Tuesday, April 22, 2008


...they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 ...but they that wait on the strength of the Lord shall renew their strength...

I ran and was weary but I didn't faint. One hundred miles is a long way. It is easier to grasp thinking about it than actually doing it. My saving grace was knowing that that I at least attempted it and through failure of only getting through 50 miles I have learned much. The body and mind are amazing but they will rebel mostly against each other. There are really no excuses. My body rebelled more than my mind wanted to reconcile. Unlike Rocky Raccoon where I felt the strength was with me and I found something special in the wilderness, the same feelings were not present at Umstead. I had much appreciated help from Shawn throughout the day (which might be a more difficult chore than running) but I am not sure I got enough help from myself. My first three loops were perfectly paced but the fourth loop was a chore and internally my body shut down. Mentally, I got down on myself a bit during the run and once you lose it mentally, it is lost. I finished 50 miles in 12:54, my second 50 miler in 8 weeks. Umstead has wonderful organization and I would highly recommend it as an event whether you run 50 miles or 100. The hospitality of southerners is unsurpassed. As for me, the Lord has renewed my strength to get back on the road, take the next step and continue to try.

Friday, March 21, 2008


In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts. Peter McWilliams

The 100 mile run itself is serendipity...discovery. It is discovery of the person inside. Why does someone run 100 miles? ...To discover the unknown... to go beyond reason of mind and body... to put oneself on the edge... to be broken... to have faith... to wake up... to exhaustion... to leave it there...

To get to this opportunity requires effort... to get to any opportunity requires effort... it is soon time....

I am broken... God help me...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

It's Where I Found Jesus...

It’s hard to capture in words what it is like to run an ultra but today I picked up a book that I have been reading every day over the last month, Love Beyond Reason by John Ortberg. On Saturday, February 3, I ran the Rocky Raccoon 50 Miler in Huntsville State Park in Huntsville, TX. The 50 miler was actually the fun run since the main event was the 100. Oddly enough, this excerpt describes it all.

Some time ago (Saturday, February 3), I had a day of solitude in a forest preserve. I felt the kind of “weariness of the flesh” the writer of Ecclesiastes talked about. And I realized how strongly I had been living for certain achievements, and how I felt the heaviness when they were not realized. I was caught up in my own trivial pursuits.

But I was in the kind of natural setting where it is hard to remain discontent for long. The chestnut trees and oaks and maples and pines and sycamores were asleep for the winter yet warmed by a brilliant sunshine and colored by a deep blue sky. And something happened, I began to get free. I was somehow given the gift of sensing that God loved me. I began to feel again what a gift it was to be alive, on this earth, in this place, during this moment. I was immersed in this sense so strongly; I began to run, just in the strength of that feeling.

Somehow when I was alone with His creation on that day in the forest, God sang a song to me. It didn’t matter who I was or what I’d done at least to God; being alive and loved by God was enough to bring gratitude and contentment – at least for a few moments (11 hours and 37 minutes.)
Yet that wonderful feeling didn’t completely fade away after I had left that forest.

Several days later, I was sitting in a meeting, and suddenly I was aware that I didn’t have to say anything. This time, sitting there in the meeting, I carried that time alone in the forest preserve with me. God loved me.

This awareness that God gave me is hard to describe: there was a kind of lightness of being in my soul in that moment. I could talk - if I had something worth saying. But I didn’t need to.

I tasted, at least I think a little bit, what the psalmist meant “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” I had been led beside still waters and green pastures.

I just sat there part of me listening to conversation, part of me saying, “Sing it again, Daddy. Tell me you love me, God.”
People ask why – why do you put your body and mind through such torture; why do you do it? Most runners at these events will not be able to say why. It is different for everyone but I suspect that there is one common theme. It gives us insight into life and helps us understand the person inside, the Raggedy Doll (the good, bad, beautiful and ugly) in all of us. During the run, I couldn’t help but to have a portion of the Brooks and Dunn song, Red Dirt Road, repeat in my head every so often, “It’s where I found Jesus.”

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35.

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16.

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. Luke 6:12.

This appears to be what Ultrarunning facilitates; getting to a solitary place, a lonely place, the mountainside where you can spend the day and night, pray and be with Jesus.

Rocky Raccoon was an amazing event. The race director, volunteers and fellow runners were some of the best in all of my running experiences.

Monday, January 7, 2008

40 Miles of Mountain Road...

It wasn't on mountain road but I combined two days of running to total 40 miles as I continue to prepare for Rocky Raccoon. On Saturday, it was 13 miles of local running on the slight hills of Millstone. On Sunday, I decided to run to the beach, better known as the shore in New Jersey. Belmar, NJ is just over 27 miles away. From my driveway to the Atlantic Ocean it is 27.03 miles. The idea was to get through 25 miles under 5 hours which I did with a couple of slow walks and a stop to eat something since I had to be self-sufficient. I reached the ocean (yes, I went the whole way to the ocean) in about 5 hours 15 minutes. Of course, with 31 marathons under my belt in the 4 hour or so range, this does not sound like a feat. However, it was a training run combining back-to-back long runs using a strategy to get me through 50 miles in a few weeks time. What will be different for me at Rocky Raccoon is that the run will start in the dark and end in the dark where I will need to use a light over rooty trails. The course is also a 3-loop course where running to the beach was point-to-point and easier for me. On the plus side, Rocky is on pine needles and even with the roots should be easier on the body. Of course, there will also be aid stations where I can refuel and change shirts. All said, I was happy with the 40 miles and when I touched my running shoes into the Atlantic, it was actually kind of emotional for some reason, maybe it was the vastness of the ocean, the smell of the sea, the quiet, or knowing that I accomplished something that I set out to do. It was the longest training run I had ever done. Left My Body on the Other Side.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


He who has never failed somewhere, that man can not be great. - Herman Melville

I am not looking to be great but I am looking to learn from failure. It is only through failure that we learn the lessons to be better - a better person, a better worker, a better runner, a better whatever. The fall running season has not been great. It has been a Jekyll and Hyde kind of year having a great, fulfilling winter/spring and a disappointing, awful summer/fall. I recorded my first even DNFs in the Turkey Swamp 50K and JFK 50 mile. I ran some of the worst marathon times that I have recoded in the 31 that I have run. Through it all, I hung in there finished my 31st marathon in 20 states. Like life itself, one full of peaks and valleys, perseverance and endurance pays off as painful as it sometimes can be.

