Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Eve Mass

Yesterday I talked about the Christmas Eve run and the mass just a little bit.  Today, I want to take a few moments to comment on the mass itself.  Why?  Because going to such a small church that  relies on those outside the community who visit for vacation but attend the church for at least some support, makes for an interesting spiritual experience when one takes the time to think about it.

The small group of people who are the regular community care a whole lot and give their all.  And on Christmas Eve they gave it their all and were willing to admit where they were having issues.

Take the music.  They had a three piece brass trio that played some songs before the mass.  Were they as fine as the brass quintet that played at the Maryland State Boychoir Nine Lessons and Carols?  Nope.  Not even close.  But they provided an important link in the joy of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

The had a choir that was okay, but the woman who was leading the choir through song on Christmas Eve made several observations.  The individuals who usually played the music and the director of the choir were all out of town for Christmas Eve.  That happens.  People have family and sometimes cannot arrange to stay.  But the group sang on.  And for part of the prelude the group sang a cappella. Then, they invited the congregation to song some familiar carols and the nice thing was that even in a Catholic church nearly everyone sang along.  My heart was touched as I'd been to a non-Catholic church on Christmas Eve the past two years (in addition to my normal mass attendance) and the difference in singing was notable.

The woman who led the responsorial psalm by herself gave it her all.  Everyone involved made absolutely sure that they tried as hard as they could.  They had pre-recorded music on the electronic keyboard but probably would have been better off just going a cappella the whole way.

But the key is they were all in.  And that is what church should be about.  All in for beliefs.  All in for community.  All in for the sense of what it can provide.

And that was beautiful.  It was just one example.  But it was a great example of those who are not perfect, who know they are not perfect, but who love what they are doing enough to do it anyway and to make sure that they do their best.  A lesson for me.  A lesson for all. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

A Christmas Eve Run to Remember

Yesterday, I ran 10 miles on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve has been a strong running day for years.  I'll trace back to 2011.  In 2011, I ran 12 miles by myself--warm enough for shorts but encountered some sleet.  In that year, I ran a little alone, then with Back on My Feet Team Christopher's Place, and then with the team coach a little bit extra.  That was fun.  Two years ago I did a track workout by myself.  Last year I ran a half marathon distance by myself.  And yesterday, I had a 10 mile run that concluded a wonderful year of running with the training partner with whom I ran the most times and most miles this year.

The temps were in the mid-60's.  It was raining when we began at Lauren's house.  It rained for about half the time we were running.  It was windy, and the wind was most often coming toward us--blowing the rain at us making the caps that each of us had on less useful for keeping rain out of the eyes and slowing us down.  But we carried on our run and carried on a conversation about everything from what we knew about different races (particularly ultras) to seeing the latest Star Wars movie (which neither of us had done) to my lack of attention to where we were running yesterday.  Lauren concluded that a lack of attention might actually benefit me in the ultra race that I am going to run in May--it might make the miles feel less challenging.  The "back" part of the out and back run was less rainy but just plain humid.  The water in the Inner Harbor was very high--indicating the abundance of rain we'd had recently.  And for the third day in a row there was really no sunrise to speak of as the clouds and rain continued.  It was so warm that a cold drink of water immediately when we finished was incredibly useful. 

We also went to mass yesterday--as we have every Christmas Eve since I was a young boy.  Yesterday was the first time since we were a family of five (I'll even count 2004 as Daniel was only three days from being born so everyone knew that he was with us) that not all of us were at mass together.  Four of us were already at the family resort where we have vacationed at this time of year for many years.  Our oldest was still back in Baltimore to play at a Christmas Eve mass and another gig on the day after Christmas before he eventually joins us.  The mass was at the Holy Infant Catholic Church in Elkton, VA.  We arrived early (we didn't have to arrive quite as early as we did, but we got four seats together) and were chosen to bring up the gifts.  This year the boys were old enough to carry both the unconsecrated hosts and the wine so Sherry and I were just along for the walk up the aisle.  

The readings the priest chose to use were from the midnight mass.  They began with the reading from Isaiah in which it talks about how the people in darkness have seen a great light.  

