Columbus international 5K race report

We can only control what we control. There are many things in life  that happen to us that are outside of our hands. We are not defined by the things that happen to us, but how we respond to them.

In my last four races I have finished in the top 5 to 10%. I have been in a groove. I have felt stronger and faster than ever. As I entered today’s race I had visions of capping off my third race in six weeks with a strong finish. I ran the first mile in seven minutes and 45 seconds. And, I felt as if negative splits were before me. I hoped to break 23 minutes and after the first mile that seemed a realistic goal. 

However, I soon reached a point on the course where a volunteer did not know where to tell us to go. As she called to find directions, I watched my average pace drop from 7:45 to 8:30. Frustrated by standing and waiting, I took off and followed other runners.  Following a lost crowd sent me on a long  and comical journey. We knew where we needed to go, but could not get to the other side of a branch of the Scioto River.  By the time the winding trail got us back to the finish line, I had ran nearly 4 miles. My streak of top finishes was over.

In contrast to the focus of this race, my extra mile is a first world problem. The Columbus international 5K showcases the different cultures who live in the capital city. Many of these people came to the United States as refugees.  

Pre-race festivities included the arts of many cultures.
 

Additionally, this year the race focused on infant mortality. Columbus has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. In fact, an area near our church is one of the most dangerous places for an Aftican-American family to have a child. Running an extra mile on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, on the banks of the Scioto River, while experiencing multiple cultures and listening to jamming music, is not a bad thing. Any frustration I had today will only serve as motivation as I train for my next race, the Hilliard Classic Half Marathon.

Instead of being frustrated by a less than noteworthy finish, I am inspired by people who have overcome real struggle and celebrate life. 

Running for those who can’t 

There are many reasons I run. I run for health, I run as a spiritual practice, I run to fundraise, I run to race, I run for joy. There are a lot of reasons I run, but today, I ran for those who can’t. 

Yesterday I returned to Albuquerque to visit New Mexico churches. The first person I saw was my friend Jeff who had been in a motor cross accident years ago but today can’t run more than half a mile. I stayed with my friends Phil and Kim. Phil recently had a second surgery on his arm.

Today is the sixth anniversary of the passing of my father-in-law, Robert Hudgins. He was one of the kindest, strongest, and most generous people I have ever known. Bobby was the kind of man I want to be. And yet, from the day I met him his body was broken. Diabetes tore him apart. While he had the same beautiful spirit, he struggled to see, walk, and get through life. 

Today I ran for Jeff, Phil, and especially Bobby. I ran for all who can’t. I breathed deeply, took in the beauty of the sunrise, and treasured every step.

  

Hangry 5K

IMG_6923Team CD4AP moves to end hunger.

America is a land of abundance. We have natural resources, rich farmland, high technology, and hard-working people. A short drive anywhere in the Midwest will place you in the middle of cornfields; and, across Texas ranches fill the landscape. We have so much food, that almost 40 percent of the food grown and produced is never eaten, but ends up in landfills.

At the same time, an astonishingly high number of people are hungry. Across the United States, almost 15 percent of people are food insecure–which means that over 48 million people don’t have adequate access to food. In Franklin County, Ohio, that percentage is even higher. Over 17 percent of people in the same county that is booming economically are food insecure. For children in Franklin County, the number is over 20 percent.

IMG_6914
Starting to end hunger.

Perhaps the most shocking thing about all of this, is that we accept food insecurity as normal. We have become desensitized to the disparity of kids arriving at school hungry, in the same place where so much food is wasted.

Today, that complacency was countered with righteous anger.

Approximately 150 people gathered at a cold and windy Highbanks Metro Park to take a stand against hunger. We ran up steep hills, navigated stairs, and overcame our own discomfort so others might have the basic dignity of having food on their table. Over $3,000 was raised to help Heart to Heart and Community Development for All People overcome hunger. This money will go a long way.  Last year we provided almost 600,000 pounds of free produce to our community and are equipping people through health education, cooking classes, and health coaching.

IMG_6924
Liv and Bianca overcome the cold to help others overcome
IMG_6918
Christina takes home a third place finish.

We don’t have to accept the ways things our as normal. In a land of abundance, no one should go hungry. We can end food insecurity and today we took a step in that direction. Join us in giving your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness to end hunger.

 

Seamus O’Possum 10 miler

“Let me go down in the mud, Where the rivers all run dry.” -The Pogues

In some strange way, the struggles of this week resulted in a great race today. I don’t know why, but I always seem to do better in life when the challenge is the hardest.

For the last two months, my training was great. I’ve been training at times I’ve never trained at before. The last couple of 5Ks I’ve run in I have finished well. My foot drop is still there, but the best it’s been in two years. I came to this week with a good foundation.

And then, for some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to get a cyst on my back removed on Monday. I’ve had this cyst removed twice before, so didn’t think it was a big deal. This time, the doctor dug a little deeper to get it all out. Since it was on my back I didn’t sleep well and the antibiotic has bothered my stomach all week. Two months of great training almost seemed lost to an ill-timed decision.

