Friday, April 21, 2017

Boston, When heartbreak hit before Heartbreak Hill.

Accidents happen every day. I accidentally missed my turn, or I accidentally spilled my coffee.  However running accidents are quite different. One does not accidentally run a marathon any more often then someone accidentally runs a lifetime best. Those are not accidents but accomplishments. I also have yet to hear of someone who accidentally lost 25lbs. If you or I want to accomplish something worth being proud of it is going to take time, dedication, hard work, and patience.  

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is no accident either. I am very fortunate to have over a decade of competitive running under my belt that helped me to easily hit the time and do so without being injured. The stress of wondering if I am in or running multiple races to hit the time I was able to forgo. God had a different plan for me. My road to qualify was quite easy with a 2:36 qualifying time but the road from Hopkinton to Boston for me was quite the opposite.
There were no accidents in my preparation for the 121st Boston Marathon. I knew when it was, how many weeks I had to prepare, and was able to even look over past training plans I have used for other runners to help me prepare. My friends who have ran Boston and other marathons also helped me in my planning so that I could have a smooth training cycle and what I hoped would be a fast and exciting Boston Marathon. This would be my first marathon that I spent adequate time training and putting in the long runs over 20 miles and had some of the highest volume weeks that I had ever ran. I was set up for what on paper should have been a low 2:30's marathon.  

Arriving in Boston with my mom and brother for support I was filled with excitement. The Boston Marathon is one of the largest marathons in the world and famous for the crowds who line the 26.2 miles. On ever street corner I saw the familiar faces of runners who were obviously in town for the same reason as I. 32,000+ athletes do not accidentally sign show up for this race it is an event that is on bucket lists for countless runners. While in town I managed to see the Boston Red Sox win, went to the most exciting race expo I have ever seen, and saw countless historic buildings that make Boston the city that it is. The Boston Marathon is a point to point race and with that comes a long bus ride to the start line. I could write for pages on all that goes into those hours that lead up to the marathon but for your sake I will skip ahead.  

At the start I was able to find a familiar face in my friend Stephen who had helped me so much in preparation. Although the temperature was already 25 degrees higher than forecasted, I was quite relaxed as I began the journey back to Boston. The course starts out down hill with unbelievable crowds on both sides making you feel like you are standing next to Taylor Swift in a parade. They cheered and cheered and I reminded myself to be patient, dont accidentally throw down a 5 flat mile right off the bat. It felt like a recovery run as I went through the first 10K in 35 minutes. I would take a water to drink and grab 2-3 more cups to douse myself with to help keep cool. Despite my efforts the lack of shade and burning hot blacktop was taking its toll. I felt like I was in a sauna as the slight tail wind did nothing for cooling and the sweat was dripping off my face. As I reached the Wellesley tunnel I still felt strong with my legs but was suffocating with the heat. My time had remained well under 6minute pace and I knew that this was a pace I could sustain. Sixteen miles in and I still felt strong yet had a nauseous feeling creeping in. It wasnt much longer and I knew I had to vomit. Throwing up my gels and what water I hadnt sweated out I knew I was in trouble. Telling myself to relax and ease off the pace a little I lasted another mile or so and was throwing up again. Now I knew the tank was empty and I had no chance of holding water down. A volunteer handed me a bottle of water which helped because I could continually drink without being in an aid station but I was becoming dizzy and dazed. Now at 20 miles in my friend Nick ran by with encouragement but despite wanting to go faster I knew it was now a race to survive and not for time. I felt like I was crying but no tears came down my face as trudged through the hills. This was not the Boston I had expected but I reminded myself to be strong and thought of all of the people who were watching my updates online. I wanted to be done so I could tell my family I was ok. Finally I made the last turn onto Boylston St. and could see the finish. The energy was amazing yet I couldn't care less. All I wanted to do was finish and finish I did. Crossing the line I crumbled to the ground and was grabbed by medics who hauled me to the medical building. Dozing in and out of contagiousness I had flashbacks to my heat stroke almost four years ago in Boulder Community Hospital. They warned me that I would always struggle with the heat in the future and they weren't lying. The medics took my temperature in a way I did not enjoy and informed me I had a temperature of over 100 degrees. With ice packed around me an IV in my arm I slowly returned to normal. After a long time there I met my mom and brother and hugged and cried as I was heartbroken. This was not how it was supposed to go, this was not the Boston Marathon I had dreamed of. Back in the hotel I could not believe the number of messages, texts, and calls I received from friends giving kind words and encouragement. I was reminded that I finished the Boston Marathon on a brutally hot day. My time despite being nearly 30minutes slower than my qualifier I had still managed to requalify for next year. There are so many things to be thankful for and although I will not return next year I would be I will have another date with Heartbreak Hill and next time I will not be heartbroken when I get there. Thank you to all my amazing family and friends and for all the kind words. Accidentally or not I learned a lot about being Boston Strong and how blessed I truly am.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The forgotten Bible verse

I, like countless young Americans, have tattooed the famous Bible verse of Philippians 4:13 on my body. Even non-believers are familiar with the verse. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Of course, this verse is taken too often to mean that God will help me to run a sub four minute mile based off will, or that I will land a career bringing home six figure income without ever working a day in my life. This famous verse is the verse that gives the false assumption that God is a genie,  not the Lord of all creation. I do not see God sitting in heaven waiting for someone to read this verse, and then dropping cash and success on that person. Knowing that I have this verse tattooed on my body, I find myself seeing it on countless others, and I always try to ask when I notice it what their thoughts are on Philippians 4:10-12, focusing primarily on 4:12. Shockingly, I have yet to meet a person who has 4:13 on them who can recite 4:12; this makes me aware there is a problem. Philippians 4:12 is the forgotten verse that shows that any verse out of context can not only lead us astray but can also set us up for failure. 
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." After reading this verse, I am not saying I am free from wanting more or praying for more, or even worse, believing I deserve more. Paul when he wrote this verse was starving in a jail cell and yet was not concerned with his chains or lack of food but instead found comfort in knowing that Christ is enough.  
After leaving Kansas and moving back to Colorado, I took a leap of faith that God would provide for me. This sometimes in my delusions meant a great coaching career or financially successful business career and moving into a big house near my favorite trails and parks. This has, however, yet to happen. God has not forsaken me, but instead has been reinforcing the most forgotten Bible verse. Being content does not mean I will be content after I get the great career or house or whatever worldly possession I dream of. It comes from being content renting a room from a friend and working two part time jobs, and if need be a third. Being content as Paul was, is not something that comes easy. Paul himself says he has "learned" the meaning. Like anything, it takes time and will not come easy. So, the next time you or I think, I need to move to Denver or to another state, or that God is holding out on us, perhaps He is not telling us to quit working or believing,  but simply to be content. To be happy and count our blessings instead of looking over the fence at the greener grass that someone else has. Having something we don't yet possess will not bring us contentment, only trusting God with all our lives will do that, and in turn we will be content and will rejoice as Paul did in whatever we have.  
Take heart for God has not forgotten us nor does he want us to give up on our dreams or goals. He wants us to be content as we live each day to spread His word across the land and to use the gifts He has so generously given.