Friday, December 31, 2010

One Run At A Time

Many curious or interested about running ask me if I run everyday.  How long have I been running?  How much miles do I cover in a week?  When do I find the time to run during the day?  My simple answer to the question is that I take it one run at a time.

You can make running as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.  But here's my advice to those who want to take on running as their primary workout for their fitness resolution this new year 2011.  Take it one run at a time.  First, decide to run today.  Plan your other activities around your running time.  Appropriate the right amount of time to include the time needed to gear up for the run.  Many a downfall of jumpstart runners is that they take too much time thinking about whether they will run or not, then simply end up not running at all.

The Extra Degree

Here's a motivational video for you to start the New Year 2011.  Sometimes, it takes just one extra degree of effort to make a big difference.  This year, make it your resolve to run that extra mile, to workout that extra minute, to go out of your comfort zone, to swallow that pride, to give more of your time, to share more of your talent, to stay away from that extra calories, to devote more of yourself to the most important things in your life.  Be the best of who you are this year!  Make that extra degree of effort!  Dig deep!  You can do it!  God bless and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rainy Run

It was pouring last night exactly what the weather report said.  Heavy rains with gusty winds.  The streets of Antioch were drenched.  Puddles of rainwater on the sidewalks and gutters were overflowing in a few street corners.   Cars whooshed on the wet roads and splashed on waterlogged areas as the commuters rush to get home.  But there I was running on the road in the middle of the stormy night.  I could see a few drivers looking at me and probably thinking. "Are you serious?"

Yup.  That's me running.  I actually enjoy running in the rain.  It brings out both the playfulness and toughness in me.  It brings back childhood memories of playing the rain and getting drenched in the open air without a care in the world.  As an adult, braving the elements of nature and making it through makes me feel tough.  But the rain also reminds of one of its particular symbolism.  Rain represents blessings.  Doesn't the line that goes "When it rains, it pours," sounds familiar to you?

My rainy run then actually made me think of the blessings I received this year 2010.  Wow, what a year it was.  As I kept running through the rain, I recalled some of my blessings.  I completed six marathons this year.  My wife survived three emergency room visits.  We sold our house.  My son turned 14.  He received a scholarship. I kept my job. I received two grant approvals. I stayed healthy.  Wow!  I just kept running and said a prayer of thanksgiving.  Being soaking wet in the rain felt good as I thought about these blessings.  Thank you, God!  It was good rainy run.  A good way to reminisce this year that's about to pass.  No more rain the forecast for the remainder of the days, but I sure pray for more blessings in 2011.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Family that Runs Together, Stays Together

San Francisco Marathon 2005
I used to drag everybody in my training runs and races.  My wife wasn't too hard to persuade because she wanted to stay fit.  All she needed was someone to motivate her.  But my only son was difficult because he'd rather do something else with his friends.  However, I was successful on many occasions to take him along by making it interesting for him.  We'd run first around the neighborhood, then run to the nearest restaurant.  Or I'd do a running log for him and we'd agree on a reward when he's completed his mileage.  But this was a few years ago.  In this post, you'll find a family photo of us in the San Francisco Marathon in July 2005.  My wife and son completed the Progressive Marathon while I did the full Marathon.  It's one of my favorite pictures displayed in our study room at home.  It reminds me of how we enjoyed running together and how we incorporated running into our family fun time.  Unfortunately, life has its twists and turns.  My wife's cancer came back in 2006 and spread throughout her body.  We were able to do one more run together in June of that year.  But the cancer was very aggressive and the chemotherapy treatments very strong that she is unable to run with my son and I anymore.  However, she does her best in so many ways to still support my son and I in our running.  My son is older now and he has taken running as one of his favorite sports.  He competes in cross country and track and field and joins road races whenever he can.  He has won a lot of medals in all his events.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Are You Ready?

"Failure to prepare is preparing to fail."  It's a famous quote by John Wooden (1910-2010), an NCAA basketball coach who won an unprecedented 10 national championships for UCLA.  It applies to the sport of running, too.  As a matter of fact, it applies to any sport.  However, I think it hits a beat particularly for running races; and I can speak for the marathon race.  After having run 21 marathons, I have developed a routine for long-term and short-term preparation.  The long term involves the running workouts and the diet.  The short-term covers the little details of bringing the right number of carbohydrate gels, pinning my bib on my running shirt the night before, attaching the timing chip, and remembering to press start on my stopwatch when I cross the start mat, etc.  One can never over-prepare for such an important event as a marathon race.

Turn Around

I was quite hesitant to run outside today.  It was a cold winter morning with a slight wind chill factor.  I headed out anyway and went west. There was a chilly breeze that met me head on.  My hands immediately were feeling icy cold.  I kept going anyway thinking that the sun would come out behind the horizon and start thawing me out.  True enough, as I made my turn back at the third mile, the first rays of sunlight greeted to warm my face.  Gradually the air became crisp and comfortable.  I picked up my pace as I headed home.  I felt rewarded for deciding to head out today in spite of the cold weather.

My run today reminded me about the sacrament of reconciliation I went to last night.  Prior to confession, I stayed on the cold and dark path of my anger and pride issues.  I was aware I wasn't an angry person but I just let the feeling take over me for too long.  However, I wanted to turn around and head towards the right direction.  So I went to confession that night.  Just like my run this morning, the decision to turn to God for forgiveness gave me a sense of joy and relief.  I could relate my run to the meaning of repentance which comes from the Greek word "metanoia" which means "to turn around" or "to turn back".  It was a meaningful way for me to prepare for Christmas Day which is just a few days away.  I was glad I ran today and went to confession last night.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In God We Trust

I ran into my runner friend today after a dawn mass at church. We trained for and ran two marathons together in Sacramento, CA. We ran many a prayer run during training and had some memorable faith sharing while carbo loading on marathon eve. We share a lot of things in common, including a knack for wit and humor. Every time we see each other, we know that we have some banter up our sleeves to try to outwit the other. The other thing we have in common is our contemplative nature. We have just as much depth as fun once we start talking about how we're doing. After an exchange of good-natured teasing, we simply start catching up and reassuring each other that God continues to work in our lives.

I've learned a lot from him specially because of his faith-filled life. Always with a smile on his face, he seems to find God in every person, every event, and every little thing. He shared to me one of his practice every time he goes out for a run, which I like to write about today. In his house is a jar half full of change. It used to be empty but it gradually filled up to where it is now. He said that it is a reminder of how God has showed confirmations to his prayers. When he's praying about something, he usually asks for a sign. Some of the signs come when he's running. Those signs are the change that he picks up from the ground when he's doing his running work outs. Those change he said doesn't belong to the ground. He considers every penny and change sacred because of the words inscripted on them "In God We Trust". He accords a measly change with reverence by picking it up, putting it in a special jar, and taking it as a confirmation of God to his prayers. Such is my friend's awareness of God's presence in everything.

It's too bad we couldn't do a run together after the Mass today. However, our brief meeting was enough to remind me to keep trusting that God continues to work in every person, every thing, every time.