Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Birthday!

Today marks the second birthday of the book! Hopefully sometime next fall there will be a second to add to the family. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

50,000

When the soccer season ended on October 9 a lot of people asked me, “what are you going to do with all your new found free time?” The question was valid as I was instantly given at least three more hours every day to fill however I desired. My quick response to the question was, “run and write.” That was a bit of a falsified answer because I had been running on a regular basis the whole year so it wasn’t as if running was something new I was adding to my schedule. Though the writing portion was something that had not been a daily occurrence for me and I was eager to make it one. As mentioned in a previous blog post (which you can read by clicking here) I am in the process of writing another book. With that in mind since soccer ended I have dedicated a few hours every day to working on the book. My research began over the summer but once the season ended I was able to focus more heavily on the research aspect. For the rest of October I spent multiple hours every day doing research and trying to organize all the different thoughts that were running through my mind. I wanted everything to be neatly organized and laid out so that when I started writing I could benefit from all the research that had been done. When November 1st rolled around, I began writing on a daily basis and as of this evening I have reached the 50,000 word mark and have completed the initial rough draft of the manuscript. My goal is to finish with a manuscript with 20 chapters and somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 words, so after finishing the 20th chapter today I am right where I want to be.
I remember the day I completed the rough draft of the manuscript that would later turn into Running Through Life my dad looked at me and said, “congratulations, a third of the work is done!” I didn’t initially believe him, but soon found his words to be true as I quickly realized how much work was yet to be done throughout the editing process.
Though there is still a lot of work ahead of me, I am taking the evening to celebrate the work that has been accomplished thus far. I am excited about what has been written and am eager to go back through everything and try to make it better. For a few years I knew I was going to get the itch to write a second book, but wasn’t going to do it until I knew it was coming from my heart. This has been a project that has come from my heart and taught me a lot in the process. It has been a journey that has enriched my life and opened my eyes to the amazing nuggets of truth in the Scriptures. It has forced me to see Jesus in a new way, which has helped me fall in love with him all over again.  I hope one day the words of this book will find you and you will be able to say the same.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Full stomachs. Full hearts.

I cried myself to sleep last night. It was the first time in a while. I wasn’t expecting it but I wasn’t terribly surprised nor upset when the tears started to flow.  As I laid down I knew the tears were mixed with emotions of sadness, gratefulness and joy. A bizarre combination as usually tears are marked solely by sadness, or are distinctly joy based yet, last night produced a plethora of emotion. 
I was overcome with sadness as a beautiful week was coming to an end. For the past four days my apartment has been filled with the laughter and presence of two of my Sonne guys. Lying in bed knowing that I would have to take them to the airport in a few hours was a disheartening feeling. This trip had been in the works for painstakingly slow months, and seemed to whisk by before I could blink. It doesn’t seem fair that I had to wait so long for them to be here only for it to go by so fast. The sadness of saying goodbye to those you love never gets easier. After going two and a half years without seeing someone and saying goodbye unaware of when you will see each other again, is never fun nor easy. 
Yet, attached to my sadness there was gratefulness and not simply because yesterday was Thanksgiving. I was truly grateful to realize I have known one for six and the other for seven years. When we first met they weren’t old enough to drive and now they are discussing life after college and potential career opportunities. I was grateful for all the time we had to talk about the “remember when” stories. It wasn’t just the laughter that paired with the stories or the “how did we get away with that” question that seemed to be attached to so many of the memories. It was the fact that despite time and distance upon being reunited things clicked and felt as if they hadn’t changed a whole lot. In fact, on Tuesday night we walked to the grocery store to get dinner ingredients. The guys requested a meal I had made for them numerous times in the dorm. I was in the kitchen cooking and stepped out to see them on the couch playing video games - it was as if we had stepped back in time, it was an image I had been so familiar with at Sonne and truly treasured. I snapped a picture of them and sent it to a few friends saying, ‘It feels normal. It feels like I am home.” (Don’t worry, they were not being lazy and not helping cook. I refused to let them help me.) 
The whole week brought great joy. The laughter, the old memories, creating new memories, the friendships, all made for an incredible time together. However, the one thing that made me happier than anything else was seeing how much they had let me into their life, and how big of a part they played in mine. Through our experiences together in Germany they opened up and allowed me to be a part of their story, and they will forever be a part of mine. Something that time and distance will never be able to take away from us. 