  The running course itself was beautiful, through the woods of Delaware State Park, hugging the lake shore. I had been on parts of this trail before, on a hike with Nathan’s scout pack. But after spring Ohio rains, the trail that was dry in the fall turned to mud in March. I’ve never signed up for a mud run before, but unintentionally participated in one today. In the first half of the race I spent a lot of effort trying to avoid the mud as much as I could and find firmer ground. By the second half, I abandoned that effort and just ran straight through them. 

I love trail running.  

 I love the rolling hills.

I even love the sound of my feet splashing in puddles. 

Between a tired body and a soft earth, today was a recipe for disappointment. But the premise of this blog is perseverance. I am not the strongest, fastest, or smartest person around. But I will stick it out and keep my legs turning even when my feet are cold and wet.

Today, perseverance paid off, I finished as the second male, and was handed a recycled trophy with a coach on the top of it. 

The greater the obstacles, the sweeter the victory.

Rise above.

1,ooo Miles

Loupe-2m13n4mz-3000

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

I disagree.

I believe the thousand mile journey begins with a single thought; a determination that proceeds the first step.

Around the middle of January I decided to run 1,000 miles in 2015. Back in the marathon training years I had run 800-900 miles per year, but never eclipsed one thousand. Running this distance would be longer than anything I had done pre-accident/L5-S1 damage/foot drop.

While a thousand miles breaks down to a manageable 2.74 miles per day, I started behind. First, I had the deficit of not deciding to do this until a couple of weeks in to the year. Second, I sprained my ankle in March and didn’t run for another three weeks. By April, I had a 100 mile deficit that I didn’t catch up to until a few days ago.

1000

I don’t pretend to be the most intelligent or talented person around, but determination served me well. I ran through Columbus metro parks and across Cincinnati bridges, around Wisconsin lakes and through Nashville college campuses, alone across farmland and cheered by a homeless friend in downtown Houston. Running deepens my relationship with places. When running, I see and experience life more fully. My appreciation of creation grows every time my foot strikes the earth.

I see and experience myself more fully. In this thousand mile journey my ankle turned more times than I can count. My body continually reminded me that it is approaching 50. But I learned that I am more than frail bones and strained tendons. My will and perseverance are stronger than my limitations. In this, I am reminded that nothing is impossible. The only things we can’t do are the things we don’t believe.

We may not all be born with equal gifts or opportunities, but the desires of our hearts can carry us through thousand mile journeys that will never leave us the same.

Decemburrr Dash 5K PR

“December is the cruelest month.” -The Waterboys, December 

On Wednesday it was 60 degrees. I ran in shorts and a short sleeve shirt on the Scioto Mile. The forecast for Christmas Eve is 60 degrees. However, the appropriately named Decemburrr Dash lived up to its name. At race time it was 25 degrees. But with a nearly 20 mile an hour wind the weather read “Feels like 17”. 

I wasn’t really prepared for this race. The ever turning ankle prevented me from doing speed work. Poor eating discipline has me heavier than I would like. Last night I took the boys to Five Guys before we saw the new Star Wars movie and I ate Junior Mints as Chewbacca kicked First Order booty. Couple all of this with the coldest day of the year and it would’ve been easier to stay home.

But I love a challenge. The bigger the obstacle, the greater the triumph.

“Shall I play for you?” -The Little Drummer Boy

The Decemeburrr Dash started with little warning as suddenly someone counted down from 10. Frozen runners hurriedly adjusted hats, watches, and music. We were going.

The race began on narrow footbridges through Audubon wetlands. People of varying speeds navigated for position in the first mile. In the second mile I ran from group to group, settling with a group of six that seemed to be averaging near an eight minute mile pace. The group dwindled from six to five to four as runners peeled off. At the end of mile two one person in the group turned it up and broke away, I followed her lead. I ran a 7:40 pace in the third mile and average a 7:00 minute flat pace in the last tenth of a mile crossing the finish line in 24:20, my fastest 5K ever. After many attempts I finally broke the 25 minute barrier that long alluded me.

“Got on a lucky one, Came in eighteen to one.” -The Pogues, Fairytale of New York

Despite continued drop foot and weak ankles the last eight months of running have been the best in many years. At the end of this run I have 36 miles to go to reach my 2015 goal of 1,000 miles.

Bring on the obstacles. At the end of them I’ll smile even larger. 

  

Turkey Trot Race Report

Every race has an unexpected element. Often, this comes in external ways: an unexpected hill, design of the course, or energy of the crowd. Today’s unexpected element came in an internal drive.

Last week I signed up for a five mile turkey trot. Running on thanksgiving morning has become a bit of a personal tradition, but this year I didn’t specifically train for the run. I figured I would just use it as a training run for a December 5k. 

However, as the race began, I found an internal motivation I didn’t expect. Perhaps I was still hanging on to some lingering disappointment from the Air Force Half Marathon. Maybe I’ve crossed too many finish lines feeling like I left too much on the course. Either way, I felt a strong desire to run strong. I didn’t have my watch on so I didn’t worry about time. I just wanted to run a solid race all the way to the finish–and I did.

I planned to run 9 minute miles on the wet and gray Wisconsin morning, but actually ran negative splits starting with the first mile at an 8:38 pace and finishing the last mile at 8:10. 5.1 miles in 42:32 not only exceeded expectations, but the solid run left me thankful. 

Thankful for strength in body and spirit, thankful for time with my family, thankful for the gift of life.

Thankful.