Monday, January 26, 2009

Recovering (still)

It has been just over a week since I finished the marathon and although the soreness is gone, I am still experiencing pain. The nagging pain in my left foot has not subsided since the race and I finally gave in and made a doctors appointment. Your prayers would be much appreciated.

Struggling with this pain got me thinking about pride and humility. God will always find ways to keep us humble to show that He alone is in control. After finishing the marathon I felt very confident, maybe too confident. Perhaps God wanted to give me a little reminder that none of it would have been possible without him. Whatever the reason, this experience has been a good reminder to be thankful for the gifts He gives us and to praise His name always.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Healing Process

It has been about 72 hours since I crossed the finish line and even though the runner's high is long gone, the aches and pains decided to hang around a little while longer.

Nobody ever thinks of running a marathon as a humbling experience, but I have been humbled repeatedly ever since mile 22. It's funny because at one moment you feel like you can conquer the world and the next moment you have trouble getting out of bed.

For those of you interested in running a marathon, here is a list of the pains you can expect to experience (these are what I experienced, there are plenty more I was lucky not to encounter): Blisters on feet, Leg cramps, Side-aches, Stress-fractures, Muscle spasms, Bone spurs, and Sore muscles that last for days.

If you didn't want to run a marathon before, I bet you do now.

I talk about these pains not only because I feel it's important that people be prepared, but also because each one of those pains made finishing the race that much more special. The magic is in the misery, and what makes the race truly special is the journey you take along the way.

"Pain is weakness leaving the body."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Official Time

The official time of my first marathon was 3:49:39.

I'm pleased with my time, but i'm motivated to improve.

My tentative race schedule for the next few months is as follows:

USMC Inaugural Marine Corps Marathon - Camp Pendleton: April 25
Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon - Irvine: May 3
Los Angeles Marathon - Los Angeles: May 25

Monday, January 19, 2009

Overwhelming emotion

Distance runners always talk about the "runners high" they experience after a great run. While I have experienced this feeling, it pales in comparison to the feeling I felt after finishing my first marathon.

After crossing the finish line and receiving my medal, I was hit with a wave of emotion like I have never experienced before. The feelings of pain and agony, mixed with joy and confidence and just about every emotion in between filled my body. You can call it endorphins or a spiritual moment or you can even call me delusional, but running had never before caused me to be on the verge of tears.

I managed to fight the tears back as I high-fived complete strangers around me. I had achieved my goal successfully and it felt great. 

Dean Karnazes, an incredible "running role model" of mine says in one of his books, "Immerse yourself in something deeply and with heartfelt intensity-continually improve, never give up-this is fulfillment, this is success."


The gun went off and the crowd of 6,500 runners slowly moved toward and across the starting line. I eased into a slow jog alongside Kristin and Kevin, picking up the pace as the crowd began to spread out.

"This is it," I thought, "I am actually doing this."

My legs felt fresh, the temperature was a cool 48 degrees and the bands playing along the route kept my energy high. As the first few miles passed, my nervousness began to fade and I kicked into cruise control.

I tried to keep things in perspective, not knowing what the late miles would bring. I was keeping a good pace and experiencing very little pain. At the halfway point, the shade that had provided me a cool course was all but gone. Slowly, I started to feel the heat of the day taking its toll on my body.

I passed mile 16, 17 and 18 with relative ease. "I've done this before," I told myself, "I got this."

Just before mile 19, my leg started to cramp. The muscle above my right knee, called the vastus medialis (the teardrop muscle) was causing a lot of discomfort. I tried to run through it, thinking it would pass. The cramping continued for a half mile, so I slowed to a walk and took some salt and some liquids. The pain began to subside and I picked up the pace again, but my legs didn't feel the same. It was as if I had tricked them into running 19 miles and they didn't realize it until I slowed down.

Twenty miles into the race, I realized that my legs wouldn't be taking me to the finish line, it was going to take something else. 

After having to slow to a walk at mile 21, I had a conversation with God. I asked God to give me something, anything that would give me energy or take away the pain. Another painful mile went by with no answer from God, but then I heard it. 

Just ahead I spotted a tent with one of the bands playing. I could hardly hear the music that was being played but I instantly recognized the song. My legs were filled with energy and my heart started pounding as I sang "Blessed be Your Name" with my hands raised to God. He answered my prayer.

The energy that song gave me only lasted about a half mile, but the encouragement He gave me through the song carried me to the finish line. 

The next four miles were the most painful miles I have ever run. My feet were swollen and covered with blisters, my mouth was dry and my legs were cramping. 

I turned a corner and saw one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, mile marker 26. The pain was gone. I passed the mile marker and began to sprint the last .2 miles (which probably looked a lot more like a light jog to the spectators).

I raised my hands as I crossed the finish line. I did it. 

I lifted my head, pointed to the sky and silently thanked God for bringing me all the way through this magnificent journey. 

My Running Journey

My running journey began in January 2007 in Florence, Italy. 

What began merely as a means of exercise slowly evolved into my means of seeing Europe. Everywhere I went, my running shoes came along. I ran across the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, around the Notre Dame in France, to the Parthenon in Athens, through the streets of Jerusalem, to the Prague Castle and over the canals in Amsterdam.

Before I knew it, I was running farther and longer than I ever had before. I was enjoying the feeling of freedom and the time I was able to spend in the peace and quiet of the morning. The quiet of the morning gave me the opportunity to spend time talking with God, to pray for my friends and family and to just allow God to speak to me.

Running had started as an exercise, evolved into a hobby and now had become an instrument of my faith. 

After returning to the states, my passion began to fade as I got caught up in the hustle and bustle of everday life, allowing myself to conform to the ways of the world. Running had taken a back seat in my life and I noticed my faith beginning to follow suit. 

I had been attending a church called Rock Harbor since 2005 and decided that it was finally time for me to get involved. I had no idea at the time, but this decision to join a lifegroup would make a huge impact in my life, both spritually and otherwise. My passion for God had never been stronger, and my running hobby came right back, thanks to Phillip and Kristin, two very special people in my life.

In March of 2008, Phillip and I began training for the Disneyland Half Marathon. We ran a couple of races along the way, taking special time out of each training run to talk with God in a tradition we called our "Prayer Mile". Five months later, Phillip and I finished the half marathon.

After finishing the half-marathon, I wanted more. I had been inspired by my friends Kristin and Kevin who had both run in multiple marathons, so I decided to run the Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon alongside them.

I began training in September, gradually building mileage as the weeks progressed. Even though I experienced stress fractures, cramps, and plenty of soreness along the way, i found myself standing on Washington St. in Phoenix at 7:40 on Sunday morning, ready to run.