Thank you guys for coming out. It was a time where it wasn’t just my stomach that was filled, but my heart as well. 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful...it's cold?

There are multiple stand alone buildings on the campus that make up my current school. Therefore, throughout the day it is not uncommon to have to step outside as you are traveling from class to class. When the door opens a gust of cold air sweeps through the halls and reminds everyone inside of how cold it is outside. Being surrounded by teenagers it is not uncommon to hear seemingly constant complaints of the cold weather. I wish I had a dime for every time I heard, “Why wasn’t school cancelled today, it’s so cold!” It doesn’t take long to figure out where this constant state of complaining comes from, turn on the news, look at a newspaper, listen to the radio, the polar vortex freeze and feet of snow being dumped across the country is dominating headlines.

In being blitzed by the constant complaining about cold weather and the barrage of snow that has hit some places one thing stuck out to me: we are all comparing this to normal temperatures at Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving. A time where we pause and give thanks for what we have and what the past year has brought us. Giving thanks.


We complain about the cold, and don’t get me wrong it has been cold, but why is it that the ratio of complaints to thanks is so lopsided? I woke up this morning in a warm apartment, was able to take a warm shower, had my choice between two winter jackets that both keep me plenty warm. I work inside a building that has heat. I am wearing a sweater that keeps me warm during the day. It may be cold, but I don’t want the chill in the air to push me toward complaining. I want the morning frost to remind me of how much I have to be thankful for. Maybe I’m missing something, but I thought Thanksgiving was a time where we reflect and give thanks for what we have. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

One more.


One more. I feel as though I used that phrase a thousand times throughout the year. One more hill. One more lap around the track. One more mile. One more song. One more long run. And now, one more marathon. The knowledge of only having one more is challenging, freeing and inspiring. 
Having one more can be challenging because it usually signals that there have been a number that have preceded it. Whether it is hills, miles, or laps, being left with one more is a recognition of all the work that has just been done. It can leave you bending over with hands on the knees, sucking in air and staring down the final hurdle.
One more is also freeing. Recognizing all the work that has previously been done, you are one away from finishing. One away from being done and being able to completely relax and soak in all the hard work of your achievement. One away from giving your all, and then being able to soak in the freedom of the accomplishment.
One more is inspiring. There is no reason to not work your hardest because it is the last of its kind. Additionally, you don't want to finish on a sour note, you want to have your last one be your best one. Therefore one more stirs up inspiration to give all you can to finish strong.
The mantra of 'one more' has been weighing heavy on my heart as I am now 10 days away from running my fifth marathon of the year. Truthfully I debated for a few days as to whether or not I was going to sign up, but as I did I said that I wanted to do one more this year.
One more marathon this year is a challenging thought to me. Within the past two or three weeks I have significantly felt all the miles I have logged this year (currently just under 1,500). I have had two bouts of a 48 hour flu that basically knocked me off my feet for a few days. I have recently picked up a hamstring niggle that bothers me ever so slightly while running. I have had a great year of running, and the thought of one more is a challenge. I'm tired from all the training, all the early mornings, all the hills, all the speed workouts.
One more marathon is also freeing. When I cross the finish line I know I will have surpassed every running goal I set for the year. Miles accumulated, marathons run, average time of my races were all goals that will be accomplished. Once I take that first step over the finish line, I will be done with training for the year. After 11 months of training, I am looking forward to some time off both physically and mentally. I recognize all the miles I have put into training to prepare my body for Philly, but I also look forward to the fruit of all that hard work as I cross the line.
One more marathon is also inspiring. I love to compete, I love to push myself, I want to test my body and see how far I can push it. With my collegiate alma matter having great success in recent weeks, I have been thinking more about the glory days of playing. There are few things I would want my former teammates and coaches to say about me other than, "He always gave his all. He never quit. Never gave up. Game, practice, relationships, he was completely dedicated and never gave less than his best effort." As I come closer to the start line of this next marathon, I hope I can bring the same attitude to my race. I am inspired to run and run as best as I can. I have yet to settle on a goal time - right now I am debating two different goals: 1. To finish in under 3:18:00 (my average this year is 3:17:17, with my slowest being a 3:22) 2. I am thinking about trying to run my fastest 2nd half of the year (my fastest 13.1-26.2 split in 2014 was 1:40:55, set a month ago in Columbus) As I get closer to race day I will solidify these.
One more. Truthfully, I'm getting really excited and am ready to run. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Time to pick up the pen again


