quickened. Okay. Let me pause the story for a relevant and notable detail. Today it was in the 80’s. That said, I wore my usual hot weather running uniform; running shorts, shoes, and my hydration belt (and no Ellie it’s not a fanny pack). No shirt. Yup, my big belly and man-boobs for all to see. I’m old and don’t care.  Comfort over vanity.  Back to the story.

The tornado appeared to be moving in my line of sight, so I thought, “It’s not coming directly at me. That’s good.” At this point, the tornado sirens were in full force and I was still a good 1/4 of a mile from my house/RV down by the river. Because my focus was locked in on the tornado, I didn’t immediately notice the car that pulled beside me. A lady in her late 50’s or 60’s slowed and rolled down her window. It was similar to the way this run had started. She said, “Hun, do you know we’re in a tornado warning?” I replied, “Yes ma’am. I’m trying to get home.” She said, “Let me give you a ride to your house.” Again, I’m drenched, wearing no shirt, on a country road, and this lady who is all alone is offering to give me a ride. I hopped in her car, exchanged names, and she asked me where I lived. Her name was Cheryl. I said, “Cheryl, just right up here,” and pointed at the RV park. “You want me to drop you off at an RV, in a tornado?” said Cheryl. “It’ll be okay, I’m not staying there. I’ve got to get to work. I work at a TV station” As I got out of the car, Cheryl and I watched the tornado pass a few miles away. The End.

The moral of the story is this; You do in fact get what you give. A few days back, I helped out a stranger. Then today, a stranger helped me out. I believe in Kharma. In the book The Alchemist, it says The Universe conspires in our favor. I believe in those words.  That belief gives me hope, even in the darkest times. 
If “train for a Marathon in a tornado” was on my list, I could check it off. It’s not.  That’s okay.
Today was a real adventure. I hope You Find Your Adventure and Live Your Life.
PS – If you’ve not read the book The Alchemist, you should. It just might change your life.
PPS – Here’s a couple of pics from The Marathon in Greece. My daughter, Ellie, went with me
PPPS – We spent a day in Germany on the way home from Greece. We went out to dinner. We took a cab from the restaurant back to the hotel. We were back in our hotel room for about 30 minutes when I realized I had left my phone in the taxi. I went down to the lobby to ask the people at the front desk if a phone had been found. It had not. Distraught, I found a chair in the lobby. I sat there trying to contemplate the effects of losing my phone. I was there for about 10 minutes when someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was the taxi driver with my phone.
PPPPS – It was a few weeks later. Christmas Eve. I was flying from Dallas back to Idaho. I was waiting in line at the Southwest gate getting ready to board. I had a pocketful of Starbucks gift cards to give to each member of the Southwest Airlines crew including the pilots. I wanted to say Thanks for flying me across the country on Christmas Eve. As I stood there, a guy came up and said, “I think you dropped your wallet.” Yup, it was my wallet. It feel out of my pocket over by all of the seating. In that wallet was over $1,800.
PPPPPS – To answer your question, YES. In both cases, the guy at the airport and the taxi driver, I offered them a reward for taking care of me. In both cases, they refused the reward.