Thursday, July 17, 2014

Today, I Dropped Out of a 50 Miler

So today I wrote the race director of the Can Lake 50 to request a refund for a race I have been planning to do for about 10 months. (The race director was quick to respond and helpfully let me know about some other races he was also organizing in case one of those would be more appropriate). It's the first time I haven't gone through with a race I signed up for, but life has gotten too busy with school work, work work and appropriate family time. And today, my wife, who is usually the person to kick my butt when I'm discouraged about a race, clarified things for me: the race training had become a chore rather than a pleasure.

When I couldn't find the time to get my 20+ mile long run in, I got angry or tried to shuffle the schedule rather than just going on a shorter run. I kept trying to get back on the plan.

I am officially off the plan and out of the race. I'll get in some 5Ks and half marathons before the winter, but more importantly, I really just had a great time on a 6 mile run tonight, with some fartleks thrown in!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Christian On Christian (or Non-Christian) Violence

Romans 14:4 (NLT)
4  Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him judge whether they are right or wrong. And with the Lord’s help, they will do what is right and will receive his approval. 
Unfortunately, it's non-Christians who seem to recognize truth this more than Christians do, and that without the words of Paul or a necessary belief in God (at least directly). Unfortunately, even when I teach this, I catch myself doing it as if not more frequently.

This is not an argument against pointing out sin, but an argument for grace. This is an argument for grace for politician, the famous and infamous, the hypocrite, the bleeding heart, the leader of x religion or church, the teacher, the doctor, the addict, the conservative, the liberal, and the Christian.

Because the truth stands at this: even the forgiven, the wise, and the sanctified sin. It's one thing to speak to the sinner in love, and another thing to speak about the sinner in condemnation, whether in private conversation, on our blogs, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

One Week of Post-Marathon Recovery and Why I'm Vegan

So one week after my second marathon, I have to say I feel WAAAAAY better than I did a week after my first. But then, I also felt that much better 10 minutes after. And so I walked about 3 miles Sunday, 2 Monday, 2 Tuesday, did an easy 2.5 mile run on Wednesday, took Thursday and Friday off, then did an 8 mile MAF run at Island Beach State Park today (on the roads, just finished at the beach as you see above).

Since I didn't train at all (see my first post) for this past marathon, I can't explain the difference away with better training, so the only thing left is that my diet is back to being completely vegan. Why was it not before the last run? Because I found Vinnie Tortorich, America's Angriest Trainer! If you're not familiar with his stuff, even if you don't agree with his nutrition, the podcasts are hysterical (though often a bit crude as well)!
Anyway, he got me rethinking what I eat, especially because I felt like I had plateaued for weight loss. So I began getting meat, cheese and eggs into my diet. It has only been since about February that I decided that wasn't the answer either and went back to my vegan ways. And wow, the body seems to be responding well.

Anyway, why vegan to being with? It started two years ago during Lent. My daughters came home from school wanting to try the Daniel Fast. Since I'm the main cook in the house, that made me the one to figure out what to eat for a few weeks. It was hard (especially not grilling), but I also learned to try a few new ingredients (vegetables) and lost some weight. When we were done, we figured why not continue. We all have to some degree, and I remained completely vegan. And began running regularly. And it went well together and ta-da! Here I am, two years in and, after trying a little NSNG/Paleo, am back to being all plant powered and really feeling good.

If you're looking to explore vegetarian/vegan eating, here are a couple resources I would recommend:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Different Parts, Different Expectations

"But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. (I Corinthians 12:24b-25)."

After enduring a few days of pain from running 26.2 miles, and the unbalanced nature of that pain (if you've ever taxed an area full of muscles, you'll understand), I think I have a better context for interpreting the "parts of the body" imagery Paul used in I Corinthians than I have in the past. Whenever I've looked at it before, it's always been from a separate but equal kind of thing. Yes, the foot is bigger than the eye, but I don't ever want to be in the position of choosing one over the other. So what to do with the "parts that lacked" honor?

When we think of living in Christian community, we can romanticize it to a degree and view "putting up with" each other's weaknesses joyfully. But with work, it is different. Work calls us to produce, earn a living, and achieve. When those we work with don't live up to our level or expectations of productivity, or aren't on the same page, it causes extra work, animosity and conflict. 

The apostle Paul would have gotten that, because he worked really hard and put his heart into his ministry and his neck on the chopping block not a few times. He knew what it was like to be disappointed with those he invested lots of time in, but didn't seem to get it. People who forgot who he was the minute their attention went elsewhere. But he chose to speak in these terms with authority.

Because it's not just people who fail to live up to our expectations, but the reality that God has chosen all mankind to be loved, and so in a community of believers, there will be high achievers and low achievers, high functioning and low functioning. As we think often in our community as being fellow laborers with God (I Corinthians 3:9), and work in our world is so much about production, the desire is frequently to be a productive community, but where we set the pace. And when others cannot produce or will not produce, we may be tempted to marginalize them because they are not useful...they're weak!

