A Marathon Reminder for a Seasoned Runner

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Prologue

At this writing, 24 hours has passed since I joined thousands of people along West Palm Beach’s Intracoastal waterway to start the Fit Team Marathon of the Palm Beaches’ half and full marathon race yesterday on Sunday, December 3, 2017.

My body is still carrying on a one-sided conversation with my brain (perhaps a rant) about the abuse it has endured and how it’s still threatening a complete physical shutdown to show it means business. I’m proud of everyone that got up so early and completed their respective races, whether goals were reached or not.

Past

It has literally been well over a decade since I ran this specific race. It was the Inaugural edition in 2004 for West Palm Beach hosting its own marathon series race and it was also my first marathon ever—somehow I made the qualification for the 2005 Boston marathon which I immediately signed up for and then finished off my year of marathoning with the 30th anniversary Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in Washington, DC where my husband I are were working at the time.

“DINKs” they called us, “double income, no kids” and so completing 3 marathons in a year’s time in your twenties is not such a far-fetched idea. Upon completing that third and awe-inspiring MCM, I hung up my running shoes for a year or more to rest both body and mind. By the time I started running again along the Capitol’s mall area, it became apparent that we were about to become parents in a matter of months.

Present

After 4 pregnancies in my life, blessed with three miraculous births of our children in their own respective arrivals—a seasoned runner as myself felt it was time to run and give back a little in the process. The result became a plan to run three races in three months time.

This fall I had decided to sign up again with the local Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to raise money while I prepared with our Palm Beach Chapter team to run in the Marine Corps 10K in October.   Since I was able to run some long runs with our team members who were taking on the Marine Corps Marathon, I heard we had the Marathon of the Palm Beaches again in town after a 2-year absence and signed up for the December race. At the same time, old teammates of mine had rallied and we’d collectively decided to enter the Ragnar Relay South Beach race in November as a mini-reunion and reminder of how we’ve aged since our Division I collegiate career days.

The Marathon: A Possible Spiritual Exercise Regardless of Religion

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I have Greek blood in me and although I just completed my fourth marathon, I’m still in disbelief because although training helps to complete this distance—I’ve found that each and every time I run it I’m truly humbled to the core of my being. There are times I’ve been super prepared in my mileage tallies and pacing and other times like yesterday when I had a moderate amount of training but have also been balancing life’s responsibilities.

It’s never been a surprise to me that Greek legend holds the story of the man who ran to shout victory and promptly died upon doing so.   Maybe it’s a mathematical thing as the 26.2 mile distance may be very easy for some and for others literally the most difficult physical feat they’ve ever accomplished (save giving birth for women of course).

Yesterday I shared with some friends that my feet told me they hate me at mile 15. By mile 18 I was beginning to feel the twinges of various muscles in my legs getting ready to seize up. My fuel belt had lots of different sources of electrolytes, protein, caffeine and sugars to help me along but by mile 20 my stomach was closed for business and threatened to heave its contents if I tried to send anything besides water or some Gatorade its way. By the time I saw mile 25 I was so grateful that I hadn’t fallen down already and started to spontaneously cry with a bike support and old friend by my side asking if I was okay. The finish in sight with half a mile to go and evidently my body still had some liquid adrenaline left to send me through the finish line only to start bawling in relief that it was over.

It was a blessing to run and raise money for IOCC – International Christian Orthodox Charities during this particular race and wear my friend’s campaign material for her run for City Commissioner in West Palm Beach. I will admit that running for something or someone other than yourself does help when facing physical challenges—a reason why many former collegiate or professional athletes still enjoy their sport when supporting charities in their retirement.

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In addition, I cannot “tag” enough people or thank enough my own local family, including my mom Vanessa, my husband Thomas and kids, my sister Artemis and niece who were out there giving me water and encouragement that I never knew I would need as much as I did yesterday— support bike Cecilio not to be excluded of course or my dear Molly Ragsdale who has coached me in the past and my Newman sister Shannon Fox as they ran 13.1 at a good pace for my first half. There are people out there who will also never know how much their clap or cheering meant to many of us running that race—but thank you!

