I Have A Favor To Ask Of You

Hello friends. I feel the need to post this short, short blog today.

My sister, Kelly, left this “home” exactly 19 years ago today, January 9, 2001. She died from a nasty disease called Wegener’s Disease. Kelly was only 25.

I am grateful for the promise of Heaven. Kelly loved Jesus, and I have no doubt where she is today. She was always full of laughs, smiles, jokes, and lots of love. Kelly was my only sibling.

I’m asking you for a favor today. Would you take a moment and simply text/call your sibling (s), and say, “I Love You”? My sister is gone. I don’t have the opportunity to do this anymore. If you have a sibling, I encourage you to reach out today. It only takes a few minutes. Use an emoji if need be. Share a funny memory. Or, whatever is coming to your mind as you’re reading this. And, if need be, push differences aside, and reach out. It would mean a lot to me for you to simply connect.

Here is a picture of Kelly. I miss her, and look forward to seeing her again. And yes, I know that I will!

Go make a difference, and Run By Faith!

Walt Disney World 5k: I Didn’t Expect THIS During The Race

Day 1 of the Dopey Challenge. At the starting line for the 5k.

Ever sign up for a race, without being fully prepared for what’s in store? That’s what happened to me at the Run Disney 5k – part of the RunDisney Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World Orlando, Florida. It’s also the first race of a 4 day challenge called “The Dopey Challenge”. (more about the Dopey Challenge in an upcoming blog)

Entering the Magic Kingdom

As we entered the Magic Kingdom, nothing can really prepare you for the first glimpse of the iconic welcome sign. Seriously, all the feels! I was swamped with the emotion of what’s ahead, combined with the excitement for the memories to be made.

We made our way to the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex for the Race Expo, and packet pickup. Let me tell you, I had NEVER been to a fitness expo quite like this! Vendors. Samples. Disney-Magic!

The RunDisney Expo is something to behold!
After packet pickup, we headed to our car, and went back to our place to rest up for the race

Thursday Morning

The alarm rang at 3am. Crazy enough, that’s not early for me, as my normal daily alarm rings at 2:45. Forecast was a touch on the cool side, so I grabbed my Saucony running jacket, laced up my Hoka running shoes, and was off to make a memory.

We headed to the “runner drop-off area”. Considering it was near 4:15 in the morning, everything was very well marked. Signs made it easy to navigate, and the volunteers were super friendly. DeWayne and Tony, two friends who embarked on this adventure with me, and I sat in the car to try and stay “warm”. Now, being a guy from Michigan, a temp of 55 in January was very comfy. But, when you’re standing around for 2 hours, it does get chilly. (Tommy tip: pack large garbage bags. Cut a hole in the bottom, and slide your head through it. Wear it as you wait for the race to begin. It locks in the heat)


I surely didn’t expect to run with Elsa, Buzz Lightyear, and Snow White!

I made my way to the coral area, and was greeted by runners not dressed as, “typical runners”, but as Disney characters. I surely didn’t expect to run with Elsa, Buzz Lightyear, and Snow White. This was a surprise to me! Perfect proof that this is designed to be a FUN 5k. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED seeing the costumes, and experiencing the vibes in the coral, I just never thought a starting line could be so FUN!

RunDisney does a fantastic job pumping up the crowd. There’s music playing, announcers playing the part of a “hype-man”, (I seriously want this job!) and every time that a wave of runners is released onto the course, they shoot off fireworks. That’ll put a little Zip a dee doo dah in your pre-sunrise activities.

The 5k Race

The 5K is a fun race for everyone, great for adults, kids and teens—from beginners to veteran runners and every level in between!

RunDisney

I failed to mention that I signed up for the Dopey challenge in December. Yes, 1 month before the actual Marathon weekend. That said, I was placed into the last coral for every race. Not a big deal, but it did make a difference for me. Why? Because when I crossed the timing mat, I was surrounded by people walking the 5k. Please hear my heart on this, walking a 5k is 100% acceptable, and totally fine! My wife is one tough mama, and rocks out a very brisk walking pace! I just didn’t want to be “that guy” and spend time weaving in and out of people, and making them feel “less than”. (I hope that just made sense) The runners were amazing on the course. Nobody gave me a harsh look, (as far as I know) and we all cheered and laughed with each other.

