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

Friday, November 29, 2013

Saying Goodbye to November with a 22 Mile Run

No more November runs in 2013! I did my last one today. 22 miles on dirt roads on Camp Lejeune, NC. Others might have enjoyed their day fighting for "deals" on Black Friday. As for me, I'd rather chew my right arm off than be in the stores today. The roads though...that's completely different.

It was a great run to close a great month of running. Tomorrow and Sunday will be days off as we embark on the 1000 mile trip back home. I ended November with 179 logged miles and 1679 miles for 2013. The Good Lord has kept me injury free all year, and I am so grateful. Every step, every mile, every run is only by His grace. Today was another in a year of many wonderful runs.

I normally don't run longer than 20 miles in training runs, but the unchanging elevation here on the east coast of North Carolina made me feel the need to go a little longer today, in the hopes of getting a workout similar in intensity to what I'd be getting back home. The pace shows a little slower than I hoped for, but I never stopped the Garmin, even when I stopped to refuel, restock on water, and for occasional calls of nature.

I parked at an intersection with three dirt roads going different directions and did the run in three legs. To start, I headed south for 3.5 miles and turned around to make a 7 mile leg. After a few minutes at the vehicle to get water and take in a few calories, I took off toward the west for another 7 mile leg. Again, 3.5 out, 3.5 back. Another stop for water and fuel, then off again for the final 8 mile leg. At the turnaround I had 18 miles in, and 4 to go back to the Blazer. I thought about a walk break, but decided against it.

At 19 miles, I decided to try to make it to 20 before I walked. Somewhere in that mile, I realized I had forgotten to apply Body Glide this morning. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. All the places that had previously revealed the need for the anti-chafe product were now screaming at me, "Are you an idiot?!?!?" As much as I run, you'd think I'd know better than to forget it, but not today. Still, I pressed on. (Probably because I was still 2 miles from the vehicle.)

At mile 20 I decided to walk for a tenth of a mile. If you've ever dealt with chafing, especially on a long run, you know how uncomfortable it gets. It just makes you want to quit. In that tenth, a lot of things crossed my mind. Walking on in. Even some really crazy ideas on how to relieve the pain. I only had two more miles, and thought about how much longer it would take to finish if I stated walking. So I prayed for strength and decided to suck it up and run on in.
"The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace." ~ Psalm 29:11

I picked up the pace and was pleasantly surprised when the pain actually subsided. God certainly gave me the strength to speed up and relief from the pain that was plaguing me to bring me peace. While the pain didn't disappear, it most certainly lessened. I was reminded there are a lot of times we try to tough things out, to get through rough spots on our own, never calling on God for help. But He's always there, waiting for and wanting us to call out and ask for just that. To give us strength and peace.

After that tenth of a mile walk, I ran in the rest of the way to finish that 22 miles. That 22nd mile went by in 10:03, my fastest of the entire run! I am so blessed that God not only allows me to run, but uses running demonstrate to me His power, His will, and His control.

Thank you Jesus, for getting me through this run today, and for giving me strength and peace, today and everyday!




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, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!


We at Running with Amanda wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. May God bless you this day and every day!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." ~ Psalm 107:1





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.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Strength and Peace

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a US national holiday set aside to give thanks to God in Heaven for the many blessings bestowed upon us. Recently, I've seen, heard, or read that many don't believe they have anything to be thankful for.

Last year, our local Marine recruiter was addressing my class when the discussion turned to living conditions in 3rd world countries. He and I were explaining to the students that people in this country often have no idea just how blessed they are. That's when one student in the class piped up, "Some of us here have it just as bad." Now, I've often said that all it would take to get Americans to appreciate life in these United States is a little time spent in poverty stricken 3rd world countries. But never had I heard anyone here claim to have it just as bad. I was struck, stunned really.

I'm a member of several online grief groups for grieving parents. You might imagine that many members struggle to find a reason to go on. Most of you, at least most parents, can empathize with those who've lost a child believing life has no meaning. I certainly can. No pain -- physical, emotional, or psychological -- that I've ever experienced hurt like losing Amanda. There were times when the pain dragged me to a dark place, feeling hopeless.