And that is where today's tie-in between running and spirituality comes is.  Over the two previous days, I'd had the opportunity to hang with two other fellow runners with whom I don't often have a chance to hang outside of running.  Each of these people is part of the light that I find in running.  And with one of them I had a long discussion about being light for others and how runners are people who tend to be seekers of self and seekers of light.  

So, despite the little natural light that we saw on the run yesterday (there was plenty of light from the streetlights) the light of running itself is something that was experienced in full yesterday.  Physical challenge with the cardio and strengthening.  The joy of spending time with others.  Conversation (everyone who reads this knows I love words.)   And the spirit of being connected to something larger.  Running the streets of Baltimore is not like running on the open plains chasing wildlife for dinner as our ancestors did, but the fact that our ancestors did shows just how primal running can be.

And the ideas of all this--the challenge, companionship, conversation, and connection--are my part of my path to being light for others not just through running but through life in general.  

Friday, December 11, 2015

Seeing My Sons Connect the Dots

Sometimes as a parent, I wonder how much I am getting through to my kids.  I have heard two stories recently that nicely reflect on my sons and how I believe I have gotten through.

First, after a recent concert my oldest and his girlfriend made sure to walk my wife (who was there alone as I was in London) back to her car.  My son then also made sure that his girlfriend got home safely before riding his own bike back to his dorm.  As I described this to a friend with whom I often run, she commented on how much of a gentleman that made my oldest.

Second, for my youngest, he made dinner last night.  That was not all that unusual. My ten year old is in charge of dinner a lot of nights.  What was unusual was the fact that it was our first home cooked dinner in about four weeks.  The kitchen is done.  And he and my wife stopped someplace on their way home to get some stuff to make for dinner.  So, when I arrived, I had the opportunity to eat garlic bread that my son had made from a loaf of bread and spices, some mozzarella topped with diced tomato that he had made, and pumpkin ravioli.  I skipped those to consumer some leftovers I didn't want to go to waste, but it was great to see that he had taken the initiative and mentioned his sense of satisfaction and accomplishment with making dinner himself.

All the things I have taught him--how to prepare food, the importance of good food, the importance of preparing food for yourself, and when we got home from his concert the importance of cleaning up--had come to life.  He has connected the dots.  Hopefully he finds it nourishing his soul.  

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Cranberry Sauce

So, today many of my friends have written about what they are thankful for.  I didn't get a chance to post anything yet today.  So, as I am home now after a day that included three dog walks, one 5K race, two 2+ hour drives, and an extended family dinner in Pennsylvania, I will take the time to write about what I am thankful for while I listen to Alice's Restaurant.  

And, it occurred to me that I could tell my story of what I am thankful for through cranberry sauce.  Homemade cranberry sauce (with fresh, whole berries) has become a family tradition for many meals.  We make it for Thanksgiving and take it to the extended family gathering in Pennsylvania each year.  We usually serve it with latkes on the day we buy our Christmas tree (an odd family tradition).  And we often serve cranberry sauce with our Christmas Eve dinner.  We also use it as a topping for vanilla (or even chocolate) ice cream if we have a lot of leftovers.

With that digression, let me continue with the story of why I think that cranberry sauce can symbolize all that I am thankful for.

First, being such an important part of the family Thanksgiving experience, I am thankful for all the people in my extended family.  There are many different personalities.  Many different life stories.  None are perfect.  But all are stories of people I have known for many years.  And I care about them all.  And they all care about me.  And today was a wonderful opportunity to speak with my oldest cousin on my father's side whom I have not had a chance to have a half hour conversation with in a while.  She was inquisitive about the tattoo I already have and the idea that I have for a second (whether I ever get it or not).  She was inquisitive about the meaning of saints lives--what each symbolizes and what the meaning is.  And it was just eye opening to hear about what was going on in her life and the lives of her children.  And no matter how different our lives have been in terms of so many things (but not everything) other than having parents who are siblings, we are actually pretty close and have the opportunity to continue to share as our lives moves forward.  And that is a beautiful thing. Which I hope to continue to do with that cousin, other cousins, and the rest of the extended family.

