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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Soaring Wings Half Marathon Race Recap

Saturday was Soaring Wings and it was awesome! This was my 3rd time to run this race and it didn't disappoint. Andrew and Marla, who run Soaring Wings Ranch, did a fantastic job once again putting it on.

I was blessed to be able to lead a pace group this year, my first time to lead one. I loved it. I was tasked with getting folks in under 2:15. My finish time was 2:15:05, but everyone who finished ahead of me cleared the line under the 2:15 mark. The next faster finisher before me had an official time of 2:14:59, so I'm pretty happy with the way things fell.

I volunteered to lead the pace group because I have Bass Pro Marathon this coming Sunday. I'm hoping to finish that race in 4:30, so I saw the pacing as an opportunity to practice the pace I'll need to hold for 26.2 this week. So far, that seems to have been a good decision. I finished the 13.1 miles feeling just about as good as I did when I started. That makes me feel pretty confident I can hold the pace for this week's race. I guess we'll see for sure in a few days.

Like most people, I generally start out too fast in a race. When the gun fires at the start, the enthusiasm and the atmosphere just pull me along with the crowd. Saturday, though, I knew I HAD TO slow down and maintain a steady pace. This required me to really concentrate on my watch the whole time, but it wasn't nearly as difficult to accomplish as I feared it would be. According to my Garmin, my mile splits were as follows:

MileTime
110:09
210:12
310:09
410:05
510:11
610:11
710:11
810:18
910:11
1010:15
1110:13
1210:09
1310:20
13.114:13


By far, that's the most consistent my splits have ever been in a race. I don't even know if I'm that consistent in a 5K. Early in the race, I had to really concentrate to maintain pace. But as the miles wore on, I settled in and allowed myself to relax a little. For the first three miles, I thought I'd spend the entire race staring at my watch. I was never nervous about being able to finish in 2:15, only nervous about maintaining a consistent pace. Like I said earlier, it wasn't nearly as tough to do that as I feared.

One thing I didn't do as well as I'd hoped for was to encourage and motivate. I had a couple of people come up to me before the race and tell me they were going to stick with me. At the start line, there were a few who said they were trying to finish in 2:15. But when the gun fired, the starting mob was hard to sort out. I decided then I'd wait a mile or so before trying to interact with "my" group, to let the crowd thin out. This turned out to probably be a mistake.

It was around the 3/4 mile mark when I asked who was running in our group. Only one person spoke up. I'm sure there were others, but they were either scattered a little, struggling to get warmed up and into the pace, or maybe just not sure if I was okay to talk to or a psycho killer or something. Looking back, I should have tried to rally them at the start line, before we crossed the mat. Lesson learned.

Coming into the aid stations I barked out which side to get to. When we entered busy roadways I warned anyone who might be running with me to beware of traffic, but still, nobody in the group interacted with me in the first two miles, other than the lone runner who was willing to admit she was running with me when I asked earlier. By now, I knew I should have engaged them earlier, but I couldn't go back and restart.

It was just past the two-mile mark when a runner asked how far we'd gone. When I told him he only had 11 miles left, he didn't seem too excited, but it did draw some input from a runner who was tagging along with me. The first tough hill in mile 4 brought a little interaction. I gave a little motivational spiel about getting up hills and up we went. Nearing the top, one guy asked if he could hold the 2:15 sign. I really don't think he was with our group, but just someone we happened on as we climbed.

At the top, we turned left and were blessed with a nice downhill stretch that carried us back past the start. In our fifth mile, passing by what would also be the turn into the finish line much later in the race, I heard my name called out several times. Several friends, including former students, were lining the course through here and it felt good to have people out there cheering for me.

We kept going. Here and there, other runners and I struck up conversations. One lady was running her first half, motivated by her husband who runs. Another was a teacher from Benton who had run several half marathons and four fulls. She was looking for a PR at 2:15 on Saturday. There were a couple of ladies from the Black Girls Run club of central Arkansas who I went back and forth with, and another man who was working to stay in front of me. Now, I was starting to feel more like the pacer I'd hoped to be, one who encourages and motivates and gets to know the runners in his group.

