The two of them were ahead of me, but had stopped to rest, and I was about to catch them.
We’d been running about 30 minutes, not quite 4 miles into the 26.2 mile Marine Corps Marathon this past Sunday. The crowd of runners ahead of me on the streets of Washington, DC made it hard for me to see the two of them clearly through the crowd, but I knew they were Marines. We always know our own.
(I was recently told that there are three great fraternities in America: Harvard graduates, the Priesthood, and The Marine Corps!)
But I could tell that these two Marines were already taking a break? Marines taking a break at only 3 plus miles??
As I got closer and the crowd thinned a bit, I understood.
Between them these two Marines had only two good legs, each missing a leg just below the knee. In place of their lower leg were prosthetics that resembled slightly flattened out capital “C’s.” These two young Marines had returned from Iraq several months ago and were learning to live, and RUN, on mechanical legs. There on the side of the marathon course, the two friends had stopped to take off their prosthetic and apply an anti-blister lubricant to the inside cup of their artificial limb. They took turns, one standing and supporting the other as he took off his leg and applied the lubricant. They would repeat this same procedure several times for the next 23 miles.
For me, the instant that I saw them was one of those moments when your brain downloads about 100 pages worth of information, reactions, and emotions all in a flash. Though it only took me a few seconds to see them, recognize them, gain on them, and come alongside them, my mind raced with a flood of a thousand images in those few seconds.
I imagined the day that each of those brave men set out on their final patrol, healthy and whole … and could imagine how tragically and suddenly everything changed. I imagined how those events might have played out. How they had been torn apart by some horrible, violent, chaotic explosion. How their fellow Marines had instinctively come to their aid, defended them, and rescued them … how others had done the skilled medical work of triage and extended medical care.
I imagined the mental, spiritual, and emotional struggles that each of them had been fighting everyday since the day that their lives changed forever. I could imagine them alone in the darkness of their hospital rooms late at night when the demons of doubt and fear torment even the bravest. How each day was a similar but different struggle about their lives, their rehabilitation, the loss of their legs … and what of their uncertain future? I marveled at how they had fought their way back from that abyss … learned to walk … learned to run … trained for a 26.2 mile marathon!
I was certain that they had loving family and friends waiting for them at the finish line. I could only imagine the absolute joy and celebration that each of them and their friends would share together when they would, as surely they would, cross that finish line together in victory!
As I came alongside, I called out to them, in Marine-speak, “Oooraaah MARINES!”
Their faces lit up as they looked at me, grinned from ear to ear, and enthusiastically shouted back in unison, “Oooraah, SIR!”
I passed them, I had a lump in my throat and a small sense of guilt for passing them at all. I thought of little else as I ran that day. Passing the great monuments of our nation’s capital did not inspire me like that one moment of exchange with those young men. I was honored to have run with them that day.
Everyday I talk to people who look at exercise as a chore and who “hate to run.” Now, when I hear that, I think of those two young men, running in pain … but with such joy on their faces.
There are thousands of people like those Marines, warriors and non-warriors alike, who envy your ability to get up and go run … on two good legs.
The next time you feel yourself start to complain about “having to run” or “having to exercise” … think about those two hero’s who ran with me that day. You get to run … you get to exercise!
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap …”
~ Shakespeare, Henry V
THE WEATHER OUTSIDE …
The weather outside might get frightful, but BOOT CAMP will be oh so … AWESOME!
Ladies and Gentlemen, November arrives on Saturday and the temperatures drop every year at this time. News? Of course not!
It’s that time of the year! It’s time to dig out your workout pants and long sleeve workout clothes.
Find your sweatshirts and gloves and put your hats on your head! And get yourself to BOOT CAMP!
You’ll lose burn more calories working out in the cold. Seriously!
Here are the FIVE BENEFITS OF OF COLD WEATHER WORKOUTS
1. Strengthens the immune system.
2. Naturally increases the body’s production of saratonin, a natural calming chemical in your body.
3. Increased calorie burn!
4. Runny noses keep the cooties from taking up residence and making you sick.
5. Bragging rights! You get to tell your sissy “indoor” friends how tough YOU are!
Well, not exactly.
But do you know of someone who could be another Sergeant Tony?
I’m looking to expand the empire beyond Memphis. Les Bonnett has successfully launched USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP — Collierville! I’d especially like to move into north Mississippi or northern Shelby County. Like Hernando or Millington!
Here’s a little of what I’m looking for in a prospective “Sergeant Tony.”
* Former military, preferably a Marine.
* College degree, or working toward it.
* Exercise certification, military or civilian, or working toward it.
* Personally interested and involved in a lifestyle of fitness and athletics.
* Good communication skills, written and oral. (I answer about 40 emails a day, write a newsletter, and answer more than a half dozen or so daily Boot Camp related phone calls)
* Outgoing personality with a GREAT sense of humor!
* Genuinely likes people, hiding behind a sadistic facade.
* Humble, modest, caring, and sensitive (ok, ok, whatever)
You get the idea.
If you know of someone who would be a good fit, please forward this on to them and direct them to the website: www.usmcfitnessbootcamp.com
RACE FOR GRACE 2008
The 12th annual 5K run/walk benefiting the Church Health Center will be Saturday, November 8th at 9 AM at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church. You can get more info and register online at http://www.raceforgrace.racesonline.com/
Most of you need to move up. If you’re a woman and you’ve been doing BOOT CAMP for more than 3 weeks, you should NOT be using 5 lb dumbbells anymore. Use 8′s or 10′s or more! If you’re a man you shouldn’t be using 10′s anymore.
Women usually top out at 15′s or 20′s. Men usually at 25.
You should be making a face, a grimace, during the last few reps of most of the exercises. It’s proof of your work AND it’ll keep you looking younger and hotter!
USMC FITNESS BOOT CAMP CLASSES
At Christ Methodist
0530 Monday through Friday
5:45 PM: M-Tu-W-Th, (5:30 PM on Friday). M-W-F are weight days, Tu/Thu are cardio days.
THE TUESDAY EVENING CLASS MEETS AT ST. MARY’S TRACK.
At Evergreen Presbyterian
0530 Monday through Friday
ST. JUDE HALF MARATHON TRAINING ON SATURDAY!
1/2 Marathon (13.1 miles) Training for the December 6, 2008 St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon continues this Saturday at 0800 at Shelby Farms! Meet in front of the Visitor’s Center!
Find me on Facebook and make me your friend! (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=629618416)
I’ll make you mine! Then join the USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP Group!
While you’re on Facebook, you might see an ad for USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP pop up. Do NOT click on it! Facebook charges me for every time someone clicks on it. The ad is NOT for you knuckleheads!
“When you stop moving, it’s over.”
~ Don Wildman, 75 year old athlete and adventurer
To your continued good health and fitness!
Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow
USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Memphis, TN 38120