Sunday, January 29, 2017

Here we go....again!

For some time now I have wanted to get back to writing here, but being a pastor and a student required me to do a lot of writing, so I thought it best to take it easy on the writing. I am done with school (for now - more on that in a separate post) so in theory I should have more time to put down some of my musings. Today is my 46th birthday and I have to say that the past few days have been wonderful - and it's not the new USC jersey or the chocolate chip muffie (Yum!) talking! In my old age I have come to realize that there is great joy in the little things - finishing a nice 11 mile run, spending time with your daughter getting stuff done, and having a nice lunch with friends to name a few. I guess it's becoming more and more evident to me what a blessing it is to be able to serve as a pastor and to have such a wonderful life. The work of a pastor is never boring and often includes doing what is needed...such as resealing a leaking roof...but it is always rewarding and joyful to serve God and His people.

Running has also been going very well - there are 49 days left until the LA Marathon and my training is going better than expected, given the rash of rain storms here in LA, that is not only encouraging, but also a bit surprising. The goal for this year is quite simple: finish in less than 5 hours. How do I get there? Consistent running and maybe drop of few lbs.! I had promised my wife that I would not run the LA Marathon this year, but the gravitational pull of running such a wonderful race was more than I could handle and so I signed up and I now prepare to run 26.2 miles through the streets of LA. I can hardly wait!!

There is still much to say, and maybe over the next weeks I will put words to my thoughts, but for now I will call it a night. May God richly bless you and yours! 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

LA Marathon 2013 - Part One

People wiser than me have said that a marathon is not conquered the morning of the is conquered in the weeks and months leading up to race day. For me the LA Marathon had all of the signs of being a failure instead of a success. First I got sick...and not just a little cold that keeps you down for a few days...I had from January 23 to February 23 I logged a total of 0 miles...big fat goose egg!! Instead of taking a rest week like most marathon training plans suggest, I was running 19.5 miles the weekend before the race..the first 18 miles were really good...but then about 1 ½ miles from home my foot started to really hurt...up to that point my run had been really good, so I just kept trucking on...I can run 1 ½ miles with a sore foot ram through my head over and over. Then next day it got worse...I was hobbling from the my semi-expert medical opinion I had plantar fasciitis...the pain was so intense I dared to ask that question no marathoner ever wants to ask - what if I really can’t run the LA Marathon? I decided that I would take it easy until the marathon...I ran on Wednesday and it hurt...the outlook was bleak. The day before the race I took a short leisurely run and experienced little pain...YEAH!! I was ready...or so I thought.

The alarm sounded and I bolted out of bed...since I had to be at the finish line to catch my 3:30am shuttle to the start line I was awake at a crazy hour. I dressed and walked out the door still feeling a little concerned about my foot. I walked as little as possible but in the hours leading up to the race the pain in my foot got worse and so I went through a cycle of trying to sleep, massaging my foot, tying my shoes at varying tightness and taking short walks to the pain. Finally about 2 hours before the race I decided that I would stop the craziness and try to sleep as much as possible and completely ignore my foot...I also accepted that I would drop out if I needed to, but I would go as far as I could. I dreamt about being on a bus with sweaty and stinky runners that had dropped out of the race...and I was suddenly wide awake. The small crowd of runners in the bleachers in Dodger stadium around me had grown exponentially. I sat for a little while and tried to take in all of the sights and sounds...then I got up, turned in my bag and decided to go to the restroom one last time. Even the restroom line was an adventure..there was a group of Students Run LA in front and to the side of me in the restroom lines and they were stretching as they waited. The girl who was leading was like a drill sergeant...I almost felt guilty for not stretching with them. These kids had worked hard in the months leading up to the race and even minutes before they hit the street, they were doing everything they could to ensure they had a successful race - even if it meant shuffling forward in their restroom line as the simultaneously tried to stretch their hamstring. As I walked to the start line, with chatter ever where, the announcer talking non-stop, I said a little prayer, “You take care of the foot; I’ll take care of the running.” And that was short order we were off into the streets of LA. I had never given myself permission before the race started to drop out; I felt that I would surely fail if I went into a race thinking dropping out was an option....but the reality was that there was no way I could run 26.2 miles with the pain I had felt in the hours leading up to the run...or could I?  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth!!

So, yes it has been a while since I posted last, and I will try to give a running life update soon, but this post is more of a Christian life update.

I e-mailed a good friend today to share with him that I had been feeling kind of distant from God lately. I was feeling like prayer and devotion was more of a chore than a pleasant time with God. He suggested I prayer during a run...running and prayer...both excellent suggestions!

I started my run at a really fast pace (well "really fast" is a relative term; compared to my 10min/mile, 8:36 per mile is down right super sonic) was difficult, but not impossible. My mind realized that I could not maintain the pace for 5 miles, but my body ignored that reality. Despite the euphoria, or maybe because of it, I forgot to pray. As I was waiting at a red light I heard a faint voice, "I am with you" The second mile was slower, but still fast for me...all along the chorus of "I am with you," continued, and seem to increase with frequency. Then I came upon a crossroad; figuratively and literally. If I turned right I would cut 2 miles off of the 5 mile run I had planned, but I would have an amazing run pace. I chose to continue on the original route. It got increasingly difficult. There were several points I wished there were more red lights and then I realized, the "I am with you" chorus was gone. I labored on for a while and then turned to prayer;  the pace got a little easier...I wasn't really going faster, but I wasn't "chasing" an impossible pace either. Then all of a sudden, "I'm still here!"

