The End of the Road

Today is November 14. This is the day I have been yearning for since March. This is the day after the marathon, the day I no longer have to run and sweat and hurt, the day I can drink as much sweet tea and as little water as I please, the day that marks the end of an amazing story.

We haven't posted an update over the past few weeks - mostly because of our give away contests. We wanted our contests to be front and center for anyone visiting our blog. But also, I think, we haven't posted an update because we really weren't sure what to say. These past few weeks have been difficult and emotional in ways that none of us could have expected. I've said it a hundred times and I think it's more true now than ever - there is something about sacrificing physically that causes a deep emotional response. The fact that there was a whole team of us sacrificing together caused a bond and a closeness that made that emotion even stronger.

The people on this team are the kind of friends that last for a life time - regardless of where life takes us. The kind of friends that are as close if not closer than family. The kind of friends that are rare and precious. It feels like our lives have been gradually woven together over the past months of training. We didn't really notice it happening until it was all over and now it's obvious that our story doesn't end here. This is the end of a brutal, painful, sweaty chapter but the story we are telling with our lives doesn't end here. We have more chapters to write, more adventures to brave, more stories to tell the world.

I've taken some liberty over the past months to speak for the entire team - mostly because the rest of them refuse to blog. I hope they don't mind if I write for all of us once again. (Honestly, I hope that they each write their own post about their own experiences and feelings and struggles but I'm not holding my breath. They apparently are not the blogging type.) I want to share a bit about what these past several days have been like from my perspective. Each of us has experienced different things, of course, but most of our emotions and fears and doubts and battles have been similar.

The week before the marathon was a constant battle of nerves and will. It was like a flood of panic was lying just below the surface. I could feel it constantly - beating against the walls of my chest, waiting for the slightest shift in balance to burst free and send me into a full blown panic attack. Just thinking about the upcoming marathon would cause nervous shaking or crying or nausea or all of the above. You know those dreams where you're running and something's chasing you and you can't get away - that's how I felt all day every day. The marathon was chasing me, getting closer and closer with each passing hour and I couldn't find a way out.

There was no escape.

Friday I was a complete wreck. I'm sure my pulse and blood pressure were through the roof. I could feel the anxiety like it was literally wrapping around my chest and constricting my lungs. I don't think it was the pain that I feared although I knew it would be brutal. I think I feared failure. I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to finish. Ruth and I talked on Thursday about how this was a once in a life-time thing for us. The training was so time consuming and painful and awful. We hated every minute of it. We both knew that we could never again go through the training process. This wasn't something we would get another shot at - this was it, our only chance to complete a marathon. I knew that if I failed this time, I would never have the chance to try again.

I don't like failing. The thought that I had invested so much of myself - time, energy, emotion, passion, injured feet - into something that I might not conquer was terrifying.

I drank so much water last week that I swear I peed every 20 minutes. I fully realize that you may not want to know that but drinking water and therefore peeing is a huge part of marathoning and I think it's important to share. The thing about staying hydrated during a marathon is that it starts days before. If you aren't saturated before the marathon begins you are probably going to get into trouble. So I drank and drank and drank...water, water, water and still some more water.

Saturday morning began bright and early at 4:30 am. Drank a disgusting protein shake (for the last time) and drank some more...wait for it...water! Put on my running clothes followed by several layers of other clothes because it was literally freezing. When the marathon began it was about 40 degrees. When it ended it was about 70, maybe a bit above that. So, we knew we'd shed some layers through out the day. Jeff, Mike and I drove to the marathon together.

We went to the registration tent to pick up our packets. We told the girl our names and she automatically started thumbing through the half marathon stack to look for ours. We told her we were doing the full marathon not the half then Jeff said, "I think that's a bad sign." If the volunteer automatically assumes we're doing the half just by looking at us, what exactly does that say about our chances? Not good. We were there early so we went back to the car and sat in the heat. All the other participants were jogging around or stretching or doing weird looking skip-run-hops. We sat...in the car. Again, this doesn't say much for our chances.