Second, cranberry sauce is red.  The blood that flows through my heart is red.  And the heart is what is used to represent love.  The love that I have for my wife of 23 1/2 years is strong.  And the life we lead is not perfect (is anyone's?) but our marriage has been and continues to be long and strong.  And I am looking forward to many more years.

Third, love is not just romantic.  Love is also for the rest of my immediate family.  And my three sons are pretty amazing.  The oldest with his talent for and focus on music.  The middle one with his wide variety of interests--art, animals, gardening, singing, and many other things.  The youngest one with his interest in sports and food.  Three very different children.  Each one amazing.  I am thankful that Sherry and I can find and provide a wonderful and diverse set of opportunities for the boys and thankful for how they take up the opportunities we provide.  

Fourth, while love is often thought of in narrow terms of romance and family, there is also a term in Greek for the love that is felt among friends. And this year, several of my friendships have deepened in important ways.  One of the best examples was just las night. With my family's kitchen remodel ongoing,  I needed a way to bake and cook for our contribution to the family Thanksgiving dinner I mentioned several paragraphs ago.  So, one of my running friends was willing to have me and my son come over to make scones and cranberry sauce.  It was an adventure in cooking and baking that included a very long time to make cranberry sauce (given that we were making a triple recipe), setting off the kitchen smoke alarm (scones placed too close to the edge of the flat stone baking pan that resulted in some dripping onto the bottom of the oven that caused smoke), and introducing my friend to cranberry sauce in the first place.  

With cranberry sauce, I mentioned that it is red like blood flowing through my heart.  A lot flows through my heart while I run.  And my running is something that is important to me.  And I am blessed to be able to run and share my running with others.  And I am thankful for that.

And finally, while the cranberry sauce is being prepared, the cranberries burst.  The bursting is a sign of the fullness of the cranberries.  And the fullness reminds me of the abundance in my life.  I am thankful for the many things I have in abundance. People who care about me.  People who care about my family.  Working for a great university for almost two decades house.  Cooking and baking.  A salary.  Pets.  Opportunities to mentor. 

So, the cranberries remind me of family directly, are red like the blood that joins family, blood flows through the heart (and cranberries are heart healthy) and that is a reminder of multiple concepts of love, blood is needed for running, and bursting cranberries are a sign of abundance.  What more could I ask for?  I have a great life with lots to be thankful for.  And I hope that I demonstrate my thankfulness not just on Thanksgiving but every day. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Weird Dream

I don'f often have vivid dreams.  Last night I had one that running friends will realize the unlikelihood of it actually happening.  Makes me think about the "meaning" to the degree that dreams have meaning.  

I was at some international track and field competition running the anchor leg of a 4x400 relay.  (For my non-running friends on most tracks that is a run that is one lap for each runner.)  I got the baton with a big lead and managed to hang on for the victory against someone who was supposed to be very fast.  People I know from today including hockey parents were there to greet me at the finish where we went into a chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!"

Yes, I still love my track workouts.  I always have.  And, I presume, I always will.  But I couldn't even make the 4x400 team for the Penn Relays in high school 28 years ago.  The 400 was never a great event for me.  The only event I was ever really even all that good at was the 1600 meeter run.  And I can't tell you why my brain would want to highlight a relay race for a distance shorter than I was ever any good at.

As I write this, I can throw something out there as an idea for interpreting my dream.  It did represent a win against the odds at a race I aspired to get into (everyone wanted to run at the Penn Relays back in the day).  And I needed some help from my fellow athletes to participate in the win--being give such a big lead.  So, perhaps it does go along with my current running goals.  Working with a little help from my friends toward a goal that many say is against all odds--the Comrades run next year.  Some 56 miles.  Completely the opposite end in terms of distance.  But needing help from my friends in what may be perhaps even more important ways--like the endless training miles.  Especially in a week in which I had just run with others four times in one week (with runs of four different paces at 7, 6, 5, and 1 miles) for the first time in a VERY long time.

