Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Prayer Run

I started at ten minutes past six in the morning with my book of prayer requests and headed out west to St. Anthony's Church at 5.5 miles.  Then I went to the Holy Cross Cemetery at 9.6 miles to visit my wife and pray for her.  I detoured towards home, realizing that I was short of time to make it on time home to be able to drive my son to a practice.  I covered 15 miles total.

This run I prayed for a relative's father-in-law who has Stage 3 lung cancer, a friend's sister who was diagnosed of plastocytoma and who's in severe pain, a former student who has Ewing's Sarcoma of the nerve, and for a little girl who has autism.  I also prayed for my brother who is applying for a job in a university, a good friend who needs a car, a relative who is looking for a job, a former student who is in need of emotional and physical strength, and for a couple who is trying to have a baby for the last 5 years.

Lord, please hear the prayers of your faithful.  In your great compassion, take from us the burden of anxiety, pain, and suffering, and give us rest and comfort.  You know what our hearts desire even before we can ask.  But we come to You in all humility to bring to you our petitions.

Lord, I bring to You these prayers during my run.  It is not I but You who brings healing and provide for our needs.  But I offer to do a sacrifice of running today to bring the needs of my friends to Your feet.  May my running journey and praise be pleasing to You today.

St. Anthony's Church at 5.5 miles

My wife at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery at 9.6 miles

Friday, August 26, 2011

Running Inspires

I like to share with you a poem written by a runner friend.  He's a proud father of a newly wed daughter and a new college graduate.  He said he does not write poems but was inspired to write one a few days before his first marathon in Sacramento, CA in 2007.  It's the force of running and the spirit of God inspiring us to do things larger than we are.  The poem is entitled "Running to Make God Smile."  Thank you, Duane, for sharing this.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Prayer Run for the Sick

With my little prayer book and little book of prayer requests tucked inside my fuel belt, I headed out at 6:30 a.m. to begin a 20 mile run for the sick. Seven people requested prayers for a friend or family member. I shall briefly mention them here and so if you come across my website, please do pray for them, too.

For Shawn, 34 years old who has cancer; for the cousin of "Runner1996", 26 years old who will undergo a double mastectomy this Wednesday; for Jasmine's son who has leukemia, for Margo's mom who has COPD, for Monte's wife who is recovering from a 2nd mastectomy after 16 years, for Cecile's 3-year old son, Diego who was diagnosed with autism, and for Sheila's 3-year old son, Gabby, who contracted whooping cough.

May they overcome their illness and offer their suffering to God, and may their faith be even stronger as they bear the pain of their illness. Please bless their families and loved ones and all those that give care for them.

My heart goes out to each one of you. I did a successful but difficult run. I prayed the rosary the whole time and it was reciting the rosary that kept me going when I started to get tired. But my pain was nothing compared to what you are going through right now. So please accept my offering of a run in your honor. God bless.

The following are pictures of the churches I stopped by to pray for all of you. God bless!

Most Holy Rosary Church at Mile 5
St. Ignatius at Mile 8
Immaculate Heart of Mary at Mile 15

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Mountaintop Experience

George Mallory, a British climber, was asked in 1924 why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest. His reply was, "Because it's there."

I haven't climbed a mountain before, but I know what it feels to reach a summit. For George Mallory, Mt. Everest presents itself as a lofty destination. For runners, it's the finish line. And crossing that finish line is the closest feeling to a mountaintop experience.

With great joy
I just had that peak experience in the 2011 San Francisco Marathon. Holding a pink carnation the whole distance, I reached the finish line with great joy. I ran the race in prayer and in memory of my wife, finishing it in 5:17 to symbolize her birthday.

All of us, whatever we do, can experience a mountaintop experience, as long as we lift it up to God. You can do your walking, gardening, cooking, whatever, and offer it to God. To me, running is a time to experience God's loving presence.

Start off by having the desire to encounter God in your run. And that desire to meet God is nothing but the desire to pray. Here is a prayer you can say before you run:

God, our Father, Creator of all life and energy, I come to you with a contrite heart. But look not into my faults, but into my faith. Protect me from evil and harm along the way. Give me the strength to overcome my weakness. Grant me the courage to persevere as I run. Thank you for the health I have and for my ability to run. Remember, O God, the people in my life who need Your countenance. (Mention the people you want to pray for.) This run, I offer to them, for their sake. Stay with me, O God, the whole time I run, until it is time for me to rest. May my desire to run today to meet You be pleasing to You. This I ask, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Forgiveness Run

I remember one afternoon I took off running with a heavy heart. I had an argument with my teenager son. I was so ticked off that I just lashed out at him. At hindsight, my anger seemed to be out of proportion, more so because my son remained quiet as a lamb during my speech of furor. I eventually walked away from him to calm myself down. I was scheduled to run later that evening but decided to do go right then.

