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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My First 50K Finish -- Full mOOn 50K 2014

Oh what a difference a year makes!

It was this time last year that I had to write a post about my first DNF at the Full mOOn 50K. That also happened to be my first attempt at an official ultramarathon, and I failed, dropping out after going 23 of the 31 miles on the course. I had no intention to attempt it again this year, but the nagging feeling of leaving the course without finishing the race pushed me to pull the trigger late last month.

Last night was race night, and things went a lot better this year. It took me FOREVER to get to the finish line, but I did cross it, and under the stated 9 hour time limit. We started at 7 PM on Saturday. It was 3:53 AM when I ran over the timing mats in the finish line chute. Official time was 8:53:26, less than 7 minutes to spare to make the cutoff, but made it just the same.

So what made the difference? How did I finish this year what I couldn't last year? I think that's best explained starting with what I did wrong last year.

I never intended to sign up for the race last year. It was actually a decision made in moment of rage. My wife and I were in North Carolina visiting family when a dog of theirs got on the table and chewed up my Garmin. It had been three months since my last marathon and I was having withdrawals I guess. Because I couldn't be too rough on a family member's dog, I sat down and looked for the closest race I could get to the quickest. Turned out, it was Full mOOn. So I'd say I signed up for last year's race for the wrong reasons. Most of the time, decisions made in anger turn out bad. That held in this case.

To say I hadn't trained for last year's race is an understatement. When the heat and humidity set in, I limited my long runs to 10 miles. So by mid July of 2013, it had been more than 6 weeks since I'd run anything approaching a long training run to prepare for a 50K. I was definitely underprepared for last year's race.

Last year, all I knew of the course was, "the first three miles are uphill." That's not exactly true because there's a pretty nice downhill not long after the start, but the rest of the first 3 miles IS uphill. Turns out, about 80% of the first 10 miles is uphill, and a lot of that is pretty doggone steep uphill. The middle 10 miles is a series of steep inclines and descents. Because I didn't expect such drastic elevation changes, I paid a heavy price last year for pushing too hard on many of those uphills, expecting to find long downhills just around the next bend. Those long downhill stretches proved nonexistent and I ended up spent long before I reached the finish.

So those are some of the things I did wrong last year. Now let me tell you what I did right this year.

"He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many" ~ Daniel 8:25a

Even though I was visiting family in North Carolina again last month when I signed up for this year's race, it wasn't in anger. I thought about it and prayed about it and got a feeling that I had to at least attempt to finish what I'd started last year. I can't say I was 100% sure that God wanted me to run this race, but I turned it over to Him and knew I had to try and use it to bring glory to Him. I decided I'd go in and do my best and be satisfied with whatever the outcome would be.

There were lots of prayers that went up for me and this race this year too. Up everyone of those long uphills I was praying, praising God, and even singing some. But that wasn't all. Prayers were sent up from friends across the country. They posted requests on Facebook and there is no telling how many people prayed for me and this race. I believe in the power of prayer and I believe that Jesus heard all those prayers and answered last night.

I was much better trained for the race this year, mostly because of last month's double marathon in Utah and Idaho. Two marathons on consecutive days gave me the long runs I was missing last year. Three weeks before those marathons I had attempted another in Little Rock. I made it 25 miles before the heat took me out of that one, but still, it was another 25 mile run to help prepare me for this race. Almost all my running since the double last month had been in heat and humidity too. I was acclimated to the race conditions and far better prepared.

This year, I knew the course. I knew what to expect so the drastic elevation changes didn't catch me off guard. Last year I didn't regret stopping after 23 miles, but as I rode back in the sag wagon, I realized I quit before the easiest part of the course. All that long, drastic climb at the start of the race would have been the end of the race if I'd finished. This year, I knew it was coming and devised a plan to take advantage of it. For the first two hours of the race, I walked. I walked all the way up that crazy long uphill at the start. After that, I only ran the downhills and walked everything else. I actually felt good when I got through that crazy up and down, up and down and reached the turnaround. By that time last year, I was considering quitting. When I reached the point where I did quit last year, I can honestly say I still felt good, 23 miles into the race. Knowing the course made a huge difference, enabling me to come up with a strategy designed specifically for this race.

I made a few other changes that I think helped too. Last year I took Gu along with salt and potassium tablets every 5 miles. This year I dropped that back to every 3 miles and added a magnesium supplement (100% recommended daily allowance) every 9 miles. I never felt that physically drained feeling that comes when I've sweat all those mineral out on a long, hot, humid run. I could still taste salt in my sweat at the finish line, which is normally long gone in similar conditions. One last thing I did was leave my hydration pack at home. I didn't take off on a 31 mile run without fluids, but I made another change. This year, I froze 6 bottles (16 ounces) of water and 2 bottles (quart) of Gatorade. I lined a backpack with a trash bag and lined the trash bag with a towel and packed the frozen drinks inside. I didn't tap them until mile 12, but when I did it was like drinking liquid Heaven! There was still a big hunk of ice in the first bottle I pulled out and when I started drinking that ice cold water it immediately went to work to cool me down. Those drinks stayed ice cold until way late in the race, and having cold water and Gatorade to drink made a huge difference.