What about the hockey parents?  Not entirely sure.  But we did watch our kids play a heck of a game yesterday.  Despite losing 7-2 they played a MUCH BETTER game against a team that had beaten them 9-0 in the opening game of the season.  And, among other things, they played together better as a team--again reflecting the importance of friends in achieving goals.

If anyone has any other ideas on what this might mean given my crazy connecting-the-dots mind, I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


It has been six weeks since my last marathon.  And five weeks since the last time I ran 20 miles.  The 20 miler caused me more problems than any run since I had recovered from the Philadelphia Rock 'n' Roll Hal Marathon in 2010.  The first week after the fateful 20, I ran less than 4 miles.  The second week after the 20, I ran a little further but it was still less than 8.  Then, in the last three weeks, I have run 24, 26, and 28 miles with long runs of 6, 8, and 10.  That is a reminder of how I had to build when I first became a marathon runner, although that process of building was even slower.  Nevertheless, it was (and continues to be) a good reminder of the need for humility and patience.

As I look ahead, the only race on my calendar before Comrades is the Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving Day.  The goal of that day will be to help my ten year old get his course best.  Don't expect him to have his best race ever on the hilly course, but it would be great to bring him under 30 minutes for our Thanksgiving tradition.

When all was said and done, I am focused on strength, flexibility, lower miles (for me 30 total is lower) and less distance on the longest run of the week for a while.  Next week, I'll go back up to 30 and maybe a half marathon distance.  Then, I'll take five weeks to build back to 40 miles and maybe do 15 for my long before the end of the year.

The other thing that is so different for me is the fact that I ran all four runs (7, 6, 5, and 10) with others.  Four different running partners.  Four very different experiences.  A surprise track workout.  A just plain fast six.  A wonderfully easy 5.  And then 10 at a pace that is faster than I need to run but which helped my partner have her last long run before a marathon next weekend.

Running is doing such different things for me in my life.  New lessons.  New emphases.  It is always interesting to see how it continues to evolve in my life.

As the fall marathon season closes for my fellow runners and I am not five years since my first marathon, it will be interesting to see what the next half decade brings for me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Did You Rehearse That?

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to the Dean's Alumni Advisory Board at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.  What I realized was how much, in the nearly three years I have held my position as Vice Dean for Education, my capacity to hold the position has evolved.  One would expect it to evolve, of course, but I received a very clear signal last Friday.

In what way?

Well, I was asked to give a presentation focusing on our academic programs, an exercise the school had done looking at the relationship between our mission and our curriculum, and an update on the school's process of obtaining AACSB accreditation.  

I proceeded through my presentation.  I talked about our MBA programs.  I discussed our specialized MS programs.  I talked about our move toward online programs.  I talked about our small undergraduate program.  I moved on to our exercise and the results that we found that most courses do bring our mission into the curriculum.  And then I finished discussing the continuing process of moving toward accreditation.

I was asked a few questions about resources and timing.  I answered them

I had one page of notes that focused only on the middle of the three topics.  Even those I rarely referred to.

I noticed that my presentation style had completely changed.  Three years ago, everything was rushed.  As I focused on getting all the information out, I tended to loose focus and hurry.  

Last Friday, I was able to be clear.  I took my time.  I told a story with links from one area to the next.  I was comfortable with what I needed to know.  I was comfortable with what I knew.  And apparently, it showed as someone asked me, "Did you rehearse that?"  

I was totally flattered.  I had not.  I have simply become comfortable with my position, with my change in career from the Bloomberg School of Public Health to the Carey Business School, and with the fact that I am asked to represent it.  

That was the second day in a row that I was totally flattered.  

I am grateful for the recognition.

I use that to inspire me to work even harder to help the organization of which I am a part and the individuals with whom I have the good fortune to have in my life on a daily basis.

What inspires you?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Highest Compliment

So, I received what I count as one of the biggest compliments I have ever received last night.  I was at the annual gala event for Back on My Feet, Baltimore.  It it referred to as a bash.  People come in suits and other non-casual clothing but with running shoes.  It's a fun time.  

I've only been to two of the seven that Back on My Feet, Baltimore has had but the director (and now executive director) was the same person at both.  She is a running mentor.  She has become a dear friend.  And she was a former part-time MPH student whom I advised.