Running around Epcot before the sunrise is something I will never forget!

I love how Disney makes this a true “experience” race. Every 1/2 mile, there is some kind of activity, or character, to entertain you. There are lots of photo-ops with the characters, so make sure you bring your phone/camera with you. Just make sure that you shoot the video “the correct way”! I will share this video with you, although I shot it sideways.

Sorry for the sideways video. But I think it’s worth viewing.

Normally, I run races and watch my pace. This race, was all about having fun. I did have the timer on my watch going, I just didn’t set out to make it all about the “finishing time”. I made it all about the “memory time”.

As I came across the finish line, I never thought that there would be such a large medal at a 5k race. But, this is Disney!

Again, sorry for the sideways video. But, I had to show you the medal, and the awesome volunteers! (always remember to thank them for their time!)

You will LOVE the Walt Disney World 5k. Every runner receives:

  • 5K Finisher Medal
  • On-Course and Post-Race Refreshments

  • Participant Shirt –
  • Personalized Race Bib
  • Virtual Goody Bag
  • Downloadable Finisher Certificate

Feel free to subscribe to my blog, and drop a comment. In my next blog, I will detail the Walt Disney World 10K. Til then, keep making a difference, and Run By Faith!

I’m Letting You In On A Little Secret

Well, here we go!

Here we are, 2020. Sounds so futuristic, huh? It’s a new year, a new decade, a brand new beginning. So, as I write my first blog of the year, I thought I’d let you in on a little secret to how I’m beginning the year.

A few years ago, my Pastor challenged the church to begin the year doing something called, “The Daniel Fast”. It’s a 21 day fast in which you eat no meat, drink no coffee or alcohol, eat no sugars or sweets, and really put a focus on God. Whew! Yeah, this is serious!

My wife, Patty, and I took the challenge last year, and we each lost over 10 pounds in the 21 days. It was also an incredible way to be introduced to many healthy foods that I had skipped over for way too many years. Foods like Black Bean Hummus, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Spaghetti Squash, Black Bean burgers, Oatmeal, plus several fruits and other veggies.

The initial launch into the fast was admittedly tough. I had caffeine withdrawals, and a slight headache, for the first 3 or 4 days. But, after that subsided, I really felt great!

As a runner, I did realize I was lacking an intake of protein. Often times, after a run, I grab a slice of Turkey, or eat cheese. But, because both of those are NOT allowed during Daniel Fast, at times, I felt sluggish after a workout. So, I had to learn to adjust a bit. I began eating more nuts. I also learned that Broccoli is a very good source of protein, as is Quinoa. Once I figured that out, I was able to get some energy back.

Spiritually, I spent more time reading the Bible, and praying. (This is something that Daniel did in the Bible) I also journaled my experience. In fact, I have journaled daily for the last 3 years. I love looking back and reading about what I was going through, what was happening in the life of my family, and taking inventory on what God had done for me on that day. If you currently don’t journal, I highly recommend you starting this simple task! It is a life changer.

Preparing a fresh fruit bowl for day 1 of Daniel Fast

Interested in joining this 21 day journey with me? To launch into 2020 in a different kind of way? Drop a comment below, and I will keep you in prayer.  We all could use it! I also invite you to subscribe to my blog for other ideas, and inspiration.  Here’s to 21 days of change, to help you Run By Faith!

A New Year’s Resolution That Won’t Fail

Every year you say it, “Oh this is the year. I’m sticking to my resolution!” Yeah right! We keep resolving to lose weight, eat healthier, stop doing this, start doing that. Enough already!

A few years ago, I was asked to be the voice to an audiobook called, “My One Word” by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen. I’d never heard of this book before I walked into the recording booth, but I tell you what, it’s changed me.

“The concept of My One Word is simple. Lose the long list of resolutions – all your sweeping promises to change – and do something about one thing this year instead of nothing about everything”. Straight and to the point, huh? “Choose just one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year”.

I was immediately hooked. As I voiced this audiobook, I pictured lives being changed. Resolutions ditched. Promises broken no more. But how do you pick one single word? Good question! For me, it is through prayer. I simply ask God what He wants to do in me. And, I also dig a little deeper into my own life and see what I need to change. Crazy enough, they both always line up beautifully.

Here’s a screenshot if you’d like to listen to the My One Word audiobook.