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Epilogue

I could write a page for every mile I ran yesterday but I’ll condense it into a couple of paragraphs describing what I observed and what philosophical reaction I have had to it all.

To the old friends and colleagues alike I saw, they ran or they were supportive, it all mattered so much. There were those I didn’t know but saw their sacrifice for charities, for family and friends and yet others running or racing in their wheelchairs because it celebrates life—that we’re all here together regardless of our backgrounds and what we’ve overcome in our respective lives.

When you’re a seasoned athlete in your sport, it may be daunting to continue past the age when it’s considered the “peak” season. Personally, I’ve been running in road races for over 30 years.

We learn even more about our strengths and priorities, however, when we venture into that unknown field beyond the youthful speed so plentiful with running and learn to see our accomplishments and that of our loved ones in a different light. We evolve to give ourselves and others grace.

Gratitude. I personally was grateful to finish this last marathon in one piece never mind that it was the slowest I’ve ever ran in this distance. I’ve recommended to family and friends alike that if they’re physically able they should consider trying to complete a marathon at least once in their lives—it’s a “time-out” like none other in life.

R.V.S.B.

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Ragnar Relay Reduction: Melbourne to South Beach, Florida

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Pardon me as this is another one of my philosophical reflections after completing a Ragnar Relay Race—technically the third I’ve participated in and the second one I completed with a majority of my University of Florida track and cross-country teammates and friends.

The Muscle Hangover

 A few days have passed since I participated in the 2017 Ragnar Relay South Beach Race. For those not familiar with this racing series, it involves teams of 6 or 12 people splitting the mileage of a major distance like the 200+ miles my team known as “In It To Win It Dos” just finished by starting in Melbourne, Florida and finishing in Miami’s South Beach.

Although it’s a relay with the mileage broken up, it still means that each individual runner has a substantial amount of mileage in three different parts. Post-Ragnar racers usually have the same hobble-waddle-like walk in the days shortly afterwards.

Our team took over 26 hours to finish this running challenge and those hours are spent in close quarters with folks in a van and involve trying to refresh and refuel one’s body several times without the luxury of space or time. In short, it’s a bit grueling and perhaps masochistic—but for someone with an athletic background, it’s familiar and in a weird way comforting to be able to still participate in something like this with others.

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Another Sort of Family

 We’ve heard of family by blood and family by Spirit (especially in religious traditions). I now propose that there is definitely another sort of sister-brotherhood to be found in having been on an athletic team with others through high school and/or college. Like anything where you spend an extended amount of time with others in close quarters and under physically stressful circumstances you’re bound to be bonded for life.

For our 2017 team “In It To Win It Dos”, we were a mixture of University of Florida teammates and high school competitors as well as an additional respectable athlete in her own right who had agreed to join us for this crazy ride of a race. Seeing each other again was a balm to the spirit and even if there was awkwardness it was only because it had been so long since we’d been in each other’s presence.

If you think about it for a moment, after you’ve known a certain set of folks for twenty years or more, there are many life moments that are traversed: Marriages, births, miscarriages, divorces, deaths of loved ones, military service, regret over not serving in the military, Olympic aspirations strived for and perhaps not reached, disappointments, victories and unexpected surprises both positive and negative.  Catching up in during the  in-between moments of the competition allowed us to share what we’ve experienced and learned thus far in our respective lives.

The Actual Race

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 In our particular team with twelve participants, it meant that we split into two vans each of six people to tackle the 200 plus miles of this Ragnar Relay South Beach. Thankfully we had planned ahead and had matching tank tops that exploited our team’s name and gator logo. We had fun with our name monikers and also numbered respectively our tops in the order we would run the legs.  Other teams would “tag” other vans with magnetic names or mottos for fun–the racing atmosphere joined all racers in a funny if not friendly camaraderie.

