Monday, November 28, 2011

Be Watchful

During the late fall and winter season, the sun down catches me still on the road running. This is when I'm extra alert and mindful of my surroundings when I run. When it's dark on the busy roads, I can never be too careful with watching my steps and crossing the street and just being super watchful.

As we start the Christmas season, the Gospel reading on the First Sunday of Advent reminds us of the need for watchfulness. Nobody knows when the time or our time will come. So, the Gospel emphasizes the need to be prepared. And there is no better time to prepare our hearts for Christ's coming than this Christmas season.

One way you could prepare yourself is to find God's presence in everything you do. Running can help you become more mindful of God's presence. For example, while running, pray the rosary, repeat your favorite Bible verse as you breath in and out, ponder on your blessings for the days, or pray for someone you love today. And when extraneous thoughts or road hazards distract you, return to your prayerful mode - remind yourself of God's presence in everything. This is what really means to be watchful.

This Christmas, I am dedicating all my runs in prayer for you and your special intentions. I also offer my runs in loving memory of my wife who I am missing so painfully this Christmas season. You can support me by praying for me as well. And if you are so inspired, do a prayer run, too.

So, on this First Sunday of Advent, I am happy to offer you my Christmas gift of prayer...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oxygen Debt

Breathing very, very hard and my leg muscles starting to feel fatigued, I finally reached the highest elevation of the  course after a 2 mile steep climb at 944 feet at the peak. That's an experience of oxygen debt.

It was a hilly pilgrimage run to Santa Maria Parish in Orinda, CA today. I was aware of the rugged terrain of Orinda but never set my running feet on it. So I ran and was overwhelmed by the precipitous hills. Each short hill just unfolded its steepness at each turn and every turn. I almost gave up. Although I was breathing in a lot, my body just couldn't absorb enough oxygen to keep up the demand of the uphill run.

But when your body gets tired, your spirit takes over. This is when I prayed harder and thought about the people who needed prayers. I thought about my brother who was admitted to the hospital for depression. I thought about my uncle who just passed away after struggling with lymphoma. I thought about his bereaved family. I thought about my friends who asked for prayers - for Lisa and Larissa who are training hard to complete their half-marathons and for Jay who needs the grace of health and stability at this time. I also thought and prayed for my son who is training hard to be a good basketball player for his high school team.

Before I knew it, I overcame the hills. But boy, was I breathing heavily. Thank you to the downhills at this time, they were helping me recover and "repay" my oxygen debt. But  most of all thank you, God for the strength to carry on.

Santa Maria Parish in Orinda, CA at Mile 6.2

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thank You For Running*

I did not do any Turkey Trot but I ran 12 miles today on Thanksgiving thanksgiving for my ability to run.* (So the * means something I'm thankful for.)

I didn't run for high school sports but my older brother* did. He inspired me somewhat, so I tried running but mainly for leisure. Two running experiences in the distant past are memorable - one I ran home for about 6 miles because I didn't have a ride. The other time I ran to school for 10 miles just because.

What started me running for good was 7 years ago when I needed to relieve myself from stress at work.* Before I knew it, I was ready for my first 5k. I got my wife* and son* to run, too. We ran races together as a family.* I ran 5k's and 10k's at least once a month for 8 months then I decided I was ready for my first half marathon. Five months later, I ran my first full marathon in Big Sur, CA.

Ten days from today, I will be running my 25th marathon in Sacramento, CA.

Running is a huge part of my life now. I look at my ability to run as a big blessing. I always pray that I remain healthy so I can keep running as long as I can. Recognizing it as a gift, I always remember to offer my running time in thanksgiving. In gratitude, I also do my running as a time to pray and remember other people who need prayers. Truly, I humbly take your petitions to heart and to God in prayer.

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Let Go - A Thanksgiving Run

Let go...

Anybody who have raised a teenager knows what it means. Anybody who have lost a loved one knows what it means. Anybody who have felt defeated and frustrated knows what it means.

Letting go is accepting that a lot may happen over which you have no control. But an important quality that should go along with the capacity to let go is the belief that everything is going to be fine in God's time.  To happily let go, we need faith.

Let go and let God.

Running has taught me the exhilarating feeling of letting go, while offering my run to God in prayer provides me that feeling of peace and meaning at the end of the run. Many times I get caught up with my training goals that I forget how intuitive and fun running can be. Or that I think too much about my busy day that I forget to be thankful for the time and my ability to run.