My point is, regardless whether we can agree, empathize, sympathize, or not, there are people hurting, people suffering at a time when most are celebrating. These are people blinded to their blessings by trauma, tragedies, and trials that leave them hopeless. Hopeless...
"The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace." ~ Psalm 29:11

This verse was K-LOVE's "encouraging word of the day" sent to my inbox this morning. When I read it, I immediately felt the call to post. Then, as happens every holiday, I began to read the many posts of hopelessness and grief by parents who've lost children. I remembered that student who believed she had nothing to be thankful for. And I realized that many, many more from whom I'll never hear are marching toward this Thanksgiving feeling little to be thankful for.

If you've read here long, you know this will be our third Thanksgiving without Amanda. You'll also know that, though grief still resides in us, even takes over from time to time, we are not hopeless, no longer feeling the despair that will weigh down so many through this holiday season. And many of you already know why.

The verse above, Psalm 29:11, gives the secret to making it through any trial, any hardship, any tragedy. The Lord. As simple as it sounds, the Lord God Jehovah, Jesus Christ, is the source of peace and strength that you and everyone else needs to survive the troubles promised us in this life. (John 16:33)

Every time I comment on another grieving parent's post, I always pray the Lord gives them peace and strength in time. I firmly believe that without faith in Jesus Christ, and subsequently faith in His promise of eternal life, there is no hope on which to hold. On the contrary, with said faith any of us can weather any storm, survive whatever Satan may throw at us in his effort to separate us and others from Christ. That peace and strength, if you have nothing else on Earth to be thankful for, gives us reason to be grateful.

Nearly three years after my beautiful daughter was killed, three years that haven't been easy by any stretch of the imagination, and three years filled with many other trials and troubles, I can stand up and say I am thankful for my blessings. My grief at losing my daughter is not enough to keep me from seeing the blessings I still have. And, Jesus' promise that I will see Amanda again, and spend eternity with her in Heaven, is all I need to have the peace and strength to continue on until He calls me home.

So, if you're struggling to find something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, turn to Jesus. He can, and He will, give you the peace and strength you need to keep going, and to be grateful.




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, November 26, 2013

Lincoln's Thanksgiving Address...150 Years Ago

On October 3, 1963, with the country in the throes of civil war, President Abraham Lincoln officially set aside the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving. In the midst of perhaps the biggest, darkest blot on the history of these United States, Lincoln was grateful, counting his blessings...our blessings...and enumerating them for the rest of the nation. This is a true testament to the greatness of our country, that in its darkest hour, our President stood up and thanked the Almighty God of the universe, the One and Only True God, Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for blessings bestowed upon us.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." ~ Psalm 107:1

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State





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.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Don't Worry...Be Happy

Worry. Who hasn't been worried? How many of us are worrying over something right now?

This time of year is especially worrisome for many. People without a job. People without a good enough job. People with a job, but too much debt. People with health problems. People with family members with health problems. People whose car is in bad shape. People whose marriages are in bad shape. People with troubled kids. People without kids. People with all kinds of problems are worrying themselves to death, right now in what is supposed to be the "most beautiful time of the year."

But why? And what good does all that worry do?

"Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" ~ Matthew 5:27

Not a bit. Worry doesn't do one bit of good to the worrier, and that's according to Jesus Christ himself! That's right, straight from the Savior's mouth.

Whether you're worried about health, wealth, yourself, others, the state of your marriage or the state of the union, it doesn't help anything, doesn't heal anything, doesn't fix anything. But still, we worry...over practically everything. How can we stop?

Though I can't say I've completely conquered worry, I can say that I'm blessed to not worry much these days. But for all except the last few years, I was in a state of constant worry. Mostly I worried about money, having enough money. Enough for what? That didn't matter, I just worried that I didn't have enough. And, as Jesus alluded to above, it never did a bit of good.