For a race set in mostly south Florida, it was impressive how many different weather patterns we encountered as each of the twelve team members were responsible for running three legs respectively: with various running legs going over intercoastal bridges, we had a number of runners dealing with gale force winds and rain, roads during the night with little light and lots of animal noises or whiffs of swamp gas.

Personally, my second leg involved a post-midnight 8+ mile run through my own familiar city ground but was quickly humbled when I took a fall so hard that I felt my neck and spine rattle as my left shoulder thankfully took the brunt (my face was about to take it all, thank God I was able to twist in time). Was blessed with the presence of an Army soldier as a running mate during this particular leg and he was standing over me asking “Are you okay, that was quite the face plant fall!” All I asked was that he “please pick me up”. He did and we were on our way toward the exchange point.

We had runners who encountered confusing road signs, muscle fatigue and unforeseen events. For a moment in time, we took a break from our respective work, our children, our spouses, our co-parents, and our general life routines just to participate with each other in a fabricated competition against nothing but ourselves really—and in some ways it can seem absurd, but it also was an awesome exercise to have with each other in how life can unfold.

Logistical Nightmares

Some of us on this team had run in these Ragnar Relay races before and so had a pre-conceived notion of how these things should go from a logistics standpoint. This specific race course was on its inaugural run so we were unknowingly the guinea pigs as it unfolded.

Isn’t that life though? Don’t we encounter systems in place that are supposed to take care of us but we’re disillusioned by at times?

Being with my teammates and navigating the snags along the way with the different challenges that presented themselves was also a great exercise on how to pool resources between our skill sets and know-how on the fly. It reminded me of the sort of government or corporate retreats where they organize workshops to help teams or groups of people tackle problems in a cohesive and effective manner.

That being said, Ragnar Relays may have to take note that they’ll receive a large amount of feedback concerning the South Beach race in weeks to come.

Crossing the Line

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There is an anti-climax to the end of things–like after you receive a diploma, finish a certificate program, give birth and so forth.  It’s the same after a long race like this where for hours we’ve been using our mental and physical energies in a heightened mode to achieve a great completion.

“In It To Win It Dos” didn’t win like we had hoped, there was even raw frustration about losing to a team we’ve faced before by only seconds.  We still gathered to run through the finish line for our photo shoot (I apologize publicly for being absent during that particular “finish line run” as the race had taken its toll on me and I was appreciating a non-porto-potty bathroom situation nearby).

Nevertheless, we were all reunited for our final photo together afterwards in the finish area on South Beach and deserve to feel proud that despite our places in life that we could pull together and achieve a great physical and mental accomplishment!

Until next time…

R.V.S.B.

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2014 Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame: A Reflection

Note: I credit both The Palm Beach Post for the news link and photo (Bill Ingram)Image,

as well as Palm Beach Sports Commission (www.palmbeachsports.com) for the detailed information on the 2014 Induction Class.

The Morning After

The morning after most big life events can evoke a mixed slurry of both euphoric and bittersweet emotions.  This past Monday I awoke to gray skies here in south Florida with slivers of pink and lavender tones to the east signaling dawn’s arrival–the rain would begin softly and go on to run intervals throughout the rest of the day.

Intervals. How many intervals of some distance or another have I run in my lifetime up to this point?  The seasons of my sport blend into the shifts of my life seasons from a little prep school runner to a student-athlete representing the University of Florida Gators to a young wife of a seminarian to Capitol Hill and U.S. Treasury mini-careers to a CEO of the Home including working as homeschool teacher of young children.

