Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Running him out of town...

Chris and me outside Skyline Schools
I met Chris Nicholas yesterday. I opened the door at the school, looked at him and said, "Hey! You're the PacePerMile guy! Chris, right?" I had run into Chris online a few days earlier through a Facebook ad. I couldn't resist the copy which said he would be running through Pratt on Monday on his way across the USA. A click here and a click there eventually took me to Chris' RunAndFinish website.

I introduced myself to Chris and his host for the day, Gene, then submitted to a quick photo with Chris. We talked for a bit before I had to go in for lunch room duty and agreed to meet this morning. I wanted to run him out of town properly. (That's not as bad as it sounds!)

At Skyline Schools with the 2nd Graders
Through PacePerMile's Facebook page and a few other means, we decided to meet up at the public library at 5:00 today. I got up at 4:30, dressed to run, took a sip or two of water and left my house around 4:55. I ran a pretty quick mile to the library. Chris wasn't there, so I stopped my Garmin and settled in to wait. Not everyone is as prompt as me, so I'm used to biding my time.

A few minutes later, I saw someone running up the street. Whoever it was, they weren't pushing a stroller like Chris was. It turned out to be a member of Chris' host family. He wasn't quite ready. I went with his host to their house to wait.

Dan and me just before Chris left to venture on alone
Around 5:30, Chris was all packed up and ready to go. He said his goodbyes to his hosts and we set off down Fifth Street, running down the hill past the Blythe Family Fitness Center and Pratt High. We continued on Fifth until Washington where we took a right and ran to the Kwik Shop so Chris could pick up breakfast - a million bananas, a couple of greasy items, two bottles of orange juice - and Gatorade for the day. A couple of people asked about what he was doing and were duly impressed when they learned he was running across the country.

We left the convenience store and walked most of the way to Skyline Schools. There we met up with Dan, my cycling friend, who was on his way out to pick me up and bring me home. (We were running that far behind!) He chatted with us for a bit before we started running down the old highway headed toward Cullison.

Chris is definitely in Kansas
There was little traffic on the ancient roadway. A car here and there, but nothing compared to what Chris would've faced out on the new Highway 54. As the sun began to rise behind us, the wheat in the fields began to glow. Chris looked at it and had to get a picture. We rolled his stroller a little way into the field and took a few shots before rolling on.

We ran and walked and ran and walked along talking about running and life. It was fun to learn more about this amazing man who aims to raise $5000 for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals as he goes. (You can donate to the cause with your Paypal account by visiting his RunAndFinish site.) We talked about what a rest day like the day before does to your body when you try to start up again. Chris dreamed of crossing the USA again in a few years. If he does that, he's pretty sure he'd like to focus more on connecting with other runners along the way, inviting them to run with him.

A word for the day for Chris
As we neared Cullison, we spotted Dan in the distance. He was walking out to meet us. We caught him less than a mile out of town and he ran and walked us there. We turned off toward the grain elevators, hoping to find a place for Chris to take a pit stop. Before he crossed 54, Dan and I wished him well and walked back to our car. There we found a sign we couldn't let Chris miss. We drove to the elevator and made him run back into Cullison. He laughed when he saw the sign out front. It read, "God promises pace!" I suppose it once said peace, but today, what it said was perfect.

God's peace be with you, Chris! May he lift up your feet and give you pace, too!

(garmin data)
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