I make less now than I did then, but I don't worry, and things always seem to work out. It's not that I'm rolling in dough, but we always seem to have enough to get what we need. We don't have enough for lots of extras. We both drive older vehicles with lots of miles. We don't fly to big cities to go shopping. But we always seem to have enough. Enough to eat, enough to clothe ourselves, enough to stay warm and dry, and enough to tithe. We always manage to have enough to meet our needs.

The crazy thing is, we never felt like we had enough when I worried all the time. That's crazy because we actually had MORE than we have now. We had more money, newer and nicer things. We just had more, but it was never enough. How that works I can't explain, other than it's just the way God works. You see, in all those early years of worry, I never sought God's will for my life.

Back then, I was bound and determined to follow my own path, my own will, and rely on my own abilities to make it work. I wanted wealth, not too flaunt, but because I believed wealth would yield comfort, contentment. When I finally gave in and submitted to God's will for my life, quit trying to force things to work my way, a sense of peace came over me for which there is no other explanation but God.

It's not that I'm doing what God wants so He is bestowing upon me all my wants. On the contrary, we have a smaller balance in our bank than we've had in 20 years. We lost our daughter almost three years ago. I do not want to leave the impression that submission to God results in worldly rewards. That's not at all what I'm saying. John 16:33 promises us we'll ALL suffer trials and tribulation on this Earth. Paul tells us numerous times that we will suffer as Christians. And that's the most amazing part of all this...

It's not peace in the way the world defines peace that takes away our worry, and it's not a worldly peace that will lift your worries from your shoulders either. The freedom from worry comes only from faith in Jesus Christ. It's not a promise of health and wealth here on Earth that gives us peace. It's the promise of eternal life through the salvation we receive through faith in Christ.

I'm convinced that without the peace that comes from accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, freedom from worry can't exist. There's not enough money in the world to give us peace. Just look at the number of rich people who commit suicide. There's no man or woman who can love you enough to free you from worry. Just look at the divorce rate in our society today. There's nothing in this world that can offer you peace enough to free you from worry.

That freedom, that peace, only comes from faith in the Son who God sent to pay the price for our sins. We're promised throughout the New Testament that if we believe in Jesus Christ, we'll be saved. We'll pass from this Earth when it's our time and join all other believers in Heaven for eternity. That's what gives us peace. That's what gives us freedom from worry.

Worry can't save you. Worry can't fix you. Worry can't help you. But Jesus can...and He will. So don't worry, be happy. :)




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.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November Drawing for $200 Walmart Gift Card -- Only 10 Days Left to Enter!

It's been a busy month, but it's winding down now. Friday is our last day of school, then Thanksgiving break! When we get back to school, we'll be in the last month of the year, and with only three weeks before we're out for Christmas. It's crazy how fast time flies, but here we are, near the end of November and near the end of 2013.

I've been a little remiss about fundraising this month...okay, maybe more than a little...okay, definitely more than a little. I haven't mentioned it at all, and there are only 10 days left in the month! But, better late than never. Right?

So I need to let you all know, we ARE having another drawing for a $200 Walmart gift card this month! All you have to do to enter is donate to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Arkansas Children's Hospital, and Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch through one of our fundraising sites. For each dollar you donate, you'll receive one entry into the drawing. Donate before November 30th (I know that's not much time!) to get in on this month's drawing! We'll draw the winner the first or second of next month, announce the winner here, on Facebook, and on Twitter, and get the gift card in your hands in time for Christmas shopping!

What a chance to donate to a worthy cause with an opportunity to get some extra Christmas cash!
" 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." ~ James 2:14-17

Remember, a $10 donation earns you 10 entries into the drawing, a $20 donation 20 entries, $50 donation earns 50 entries, and so on! For as little as $10 you can make a big difference in the lives of kids at any one of these great charities. We don't ever touch a dime of your money, never even see it. So you get more bang for your charitable buck through our fundraising pages. More of your money goes straight to your intended beneficiary!

So give today. Help us reach our 2013 fundraising goal. Help us honor the memory of our beautiful daughter, Amanda Marie Allison (1993 -- 2011). Help us spread the Good News that eternal salvation is available to all through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And help the kids at these fine charities! All while earning yourself chances to win a $200 Walmart gift card.

