"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Pain in the Side ...... of the FOOT!

Blessed. That's my usual response to the question I often hear regarding running. The question that inevitably follows any discussion on marathon training. The question: "Don't you ever get injured?" Not really, I have been very blessed. Of course, I also throw in that I've been smart about training, disciplined in knowing my limits, and perhaps saved by the fact that I didn't start putting mega-miles on the legs until I reached middle-age, but mostly I've been blessed!

So when I have had a tweak here or there, it has never forced me off the plan. I typically hit the Advil, wrap with ice, and run through it. Well .....

This summer, in what should have been good prep for a fall PR, I've been slightly taken off schedule. West Virginia in June resulted in another one of those tweaks--knee pain for a month, that went away by mid-July. The bigger issue since then, has to do with a sharp, burning pain on the side of my foot. I have no idea what it is. It begins to flare up when I finish a 5+ mile run, or when I am on my feet for more than a couple of hours. It also flares up when I mow the yard. In fact, the more zig-zagging I do--like mowing and changing directions--the more intense the burn.

It is not debilitating, it is frustrating; an annoyance and an easy excuse to keep the shoes kicked off and the body in a lazy boy position. I think it's getting better, but from time to time it strikes back. I would love to hear from anyone that has an idea of what is going on. A few other details include:

* There is no swelling, redness, or unique texture on the side of my foot.

* Advil and ice do not effect the pain or burning. A massage does seem to help ease the pain some, at least temporarily.

* I changed shoes! After 7 years of Adrenalines, I just had to change and see if it helped. I went to an Asics 2000 a few weeks ago. Although, I still can't imagine that being the issue.

Indy is up in two weeks. It will be fun. I will start, and I will finish. I will not PR. That's ok. I've been very, very blessed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Wouldn’t You Know It!

Over the past few years, Eddie Wooten has been kind to Run For God, the ROCC 5k and even to the Running with Horses blog site. His presence on social media, and through the Greensboro News-Record print editions, for all things running is well known in the Triad. In fact, many of our ROCC runners have enjoyed reading his daily articles and posts. 

In today’s online edition, Eddie highlighted some of the local running blogs. These are all really good, and they all seem to provide a unique perspective relative to running. Again, Eddie was probably overly generous to list the RWH blog as a recommended site, but it is much appreciated. Of course, as Murphy would have it, the posts have been more sporadic in the past 60 days, than at anytime over the past 4 years. So nothing like a little accountability to guilt one into a quick post and a promise to get back on track. 

And speaking of getting back on track, the countdown to Indianapolis has definitely started. Less than 6 weeks until I try to survive Indy with the Kentucky Brantleys. I am looking forward to the trip, I just don’t know if I am looking forward to the race as I thought I would be a few months back. Knee is healed, but nagging, burning, bruised knot feeling on the side of my foot is just not cooperating. It will not stop me from completing number 12, and it will not stop me from enjoying number 12, but it will likely stop me from running well at number 12 - Oh well, there’s always number 13! 

Thanks Eddie for the push. I’ll be back soon. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back in the Saddle - Finally!

After two looooonnngg months (sixty-three days, 7 hours and 41 minutes to be precise), consistent training runs have commenced. In a like way, a blog post draught of over three weeks will end today. For both, it's been the longest interruption in almost four years--it has not been fun.

What started with a tweaked knee in West Virginia, was followed by a mid-summer, mid-semester load of reading, writing papers, and on-site residency. Throw in a few recreational runs here and there,  primarily to test the knee, when along comes move-in day at Auburn and the resulting back pain due to setting up a college sophomore daughter's third floor dorm room, without the assistance of working elevators no less. Key words - daughter (yes, it makes a huge difference), third floor, and no working elevators.

But it's all good. Classwork is momentarily lighter, knees and back seem fine, and the late summer / early fall weather is upon us. Plus, as they often say, injuries and rest can sometimes lead to better performance down the road. So, here's to better performance and to heading on down the road ... one foot strike at a time.

Here we go. Giddy-up.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Beach: Only Two Reasons I Go

This summer has been a blur of pick-ups and drop-offs. From school, to school, from camp, to camp, and, literally, from one camp to another camp!  Throw in the college tours and it becomes painfully clear that we have spent a good bit of time on the road for these little pony express “vacations.”

This past week we decided to take advantage of yet another of these pick-up appointments. Our youngest spent a wonderful week at the beach with a close friend. However, due to a schedule conflict (yep, volleyball practice), she had to return to Winston-Salem a few days before her friend. So the most reasonable option was for us to drive down on Wednesday, spend the night at the beach, celebrate our anniversary and return on Thursday. It’s not that far, and given that the beach is my wife’s happy place, it seemed like the perfect date.

Notice, “my wife’s happy place.” See, you might ask me if the water was warm, to which I would reply, “I don’t know.” You might ask if the sand was clean, and to that, “I’m not sure.” In fact, my goal at the beach is to avoid the sand at all costs. And to the water, I look to the fact that my daughter was stung by a jellyfish and was ordered back to the beach after spotting a four foot shark--enough said!

