Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Grieving Runner



My blog is back. Last May 17th was my late wife Jinky's birthday. As you may know, she is the inspiration for the Praying Runner and this blog.

It's been a few years since my last entry simply because I stopped writing. But I continued to run and do races. I'm actually now at 62 marathons. 

I'm confident to share with you that running (and any exercise) and writing can help you heal and recover from sadness and grief.

However, some events in my life lately have just brought me back to some level of grieving over losing Jinky 11 years ago. Inevitably, that is just but the nature of grief - it ebbs and flows.

To help me cope, I decided to return to writing in my blog. This comeback entry is nothing about running but all about my reflections during the first few days after Jinky died. These are actually excerpts from my eulogy delivered on March 24, 2011. 

Allow me to share my thoughts about grief with you. And allow me to share some more in my succeeding blog entries. I might be able to help one or two people out there who are grieving over a loved one. For sure, writing this entry is helping me process my current grief feelings; thus the title - The Grieving Runner.

So here are some excerpts...

The Kiss

On our wedding day, standing at the foot of the altar for our photo ops, Jinky and I were standing side by side, with her arms around me lovingly, and smiling in front of the camera and everyone in church. I could still remember Jinky soaking in the moment. While me, my mind was floating and thinking and worrying about the details of the wedding reception. When the photographer told us to kiss each other, she turned to me right away, prepared to give me her sweetest kiss. But here I was, still running in my head details I might have overlooked about the reception. So I turned to her but only halfway with my mouth twisted towards her lips while my eyes looking the opposite way towards the direction of the reception place. But then, Jinky calmly and tenderly turned my face straight facing her and she told me, "Joey, be in the  moment. I love you, and I am here. Now, come on, and give me a big kiss."

What Are You Praying For?

During the last few months of her life, Jinky stayed in bed most of the time, resting and praying. And one night I asked her, "Love, what are you praying for?" And she said, "I'm praying that God gives me a longer life. I still want to see my future grand kids. I still want to go out and travel the world with you. I still want to get stronger so I can go running with you. I still want to spend more time with you and care for you." She stopped talking and gave a big sigh. "But look how sick I am. I think I'm asking for a miracle."

My Rock

One day, Jinky started talking incoherently and was responding gibberish to my questions. She was having a seizure. Though it lasted a few minutes, it felt like she wasn't coming out of it. And I said to myself, "Oh no! She's the only one who knows the PIN to our one and only ATM card." I panicked because she might lose her memory completely before she could pass the PIN to me. When she recovered from that seizure, she started turning over to me a lot of the things that she did for the household. Honestly I was very afraid to lose her because she was my pillar, my rock. I depended on her on a lot of things. I can't run a household without her. I can't raise a family without her. But most of all, I can't lose my wife and partner for life.

Crying My Goodbye

It was just a matter of time. A few days before she died. I laid down next to her in bed. She was very weak she could only turn her head partially towards me. She made a barely audible sound as if she wanted to say something. She tried to move her arm up as if to embrace me, but her arm just dropped back to her side. So I gently put my arm around her and turned my face to her ear. And before I could say a word, I just broke down in tears. I was crying trying to say goodbye.

Every Moment is God's

It's been only a few days since she died, and I miss her terribly. I have been reflecting on her death and how early and young God took her. So I prayed for wisdom to understand. Then two days ago (before  her funeral), I went to the barber shop for my haircut and shave. It was one of Jinky's bedside wish to make sure I look handsome during the funeral. So there I was sitting on the barber's chair, grieving and praying for an answer. And of all places, God talked to me at the barber shop. I was in deep grief over losing Jinky, but God talked to me in prayer, "Joey,...Jinky was mine. And I loved her all this time." And immediately I remembered our wedding day. How bubbly and joyful she was, savoring the time, being in the moment, giving love and accepting love. Never letting a moment slip away to smile at everyone, and never letting worries bother her or stop her from giving the best of herself to others, especially to me. Jinky was always present in the moment.

-o0o-

What can I pray for you today? How can I be reminded every day to love every moment and make it my purpose to live life to the full?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Time is spelled L-O-V-E

Photo credit: www.swiss-miss.com
Runners come in many shapes and sizes but the single best way to measure a runner is in the unit of time. Ask any runner and they will tell you what their personal best time is at a certain race distance.  In a gathering of runners, your time is expectedly going to be part of the conversation.  Recently though, I changed how I would talk about time. In the shuttle bus that takes runners to the starting line I was asked by a fellow runner what my time goal was for the marathon, I answered, “My goal? My goal in this run is to have the most fun!”

