The 22nd Of October Was A Big Deal In My Life.

I hope that got your attention. I’m starting this blog on the 21st around 1800. I’ve just finished my half of a book I am writing with my friend Rodger Ruge. Maybe writing isn’t the correct term at this point, as it was a final set of edits on my part of the work. I finished the writing a few weeks ago, with but a week’s delay from my goal because of Hurricane Ian. It’s good. I think people will like it, as it’s not my usual stuff. But more on that once we put a title and introduction on the thing and publish it, probably in time for Christmas. Still have to do the voice over for the audio book. 

I am celebrating on the patio of the hotel where I’m staying. I’ve driven to Sebring, Florida to do a 1/2 marathon in the morning. My last marathon was a tragedy of circumstances that left me finishing it about half-dead. I’d done good work training in the leadup to November of last year for the February 1/2 marathon, but then Kip was struck down with multiple emergency surgeries in late November. No training the next 30 days as I was nursing her back to health and trying to finish a couple of audio books. I started training again for real at the end of December and then got very ill with a virus for the entire month of January. I had no energy, etc. To summarize, I only got 10 days of training in before the race and it wasn’t enough.

Now, however, I really pushed to train for this race. I started Memorial Day. Kip had to come fetch me, I managed to give myself a mild heatstroke that day. But I got back on the horse and kept my training up all summer, including daily walks with an ever increasing weight in my pack. I finished that part of the training a week ago, and was doing 6 miles with a 41 pound pack in about a 20 minute per mile pace. That’s pretty good for an old guy in the summer in Florida.

I will be at the starting pen tomorrow before the sun goes up and my goal is to do the race in under 4.5 hours. That’s an hour off of my time last February and just 1 hour longer than my best time ever 20+ years ago when I was but a spry youth. 

It’s beautiful out here on the patio at the hotel, which is adjacent to the race course. Really nice place and my room has a view of the track. It would be cool to stay here during a race and watch from the balcony sometime down the road. 

I’m going to leave this until after the race. But I’m very optimistic about how it will go. I’ve been working on my physical and mental resilience for quite some time and I’m actually looking forward to this challenge.


Races in Florida start at sunup, because otherwise it’s way too hot to have any fun. This race was out in the boonies, so you parked on a gravel road and tried to walk in without breaking a leg to the starting area. This photo was snapped just as the race was about to start.

almost time to start

A few minutes later we started the race. As usual, I was the last guy in the pack. That’s okay. I have to walk these as I have a steel rod in one leg that prevents actually running. I’ve gotten used to this view of the race:

As you can tell, it was way out in the boonies. It seemed like they’d laid out subdivisions 50 years ago, put in all the roads and nobody came to live there. They advertised the course as paved and gravel, but the gravel sections, for the most part, were just paved areas that had gone to hell over the last half century. Tough footing and beat up everyone’s feet.

But perhaps the hardest part of the race was that it was a two-looper. You had to do the course twice for the 1/2 marathon, and four laps for the full marathon. So after 6.55 miles of trudging down these roads, you do it again. It’s hard to muster enthusiasm, but I actually did the second lap faster since I knew where the best footing was on the bad stretches. 

I only checked my clock once as I hit the 1/2 way point because they had a timer there I couldn’t miss. I kicked up the speed a notch and motored off.

So, by chip timing, I missed my goal by just 14 minutes. That was pretty awesome for my money. I was pleased with the result. Best of all, I’d mentioned the day before that having a finisher’s medal was a big deal. I usually get mine about 6 weeks later, since most races have run out of medals by the time I finish. A young woman hung it around my neck, handed me a water bottle, and put an ice-cold wet towel on my bald noggin. It was absolutely magnificent. Cooled me down fast after a hot final few miles. Race temperature at start was 65 and by the finish it was 80. But we had good breezes and it was tolerable. 

An actual finisher’s medal!

What’s the moral to the story? I didn’t give up in my training. I stuck with the plan through a hot summer and almost made my goal. Next race is in February and I plan to beat that goal. I can do it. It’s what I teach: resilience. 

So, I’ll be the guy with the 41 pound pack wandering on the edge of the everglades. Stop and chat if you see me.

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Joseph Courtemanche

About Joseph Courtemanche

I'm a conservative Christian author who's been happily married for over 30 years. I am a Veteran of the United States Navy, Naval Security Group. I speak a few languages, I have an absurd sense of humor and I'm proud to be an American.


The 22nd Of October Was A Big Deal In My Life. — 1 Comment

  1. ATTA BOY!!!! You have given me a goal for the future. I presently am walking 5 miles 6 days a week.