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Archive for October, 2015

Oct 29 2015

Threat Assessment

The day before Dale’s running of the Marine Corps Marathon, I thought it a brilliant idea to bring Dale’s large black military backpack for Gabe to carry around during the race. Rain was predicted and it was waterproof. Perfect.

On the morning of the race, I began throwing into the backpack everything that we could possible need or Dale could possibly need or any of the 30,000 runners could possibly need, or any stranger passing by could possibly need.

I packed the bag with eight water bottles, seven cheese-it and pretzel bags, six granola bars, five sharpies, four poster boards, three umbrellas, two Nintendo ds’s, one gallon bag full of candy, Dale’s jacket and gloves, and the poncho liner.

Why? Because I was convinced that I would be sitting for hours with two kids complaining of being “hungry, thirsty, cold, wet, bored, tired…”

We had to go through three security checkpoints on our walk to the start. At one, the irritated guy next to me said, “You’re slowing everybody up with that backpack.”

I put it down to “fear of missing the start.”

At every checkpoint, the backpack came off Gabe’s back and was thoroughly searched. Twice, I sent Gabe running ahead to the checkpoint, because I knew it would take him extra long to get through security.

We watched the start of the race from the Memorial Bridge. It provided a terrific view of the jumpers, the Ospreys, the cannon, the start line. We had no idea which side of the road Dale would run down. I scanned the right, Zeke scanned the left, and Gabe scanned both. Three minutes after the cannon fired, Gabe heard Dale yell at us and saw Dale run by. Zeke and I missed it in the mayhem.

Zeke was disappointed, but I said, “Don’t worry, we’ll see him at the 10 mile mark.”

We walked quickly across the bridge, paid a brief visit to Lincoln, and then walked down Ohio Drive past the water station to just before mile 11. Zeke was tired and sore with foot pain. (He had twisted his ankle playing flag football in PE.) I spread out the poncho liner under a big tree for Zeke to sit on. Gabe set the large black backpack next to him. In the pouring rain, under his umbrella, Zeke began coloring in my motivational sign (“The MCM GOT NOTHIN ON DALE MANRY IT’S 40 HE’S 50.”)

Gabe and I were standing on the sidewalk by the curb ten feet away from the tree, cheering for the wheelies, pushers, and leaders of the race (Go Army!) My phone notified me of Dale’s location, so I told Zeke (who had finished the coloring in while the rain finished the coloring off) that Dale was close. Zeke got up and joined us, leaving the large black backpack by the tree.

I glanced occasionally behind me at the large black backpack to make sure no one snuck up on us and stole it, but mostly I cheered the runners.

Suddenly, the woman next to me yelled, “Look out! There is a car coming behind you!”

I turned to see a large black SUV stop and two big men in kevlar with a bomb sniffing dog get out and move towards the large black backpack. Zeke got to the bag first. “It’s our bag!” I yelled.

“There’s Dad!” Gabe screamed. I whirled around to take Dale’s picture while Zeke got lectured by two scary men about the necessity of keeping your bags with you at all times.

(Someone has to take one for the team.)

Dale ran on, the black SUV backed up, and Zeke mournfully said, “I missed Dad.”

I showed Zeke the picture of Dale from the camera. Surprisingly, it didn’t help improve his mood.

(“What were you thinking?”…As Dines so aptly put it when I relayed this story to her.)

The idea that it might not be a smart choice to have my dark curly haired and bearded teenage son who wears a forbidding countenance carry a large black backpack to a marathon in Washington D.C. suddenly dawned on me.

As we cut through the FDR memorial on our way to mile 15, I continued to reassure Zeke that he would for sure see his Dad at the next spot – as long as we weren’t hustled into a black SUV and carted off.

We stood in the median of 15th street and cheered again the runners in front of Dale. “There’s box head guy!” Gabe shouted. “Dad should be coming soon.” We rang our cowbells shouted and cheered. Thankfully, this time, Zeke saw his Dad.

