By Norene Prososki
I focused on my daughter Jenny's bright orange trail shoes as we ran down the far side of the
insanely steep hill we'd just climbed. The pace was fast for me, but I was keeping up, and that felt
good. Golden sunlight streaming through the trees formed a green and amber canopy over the rocky
trail. The air was cool and crisp against my skin, and the finish line was less than a mile away.
I've never felt so alive as I did at that moment Sunday, flying down that hill, following those orange
shoes, headed toward the finish line.
This was the second year my husband Tim, our daughter Jenny and I ran the 15K course at the Bass
Pro Outdoor Festival's Dogwood Canyon Trail Runs. Last year, with my heart pounding and lungs
heaving, I struggled up and down those steep and rocky hills, stopping several times along the way for
much-needed rest breaks. This year, my feet were light, and my legs were strong. We didn't stop once.
And it's all because of a pink tutu, a magnificent mustache and a highway patrolman.
David Murphy, wearing his famous pink tutu to raise money for the American Cancer Society, was running more than three times the distance my little family was attempting. Adorned with ribbons bearing the names of 80 people who have battled cancer, the tutu and its owner would be out on the rugged trails a little more than five hours, covering more than 31 miles – 50 kilometers. The distance is nothing new to the 41-year-old Wasola ultra-marathoner, who’s now training for his fifth Rocky Raccoon 100-mile run in Texas this February.
David and his friend, Gainesville High School teacher Jon Wilson, who has the most magnificent mustache I've ever seen, started the Idiots Running Club a little more than a year ago. Astonishingly, the club, an online social media group of runners, has grown to almost 2,000 members and will be featured in the December issue of Runner's World magazine. The IRC is one of the biggest reasons I was outside Sunday, running on those hilly trails in Lampe, instead of lying in my soft bed that morning.
Through the IRC, I met Coach Jeff
Kline of PrsFit, who designed a training program specifically for me – a
struggling, constantly injured, often-whiney, wanna-be runner. His
encouragement and knowledge have proved invaluable over the past
year. Running is very hard. It's hard for everyone - even the gifted runners
like David. I've started fitness programs many, many times before and
always quit when things got uncomfortable. I probably would've quit
running too if it hadn’t been for the support and help I got from the Idiots
Running Club and PrsFit. Without those brilliant and dedicated “Idiots”
and Coach Jeff, I'm not sure I would have made it through the pain
required to reap the benefits of running.
As I was skimming down that hill, my muscles feeling strong and light,
focusing on those orange shoes flying in front of me, I couldn’t help but gush, "This is it, Jenny. This is
why we got up all those mornings to run. This is what all the training is for!"
That wonderful feeling of accomplishment made the run worth every drop of sweat, every aching
muscle, every heaving breath.
As we were running our 15K, the shortest distance offered at Dogwood Canyon, I thought about several other Ozark County IRC runners who were out on the same trails that morning. The fastest was Charley Hogue, a Missouri State Highway Patrol sergeant. A four-time winner of the White River Marathon in Cotter, Ark., Hogue is the first "real" runner I ever talked to about running. I was about 60 pounds overweight at the time, I’d just quit smoking and I got out of breath simply walking across my yard. It was the Fourth of July, and we were at a barbecue at my sister's house. Charley was hungry that evening because he had run some huge distance that morning. I was amazed at how far he had run and said, "Wow, I wish I could run, but I've never been able to, even when I was young. I just can't do it."
He said, "You can do it, Norene. All it takes is time and effort, but
you can do it if you want to."
I didn't believe him at the time, but I never forgot what he said.
Out on the Dogwood Canyon Trails Sunday morning, Charley
yelled "Go, IRC!" as he flew past Jenny and me like we were standing
still. He went on to take first in his age group, placing third overall out
of 325 runners in the 25K distance. His mother, Evelina Hogue, took
second in the age 55-59 female division of the 15K. On Nov. 3, they'll
both be at Bass Pro in Springfield, where Charley will run the full
marathon and Evelina will take on the half.
I knew my
long before Jenny and I did, and I couldn't
wait to hear how he did. Sure enough, he was
waiting for us as we crossed the finish line.
He had already changed out of his sweaty
clothes, so I knew he’d had a good run. He
finished 40 minutes faster than he did last
year! I wound up finishing 21 minutes faster,
and Jenny was also faster than last year. We
all shared a big group hug to celebrate.
Melissa Hayes of Gainesville won third
place in the age 30-34 female division of the
15K. She often runs with her friend Mindy
Pippin, who was taking on her longest race
ever, the 25K. Mindy's husband, Billy, was
also running the 25K for the first time and
came in a few minutes behind his wife. "I'm already thinking about next year," Billy said later.
April Wilson, Jon's wife, also ran the 25K for the first time. "Whew! That was tough," she said.
No kidding, I thought. I was having a hard time imagining going that far over all those hills. But
now that it's over, I'm thinking ... maybe next year …
But for now, I'm concentrating on Nov. 3, when I’ll run my very first full marathon. Who would've
thought that a pink tutu, a magnificent mustache and a highway patrolman could make such a
difference in a chubby, middle-aged grandma's life?
Adventures and Races Submitted by Idiots