Reflections On Fellow Inductees

After the initial phone call a few months ago when I was informed about my inclusion in the Inductee Class of 2014 for the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame, I was curious to know about the other inductees.  This past Sunday evening I was genuinely humbled to be in the company of not only some past honorees but my current class. The following reflection is for each one inducted:

  • Reidel Anthony:  What a blessing to be inducted alongside a fellow Florida Gator! That you were able to achieve such great stats in a short period of time shows what a great drive and understanding you have of your sport. Proud of your personal accomplishments and now as a coach giving back and helping the next generation find their footing as rising student-athletes.
  • Randy O’Neal:  Your baseball career is outstanding and reflects that you not only respected your sport but understood the importance of higher education and collegiate athletic training.  What impressed me the most was that in your speech’s mention that one of the times you learned the most was when you were in a limbo situation during your baseball career–essentially alluding to the fact that we often glean wisdom from our moments of adversity.  This is so important to remind young student-atheletes about as unforeseen difficulties can abound as they forge into their respective careers.
  • Donald Blaze Thompson:  I meant what I said about Coach Harry Howell in my speech the other evening, that he was like a father to me and such–I believe it’s priceless what likely you are to many, if not all, of your players as not only a successful coach in the game of football, but as a mentor on life itself as they go forward from school to the next step.
  • Vincent Bogdanski:  What an honor to meet a fellow Cardinal Newman Crusader and see you recognized for an exceptional sports career that included football, tennis, golf and basketball.  Your focus on academic achievement was reflective in your college choice and yet it’s exciting to learn that you were able to compete for Georgetown in football and then later represent the U.S. Air Force in tennis.
  • Pete and Alice Dye:  Honestly I’m just beginning to learn about the game of golf–it was a revealing education to read about both your accomplishments in and your contributions to the sport.  It is wonderful to see such great team that between the two has designed just under 100 courses that are known as “golf’s best” and because of Alice has been taking “the women’s game into account” by standing on site and helping oversee the construction.

Nutshell Conclusion

The entire event was a great testament to the sports accomplishments of Palm Beach County in general and I was happy to see the various high school student-athletes recognized: Rasheeda McAdoo in Tennis and Jesse Stephanos in Wrestling–including other outstanding persons like Malachi Knowles with Inner City Youth Golfer’s, Inc and Special Olympics Athlete of the Year Bridget Manken.  Amateur Athlete of the Year Tre Mason, Professional Athlete of the Year Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Andrews-Ceravolo High School Coach of the Year, Jack Daniels with William T. Dwyer.  Congratulations to everyone mentioned or missed!

Grateful and Onward

Personally this event was a gift to help take a pause and look back for a moment before heading onward again–as I said, it is impossible to truly thank everyone who has been part of my personal triumphs (as well as perserverance through times of difficulty).  It’s common to say that the people who are part of your life’s journey resemble links in a chain.  However, I would offer that from my experience during childhood through to the present tells the story of family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers resembling threads woven into an elaborate tapestry representing my life.  Thank you and God’s blessings to all who have been, are and will be a part of my life.

R.V.S.Bean

The Palm Beach Post link: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/photo/sports/reidel-anthony-proud-product-of-the-muck-enters-pa/p9RKw/

 

 

 

 

 

Race Review: Why, Where and What is Ragnar Relays Race Series?

Team photo post-race

RAGNAR RELAYS 2013

Reflections Intro

Although I am still nursing a destroyed body inside and out–I find myself looking forward to the next opportunity to compete in a relay race as I did this past weekend at the Ragnar Relay series race that featured a route from Miami to Key West, Florida.  This was a 197 mile journey that in my case was split up by 12 runners on a team with the support of 2 vans.  Our team’s name was “In It to Win It” and finish 2nd in our sub-masters division with a time of 26:49.

What is Ragnar?

The best way to start reading up on this racing series is to visit their website at http://www.ragnarrelay.com .  My yeoman’s explanation is that this is a pretty well-organized race given its scope and does require that participants run the course at their own risk as roads are not closed for this event.  Along the way there are barricades and some race event folks that are at key intersections or shifts in the course–still, there are the occasional lost runners and I was nearly one of those a couple of times during our event this past weekend.  Teams may consist of 6 or 12 people and they are assigned respective running legs (3-12 miles appx) throughout the course to help share the load of competition.

Where Do We Run?

