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Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by ColdCat, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. ColdCat

    ColdCat Well-Known Member

    Chuck Rodewald knew exactly where he wanted to be Oct. 7.
    The Sedalia runner registered in February to run in the Chicago Marathon, his first attempt at running 26.2 miles.
    “I fought off the idea,” he said. “A lot of my running friends ran them. It’s going to be too hard on this old man’s body. I’m 55 years old. They said, ‘just do a half marathon’ so I did. Then it was ‘do a marathon.’”
    But three days before the race Rodewald’s mind was on anything but running. On Oct. 4 Rodewald lost his wife Cynthia — known to friends as ‘Chi’ — to brain cancer.
    “I had all of the arraingements already made for her and I’m thinking this is going to be a tough weekend,” he said. “I had taken off work so I didn’t have that to keep my mind off things. I was basically looking at sitting at home by myself for the whole weekend. The fact that I knew she’d want me to and that I’d trained so long and hard for it, I thought this could be my tribute to her.”
    So three days after losing his wife, Rodewald and a friend headed for Chicago to stick to the plan of running in a marathon.
    But now Rodewald had a new focus.
    “The true motivation came in running it in her honor,” he said. “There was no way that I was going to slow down. It wasn’t an option. Most people hit the wall around mile 20. I was just so focused that wasn’t even a possibility. I even told myself at mile 20 I was going to speed up. I’m going to get my kick started at mile 20 and my last six miles are going to be faster and I held true to that.”
    Rodewald hoped to finish in less than four hours. He finished in 3:40. Of the more than 37,000 runners, he placed 7,628. In his age group he finished 194th.
    Not bad for someone who has only been running for a little over two years.
    “I started in February of 2010,” he said. “I’d never run in my life. I played a little bit of basketball in high school. I’d never taken up any kind of jogging of any kind. I just decided to start running to lose a little bit of weight. I started with a mile and within a week or two I gradually increased it.”
    Some friends encouraged him to enter the Lub Dub 5k in Sedalia in 2010. He finished 49th.
    “From that point on I was hooked on running,” he said. “I loved it, the whole idea of it, everything about it. I just couldn’t get enough of it and I tried to enter as many races as I could. I trained hard and I never quit.”
    A year after entering his first competitive race, Rodewald was back for the Lub Dub 5k in 2011. This time he won with a time of 21:55 with his wife cheering him on.
    “The second Lub Dub race she was screaming ‘that’s my husband, that’s my husband,’” he said. “I was even surprised too that I was able to get first place. That’s quite an accomplishment for this area. There are a lot of fast runners in this area.”
    Since then he has raced in 41 races from 5k to half marathons to Chicago. He has medaled 35 times.
    The sport he took up for fittness paid off. He lost 25 pounds and lowered his blood pressure and cholesterol. He works and trains hard and began eating right.
    “I haven’t drank soda for year,” he said. “I eat more for running now.”
    More experienced racers have given him advice. He even went to a running clinic in Columbia that taught him how to run more effenciently and avoid injuries.
    Rodewald even joined the local running group the Sedalia Striders. The group’s 128 members encourage each other every step of the way and Rodewald goes on training runs with them from time to time.
    But his biggest supporter was Chi.
    “She was very supportive,” Rodewald said. “She was my biggest fan. She’d been with me all along with this training.”
    Rodewald ran a half marathon in St. Louis, finishing in 1:41. From there he began an 18 week training program to ready himself for Chicago.
    “You decide what you feel you can run for a pace for the whole race,” he said. “Once you detirmine that, every week you have a pace run and you practice that until it becomes so natural to you that you don’t even have to check your GPS any more. It’s just your natural rhythm. I got into that comfortable pace. I was trying to go for nine minutes and it got to be where it was more comfortable, it was easier for me to run a little bit faster so then I got down to a 8:45 average.”
    But once race day rolled around, the marathon was more than just a run to Rodewald.
    “It was going to be a deal where I could get through a few days without having to focus on my loss,” he said.
    Rodewald said once he actually got on the course and could focus on running he just felt free.
    “I was just smiling and just racing,” he said. “I was having the best time in the world. I could feel it and I knew I was going to make it.”
    He met some other runners that morning and ran with them, chatting with them the whole time.
    “It just went so fast,” he said. “Three hours and 40 minutes seemed like the blink of an eye. I just felt so strong. I was trying to hold back through mile 10 and 13. I didn’t want to hit the wall but then I realized you just need to go faster so then I stepped it up.”
    The first few 5k intervals he was running at around 27 minutes. Then halfway through the race he sped up.
    “The wall is what scares everybody,” he said. “To be honest I was terrified of the wall until my wife passed. Then it was like I had the inspiriation. There was no way that was going to happen. A marathon is probably a good 75-80% mental. You train your body. You get ready physically, but if you don’t have the right mental approach you’re not going to make it and if you tell yourself that you’re going to hit the wall, you probably will. You have to have a good mental focus on it when you go into it and you have to be willing to run through a little bit of pain.”
    Making one last kick at the 20-mile mark, he approached the finish line in Grant Park, knowing that for once Chi would not be there waiting for him.
    “It was mixed feelings in that I knew she was actually with me,” he said. “I could feel her pressense.”
    He said he was sore for three days after the race. He wasn’t sore at all during it.
    “I could feel her pushing me and she motivated me and inspired me,” he said.
    Rodewald hasn’t stopped running since reaching the finish line in Chicago.
    “It’s really been a blessing for me since my wife passed to keep my head on, go out and run,” he said. “It kind of keeps me level. It’s always been a good stress release. I don’t know if a lot of people understood that or not, but people that run understood it. They know how much of a stress release it is and they knew my wife and they knew how much she supported me. In my mind it was no question it was the right decision even though it was so close to her death but it was all for her.”
    Now he has new goals. He wants to break the 21 minute mark in a 5k, something he has come close to doing many times.
    “I’ve gotten within five or six seconds I don’t know how many times,” he said. “I still can’t break 21. It’s going to happen, especially if I go back into short distance training.”
    He is also six minutes off qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
    “We’re only talking a few seconds,” he said. “I can do it. I know I can. If I don’t get it on my next marathon, I’ll definately get it on my third marathon.”
  2. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    Good story. The quotes are a bit much, but they are all pretty good and tell the story. I think you could have paraphrased some of the quotes and told more of the story yourself, but it was a good read.
  3. the_zuniga

    the_zuniga New Member

    Nice work.

    I definitely agree with BDC99. As the end of your article approaches, every other sentence is a quote. Remember, although this is his story, it's yours to tell. Make it yours!

    Another thing to consider is mixing up your word choice. Specifically:

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