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Running By Faith

Running the miles. Sharing the encouragement!

Hi. I’m Tommy, and I love to run. I love encouraging people! And, I choose to Run by Faith!

What does “Run by Faith” mean? Pretty simple, really. My favorite book, the Bible, has a great quote that says to, “walk by faith, not by sight“. Well, as a runner, I ‘run by faith, not by sight’. Get it now?

Here, I plan to share my passion for running, along with my passion of encouragement. I want to help you run some trails, and help you navigate through life. Bottom line, this is my new blog where fitness, friends and faith come together to help you, “Run by Faith”!

Don’t Be A Fool

You’ve been told from a young age, “Choose your friends carefully”. Of course, in your head you’re like, “blah blah blah…”. But, ya know what? It is the truth.

The other day I was running with a group of friends. These friends are faster runners than I am, but they have never looked at me any differently. In fact, they’ve actually helped me become a better, and faster, runner.

They’ve never said, “I think it’s time for you to pick up your pace”. Nope. They’ve never said a thing. So what’s changed? Actually, it’s pretty simple. If I run with faster people, and want to stay in their group without them leaving me in the dust, I have to keep the same pace as them. So, by choosing to run with faster people, I have gotten faster.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed that makes them faster runners:

  • They pick their knees up higher than I do. This causes faster turnover, and helps their form. Think about when you sprint, your legs lift higher. You don’t have, “lazy foot”. Simple, right?
  • They’ve mentioned to me that I don’t swing my arms enough. I hold them too close to my body. This causes my legs to unnecessarily work harder, which can tire me out faster.
  • I don’t stop as long as I used too at a water break. Their breaks are quick. Waiting around too long can cause your muscles to tighten up, and even break your running rhythm. And, it changes your heart rate.

This all goes back to when you were younger. “Choose your friends carefully”. If you hang out with people with a positive influence, you will become just like them. But, on the other side, if you choose to hang out with people who pull you down with their bad influence, you’ll begin to make stupid choices, too.

Proverbs 13:20 says, “Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.”

So today, I encourage you to look at who you’re hanging around with. Are they people who bring you up? Or people who pull you down? Can you learn beneficial things by simply observing their life?

Go make a difference. Choose wisely. And always, Run By Faith!

My New Favorite Trail

We all put up with some pretty crappy weather in Michigan. Yet, in spite of months of grey skies, we reap the blessing of summer! In reality, God created something special with Michigan. It really is a beautiful place to live. And, a beautiful place to explore and run!

Recently, my wife, daughter and I headed north on a scenic drive, to simply sight see. And, the further north you go, the more beautiful it gets! Allow for me to present to you, Petosky!

Petosky is know for its beautiful water, and the hunt to find “Petosky Stones”. We searched, and found a few stones. But, our coolest discovery was a trail we explored. Whether you’re a runner, walker, or hiker, this super shaded trail is worth lacing your shoes up for.

Bear River Valley Recreational Area is right in the heart of downtown Petosky. With public parking, and a picnic shelter, this trail also has access for whitewater rafting.

The total length of the shaded trail is 1.5 miles. It’s filled with trails, a boardwalk, rapids, and also has wheelchair access. It is also dog friendly. Oh, and don’t forget your hammock. There are poles in place for up to 6 people to hammock.

While many choose to explore the North-South 35 trail along Lake Michigan, which is amazing, don’t miss Bear River Valley Recreational Area.

Where is YOUR favorite trail? Drop a comment and let me know. I’d love to roadtrip and write a review.

Explore. Go make a difference. And always, Run By Faith.

A Finish Is A Finish. Right?

Sometimes, in life, your finish doesn’t go as planned. In 2020, graduations have been just that: Not as planned! But, a finish is a finish, isn’t it?!

In 2017, I was running the 25k River Bank Run. The morning was quite humid, and I was prepared for a tough race. I must say, I felt pretty good, despite the heat. But, I knew that the temperature would rise in a hurry. And, it certainly did!

I noticed something odd at 13.1 miles. I just didnt feel right. I felt very tired. Pretty exhausted. I needed to walk for a bit to try and catch my breath. It really didnt help. I picked my pace back up, and went another 2 miles. That got me to mile 15. A half mile to go. And then…it happened.

“Amber. Amber? I need some water.” Amber and I have run several races together, and she sensed something was wrong. And, she was right. That was the last thing I remember. I don’t remember a thing for the next half mile. I basically blacked out.

Somehow, I kept going. I do remember small bits and pieces of things. Like being carried, hearing my wife cry out, “C’mon Tommy!”, and then, waking up in the medical tent. Yep. That happened.

Despite all of that last half mile drama, I finished. It wasn’t like I expected, but I made it. I crossed the finish line. And, I have a medal to prove it.