By mile 10, people were really starting to struggle. I'm sure I'd lost a few, but we were picking up a few others who had dropped back from their starting pace too. This gave me a few more opportunities to encourage and motivate. Some runners just looked at me like I was crazy, others tried to pick it back up and come with us. We kept chugging along.

Finally, we came to the hill at mile 12, the last hill on the course. Here was an opportunity to encourage, lots of opportunity. Up we went. As I passed runners, I reminded them of that glorious downhill that awaited them when they reached the top. We reached it and I held myself back to maintain pace as we descended. Quite a few runners passed me through here. We were less than a mile from the finish, and had a little cushion to make our finish time.

At the 13 mile mark, the entrance to the McGee Center and the finish line, I stopped to shout to runners behind me. They had two minutes to finish in 2:15. I stood there for 30 seconds, calling out how long they had every 5 seconds. Then I ran to the chute opening, 100 meters from the finish. There again, I began shouting out how long they had to cross the mat if they wanted a 2:15 finish. Several sprinted, a few just held their pace.

Finally, I turned into the chute. I crossed the mat 2 hours, 15 minutes, and 5 seconds after I crossed the starting mat. But when I looked at the results a few minutes later, every runner who finished ahead of me made it in under 2:15. The runner immediately faster than me listed on the results had a time of 2:14:59. I was pretty happy with that.

I have to say, I loved the race. I loved running it as a pacer. Never did I feel stressed. Never did I feel pain. Just 13.1 miles of enjoyable running. I'll do things a little differently next time, including working harder to get to know my group before the start, and getting them involved early in the race. But I'm pretty happy with my effort as a first time pacer.
"but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." ~ -- Isaiah 40:31

But as always, the highlight of this race for me was after I crossed the finish line. When the young girl, one of the kids of Soaring Wings Christian Home and Ranch, handed me my medal. I'm not an emotional guy, but every time I finish this race, every time one of their kids hands me that medal, I tear up. I could barely utter the words thank you when she placed the medal in my hand and said, "Bless you."

If you're a runner looking for a great half to run, this is it. If you're not a runner, but someone looking to change your lifestyle by getting out and getting active, accept the challenge of running this race. If you're just someone who wants to be a part of something bigger than yourself, to help out a great cause, check out the Soaring Wings Half Marathon. You can walk it if you don't run. But one thing I promise you, if you do this race, you'll have no regrets. It's an awesome experience that I can't wait to experience again next year!

Thank you Marla and Andrew, for the great race you put on, and for the great work you do with the kids at Soaring Wings Christian Home and Ranch.

You can give to Soaring Wings Ranch by clicking the link below. And, if you donate through our fundraising page before 11:59 pm, October 31st, you'll be entered in a drawing to win a $200 Walmart gift card! So donate today to help the kids at Soaring Wings and have a chance to win!

Give to Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch now!


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, October 25, 2013

Soaring Wings Half Tomorrow!

Soaring Wings Half Marathon tomorrow!

It's so nice that racing season is here. The weather's supposed to be perfect, about 400 at the start and 500 when I finish. I've run this race twice before and this will be the best weather I've had. This will also be the first time I've run this race not injured. Last year, I was pretty much crippled after I crossed the finish line.

All-in-all, I think it's fair to say the Lord has brought me to this race in about as good of shape as I could be in. Injury free and running strong, all by His grace and mercy of which I am completely undeserving. For these and so many other reasons, I'm really looking forward to tomorrow.
"but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." ~ -- Isaiah 40:31

I can't afford to grow weary tomorrow, and I certainly can't afford to faint. For the first time ever, I'm leading a pace group. I'll be carrying the sign that reads 2:15, leading anyone who wants to tag along and finish the 13.1 miles under 2 hours and 15 minutes. So if that's your goal and you're running Soaring Wings tomorrow, feel free to join us.

We're still raising money for Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch too! In fact, you can still get in on our October drawing for a $200 Walmart gift card. To enter, all you have to do is donate to the ranch through our fundraising page. (Click the link below!) For every dollar you donate, you'll receive an entry in the drawing. So far this month, there are only 200 entries, so your odds of winning are much better than almost any other contest you'll ever enter. A $10 donation to Soaring Wings will earn you 10 entries. A $20 donation, 20 entries. A $50 donation will put your name in the hat 50 times! It's a fun way to give to a great cause. So click the link below today and make your donation to get in this month's drawing.