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.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Blessed...in so many ways!

Thanksgiving is next week, a day set aside to count our blessings. My problem is, I have way too many to count. God has blessed me in so many ways, I don't have enough time to list them all. But I have a few I want to be sure to mention.

First, I am blessed to have such a fantastic wife. Janice has put up with me for more than 19 years now. I have no doubt she's the only woman in the world with enough patience to do that! For many of those years, I wasn't easy to live with. Heck, I'm not easy to live with now. But still, she joins me in races near and far, and let's me indulge this obsession to run. She's been with me through the good times and bad, the lean times and fat, traveled the land of want and the land of plenty. Through it all, she stood by me, and still does. I am definitely blessed to be married to the love of my life.

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies." ~ Proverbs 31:10

Second, I am blessed to run. When Amanda was killed, I found myself in a state of despair like I didn't know existed. Never before had I believed I could sink so low, into such a pit that I didn't want to climb out. When my friend Jesse challenged me to run the Marine Corps Marathon that year, it turned out to be a life saver. It gave me a goal, a mission, a focus on something productive that would allow me to honor my daughter and continue to live for my surviving family. God has given me the desire, the motivation, and the strength to continue to run, to continue to honor Him, and Amanda, and to draw attention to the dangers of teen substance abuse. I don't know where I'd be or what I'd have done if He hadn't. But I do know, I am extremely blessed to run.
"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

Third, I'm blessed to teach. Like running, teaching gave me something productive to do after Amanda's death. It gave me kids to influence, not just to teach math, but to witness to and really influence them. The opportunity to teach these students them what they think they can't learn, to encourage them to try what they believe is impossible, and to inspire them to believe that anything is possible, keeps me excited and alive, filled with energy to continue on this race marked out for me. The kids, the parents, the colleagues, and everyone else I've come in contact with through teaching have blessed me more than words can say. I'm certainly blessed to teach!
"Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. ~ James 3:1

Finally, I am blessed because God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die so that I might live. Because my sin earned me an eternity spent in the flames of Hell, Jesus came to suffer the horrendous death on the cross, a death that I deserve, but He didn't. He died so that I can live, eternally in Heaven with Him. It's because of Jesus' sacrifice that I know I'll see Amanda again. When my time on this earth is over, I'll ascend to Heaven and be reunited with my beautiful daugther, forever. Eternal life is possible, eternity in a place without pain, without suffering, and without death, only because God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. So I am blessed beyond measure that God loves me so much, He sent His Son as a sacrifice, as my Savior, so that I might live.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing ~ John 15:5

So as Thanksgiving approaches, I'm grateful for so much, thankful that God has blessed me so.




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.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hello Winter! You Can't Stop Me!

250!

That's what the temperature was when I stepped outside for this morning's run, the first sub-freezing run of the season for me. When people hear that I ran this morning, the typical response is, "You're crazy!" or something along those lines. Most of them probably think that about me on nice days for running anyway, but some only believe running is insane when the weather is too hot, or too cold, or too wet, or too windy, or too [fill in the blank here].

The reality is, it's easy to find an excuse not to run. Just like every other thing we know we should do in life, we can always come up with a reason not to. But in life, the chores don't stop piling up, they don't get finished either, unless we jump in and get them done. This winter, I have several upcoming races, and it doesn't matter what the weather is on race day, we'll be running. Looking at it from that perspective, holing up inside on cold, wet, windy, or any other adverse weather days doesn't make much sense.

"Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, ~ 2 Peter 1:10

God has a plan for each and every one of us. For me, that plan is to teach and to run. More specifically, to spread His Good News through my teaching and running. If I make excuses not to run, I jeopardize my effectiveness at fulfilling His calling. But I'm "to make every effort" to follow through on God's plan for me. Every effort.

If I let a little cold or rain stop me from running, it's like telling God, "I'll do what You want me to do, but on my terms. Not Yours." While that might avoid me a little discomfort today, it might leave me squirming and looking away on judgment day, when I have to account for my actions here on Earth. I'd much rather face a little temporary discomfort down here, than to explain to God why I refused to do what I was called to do here.