Class, and Parents of the Class of 2020, I know this finish wasn’t like you expected. You didn’t plan on not having a ceremony. You didn’t plan on not having prom. You didn’t plan on missing your senior all-nighter. But, you crossed the finish line. You have friends that helped carry you through. And, you have a diploma to prove it.

Sometimes in life, your finish doesn’t go as planned. But, what will you learn from that finish? “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:3-4)

Finish, and learn. Go make a difference. And always, Run By Faith.

40 Little Things COVID-19 Has Taught Us

Well, it’s been a strange 10-ish weeks, hasn’t it? 10 weeks since the COVID-19 pandemic first reared its ugly head. Lives lost. Jobs furloughed. Events canceled. It’s pretty much sucked, right?

So, I’m going to take a moment to share a few of the “little things in life” that I believe COVID-19 has taught us to celebrate a little bit more.

Faith. Smiles. Friends. Health. Hugs. Family. Nurses. Doctors. Technology. Gatherings. Coffee. Pets. Jobs. Income. Graduation. Sunshine. DIY projects. Zoom. Running. Biking. First responders. Haircuts. Netflix. Traveling. Race day. Grocery shopping. Restaurants. Walks. Teachers. Appointments. Cleaning. Staying home more. Cheaper gas prices. Game board games. Toilet paper. Less traffic. Music. Imagination. Sidewalk chalk. Fitness. And, I’ll say it again, faith!

I know that there are many more things that could be on this list, and I encourage you to add your “little thing” in the comments.

Friends, this has been a strange 2020.  But, moving forward, if we celebrate the little things that we’ve learned to cherish, what kind of difference will we see in our lives?

Moving forward, if we don’t implement some of the things we have had to adjust to over the last 10 weeks, we’ll only return to what was. We have all learned so much. I would hate to see us all slip back into some of the same routines and habits we all began to realize were unhealthy.

Similar to when Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt. They were in slavery and bondage. When they were finally freed, they actually missed their old lifestyle. They were willing to go back to what they hated, because it was all they ever knew. Oh, the little faith! God has so much for us!

Let’s not be like that. Let’s be different. Let’s move forward,   take what we’ve learned, and continue to find new ways, and things, to enjoy.

Keep celebrating the little things. Make a difference. And Run By Faith.

Thank You, Mr. Trombone Man

My wife, Patty, and I recently bought a GoPro. We bought it to capture moments on trails, trips, and simply being tourists. But what I saw using my GoPro for the first time, was simply inspiring.

It was 9:15 on an overcast Tuesday morning. Perfect morning to try out my GoPro for the first time. I fastened it snug around my head, and took off for a small 4 mile run through my neighborhood. My goal was simply to try it out and get an idea for what it’s like to wear it.

Miles 1 and 2 went as normal. But, when I got to 2.3 miles, I witnessed something inspiring. At this point, it was just after 9:30 a.m., when I saw a man walk outside of his house carrying a trombone. I call him, “Mr. Trombone Man”. I could write you the story, but, since I was wearing my GoPro, I’ll let you watch what happened.

For 65 seconds, everything seemed to just, rest. The echo rang through the Cul-de-sac. Neighbors came outside. One woman was even standing on her porch in a bathrobe. When “Mr. Trombone Man” finished, we all clapped. He simply walked back to his house, I continued my run, and the lady in the bathrobe? I assume she has a quite a memory, too.

Thank you, Mr. Trombone Man. Thanks for the memory. Thanks for taking 65 seconds of your day to remind me, and my friends, what is really important.

Today, be like “Mr. Trombone Man”. Make a difference. Even if it is for just 65 seconds. And always, Run By Faith.

DIY Project: Pallet Wood Coffee Rack

During this time of “shelter in place”, we have all seen some great DIY projects. People becoming artists, decorators, and chefs before our very eyes. So, I figured, “hey, I can get in this game!”

I saw a DIY project which turned an old pallet into a coffee mug rack. And, with the enormous amount of coffee mugs that we have, I decided to take a crack at it.

I called my friend, Dan, who, during one of our many thousands of miles of running, mentioned that he had a ton of extra pallets. He was happy to get one off of his hands. The dude even cut the pallet to fit my measurements. Classy!

Now, you need to know, I am NOT a handy man in the least. My wife grew up on a farm, and fixing things do NOT intimidate her at all.  Me? It makes me anxious just thinking about it. I’m not “DIY”, I’m “PSE”, “Pay Someone Else”.

I grabbed the pallet, studied a few You Tube videos, and went for it. I sanded it with 60 grit sandpaper. After going over it a few times, I used a 150 grit sandpaper. That really smoothed it out. (This took a bit longer than I thought it would, but it’s a very important step!)

Next, I added some stain. I found some we had leftover from when we stained the deck a few years ago. It’s a Butternut color, so it gives it a bit of an antique look. A few coats did the trick. Then, I let it sit overnight.

