Author Archives: Perseverance Runner

About Perseverance Runner

I have never been fast or blessed with hand-eye coordination. I am not the smartest person in the room. I don’t claim any special abilities. But I do have endurance and perseverance. These gifts have allowed me to explore the art of distance running and taken me to places I would have never experienced from the living room couch. I hope you enjoy this page as I share my experiences, reflections, photographs, and writings related to running.

Dream Anyway: From 40 to 2,018

According to the interweb, 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail.

So what.

The new year is a time to dream anyway. Today brings the opportunity to look at where we are and where we want to be and take a single step in the direction of fulfillment.

Since Thanksgiving I have run every day, part of a challenge called the 40 Days of Awesome. Some of the runs over these 40 days were memorable: the Winter Solstice race, coming home from a run with a Christmas tree, and almost getting arrested for trespassing at Arlington National Cemetery. However, must runs were less noteworthy. Simply a commitment to keep putting one foot in front of the other, whether it was sunny or raining, wearing shorts or four layers of clothing. It was nothing more than perseverance and a commitment to relentless forward progress that brought the realization of 40 Days of Awesome.

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Running for 40 days is not really that significant. There are people who do much more important things. I hope I do more important things than run. But it is a reminder that all things are possible. Don’t listen to the voices that tell you most people fail or that you will fail. Every day brings the opportunity for a new beginning. Who cares how many times you have fallen short. Dream anyway.

Marianne Williamson wrote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

For me, with 40 Days of Awesome completed I begin a new journey to run 2,018 miles in 2,018. I have never run this kind of distance before, but who cares. Why not me?

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May you shine in 2,018, manifesting the glory of God in all you do and all you are. Don’t be limited by other’s darkness, let your light shine.

 

 

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40 Days of Iggy

Since Thanksgiving I have been participating in the Runner’s Word challenge, 40 Days of Awesome. With New Year’s Day quickly approaching and this challenge coming to an end, it is time for a new challenge, 40 Days of Iggy.

Henry Rollins often refers to Iggy Pop as the undisputed king of rock and roll. For the next 40 days I will be listening to these albums as I run. They include Iggy’s discography, as well as Mr. Pop’s influences and favorites. Whether you exercise or not, I invite you to join me in the #40DaysOfIggy. Listen to one of these albums every day, your ears will thank you.iggypop2

  1. The Stooges, The Stooges
  2. In the Wee Small Hours, Frank Sinatra
  3. Fun House, The Stooges
  4. Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, Marty Robbins
  5. Raw Power, The Stooges
  6. 12 x 5, The Rolling Stones
  7. The Idiot, Iggy Pop
  8. Bringing it All Back Home, Bob Dylan
  9. Lust for Life, Iggy Pop
  10. Rubber Soul, The Beatles
  11. New Values, Iggy Pop
  12. Are You Experienced, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  13. Soldier, Iggy Pop
  14. Station to Station, David Bowie
  15. Party, Iggy Pop
  16. Star Time, James Brown
  17. Zombie Birdhouse, Iggy Pop
  18. The Heavyweight Champion, John Coltrane
  19. Blah-Blah-Blah, Iggy Pop
  20. Louis Armstrong, The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings Vol 1
  21. Instinct, Iggy Pop
  22. The Indian Runner, Various Artists
  23. Brick by Brick, Iggy Pop
  24. R. L. Burnside, Too Bad Jim
  25. American Caesar, Iggy Pop
  26. Pink, Boris
  27. Naughty Little Doggie, Iggy Pop
  28. Elwan, Tinariwen
  29. Avenue B, Iggy Pop
  30. Closer, Joy Division
  31. Beat ‘Em Up, Iggy Pop
  32. Adore Life, Savages
  33. Skull Ring, Iggy Pop
  34. Kick out the Jams, MC5
  35. Preliminaries, Iggy Pop
  36. English Tapas, Sleaford Mods
  37. Apres, Iggy Pop
  38. Gang Signs & Prayer, Stormzy
  39. Post Pop Depression, Iggy Pop
  40. Roadkill Rising, Iggy Pop

Race Report: Winter Solstice Trail Run

I had a plan.

For the last two months I trained for the Winter Solstice Trail Race at John Bryan State Park, near Yellow Springs, Ohio. After the disappointment of city running at the Chicago Marathon, I longed to return to trails. I had never run at this park and it did not disappoint. The beauty of running through the limestone gorge, and along the banks of the Little Miami River, are the kind of things that make trail running special.

In the weeks leading up to the race, I practiced weekly double-digit runs. Creating negative splits, I’d run each mile faster than the next. I often ran home from work, starting at 11-something minutes per mile and finishing some 14 miles later around 9 minutes per mile. My plan was to race like that today, but Mother Nature has a way of disrupting my plans.

