My running partner died today. Please pray... (Read 2871 times)

    Once again - much gratitude and love from each of YOU.  


    Mike was 46 years old.  Married 23 years to his lovely wife, father of 2 beautiful kids.  A 20 year old son, 16 year old daughter.  
    He was a pilot for Continental Airlines - but it was just a job.  He was so much more passionate about spending time with his family and volunteering his time with the High School Ministry at our church.

    He's an Air Force Academy grad ('88).  Flew for the Air Force for about 10 years until he went commercial, flying 767's.  His routine routes were to London, Paris, Munich.  I loved asking him about his job - there just seems to be something glamorous about flying big planes.  He just shrugged it off - it's just a job, a means to an end.  


    Our runs together were filled with great conversations, stupid jokes, farts, snot shots, and true confessions.  There's something about distance running that helps people drop their guard and become completely vulnerable with each other.  There's a trust factor - what's talked about on a run stays there, right? 


    Man - he loved talking about his wife and kids while running.  He was a wonderful dad.  Crazy about his wife.  And it wasn't just talk or empty words.  They knew how much they were adored by him.  


    He also gave a lot of his time volunteering at our church.  I'm a Youth Pastor, and his wife is my administrative assistant.  He was one of the volunteer leaders under my care.  He loved hanging out with our high schoolers.  Most people are afraid of teenagers, or at least have something pretty negative to say about them.  Not Mike - he loved them.  Gave huge hugs to all of 'em.  Spent time with them, helping them navigate through the muddy waters of adolescence.  He loved Jesus - and it showed in all he did.



    So we were training for the Marine Corps Marathon in October.  We are also signed up to run Huntington Beach Marathon in Feb.  


    Saturday was our long run day since we are both pretty busy on Sundays.  He usually kept his flight schedule clear on weekends so we would do our  weekly runs on our own, but rarely missed our Saturdays.  

    We were scheduled for 13.  He found a route that we hadn't ever run, looking to shake things up.  We hit start on our Garmins at 6:01 and started off.  What a morning.  For PA, August means humid and hazy and frikkin' hot.  But Saturday morning was about 55 degrees with a sweet fog lifting off the ground as the lights were coming on.  It was a perfect morning for a run.  


    Now prior to our run he had told me in previous weeks that he would feel a tightness in his chest at mile 1 - but it would ease up within 3/4 of a mile.  I gave him that "look" - to which he said, "I know...I should get it checked."  But we are all athletes - we know what endurance running does - the body never feels perfect.  There's always something pinched, sore, tight, aching...


    Anyway - mile one comes and he says, "Yep - there it is..."  We continued and a few moments later he said it was gone.


    We hit mile 5 and he told me that at mile 6 he'd want to pause for a gel and some drink.  We hit mile 6, he pushed on.  

    Mile 7 he stopped for a gel, a couple swigs of water, and we pushed on.  


    Mile 7.5 he told me one of his worst jokes.  I'll spare you.


    Mile 8 was on a hill.  I was 5 paces in front of him and heard, "Whoa...."  I turned around and he was walking, saying "I looked down at my feet, looked up, and everything was shifting side to side."  I told him to take his time - we could walk a bit.  He started running again and said he's fine.


    1/4 mile later, we took a right turn, starting our descent.  


    He turned the corner, about 10 paces back from me.  


    I heard "O shit."


    I turned around to see him standing still, knees wobbling.  I screamed "MIKE!!  SIT DOWN NOW!!"


    His eyes rolled up  and he fell to his left onto the shoulder of the road.  Hard.  I ran over to see him having a violent heart attack.  I stayed with him for a bit, then saw a car coming and ran to try to flag it down.  It never saw me.  I ran back to him, tried to help more, then ran up to the house off the road.  Some poor 13 year old boy answered and I screamed to call 911. 

    (You can see my log from that day...running in zig-zags trying to figure out what to do...)

    Ran back to Mike... watched him breathe his last breath.  It was not real.  I was doing CPR - but I don't know CPR.  (The night before I told my wife I need to get certified.)  


    The ambulance finally came.  I called his wife - "Mike passed out and we're in an ambulance on the way to the hospital...can you come?"  Then I called my wife - "I think Mike is dead....."  



    Not sure what else to write.  


    Some of you pressed on me not to give up on running.  I couldn't.  I know Mike would be pissed if I did.  But it'll be a LONG time before i run with anyone.  So I will keep running - but I think it'll take on a new meaning for me.