In my conversation with God He made me realize that He was with me through out my run, just as He is with me through out my life...just because I feel that He is silent doesn't mean that He has left me alone to battle the difficult miles. It is in those miles where I need to turn to Him the most and in those miles I will learn and grow so much as a runner and as a person. So, yes, seminary is hard; balancing family, work, studying, running, sermon writing and a Laker game (everyone once in a while) is hard, but these difficult time will only serve to make me a better helping me to realize that God is always there.

So, for now, my theme song is "Praise you in the storm" by Casting Crowns (minus the parts that talk about crying...guys don't cry, it's just our awesome leaking out!) knowing that God uses the storm waters to feed His plants and trees.

Hey, maybe I shouldn't post this...this might make a good sermon one day! 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”           Joshua 1:9


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Los Angeles 13.1 - 2013 Race Review

So it has been exceptionally cold...for LA standards. The morning of the LA 13.1 half marathon the low was supposed to be 34 degrees. The day before I laid out clothes - pants, long sleeve undershirt, long sleeve shirt, thick socks, gloves, a hat I could throw away, and a trash bag. The plan was to wear the trash bag over my clothes until right before the start and then dump the hat as my head got warm. I arrived at the start way too early, so I reclined my seat and tried to take a the cold seeped into my car I would turn the heater on and then after a few minutes of the car off, I would be freezing again, so this was just not working. I decided it was time to head to the starting line and wait there instead. Maybe the race organizers had brought portable heaters...nope, as I got to the starting line, all I found were lines to the port-a-potties and shivering, shacking runners. I stayed close to a news van that was emitting a great deal of heat and then headed for the port-a-potties...It was almost warm in there, but the smell was none to pleasant...little did I know this was an omen of things to come. Most runners seemed to be huddled closer than usual at the starting line and I ended up close to the 2:15 pacer. As the race started I kept up with the 2:15 pacer and decided I would try to maintain that pace as long as possible. As we were running through Venice Beach, a homeless man turned to his friend and said, "man! These folks wanna die young!" Interesting that a homeless man had his own opinion of long distance running. We got to the 5 mile mark and the 2:15 pacer was just out of sight, but I thought that I couldn't be too far behind him...and then it hit me!! OH!! THE STENCH!!! Little did I know that the course would take us past a sewage treatment plant...and I guess business was good! At about mile 7, the 2:15 pacer long gone, I was now fairly certain that I would beat 2:30...but by how much?? As I got close to the end of the race two guys kept speeding past me and then walking...we went back and forth for about a mile and a half before the realized that they were basically keeping pace with a 41 year old. As the last mile approached I committed to finish with them, while maintaining a steady pace. They would dart in front of me, and then one would walk which encouraged the other to stop...their walks got longer which was good because my pace was slowing. At mile 13 the started walking again...mile 13!!! 0.1094 miles left and they decide to I shouted at them..."hey, don't let the old guy beat you!" and BOOM! They took off!! If they ever make a movie of my life I think the director will have me beating those two guys by inches...but in reality...they left me in the dust! But no matter...I got my PR! 2:21:32 was my official time...almost 20 minutes faster than my fastest half marathon. Next on the horizon is the LA Marathon, but before I can run from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica Pier, I get to log tons of miles. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

PR!!!! PR!!!! PR!!!!

In 2 hours 21 minutes and 32 seconds I ran the Los Angeles 13.1 half marathon...a personal record!! Not just a PR, but a I totally crushed my previous best by almost 20 minutes!!!As the official test race for the LA Marathon, this was better than I could have imagined...but it started the questions flowing...
--If I could cut 20 minutes off of my half marathon time could I cut 30-40 minutes off of my marathon time?
--My training runs haven't really shown this huge increase, so where did this come from?
--For the first time ever I ran with a pacer (the 2:15 pacer) for part of the race, was this the reason for my improved time?
--For most races I have tried to run negative splits (increased pace in each progressive mile) in all of my previous races, but since I ran with a 2:15 pacer for the first 6 miles, should I scrap that?

So many questions...there will be plenty of time to contemplate them later...but for now I'll just take some time to enjoy my new personal record!! 2:21:32!!! Whooo-hoooo!!!!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Yard sale!!

Running is fun! That's what they tell me anyway!! Sometimes it's more fun than others. It has been SUPER cold lately...well super cold for California it has been really hard to get out of bed. This morning my bed was exceptionally warm, so it was exceptionally difficult to get out of bed. I finally got on the road about 1/2 an hour after I had intended. Then about 1/2 a mile into my run flop!! I was sprawled out like a yard sale. I was tempted to turn around and go home, but then decided to finish off the run. It got me to dedicated of a runner am I? It's a hard question to ponder, but one that seems to come up once in a while. I really think marathon running is partly I am a dedicated runner...I am!! And I have the scars to prove it!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

History of Shoes

Right to left:
Nike Zoom Vomero 3 - 500+ miles (super fit, "Squishy" bouncy feel)
Nike Zoon Vomero 5 - 400+ miles (a tad too long, same feel as the Vomero 3's, but the fit made them second fiddle)
Saucony  Triumph 9 - 78.2 miles (Fit like a glove, no bounce, but still a soft landing)
Brooks Glycerin 10 - 5.0 miles (Nice fit, feels like there is a spring in the heel)

It's funny the things that make you feel a little nostalgic. I picked up a new pair of running shoes and I figured it was time to officially retire my first pair; It's safe to say that 500 miles was enough, but I had to take one last picture. There are nearly 1,000 miles represented in those shoes; some of those miles have been fun, some have been a lot of work...but every one was totally worth it!! As New Years approaches I wonder what God has in store for me for 2013...I hope it includes lots of miles...and maybe another pair of shoes. To quote the great philosopher Forrest Gump - "You can tell a lot about a person by their shoes."