So, come on winter! Bring on the cold and whatever else you have to throw at us. Just know that whatever weather we're dealt, God willing, I'll be out there running. Every step, every mile, every run and every race is by His mercy and for His 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.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Bass Pro Marathon Race Recap

"It was fun, in a sick kind of way," said my friend Cindy in a text this afternoon. She and I ran the Bass Pro Marathon together today, and I can honestly say, the only reason I got my PR was because she stayed with me and practically dragged me to the finish when things went bad at mile 23. I've heard it said there are two halves to a marathon, the first 20 miles, then the last 6.2. I can attest to the truth of that statement, as can most who've survived a 26.2 mile race. So here comes the recap.

Before the Race

The 4 hour drive from Cabot to Springfield was absolutely beautiful! The leaves were changing in the Ozark Mountains and highway 65 was spectacular. Here's are a couple of pictures I took on the way up, and it only captures a little of the beauty.





God gave us a great trip up, no traffic issues and beautiful scenery.

We arrived at the expo around 4:00 PM to pick up our packets. It closed at 7, but already a few of the vendors had packed up and gone. Picking up our packets was easy enough. Many of the vendors were local, not really beneficial or offering anything of interest to out-of-town runners. But TEAM 413 was there and I learned they would be hosting a worship service at 6:15 the morning of the race. That was pretty cool, especially when I saw the race post about the service on its Facebook page the night before. It's really nice that decent sized events like this exist that aren't so afraid of offending someone, they're still willing to stand up and honor God.

We headed out and checked into our hotel before returning for the 6:00 PM pasta dinner. This was the first time I've ever signed us up for the pre-race dinner, because they're usually so expensive. But, when I registered for this race, the cost to register for the pasta dinner was only $10 a head. I didn't figure we'd find a decent meal for that price anywhere else, so what the heck. I'm really glad I did, because we got to sit with some really nice folks and hear two legendary marathoners speak -- Dick Beardsley and Frank Shorter. Our TEAM 413 friends, Faye and Lester, joined us, along with Steve and Paula Boone. Steve and Paula directed the End of the World/Day After the End of the World double we did last year. It was a great meal at a great price with great speakers and friends. Here's a picture of Frank Shorter speaking to the crowd at dinner.



This morning I rose at 4:00 AM, gaining an hour of sleep thanks to Daylight Savings Time. I got ready, then at a couple of granola bars and downed some coffee. We headed out just before 6:00 AM to get there in time for the worship service by TEAM 413. It was an awesome way to start race morning. We did miss the Marathon Maniacs/Half Fanatics photo, but I figured God wouldn't look too favorably on us if we got up and left a worship service to go get a picture made at 6:30. Priorities, and I'm glad we made this choice. Here's a photo of the service.



Now, it was time for a pre-race bathroom stop, then to the start line.

The Race

We started right in front of Bass Pro Shops. It was a little different than most decent sized marathons as there were no barricades separating runners and spectators. As a result, we were mingled for quite a while before the start, although most of the spectators cleared out before the race actually started. My friend, Cindy, who works with me at school and one of the few my wife thinks is just as fanatical about running as I am, was with us. She and I planned to run the race together.Here's a pic of the starting line, waiting for the 7 AM start.



Then the clock rolled over to 7 AM and we were off. We were packed in pretty good from the start, but I knew from the course map we'd be separating with runners of the half at mile one. Still, even in the crowd, we managed a 9:58 first mile. When we did split, there was a man with a bullhorn yelling, "Full to the right, half to the left." I remember thinking he should have been saying, "Fools to the right, half to the left," even though I was feeling really great at that point.

The course was absolutely gorgeous, running through residential areas and a biking/jogging trail, decorated with the splendor of fall colors in the trees. Around mile 2, we caught up with the 4:30 pacer and another pace group quickly caught up with us, and passed us. This latter group wasn't an official group, but carried a handwritten sign identifying themselves as the "4:00 -- 5:00 pace group." They were decked out in colorful garb. Cindy wanted a picture with them, so we caught up temporarily and I captured this shot.