While the amount of time is important, what we do with it is what matters most.

Recently I was devastated by the news of the passing of my friend’s wife from breast cancer.  When his wife was still on treatments, I called my friend and promised to pay them a visit. I had the time but I was never able to make that visit. I felt distraught and asked myself why did I just not do it when I had the time.

In the last 2 months, I attended 3 memorials for people I know.  All of them reminded me about a very basic lesson in time. Time is spelled as L-O-V-E.  Take the time to visit a friend in need.  Smile at a stranger.  Give someone a nice compliment.  Hug your kids or your spouse if you haven’t hugged them in a while. Say I love you to your significant other and explicitly say how much you mean to them.  And many other ways – big or small – to use the time you have to love.


If we were all runners in this race called life, standing at the finish line, God will not ask us – what was your time? Instead God will ask – how much did you love?


How can I pray for you today? For a loved one who is sick? A friend or family member who just passed away? Traveling? Send me a message. Post it here or post on my Facebook Page http://www.prayingrunner.com/. You can email me too at prayingrunner@gmail.com. 

***Here's praying in a special way for victims of the mass shooting at Orlando, FL.***

Also please follow me on my "Road to 50" - My goal of running 50 marathons by age 50 years old. I'm on Marathon #42 and will be running #43 in the San Francisco Marathon on July 31st 2016. I expect to run #50 in 2018 at the Napa Valley Marathon. I'm looking for 50 runners who want to join me and celebrate my 50th.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top Ten (Non-health) Reasons to Run (Again) this New Year

You don’t have to be convinced that running is good for you.  But why are you not running?!  You lost it, huh? And can’t seem to find the motivation?

Here are some reasons that will get you running (again). But none of the proverbial health benefits because you already know by heart that running is good for you. My top ten non-health reasons for running are:

1. Check out new running gear. Go to your favorite sports or running store and shop for a new technical shirt, windbreaker, pair of running shoes, or maybe that GPS watch.

2. Do a get away. Take a break from the couch, the kitchen, the office chair! Forget about your usual route. Get away from the old and explore a new destination run to rave about.

3. Think “no excuses”.  If you think you’re super busy to run, then know that there’s someone busier than you who’s running right now.  Yes, you can find time to run!

4. Choose the better option.  A 65-year old man decided to take on running late in his life. Asked why, he replied, “It’s better than sitting on a rocking chair.”

5. Brag! Surely you have the right! Run so you can post something on social media. See how many likes or hits you get. For all you know, you might be able to get someone to copy you and run!

6. Just sign up. If you haven’t yet, try registering for an organized race. Running is as social as it is an individual endeavor.  Or if you’ve ran a race before, do yourself a favor, sign up and read reason #5.

7. Try with music. I’ve field tested this one. Got my phone and turned on Pandora.  I ran easy while enjoying my music. Before I knew it, I covered lots of miles!  I don’t do it on races but it works. Yes I’m a believer. But no I don’t listen to Justin Bieber.

8. Try with friend or family. If you’ve been running lonesome, try dragging a friend along. Or a family member. Look for new people to run with you.  Or consider a running group.

9. Think restart.  That means feel good about going back to your default settings; going back to baseline. Forget about how fast and how far you could already run. Just feel comfortable about starting over and go from there.

Photo from www.shutterstock.com
10. Run for love. So many external reasons, but in the end, the long lasting motivation comes from within. Dig deep. Run for a cause. Run for a loved one.  And then let them know about it.

How can I pray for you today? A resolution for 2016? Something to be thankful for in 2015? Send me a message. Post it here or on my FB page www.facebook.com/prayingrunner.  You can email me too at prayingrunner@gmail.com

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

5 Ways To Pray As You Run

One cold early morning in the middle of winter during World War I, an extraordinary event brought enemies together.  It’s known as the Christmas Truce of 1914. It is said that while deep in their trenches, the soldiers heard singing of “Silent Night.”  Then in a rare moment, the soldiers put down their rifles, emerged from the lines, and mingled with each other. The event is seen as a miracle, a testament to man’s desire for peace and God’s prevailing presence in our lives.