Next, we were supposed to move to mile 20, but I got all confused and followed the runners down 15th towards the Washington Monument. The band playing “Circle of Life” spurred me on. Eventually, I knew my direction was all wrong as was the band’s next choice of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”

When we got back to where we started, I could see the runners crossing the 14th street bridge above us. We attempted to cut through to 14th street by walking next to the bureau of engraving and printing, but the sidewalk dead ended. Thinking my mistake might cost us seeing Dale, I sent Gabe at a sprint back out on 15th street to find another way through. Zeke and I limped behind. At the far side of the building, there was a vehicle entrance that said, “Do Not Enter.” I started jogging around the lift gate.

“Mom, I don’t think we’re supposed to go through here,” Zeke said. (He was trying to avoid another encounter with Scary Men in Kevlar.) “Run, son, run!” I shouted. “You’re small. When they grab me, you can squiggle through and see your Dad.”

We made it to 14th street without being arrested and heard the pounding of the most fabulous drum line ever. We turned, and jogged our way onto the bridge, but Gabe was no where in sight. I pulled out my phone to call and ask where he was and noticed I had 5 missed calls from him. I called, “Where are you? I can’t see you on the bridge.” I asked.

“You’re on the bridge!?” He yelled. “I just ran 6 blocks with this backpack on and you’re ahead of me!?” (He had not taken the cut through, but had run down to Independence, over to 14th street, and up to the bridge. I could hear the awesome drum line pounding in the background.)

We cheered again the runners in front of Dale – including the box head guy. We clanged and clanged the cowbells as Dale made it to the 20 mile mark. Dale kept on moving. I could tell that he was hurting. Gabe, Zeke, and I were exhausted.

“He has 6.2 miles to go. There’s no way he’s going to run faster than 10 minutes a mile. We’ve got an hour to make it back across the Memorial Bridge,” I said.

We trudged around the Tidal Basin and back up Ohio Drive. As we approached the grass hill to get up to the Memorial Bridge, Zeke could walk no longer. “Give me the backpack and put Zeke on your back,” I told Gabe.

With Zeke on his back and the backpack on mine we jogged up the grassy hill.

“Gabe’s gonna drop me. He’s gonna drop me!” Zeke shouted.

“He’s not gonna drop you!” I yelled. (I put my head down, jogged the slowest jog ever and thought, “Whose brilliant idea was it to bring this heavy backpack?”)

Two thirds of the way up the hill, Gabe stepped in a large hole, fell, and Zeke tumbled to the ground.

We staggered up onto the bridge laughing and crying, moaning and groaning. “Here, Gabe, take the camera and run up to security. Get to the finish. Take a picture of Dad. Zeke and I might not make it,” I said.

Gabe took off running. Zeke and I stumbled on. Zeke looked longingly at the pedicab. When we eventually arrived at the security checkpoint, Gabe was holding up the line with the inspection of his large black backpack. Finally, they cleared him and he raced on. Zeke and I made it quickly through security. We met Gabe near mile 26. We arrived 7 minutes before Dale.

The final photo, the trudge to the meet-up area, the walking downhill – knowing we would have to walk uphill – because the meet up banners are alphabetical and our last name starts with M, then the cheers and the smiles and the giant medal hanging around Dale’s neck.

He did it! We did it!


Oct 26 2015

Marine Corps Marathon – My AAR

Posted by Dale @ 1:15 pm in Family,Running Print This Post Print This Post

Since we moved to Virginia in 2007, I’ve been trying to get into the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM). Even though it has a field of 30,000 runners, it sells out very quickly, within minutes of registration opening online. I was able to get a slot this year by running the 17.75 km (~11 miles) race in Prince William Forest back on April 2nd. Finishers of that race were given guaranteed slots for MCM. So I finally got in.

Mugs took care of all the logistics and planning; all I had to do was run. So this after action review (AAR) post is just about running the race.

The weather on race day was a mixed bag. The temperature was perfect, around 57F, but it was raining off and on.


At the start

(Yes, I did shave.)

I planned on starting out with 9:00 minute miles and holding that as long as I could. So I lined up at the back of the corral that had an expected finish time of 3:59. This worked well because when the gun went off, right at 7:55 am, it took only a couple minutes to get to the start banner, and I never had to weave in and out of other runners or stop for congestion.

(I did not high five a single spectator along the entire route.)

The first 6 miles felt good, and I was right on pace. From the start to mile 3 was the biggest hill in the race. It was good to get that over with early. After mile 4, there was a small hill as we crossed the Potomac on the Key Bridge. I hit 10k (6.2 miles) in 53:31 (8:37 per mile). Only 20 miles to go!