What it does say is that we were cold and had enough sense to stay in the warm car unlike the other crazy people who were running around in their spandex and short-shorts. At least that's what we told ourselves. By this point the nerves were out of control. I was shaking and nauseous and may have suggested that we make a break for it and just lie to everyone about actually running. I figured we were pretty good at limping these days and we could fake that no problem. We just go somewhere and disappear for about 6 hours, come back, fake a limp and we'd be golden.

Only there's no way I could've faced the rest of the team. We had made a commitment to do this together. And, even though we weren't physically in the same location, we were going to follow through - together.

Go time! The cannon fired, scared my socks off, and away we went. The first 7/8 miles felt amazing. I usually hate those first few miles. My knees and legs always protest. It's always those first few miles that are mentally toughest until you reach a point when everything goes numb. It's always pain, then you get into a rhythm and numbness, then the pain comes back in the end. Well, for some unknown reason (probably all the adrenaline built up from being so nervous), those first few miles were great. I've never felt that good while running.

Then I missed an aid station. I don't know how. I just didn't see it. So I went about 5 miles without any water or electrolytes. My body shut down pretty fast. At mile 12 I was walking and my calves had cramped so badly that I thought I wouldn't even be able to do that for much longer. Thankfully a runner's aid volunteer rode past on his bike. I stopped him and asked if he had pain medicine.

Now, you aren't supposed to take pain medicine while you're running. For one, it blocks the pain so you could hurt yourself and not realize it. But, also, running is hard on the organs, the liver in particular. Pain meds are also hard on the liver. It's just best not to combine the two very often. But, I was desperate. He was so kind. He immediately stopped and said, "I've got whatever pain medicine you want." I opted for ibuprofen thinking he probably didn't really have "any" kind of pain medicine (and also something like vicodin or hydrocodone would just make me sleepy). He also gave me water which was much needed. I walked for about 10 more minutes and could literally feel my calves relaxing. I don't think I've ever felt pain medicine take effect like it did in that moment. It was amazing.

I felt great again. I ran for about four more miles and then whatever relief the ibuprofen had provided was gone. Here's the other thing about staying hydrated during a marathon, you have to STAY hydrated, there is no catching up. Missing that aid station did some damage and I wasn't going to recover. I could continue, I could hang on, I could manage, I could walk, I could not run.

Walking was brutal on my feet. When you train, your body gets used to a certain movement - in this case, running. My feet are used to the movement required for running (or, my version of running anyway). My feet are not used to walking. It hurt, excruciatingly. For the last 10 miles I jogged what few steps I could manage and then I walked as fast as I possibly could. My knees and hips no longer bent properly for running. So, I just moved, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other.

At mile 19 I lost all control over my emotions. I balled like a baby. I'm talking sobbing, snotty, tears pouring. People stopped and asked me if I was ok and all I could do was nod my head and give a thumbs up and hope they wouldn't recognize me later. That lasted for about a mile until I finally regained some sort of control.

All through this time I kept thinking about my team. I knew Mike was right behind me. He had injured his foot around mile 12 and had to walk the remaining 14 miles. It wasn't how he had planned to complete his first marathon but he didn't quit, he kept going, kept moving even in pain. Throughout this whole training process Mike has always been the slow and steady one. He doesn't get caught up in the rush of the beginning, he knows his pace and sticks to it. He runs his race regardless of what's going on around him. I'm so proud of him for sticking with it even when injured.

I knew about the time when Jeff would be finishing. Jeff's the fast one on our team. He's always standing around waiting ever so patiently for the rest of us to finish. I knew his family was coming to pick him up after the marathon but I knew he wouldn't leave us. For one, his stuff was in my car and I had the key. But, really, he wouldn't leave because he would want to be there for us. He would want to cheer for us as we ran across the finish line. He would want to be there to tell us we did a great job and that we should be proud of ourselves for finishing. We called Jeff "Coach" all through our training because he was such an encourager. Always ready with either a joke or a pat on the back depending on what we needed.