24 hours later. Time to finish up. I grabbed stencil and paint, and added my own unique heading, “Hava Java”.  (Said like a gangster with one of those Trans-Atlantic accents, “Ya see?”)

Adding the hooks was the final step. Making sure the spacing was lined up evenly was a challenge, as the length of each piece of the pallet is not the same length. After problem solving, we hung it up!

As I finished this project, it reminded me of a Bible verse.

Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is done, a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17

A simple, old worn out piece of wood, received “new life”. It now has a new purpose. For years, I was like this pallet. A feeling of being useless. What am I really here for? But, my life changed when I began a relationship with Jesus. It was then that my life was given a new purpose, too. To love Him and serve others.

Do you feel like the pallet? Feel useless? A feeling of “no worth”? Guess what? If an old piece of wood can suddenly look like this, what more can God do in your life? God is waiting to repurpose you!

Be repurposed. Make a difference, and always Run By Faith.

A Lesson Each Of Us Can Learn From Driving

“Chatter Bumps”

They’re annoying, but helpful. They’re loud, but necessary. They are chatter bumps.

C’mon. You know what chatter bumps are, right? Here’s the definition. Chatter bumps: a small depression in a roadbed, usually occurring in series and creating a corrugated or rippled surface. 

Now you’ve got it, right? Those little bumps on the side of the road designed to warn you that you’re drifting out of your lane. They make like a “chattering” sound. Hence, a “chatter bump”.

I live about a half mile, as the crow flies, from the highway. The other day, I was sitting on my back deck, and could hear the sounds of the chatter bumps. Yes, a half mile away! Made me wonder what was going on. Animal in the road? Distracted driver? Someone falling asleep at the wheel?

The point of these bumps is to keep you from going off of the road. We don’t ignore these bumps. We straighten out the wheel, and we jump right back into the lane. The Chatter Bumps have done their job!

Can you ignore the chatter bumps? Yes. But, what’s the outcome? A ditch? A guardrail? An accident? If you heed the sound, and the purpose of the chatter bumps, you’re much safer on the road.

In life, God has given us something like a personal set of “Chatter Bumps”, The Holy Spirit. (Work with me for a second) The Spirit helps keep us from going, “off the road” that God has paved for our life. Nudging us from making bad decisions. Keeping us on the straight and narrow. Reminding us to look out for others.

When driving, you can travel for miles without needing the chatter bumps to keep you on the road. Yet, when you hear them, and you suddenly feel the shaking of the steering wheel, pay attention!

Similarly, you might go hours in your day without “that nudging” to remind you to stay the course. Yet, when you hear the “chatter bumps”, or the still small voice, LISTEN UP! Your steering wheel won’t shake, but inside, you’ll know for sure that you need to pay attention.  God has a way of doing that!

Stay on the road. Listen for the chatter bumps. And, always run by faith.

Maybe Being Quarantined Isn’t A Bad Thing

Have you ever noticed that adversity can bring out the best in you? Yes. Adversity can bring you to a place of growth.

We have all witnessed some hesdline-making things since the onset of COVID-19. Our workers on the frontlines logging extended hours. Companies turning their everyday businesses into making masks and ventilators. Even restaurants, who have been hit particularly hard, offering meals and showing extra love to first responders.

We’ve also noticed a few less publicized things. Chalk art featuring encouragement. Neighbors taking more walks. Even strangers waving to each other saying, “God Bless You”.

Personally, I’ve been inspired by much less publicized people, and their stories. They are so good, I believe that you should hear about them. I was motivated by a friend, Lance, who, after struggling to get up and go run, ran a half marathon, after signing up for the virtual race the night before.

I was inspired by a friend, Brian, who helped raise money for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital by running his own, “Kelsey Street Marathon”. Yep. This was a marathon through his neighborhood.  Complete with his neighbors hosting their own cheer stations.

I love the homemade bib and medal!

And, even some of the simplest of things. Like Ella, who has been posting songs with her playing guitar and showing off her musical skills on Facebook.

Some families have baked cookies and dropped them off to first responders. While other families have made their own hand sanitizer and shared it among friends.

Adversity has a way of bringing out the best in us. It is NOT easy. But, it sure does make you grow.

I have always loved this quote about adversity, “when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things”. James 1:2‭-‬3 TPT

Today, if you’re facing adversity, how will YOU rise up? How will YOU endure? Maybe being quarantined isn’t a bad thing, afterall?

Endure. Keep making a difference. And always Run By Faith.

Why Every Child Deserves A Chance To Raise A Dog

Most blogs are easy to write. This one definitely is not. I’m going to take a moment to honor, and remember, my original running buddy, our family dog, Kramer.