It is now time to reset. Push the reset button and readjust life as well as running. I don't make new year's resolutions but I did start the year today by running the Resolution Run 5K. I run few shorter distance races but I always enjoy the local flavor of them. The Resolution Run asked runners at registration if they had a resolution to share. I didn't share one but enjoyed reading the many that were entered - some funny, some deep, some with meaning, some with self-realization. Although I don't make resolutions, I do make goals that stretch me beyond the person that I am, not necessarily in running, but as me as a person. No doubt my running will play a role in that development as it always has. It will be with faith in God that I get out of the boat.

So this blog started as a quest for completing a 100 mile run in April. Although I have not written as much as I would have liked and my quest was somewhat derailed with the painful running experiences in the fall, I do believe that I am still committed at attempting and completing the run. My recent training sessions have gone well putting more distance into my daily runs. I have also committed to the Rocky Raccoon 50 mile in Huntsville, TX in February. I have 3 months until the hundred and have a solid base of 50 mile weeks which I will increase to 60-70 miles with long runs of 25-50 miles. The Rocky Raccoon will give me a peak into the hundred mile scene since the main event is the Rocky Raccoon 100. I guess you could say that I am running the "fun run" at 50 miles. It will give me a flavor of a 100 mile event in general. I still hope to complete marathons in 5 states this year bringing me to the half-way point in states run.

Maybe you could call my running obsessive, compulsive, an addiction but it is how I define me at the moment and how I hope to grow me and be a better person in life. Many things shape our lives, some negatively and some positively but if we work hard enough, have different attitudes and views, continue to have faith and hope, the negative things that shape our lives can be turned into positives with God's plan for our lives. I pray this to be the case for everyone.

Happy New Year to everyone! I pray for peace and love in your life through hope and faith in 2008. I hope to see you on the roads and trails!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mountain of God...

Even though the journey's long
And I know the road is hard
Well, the One who's gone before me
He will help me carry on
After all that I've been through
Now I realize the truth
That I must go through the valley
To stand upon the mountain of God

Third Day

Time just gets away from me. I have been delinquent in writing here since running in the Adirondacks. This weekend in Cape Cod, Falmouth to be exact, I will be running my 30th marathon and 19th state. My progression towards the attempt at 100 miles in April is coming along nicely as I use other marathons and ultras as training runs. After Cape Cod, I will run the JFK 50 mile and then the Charlotte marathon in December. In January, I may run the marathon in Phoenix, Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile in February and Way Too Cool 50K in March. I will also be spending some cold nights running through the wee hours of the morning preparing for running in the 10 hours of darkness during the 100 miler.

Third Day’s song Mountain of God shows us that we will all experience valleys in everything that we do and with life in general. I have experienced valleys in my running this fall but I still look to the Mountain of God where I hope to stand one day. Running, in the scheme of life, has little meaning except that for some of us, it gives us the strength and the courage to find our ways through life – to make it through the valleys. The journey is long and the road is hard but if we keep the faith of the One who has come before us we will stand upon the mountain. I do believe that running is a metaphor for life delicately balancing faith, spirit, mind and body among other things. I hope to make it through the valleys of life as well although the mountain seems so far away at times but I guess being able to see it or having the faith that it is there is a step in the right direction.

So, I am off to run one of the top 10 most beautiful marathons in the country.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Trail of Seasons...

It's always nice to see an old friend again, how you've been, you've changed your place
It's always nice to see an old friend again, staying on the trail of seasons... Kevn Kinney

The marathon is an old friend. Fall begins the marathon season which for me lasts the next 9 months. Except for Baltimore my friend usually changes its place. This year, my friend (the marathon) and I met in the Adirondacks in New York. On one of the most beautiful and perfect days for marathoning in a spectacular, lakeside setting, I ran a pretty awful race. No matter, I enjoyed my time on the road, the views of the lake, and running through tunnels of trees. I even enjoyed the many hills in the first half of the marathon. The beauty of the marathon is that you never know what you are going to get on any given day - thus the challenge. Like a friend whose mood differs, so does the marathon. On this day, the facade of the marathon was beautiful, happy and appeared to be perfect but the reality was inner turmoil and struggle. Just like with friends, we find our way through to the finish and look forward to the next meeting. The Baltimore marathon truly is an old friend having run it 6 times and although it presents its own challenges, it embraces.

I highly recommend the Adirondack Marathon in Schroon Lake. It is tiny (192 marathoners) but it is well-supported, beautiful, well-organized and brings the community together. It is an event in this sleepy, little, lakeside town - more of an event than in most of the big city marathons. If you haven't run a small-town marathon, you are missing a true community-spirited event. In Schroon Lake, the community knew there was a marathon going on and they were excited about it but in the cities, they just know that there are traffic delays for some reason and they are irritated.

I'm walking to the graveyard, I'm punching in at midnight, I'm waiting for the morning sun to warm up the cobblestones...