Give to Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch now!

Thanks so much for reading here, and sharing our posts with your friends. We'll keep running as long as the Good Lord is willing to keep our feet moving. God bless and look back soon for a race report on this year's Soaring Wings Half Marathon.

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.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Still Here and Still Running!

Just busy as can be!

This month has flown by and it seems like I've hardly had time to draw a breath. Cross country season has been in full swing, meets every week and training every day in between. The end of the grading period at school fell last week, so that's added work and stress. Add on that we're hosting a cross country meet next Tuesday and have been working extra to get ready for that, and it just makes for one really busy month.

Still, as stressful as it's been, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love teaching these kids. I love working with the cross country team, and I love running. Soon enough, too soon even, things will slow down. Early next month, cross country season will end. On November 9th, our kids will run in state meet and it will all be over until next year.

Luckily though, the Good Lord has given me plenty to keep me busy. This weekend we'll be running the Soaring Wings Half Marathon in Conway, AR. The following weekend, we'll make the trip to Springfield, MO to run Bass Pro Marathon. Then in December, we'll head to Memphis to run the St. Jude Half Marathon. And next year will start off with a bang, knocking out three marathons in the first three months of 2014: Louisiana Marathon in Baton Rouge on January 19th, Mississippi River Marathon on February 8th in Greenville, MS, and Little Rock Marathon on March 3rd right down the road in Arkansas' capitol city.

We're definitely blessed to keep on the road, but I just haven't found time to write much lately.
"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased" ~ -- Hebrews 13:16

Don't forget, we're still holding our monthly giveaway of a $200 Walmart gift card. All you have to do is give to St. Jude, Arkansas Children's Hospital, or Soaring Wings Half Marathon through our fundraising pages. You'll earn one entry in this month's drawing for every dollar you donate! It's easy to enter and support great causes at the same time. Click here for more details, but donate and get in on this chance to win before October 31st!

Hopefully, next month I'll be back to writing more, but rest assured, we'll keep running no matter what.

Give to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital now!

Give to Arkansas Children's Hospital now!

Give to Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch now!

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.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Giving away another $200 Walmart gift card!

Last month's winners of the $200 Walmart gift card were again Dylan and Delaina Whitehead! Congratulations to them and many thanks for their generous contributions through our fundraising pages.

We have less than 3 months to go in 2013, and we're still quite a way from reaching our fundraising goals for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Arkansas Children's Hospital, and Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch. In an effort to stimulate giving to these great charities, we've been holding a drawing for a $200 Walmart giftcard the past two months. The contest has generated more in donations than we can give, so we've considered it a success and are determined to repeat it every month as long as this keeps up.

So now's your chance to get entered in this month's drawing! It's really simple to enter, and your odds of winning are much better than most other contests. Visit one (or more) of our fundraising pages linked above, and donate as little as $10 or as much as you want. For each dollar you donate through one of our fundraising pages, we'll put your name on an entry in this month's drawing. (e.g. If you donate $10, you're entered 10 times in our drawing. If you donate $100, you're entered 100 times!) In the first couple of days of next month, we'll hold the drawing. If one of your entries is chosen, we'll send you a $200 Walmart gift card. It's that easy!
"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased" ~ -- Hebrews 13:16

The best part is that we NEVER touch a dime of your money! We don't see a penny! Donations made through our fundraising pages give you a big bang for your charitable donation buck. St. Jude hosts our fundraising site for the hospital, so they get every nickel of every donation made through that page. Our pages for Arkansas Children's Hospital and Soaring Wings are hosted by a third party (Crowdrise) that charges a small fee for handling the donation, but the rest is sent directly to the charity.

So give today for your chance to win this month's $200 Walmart gift card! Choose your charity, make your donation, and cross your fingers. And know this gives you a lot better odds than the lottery or casino or the track. So get in on this contest and make a difference in the lives of kids today!

Click the link below to choose the charity you wish to support. Make your donation and we'll put your entries in for the drawing tomorrow. Tomorrow evening, we'll announce the winner. So get in while you can!

Give to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital now!

Give to Arkansas Children's Hospital now!

Give to Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch now!

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.