Running to a dream

Doug Boock
Dave Morland of Galva (right) crests a street hill on Galva's northwest side on Sept. 5 during a training run in preparation for a marathon he plans to run later this month.

Dave Morland’s done a lot of running the past six months -? about 900 miles. That’s like footing it from Galva to Denver, Colo.

Along the way he’s wore out a pair of running shoes, had his left big toenail turn purple and blistered his left pinky toe.

Others see him do it and shake their heads. Even he’s questioned his own sanity. Like the other day, when he awakened at 4:30 a.m. to run 18 miles.

“I’m like, ‘You’re nuts,’” he told himself.

Sane or not, Morland’s racking up the miles ?- about 35 a week ?- all in an effort to run a marathon - 26.2 miles -? later this month.

“I get one of two responses. (People) either shake their head and say they can’t believe someone can run that long, or they just say I’m crazy,” laughed Morland on Thursday.

Indeed, running a marathon is rare. Maybe only one or two other current Galva residents have done it. But it’s a challenge that Morland, 44, has wanted to undertake for a long time.

“I think it’s a goal I’ve had almost all of my adult life. I’m not getting any younger so I decided I’m going to get it done,” he said.

A jogger for years, Morland began marathon training March 1. He ran eight miles several times a week for three months. Before long, he was running 10 miles a day or more. He’s run 13 miles ?- a half marathon ?- seven or eight times. This week, he’ll complete his second 20-mile run.

That’s as challenging as it sounds.

“Physically, you don’t feel good after you run 20 miles,” conceded Morland, a popular physician’s assistant at OSF Galva Clinic.

The biggest training challenge, he said, has been the weekly grind ? especially mentally ? in racking up the miles. He’s felt the ups and downs.

“Some days, your body doesn’t go,” he said.

“But I’ve had only one injury during my training, a little calf strain,” the 1982 AlWood High School graduate said. “My body has responded well. It’s really not been as hard as I thought it would be.”

It’s also not altered his life much.

“It really hasn’t changed a lot. Mostly, it’s been the time commitment. But even at that, it’s just about four hours a week,” he said. “I’ve had to get up (in the morning) a little bit earlier . . . and I guess my golf game has slacked a little bit, but I have been able to fit that in.”

Morland, who hasn’t changed his diet, has dropped about 15 pounds and he says he feels great.

He isn’t training for any health reasons, though he strongly believes exercise is important.

“I think with the rampage of obesity, you have got to stay in shape, from a cardiovascular standpoint and from a mental standpoint. Obesity just runs into so many medical problems. You need to exercise.”

But it takes discipline, something Morland’s got. On days when he’d rather hit his alarm snooze button and roll back over to sleep, he’s gotten up and hit the Galva streets, his training ground.

“Oh, I’m kind of regimented so there’s not a choice,” the affable Morland said. “You do it. There’s no choice. It’s geared in my head ? when it’s run day, you run.”

That includes a recent day when he ran 18 miles in the morning, then worked a 12-hour shift that day in the emergency room at St. Mary Medical Center, Galesburg.

Despite running longer distances, Morland’s speed has picked up. He did his first 20-mile run ? seven laps around a 2.7-mile course through the city ? in just under eight minutes a mile.

“That felt really good,” said Morland, who lives in Prairie Ridge Subdivision on Galva’s northwest side. “I got done and was running to go into the subdivision and gave kind of the Tiger Woods (celebratory) fist pump . . . Then you go inside and die.”

Marathoners often don’t worry about how quickly they complete their first race; they just want to complete it. Morland’s mostly in that camp, too. But he’d be even happier if he can complete his first ? the Quad-Cities Marathon on Sept. 28 ? in 3 hours and 45 minutes or less. Either way, he’s got no big celebration planned.

“I’ll probably go home and collapse, and have some personal gratification,” he said.

He’ll then take a little time off before resuming running.

“I’ll probably take a little bit off,” he said. “I don’t know how much I’ll run . . . but I’m not going to be getting up at 4:30.”