Last night, I was able to compare her presentations at the event to how she had presented several years back.  Several years ago she was great.  But she spoke at an incredibly fast pace.  Last night her poise, serenity, and sense of presence had matured incredibly since the last time I saw her present.  It was wonderful for someone who had been her academic advisor and one of her many mentors on the professional development side see that maturation process in action.

Afterwards, I mentioned it to be her and her husband.  She thanked me.  That provided an uplifting feeling.  But what made me stop and catch my breath was when her husband thanked me and told me what a difference he knew I'd made in her development.  Sure, I've had an occasional parent tell me at a graduation ceremony about how I made a difference for a doctoral student in their dissertation or something like that. But to have someone, eighteen months after the student graduated, point out that they could see how I made a difference for the student during the time I worked with the student (which was three years in the part-time program) was truly an incredible, delightful, and overwhelming experience.  Then he went on to say something to the effect that I had probably had a bigger influence on most of my students than I would ever realize.

Maybe I have.  Perhaps someday I'll hear that.  Perhaps it will remain unsaid until a retirement celebration or memorial service someday.  Perhaps the thoughts will remain in the hearts and minds of those I've advised.  In fact, I'd have no problem with that outcome.  Because I know that I have done the best I can for each student in that type of position.  And that is all anyone can ever ask of me.

But to have even one person point it out made it more real.  And made my hopeful that my difference in the world will not be confined just to those I touch directly.  But that it may make a difference to many people separated from me by one or two or three connections.  

And that is not to get big headed about it.  Just to recognize it. Be thankful for it.  And go on doing the best I can for each person with whom I interact in the amazing life with which I have been blessed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Today, I had a fun exchange with an alumna of the MBA program at the Carey Business School.  We had been talking about giving and mentoring.  The discussion about giving led to references to three specific Bible verses.  Then, I mentioned my history of blogging about Bible verses and finding meaning in how the Bible verses relate to my running race times and bib numbers.  My former student wrote back sharing a note about Hebrews 12:1-2 (a common verse for runners to focus on):
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.
The key is that when I saw the Hebrews 12:1-2, I immediately thought of a run in the fall of 2011. The run was the beginning of my shift from running with groups from one of the local running stores to running more and more with people from Back on My Feet.

The run at a local, East Baltimore high school track was done early in the morning in September 2011, as a final time trial before the taper for the Baltimore Running Festival that year.  I had expected to run it with the Charm City Run training group in the evening but there was a dinner at the home of the Dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health that evening that I planned to attend.  So, I got two friends to run with me.  One a student from Ireland. The other who was an MPH advisee of mine and is now the local Executive Director of Back on My Feet.  That run was to get me my fastest time in a two mile time trial up to that point,  In fact, we ran a 12:12 that morning.  (Easy to relate to 12:1-2.)

That began a whole series of runs at the Dunbar track.  Over time, I got to know several of the other runners.  And one of the runners has become one of my closest training partners over the four years since.  What is most interesting is that the training partner and the alumna I had started the online conversation with are two people whom I have invited to attend the next United Way breakfast featuring a speaker telling his story in his own words.

So, in my ongoing effort to find connections in life, it was amazing to find someone who was a runner, who was familiar with important Bible verses (even if she had never necessarily tried to relate them to her numbers or times), and whose suggestion of a Bible verse that is relevant to runners brought back a wonderful memory with a roundabout connection to someone that the alumna will meet soon.  An amazing circle in my life.  More connections to help me make sense of my life.  

Monday, November 9, 2015

Give What You Need Most

Yesterday in the Catholic church there were two readings focusing on widows giving.  In one case, the widow was asked to have faith that after preparing s small cake for one of the prophets that she and her son would have enough flour and oil and they did for a year.  The second was a woman who gave just two coins at the temple and Jesus described her as giving more than anyone else that day.  The priest interpreted the combination of two Bible readings (Old Testament and Gospel) as providing insight that we should give what we most need. 