We finished mile 2 in 9:45 and moved past the 4:30 official pace group to finish mile 3 in 9:21. The next few miles passed through beautiful neighborhoods with some pretty tough hills. Again, I expected these and was still feeling great. We were averaging around a 9:30 pace through mile 10. The pictures below are a lake we passed around mile 8 and my favorite sign we saw on the course a little while later. Even though I wasn't their teacher, it was nice to know other teachers were out on the course and their students were out supporting them.





After the picture of that sign, I didn't take anymore until after the race. I was starting to feel the pace and the miles, still feeling good, still unworried, and actually visualizing a BIG PR. My goal going in was a 4:30 finish, and by mile 10 we were 5 minutes ahead of schedule. Now I was starting to visualize a 4:20 finish. My previous PR was 4:43:15 and we were on pace to shatter that! But it would take a few more miles before I remembered a lesson I've learned many times before, but seem to forget with regularity. There are 26.2 miles in a marathon, and just because you feel good in the first 10, doesn't mean you're going to feel good the entire distance.

The hills didn't quit at mile 10, and we did finally slow a little. Miles 11 -- 14 averaged around a 9:40 pace. Then we slowed to around a 10 minute pace in miles 15 -- 20. The course was still beautiful, but we were talking less and the miles and the hills were starting to take their toll. We finished mile 21 in 10:29, and that's when the first signs of what was to come appeared. The little twitch in my right hamstring, not a pain and not a pull, but a twitch that I've come to know means get ready, because cramps are coming. That little twitch was my first warning, but we pressed on.

Mile 22 we covered in 10:24, but just before we arrived at the 23 mile marker, those promised cramps, foretold by that little twitch, struck with a vengeance. My right hamstring completely locked up. I couldn't even walk. When I pulled up, cried out, and bent over to stretch, a volunteer blocking a cross street yelled, "Do you want me to get someone for you?" Without hesitation, I replied, "No! I'll finish this race if I have to crawl." It took me a few minutes, but I finally stood there long enough to get it unlocked where I could walk.

We walked a quarter of a mile or more, finishing mile 23 in 11:46. But when I finally felt comfortable to run again, it was at a much slower pace than we'd been running before. It was during this walk the 4:30 pacer passed us. I told Cindy to go on, but she insisted on staying with me. A little over a 5K to go, and it became more of a shuffle than a run, but God kept me going. I decided to walk the hills from this point, even though I might have been able to run that slow, slow pace. I just didn't want to take a chance on challenging those cramp-prone muscles.

We were able to pick up the pace as we progressed toward the finish line, but never approached our previous pace. We covered mile 24 in 14:33, mile 25 in 13:02, and mile 26 in 12:02. Then it was downhill to the finish, and we managed that last little bit at a 10:04 pace. Then, finally, the finish line!

I didn't make my goal time of 4:30, but I did manage a PR of 2:34:50. That would not have happened had it not been for Cindy sticking with me through those last 3 miles. She encouraged me, practically dragging me through until we reached that beautiful line!
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

So thank you Cindy! For running a pretty tough course with me and sticking with me to the finish.

Below are a few cool pics of some birds of prey they had at the conference center when we finished. (And a big bunny rabbit a young lady had too.)









Thank you Jesus Christ for giving me the friends, the strength, and the will to persevere, to continue running. I hope and pray that our run brought you glory on this beautiful day!




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, November 2, 2013

A marathon, a Bible verse, and a worship service!

Everything's ready for tomorrow. We made it to Springfield, MO before 4:00 PM and breezed through packet pick up pretty quickly. Some pretty hard core salespeople tried to turn me into a health food nut, do some voodoo on my back, and get me to buy a trip to Branson, but we managed to get away without being corrupted, adjusted, or tricked into listening to a three hour time share sales pitch. But that's the job those folks have, to try and convince us all that we NEED whatever it is they're selling.