    I laced up my shoes on Sunday and my wife asked  what I was doing.  "I'm going to finish what Mike and I started."  I tried.  I got to the spot and was done.  


    Thanks for reading.  This isn't easy for me.  As a pastor, I'm usually the one on the other side, counseling and helping others through crisis.  I don't like being on that side, but this side sucks so much more.  


    Again - I can't say thanks enough for reading and for your words of encouragement. 


      .......I read this sitting at my desk ......... and cried.

      If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot run," then by all means RUN, and the voice will be silenced.


      Jiggle Monster


        Thanks for sharing. He sure sounded like a wonderful friend, husband and father. 


        Continued prayers for you all.

        "He conquers who endures" - Persius
        "Every workout should have a purpose. Every purpose should link back to achieving a training objective." - Spaniel

        Feeling the growl again

          He sounds like someone who made the very most of the time he was given here.  I would have liked to have known him, I think. 


          As bad as I feel for you that you had to go through this, at least Mike had a good friend there with him.  We can't always perform medical miracles, but he knew you were there for him.  Best of luck with your healing process.  Hopefully one day soon you can finish that loop for him.

          "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand


          I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills


            Yeah, reading that, my eyes kinda teared up a little bit. And I'm pretty much an uncaring* SOB.



            *Except regarding cats and some dogs.

              What a huge loss for you and for so many others.  Best wishes.

              Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject. - S.J.

                Thanks for sharing that Mark.





                Princess Cancer Pants

                  .......I read this sitting at my desk ......... and cried.


                  Me too.  Mark, I am so sorry.  We lost a great guy.  We need to stop losing great guys.  I feel such sorrow for all who are now mourning his loss.  Props to you for being there for him and honoring his life by continuing to run.

                  '17 Goals:

                  • Chemo

                  • Chemo-Radiation

                  • Surgery

                  • Return to kicking my own ass by 2018


                  She was not strong. She was valiant. Radiant. Brave and broken. The beauty she discovered in the aftermath was unparalleled to anything she had known before, because it had come at such a cost.

                  ~ Unknown

                    Thanks for sharing Mark, so sorry. You and Mike's family are in our prayers

                    2013 Goals
                    1) Break 1:50 in a HM (PR 1:52:19)
                    2) Break 4:00 in a Marathon (PR 4:20:39)

                      I forgot to share this bit...


                      The coroner decided to do an autopsy.  Because of his age, great health (physicals for the airline every 6 months), and sudden death, they wanted to see what exactly happened.  In case of heart disease, etc for his kid's sake.

                      I found out today that the autopsy revealed a massive heart attack (duh).  But the comfort was that the doctors said there's nothing anyone could have done.  There are huge lies that scream in my head about what I could have/should have done...


                      They also said that as soon as he fell over he was done.  Even if there were violent gasps for air, he was gone.  So that brings comfort to his family to know that he didn't suffer.  There's no physical awareness at that pain.  Thank God.


                      Oh yeah - and I meant to describe him in this way, too.  I always called him Tony Horton, the P90X guy.  He looked like that gives you some frame of reference.  Smile

                      He was a stud.

                        Mark, thank you for sharing more about your dear friend.  For what it's worth, I benefited from what you've shared. 

                        "If you have the fire, run..." -John Climacus

                        Jeff F

                        Free Beer

                          Mark, I am at a loss for words.  All I can say is that you and his family are in my thoughts and prayers.  Thank you for sharing his story, that will help us keep his spirit alive.  Yes, most of those AFA grads are studs but not all of them continue that into their 40's like he did.

                            Thanks for sharing.  You articulated it so well I felt like I was out there with you for the run.  It has to be tough, but I'm thankful you have the examiner's report saying there's nothing you could have done.  It seems to me that would be the worst part of the whole thing, trying to figure out what you could have done differently.  Sometimes there is just nothing you can do, and hopefully you'll find some peace in knowing that - especially since you have to face his wife at work every day.  Continued prayers for you and his entire family and circle of friends.

                            Team 9 from Outer Space

                              Mark, thanks for sharing about your friend. I think a bit of Mike with be with each of us the next time we go out to run after reading your words about him. We should all be so blessed to have such a good friend in our lives, even if our time with them isn't as long as we'd hoped.

                              "Don't feel like running today...suck it up and run're an athlete." (John Stanton, founder & owner of The Running Room)


                              Three half marathons later, I got a number. Half Fanatic #9292. :)

                                My thoughts are with you and all those involved.  I read your post, picked up the phone and scheduled my yearly physical.  Your loss and sharing it will help others!