To give you an idea, here are the words I’ve chosen for the last 3 years. 2017 was Opportunity. 2018 was Inspire. 2019 was Transform.  That said, these words really do change you!

In 2017, I chose Opportunity. That same year, my job changed. Corporate America pulled our morning show into a meeting, and pulled the plug. Wow! That’s not the opportunity I was thinking about. Yet, God opened a door to a new opportunity. A new job at a new radio station in JOY 99. One that could not have happened, unless the door was closed on my former station, to make way for this new opportunity. He also brought opportunity in my passion for running with new races, and new friendships. Friendships that have deepened. Friendships that have grown me and challenged me. Friendships I still have today!

2018 was a fresh new start with a new radio station in Joy 99. An opportunity to Inspire people. Not just on the radio, but in my running community. You see, I love people. I love getting to know them. Hearing their struggles, and letting God open an door to an Inspiring word! I had training runs where we laughed, we swapped stories of struggles, and sometimes there were tears. But, whether I had the opportunity to inspire someone, or someone inspired me, inspiration was always a common theme.

As you focus on your word over an extended period of time, you position yourself for God to form your character at a deep, sustainable level. Growth and change will result.

Mike Ashcraft

And this last year, I wanted to Transform my life. From health, to my running goals. From helping to shape people’s lives, to letting God transform me. Well, it has worked. I’m healthier. I’ve shaved 7 minutes off of my Marathon time. God has opened doors for me to create some deeper relationships with friends, and yes, my time with God has been special. He’s done some needed ‘surgery’ in my own life, too. He’s transformed me in many ways. ALL for the better!

So, what about you? What will be your “focus” for 2020? I encourage you to skip the resolution, and try focusing on One Word. Drop a comment, and let me know what your One Word for 2020 will be? And, if you’re interested in picking up this book, it’s available through Zondervan Publishing at Zondervan.com or simply search for the audiobook.  I’d count it a privilege to have the opportunity to inspire you as the voice of My One Word and transform your life, too.

Sometimes, Christmas Makes Me Cry

“Sometimes, Christmas makes me cry.” What an odd Christmas lyric, huh? Especially in the midst of “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”.  But, it’s true. Christmas and tears can be a thing. And, this isn’t the, “Jason’s home from college” Folger’s commerical tears, either. So, what’s up with this?

There’s ugly sweaters. Christmas parties. And, much mistletoeing. Yet, you feel empty. Why? It’s called grief, and it’s a real thing.

Whether you’ve recently lost a loved one, and this is your first Christmas apart, or it’s been over 10 years – it can still suck the life out of you. You walk around and see everyone saying, “Merry Chritmas Darling’, and you’re asking yourself, “Where’s my Joy to the world?”

First of all. I’m sorry. I hate that you’re going through this. Grief sucks. It’s painful, it’s hard to talk about, and it leaves a whopping hole in your heart. I know, because I’ve been there.

It was Christmas, 2000, when my world changed. Christmas morning, my sister, Kelly, was fighting a disease called Wegener’s. Wegener’s basically shuts down your organs. (This is the cut to the chase definition) Anyway, that Christmas morning, she was dealing with more pain, and she needed to be seen by a Doctor. That morning, her journey to the finish line began. She was admitted into the hospital, and never left. January 9, 2001, Kelly slipped into the arms of Jesus.

I miss her. She never got an opportunity to watch my family grow. And, every Christmas, something is missing. Now don’t get me wrong, I know she’s with Jesus in Heaven. Before she died, I asked her “the million dollar question”, ‘Have you asked Jesus into your life?’ She assured me, “yes!”  So, even though she’s not here, I know she’s enjoying eternity in Heaven. That’s the best day ever!! Yet, a hole still exists.

That was 18 years ago, and I still miss her.

It seems that lately, I’ve encountered many people dealing with grief this time of year. I spoke  with a woman who suddenly lost her husband. A friend who is missing his best friend. A young mom who still misses moments  spent with her mom. These are real conversations, with real people, experiencing real grief.

I want you to know something –  time does help. But, that doesnt mean it goes away.