Photo courtesy www,ericgould.com
The story always tugs at my heartstrings because it reminds me of God’s longing for us. In the midst of our busy lives, sometimes it almost feels like going to war, we forget how much God is wanting to fight our battles and give us his peace.  The victory is that we can find that peace by praying. We put our weapons of work down, come out of our busy schedule, and pray. For runners and active people, you can achieve that prayerful experience as you do your favorite activity, says Roger Joslin, author of the book “Running the Spiritual Path.”  From his book, I compiled a few ways to be able to pray and feel God’s presence as you run.

1. Mother Teresa Run.  Look kindly in the eyes of every person you meet and offer a smile. Mother Teresa said that she sees Jesus in the face of every person that she meets. She said that smiling at someone is an action of love. It doesn’t matter who it is, smiling at each other help us learn greater love for each other.

2. Nature Run. Feel your feet when it strikes against the earth. Sense the breeze brushing against your face.  Hear the rustling of the leaves on the trees or the scampering of critters when you run by.  See the distinct colors of nature around you. Be attuned to the natural elements around you and focus the direct impact on your body.  Feel your connection with creation and its Creator.

3. The Prodigal Son Run.  In this parable, the prodigal son came to his senses after squandering his father’s wealth.  So the son decided to take the road back to his father’s home.  “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:17) What a powerful and prayerful visual! As you’re running, when a pressing thought comes to mind, think of a loving and forgiving Father running towards you.

4. The Benedictine Run. The priestly order of the Benedictines practices a life of balance. For the Benedictines, each day must include some time spent in work, some in prayer, some in sacred reading, and some in community building. Joslin, in his book, suggests to divide your run into three parts:  First, write a Scripture passage onto a small piece of paper to bring with you and read over the passage a few times before running.  Second, recite or even memorize the passage as you run and ponder on the words. And thirdly, keep your eyes open for work or helping activities that may appear – like picking up bits of trash, removing a stone from the path, or be ready to stop running and be of assistance to anyone in need.

5. Mindful Running.  Like a priest who puts on his vestments, gear up for a run slowly and methodically. Pay special attention as you put on your socks and lace your shoes carefully, prayerfully. Start out running slowly and be aware of your breathing. Let go of thoughts that arise and be mindful of your running.  It is our tendency to distract our mind by entertaining all kinds of thoughts that come to mind. But Joslin suggests to be present at a single task at hand and avoid the multitasking going in your head.  Instead, focus on running mindfully, empty a space in yourself, and make room for God. Be rested in God’s presence and you will find peace.

How can I pray for you today? A special intention, for safe travel, for a loved one, for a job? Let me pray for you and with you. Post on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/prayingrunner or email me at prayingrunner@gmail.com. You can also post your prayer request on the comments page on this blog.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Pain and Courage

Photo from www.wellandgood.com
So the last six weeks have been difficult because I’ve been sidelined by an injury.  I am unable to run due to plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is an injury to your foot typically caused by excessive tension of the plantar fascia, a band of connective tissue on the bottom of the foot. Repeated tension of the fascia can cause inflammation.  In other words, pain! 

I was at the peak of my training when the pain got worse.  Just when I started thinking of myself as invincible, I felt very helpless.  For a runner, six weeks of no running feels like forever.  However, I tried not to let it bother me inasmuch as it was affecting my morale. I thought about other people who have more debilitating pain or more permanent injury.  I remember my late wife who lived through the pain of breast cancer for 11 years. She didn’t get cured, but she went through a healing.

I look back at my wife’s life and at other people who went through some pain and suffering, and I reflect on what quality they have that stands out the most.  It’s courage.  It’s that inner strength that we call upon when we are faced with fear and anxiety.  It’s at the heart of your soul that gets you going in the midst of hardship and pain. Courage is having an indomitable faith that healing will take place. We are human beings and we are all subject to pain in our lives, but God created our spirit that transcends our mortal senses.  Courage is our path to healing.  My wife passed away from cancer; but in her last years,  she was able to live her life the fullest and most loving that she can ever be. She may not have been cured of the cancer, but she was completely healed. 

The other day, I decided to test run my condition. I went slowly and didn’t go too far, but I was running.  In a similar way, we all live with some pain be it physical or emotional; but we are called to be courageous and continue moving on.  We may carry the pain as we go; but have faith and bring it up to God in prayer. And live with confidence that He will bring you healing.


"This is my command – be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." – Joshua 1:9

How can I pray for you today? Perhaps an injury, pain, or illness? A emotional hurt? Or an unanswered prayer? Let me pray for you and with you. Post on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/prayingrunner or email me at prayingrunner@gmail.com. You can also post your prayer request on the comments page on this blog.