And then I thought about Ruth. Ruth was running a different marathon but at the same time. She was hours away and I missed her terribly. For months, Ruth and I have ran our long runs together, side by side, talking and laughing and pushing each other. We could run faster, farther, better when we ran together. I wished I was running with her then. When I was hurting, when I wanted to quit, when I couldn't do it I knew that if only Ruth were there I would pull through. Knowing that she was running too, even in another place, helped. I knew that I'd see her soon and we'd exchange "war stories" and we'd cry and we'd be thankful that it was over. I knew she was thinking about me and praying for me as I was for her.

When I rounded the corner at mile 26 with only .2 left to go I saw the Martin girls - Jeff's wife, Cheri, and their three girls - running toward me. Most of the people had already left. I finished an hour over the time limit. What had been a parking lot that morning was just an empty field. But Camryn and Paige and Lauren ran to meet me and cheered and walked with me for that last little bit. I lost it all over again - balling like a baby. When I crossed the finish there were a few dozen people I didn't know all standing and clapping and cheering. Cheri took pictures of me crying my eyes out. And, Jeff was waiting with my medal.

I wasn't sure I'd even get a medal. There was a six hour time limit. It took me 7 hours and 5 minutes. Jeff had gone to the people handing out medals and told them that he had two teammates still out there who had trained for 8 months and deserved to get a medal regardless of how late we finished. He demanded that they hand them over. "Coach" to the very end.

About 20 minutes later Mike rounded that last corner. He received the same welcome and cheering that I did. Only, he was much more composed than I was. He stuck with it - steady and determined every step of the way. Jeff had struggled too. He's had an ankle issue for a while. He said that this was physically and mentally the toughest thing he's ever done, but he finished. Ruth ended up having to walk about 5 miles at the end but was able to muster up the strength to run the last 100 yards or so to the finish. Ryan and Vivian ran their half marathon this morning. I know they finished well and I'm looking forward to hearing all the details of their race once they get back.

For the last few weeks I've looked forward to this day because I viewed it as an ending. Today marks the end of months and months of struggle and pain and injury and anxiousness and 6 am running in both the heat and humidity of a Tennessee summer and also the freezing cold of Tennessee fall mornings. As much as I'm thankful for this ending, I'm thankful for those difficult months. It has been a time of growth and self-discovery and bonding with friends that I wouldn't trade for anything.

What I didn't realize until today is that today is not just an ending, it's also a beginning. I think we all realize that we don't want the story to end here. The running can end here, sure. But, the time we spend together, sacrificing together for someone else can't end. This all started because we wanted to live a better story - meaning we want to live more meaningful lives. We want to live lives that have risk and love and loss and beauty and pain and hope. We want to live lives that affect people, lives that make a difference, lives that inspire - not for our own sake or for our own honor but so that through us people would see the love of God and that He alone would be glorified.

Praise God for this first chapter. I anxiously and excitedly await the chapters that lie ahead in our story.

We are still raising money for a couple more weeks. We've raised about $3500 so far. $4000 is enough to provide a well. A well means clean water for an entire community. We'd like to raise at least $500 more. We are so thankful for those that have already donated. You are part of this story too! You are the most important part. Without you this would just be a story about a race. Thanks to you, this is a story about giving clean water to communities in Africa. If you haven't donated but would like to be a part of this story with us, click the Donate tab above for more information.

Below is a video that we made to show at church this morning. It summarizes this chapter in our story and tells a bit more about why we did this. The song playing is "Something Beautiful" by NeedToBreathe. If you aren't familiar with their music, you should check them out - beautiful, beautiful music.

Also, I think you should know that during the marathon I peed in the woods...three times. I'm confident that if completing a marathon wasn't enough, peeing in the woods certifies me as a legit runner. The fact that I did it three times without "revealing myself" to anyone is just impressive.

Chrystal Murphy


Prize Give Away #2

UPDATE: Contest has ended. The winner has been notified via email. Thank you to everyone who participated by giving a donation. Your gift is already making a difference in communities on the other side of the world.

UPDATE: Contest extended through Sunday, November 14, and no limit to number of entries. See updated rules below.