When I first started jotting down notes in a little red notebook, I don’t think I fully believed it would eventually turn into a book. I had the desire to write a book but wasn’t fully sure when or how it would all happen. Over the course of two years I was able to write and publish the book Running Through Life: Reflections From 26.2 Miles.
My original goal was to sell 100 copies. I felt like that wasn’t going to be a guaranteed number I would reach but wasn’t so high I could never reach it. It has been just under two years since the book was published, and I am nearing 400 copies sold. I am blown away. The support, enthusiasm and energy surrounding the book has made for an incredible journey.
Shortly after the book was published people asked, “are you going to write another book?” I would laugh and compare it to running a marathon – you cannot ask someone immediately after a race and ask them whether or not they will run another one. The runner needs time to enjoy their accomplishment and reflect on the whole process, not just the race and then determine whether or not it is something they want to do again. Deep down I always had the thought of writing again but didn’t want to write simply for the sake of writing. I wanted to write when I was ready and when I felt like I had an idea I was passionate about and proud of. I wanted an idea that I felt would inspire and encourage others similar to what you can read here.
One night this past summer I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t fall back to sleep for a few hours. As I lay in bed I began to ponder writing – in my sleeplessness I felt like there was a flood of ideas bursting with possibility rushing through my head. When I awoke the next morning and actually remembered the majority of my ideas, I felt like I should pursue and see where they led me.
For the past four months I have been doing a lot of research. Reading books, listening to sermons, highlighting articles I have printed out. After months of work my notes are organized, my thoughts are coherent, and it is time to pick up the pen again. I have completed a very rough draft for the first three chapters and have already written just under 10,000 words (RTL is roughly 78,000 words). My goal is to have the book published before I turn 30 – so I basically have 11 months. If it doesn’t happen in that time frame, I am completely fine with that but I recognize I work best when I set goals for myself. Without giving too much away about the book I want to share the vision.

I want to tell the stories of the unnamed characters in the Gospels. In my research I was amazed at how many there were, and I have selected to tell the story of a few of them. I believe that the Holy Spirit prompted Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, to include these individuals in their letters for specific reasons that are meant to change our lives. Their stories are written down for eternity and I believe they have significant things to teach us. If the Holy Spirit did not want to bypass them and disregard their stories neither do I.
During my research and initial stages of writing I have found so much comfort and encouragement from these characters. We may look at Abraham, David, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, as the giants of the Bible. The characters most sermons are focused on. While they certainly have a lot to teach us, the Holy Spirit knows these unnamed characters also have a lot to teach us. I fully recognize I may never attract a crowd like Francis Chan or Matt Chandler can. I know a book I write will never reach as many people as a Max Lucado book or Charles Swindoll. It is easy to view these individuals as the giants of today’s Christian world and to feel inadequate and insignificant compared to them. In the same way the unnamed characters of the Bible are important to God, you and I have equal importance in his eyes. Their stories tell about the footprint they left behind. My story and your story will tell about the footprint our lives leave behind.  The challenging question is, will those footprints point others to Christ?

It’s time to pick up the pen again.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Change of perspective

The other day I was out on a run with a friend and we came to a crossroads with two options, left or right. I was told that turning right meant a big uphill climb, so when the decision was passed to me, I promptly chose to run left. After a few minutes we found ourselves staring at a decently long uphill. I jokingly stated, "I thought you said turning left meant that we didn't have to go up any hills!" The response I got was, "It's not a hill. It's simply a change in grade." I was impressed that my running partner did not view the particular stretch as a hill, but I was also challenged to see how we each held a different perspective and that perspective altered the way in which we tackled the difficulty ahead of us.

I wish I had a more concrete thought and conclusion about the challenge regarding perspective, but I don't. At the moment all I have been doing is asking myself, 'is this the best perspective to have?' A good challenging thought that has altered the way I view some things.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pitter-Patter

