Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A busy start to the new school year

Just got home at 6:30 on Saturday night after spending all day at the Road Runners Club of America coaching clinic. Another full day tomorrow, then I have to pass a 100 question test to become a full-fledged, certified running coach in the eyes of RRCA. Lots of great information we learned today, and lots of great folks there too. There's going to be a strong contingent of great running coaches in Arkansas (and at least one in Tennessee) after this. I'm not saying that because I'm there, but because I know a lot of these other folks and I know they're going to be fantastic!

Sorry to everyone for the lack of posts here lately. School has started and it's been hard to find a couple of free seconds in any given day for anything other than work. This year we have 4 major changes coming down the pike at our school, and all the new systems and procedures we have to get used to are keeping us more than busy. Add to that my new 2nd job, teaching at Pulaski Technical College on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, that eats up even more of the clock each day.

I have still managed to keep up my running. Our cross country practices at work have switched to 5:15 AM and our kids seem to be transitioning well. The early morning is my favorite time to run, so it certainly doesn't bother me, but it does make for some pretty long days getting to work at 5 AM and getting home around 7 PM. But I don't mind. I love helping coach cross country. I love teaching at the high school. And, after the first week, I love teaching my class at the college too. I am absolutely blessed that God has showed me my calling, and it is something I love to do.
"in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." ~ -- Proverbs 3:6

Even with this busy schedule, and all these changes at work, I managed 40 miles this week, capped off by a 10 mile run this morning that began at 4 AM. Our next scheduled race is the Fight Like a Kid 10K/5K in Heber Springs, AR next month. Then we'll run the Soaring Wings Half Marathon in October, and the Bass Pro Marathon in November. We'll close out the year with the St. Jude Half Marathon in December.

Please don't forget our contest this month. You can WIN A $200 WALMART GIFT CARD if you enter our drawing. All it takes to enter is to make a donation through one of our fundraising pages. We don't touch a dime of your money. It goes to the charity (when you give to Arkansas Children's Hospital or Soaring Wings Ranch, Crowdrise.com keeps a small percentage for their processing fee. For every dollar you donate through our pages, you earn one entry in the drawing. So far, only $10 has been donated by one entrant. If nobody else donates, he has a 100% chance of being announced the winner on September 3rd. We're hoping several more donors step up and we can at least see at least $200 in donations to these charities to offset what we'll put into the $200 gift card. Regardless how much is donated, we'll uphold the promise and draw for the card.

Thanks so much to all who help us raise awareness of the dangers of teen substance abuse, and help us keep Amanda Marie Allison's memory alive. Your willingness to read here, to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and to give through our fundraising pages helps motivate us to continue running to accomplish the mission God has laid upon us. We will forever be grateful to all of you.

May God bless and keep you all. We'll post again as soon as possible. :)

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Where'd summer go?

What a week! It started like you'd expect a week in August in Arkansas, hot and humid, but by midweek, things had changed dramatically. And they changed for the good.

On Thursday morning, instead of temperatures hovering near 80 and humidity stuck between 90 and 100%, I was greeted by cool and crisp air when I stepped out the door to head to cross country practice. It was 20 degrees cooler and the moisture in the air was gone! That's right. The temperature was around 600 and it didn't feel the least bit humid.

I went 5 and a half miles yesterday, and it felt like I was running in Heaven. If I hadn't needed to report to school at 8, I'd have kept running. It felt that good!

This morning was more of the same weather-wise. Cool air and low humidity. Running in Heaven again. I called it quits after 6 miles, only because we're meeting a bunch of folks in Conway, AR tonight for a 10 mile run.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." ~ -- James 1:17

I don't know where that sultry summer weather went, but you'll not hear me complain about it. Not one word of complaint. I'm under no illusions that we'll be enjoying this weather for the rest of the summer either, but I'll take any reprieve I can get, temporary or not. One thing I do know, though, is that such Heavenly unseasonable weather can only come from Jesus Christ Himself!

So thank you Lord for your grace and mercy in giving us a break from the usual Arkansas summer weather. I'm loving this little taste of what running in Heaven will be like. :)

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Another Long Run in the Dog Days of Summer

Today was tough! When I woke this morning, I saw a post from a friend in Virginia that it was 770 with 77% humidity in his neck of the woods. Of course, I had to then check on conditions here before I headed out. That was a mistake. At 5:10 AM, it was 760 here with 95% humidity. Yuck!

