Sugar Badger 50K

So much of this year in Ohio has been darkness. Not only the darkness of pandemic and racial tension, but dark skies and rain.

Today was a beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky. But maybe I could’ve used some.

I set out this morning to run the Sugar Badger 50K. This run was supposed to take place this past weekend in Wisconsin. It would’ve been the inaugural run. But COVID happened.

Initially, I was going to run the virtual race in my favorite place to run,  Delaware State Park. But as the theologian John Lennon said, life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. So I got up early (too early) this morning and ran around the city of Columbus.

It has been a tough week for Columbus. Just as coronavirus restrictions have begun to img_0435ease, the undercurrent of racial tension has emerged. Protesters have filled the streets calling for a new and better way to live in relationships, the dismantling of broken systems, and the end to police brutality.

Early this morning, when I started, Columbus was quiet. It was a cool and beautiful morning as I ran down tree lined trails. For the first half of the run, I stayed well on track to reach my goal of finishing under six hours. In fact, I ran the first few miles faster than needed and was able to use and build that cushion.

About 15 miles in I stopped at a gas station to rehydrate. The time waiting in line evaporated my cushion and after this stop my calves began to cramp. Nonetheless, for the next seven or eight miles I still stayed right around the necessary pace to break six hours.

img_0436The final eight miles were physically difficult. It was hard to run as my calves tightened. Walking became more regular. The cloudless day took its toll on me.

I finished in 6:11:26. I didn’t finish in the time I hoped, but still set a PR by 18 minutes. Not a bad day.

The theme for this week in the Un-cancelled series is community.

After today’s run, our church held an outdoor worship service to bless the staff and volunteers of the United Methodist Free Store, which will re-open tomorrow after being closed for the coronavirus.

For 21 years, the Free Store has brought diverse people together in a environment of acceptance and radical hospitality. In these challenging times of pandemic and systemic racism, we know that work is more important than ever before. We believe there has never been a better time to be the Church, and we remain committed to a South Side that is welcoming and supportive of ALL people.

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Joy 15K, yet another un-cancelled run

img_0365This morning marked my 14th virtual race since the onslaught of the coronavirus. For a person who normally runs about a dozen races a year, I have been hitting it hard. Up until now, I have run these races at race pace. I have gone out and run at full effort, the same as if I had a bib on my chest and a finish line to cross. I am beginning to feel the toll in my legs and am planning to virtually run the Sugar Badger 50K next Monday, so I took a different approach to this run.

The theme for this week is joy. I went out to run a 15K for the pure joy of it. I didn’t mailworry about the pace on my watch. I listened to a random collection of my favorite songs and when the beat was fast I kicked it up, when the songs slowed, I slowed. When Gary Clark Jr wailed on his guitar on “Got to Get Up” my feet hit the ground in time with the tempo. I enjoyed the rare treat of a sunny Ohio day and laughed off the dripping sweat from the high humidity. 

I have always been attracted to people who have a deep joy. Two of my heroes are the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. When they are together they are childish in their laughter. This is not a naive joy, but one that comes from having gone through tough hardships. The Dalai Lama has lived in exile from his own country and Desmond Tutu lived through apartheid. And yet, watch this video and count how many times they laugh. Their joy is infectious and life giving.

 

 

Kindness 10K, another un-cancelled run

One of the things I love about running is its simplicity.

There is no need for expensive equipment.

There is no complicated technique, it is just left foot, right foot, left foot.

There is no need to travel to distant places, there are a million great places to run outside your door.

There is no need for shirts or medals or bling. One of the opportunities of this moment is to run for the simple joy of running.

I have been embracing that opportunity full-on. Today was my 13th virtual race since the img_0346outbreak of the coronavirus. Less than a week ago I ran my second fastest marathon ever. Today, I went out seeking to run a 10K in under an hour. That is no record setting pace, but considering the heavy toll I have put on my body it was an aggressive goal. It has also been raining enough in Ohio to make ark building seem reasonable. Today, I ran on the Mudsock Trail that lived up to its name.  My new shoes and clean socks were soaked by the time I finished in a time of 59:02, almost a minute faster than my goal.

The weather was unseasonably cold and wet, the conditions difficult, and my legs tired. But all of that just made the accomplishment sweeter.

It is this same simplicity found in running that can be lived in life. The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying, “My religion is very simpleMy religion is kindness.” In order to love one another we don’t need complicated theologies, divisive denominations, or unachievable expectations. The simple act of showing kindness to others, ourselves, and all of creation is enough.

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Dreams: Un-cancelled half marathon

When I dreamed about the spring 2020 running season virtual races are not what i dreamed of. It seems very little in life the last few months has been the stuff that dreams are made of.