It took me almost 9 hours to finish, but by God's grace and mercy, I chalked up my first ever 50K finish, and in pretty good shape too. I'll be back next year. Not sure if I'll run the 50 or 25K next year, but I'll definitely be back. Thanks to all the volunteers and race organizers and sponsors who made this a quality event. Now it's time to rest up.

Next marathon is Mid South Marathon in Wynne, AR on November 1st. In the interim we'll be running some shorter races. As always we're running to raise awareness of the dangers of teen substance abuse, to honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and to raise money for Soaring Wings Ranch.

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, July 9, 2014

Surprise, surprise, the lobby to legalize marijuana lies

How many times have you heard, "If marijuana was legal, there wouldn't be a prison overcrowding problem?" Or been told the same thing? I know I've heard that argument more times than I could count. Personally, I'm against legalization for many other reasons, but even I figured a significant percentage of the prison population is incarcerated because they were arrested for using, possessing, or somehow otherwise violating laws concerning marijuana.

During the jury selection for Amanda's killer, Cody Gorecke's defense attorney quizzed potential jurors on whether or not they could "send someone to prison for marijuana?" Even though the trial wasn't about his marijuana use, even though it was about the violent murder of my 17-year-old daughter, you could see in the jury pool that his strategy was building up a sense of sympathy for Gorecke. You could see it in their eyes. You could hear it in their responses to the questions. This pool of potential jurors, from whom would come the 12 who would decide the fate of Amanda's killer, believed that many otherwise innocent people were imprisoned because they used marijuana.

Their sympathy for my daughter's killer forced us to accept a plea of manslaughter. Their vision of Cody Gorecke as a victim of harsh marijuana laws threatened to set him free if we pursued the charge of 2nd degree murder at trial. Their misconception of the impact of marijuana convictions on Arkansas' prison population forced us to take a plea that resulted in a 16-year prison sentence for the man who killed my daughter. If 16 years sounds like a long time to you, then consider that he was up for parole as early as this coming November, less than 4 years after my daughter was shot and killed.

"He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many" ~ Daniel 8:25a

THV 11, central Arkansas' CBS local station in Little Rock, today posted a story that showed just how misled the public is about marijuana convictions and the Arkansas prison population. Reading the article, I learned that LESS THAN 1/10 OF 1% of inmates in Arkansas' prison system are incarcerated for marijuana convictions. LESS THAN 1/10 OF 1%!

It was the Baxter County Sheriff who actually demonstrated just how misinformed the public is about the relationship between marijuana use and prison sentences. He posted an unscientific poll on his website asking respondents to tell what percentage of inmates are behind bars for marijuana. Almost 25% thought more than 50% of Arkansas inmates were there for marijuana convictions. Another 27% thought the number was 30% or 40%. More than half of those who responded believe that 30% or more of inmates in Arkansas prisons are there because they used marijuana.

In reality, LESS THAN 1/10 OF 1% are in prison for marijuana convictions. (I know I've said that several times, but I can't stress it enough.) Are you one of those misled by the marijuana legalization crowd? Have you bought the lie that legalizing marijuana would ease prison overcrowding?

From the article, "There are approximately 14,500 beds in the Arkansas Department of Corrections with another 2500 convicted inmates waiting to go to prison when a bed becomes available." So there are ~17000 people residing in Arkansas prisons, or in county jails awaiting open beds in Arkansas prisons. Here's the math...LESS THAN 1/10 OF 1% of those are there for marijuana convictions. 1/10 of 1% of 17000 is...wait for it...can you guess?...17!!!!!

That's right! Of the 17,000 residents in the Arkansas prison system, fewer than 17 are there for marijuana use! Fewer than 17! So, if we made marijuana legal, and even vacated the convictions of these convicts, it would free a whopping 17 beds in the entire Arkansas prison system.

17. Think about that for a minute and let it sink in...

Have you bought the lies of the legalization lobby? Are you one of maybe hundreds of thousands of misinformed Arkansans who believe that legalizing marijuana will ease prison overcrowding? If that's why you support legalization, then maybe you should rethink your position.

Spread the truth and stop the lies of the legalization lobby.

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, July 1, 2014

Runner's World: Tips for Running in Humidity

Gotta share this article from Runner's World. I've been running the past week in eastern North Carolina where the humidity is normally around 90% every morning. Back home in Arkansas, same thing. It's just plain tough to run when the air is thick as soup, sweat doesn't evaporate, and temps are high.

I fight the battle every spring, trying to acclimate when the weather turns sour. This year, on May 25th, I crashed at mile 25 of a marathon I was attempting. Both legs locked up in cramps and I fell like a tree. The weather had changed and I hadn't run any long runs in those conditions since last summer. I knew better. I told myself if it was like that I'd bow out, but I guess you can tell that common sense didn't rule the day. After two IVs and a $400 ambulance bill, I was good to go, running the next day. But it was a pretty hefty price for not using my head. I knew better, but hopefully the tips in this article will help someone else, before they end up on the ground.

Jesus replied, "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise," ~ Ephesians 5:15

Hope you all have blessed and happy runs, even in this heat.

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.