Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Winds

Just as challenging as running uphill is running into headwinds.  You have to work harder when you're battling a headwind. Not to mention that a headwind, even a gentle breeze (8-12 mph) can slow you down by 8 percent.

Where I run, I usually start facing the wind which can be discouraging right at the start. However, I'd rather run into headwinds while I'm fresh with energy than run on my way back when I'm already tired. And besides, I do look forward to running with the wind on my back on my way home. It's like getting a lift on your legs and feels like sailing on the road, helping me finish strong.

Headwind or tailwind, the wind is a force that's only known by its effects. It's just like the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God in motion, working in our lives and reminding us how much God loves us and how much He wants to give to us - more wisdom, more peace, more love, and more things we can't even think of. And that's the role of the Holy Spirit - to constantly remind us of His loving presence all around us.

That's what I think of when I start feeling the wind whether in my face or at my back. God is with me all the time and helping me move along.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Most runners dread the hills. Who doesn't?

I've ran some races with famous hills like the Hayes Street Hills of the 12K Bay to Breakers in San Francisco and the Hurricane Point Hills in the Big Sur Marathon; and I can tell you those fearsome hills were true to form. But why is running uphill so difficult?

Running uphill causes you to shorten your strides. Shorter strides mean more steps to cover the same distance.You also push off more to raise your leg higher off the ground.  Hence, your leg muscles work harder in a much shorter range than you're normally used to - which is running on the flats. A lot of runners choose flat races simply because even though they're in good shape to run, they're not prepared for the hills to climb.

How relevant is this in our own lives, too? We're comfortably cruising along life's road until we meet an uphill challenge. If you're not prepared, climbing a hill in life will fatigue you fast and discourage you easily.

Recently, as you know, I've been facing a tough hill in my life grieving over the loss of my wife to breast cancer. Even though I knew her death would come, I could never be totally prepared for my life without her. I was very helpless and weak after her death that I couldn't do my job properly or attend to my son's needs appropriately. But one thing I turned to to regain my strength was prayer.

Runners, though they dread the hills, prepare for hills. They work hill running into their training to condition their bodies to run the hills successfully. Like hill training, incorporate prayer in your daily life even in the most ordinary of things. Pray as you cook; pray as you drive; pray as you play; pray as you run.  And when you run those hills, pray to God to strengthen you even more when you face the hills of life.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why Run?

I like to keep bragging rights. I ran this and that. I wear this and that. My record is this and that. I read this and that. I've done this and that. But that's the runner in me shop talking with other runners.

The real person behind the runner in me is somebody who has nothing to brag about other than his faith in God. Is my faith as big as a mountain?  Truly not at all.  My faith is more of that a mustard seed. "It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants." (Matthew 13:32a).

My faith is still growing especially as I continue on with my ministry as Praying Runner. My goal is to inspire others in their endeavors in life and make every aspect of their life a prayer...a desire to see God in everything. I want to grow in my faith even more and hopefully inspire others to be Praying Runners, too. "It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches." (Matthew 13:32b).

If you are thinking about starting to run, what are you willing to give up in exchange for a greater benefit. Then, as you make strides in your running goals, think about adding another dimension to your reasons for running - something much larger than you are.

So, so much for bragging rights. Those are the perks of the sport. In your next run, ask yourself, what are your real reasons for running?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Change of Direction

I like races with an out and back course. From the starting line, you run a route out up to the half-way mark, you turn around then run back the same route. In the very scenic Half Moon Bay Marathon by the Pacific Coast in California, the half-way turning point was marked by an ordinary orange cone. But that orange cone was one of the most beautiful and welcoming sight of the course. Half-way done and I'm on my way back home.

Most of my training runs are also out and back. From my house, I run out, turn around at my turning point, then back the same route. My routes have quite a few turns, but to me, the most exhilarating spot is when I reach that turning point to change direction back home.

A change of direction - isn't it something that we all want and need to do?

Today is Ash Wednesday and it marks the start of the Lenten Season.  For Christians all over the world, this is the time for retreat and repentance.  It's a time for a change of heart - a change of direction.

In observance of Lent, I will offer all my runs in prayer for all your special intentions. I will do a prayer run every day for the next 40 days until Holy Week through Easter Sunday. This is my own way of giving up something during Lent - to give up doing it myself, doing it my way; but instead letting God lead the way.

Like seeing that orange cone in the marathon, I welcome a change of direction in my life today.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Run, Pray, Love

Running and remembering my wife on Valentine's Day. She passed away 11 months ago after 11 years of fighting breast cancer. She was also a runner. She is the inspiration for Praying Runner. 

One day a few months before she died, she was looking for me when I came back from a run. I immediately went to her bedside. She smiled when she saw me and asked where I've been. I replied that I ran as I prayed for her. Then she said, the next time you run, "Pray for other people as well."

I always think about her every time I run. Especially in my races, I bring with me a pink rose in her memory. I also bring with me other people's prayer intentions to lift up to God in prayer as I run. This is my ministry, in her honor and memory, to run, pray, and love.

You can send me your prayer requests and intentions through this website or email me at Also, I am running my next marathon on March 25th in Oakland, CA, in prayer, in honor of breast cancer survivors and also in memory of those who fought hard. I will be bringing with me 26 pink roses - one for each mile of the marathon - and one of them I will dedicate to a loved one of yours. You can send me her name (first name only or initials are okay; a picture if you want) and a bit of her story.

God speed!

"I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith."
(2 Timothy 4:7)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How It Feels

All runners experience one of those days. You know, when one routine run seems monumentally hard to complete. The reasons for the difficulty are varied, but sometimes, it's simply just one of those days.

I think my last two runs were one of those days. But it could be also because I was battling a bad cold. On t2 back to back days, I cut short my 10-mile runs to 3 miles - taking breaks in between, sweating hard after the first mile, and exhausted half-way through, unable to find a second wind, and feeling really weak. I really couldn't run through the tiredness which on good days I could mentally trick my body. But the last two days, my mind actually got the better of me to just stop or else.

Was it one of those days? Perhaps. Was I feeling sick? Yes. But the experience made me realize that this is how it feels - what my late wife felt when she was battling metastatic breast cancer. She would do her best to do walking workouts with me while praying the rosary. But every so often, she would complain of tiredness up to a point that she couldn't go on and would request to turn around and go back home. I still vividly remember the last time she went on the treadmill. She walked slow for about 10 minutes then she said she couldn't go any longer.

I bear her pain and the countless of people who are sick and suffering. I pray to be healthy and give thanks for my ability to run. May my runs be a humble offering of prayer that the sick may find consolation, peace, and healing in this time of suffering. To my wife, I love you and thank you for your courage to fight.