While the world around us is hurting and uncertain, it has been a remarkable running season. Just over a month ago I ran my strongest marathon. Less than two weeks ago I set a 50K PR by over 12 minutes. Today, in 92 percent humidity, I ran my second fastest half marathon ever. I have not done any speed training, I am not well rested, I did not train for this single event. In fact, I’ve run in a dozen virtual races in the last couple of months. Not the best recipe for success.

So how did this happen? Running after my dreams. This is the third year in a row I’ve been chasing the Run the Year goal. I haven’t hit the goal yet, but the increased miles have resulted in these strong runs.

The human body is an amazing thing. We are capable of so much more than we realize. Whatever you dream, you can achieve.

Note: here is the playlist I listened to while running, for those of you who enjoy a little gallows humor: https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/covid-half/pl.u-ay04sPV37MY

Commitment 50K, the Un-cancelled run

photo-collageToday I completed the un-cancelled series. This series began as a four-week program as races were cancelled due to the coronavirus. Then the series extended to six weeks with seven free virtual races: 5K, 8K, 10K, 15K, half-marathon, marathon, and an ultra. Today I ran my first ultra of the year and completed this series.

When I got up to run this morning I was not sure if I would run 1 mile or 31. A weekend of yard work left me with a tight inner hamstring and I honestly wasn’t sure what my body would give me today. Even through the first few miles I wasn’t certain how the day would go.

img_0152It was a beautiful day for a run. I started at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park and followed the winding trail through the woods. Then, I ran from Battelle Darby, through Lake Darby, to Prairie Oaks Metro Park. The hills of Battelle Darby were replaced with the mud at Prairie Oaks. Nonetheless, I consistently stayed on pace and the first 20+ miles were uneventful.

Around mile 24 I entered the pain cave, but unlike so many races before I didn’t give in to the pain. I doubled down on my commitment and miles 25 and 29 were among the fastest I ran all day.

While the sun made for an unusually beautiful Ohio day, it also took its toll. I was getting hot but was coming up on the one convenience store in Lake Darby. I poured the remaining water over my head and ran to the store as I hit the marathon mark. However, when I got to the store it had closed for lunch–for four hours! I had five miles left to go, was out of water, and dehydrated. But again, I committed myself to the task and ran back to the nature center.

Finishing with a lap around the parking lot, I set a personal record for a 50K img_0153by over 12 minutes. Three weeks after running one of my best marathons ever I ran one of my best ultras.

The theme for this week is commitment. Over these races I have been able to stay with commitment despite pain and weariness.

However, the good folks at Run the Edge keep increasing the level of commitment. At first we went from 4 weeks to 6 and five events to seven. Now, the program has been extended another six weeks with another seven events. Commitment challenges us to thrive during hard times, thank you to Run the Edge for pushing us to achieve new heights.

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Courage 15K, the Un-cancelled run

courage-15kToday was my sixth of seven runs in the Un-cancelled series, a 15K. Like the 8K, I had never run a 15K before. No matter what time I ran it in, it would be a PR. As I was headed out the door I had to look on google to even know the exact mileage equivalent of 15K.

img_0065I went out aiming to run at an 9:39 pace and stayed near that for the whole run. This put me in a different place than races in previous weeks. In my last few runs, I stepped up my goal as I ran, which meant I had to make up time and chase down a deficit. Today I better managed my pace, stayed more consistent for the entire run, and hit my goal with 21 seconds to spare.

However, that doesn’t mean this run was easy. This is my 10th virtual race in the last six weeks. In the last two weeks alone I’ve run a marathon, 10K, 8K, and today a 15K. I have run all of these races with integrity. I may not have set PRs, but I have run hard as if I was in a race. About halfway through today’s run I hit a point where my legs were tired and sore. I could have easily said I’ve raced hard lately and backed off. But I  doubled down on the pace and finished with a negative split (running the second half faster than the first).

img_0066The theme for this week is courage. It takes courage to face pain and lift your head and pull your shoulders back and push on. However, it is by far not the most courageous thing in the world. Often, I have used races to do fundraising. Whenever I do that, I carry the names of people with me who donate and I am always reminded that they have shown more courage than I. The people who have donated to me are people who have overcome cancer, single parents who have raised children, spouses who have lost loved ones. I may have the courage to turn my legs over when they are tired, but that doesn’t compare to the courage of people who have lived in poverty, abuse, and loss.

Today, we have countless examples of courage. Over 20 percent of Ohioans who have contracted coronavirus are healthcare workers. Yet, every day, doctors and nurses and healthcare workers walk back in to hospitals. People in grocery stores continue to keep us fed. There is courage all around us. Whether we run or not, let us all be inspired by the abundance of courage.