Author

Duane L. Coker

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A few weeks ago, Louellen woke me up in the wee hours of the morn to tell me that she’d somehow managed to get a lottery spot for the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon and that we had only a few minutes to decide if we were going to go or not. I wiped the sleep out of my eyes and checked my inbox to see if I, too, had won a lottery spot. I had not.

Getting a lottery spot is pretty special (about a 30% chance), so we knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity, so I decided to join Louellen in her quest to Escape from Alcatraz and joined TeamFox to help end Parkinson’s disease, the second most common neurological disorder.

But of course, there’s more to getting there than signing up for the race and fundraising. Both Louellen and I will be training for what is one of the craziest races out there over the next few months. Here’s my first training update for my Escape from Alcatraz for Parkinson’s Research Backers.

Lou and I were camping at Isle du Bois State Park to do the the 15K portion of Endurance Buzz Adventure’s Isle du Bois Trail run. After waking up at 6:00 am to pouring rain that sounded like a battalion of Santa’s Elves banging toy hammers along the top of the Airstream, we decided to wimp out and sleep in.

Skipping 11 miles of running in 44 degree driving rain along rocky, muddy trails sounded like a good idea at the time. However, a few hours later, I started to feel like I’d wimped out.

I'm going in!
I’m going in!

So, to make up for it AND officially start the cold weather swim portion of my EFA training, I decided to go for a swim. The water temp in Lake Ray Roberts wasn’t San Franciso Bay cold, but my Garmin read it at 60 degrees. All I know is that it was C-O-L-D!!

My neoprene hood and booties checked out fine. Just need some gloves and I think I’ve got this. I’m going to try to keep swimming in local lakes until water temps fall below expected San Franciso Bay temps.

I’ll keep updates going on this website as well as on my fundraising page for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Thanks for all your support!

The sun peaked in our window and through the tiny mesh holes of my mosquito net at precisely 6 a.m.  That was my signal to stop tossing and turning and to finally lay eyes on Tanzania in daylight.

I memorized a few quick Swahili greetings and hit the road.  Less than 100 yards – guess that’s “meters” here – up the hill from the hotel, the trees parted and the mountain, famous snows and all, stood before me.

While standing there, albeit a bit week-kneed, contemplating its vastness, and marveling at how love for a beautiful woman can convince you to do almost anything, a young Chagga man walking down the street stopped, pointed to the glaciers on Kili’s top, and, with a huge grin, said, in perfect English, “It’s very fresh!”

I married Louellen in 1990 and, while I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to adventure, within hours of our nuptials she convinced me to get on a Mexicana Airline flight into a hurricane!  That’s another story, however the pattern has continued these nearly 20 years.

Louellen’s long time dream has been to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, which, at 19,340 feet, is Africa’s highest peak and the world’s tallest freestanding mountain.  I don’t know where this dream came from – I’ll have to ask her sometime – but, on the day after Christmas in 2008, I find myself in Moshi, Tanzania staring at the great mountain from its foothills in this town, which, because of its frequent mists, is named with the Swahili word for smoke.