That is an interesting concept as sometimes we don’t have any of what we most need so that would basically be impossible.  But there are times when we have a little of what we need and we are just thinking we need more.  The idea is that in cases like that giving away at least some of what I have can help to generate more.  Life is not a zero sum game.  Some of that is faith. Some of that is the reality of what happens when people come together with good intentions and pool resources.  And sharing is the start of pooling to make something better.

Yes, the story of the widow and the flour and jug of oil is a miracle by any definition.  But I think that it is a lot more than just miracles.  It is about the way life can work if we trust.  It is about how things happen if there is a positive attitude.

I really like the concept that when we give away a little of what we have little of we can turn it into more.  I think of the following.  Not money.  But many other things that matter to me.  

More love.
More mentoring.
More networking.
More connections.
More spirituality.
More happiness.
More encouragement.
More friendship.

More goodness.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Lessons in Four Miles

Today, I ran 4 miles for the first time since my last 20 mile workout on October 18.  You may ask, "Why the wait?  Don't runners usually make a point to keep up once they are on a roll?"  And of course, that would usually be correct.  But that twenty miler was run at about the same pace that I had run a marathon one week earlier and I had been paying for it ever since.  Specifically, I pretty much run only one workout any longer than one mile since then.  And that was on Tuesday this past week.  So I drove to the Harford Community College for the 7th Annual Heather Hurd 5K on this beautiful sunny morning with almost no expectations on the run other than one--to do the best that I could.

After arriving with just a half hour to spare (not typical for me when preparing for a race) and greeting the two organizers (whom I have gotten to know after participating in this 5K every year since 2011), I had a chance to take an easy mile of warmup.  That mile felt good.  As I was finishing my mile, I heard the Star Spangled Banner being played.  I stopped before finishing my warmup.  Then, it was less than ten minutes till the race.  

I lined up with everyone else and made my way to near the front.  I heard someone next to me talking about having run 29 minutes in her last 5K.  That sounded like a major accomplishment for her, but I was planning to go a bit faster.  However, I didn't want to push too hard.  In the five years of running this race, I've finished close to the top each time and actually won the race one year when it was much smaller.  This year I figured it would be good to line up near but not in the front as I did not plan to go out too fast.

Nevertheless, when I began I was doing quite nicely.  I felt strong.  I felt nothing in my leg.  And I was not too close to the front.  After we cleared the first couple of turns, I settled in.  And as we approached the hill that is near one of the turn around points on the course, I passed two people.  I think that was the last time I passed anyone (or got passed) on the course.  I was tenth at the turn around.  Easy to count at that point.  My first mile came through in 6:05.  That was not what I had planned, but so far, so good.  

The second mile was a little slower.  I began to feel a little of the tension in the right knee area but now enough to be a major concern.  Mile 2 was out at the main road after a combination of uphills and downhills.  I remember the one hill leading in the direction of the main road that had seemed pretty big when I ran the race last year.  It was nice because I just ran through it this year.  It was the second hill that I had run through more easily than I'd expected.  Mile 2 done in 6:35.  A bit slower but still feeling good.  

Then, in Mile 3, I held pace.  The guy who was one ahead of me started looking back with about a mile left.  He looked over his shoulder multiple times for about the next quarter to half mile.  I didn't have the energy to pull up closer to him, but mile 3 was in 6:28.  That was a good sign that I didn't lose my pace and even gained a little back.  Still not as fast as the first mile, but a good showing.

I finished in 19:50.  Certainly slower than my best on the course.  But by no means a bad showing.  Yes, slower than the 19:16 last year or the 19:10 of the year before.  But I didn't have any issues like this year's knee issues in either of the last two years and I didn't have a nearly two week hiatus before the run either of the last two years.

So, what did I learn?  I ask this because I think there are life lessons in almost every run and certainly in every race.  And a book on leadership that I am reading suggested reflecting every day and thinking about what I have learned from specific experiences. 

Here is what I learned.

First, the human body can do some amazing things.  A coach suggested to me that with four days of complete rest (which I sort of did as I took four out of five days with rest with just the one day at 2.6 miles on the second of those five days).  And, yes, my body is most of the way better.  The key is to have trust.  Trust that there can be improvement.  