The Ragnar Relay series has different races throughout the country during the year in beautiful places like Napa Valley, Arizona and of course Florida!  I can speak for the Miami-Key West route:  it was a nice blend of city life both scenic and cultural (whether it was ritzy or ghetto) and rural, farm or swampy canal backwoods.  As my team began at 2:oopm on Friday, January 4 and we finished the next day at 4:49pm, we ran overnight with safety measures like reflective vests, headlamps and back lights.  I thought maybe this was a little extreme–until I found myself running at night in pitch darkness by myself unable to see the next runner in front of me.

Why Do Such a Crazy Thing?

Unless you are a runner, it’s nearly impossible to explain to you how amazing and fun this experience is despite the sleeplessness, the port-a-johns and funky smells from the constant sweat and endless miles.

I personally did 4 legs and was grateful for the chance to participate in this event even with the short notice–I was called a few weeks ago and asked if I would be interested and I immediately said yes to my former University of Florida teammate.  It was awesome to compete again with 3 former teammates from my lady Gator days and it was a bonus to meet other athletes and be instant teammates through this race.

Some people like to find their inner peace through a quiet state of meditation or prayer in a private place.  My personal moment of truth in my spirit was found somewhere during my 3rd leg of 8.8 miles (the 13th leg) that included a portion of the run that couldn’t have van support.  The severe potholes and width of maybe 12 feet in some parts of a gravel path through Florida vegetation made it obvious why I found myself alone running (or sprinting for a prolonged period of time) and searching my mind for distraction from the paralyzing fear that threatened.

I was able to focus on what matters to me in my life and to think about love for others–before I knew it the nearly 9 mile leg was over as my thoughts had transformed to understand that although my body ached with pain and fatigue, I knew my mind could tell my legs otherwise and push forward.

Respect for Ragnar Competitors

It was especially inspiring to be around other teams who had fun names and messages scrawled on their vans: examples included Prom Dates, Boners and No Dudes 12 Boobs.  When I was running through some stretches I would hear vans beeping their support in addition to our team and it was very helpful. I tried to repay the favor when driving our van for others and if we saw a runner in distress we would check if they needed water or Gatorade from our stash.  Even the early morning breakfast at a random IHOP on the road yielded a feeling of fellowship with other teams who were also trying to catch their breath before the next series of legs.

When is the Next One?

Honestly, I’m hooked after competing this past weekend–what a great idea for former cross-country and track teammates from school days, co-workers, running clubs or just a hodge-podge of people like our team “In It to Win It” was comprised of to work together.  This type of event can bring both the best and the worst out of people.  What better analogy of life to work through with others while having fun and accomplishing the simple but amazing feat of completing a nearly 200 mile race!

Happy Trails,

R.V.S.B.

Reflection: Gator Teammates Always

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Gator Reflection

This past week I had the honor of attending  the 2012 University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame Induction ceremony and banquet in Gainesville, Florida.  I was in my Alma Mater town for a mere 5 hours and yet the experience was so impressive that I wanted to share in a short post with my fellow Gators and even non-Gator others as what I experienced can be parallelled in other people/circumstances.

When I reflect on my collegiate years it was a mini-career in academics and athletics that provided me a framework to work off of as I barrelled through the rest of my twenties and onward in life.  Moreover, the friendships and colleagues I accumulated in those years also influenced my social trajectory.

Being back on campus this past Friday, I was immediately slammed with the shadow of the life that was when I was there as it was paled by the stark reality of the present moment.  I remembered the spring alumni weekend as it was when I was a student-athlete there and was seeing folks dressed in black tie formal entering the Ben Hill Griffith football stadium for some event (Hall of Fame banquet) that on this particular evening I was attending in my long dress with baby in tow.

Meeting up with my lady Gator teammates was a refreshing familiarity that made it seem as if no time had passed by except for the funny details like marriages, children, careers, break-ups and the countless other things we’ve respectively thrived in and endured in the decade or more since we all went our separate ways.

