Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rediscovering Running

Sometimes I wish that I was a Praying Scrapbooker or a Praying Stamp Collector, instead of a Praying Runner. Running is more physically demanding compared to activities like scrapbooking and stamp collecting. It can become daunting  that sometimes I struggle to complete a run and that I don't find it enjoyable anymore. Lately, I was disappointed at myself so much so that I took some time off to rediscover why I run.

I run because I enjoy the feeling of achievement every time I finish a run. I set a goal, work hard, and review my progress. I like to line up my races for the year, record my running mileage, and count my medals.

However, many times, my running life is not that all successful. Recently, I looked at my running log for the past few months and saw that I had long periods of zero running followed by a resurgence of continuous running. For example, 0 miles for 10 days then 360 miles for the next 55 days, then 0 miles for the next 5 days. 

The times I don't run are the times I realize how difficult running can be....and also how difficult life can be. Recently, I told a friend of mine how the grief over the death of my wife doesn't really go away. And just when I actually need to run and pray, I couldn't do it. My friend told me, "For now, just enjoy the love of God for you."

God's love for me! That is it! Why I run is because I experience God's love for me. When the wind is at my back, when I reach the top of the hill, when I run down a hill, that's God's love for me. When I get a second wind, when I swig a drink, when the crowd cheers me on, that's God's love for me. When the homestretch is flat, when I meet a new friend on the course, when I reach the finish line, when I feel the joy of achieving my running goals, that is God's love for me.

Even when life becomes tough and hard to run, and when runs become difficult to do, God's love is there to carry you through. The reason why I get over the slumps in my runs as well as in my life is because God actually picks me up and gets me going again. Yes, running is not easy but I'm willing to do it; so it is with life. So I keep going for I know that God's love will see me through.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I always complained about running in pain when I start out. Today was one of those painful starts. I told my son about it when I got home and he offered me a quick solution.

“You should loosen up, Dad.”

I should listen to him because he knows what he’s talking about. He’s played all kinds of sports all his life. He also performs with a dance troupe on the side. I think he knows the importance of being flexible by heart.

Unfortunately, I am notorious for my stiffness. I can’t extend my limbs or cross my legs or reach my toes without grimacing. My lack of range of motion shows when I run. My son teases me that I run like a wobbling robot.

Pretty much, my son diagnosed correctly why I run in pain. I force my tight and knotted muscles to flex and extend abruptly when I run. My muscles are still stiff and not ready for strenuous activity. If at rest, I already lack flexibility, then it becomes worse when I try to start moving.

So today I’m embarking on working on my flexibility. I’m actually starting by being more open to change my point of view – that runners rather spend time training than stretching. Hence, starting today I would incorporate a few flexibility exercises into my training.

My pains today remind me of my own rigidity with regard to some of my old ways. I stick to old habits or worn-out notions that may limit my growth opportunities. It’s time to re-think and renew.  Easter time reminds us to be renewed…in a way, to be open to God’s prompting. God wants to give us more freedom of movement and at the same time feel more relaxed. Even when we feel anxious and tense, even more so, God wants us to feel at ease lost in His love and care. Here’s sharing with you a relaxation and awareness prayer (which also could be sung) to help us loosen the knots in our lives:

“Lose yourself in me, 
And you will find yourself. 
Lose yourself in me 
And you will find new life
Lose yourself in me` 
And you will find yourself 
And you will live, 
Yes, you will live in my love."

It's the Second Sunday of Easter. May the risen Christ stay in our hearts and let His peace and love reign in our lives.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Gift of Time

Today is my first day of rest after running for 50 consecutive days -- 2 days before Lent, 40-day Lenten Run, 7 days Holy Week, and 1 day yesterday. I covered 312 miles. That’s a 10k every day for the last 50 days.

A few friends tell me that it’s good that I still have the time to run. But don’t we all get the same amount of time in a day? Nobody gets more than or less than 24 hours in a day, is there?

To tell you the truth, running for 50 days straight wasn’t easy. There were days I didn’t feel like running, like after a long day at work, during a busy weekend, that week when I was fighting a cold, or that time right after running a marathon. But I did.

I made use of the gift of time that was fit for me. I ran late at night after a long day; I ran first thing early morning on a busy weekend; I ran while waiting for my son’s away games to start.

On days that I wasn’t feeling well, I still ran. I told myself I would give
the gift of my time to others. As I ran, I thought about the people who
were sick, who are burdened by personal problems. I also
remembered the people who requested for prayers for their special
intentions. As I ran through pain, I prayed to God to help them and I also gave thanks on their behalf.  Praying for others, I somehow made it through running hurt or sick. It was my gift of time - to honor my commitment to run and pray for others.

50 days of running seem like a huge chunk of time. But actually it’s not. The total amount of time I actually ran is 2 days and 3 hours. It’s about 4% of my time.

I thank God for being able to run the last 50 days. I thank God for the gift of time. I can’t ask for anymore. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

We Are Made To Move

...otherwise, we would have three legs.

Whether it be walking or running, moving with our two legs is part of our human nature. In fact, our first steps is a major milestone in our human development. Our parents remember just about when we started walking or running in the same way we would remember our children's first steps. We are made to move.

