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Do the Hard Stuff

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My unofficial time is 03:33:28. That’s my estimate, not official timing. Nothing I’m particularly proud of…but no easy feat either. I certainly have better potential within me. But that potential won’t be reached unless I train for it. My heart was willing, but my body was unable. I’m so much more sore today than after any other race I’ve run. My legs are done…the muscles totally spent. My back stiffened up halfway in. My ankles followed shortly afterward. I’m sore in places I forgot I had.

I knew it would be bad. You just can’t wake up one day and run 13.1 miles effectively, and expect to not totally trash your body, without training for it. It takes months of preparation to condition the body for the beating it will take over the course of 13.1 miles. I knew that my time would be much slower than I’m capable of, and I knew my body would be beaten. It would have been easy to skip this race, to bow out because I was not prepared. But my not being prepared was by my own choices. I signed up to race, paid the fee, and said I’d run. I didn’t promise anyone else but myself I’d do it. But God is teaching me that the easiest person to lie to is ourselves. If we’ll break a promise to ourselves, what makes us think we’d keep our promises to others.

If I could give you something from this experience it would be this. When you say you’ll do something, do it. Regardless of how much it hurts, man up and honor your word. Live with integrity and the resolve to do the hard stuff. Even when you don’t want to. Nothing that’s worth having is ever easy. The more challenging the task, the more rewarding the prize at the end of the journey.

Dream big. God-sized big! And go after your dreams with all you have. Don’t settle for the limits others will place on your ability. “(One of) the greatest pleasures in life is doing the things people say we cannot do.” – Walter Bagehot You have the power within you to do great things! Harness that power and get out there and do them! Glorify God in all things.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run , but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Every one who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” – 1 Cor. 9:24-27

Run the race of your life in such a way as to get the prize God has waiting for you.

Love,

Dad

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Conveniently Committed

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“There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested in something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results.” – Kenneth Blanchard

As I sit here on a park bench in downtown St. Louis, the cold morning wind whipping around me, I’m nervous. A different nervous than I was this time last year. This will be my third half marathon, and the anxiety I have this morning is that I’m not ready for this race.

Last year, I trained for four months leading up to race day. I was prepared. Physically and mentally. I’ve not run in 6 weeks, and even that was the only real running I’d done in a month. My nerves are calm in that I know what’s ahead of me. The shock factor of that first race has worn off, and I know the task ahead. It’s not an easy one, and as I sit here worried that I may not finish I can’t help but regret all those missed opportunities. All the times I could have trained. Should have trained.

It’s kind of like our walk with God really. I had a conversation with a good friend last week…a Godly man who I respect very much. I was sharing with him some of where I’ve been emotionally in the months following the call. I’ve not felt like reading the Bible. Not been committed to studying God’s Word. This friend shared with me that while what I’m feeling is not uncommon, sometimes we have to read the Bible, not because we want to, but because we know we need to. Some days, it takes resolve and commitment to pick up the Word and read. And while our reading time will not be as fruitful as it is when we want to read it, it still impresses the Scripture upon our minds. It can still be fruitful.

I think of all the missed opportunities in the development of my faith. All the situations I could have been a blessing to someone else and wasn’t. Missed opportunities to be a light for Christ. Missed opportunities in my career, my family, my finances, my life in general. Missed because I failed to prepare.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10.

If the Creator of the universe took time to prepare, shouldn’t we do likewise? In fact, God calls us to prepare. To be on guard. To stand at the ready.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” – 1 Peter 3:15

I’m not prepared for this race, and I’m not prepared for all that God has planned for me in my walk with Him. I’ve missed opportunities. I’ve not taken full advantage of all that God has given me. I’ve made choices that reflect an interest instead of a commitment. I’m thankful He allows us to start fresh and renew our commitment.

Lord, may you find favor on your servant. May I find the commitment and resolve deep within to know and follow hard after you. Strengthen me so that I am no longer conveniently committed.

Amen

My Run Journal – August 2012

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8/20
It’s time to get back to it. I haven’t run since the first of June, and it’s starting to affect me more than just physically. Lately, I’ve been stressed. crabby. grouchy. tired. inpatient. short-tempered. snippy. basically just difficult to live with. I just jogged two miles, and I couldn’t even make 1.5 miles without having to walk. Weak. I have 9 weeks to go till my next half marathon, and I’m determined to come within 5 minutes of my time last October. That’s gonna require some serious dedication. I think I’m up for it. Let’s roll.

My Run Journal – June 2012

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“Exercise to stimulate, not to annihilate. The world wasn’t formed in a day, and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them.”
Lee Haney

If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey,
start here.