I’ll never forget the phone call. I was on the air when my son, Tommy, called me and said, “Dad, can we get a dog?” I was hesitant. As parents, we know that the majority of training, cleaning, and spending extra time with a dog comes mostly from the parent. Did I have enough bandwidth for this? Between being a Husband and Dad, working full time, coaching, and…and then the statement that stopped my mind from wondering. Tommy said, “Dad, every boy deserves a chance to raise a dog.” A true mic drop before mic drops were a thing. That was 2009. We adopted Kramer, and he instantly became part of our family.

When I began really running, and logging the miles, I would take Kramer with me. Daily, when I would come home from work, all I would need to say is, “Kramer, wanna go for a run?!” Immediately, his tail would wag, he would stretch out his body, and run to the door. We would take off for 3-4 miles, and love every minute of it. He was always willing to run until I would say, “OK”. That was his permission slip to stop and, “water the fire hydrant”. Then I’d say, “OK”, and away we’d go for more miles. Together, we logged several hundred miles together. He was always willing, and wanting, to get his exercise, and neighborhood watering, done.

As a family, we enjoyed the countless unique things that made Kramer so special. From his fascination of eating ice cubes and grapes, to his pure excitement of rolling around all over his “treat”. He even had times in which he would actually wink at us.

As years passed, his stamina, and mileage, slowed. But everytime I walked in the door, and headed up to my bedroom, he followed me and sat down right next to the dresser which held my clothes for running, ready to hit the road.

One of the hardest things to witness, was watching the kids finally leave the house for college. They each had their, “moment”, hugging and kissing Kramer. We always made sure to send pics to the kids when they were away, just to keep them connected. “Thanks Dad. He’s the best boy.”

That said, every time they came home from break, or for summer, they walked right through the door excited to see, “the ol’ boy”. It only took about 3 seconds for Kramer to catch their scent, and his tail would wag in double-time, and he’d like their face faster than a child holding an ice cream cone on a 87° day.

A few months ago, an unsettling feeling kept creeping into my mind, “I wonder how many more years we have with him?” I have no idea where this stemmed from. But, it was something that I just couldn’t shake. Kramer never slowed down, or did anything to make me believe he was getting old. It was just a, “gut feeling”.

2 weeks ago, my son, Tommy, was playing tug-of-war with Kramer, when he noticed a touch of blood on the cloth. None of us thought much of it, until we noticed Kramer’s bottom lip was quite swollen.

After the weekend, we brought him into the vet, only to learn that Kramer had cancer, and was given about a month left to live.

Heartbroken.

As a family, we decided to spoil him like crazy for his last few days of life. I don’t regret that one bit. He winked. He wagged. He walked right to the very end.

But I tell ya, that final drive to the vet was one of the hardest 7 mile drives we’ve ever made. I cried a lot. Honestly, I still cry everyday.

Friends, there’s a reason dogs are called, “Man’s best friend”. Dogs love unconditionally. A lesson we could all learn more about.

If you’re a dog owner, take some extra time to share some extra love. You will not regret it. Take pictures. Make memories.

So, Kramer, “Mr. Kramer”, “Fat Dog”, “‘Ol’ Boy” thanks for hogging the bed at night. Thanks for, “running in your dreams”. Thanks for your “Kramer crawl” before we would go for a run. And yes, every boy deserves a chance to raise a dog.

Adopt a dog. Love your dog. And run by faith.

What A Wonderful World

I’ve been thinking a lot about what to write in my blog. I’ve had several ideas, but nothing has really jumped out to me. Until, I heard the raspy, rough voice, of singer Louis Armstrong.

“What A Wonderful World”, is one of those songs really needs no introduction. It’s simple. It’s timeless. It’s a tear-jerker. And, in this time of, “Stay Home. Stay Safe.” when hugs and handshakes seem like a distant memory, this song caught my ear. Just read, and soak in, the simplicity of these lyrics.

I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom, for me and you. And I think to myself, “What A Wonderful World”.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white, the bright blessed days, the dark sacred nights. And I think to myself, “What A Wonderful World”.

The colors in the rainbow, so pretty in the sky. Are also on the faces of friends passing by. I see friends shaking hands, saying, “How do you do?” They’re really saying, “I Love You”.

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow. They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know. And I think to myself, “What a wonderful world”. I think to myself, “What A Wonderful World”.

It’s springtime. There are more people walking in the streets than I can ever remember. And, although we have to be 6 feet apart, we can still say, “Hello”. Because, what we’re really saying is, “I Love You”.

Listen for the birds singing. Look down at the green grass. Look up, and soak up the blue skies. And, while you’re at, say ‘hello’ to God, he loves that, too.

Try it today. Don’t pass by a stranger, or let a stranger pass you by, without simply saying, “Hello”. You have idea how that 5 letter word could change their day.

Say ‘hello’. Keep making a difference. And, always Run By Faith.