You don't have to be a runner to know what 95% humidity means. It's nasty! But if you are a runner, you know it's something like running through soup. There's so much water in the air, it's tough to breathe well. Also, your body's natural system for cooling itself doesn't work because your sweat won't evaporate when the air is so heavily laden with moisture. That means you just keep sweating more and more and more as your body tries to do what it's designed to do, produce sweat to cool itself. It just doesn't work in these conditions. So you end up sweating more than usual (which in my case is already a lot) and it's really easy to get too hot.

To sum it up, running in 95% humidity is pretty miserable. But I had 10 miles planned for today, and wasn't going to let a little water in the air stop me from trying. So out into the sultry streets I went.
"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." ~ --Ecclesiastes 4:12

The Cabot Country Cruisers had a group running at 6 AM, so I met with them. There was a time I ran alone...always. I was self-conscious that I'd be too slow, or wouldn't fit in with the group, so I'd just strike out on my own. But I absolutely love running with these folks! What I've found is that not every runner is a Cheetah. The folks here range from really fast to pretty slow and I fit somewhere in between. As for not fitting in? If you're crazy enough to get up early on a Saturday morning to pound the pavement for 10 or more miles, you're most likely going to find some common ground with the others doing the same. :)

My planned 10 miles would give me 41 miles for the week, one more than my weekly target of 40. Last week I let the humidity stop me after only 6 miles and fell short of my weekly goal, so I had a little extra motivation to get it done today.

As we took off, the group of 12-15 runners began to fracture into smaller groups with different paces. None of the groups were setting the pavement on fire so I caught up with the leaders pushing about a 10 minute mile. We took a few walk breaks in the first 3 and a half miles to allow some of the others to catch up, but then our little group of about 8 split too. Only myself and a lady I'd never run with were shooting for 10 miles. The rest were only looking for 6 or so. So we headed our way and they theirs.

Over the next mile and change, I noticed we had picked up the pace and I could tell it was working on me. We had some great conversation, getting to know each other, talking about our kids and spouses and jobs and such, but the humidity and the pace were taking a toll on me. Before we made it to the 5 mile mark, I had to take another walk break. Around 6.3 miles, we stopped at a convenience store to refill our water bottles, a blessed break!

As we stepped out again, I let my new running friend know that I had to back the pace down to make 10 miles. I didn't realize just how much I'd have to back it down though. Over the next three miles, I had to take an extraordinary number of walk breaks and I knew I was holding her back. Several times I told her to feel free to go on, but she stuck with me. We kept going, with the walk breaks getting longer. When I stopped again for an extended walk break just before we'd gone 9 miles, my new friend finally agreed to go ahead.

With no detours, heading straight for the car would cut my run short, but I was out of water by now and there was water and Gatorade in an ice chest in the vehicle. So I decided to head straight for the cold refreshment and just add on after I got back. I ran a little downhill stretch after that, but the rest I walked. When I got to the car, my watch read 9.64 miles. I grabbed a quart bottle of Gatorade and took off walking again. I had no intention of stopping until my watch read 10.00 miles.

By the time I'd lapped the parking lot enough times to make the mileage, I'd drained the bottle of Gatorade. Several friends were still hanging around the parking lot, and others were coming in from their own runs of varying distances. So I took the opportunity to visit with them, hanging around until I'd cooled down some and enjoying the conversation and the company.

A lot of people ask, "Why do you do it?" To them it's too hot to make sense of someone putting themselves through the tough runs in the heat and humidity. To some we seem obsessed, to others just plain crazy, but we all have something that drives us to keep going, even when that going nears something bordering masochistic. For me, it's our mission here at Running with Amanda. If I'm going to run and race, I've got to stay in shape. With 6 marathons planned over the next year, and more likely to pop up during that time, and several other races of shorter distances on the schedule, I don't want to have to start training all over again.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." ~ Philippians 4:13

So regardless what the weather throws at us, I'll keep running, all I can, as long as the Good Lord lets me. Times like this remind me that it's not my strength or my ability or my anything that keeps me going. Nothing less than the grace of God permits me to push through these tough times and log the miles.

Still, I am really looking forward to the cooler days of fall that are getting closer and closer and closer with every setting sun!
"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." ~ Hebrews 13:16

PS: Don't forget about our contest this month! Donate to St. Jude, Arkansas Children's Hospital, or Soaring Wings Ranch and be entered in a drawing to win a $200 Walmart gift card we'll give away the first weekend of September! Click here for more details!

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Ranch Run 5K Recap

Yesterday ended with another great event at Soaring Wings Ranch! It was the 2nd year I've done the Ranch Run 5K and you can bet I'll be back next year.