Introducing Prize Give Away #2.
Once again, the reason for this running madness is to raise money and awareness for the water crisis in Africa. The leading cause of death in Africa is water-bourne disease. How crazy is it that something so common and taken for granted in America is a rare treasure to people in Africa. Just having access to clean water can completely transform an entire community.

Just $25 provides one person with clean water for life. With this second prize give away contest, we're asking you to save two lives. $50 isn't pocket change. We realize we are asking you to sacrifice. But the gift is greater than the sacrifice. You may have to give up a meal out or hold off on buying that blu-ray movie or wear last year's coat but what you would be giving is life - times two.


1. Everyone to make an online donation of $50 or more will be entered to win. Donate Here.

2. The contest will end and a winner will be randomly chosen at 11:00 pm on Sunday, November 14.

3. For the purpose of this contest, donations must be made online at the H2O Runners secure online donation page. Of course, mail in donations are always welcome but they will not be entered in the give away contest.


- Blood:Water Mission t-shirt (unisex, L)

- Active:Water water bottle

- A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller (this is the book that started this running journey, read about it here)

A $50 donation provides TWO people with clean water for life. Plus you have a 1 in 10 chance of winning a cool prize. Please take a moment to donate today and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

If you need a reminder of how great the need for clean water is and how much of a difference clean water can make to a community in Africa, take a moment to watch the video below. Then...



Prize Give Away

UPDATE: This contest is officially closed. The winner will be notified via email. Watch for Prize Give Away #2 coming soon! Thanks to all who donated - $500 was raised through this contest to provide clean water to communities in Africa.

The point of running ourselves silly is to raise money and awareness for the water crisis in Africa. Just $25 provides one person with clean water FOR LIFE. With that in mind, we are so excited to introduce our first prize give away contest!


1. The first 10 people to make an online donation of $25 or more will be entered to win.

2. The contest will end and a winner will be randomly chosen at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, November 3 (or as soon as 10 people participate, whichever comes first).

3. For the purpose of this contest, donations must be made online at the H2O Runners secure online donation page. Of course, mail in donations are always welcome, but they will not be entered in the give away contest.


Active:Water t-shirt (unisex, M) and Active:Water water bottle

A $25 donation literally saves someones life. Plus, you'll have a 1 in 10 chance of winning a cool prize. Please donate today and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Hey, if you get a couple of your family members to also make a donation you'll have much better odds of winning!

If you need a reminder of how great the need for clean water is and how big of a difference clean water can make to a community in Africa, take a few minutes to watch the video below. Then...


Coming Soon: Be on the lookout for Prize Give Away #2 which will include A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller (the book that started all this madness), a Blood:Water Mission t-shirt and an Active:Water water bottle. Rules will be the same as above except that the first 10 people to donate $50 or more will be entered to win. Details TBA.


Picture Day

We needed a new team picture. You'd think that taking a picture of six adults would be easy - one shot and done. Maybe two if somebody blinks. Then again, maybe six OTHER adults would be easy to photograph, but apparently not us. Something funky happened with the camera (that's right, funky) and it just kept snapping one after another. So here are some candid shots of our team...

We did finally get our photo. Do we look like runners?


A Talk With God...and Also My Right Foot

Today we ran our last 20 mile training run. With only three weeks left until the marathon our training runs will start to taper off so that we can rest before the big day. Our Marathon Training Schedule said we should do 20 today but leading up to this run I had planned to do 22...in 5 hours. This would be just over 13.5 minutes per mile. Doesn't sound all that fast, but for me it's pushing it - and this is the pace I'll need to maintain for the duration of the marathon if I want to finish within the time limit.

I finished the first half five minutes ahead of schedule, grabbed my apple out of the car and kept going. I felt great for the first 12 miles. I started thinking my 5 hour goal was going to be easily met. I started thinking, "I can do this."

About 10 steps before the 14 mile mark I crashed. My legs shut down. It was sudden and unexpected. My right foot, left calf, left hip, lower back and left shoulder all cramped simultaneously. I hobbled to the closest bench and sat.

