Most of you who read my blog probably know that recently, Matt took on the challenge of running a marathon. He found out about the Bataan Memorial Death March from a few guys at work who were planning on running it. This marathon is not run on typical terrain. Instead of flat asphalt, it is sometimes rocky, sometimes sandy with lots of up and down on the hills. So it was a rough choice for a first marathon. But he was dedicated. Throughout his training he kept in mind the two men he intended to honor with his march.. The first is John Vernon Mullins. He fought with the Marine Corps at Okinawa and Peleliu in WW2. Matt also honored his cousin Luther Ragsdale who was a Bataan survivor. He passed away in 1995. Having these two men in mind along with all of the others who have served our country made this race so much more meaningful for him.
Matt was nervous for weeks before the march. I was nervous too. When the march weekend came around, we made a big trip of it. We got to visit some NM family and got to see so many beautiful places across the state. The morning of the march Matt left us in the hotel at 4:00 in the morning to drive out to White Sands Missile Range where the march was set to start at 6:30am. He texted me at 7:15am to tell me that he was finally running. I felt nauseous.
The kids and I slept in, had breakfast, packed up the car and prayed continuously for our daddy. We had a relaxing morning and left at 11:00 to meet Matt at the march. While we were on the road Matt called to say he was done with mile 20! I couldn't believe he could still talk! He told me that he was running along the road that we would be driving in on so we should look for him. We were driving behind Matt's dad and grandparents so I called them and told them to watch for him! We drove slowly past the long line of marchers and never saw Matt. As my eyes followed the crowd up the trail I saw a dot way up on the top of the hill. The dot started waving. It was Matt!!! I stuck my arm out of the window and waved like a crazy person. We pulled over to watch him and realized that he was not running away from us with the rest of the crowd but he was running towards us!
Matt's grandmother was upset. She said, "No Matt! You little dummy! Keep going!" I laughed and told the kids to run. As we ran to meet our daddy, I started snapping pictures.
|Can you see Matt? He is running to his kids. Beautiful.|
|Zaddok made it first.|
|We were so happy to see him!|
|He later told me that he was getting very tired at that point. He said that seeing us gave him renewed energy to push through.|
|His dad Rod, came over to hug him before he ran off to join the others.|
|Bye honey! You're almost there! We are praying!|
|The next time we saw him was here, at the finish line. He is running with his buddy Byron. We were yelling for him and he was looking for us.|
|They crossed with cheers from the crowd! I know the people in the background don't look very excited but the atmosphere was awesome. Everyone was cheering for the marchers coming across the line.|
|Here, he is so happy to be done!|
|He immediately grabbed up his baby boy.|
|Zaddok stuck by his daddy's side.|
|These were a few of Matt's work buddies that ran the race.|
|This was right after Grandmother told Matt what a little dummy he was for running back down to us. She is so funny. She couldn't stand that he had done that. I think she was worried about him. I love that lady.|
|This is a tear-jerker. Matt ran his heart out to honor this man. He is John Vernon Mullins to the world but Popper to us.|
|He gave Matt his thumbs-up seal of approval. Aren't they handsome? We were all so proud of Matt. It was an inspiring day.|