I think my time was actually a little slower this year than last, but the weather was much, much nicer. The race started at 6:30 pm with partly cloudy skies and temps around 85 degrees. Last year it was 20 degrees hotter at the start. That's right. Last year the starting pistol fired with the mercury marking the temperature at 105 degrees! So 85 made for a much more pleasant race.

Pre-Race



The weather definitely wasn't what slowed me down this year, but I went into it with the idea to take it easy. In the morning I'd run 6 miles in temperatures only 6 degrees cooler but humidity around 90%. I'd planned to run 10 miles on Saturday morning, but the first 6 in that humidity made me call it quits early. The rest of the day I spent shopping for and putting together a new crib for our 7 month old granddaughter. (She's outgrown the bassinet she was sleeping in.)

All-in-all, it was a pretty easy day pre-race. We left the house around 5 and were on the road only a few minutes when I realized I forgot my socks. I already had to stop for gas, but my absent-mindedness now mandated an additional stop at Fred's in Vilonia to pick up socks too. So it took a little longer than I'd planned to get to the ranch.

We finally pulled through the gate and into the parking area a little after 6, got checked in, pinned on our bibs, and had about 15 minutes before the race started. I was glad to see quite a few people there I knew. Several of our cross country kids showed up and ran. Another friend, his wife, and their three sons were all there to support the ranch. And of course, Andrew and Marla Watson (who founded and now run Soaring Wings) were there. So the 20 minutes prior to the race were spent enjoying the conversation with all these great folks.

The Run



I'd told myself I was going to take it easy, nice and slow. (Seems like I tell myself that a lot before races.) I had every intention of doing just that. I even started at the back, way back in the back. But then the idiot in me took over when the pistol fired.

I felt great and weaved through the slower runners, nice long strides eating up the gravel road beneath my feet. The first aid station was only a half mile into the two loop course so I opted to keep on trucking. As I passed by the water station, I glanced at my watch. That was the first time I realized just how stupid I was being. My Garmin showed me running a 7:45 minute mile pace to that point. Way too fast, and a pace there was no way I could maintain.

I told myself I needed to slow down and started backing down. The second water stop was just shy of a mile into the run, and I didn't pass it by. I grabbed a cup and a wet towel, thanked the great kids from the ranch who handed them to me, and walked as I drank. My watch beeped during the walk and informed me I'd finished the first mile in 8 minutes. I downed what was left in the cup and took off again.

The second mile was dotted with a couple of walk breaks, at the water stop and one more. I managed to cover it in 9:05 and knew mile 3 would be even slower. It was, with even more walk breaks. Mile 3 took me 10:22 to complete.

I don't really know exactly how long it took me to finish the race, but I made it across the line. I forgot to stop my watch for several minutes, and results haven't been posted yet.

Post Race



When I crossed the finish line, I congratulated the cross country kids and my friend's boys who had already completed the course. (It's just awesome to get to work with so many great kids at school and then to see them doing great things in the community outside of school.) Then I walked back over to the table where they were handing out watermelon, peanut butter crackers, and ice cold water.

Last year they had popsicles in coolers at the finish line. They were awesome! They weren't there this year, but there was something even better. The Kona Ice truck was there handing out the snow cone like snack for free! Even better than the popsicles from last year!

As I milled around enjoying the refreshments, I had the opportunity to tell Amanda's story to a couple of people who asked about the sign I wear. That always makes any race worth it. I also met a young lady, another teacher from a different school, who said she reads here and is running her first marathon later this year (Three Bridges Marathon in December). I always enjoy meeting our readers. :)

We hung around until everyone had finished. When all was said and done, it was another fantastic time at a race, sharing Amanda's story and our faith to raise awareness of the dangers of teen substance abuse. I still look forward to fall and cooler temperatures, but I plan to do this race every year regardless of the weather.
"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." ~ Hebrews 13:16

Soaring Wings is a great place, doing God's work. The kids they take in get an opportunity to grow up in a loving, stable, Christian home. You can donate to Soaring Wings and help support their ministry through our Soaring Wings fundraising page. And every dollar you donate this month will earn you one entry in a drawing* for a $200 Walmart gift card. We'll draw for the card the first weekend in September and announce the winner on September 3rd.

So even if you couldn't make it out for the race, you can still make a donation to Soaring Wings and you might just win a $200 Walmart gift card too!

*For more details on how to enter the drawing, click here.

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

Friday, August 2, 2013

You Can Win $200 Wal Mart Gift Card!