We find ways to honor our loved ones. A toast. A tattoo. A memorial. I think all of those are amazing things. But, then there’s the moment when you come across that Molassess Cookie recipe handwritten by your Grandma before she died. One look at that paper, and you begin to tear up. What’s up with that? It’s a piece of paper with ink that’s been in your cupboard for years. Simple. Smudged. Stained. Or, maybe it’s an ornament. Even Facebook, when that ‘memory’ pops up that nobody else can see, but you. And again, the tears begin to flow.

So how do you deal with it?Runners might lace up their shoes and hit the trail. Readers might bury themselves in a novel. Some work overtime with a goal of simply making it through another day.

Then, there are some who choose substance abuse, seclusion, and some contemplate suicide. All of these are not healthy. Please seek help! Professional help. Counselors are trained for things like this. And, asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness.

J.D. Greear writes, “In times of suffering, we have three options. We can (1) abandon our faith in God, (2) ignore the pain, or (3) allow the pain to drive us deeper into the gospel. Only by allowing the Gospel to speak to our deepest hurts will we ever gain the true hope and comfort our souls yearn for”.

If you’re lacking peace, love, joy or hope, caused by grief, please know that Jesus is there for you, too.

My hope, and prayer, is that you find hope and comfort in the midst of your grief. For me, I found that in Jesus. I encourage you to seek him, too. He IS my counselor. He IS my peace. He IS my hope. He IS my source of joy. Yes, even at times when Christmas makes me cry.

The Email and Conversation That Changed My Life

I love parties. I love to throw them, and I love attending them. It’s quite an honor to be invited, don’t you think? Out of all of the people you know, and surround yourself with, YOU are chosen. Or, if it’s your party, you’re choosing others to hang with. That’s pretty powerful.

An invitation is a pretty special thing. Some invites are casual and word of mouth. Some are posted on social media. And some are so special, they come sealed in an envelope.

I remember a specific email I received a few years ago. It was from a listener to my radio show, Crissy. Crissy heard me talking on the air about my passion for running. She sent an email inviting me to meet up with her run group from Gazelle Sports some Saturday morning. (I didn’t even know that run groups even existed) I held onto that email, and was grateful for her invitation.

Fast forward a months. I was at Gazelle Sports, and began chatting with one of their workers, Aleksandra. Guess what she did? She invited me to run with their Gazelle Sports run group some Saturday morning. That’s 2 people, that I barely knew, giving me an invite to join the same run group!

So, one Saturday morning, I took Aleksandra up on her offer. I sheepishly walked into a room filled with other runners. I didnt know anyone but Aleksandra. As we headed out for our miles, I heard another voice saying, “Tommy, you made it. I’m Crissy who emailed you a few months ago inviting you to join us.”

Crissy and Aleksandra changed the trajectory of my running routine. Before their invite, I was a solo runner. An ear bud runner. In my own head with my own thoughts. It’s like I was a different man!

It reminds me of another amazing story about a guy whose life was changed by an invitation. He was paralyzed, and spent his life on a bed. But, he had some amazing friends who invited him to go see this man who was walking around healing people. They tried getting into this “healing session” but it was too crowded. So, they figured out a way to lower him down from the roof, and placed him at the feet of the Healer. “Your sins are forgiven…rise up and walk.” (You can read this story in the Bible, Luke Chapter 5)

Those friends, because of their investment, and invitation, helped change this man’s life. Jesus forgave his sins, and he was longer bound to a bed. It’s like he was a different man.

As we approach Christmas, who, in your life, needs an invite. An invite to church? An invite to a party? An invite to coffee? Your invite might change someone’s trajectory, and make them a different person!

Now, go make a difference and run by faith!

Crissy is on the far right! Also pictured are Dan and Janene. We took this on a “Christmas Lights run” through Grand Rapids!
Here I am with Aleksandra on that very first Saturday run with Gazelle Sports.
Continue reading “The Email and Conversation That Changed My Life”

Are You Up For A Challenge?

This begins one of my favorite weeks of the year: Thanksgiving week. I love it for its simplicity. It’s a week to focus on what’s important. A reason to stop looking at things you don’t have, and give thanks for the things you do have.

I am thankful that I have a Savior in Jesus, who loves me unconditionally. He cannot love me more, He cannot love me less.

I am thankful for my wife, Patty. She’s my best friend. She’s my helper, and she’s an incredible supporter.

I am thankful for my 4 children. Casey, Sammy, Tommy and Eliza. I have been so blessed to witness their kind, compassionate hearts. I’m grateful for their love for people. It inspires me, and makes my heart proud.