I was shocked. I kept thinking, "What did I do wrong? How am I going to get going again? Am I going to finish on time? Will I be able to do 8 more miles?"

As I sat there trying to stretch my legs and not cry, God cupped his hand to my ear and whispered, "PSST! When you're done consulting yourself about yourself and YOUR problems and what YOU're going to do to remedy them you might remember that YOU CAN'T DO THIS. Not without Me. If you could do this all by yourself you'd be living a stupid story. You got into this mess because you wanted to do something big, something outside of your ability and control, something that could only be accomplished if you were entirely dependent on Me. I'm here, I will help you, but you will not be in control."

I think if I'd been able to run 22 miles in 5 hours I would've finished today thinking this marathon was going to be a piece of cake. Thinking I'd be able to do it, by myself, no problem.

I got off the bench and I walked. I couldn't run. My body was done. But I didn't quit. I made the decision to give it all I could for six more miles. I would do the scheduled 20, even if it took longer than my "goal".

From this point on my muscles were so cramped and tired that I couldn't help but laugh at myself (when I wasn't fighting back tears). Imagine if you will, an 87 year old grandmother walking along in her muumuu and house slippers. She's hunched over from the weight of gravity on her frail shoulders, clutching her walker. Now, take away the walker and speed this up by about 45% and that's what I looked like while "running". Well, I didn't have the muumuu either but you get the idea. Not pretty.

At mile 18 my right foot (the one with a detached tendon that's going to take six months to heal once this ridiculous running is over) turned and looked at me. It yelled at me through my shoe:

Right Foot: "You have two options: shut it down or hop. Because if you keep up this running I will detach myself from your leg."

Me: "Listen, we're two miles away from the car. We can't stop here or we'll be stuck here all day. We have to keep going."

Right Foot: "I'm not playing! I will jump off your body right here and now. I don't care who's watching, I'm not running another step!"

Me: "Ok, ok. Compromise. We have to finish the last two miles, but we can walk. We don't have to run."

My foot then turned back to the ground and walked on in silence. I took this to mean it had accepted my compromise.

The first time I ran 20 miles it took me 6 hours and 11 minutes. The second time took 5 hours, 23 minutes. Today I finished in 5 hours and 26 seconds. With a six hour time limit on the marathon this means I will have to add an additional 6.2 miles in only one additional hour. I will tell you right now, it ain't happenin'.

I can't.

I can't run 26.2 miles in 6 hours. Not by myself. Not with a rebellious right foot that talks back to me (audibly) and refuses to do as it's told.

You may think, "What's six more miles after you've already ran 20?" You would be wrong. Today, I couldn't have done 1 more mile, definitely not 6.2! "After 20 it's just guts that gets you to the finish." Malarkey! After 20, I don't have any guts, better be a wheel barrow that gets me to the finish.

The thought of me running at all is laughable and to actually attempt a marathon is just ridiculous. I'm not an athlete (in any form), I'm not a runner, I'm not even "in shape". But, in what can only be described as a moment of insanity, I committed to doing this. I'm running a marathon. I'm running 26.2 miles because I have the luxury of clean water at my fingertips and there are people in Africa who don't. I'm running for them.

I can't do it alone. My physical ability, amazing though it may be, isn't enough. I have to depend totally and completely on God. I know it probably sounds cliche but I mean this quite literally.

I want to leave you with a video. This is a new video from Blood:Water Mission that clearly shows the difference clean water can make in a community in Africa. Please come along side us in this story by donating. Just $25 provides one person with clean water for life! That's pretty incredible.

Chrystal Murphy

Cyanika Sector, Rwanda from Blood:Water Mission on Vimeo.


A Note of Thanks

Over the past months I've learned that running is not an individual sport. At least not for me. For one, I would have quit about 4 minutes into my training had it not been for the people running with me. But also, and perhaps more importantly, there are several people who have sacrificed their weekends right along side us so that we can train.