Rain started falling across central Ohio last night and did not stop this morning. The trails at John Bryan State Park turned to mud and the exposed limestone rocks were slick. The first mile of the race was a disappointment as 100-plus runners clogged the single track trails to a walk. At the same time, we had to navigate wet, moss-covered rock steps. Despite this frustrating beginning, over the next four miles I put my plan in place and ran each mile faster than the next, quickly achieving sub-10 minute miles. At the midway point I was happy with my pace and set a goal to finish the run in under two hours.

The trail had other ideas.

During this time, rain turned to sleet and sleet turned to snow. Runners in front of me chewed up the trail. My feet not only became heavy with mud, but it often felt like I was ice skating. I fell three times, once on a slick bridge and twice doing a hands-first Pete Rose impersonation on the trail. We also crossed three creeks, the final one knee-deep giving legs and feet an instant freeze. In navigating the conditions, the racing plan went out the window. In fact, by mile 9, I covered up my Garmin watch and decided to run by effort and forget the numbers.

And that is where the joy comes in. I have come to believe that the greater the obstacles, the sweeter the victory. But it is not just about reaching the finish line, but about finding joy in the journey. John Bryan State Park is beautiful. As sleet turned to snow, the voices of Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing “The Little Drummer Boy” together played in my ears. I thought about how both of these legends are gone and what a gift it is to be able to run in a gorgeous place with snow covering the rolling landscape. I ran, sticking out my tongue, and collecting snowflakes at the same time.

Almost the entire 12-plus mile course was in the woods. We emerged in to an opening, which meant the finish line was near. A woman came up next to me and startled me. We raced to the finish, playfully challenging each other. I finished the race well-trained, having run my best in difficult conditions, and with a smile on my face. I did not finish in the time I wanted. I had a plan, but something better happened along the way–a Festivus Miracle!

Best Albums of 2017

Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Prophets of Rage said that bad politics make for great music. I don’t know if we can give all of the credit to politicians, but 2017 was a great year for music. Here are 10 albums I will be listening to for years to come. Check them out and enjoy!

BEST ALTERNATIVE: U2, Songs of Experience. This is a real album, as good as anything U2 has ever made. (also see Depeche Mode, Spirit, also as good as anything they have ever done)

BEST ROCK: The Fall, New Facts Emerge. I saw The Fall in concert 25 years ago and they had already been making music for 25 years. (also see Foo Fighters, Concrete and Gold)

BEST ELECTROPOP: Lorde, Melodrama. This is no simple pop album. The New Zealander returns with a statement. (also see Halsey, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom)

BEST RAP: Logic, Everyday. Logic lays out the racial complexity of America with hope and joy, and he makes a powerful video (also see Eminem, Revival)

BEST R&B: Mavis Staples, If All I Was Was Black: At 78 the soul singer is as contemporary calling for social justice as she was in the 1960s. (also see Stormzy, Gang Signs & Prayer)

BEST FEMALE PUNK ROCK: Priests, Nothing Feels Natural: Because what the world needs now is female punk rock! (also see The World, First World Record)

BEST ELECTRONIC ALBUM.  Alan Vega – IT: Last year Bowie said good-bye with Blackstar. This year, also at 78, Alan Vega leaves us with a magnum opus that delivers the energy and passion of a much younger man. (also see Bjork, Utopia)

BEST PSYCHEDELIC ROCK ALBUM. The Flaming Lips: Oczy Mlody. Wayne is right, there should be unicorns! (Also see The Flaming Lips, Onboard the International Space Station. A
psychedelic version of a psychedelic album
)

BEST PUNK ALBUM. Meat Wave: The Incessant. My favorite “new-to-me” punk bank of the year. There are a lot of great songs on here, but the title track is my favorite song of the year: (Also see Sleaford Mods, English Tapas)

BEST ALBUM: Kendrick Lamar: Damn. The best rap album since Public Enemy’s It takes a nation of Millions. Kendrick creatively holds together personal struggle and systematic injustice. For a theological take on this album, check out a blog post by Noah and me.

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“This what God feels like” Kendrick in Columbus, Ohio

10 Best Running Songs of 2017

Yesterday marked the half way mark of the 40 Days of Awesome running challenge. Today, I ran over 12 miles home from work on a below-freezing Ohio day. On this run I listened to a collection of 28 of my favorite songs of 2017  (click to see and listen to the full list). Of those, here are the 10 best running songs. These aren’t necessarily the 10 greatest songs of the year, but the best to keep your feet moving. Check them out and enjoy!

10. Run, Foo Fighters: Is it cliché to start this list with a song called Run? Foo Fighters are as cool as it gets, as this video shows:

9. Heaven in Hiding, Halsey: Can I lose my punk rock card for following a cliché song with a pop song? I’m too old to care.

8. Less Than, Nine Inch Nails: I was hoping for a Nine Inch Nails album in 2017, but settled for this great song from a good EP.