If I could have gotten rid of the small, weak muscles that were most screaming during and after my last race, it would not have made me a better runner; it would have made me a less stable one. The muscles that may seem most useless, God has still arranged in our bodies. The members that may seem most useless to our personal missions, God has still arranged in our church bodies. To keep us from choosing our missions over God's. So that there would be no division in the body. So that we would have concern for each other.

Because sometimes unity doesn't take us forward, but holds us back so that we arrive in one piece!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Race Report- Rock 'n' Roll Roll USA Marathon (3/15/14)

My eldest daughter pacing me for the last mile! In afterthought, this
reminds me a bit of an epic photo from"Born to Run"! No?
So my first post on this blog and my first race report ever, and not my proudest race ever. Confession: I didn't train for this one, and by not train, I mean I didn't run the entire month of February and not often in January once winter really kicked in. I was being a wimp. Last Saturday (3/8/14), it was beautiful (65 degrees), so I decided to do a long run and see how much I had in the tank. When I pulled off 16 miles, I was pleasantly surprised, but still planned on downgrading to the half marathon. As this week went on, I started to think that maybe I should do the full, just to work out the mental part. Yeah, so that's what I did.

We stayed at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, which was about 2 miles from the starting line. Pretty decent place and the parking was free, plus it was close enough that I could get a warmup in before the start of the race and not have to wake up my wife or daughter. Not to mention that the view of the Capitol from our room was pretty awesome at night.

Anyway, the morning of the race, I headed out a little after 6 with nothing more than a banana for breakfast. It seemed to do the trick. A nice little walk/run to the Mall, then a stop at the Port-a-Potty line away from the crowds and I was set to go. The sky was overcast, and the breeze off the water was making it feel less than the 53 degrees that my iPhone weather app insisted that it was. Once the corral started filling up, things got better.

Disclaimer: despite issues that some in the race community have with the Competitor Rock n' Roll Series, I appreciate the races, the atmosphere and the consistent quality of the courses. It's like the best tour of any city you can get. This one didn't disappoint. We started off near the White House, past the White House and around some of the federal offices, then off down the Mall to the Lincoln Memorial to the first water station. The one problem was that, perhaps due to the cold, I needed a restroom  break, but the Port-a-Potty line took a good 12 minutes. Back in and trying to get my time back on track for the plan, we headed off toward the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. If you've never been there, the view of Robert E. Lee's former home on the hill over the cemetery is awesome!

Anyway, we turned around before the entrance, back across the bridge, and off toward the National Zoo. We then took a turn down onto a road running through a ravine, and I began to realize that either the hills on either side of us were going to eventually slope down, or we were going to have some significant hill climbing to do. Enter the significant hill climb at mile marker 6!

The hills on this course were never that tall, but it seemed that descending was always on a gentle slope, and ascending was always straight up. Anyway, next, we had several miles of fun neighborhoods, Greek life (frat and sorority houses), and a few of the universities. On one of the blocks, they were even offering free beer and brisket to be hospitable!

We came out of all the small neighborhoods with a nice view of Capitol Hill, and began the trek toward what would be the finish line for the half marathoners. As we approached the split, I honestly considered switching races. I was already running my worst 10K and half marathon times ever, and was really starting to think my lack of training was going to come back to bite me, but this was all about testing mental fitness, not physical fitness, so to the right I went, on the way to 14 more miles.
"I'm just a Bill, yes I'm only a Bill, and I'm
running here on Capitol Hill."

Fortunately, the race planners definitely made the final 14 worthwhile! First, lots of climbs and descents, but when you're climbing Capitol Hill, who cares? Nice job!! Then we did some time in and out of marinas, a steep twisted up and down at L'Enfant Plaza, and a trip across the Anacostia River to Anacostia Park with some loops and great views. The next couple of miles were along Minnesota Avenue, which I'm pretty sure the race website described as "gently rolling hills", but were more like steep climbs with gentle descents. Finally, down a ramp and onto East Capitol Street toward the stadium and the finish line. A lot of people in the 5ish hour club started walking at this point, but I knew if I stopped running at this point, I would never start again, and my pace actually picked up. Thanks to my daughter who joined me around mile 26 for encouragement, I was really able to pick things up and did the last .2 miles at a 6:30 pace!

Total time 5:13:13. Yes, pretty terrible, but considering no runs in almost two months, and the fact that I spent almost the entire time running, it was a victory of the will. And probably a great mental conditioner for the CanLake 50 in October (my first 50 miler)!

Other favorite things: One half marathoner who juggled drum sticks through the entire course; the reactions to my Xeroshoes from people behind me; not getting that cold, shivering feeling immediately after my legs stopped moving; my wife quickly getting me to a Starbucks for a Venti Iced Coffee (black)!