I should also mention that when I say "sacrificed their weekends" I mean both Friday evenings and all day on Saturdays. Yes, we only run a few hours and even on our longest days are finished by lunch time, but we have to go to bed EARLY on Friday nights. And, we're usually in so much pain after running that Saturdays are shot. So, yes, entire weekends.

Ruth has four children. Her husband, Chris, works long hours and then takes care of four kiddos so Ruth can get to be early, then run, then rest. He's also graciously eaten his weight in pasta since March.

Jeff's wife, Cheri (aka "Superwoman", aka "Greatest wife and mom ever"), had a baby this summer bringing their total number of little ones to four. She too sacrifices time with her husband, taking care of four kids by herself, so he can train.

Mike and I are blessed to have our parents close by. Grandmama and Grandpa and MomMom and Papaw have kept Mikayla every weekend since March so that we wouldn't have to get her out at 5:30 on Saturday mornings or hire a sitter to come stay with her.

Without these six people we could not do this. I'm not just saying polite words, I mean this quite literally. Chris, Cheri, Mom, Dad, Jimmy, Glenda - without your sacrifice we couldn't do this. Because of what you have given up, because of your willingness to help lives will be saved on the other side of the world. I hope you all know how thankful we are for you. We do not take for granted the time you have invested into our training.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Chrystal Murphy


A Bit of Honesty

It's been about 8 months since we started talking about "living a better story" and "getting off the couch and actually DOING something". After 8 months of running I can definitely say this was a horrible idea. (I'm laughing on the inside.)

We have four weeks left. That's it. Just four more early Saturday morning runs. I'm way past the point of being afraid or nervous or worried. I'm just ready for it to be over. I know it's going to hurt - nothing I can do about that. I know it's going to be grueling and awful and I'm going to have to argue with myself for every single step. I've accepted that this is how my relationship with running will always be and I just want to be done with it.

When we first started I naively thought that I would develop a love for running. Maybe I would be like those cool people who get up early and go run just for fun. Maybe I would find that "runner's high" somewhere around mile 12. Maybe, just maybe, I would continue running after the marathon.

Like I said, naive.

I don't know how other people do it. Our team runs the Riverwalk every Saturday morning. We've gotten to know some other runners who we see there every week. Some of them look like us - just trying to survive. But others look they are on top of the world. They are so stinkin happy about running! I just do not get it. Eight months of this and I hate it more now than ever.

I realize this post may sound negative. Please know that there is much sarcasm here. But, I'm also just being honest. This is hard and unpleasant and stinky and painful. Even now, so close to completing this goal, I want more than anything to quit.

The thought of running literally makes me sick. I dread it. Since we're supposed to run 4 days a week that's a lot of time spent dreading it. The excitement has worn off, the shiny newness is gone, all that's left is the determination and the commitment and the promise.

Jon Acuff of Stuff Christians Like posted a tweet today that said, "Deciding whether to create art each day is a waste of energy. Decide once, each year, and then just do your art each day."

Please don't misunderstand - I'm not calling my running "art". If you've ever seen me run you know that's hilarious. But, the general idea works here. I made a commitment to train for this marathon. I made a promise to raise money and awareness for the water crisis in Africa. The deciding is done. Now, I just have to do.

So, tomorrow morning, I'm going to go run. I won't dwell on the pros and cons all evening. I will just run. The decision has already been made. And, since running is only half of the commitment, I will continue asking my social networking friends to donate to help us reach our goal. We've raised $1,790 so far. We have six team members, each with a goal of raising $1000. Although we'd love to raise $10,000 total. That means we'd like to raise about $8000 over the next four weeks.

Just to add a bit of perspective:

$1 = 1 year of clean water for 1 African
$25 = clean water for life for 1 African
$85 = a biosand filter for 1 family
$4000 = a community well providing hundreds of people with access to clean water

Not everyone can run a marathon. But every one, every single person that reads this, can give at least $1. You can provide life giving clean water to a person in Africa.

I promise to shamelessly ask for your donations over the next four weeks without apology for how tired you may be of hearing about our running. Lives are literally at stake and I've made a commitment to do something about it.

How can you be a part of our running story?