"I lost control again," ran to my mind as I ran. I felt bad about throwing a fit about something I could more calmly and perhaps even more effectively send my message across to him. And besides, he already apologized for his mistake and he did ask for forgiveness.  I pondered over this as I ran and I started to mellow down.  I also thought about the Parable of the Lost Son.  Luke 15: 11-32. Remember in this parable, the father was so happy when he saw his son from afar that he ran down the road toward him and then embraced him.

As I ran, I prayed for God's grace of forgiveness - to ask for His forgiveness for my sins and to forgive others. I imagined myself right then on the road and God running towards me with open arms.  I felt the breeze against my face, my breathing became steady and calm, my strides more even. Before I knew it, I was on my way back home from a 6-mile run. It was a gentle downhill and I said a prayer of thanksgiving as I glided to a stop.  Then I walked for a block to cool down up until I reached home. I went in to see my son, who is always glad to see me back from a run. I apologized for my behaviors earlier and asked for his forgiveness. And he said, "It's okay, Dad. How was your run?"

I call it a "Forgiveness Run." You can contemplate about actions of yours and others that need forgiveness; but moreover, you can contemplate about God's limitless love.  As you run, trust that the Father is always waiting and read to run to meet you down the road.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Are You Ready?

Running is all about readiness. Whether you're just getting out for a morning run or running a race, people ask you "Are you ready?" A few days before you run, you predispose yourself to get out there and carry out your planned run. Sometimes you write it down; sometimes you tell a friend; others post it online; and even others make an announcement to a group of people about it.  On the night before you run, you make a mental note of what time you will run; others tell their significant other about details of their run. Ultimately, just before a run, you put on your running gear, take a deep breath, and take that first step to take off running. Now for most runners, it takes more planning and preparation to run, specially when they sign to run a race.  Running, as simple as it is, takes a state of preparation before it is acted upon.

"Are you ready?" is also an age-old question about life you and I and many people before us have one time or another were asked to answer.  I remember a story which was attributed to St. Robert Bellarmine, a Catholic cardinal in the 16th century who wrote a treatise entitled "The Art of Dying Well" wherein he exhorted his people the importance of readiness "for at what hour you think not, the Son of Man will come." The story goes that St. Bellarmine was playing cards with three of his friends when one of them asked a question, "What will you do when you learn today that tomorrow you will die?"  One of them said, "I will go and tell my family how much I love them." The second one said, "I will give away all my precious belongings to the needy." The third one said, "I will see a priest and confess all my sins."  Then the three of them turned to St. Bellarmine and asked, "You, Bellarmine, what will you do when you learn today that you will die?" Bellarmine said, "I will continue playing cards."  Bellarmine wanted to say that he was always ready and that he does not need to wait for the last minute to do live life to the fullest.

As you prepare for a run, contemplate on how you can live your life so are always ready.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Runs End, Running Doesn't

I just completed my 22nd marathon one week ago.  In seven weeks, I will run my 23rd in Half Moon Bay, CA. In October and December, I will do my 24th and 25th, respectively.  By then, I am only halfway towards my goal of 50 marathons by 50 years old. Who know what's my next goal after that?

I started signing up for races in 2004. I began doing 5ks, then 10ks, then half-marathons, then full marathons.  Later on, I just signed up only for full marathons, save for a few favorite 5k/10k family runs. Some friends always ask me if I've done a race recently and what's next.  When I tell them about it, they are always astounded that either I've recently completed one or about to do one.  They seem to be amazed that I've kept running all these years.  Perhaps they thought that doing a race is one of those "I did it, done with that" experience. However, I didn't turn out to be that kind. I became a runner. And for a runner, running doesn't end.

This reminds me of the cliche, "Life goes on." Things happen, events come and go, out with the old, in with the new, goes on.  At every bend and turn, trough and valley, life offers us a growth opportunity.  Life is not a road to nowhere. Life will present to us glory at the end. Have faith, have hope.  Keep going towards the goal.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Inspiration to Run

Here's just taking a moment to share with you my feelings and thoughts about my beautiful wife and inspiration to run.  I made this video soon after my marathon in San Francisco. And if you're looking for a song to add to your playlist, this could be one.  It's a song by the group called "The Seekers" which stormed the charts in the 60's.  It's a song to help you carry on, just when you need it the most, because there's always someone waiting for you at the finish line.

So to my beloved wife, Jinky (1968-2011), "I'll Never Find Another You"...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pink Carnation

At the start, with pink carnation for my  wife
Crossing the GG Bridge with pink carnation

Purposely finished at 5:17, my wife's birthday
Hanged medal around her just like she always did