( In the days leading up to this, Mugs kept reminding me to have fun.)

We had a little bit of a hill from mile 6 to 7.5, then turned around and ran back down to mile 9. Since this little leg was out and back, I could see the leaders coming down as I was going up. The top two were together and moving at a great pace. Then as I was going down, I got to see the masses of people that were just behind me. My legs still felt good, and my pace was steady.


At Mile 10

(Somewhere in this stretch is where I first saw the guy running with a cardboard box on his head.)

I saw Mugs, Gabe and Zeke at Mile 10. I was soaked head to toe from the rain and sweat but didn’t really notice it. From there we ran along the Potomac to Haines Point and the halfway mark, which I reached in 1:53:29 (8.40 per mile). From Mile 12 to Mile 13 is the “Wear Blue Mile”. The entire mile was lined on both sides of the road with volunteers holding American flags and signs with the faces of fallen service members. It was a pretty inspiring and humbling mile. The rest of the run around Haines Point was pretty lonely without many spectators. But I did see Mugs, Gabe and Zeke again after mile 15.


At Mile 15

(Mugs, Gabe and Zeke were ringing cowbells and screaming like crazy each time I saw them. That’s nothing new!)

For this next leg to mile 20, we ran back to Lincoln, past Washington, along the mall to the Capitol, back to Lincoln, then to Jefferson. Right around the Capitol was the 30k (18.6 miles) mark. I got there at 2:47:22 (8:59 per mile). Following Mugs’ advice to “Have fun”, I made sure to look at as many of the monuments, memorials, buildings and other landmarks as I could while running past. Mugs, Gabe and Zeke were waiting for me again at the 20 mile mark. I ended up hitting 20 miles in 3:01:30, which is 9:04 per mile.


At Mile 20

(I’m trying to convince myself that the last 10k will be a piece of cake! Do I looked convinced?)

From 20, we crossed back over the Potomac on the 14th Street bridge and ran a loop around Crystal City. This section had a little bit of a hill that seemed much larger than it really is! There was a 4 hour pace group that came past me in this section. I tried to pick up my speed to stay with them, but I had nothing left in the tank at this point. I made it to Mile 23 without walking at all, but then I started run-walk-run. Miles 23 and 24 both were about 15 minute miles, where I walked for 5 minutes and ran for 10.

( At the food station just before Mile 24, I passed on the Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins.)

After Crystal City, we ran around the Pentagon, then back to Arlington and to the finish at the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima statue). Mugs, Gabe and Zeke were waiting at Mile 26.


At Mile 26

(Does it look like I had fun?)

My final time was 4:14:06 with 9:42 per mile. Thanks to Mugs, Gabe and Zeke for all of the encouragement along the way!

At the family link-up area

(Gabe really enjoyed carrying Zeke on his back. Ask him about it.)

As always, Mugs was my No. 1 fan!


No. 1 Fan

Oct 24 2015

Jamestown and Williamsburg

Posted by Mugs @ 2:18 pm in Church,Family,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

During our time on the James River, we toured Jamestown and Williamsburg. Mom loved Fort James, an archaeological dig site. She and Marie learned how to determine where a person was originally from by evaluating the deposits in their bones which reveal their town’s water source. At Fort James, Mom learned many other bizarre and fascinating facts and would love to share them with you.

Mary and I grew bored with archaeology school and entertained ourselves by watching a blacksmith make a nail, reading the slightly absurd poetic praise of Captain John Smith, and taking pictures of the fearless leader with Pocahontas – a fellow Virginian fearless leader. Eventually, we got hungry and left to buy some yummy duck donuts.

In Williamsburg, Marie lamented about not having enough time to go on the full tour of Historic Williamsburg for the cheap old people’s price. Mom enjoyed listening to the trombone player in the tavern run by Josiah Chowning. I bought a “Chowning’s Tavern” replacement t-shirt for Dale. (Later, I came home and hid the raggedy one with the hole under the arm that he refuses to throw away.)

Eventually, Mom and I found ourselves in the stocks.

Marie, of course, would never be thrown in the stocks.