1) Pray for our injuries. Seriously. Half of us are injured. Nothing major but painful injuries none the less that will probably take about six months to heal once the marathon is over. Assuming we don't make them worse by continuing to run insane distances over the next four weeks.

2) Pray that we will be reminded anew of our commitments. The honesty that I've revealed in this post is only a portion of how truly difficult this is for me and I know my team mates feel much the same. We need to remember the passion and desire to make a difference that we felt eight months ago.

3) Spread the word. Get excited about saving someone's life that you will never meet and then tell your friends to do the same. Tell others about the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people in Africa. Tell them about the water crisis and ask them to help.

4) Donate. Donate. Donate. Click here to find out how to donate via check or visit our secure online donation page.

I know that the next four weeks will be difficult...but they will be worth it. Our team has already made a life changing difference for hundreds of people on the other side of the world. Even if just one more dollar is given, that may mean that one life is saved from sickness and death. And that is a good reason to run.

Chrystal Murphy



A couple weeks ago I wrote a post called Eighteen Miles. It was a bit of prediction of what that week's long run would be like. Honestly, it was every bit as grueling, if not worse.

Last week was a 20 mile run. Well, for me it was mostly a walk. I've got a tendon in my foot that's a bit unhappy with all the work it's had to do lately so running wasn't really possible for me. Once it was over I think the walking was worse. If you move 20 miles on foot, it's going to hurt no matter what. If I'd ran at least I could've been done with it a bit sooner. The highlight of my "run" was when I reached the 16 mile mark. I only had 4 to go when I was passed by a lady. This lady had a kid following her on a bike and she was pushing another kid in a stroller AND she was pregnant. Noticeably pregnant - like 7/8 months along. If that wasn't enough, the only "shoes" she was wearing were Vibrams. (If you don't know, Vibrams are like rubber gloves for your feet. They allow you to essentially run barefoot but protect your feet from getting scrapped up.)

At what point in a runner's career do you quit? I'm pretty sure it's when you get passed by a barefoot pregnant lady who's pushing a stroller. Just sayin'...

Anyway, I'm excited about tomorrow's run - or today's since it's past midnight. We're starting at 7:00 instead of the usual 6:00 am so I get to sleep a bit longer. And, after resting my foot all week, I'm hoping for little protest from my tendon. The best part - we're only running 10 miles.


I know, believe me, I know this makes me sound like a crazy person. But, after running 18 and then 20 miles the past two weeks I'm honestly looking forward to a nice, easy 10 miler.

Words I never dreamt I'd say.

And with that, I'm off to sleep for about 5 hours. Think of us tomorrow...and maybe donate!!

Chrystal Murphy


Eighteen Miles

Its 4:30...AM. My alarm beeps, I reluctantly roll out of bed and make my way through the dark to the kitchen. I force myself to choke down a protein shake and a banana. It's much too early for food. My stomach protests. I hate bananas. I gulp down 8 oz of cold water and will my stomach to hold it all down.

I get dressed in dri-fit and spandex, pull on my running shoes and make sure the laces are tightened equally on both feet. Mike and I drive to meet the rest of the team and we ride together to the River Walk - a six mile sidewalk along the river where we will pound our feet for the next four and a half hours.

It's dark, only 6:00 now. We strap on our water bottles, say a few words of encouragement and head out.

The first mile is the toughest. I take a few steps and my muscles ache in protest. They're yelling for me to stop, to quit now before the pain gets worse. My heart rate begins to climb. My lungs struggle to take in enough oxygen. My knees and feet burn with pain. But my determination is strong. I will my feet to take each step.

At mile 2 my yelling muscles are the only thought in my brain. I can't think about anything but the pain. My determination is weakening. I want to stop.

Somewhere between mile 2 and 3 the numbness kicks in. My muscles are still protesting, I'm sure, somewhere in the back of my mind. I get into a rhythm. My brain switches to auto pilot. My feet and legs move as if they've done this forever, they know what to do. My heart rate and breathing even out. I can talk to Ruth, my team mate and running partner, in full sentences now.