Rain falling on the roof. Waves crashing down on the sandy shores. The wind rustling through the newly fallen autumn leaves. All are sounds that are known for being soothing and peaceful. Sounds that bring peace, tranquility, and the hope of a peaceful sleep. One such sound that more than likely will not make most people’s list of soothing sounds is the pitter patter of feet as runners move mile to mile throughout a marathon.
This past weekend as I ran another race, I found a pace group that I ran with for 24 out of the 26 miles. Throughout our journey together there was minimal conversation, the occasional “how are you feeling?” and one question asked every 5,280 feet, “how fast was that split?” However, in between those questions there were long periods of silence between runners. The cheers of the fans could be heard, but between runners there was nothing but silence. All that was heard was heavy breathing and the pitter-patter of feet hitting the ground.
Around mile 14 our pace group was hanging strong together and I found myself in the middle of the group. There was close to 20 runners and while in the middle of the pack the sounds of the crowd were drowned out. All I could hear was the pitter-patter, and it was the most relaxing sound. Every couple of steps I actually closed my eyes for a few seconds and simply listened to all of the feet running (thankfully I didn’t trip over any of them while my eyes were closed!) At one point I contemplated listening to music but actually found the sound of the feet to be more soothing, more relaxing and more inspiring. In those moments of listening to the pitter-patter, I kept thinking about why I love to run and how much fun it is for me to race. Additionally, while running in the group I once again felt as though I was a part of a team that was working together to accomplish a goal. We were using the same lingo, understanding the training and work it took to get to the start line. We shared in the pain as the miles added up, and joined in celebrating as the task was accomplished.

It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of relaxing sounds. But for me, the pitter-patter of runners was quite peaceful, rejuvenating, and exciting.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Head. Heart.

Shortly after joining a competitive soccer team, my dad and I developed a unique pre-game signal. If possible, we would make eye-contact shortly before the game started (or perhaps later in the game as I needed a reminder and some encouragement) I would make a fist with my right hand and touch my fist to my head, and then to my heart. The message of the signal was to, ‘play with your head, but also play with your heart.’ This reminded me to be a student of the game and play being aware of my surroundings – it also encouraged me to be the hardest working player on the field, and to take confidence in that I knew I was loved regardless of how well I played.

As I look toward the start line of another marathon this Sunday, I have adopted the words, head and heart as my mantra. I want to run the first twenty miles with my head, and the final six with my heart.

Every race I run I will come to the start line with a target goal. In the months before a race I am tailoring runs to put me in the best possible position to accomplish my goal. In the weeks prior to the race I am readjusting my goal if necessary based upon how my training went and how I am physically feeling. In the days before a race I am once again figuring out what a realistic goal is. Before crossing the start line I will know exactly what time I want to cross the 10k mark, the halfway point, the 30k spot. I will know the necessary splits I need to run in order to reach these marks in the appropriate times. Joining a pace group can be very beneficial on race day because it can prevent you from having to do all the math on the day of the race. However, even when running with a pace group I still glance at my watch to check all my splits and then do all the mental math. In some ways it helps keep my mind occupied while running.
For this particular race I want to put a larger emphasis on running the first twenty miles with my head –meaning, I want to be very smart about it. Not getting too emotional and jetting out of the blocks at an insanely fast base. Not worrying about how many people are passing me, but staying steady with what I want to do. I want to stay mentally tough through twenty miles so I can put myself in the best possible position to finish the final six miles well.

Others have said, “the marathon doesn’t really start until mile 20.” In looking back at my previous races in 2014, with each race my splits started crumbling in the vicinity of mile 20. In fact, a month ago I was right where I wanted to be at mile 21, but simply could not keep pace for the final five miles. To avoid that, I am hoping to run with my heart in the final six miles. To give everything I can, and to finish the final six with a time I am proud of. I recently came across a quote about the final miles of a marathon that stated, “You shouldn’t try to run around the wall rather, you should focus on running through the wall.”


Another marathon is just around the corner – as long as I run the first twenty miles with my head and the final six with my heart, I will be happy with my time.  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Time flies.

The old saying is, “time flies when you are having fun.” There is truth to this, but I don’t think it is entirely true. Time flies no matter what. Regardless of whether or not you are having fun, time is going to go by fast. Yesterday was the first day of October – we are already in the tenth month of 2014. It seems like this year has been going by at a blistering pace. 
As I sat down yesterday and looked over the goals I set out to accomplish during the year, I realized there were only three months left in the year. Three months in which to finish what I set out to accomplish. Three months may sound like a long time, but if they go by as fast as the previous nine did, 2015 will be here before I realize it.

In a few spare moments yesterday, I found the ability to sit back and reflect on the goals, and where the next three months will take me. It felt good to catch my breath, if only for a moment, and plan for the final months of the year. I encourage you to do the same. Before we are saying goodbye to 2014, take a few moments and think through where you want to go during the final three months of the year.