Now you might be wondering why it would seem like the perfect date? Two reasons. First, and again I’ll say, it is my wife’s happy place. She loves it, so I love going with her. Second, and you knew I would get around to it, running along the coast is outstanding. Flat, straight roads with so little traffic in the morning, make for some of the best routes. I also actually enjoy the heat and humidity; good training weather.

So, on Thursday morning, Christy hit the beach, picked up some shells and waded in the “shark infested waters” along her walk. As she totally enjoyed this time to herself, I laced up the Brooks and headed out Ocean Blvd. Morning greetings to my running kin, a little breeze blowing through the breaks in the oceanfront condos, and a return back up highway 17. Best of all, my knees did really well. Six miles and I felt reborn and ready to go. Best run in several months. I absolutely LOVE the beach--just not the actual beach!

Back at the hotel, we sat on the balcony and shared our adventures, while spending some quality time together, before ......

...... it was time to pickup our daughter and drive back to Winston. Although this particular pickup trip was by far the most relaxing to date. Next week, it’s back to Auburn.

Oh, and it was definitely a perfect date. Happy 23rd and here’s to 23 more.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Sower - A Painted Parable

    “A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,  but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matt 13:3-8)
    “Hear then the parable of the sower:  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.  As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy,  yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.  As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Matt 13:18-23)

    In the chapel at Gordon Conwell Seminary is a painted fresco, by NC artist Gerald Steinmeyer. A large work--approximately 17' x 20'--that depicts the parable of the sower in a very powerful way. The seed falls along the various soils while different individuals represent the ones that rejected, fell way, proved unfruitful and grew in the message of Christ. The faces of each give much to consider, as does the "evil one" scurrying way down the path, as referenced in 13:19. There is nothing like viewing in person, but hopefully the image below provides a sense of what a great creation this fresco is, and what a great passage it portrays.
    (click on for larger view)


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

“Rejoicing to Run His Course” - Psalm 19

In week #2 of Run for God each year, we take a look at the various references to running that are found throughout Scripture. Most word searches yield a total of 105 +/-, depending on the translation utilized for the non-physical acts of running; i.e., “rivers run,” “oil running down the beard,” “run through with a sword.” And of these 105 usages, approximately 75% of the references actually speak to running in the sense of moving from point to point at a pace faster than walking.  So, unless we have those 80 verses memorized, it’s no surprise that we ‘run’ across one from time to time that we had not considered prior. I did that today.

Psalm 19 is a hymn of David’s that speaks to God’s creation as giving witness to God without words or voices. The first verse is more familiar to us than the remainder of the chapter, “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands” - Psalm 19:1. But as I spent some time in these 14 verses, I came away with another “favorite” verse that will most definitely make its way to RFG IV next spring.

In verses 4-6, David speaks of the sun. God has made it a heavenly tent (the nighttime hours), but each morning the sun comes bursting out of that tent like a bridegroom heading to the altar to meet his bride. And the way that the sun makes its circuit across the sky each day is like a champion, or a runner, “rejoicing to run his course.” He runs from one end of the route to the other, while shining its light and its heat on all.  WOW! That’s pretty good stuff. David was quite a poet, huh?

As a runner, I often feel like this coming out of the starting gate. Released to meet the course, with the enthusiasm of one rushing to meet his love (of course, sometimes I should probably not rush out with quite as much enthusiasm, but you get the point). Rejoicing along the route, running steadfast from start to finish. Maybe that’s a bit of the runner’s high, and my view of race day is certainly biased, but I am hopeful that everyone finds a similar joy in running, while finding God’s glory in His creation.

Psalm 19
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, 5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat7 The law of the LORDis perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. 11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Uh-Oh ... I Might "Kneed" More Recovery!

A funny thing happened on my first post-race run. The pain in my left knee, which during the race was on the outside of the knee--I really thought it was IT Band--moved to the inside of the knee and I have no clue what it is. What I do know is that it has been just over two weeks since Hatfield-McCoy and I had hoped to be back into the training plan for the fall starting today.

The bright side is that I have now had three sessions of aqua jogging to maintain some semblance of running shape. If you haven't tried this, it's really a pretty good exercise, albeit even more boring than a treadmill. Simply grab one of those swim belts, buckle around the waist, jump in and start running. You'll be surprised that your running motion can actually propel you forward in pool. You will definitely not be moving at Michael Phelps-like pace, but keep turning those legs over and you might just cover half a pool length in less than two minutes! Oh, and half the pool, especially at the Y, as it sort of defeats the purpose when you can touch the bottom. So you turn around and head back to the deep end. Keep that up for 30-45 minutes and you'll feel it the next day--in the muscles, but not at all in the knees. It's a great "no-impact" exercise.

Ok, so we'll see what happens. I do sort of think stress fracture, and if that's the case, I'll probably need about three-to-four more weeks. Not ideal, but not the end of the world. The worst part is the training plan for Indy. It's likely that I will need to pull away from any thoughts of BQ if I can't get at speed work soon, but you just never know. Of course, if I don't push away from the training table a little more, I can forget about BQ this year anyway.