Now that the yelling has subsided my mind is free, no longer held captive by pain. I can hear the traffic and the birds and the wind. I can see the sunrise. I feel the temperature begin to rise along with the humidity. I use this time of freedom to remind myself why I'm doing this. I'm doing this for a reason that is bigger than me. I'm running for water...to raise money to provide clean water for people in Africa. I think about the women and children who will walk at least six miles maybe as much as sixteen every day just to get water for their families. The water they collect will be dirty, brown, infested with disease. They will use it for drinking, cooking, washing clothes and dishes, bathing. I take a sip from my water bottle and thank God for the clean water that is so readily available to me.

I have a plan and follow it consistently. Run three walk a half, run three walk a half. The auto pilot stays in control until I reach twelve miles. I'm two thirds of the way to my goal and the numbness starts to wear off. The ache in my muscles is still dull but it's been replaced by a sharper, more distinct pain in my joints. My knees and hips and the bottom of my feet begin to protest. I have to adjust my plan. Run two walk a half. Run two walk a half. Run one and a half.

I manage for a while. Then...

I reach the fourteen mile mark. Fourteen miles is the farthest I've ever ran before. I know my body can handle fourteen. I don't know if it can go farther. The excitement from the unknown and from running farther than ever before give me a sense of elation. I feel good. The pain isn't so bad. Only four miles to go.

This lasts for about half a mile. It's surprising how quickly I can go from feeling pretty good to excruciating pain. The yelling is back. Only, now it's more like screaming. My body from the waist down is screaming for me to stop. My mind once again is incapable of any thought but pain. I feel only pain. I hear only screaming from my legs and feet. I see only the concrete below my feet but barely even register it's existence.

Sixteen miles. Only two to go. Every ounce of determination is gone. My will has failed. At this point I'm incapable of keeping one foot moving in front of the other. My entire being wants me to stop, walk, sit, collapse. In this moment the pain seems worse than any I've ever felt.

The reminder of why I'm doing this is less than a distant memory. That motivation no longer exists. Incapable of any thought but pain, the only thing that keeps me going is my team. Running with me or waiting at the finish - I know they feel the same pain. They want to quit. Their legs are screaming in pain, begging them to stop. But they don't. They keep running. So will I.

I must look ridiculous, moving at a pace that a walking toddler could easily match yet in a running position. I feel the acid building up in my muscles and it burns. To walk would be even more painful, allowing more acid to build up. So I hobble along, wincing with every step.

Only half a mile to go. The knowledge of the approaching finish propels me forward. Faster now. Just wanting to be done with this.

I cross the finish. I command my body to keep moving. Don't collapse, you won't be able to get back up. I force my legs to straighten and stretch. The screaming has stopped but not the pain. Only now the elation is back. I did it. Eighteen miles.

My team mates are here. We congratulate each other. In the car we share "war stories". What miles were toughest. What muscle aches the most. We pull off our shoes and socks to release our aching feet from their leather prisons.

We talk about fund raising. We talk about the reason behind all of this madness. We know that no matter how tough the training is for us we will always have clean water to drink, to cook with and to give our children. The pain that we feel is temporary. And, when the marathon is over we never have to feel it again.

Those we are running for are not as fortunate. Their pain is permanent. Their water will remain dirty and diseased until someone helps them. And this is why we will do it again and again and again.

We pull into Chick-fil-A, order chicken minis and sweet tea - the breakfast of champion marathoners everywhere.

My legs will hurt for the rest of the day. When I go to church on Sunday morning I will be limping. My feet will hurt until Tuesday, maybe longer. And next Saturday...

I will run twenty.

Chrystal Murphy


New BWM Video

I received an update email from Blood:Water Mission today. It included the below video about the community of Larachi, Kenya. It broke my heart to see a community so confined and defined by their lack of clean water. This is why we're running - to help people just like this have access to water and there by gain access to health and education.

I hope you'll take a few minutes to watch this video. If you'd like to help too, click on the Donate tab above. Just $1 provides one African with clean water for one year.

Larachi, Kenya from Blood:Water Mission on Vimeo.