Fortunately, I'm blessed to know what I need to get through this race, through this year, and through this life. What I need, and all I need, is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And from all I've seen and done today, there's no doubt that He is here and working in Springfield, MO through this event.

The TEAM 413 booth was the first vendor I noticed when I walked into the expo today. This is an awesome ministry run by Chris Gillespie, whose story you need to read about if you don't know. Chris bills TEAM 413 as the largest ministry in the world that targets the endurance racing community. At the pasta dinner tonight, we were blessed to see and eat with a TEAM 413 friend, Faye Hires and her husband Lester. She asked if I'd be attending the prayer at 6:15 in the expo building. When I said I would, I thought we were talking about a few TEAM 413 members getting together to say a prayer, but it looks to be much more than that even. Just saw a post on the Bass Pro Marathon Weekend's Facebook page that there will be a worship service at 6:15 tomorrow morning in the Sportsman's Lodge. Not just a few friends joining together for a small prayer, but a worship service! How awesome is that?!? A big event like this unafraid and unashamed to honor our Lord and Savior! Looking forward to this even more now! My bib number for tomorrow's race is 10. It's been a while, but I used to try to match Bible verses to my bib number in marathons and half marathons. So tonight, I thought I'd try to start that tradition back up. Looking to match that to a Bible verse to focus on tomorrow and this is what I found...
"that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth," ~ Philippians 2:10

If the Lord is willing, tomorrow I'll finish marathon #8. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that somehow this will be my accomplishment, that I somehow got here by my power. I need to remember that I can only run by God's grace and because of His mercy. If I make it to the finish line tomorrow, it will only be because it's His will. It won't be because of me, but because of His grace and mercy. I have to remember that, and remember to give Jesus Christ the credit for every step, every mile, and every finish.




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.

Problem solved: We run tomorrow at Bass Pro!

Thank you to the race director of Bass Pro Marathon!

Yesterday I posted that Janice wasn't listed as a participant in the half at Bass Pro tomorrow. I registered for the race back in July, received my receipt, and felt completely confident all was good...until yesterday. We never received an email for her this week, an email that's supposed to make everything quicker at packet pick up today. So I started to investigate why.

I started by clicking the "Search Participants" link on the race website, and that's when I started to get worried. Her name didn't come up on the list, no matter how I searched. First name, last name, first and last name, it didn't matter. She wasn't showing up. We're driving up today, and she's not listed as a participant in the now sold out half marathon at Bass Pro!
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." ~ -- Philippians 4:6

Instead of panic, I turned to prayer, asking the Lord to help. I tried to call the number, but got a voice mail the race director would be out of the office for the weekend. I sent an email with a copy of my receipt for both registrations and quickly got an automated response that she would be out of the office. It was hard not to worry at this point, but I just kept praying and working. I got on their Facebook page and explained the situation.

I'd done everything I knew to try, and now just prayed it could be resolved at the expo.

Not much later, though, I received an email telling me all is good. Janice is registered and we're a go for tomorrow. Evidently, it's a glitch in Active.com's system that registering two participants with the same email address means we only receive one email, for only one participant. So all is good, and we run tomorrow.

Thank you Jesus and thanks to the Bass Pro race director for getting this fixed!


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, November 1, 2013

Bass Pro Marathon Weekend

I've been pumped all week for this weekend, my first marathon of the season. Tomorrow morning we'll hit the road for Springfield, MO to run. I'm registered for the Bass Pro Marathon, and I thought Janice was registered for the half. But she never got her final instructions email this week.

So tonight I check the "Search Participants" link on the race website, and she's not listed. Now I have a copy of the email receipt when I registered us. While it doesn't name us on the receipt, it shows I paid for a marathon and a full marathon registration. This is frustrating to say the least.

But I'm not going to panic. I'm counting on the folks in Springfield to make this right at the expo tomorrow.
"Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." ~ -- Psalm 9:10

I'll post again tomorrow and let you know how this gets resolved. Hopefully, all will be well and good and we'll both be running on Sunday. I'm taking a printed copy of the email receipt and surely that will be enough to get things made right.

For now, good night and God bless.

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.