That's right! And even better, you can do it by supporting the charities we run for -- St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Arkansas Children's Hospital, and Soaring Wings Christian Home and Ranch. Read on to see how!

This year, our fundraising hasn't taken off like it did in years past, so I've been looking for a way to get things moving. Normally, I donate $50 per month to each of these charities, and for several months, that $150 has been the bulk of donations through our pages. But the Good Lord gave me an idea to change things up a little.

Click here to read more about the charities we support and links to our fundraising pages.

This month, instead of donating my regular $50 to each of these charities, I'm buying a $200 Wal Mart gift card and giving it away. All you have to do to become eligible to win it, is make a donation through one of our fundraising pages between now and August 31st. Every dollar you donate through our fundraising pages this month will earn you one chance to win. You can donate as little as $10 to enter, and that $10 donation will earn you 10 chances to win this $200 Wal Mart gift card.
"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." ~ Hebrews 13:16

Your online donations will not pass through my hands. I won't handle one penny of the money. Every cent you donate to St. Jude will go directly to the hospital. Our fundraising pages for Arkansas Children's Hospital and Soaring Wings are hosted by Crowdrise and they do charge a small fee for handling the donation, but we never see a cent. Donating through our fundraising pages gives you real bang for every buck of your charitable donation!

So here's how you can get entered to win this $200 gift card from Wal Mart:
  1. Choose one (or more) of our charities to support.
  2. Visit our fundraising page for the charity you wish to support.
  3. Follow the links and make your donation. (Do not donate anonymously and be sure to include an email you check regularly. Otherwise, I won't be able to contact you if you win! Your email will not be published.)
  4. Visit our Facebook page and post on our wall which charity you supported and, if you wish, how much you donated. (This is only to encourage others to join the contest.)
  5. Check back here and on our Facebook page from time to time to see how the contest is going.
  6. That's all there is to it! You'll be entered to win the $200 Wal Mart gift card.
The drawing will be held on the 1st or 2nd of September and the winner will be announced on September 3rd in a post here and on our Facebook page and on Twitter.

You'll be a winner either way! Even if your name isn't drawn to get the $200 gift card, you're a winner because you made a donation to a worthwhile cause dedicated to saving kids' lives. But if you are selected to receive the gift card, we ask that you send us a picture of you with your prize when it arrives. We will post this picture in a post here and on our Facebook page and on Twitter. If you don't want your full name used in these posts, we'll honor your request and use whatever handle you ask us to use to caption the photo.

So that's it. That's all there is to the contest. All you have to do is break out the credit card and follow the steps above. Donate to one of the charities we support between now and August 31st and you'll earn one entry for every dollar donated.

If this contest successfully increases our fundraising, we'll repeat it monthly. So good luck and God bless everyone who enters. If you just can't donate to one of our supported charities at this time, you can still help us by sharing this post with your friends.

Our goal is to raise as much money as we can for St. Jude, Arkansas Children's Hospital, and Soaring Wings Christian Home and Ranch. To God be the glory!

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

July Wrap Up

Well, July's a wrap! Today's the first day of August and summer is drawing to a close. Only 31 days to go until that glorious month of September when the days get shorter and the temperatures drop below the boiling point!

All-in-all the month was a pretty good one. I finished with 158 logged running miles for July, the most I've logged in one month since January. That doesn't seem too shabby when you take into account the high temps and high humidity that we've suffered during these dog days of summer. It wasn't all rainbows and unicorns though.

This July brought my first DNF at the Full mOOn 50K. DNF = DID NOT FINISH. It would have been my first official planned ultra marathon, but I only made it 23.25 miles before I called it quits. It took me 6 hours to get that far, which is crazy in and of itself seeing as I'm a pretty consistent 5 hour marathoner. But the course was absolutely brutal, so much more than I anticipated. Crazy hills that I wasn't expecting, and crazy humidity that I was combined to sap me. In the end, I didn't feel too bad though. Maybe I'll give it another go next year and make it to the finish line.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." ~ Psalm 107:1

I am so grateful for this gift God has given me to run.

On Saturday, August 3rd, Janice and I will be at the Ranch Run 5K. It's at Soaring Wings Ranch in Holland, AR, and starts at 6:30 PM. Two weeks later we'll be in Conway at Running Down the Night II. This isn't a race, but a huge group 10-mile run that starts at 9:00 PM. It's put on by members of the Conway Running Club and just a whole lot of fun. I hope we see some of you at these two events.

God bless and happy running through the last full month of summer!

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.