7. No Big Bang, Priests: Priests and The World contributed a lot of great female punk rock to run to in 2017.

6. Army Nights: Sleaford Mods, Iggy Pop’s favorite band will raise your pulse even if you are sitting on the couch.

5. The Static God, Oh Sees: A Henry Rollins favorite that moves.thee-oh-sees-orc-album-art-1496859706-compressed

4. DNA, Kendrick Lamar: My DNA not for imitation. Your DNA an abomination.

3. Cold, Stormzy: I made this list while running in 16 degree temps. Could have influenced this selection.

2. Bad Man, Meat Wave: if the finish line is in sight, this song will get you there fast.

1. Hallelujah, Logic: No better way to start a run than to the hopeful spirit of Logic.

Logic-Everybody-Cover

Race Report: Chicago Marathon 

Numbers don’t lie. 

The temperature on Sunday reached 81 degrees. The humidity climbed in to 90th percentiles. By mile 6 my shirt was so soaked with sweat that I tossed it into a street-corner trash can.

My Garmin kept giving me false data. Despite five resets, it told me I was running faster and longer than actual. I tried to catch the pace team that started ahead of me and in doing so I ran the first 9 miles faster than I should’ve.

I slowed down, trusting the pace on my watch, but when I hit mile 15, while my watch said I was exactly on pace, I was almost 30 seconds per mile behind my plan. I tried to do the math in my dehydrated head of how fast I would have to run the last 11 miles to catch up. But as I saw a line of runners pressed against a fence, trying to stretch out their cramps, and recognized that the course had taken us from the skyscraper-sheltered downtown streets to exposed neighborhoods on a cloudless day, I knew there was no catching up.

Numbers don’t lie.

In the week leading up to the marathon, I researched the impact of heat and humidity on marathon times. Scientific studies show that if you planned on running in 4 hours and 30 minutes (which I did) and the temperature is 80 (which it was) you can expect to finish in about 5 hours and 18 minutes.

When I researched this in my air conditioned home I didn’t want to believe it. My pride and ego had a goal in mind and I was going for that goal. But, numbers don’t lie.

But this race was never about numbers. It was about running for those who can’t.

I ran for Katie Ingram, who instead img_5758of competing in the world ironman championships recovered from injury and surgery. Katie is one of the strongest people I know, mentally and physically. She once did the second half of an ironman with blood caked down her body and her arm immobilized. I ran for Katie. In my darkest moments in Chicago, when my calves cramped over the last six miles and wouldn’t let go, I thought that despite the heat and humidity and cramps that she would give anything to be here.

img_5755I ran listening to the music of people who are no longer alive. From David Bowie to Tupac, from Tom Petty to Amy Winehouse, in the final miles that often resembled a death march, I would hear a favorite song come on, think of that artist and people close to me who I associated with that song, and say to myself, I have to run until the end of this song.

I ran for Bart Yasso. I met one of my long time heroes at the marathon expo. Despite four exposures to lyme disease, and a noticable change in his speech pattern, he laced up his shoes once again. The impact of Lyme disease kept him from running and he dropped out half way through the marathon, but his voice echoed in my head to enjoy the moment.I ran for those who couldn’t run and finished the race. The fact that it took me 40 minutes longer than expected disappointed me. The emotional toll is as draining as the physical effort. But for this run, on this hot day, and with the focus on running for those who can’t , finishing was enough. Overcoming obstacles and recognizing the gift of each step is its own reward.

Numbers don’t lie, but life is not about numbers. Life is about living in the joy of each moment.

The humility of running

Running has a way of keeping one humble.

I have stood at the starting line of races next to children and senior citizens that made me wonder why they were there, only to have them beat me. Wearing the right shoes or having the “right” body type is no indication of one’s ability to run.

In the last decade of running I have been humbled by weather, altitude, others, and my own physical limitations.

Today, I had to relearn this lesson.

I have been running confidently since the 12 hour “Run for the KIA” in April. In June I started specifically training for the Chicago marathon and have been checking off speed workouts better than ever before.

My confidence level was at an all-time high, maybe too high.

Today I ran from my mother-in-law’s house in Cleburne, Texas. Whenever we are here visiting I circumnavigate Lake Pat Cleburne. The hills, rural roads, and lake provide a great course. I left the house feeling strong, the weather not too hot, and the music kicking from Bad Brains to Hendrixx. The first six miles went by smoothly, in fact I was running faster than planned. Too fast.

sunrise-on-Cedar-Lake-at-Cleburne-SPAnd then the sun came up, it felt like someone flipped a switch, and the temperature soared in to the 90s with the humidity not far behind. The next three miles were brutal, I was isolated on rural roads, having left my phone at home so I didn’t kill it with sweat. I had planned on running 12 miles, but after nine I was done.

Out of nowhere I heard a pickup truck coming up behind me, the first vehicle I had seen in over an hour. A man with a large beard pulled over to check on me and offered me a ride. One could make assumptions about a bearded stranger in a pickup truck in rural Texas, but Andy turned out to be an incredibly kind and interesting savior. Born in Switzerland, he has lived all over the world, served in the Marine Corps, and cared for his ailing mother. As a man of faith we shared stories of Jerusalem and running.

I was humbled, not only in running but in life. I am not stronger than the elements and am not beyond being blessed by a stranger.