Oct 23 2015

Parades, Charades, and Escapades

Posted by Mugs @ 11:16 am in Church,Family,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

The women’s retreat was full of laughs, once again, as our competitive natures came to the fore during the pajama parade, reverse charades, and a treasure hunt that turned fierce.

The pajama parade stepped it up a notch this year – with sound effects, prancing, dancing, singing, a perfect reenactment of a star wars scene, the funniest impersonation of Nancy Humphrey ever to take place, and the bribing of parade judges.

The reverse charades competition had us howling in laughter as the actors went to any length necessary to get you to guess the word. (The sumo wrestling photo will remain hidden for the propriety of others.)

The treasure hunt proved tricky because of my poor map making skills. (If I tell Dale, “This is the tree to mark” on the satellite image, he believes me.) Genean and Joanne were not deterred in the least by my culpability, and sprinted the coarse like madwomen until they achieved their dominant victory. (Obviously, when two of your opponents are Hippity Hop and Susie, you may not want to brag too loudly.)

Sunday morning, I finally found the road to the beach and hurried to get Denise Dixon and her big truck.

“Denise, I found the road to the beach. Let’s go,” I said.

“No. Maybe next year, I just want to sit and relax this morning,” she replied.

“But Denise, you brought the 4 wheel drive and I think you can make it,” I said.

“I just don’t feel up to it,” she said.

“Denise, my mom wants to go to the beach, but the trail is too long and unsteady for her,” I said.

(Denise jumps up.)

“I’ll be ready in 5 minutes,” she said.

Oct 21 2015

Shining the Light

Posted by Mugs @ 11:52 am in Church,Family,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.

The Fearless Leader and I have been on the women’s ministry team of our church for nearly 7 years. (Can you believe it, friend?) Joanne and The Robyn were with us early, and Kristen has been a blessed addition to the team these last 2+ years. Each year, we organize a women’s retreat held in October.

We start our planning in January: finding a location, looking for available speakers, requesting budget funds to cover the cost, searching for a topic, etc. God gives us direction along the way, but His timing is not our timing. Year after year after year, it all comes together not in June as we hope, but in early October as we scramble.

This year, we found a beautiful new retreat location, and put down the deposit. Then, starting in the spring, Mary contacted speakers. She got one “No,” and a boat load of “No Reply.” After a summer of praying and pleading with God to “Please send somebody our way,”  we moved to plan B – each member of the team would teach one session during the retreat. After a few months of searching, we found a book to use for our sessions, Treasures of Encouragement by Sharon Betters. Over the course of the last year, many women in our congregation have gone through hard bits of life, loss, sorrow and sickness. We felt God’s call to encourage them. At this point our team was down to 3 members for 4 sessions.

Earlier in the summer, Mom had planned to join the Manry Clan for the September campout. She called in early August and said, “I think I’d rather come to the Women’s Retreat.”

“Great!” I replied, “Do you want to be our guest speaker?”

Thankfully, she said yes.

She had 2 1/2 months to prepare her talk, “Treasures in the Wilderness of Suffering and Loss.” She read the book and started writing down much of what she has experienced in the 4 years since Dad’s stroke. Her dear friends Karen and Debby suggested additional ideas, edited it, and typed it out for her. Somewhere along the way, we convinced my sister, Marie to join the party.

Mom arrived the week before the retreat and I helped her edit the talk. Marie arrived 2 days before the retreat, and listened to Mom read it to us in a sad mournful voice while we were sitting around my kitchen table. Marie gave me a questioning look and offered more suggestions to improve the flow and pick up the mood.

The morning of her talk, after frying the hash browns, Mom dressed in her business attire. When it was her time to present, she stood up and suddenly it was, “Thus Saith the Lord!”

God was speaking through her.

Marie looked at her in shock remembering the kitchen table from 2 days earlier. “Are you my mother?” She thought.

When Mom finished, everyone was crying, but they were good tears. Tears of belief – knowing God is seeing us through really hard things that we would rather not endure.

I have been blessed to be a witness (as I have been my entire life) to Kathy Meloch letting her light shine before men, that they may see her good works and praise her Father in heaven.

If you’re in need of a guest speaker anytime soon, just contact her booking agent, Rob Meloche who may make demands for a nice room, good coffee and not having to fry potatoes before she presents her message from the Lord.