Click here to see my May 2012 Run Journal

6/1
3.1 miles on the road in 43:20. I pushed the first mile about as fast I could at a steady pace and ran it in 10:24, my fastest mile ever. Unfortunately, that means I did the last 2.1 miles at well over a 15:00/mile pace. I’m really trying to pick up my pace because I’m tired of running a 15 minute mile for 2-3 hours to get the mileage I need every week. I want the distance of the half marathon at the pace I know I’m capable of running, about 02:15. The only way I know to do that is to keep pushing at the front end and gradually adding distance to it before I feel the need to back down to a slower pace. Setting “small goals that I can build upon slowly.”

6/4
One mile at the track in 10:28. Felt good. Was pretty winded and not sure that I could have done another lap at that pace.

Love,

Dad

I’m a Runner Now

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As I sit here in the front yard on this beautiful spring evening, the sun is setting.  The birds are singing.  The neighbors are mowing their yards.  The children are playing in the cul-de-sac, giggling those carefree laughs of innocence.  Off in the distance, the faint sound of the ice cream truck playing its familiar summer tune rings softly in the background.  It’s a beautiful opportunity to sit and enjoy life.  To reflect on the day.  To relax and rest.  And yet, I find myself longing for something more.  Something is missing.

It’s been a little over a year since I started this run journey.  Run journey…it seems odd to even call it that really.  It’s not so much a “run” journey, per se, as it is a “fitness” or “health” journey.  I try to do other things to mix up my workouts…swimming, strength training, stretching and circuit training.  I’m open to any kind of workout really…anything to break up the monotony.  It’s just that running is what’s finally motivated me to keep going…the catapult that’s launched my passion and resolve to improve my overall fitness and level of health.  So a run journey is what I shall call it.

Which is still odd to me, really.  I mean I’ve always hated running.  And yet, here I am, only two months shy of turning 39, and I just recently “retired” my first pair of running shoes.  I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say I love running or that I even enjoy it.  I still really don’t like it much…which is, I suppose, an improvement over hating it.  It’s really more about how it makes me feel that I enjoy…that I know it’s helping me shed some pounds…how much better I feel about myself after I’ve logged some miles…and that I know the long term benefits far outweigh any negative I can ever conjure up.

As the sun drops behind the neighbor’s house, and the day draws near its end, a coolness fills the air.  The warmth of the sun now gone, I sit in the shadows of a day now also gone. I’m feeling a sense of loss.  I’ve missed an opportunity.  I have a longing deep within to take today back and start again.  To start it the way I know I should have.  To start it the way I really wanted to.  To start it with a run.  And that’s when it hits me.  That longing to run…that desire to be out there pounding the pavement…that internal passion to want to subject my body to pain…it all adds up to one thing that I’ve been fighting for a year now.  I’m not who I was a year ago at the start of this journey.  I’m a runner now.

And still, when I look in the mirror, I don’t see a runner looking back at me…at least not in the sense of how I picture a runner.  So, I have to ask myself…when did this happen?  I mean, I don’t really believe I woke up this morning and said, “I’m a runner.”  I think this has been a slow onset, one I should have seen coming…but didn’t.  I guess it’s kinda like how you would cook a live frog without him ever knowing he’s dinner…not that I’ve ever boiled a frog.  But I can imagine that rather than tossing him right in the boiling water…where he would simply jump right out, you’d put him in a pot of cool water and then slowly bring it to a boil, so that by the time he knows he’s dinner, it’s too late…he never saw it coming.  That’s kinda how I feel…like someone tossed me in a pot of cool water about a year ago and has slowly been turning up the heat on me.  I adapted to my changing environment with each slow adjustment, and now I look back and realize I’m not who I was a year ago.  I’ve changed.  I’ve morphed into something new.  Without ever seeing it coming, I’ve become a runner.

A few weeks ago, I was driving around town doing some errands, and I had to have passed a dozen or more people who were taking advantage of the cool weather to get their run in.  Fellow runners out there logging their miles. It wasn’t until after about the fourth runner that I realized I was even doing it.  Until recently, when I saw a runner on the road, I would quietly think to myself, “don’t know why you’re out there doing that!  You won’t catch me running unless someone bigger than me is trying to kill me.”  But today, I caught myself doing it…what I would imagine other runners do when they see a fellow runner.  I was checking them out.  Several times, I was actually staring…intently focusing on their stance, their stride, and their attire…what cool accessories were they wearing that might make my runs easier?  What kind of outfit is he wearing?  That hat looks nice.  Those shoes look worn…I bet her stride would improve if she bought a new pair.  Nice sunglasses…I need to get a strap for the back of mine too.  I think that’s when this little thought hit me…Whoa!  I’m a runner now.