This thanksgiving, do a "Let go and let God" run. Start out by putting aside your training log. Then as you begin to gear up for your run, say a prayer offering your run to God. From lacing your shoe to putting on your hat, thank God for everything. Then as you take off, say with a smile, "May my run be pleasing to You, O God." As you are running, repeat and ponder on the words "Let go and let God." Wave or say hello (a silent blessing) to all you meet. Appreciate the beautiful path that leads you out and back home. Then at the end, as you cool down, say a prayer of gratitude for everything God has blessed you this year. Good luck!

Happy Thanksgiving!.. and God speed!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Gentle Nudge

Yesterday, I saw a good runner friend of mine. Aside from running, we have a lot of personal things in common. Our fathers passed away a long time ago but just one year apart from each other. Our wives celebrate the same birthday. We were married the same year. And our children belong to the same dance group. It was through our children, as a matter of fact, how we met.

Every time we see each other, we talk endlessly about running. The funny thing is that we haven't actually even ran together. The closest we have had to a running "date" was when he offered to take pictures of me running as part of his lifestyle photography collection My epic praying runner picture was taken by no less than my good friend.

I mentioned to him yesterday that I was having a running and writing block. Only 10 miles the last 7 days; and no new post for the last 9 days. I briefly elaborated about it while he listened attentively to me. Then we continued shop talking about running. As usual, like every time we meet, we'd never stop unless it's time to go. Before we parted ways, he told me that lately he's been inspired to pray while running and how much it's giving him clarity and peace of mind when he comes back home. He thanked me and he bid me to keep running and writing.

Today I ran and wrote this entry. Thank you, Chris, for that gentle nudge. It's just what I needed to get me going again.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Ran Into 4 Saints

I covered 21 miles during my pilgrimage run today. (Related story on I mapped my route to visit 3 churches named after saints; but along the way, I ran into a 4th saint.

My first stop was St. Joan of Arc in San Ramon, CA. St. Joan of Arc was a maiden military leader who followed heaven-sent voices and visions to lead her country to victory. She believed the voices to be God's directions. The only way she could have discerned this revelation was through her piety and prayer. Condemned as a heretic for her visions, St. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.

Then I visited St. Raymond Parish in Dublin, CA. St. Raymond of Penafort lived up to 100 years old. A doctor of the church, he wrote and compiled numerous church decrees. His most notable work was a collection of cases for confessors and moralists. As an adviser to the King James of Aragon who engaged in an illicit affair, St. Raymond deserted him by using his staff and cloak to sail across the sea. He devoted the final years of his life spreading the Gospel to the Jews and to the Moors.

The third stop was St. Isidore's in Danville. St. Isidore was a farmer who went to visit a church before he plows the field every day. He maintained a spirit of prayer as he went about his work in the farm.  A very devout worker and husband, he is said to have visions which helped him in his work in the field.

Finally, the fourth saint. Well, not quite a saint by the church standards. But definitely, living up to example of a saint. His name is Mark who was chugging at an awesome pace (I can tell) when he slowed down from nowhere to talk to me. A father of three, a husband to his wife who has hardness of hearing. Once a heavy smoker and alcoholic, he reformed his life and is now lives the Gospel. He hosts Bible study in his home every week. And by the way, he is a sub-3 marathoner!

St. Joan of Arc Church in San Ramon, CA at Mile 4.8

St. Raymond Parish in Dublin, CA at Mile 10.8

St. Isidore's Church in Danville, CA at Mile 20.6

Friday, November 11, 2011

49 Miles In Memory of 49 Loved Ones

This is the fourth and fifth part of my All Souls Day Run, remembering and praying for our dearly departed.  I received 45 names to pray for. Including 4 of my own. I am running 49 miles in memory of 49 loved ones.  (More on

By November 2nd, commemorating All Souls Day in the Christian world, I have run 49 miles the last 5 days. (See previous posts.)

For our beloved ones, life has changed, not ended. They are preparing the way for us when our day comes to be reunited with them in eternal life with God. Thus, we can still celebrate our relationship with them as we live our earthly lives.

They are praying for us as much as we pray for them.  And I like to believe that they all helped me finish running 49 miles safely.

Truly, it was my privilege and honor to run in remembrance of your loved ones.