Upon entering the Touchdown Terrace in the football stadium, a surreal buzz came on while greeting my former coach and teammates and seeing so many faces I recognized from those Gator days and now here we were all dressed and grown-up!  I came for my Gator sister track and cross-country teammate Hazel Clark Riley as she was being inducted into our Hall of Fame.  It was an added treat to witness other Gator greats like Alex Brown, Udonis Haslem, Jeff Morrison,  Stephanie Nickitas and Abby Wambach also get inducted–these were fellow student-athletes whom I crossed paths with during the same years at UF by way of our weight room, Gator dining, sharing the same athletic facilities and split moments like exchanging words of congrats in the hallways where we all passed through during our time together.

Everyone’s acceptance speech had a similar thread of common truth–we all had gone on after our Gator days to compete in our sports professionally or to other professions like corporate work, military, government, education, raising families, coaching et cetera but our hearts had always stayed true to what we forged in our collegiate days.  Certainly there is an obvious Gator alumni pride but for many of us there is also brother/sisterhood that we still foster and cherish no matter where our respective lives take us.

Hazel’s acceptance speech hit the tone right on: part of us is ready to suit up again in our Gator uniform and jump back into the race/game and at the same time we are grateful as we continue to grow and navigate our newest adventures in life to embrace what those years together gave us.  We’ll always be teammates from that time together and whether or not we stay in touch I feel that we are able to pick up from where we left off.

Perhaps I’m a little over-optimistic in this topic but I can’t deny that I was so overwhelmed with joy to see Gator teammates that evening and even to link up over the social media tools to celebrate a Gator sister.  Life in general can be like this for us when we bond with others over a common goal and regardless of our differences achieve greatness and endure failures as well.  For instance, our track and cross-country team during the late 1990s and early aughts saw some amazing victories and some painful disappointments—but it made our time together solid and real which we will always have as a memory and a foundation for future rendezvous.

In closing of this personal reflection I’d like to post a poem I wrote as a fledgling college sophomore during one of our UF cross-country seasons.  Congratulations again to Hazel (Peachy) Clark Riley and our other Gators for their 2012 induction into UF Athletic Hall of Fame!

Ramona V. Saridakis Bean

“Workout”    10.1.1997

Heat is beating down on me,

through my sweat I can hardly see.

Blood is rushing in my legs,

heart is pumping way too quick.

My muscles are screaming for relief,

have to stand more of this heat?

The air is thickened with fatigue-

I look at my teammates and believe

they are tired, just like me

in this humid, hilly feat.

Coach gives the signal…

…and we’re off!

One more repeat…

…this is rough!

Once we’ve finished

we soak up water

like the driest desert sand

and congratulate each other

with a clasp of the hand.

The workout is finished,

there’s no more to run.

Yes, no more to run

’till tomorrow’s one.

R.V.Saridakis

Naked Run

Tonight I ran naked. To be specific: without any sort of electronic technology on my person. I ran away from the ipod playlists that I usually end up skipping through to find the current song of my heart.  My hands were free from taking turns holding my Blackberry phone that I’d try to peek at to see if I missed a call, text or email from anybody.

As I ran through the dark streets of the neighborhood that I reside in, I could hear everything including the crickets screaming out in their respective songs.  No moon in the sky and so I could make out many stars sparkling.  I felt the cool evening air filling my tired lungs, my skin and muscles tightening and relaxing as I tried to find my run’s rhythm pace.

It’s been so long since I ran free like this-alone and quiet-and yet so rich in the experience of the run itself. The human body in its most free mode of land-locked flight. No one could reach me and my heart soared in the raw feeling of this temporary escape.

By the end of my run I felt refreshed even though my physical heart was thundering in my ears, my thighs weak with the weight of soreness throughout.  I felt the breeze in my scalp like a gentle massage helping any troubles from the day tumble away. My heart within was singing its own song rendition.

I advocate this type of running.  To each his or her own of course.  However, if you can’t remember the last time you ran unfettered from wires and wireless signals, I recommend you try it once in a while as a detox for your body and spirit.