Second, I learned that even when I have no expectations, I can get a pretty good result.  And sometimes, it is best to have no expectations.  Then, there is no disappointment.  Rather there is only the joy of living in and experiencing the present.  With whatever it reveals.  And since I was still first in my age group even with the less than perfect performance, I was quite happy.  The only expectation was to do my best.  And if I always do that with integrity, what more could I ask for? 

Third, even when I know there is a risk of overdoing something, I still tend to go without abandon.  I can't remember the last time I ran a 6:04 mile.  I never expected to run a 6:04 mile.  I keep telling myself not to push too hard or too far too soon.  But I ran the 6:04 feeling just fine.   I gave also recently written about being "all in."  Well, today I was certainly all in the race.  I haven't lost that at all.  And, again, sometimes it is easier to be all in when I just let life be rather than coming at something with high levels of expectations all hyped up.

Finally, it was a lesson in finishing.  No, I didn't finish at the same space I started.  but I did finish with a strong effort and I made sure to keep running until the end of the race.  I kept at the task until it was complete.  

Each of these is lessons is key for my running.  And it is also key for my life in general.  Have faith in coming back even after a setback.  Set aside expectations and live in the moment with a commitment just to do my best.  Go all out.  And complete the task.  In running.  In work.  In family life.  In friendship.  In general.

Seeing each event in life in the context of a lesson to learn in a moment is pretty empowering.  Now to just be careful as I continue on my path toward an even bigger goal.  An even longer run.  An even more amazing adventure from which I am sure I will learn quite a bit.  

The bigger the run.  The bigger the lesson.  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Freedom's Run Marathon--Part 5

Yesterday I wrote about my bib number and some Bible verses.  Today, I use my race time--3:34:11.  

And I want to go back to Psalms to choose to start from verse 3 in Psalm 34 and going to verse 11.  

Let me put those verses here:
3 My soul will glory in the LORD;let the poor hear and be glad.4 Magnify the LORD with me;
and let us exalt his name together.5 I sought the LORD, and he answered me,
delivered me from all my fears.6 Look to him and be radiant,
and your faces may not blush for shame.7 This poor one cried out and the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.8 The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and he saves them.
9 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the stalwart one who takes refuge in him.10 Fear the LORD, you his holy ones;
nothing is lacking to those who fear him.11 The rich grow poor and go hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

This is not only a set of verses that are related to my race time, but Psalm 34 was also part of mass the day after the marathon.  Father Sam, at St. Pius X, mentioned the communion antiphon after the Eucharistic song was done.  He mentioned Psalm 34 and he specifically referred to verse 11.  I knew that there was something that was going to be related to my run.  

I'd like to add verse 2, "I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be always in my mouth."  

While that is not something that is directly related to my time, I saw this verse when I first turned to Psalm 34.  This is part of the way I try to lead my life of faith--with a constant reflection on the glory of God in the way that I lead my life.

Getting back to the verses most closely related to my time, it also makes me think of a running graphic I posed recently.  Here is what it said, "Running removes pretense, which is why those who run beside us become honored friends."  This is attributed to Dave Griffin.

And how does this all fit together?

First, Lauren (and several other training partners) have become honored friends after the many miles of running side by side.  Not often in races but through all the training.  

Second, removing pretense means that a person is vulnerable.  I associate being vulnerable with the type of being "poor" that the psalm is referring to.  The Psalm contrasts the poor and the rich.  That seems to imply that it has to do with money.  And those who are poor in money may also be poor in spirit.  But the interpretation is usually poor in spirit.  What does that mean?

I often think of it as vulnerable.  No pretenses.  Nothing false.  Just me.  

And when I run 26.2 miles, I cannot put forward any pretense.  There is nothing false.  I am just on the course.  And I have to reach the end.  And I can only do so under my own effort.  And if I make it, I make it on my own.  And if something happens to keep me from reaching the end or if I don't reach the end in the time I expect, it is on me.  

I am vulnerable.  I have no pretense.  I am before God.  And I use the gifts that God gives me to praise God and show his glory.