Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reading "Running With God" by Berry Simpson

I just picked up or should say that I downloaded to my Kindle the book, "Running With God" by Berry Simpson. In his intro he grabbed my attention quickly with this insight:

"I first started running in the summer of 1978 to win the heart of a girl, but instead, I found God. He chose running to be one of the places he revealed himself to me. Through my time alone, on my feet, the God of my parents and my grandparents became my God. It was on the road and on the trail that my relationship with God became personal. We developed a friendship which grew bigger than church and became deeper than rules of behavior."

Just change the year to 1974 and that could be me. Funny, but girls have away to make every guy in the world do something they would never believe possible. For me, 1974 was a start of a journey that I'm still on. But the more important line of the quote is what really got me thinking. My faith in God, during all those runs did develop a friendship great then I would have imagined and gave me rules...of very deep significant. I was forever changed in the quiet runs and through the challenges constantly presented to me. Yes, if you run far'll find God there beside you calling you to a new life.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Suntrust National Marathon

What can I say. It was a day for no excuses...and I have none. My goal was to be in the 4:30-4:35 time zone, so I'll take my 4:30:35. So no excuses from me...just a unbelievable filling of accomplishment, given that this is the first race of my "season."

The weather forecast had been calling for cold and rain showers, so I was mentally preparing myself for a hard run. I've run a cold and wet marathon before, actually back at the 1994 Marine Corps Marathon. If you remember that was the year Oprah decided to run. The rain soaked everything and the temperature was in the 50s...making it feel like 30. But today we just had the challenge of cold temperatures. We started the race a little after 7 am with temps in the lower 30's and finished just after 11 with the temp at 40 degrees, combine with a nice north wind, it felt like 34. But the sun was out and that made a big difference.

I was also very happy with my run plan. My plan going in to the race was to hold 10:00 to 10:30 mile paces for the first 20 miles and then try to push the pace at the end. But because of the hill between 4 and 5, I actually had a 11:30 mile through that section. So I ended up going through the half way point at 4:17 which was about 2 minutes slower then I was looking for. I kept reminding myself not to panic and keep those 10:00 miles coming. Because I was using Jeff Galloway's Run/Walk method at a (4 minute to 1 minute ratio) I was running around the 4:30 pace group. But at the 19 mile mark, I was not able to catch up with the group and they opened a huge lead on me going down towards the US Coast Guard Building around the 20 mile mark. Again my fear that I had miss something hit me and I wanted to run faster.

So I did some self talk at that point saying to myself if I was really slowing down and the watch was off, then I needed to relax. Getting upset and worried about the pace would only slow me down, so I closed my eyes for a few feet during my next walk and took a few deep breaths. Then I started back. As we crossed the bridge over the river at 21 miles, I had caught back up with the 4:30 group. The lead melted away. (When I looked at my splits for that time they were 10:23, 10:21, 10:29 but then when I caught them again it was 10:10.) So at the 23 mile marker I started to pick up the pace. But 24 to 25 was a hill and I could only pull up it at 10:50/mile, then 25 to 26 was 9:06/mile and the final 2/10 to the finish was at 8:32/mile place. My final half marathon was 2:13, giving me the 4:30:35 finish. And the 4:30 pace group...I don't know where they finished but it wasn't 4:30, because they never got back in front of me.

What this marathon taught me..."Don't Panic." Keep to your plan and trust that your training and prep did its job. Also...pray helps a lot. Thanks for the great weather God!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Focus or the lack thereof

Sometimes I feel good and I'm focused on my goals. Like yesterday, I did a nice easy 14 mile run along the C&O. It was cool and beautiful. But today...I feel like I'm in a fog. I have an easy 3 mile run on the schedule, but its hard to get myself out and motivated. And there is this bone weary-ness I've been feeling all day and I just can't shake it. So I finished making reservations for the Pittsburgh Marathon in May and signed up for the Baltimore Marathon in October...but that didn't help. The only thing left to do is to move my sorry tail out of this chair and get on my running shoes...and...go running. Yes, that will help. And if it doesn't...well at less the run will be done.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Running - The Sacred Art:Preparing to Practice

Warren Kay's book on running is one of the best. I just finished reading it. An awesome book, so here is one of my favorite quotes from the book.

"This is my sacred space when I run alone, this is my ritual, this is my sanctuary! I find God here, waiting for me, matching my pace. As my breath gets less jagged and my stride settles in to my unique pattern of effort, I find inner stillness cradled in outer motion. Through the stillness I have found a great deal of peace. After of lifetime of panting, I finally caught my breath."

Throughout my life when things were troubling me or I was upset, running has been my prayer time. Getting up early in the morning as the sun is rising, I found God there in the silence as the sun broke the horizon and God's peace enveloped me. When life's problems presented no solutions for me, my run became that sacred place to share my thoughts and anxiety with God. Getting up after hours of setting at my desk for a late afternoon run on a warm summer day, often allowed my mind to drift to solutions that I couldn’t see early while trying so hard to solve the problem at hand. When the demands of others made me exhausted and I felt the emotional tank on empty, those quiet sunset runs provided a source of energy that allowed me to strengthen my hope in others.

So when Dr Kay talks about the run being “sanctuary” I understand. I understand that running is my movement towards God…more then any movement away from the problems of life.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Why go any further?

I finally bit the bullet and signed up for my first Ultra-Marathon? My wife who is one of my greatest supporters asked, "Why?" In her unspoken argument were words that I had often used to talk myself out of running an ultra-marathon in the past. But the question: "Why?" Summed it up.

"You're no spring chicken?" How many times has that thought stopped my hand in filling out the form? An ultra-marathon implies that it is a distance greater that the 26.2 miles. I have pushed my body through to the end on how many occasions 20+. Most of the time, as much as I would like to flout my invincibility...I'm still very sore for several days why on God's green earth would I really want to try a distance that is further?

So why? Simply put, it is there and I have not choice but to face the challenge. Every day we face challenges that seem impossible to do, some times we face them, but more often than not we turn aside from the task and postpone or even avoid facing the challenge. For the past several years, I saw the ultra-marathon as a test that I had to face head on. But every time, I said next year, when I was in better shape, then I would do it. But this week…the realization that postponing the test was coming to an end. It was time to step forward and pick up the challenge.

God places challenges in our lives for one reason and one reason only to see us live life to the fullest. This 50K is a chance for me to live. To struggle through the valleys and over the hills that transforms the runner and more importantly the life. So now I’ll head out to do my training…and transform myself, inside and out.