And we are made to move towards something. To arrive at a destination or a goal. Perhaps we are creatures of the future. What propels us to move is something that we look forward to.  Like a vacation. Or a promotion. Or perhaps crossing that finish line of a race you trained long and hard for. Something in the future drives us to keep moving on.

As we celebrate Easter today, we are reminded of this future - a share in the resurrection of Jesus. It is the central message of the Easter story. When Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved first heard about the news from Mary Magdalene, they ran to see the empty tomb.

Also this Easter, we celebrate that we are made to move. Like the disciples, the news that Jesus had risen  drove them to move - as a matter of fact, they ran to verify the news. This news is now the basis of our Easter faith - to look forward to our own resurrection with Jesus.

When life sometimes wear you down. Look ahead. Believe in what you are made for - to keep moving on.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I Thirst

(Sharing with you my reflection on the 5th word. Read during "The Seven Last Words" service on Good Friday at Holy Rosary Church in Antioch, CA. The analogy I used in here is something you, runners, can relate to easily. But I used it sparingly in this reflection, taking into consideration my general listening audience.)

“When Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”  A jar full of sour wine was standing there.  So they put a sponge full of wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.” (John 19: 28-29)

For Jesus, beaten then crucified and hanging on the cross for a couple of hours, to say “I thirst,” means that He was at the point of death.

Many of us have experienced some kind of thirstiness. For example, after exercising in the gym; after doing some yard work; or after staying out in the hot sun for too long.  We experience some form of mild dehydration.  Our mouth and throat is dry, lips are dry, our muscles feel tired, and we feel thirsty.  Usually drinking a tall glass of water or Gatorade will return your fluid balance back to normal and we’d feel better in no time.

However, when Jesus said “I thirst,” on the cross, he was not mildly dehydrated; he was severely, extremely dehydrated. Every tissue in his body is dehydrated and his whole strength is dried up. Jesus had given it all; and perhaps we can even say,…up to the last drop.

In my life I have been blessed with an opportunity to know somebody who had given it all.  My wife battled breast cancer for a long time.  She suffered and endured the pains of her illness.  During her last few days, her organs started to fail, and she was severely dehydrated. But she was so weak, she couldn’t even say that she was thirsty.  But I could tell she was because every time I would touch her dry mouth with a wet sponge, she would vainly try to follow the sponge with her mouth when I would move it.  I would be moved to tears because I know there is no amount of water I could give her to return her back to health.  Not long afterwards, she passed away in the company of her family and friends at home.  My wife, too, like Jesus, had given it all.

But this is not the end of the story.  There is a message of hope in here.

Before my wife died, she had developed an unquenchable thirst for God.  She lived a life of prayer with a steadfast desire to strengthen her relationship with God. At the very end, in spite of her pain and suffering, she died peacefully.  I think her life on earth had been pleasing to God and God has gifted her with eternal life. 

This is the eternal life, which through Jesus’ death on the cross, had already been prepared for her, for all of us, for each of us.  It is God’s promise to all of us.  It is God’s show of love for all of us. It is Jesus’ message on the cross.  That there is an eternal spring of water waiting for all of us and we will never be thirsty again.

But there is one thing I think that God wants us to do while we walk or run our lives here on earth. God wants us to stay “hydrated” by praying.  Quench your thirst for happiness by praying.  Keep walking in Jesus’ steps, keep following Jesus’ ways and paths, keep moving along, praying and relying upon His promise, even when the roads get rough, the hills too tough to climb, and you may grow weary, give it your all.  Give everything to God.

We are made to thirst for God. He is always there at every point in our lives ready to provide us a drink. And at the point of our death, He will show us that vision of a place with a spring of water where we will never be thirsty again.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I've never won a race in my running life and I don't think I will ever win one. But I do know what it feels like to be triumphant. Every time I cross that finish line, I feel as victorious as the first place finisher. As I run to the finish line, the cheer starts to get louder and louder. People are pressing on the guard railings lining the finish chute. Cameras are flashing. I step on the mat and raise my hands acknowledging the cheers of the crowd.

Perhaps this is a similar atmosphere when Jesus entered Jerusalem on that day we now celebrate in the Christian world as Palm Sunday. A great crowd of His followers gathered and celebrated His return. Many people waved leafy branches and spread their cloaks on the road. They cried out, "Hosanna!" in praise of Jesus. It was a triumphant entry.

As triumphant as it was, it also sets the stage for His Passion. Today, Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week where we remember Jesus' suffering and death on the cross. After living a successful public ministry and being hailed by the people, Jesus did not end His mission there. But instead, Jesus continued on to prepare Himself for His preordained suffering.

In my races, I may have crossed the finish line but I do not stop there. The lifelong runner in me reminds me that my last step on the finish is my first step to the next race.

Today I completed my 40th day of running, which I offered in prayer for cancer survivors Joyce S, Janet S, Annete M, Clessie, and Aunt Cely. For Ashley C, who is training for a Livestrong marathon but injured her ankle. For Michelle T., who is suffering from several ailments. And for the repose of the soul of William C., father of my co-worker.

I feel triumphant completing my 40-day commitment but I am not stopping just yet. Lent is not over for the Holy Week has just started. So I will keep running (straight for another 7 days until Easter) and make my praying even more fervent remembering how Jesus suffered and died to show God's great love for each of us.