RVSB

Florida’s QB Tim Tebow is the Real Deal

Go Gators!

On a lighter note, my husband, son and I had the joy of hanging out with hundreds of other Florida Gators at the Downtown at Palm Beach Gardens this past Saturday.

Tim Tebow was in town on behalf of his Foundation and in exchange for a fee you could get a personal autograph and/or photo with him.  $160 for autograph and $75 for a photo, some package deals available as well.  At first this seemed to be quite the stiff fee but then when I thought about it, I told my husband it probably would be a worthy cause and we’d have a fun photo in our family lore.

Initially I sent my husband and son T.A. to go get the ticket and planned that they would go together for the photo.  Once Saturday came around, however, I started to feel my Gator orange and blue pulse and wanted to be a part of it!

Our photo group ticket was scheduled for around 3pm, but when we arrived at the open court area we sensed that it may be a while longer.

It was a sight akin to a small carnival: there were tents with tables representing various local businesses, games and activities like a bounce house for the kids, guys walking around making balloon animals and orange and blue laden folks everywhere as far as the eye could reach in a 360 degree area.

We approached the line of being “on deck” waiting and found out that they were still working through the autograph groups (they were before the photographs).  Judging by the group number (3) for autographs and acknowledging that we were group 6 of photographs, we took T.A. and sought out the bounce house by A Latte Fun.

While helping our son mitigate the most adult-type of waiting time, we got to chat with other fellow Gators.  We began to hear all the stories that were already unfolding from events earlier that day.  There was evidently a Gator Walk where Tim Tebow walked for the Foundation along with other Gators and he was careful to make sure he greeted everyone in the group.  Those who had received autographs already were more than happy to wait for the photograph they also purchased because it meant sealing a great experience that had begun with a most personal autograph session.

The refrain we kept hearing was that Tebow was the “real deal”, he genuinely gave his attention individually to everyone, he helped people onstage, he had a great sense of humor as he gladly participated in fun poses with some people like doing a Heisman pose or faking a football move.

One story that made a national cable news hit this past Monday was about a guy who gave Tebow his engagement ring (which Tebow held for a good 45 minutes before the guy and his girl arrived at the head of the line). When the couple approached, Tebow literally pulled out the ring box and opened it in front of them. The girl dropped her mouth as her boyfriend dropped to his knee and proposed to her in front of Tebow.  Of all the shouts and whoos we heard that day, it was the loudest feedback from the crowd when this couple and their engagement was performed in front of Tebow. The jokes were consistent afterwards that they should have just had Tebow preside as minister for an impromptu wedding ceremony while they were at it!

It was nearly 7pm by the time our photo group finally was ready to be seen for a photograph with Tebow.  Mind you, the event itself was supposed to last from 1-5pm that Saturday.  Thankfully, Tebow was determined to honor all tickets and even though you could tell he was getting a little tired, he had hardly taken any breaks during the day-he is a strong football player and could see a prolonged autograph/photo session through.

Our son T.A. was also a trooper. We’d exhausted all the kid activities, most tents were now gone, the kitchen store Sur La Table had witnessed our presence multiple times (I bought some measuring cups on sale to at least say thanks for tolerating my pot and pan fanatic son), we’d treated him to some chamomile tea and even ice cream.  We’d continued to show him the lines, the stage where the action was at and every time we mentioned Tim Tebow, he’d point to the football posters abounding in that area and say “boom!” while pushing his hands forward in an almost tackling motion.

We made it to the front finally and Tebow warmly greeted us. I had brought my Gator cross-country and track gear and greeted him as a fellow jock. T.A was placed next to him in my arms and we had a couple of photos taken. We noticed that the photographer was very nice and attentive to our son which we appreciated as we knew this guy had the longest day of work going on as well. We shook hands with Tebow again and congratulated him, I thanked him for being a great Christian witness and he was very humble in his gracious response.

Yes, Tim Tebow is the real deal. We wish him the best in all his endeavors, whether they be football, people, family and life in general.

RVSB

Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"