And what’s even better is that my NE and SI want to run with me.  NE and I ran together earlier this week for the first time…a little over 1/4 mile on two different occasions…and SI joined us for just under 1/4 mile.  Bubba, watching you run that lap all out as fast as you could was glorious and encouragingly exciting…to know you both wanted to run it to be with me makes me want to bring y’all out more often, to begin fostering in your young lives now a desire to be healthy and active.  To reinforce to you that I’m not who I was.  I’m a runner now.

So as I sit here in the shadows of having recently finished my second half, I’m looking to the future…to my summer and fall schedule to see where I can fit in two more by the end of the year…and how I can get 4-5 in next year…maybe even a triathlon.  I just typed out the word “half”.  That I’m now typing out the jargon of a runner, and not just saying it, has to scream I’m not who I was…I’m a runner now.

That feeling of getting out there and pushing past that initial pain threshold to reach a state of acceptance.  Acceptance that this is the new normal.  Acceptance that this is what it’s going to take.  Acceptance that I’m not who I was…that this is who I am now…I’m a runner now.

Love,

Dad

Run on Dudes!

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It dawned on me today why I “enjoy” running. Yes I sarcastically say “enjoy” because it’s not something I find pleasure in, except when I’m done for the day…it feels good to have accomplished a good run. In the sense of the way I use the word “enjoy” above, I find some satisfaction in running because I have a hope that it will improve my overall health and level of fitness.

I’ve been discouraged a little here of late because I’m not seeing the pounds drop off like I’d hoped to have already seen by now. It’s been over a year since I started running, and my weight has not really changed much…and my pace is not improving because the weight means it hurts more to run as much as I need to to maintain my training level. I know why the weight’s not coming off like I want, and I know what I need to do to change that…implementation is the part I’m missing. But that’s subject for another note.

Yesterday was NE’s 5th birthday, and he asked for a running hat…like the one I wear when I run, except red. Today as we were running errands, NE was wearing his new hat and SI was wearing mine.

Running Kids

These two beautiful faces smiling back at me say it all. Watching the two of you running around all day, and then NE running your “race” around the cul-de-sac, reinforced for me that while I run for my own health, it ain’t all about me. I may never see the results I want to see in my own body. But the choices I’m making now are changing my family tree. Choosing to be active and eat healthier now are setting a better example for you in these young, formative years…setting a higher standard for you to live by than what I was previously setting. Watching you following in my footsteps, trying to be more active is doing my heart good…knowing that you want to live a healthy life…even if you don’t realize what that actually means yet. And that in itself is worth all the pain and hard work I put into my running. Even if I never lose another pound, if my being active keeps you healthy, then I did good. I pray that’s the case. Run on dudes!

Love,

Dad

Pass or Be Passed

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Running in long distance races reminds me that life isn’t much different. In a race, you’re either passing or being passed. Sure, there are some you’ll keep pace with…for awhile. But unless you are running the race together from start to finish, you’ll eventually lose them, whether by passing or being passed. Pass, or be passed. Run your race your way, but be mindful of what’s ahead of you…plan your pass, so you don’t get tripped up. And be mindful of what’s behind you, so you don’t get tripped up. Know where you’re coming from, and know where you’re going. Pass or be passed.

Keep your head up, and your eyes fixed on the prize. There will be times when life just sucks the energy and will to keep going from your body. Your body and mind will want to quit, and it’ll be a constant mental battle to keep moving forward. You’ll have to push through the pain…of loss…of rejection…of illness and injury…of disappointments. But you gotta keep moving forward, because God has great things waiting for you at the end of your journey. Pass or be passed, but keep moving forward.

There will be times when holding your head up is gonna be hard. It’ll take all of your energy some days. But keep your head up. You never know what cool things God has planned for you to see and do along the way. The view will not always be beautiful, but there are amazingly beautiful things to be seen in everything…if you have your head up to notice them. If you can keep your head up, you’ll see the guy dressed in a cardboard robot outfit running beside you. You’ll see a group of firefighters walking together in full turnout gear for a cause…meant to inspire and motivate. You’ll see half a dozen police officers in full tactical gear walking with a purpose. You’ll see a blind man, holding onto his friend, pass you. You’ll meet people who will want to help you along the way…let them…it feels good to help others, because we were made to give…so don’t deny someone else that gift. God has plans to prosper and bless you…to see you succeed. To reward you with riches beyond your imagination. All you gotta do is believe it. And keep your head up. You’re either passing or being passed. So pay attention.

Love,

Dad

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