"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, December 22, 2014

At The End of the 1st Quarter ...

... the home team remains mostly vertical and enters the second quarter of play in better than expected condition!

That’s right, on December 13th, I completed my 13th state with the Rocket City Marathon (Huntsville, Al), in a time of 4:13:13! (And no, I did not play the lottery on the way home). Although it was a cool way to surpass a major milestone that I had set for myself back when this crazy idea sort of came together--to get out of the first quarter (25% of the states) in good health and on pace to complete half of the states by age 50.

First, Huntsville.

Rocket City is an established and well known event. With close to 2,000 runners, it was large enough to merit good support and decent swag, while not so large that it became inconvenient for parking, starting corrals, and packet pick-up requirements. The course was a good challenge (more elevation changes than I had expected), and running through the Space Center complex was a nice feature. However, the best part of the race was the finish that took you inside a downtown coliseum and a climate controlled post-race holding area.

Choose your colors! 
I’ll admit, it was nice to be back in the land of orange & blue, and that other color. Seemingly every house flew a flag with either the ugly script ‘A’, or the inspirational symbol of encouragement and excellence (those homes typically came complete with a “War Eagle” or two). Of course, there were also some War Buckeyes flying around. Even one of the official shirts required that you choose loyalties.

The goal for Huntsville was to finish with an easy pace. Indianapolis was six weeks prior and there had not been many runs since. Mission accomplished; a 9:36 pace, extremely consistent throughout, and the opportunity to chat with other runners, volunteers, and supporters. The morning was absolutely beautiful--34 degrees to start, 45 to finish, and partial sunshine. In other words, a good time was had by all.

Now, did I mention we are beginning play in the 2nd Quarter!

Keeping in mind that it is definitely "a marathon, and not a sprint,” I realize that finishing 13 states is the equivalent of completing the first 6 1/2 miles of the race, and there’s a lot of road out there to cover. So we’ll savor the moment, for just a moment, and then begin the next stage. A few thoughts about these past four years:

1) The most rewarding aspect of this pursuit has been the race day relationships; running Marine Corp with my brother, Myrtle Beach with Ken Brown, Little Rock with Stadt, Indy with the Brantleys, West Virginia with Christy along, Wilmington with my daughters along. In addition, I have had the pleasure and privilege to converse with hundreds of kindred spirits along the way. From small words of encouragement to several miles of getting to know someone. There is nothing like it.

2) Favorite Courses (in order): Chicago, Savannah (PR course will always rank high), Disney.

3) Least Favorite Courses: Huntsville, Knoxville, Wrightsville Beach

4) Most Beautiful Course: Hands down, Hatfield-McCoy in Kentucky/West Virginia

5) Average Q1 finish of 4:10:23. My goal had been to average sub-4:00 for all 50. That’s still possible, but not likely. I have reverted to running one, sometimes two, races hard each year, and the others just to finish. I had 6 races sub-4:00 (with Savannah at 3:31:13), 6 races in the low-mid 4:00’s, and then there was Knoxville - ouch! I used a calendar in Tennessee instead of a watch.

Ok, moment over, time to move on. Quarter 2 will include more challenges as driving distance is extended and training time continues to be at a premium. We are planning a Louisville race in April, for which my wife and youngest daughter plan on running the half (very excited about that), as well as getting home to Texas in 2015.

I will also begin playing the NYC registration lottery in hopes that my number is drawn at some point over the next few years. As to Boston, hmmmm. From Savannah, I needed 6 more minutes minimum. I think I have one or two more hard training cycles in me, but it just might be a strategy of holding on until age 55 or 60 to make Boston a reality, we’ll see.

I truly hope to meet many of you along the way, especially fellow Run for God instructors and participants, and to catch up with many others (by the way, I might need a place to stay ... Corey and Krista in AK, Brent and Elena in AZ, Sanford and Kristi in CA, Julie P in TX, ....). As long as I enjoy putting in the miles and hanging out with fellow crazies, the journey will continue.

Have a Merry Christmas and a running start to the New Year!

First Quarter Medals, er .. Memories

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