I’m grateful for my 3:30 a.m. alarm clock. Yes, no joke! That’s when I wake up for work. I have a unique job. It pushes, and challenges me. I believe we all need more encouragement in this world. And, if I have been raised up to bring a little encouragement on the radio, I’ll get my booty out of bed!

I’m also incredibly grateful for my health. It’s something I probably take for granted. (Until an injury hits) My health has allowed me to meet some of the most genuine people: the running community. We sweat. We chat. We encourage. We’ve cried. We’ve laughed. We’ve cheered. Without my health, these friends, (you) might not be in my path today.

This is a very small list of my thankful things. But, it does cause me to reflect and realize how blessed I truly am.

Now, ready for your challenge? I challenge you to do the same thing. Jot down, in 20 minutes, what you’re thankful for. It really should come pretty easy when you stop, and reflect. (Yes, I’ve written this in 20 minutes, in between bites of an omelet and sips of coffee)

Feel free to write them in the comments below. You could encourage another friend today, too.

Give thanks this week, and always run by faith!

I’m thankful for my bride, Patty.

Never Stop Improving

Here’s a bit of advice from me to you, never ask for my help when it comes to fixing things. And when I say, “things”, I mean all THINGS! I am NOT a fix-it guy. At. All. I try. In fact, I try hard. But, I always seem to find a way to mess things up. That said, one of the last places you’ll ever find me is a home improvement store. Which is why it’s odd that I actually learned something when I was recently at Lowe’s. (Truth be told, my wife, Patty, is the one that wanted to go to Lowe’s, I just tagged along.) And, it was so powerful, I’m blogging about it.

Somewhere inside the headquarters of Lowe’s, a highly paid consultant came up with their slogan. They meant it for “do-it-yourself” projects. But, to me, it means something completely different. Their slogan? ” Never Stop Improving”. (insert mind-blown emoji here) Why is this so powerful? Because it’s the truth! We should, Never Stop Improving.

Let’s try a little exercise. When you see the following words in italics, say aloud, or to yourself, “Never Stop Improving“. Ready?

In your relationships: Never Stop Improving.  
In your health: Never Stop Improving.
In your quiet time/Prayer time. Never Stop Improving.
In your job: Never Stop Improving.
In your goals: Never Stop Improving.
In your family: Never Stop Improving.
In all things: Never Stop Improving.
In your relationship with God: Never Stop Improving.

Pretty crazy huh? We should never stop improving. As a runner, I try to better my time, or my distance, or my breathing. As a husband, I try to improve in my relationship with my wife. In my family, I want to leave a legacy, and that takes work. In my quiet time/prayer time, I try listen more, read more, gain more insight as to what God is saying to me. In my job, I never want to to be average. It all takes improvement.

To be honest, for a few years, I had my priorities out of whack. I was improving in some areas, and tanking in others. The areas that I was trying to improve in might have improved, but the most important ones struggled – my marriage and my relationship with God. But, once I got my priorities straight, all things changed.

Today, because I never stopped improving, my relationship with God is tight. And my marriage? Never been better! And, my wife, Patty, is my best friend.

Ya know, I’m grateful for Patty taking me to Lowe’s, (although I still have no clue what we were looking for) because their simple reminder to, “Never Stop Improving” challenged me. So, I leave you with this, where do YOU need to improve?

Never stop improving, keep making a difference, and run by faith!

Please subscribe for more encouragement, and more “improvements”.

Angels Wear Running Shoes

We wear Red shirts. We have an epic playlist of 80’s music, packs of Twizzlers, Gu and Clif Bars. We are Angels for My Team Triumph and ready for 26.2 miles at the Grand Rapids Marathon.

myTEAM TRIUMPH is an athletic ride-along program created for children, teens, adults, and veterans with disabilities who would normally not be able to experience endurance events such as triathlons or road races.”  Seriously, how cool is that?

I love My Team Triumph. (MTT) My first experience was in the fall of 2018 with the LMCU 10 mile Bridge Run. Since then, I have done the Metro Health Grand Rapids Half Marathon, Alger Heights 5k, (in which I dressed up as Indiana Jones) The Amway 25K River Bank Run, the 2019 LMCU Bridge Run, and this last weekend, the Grand Rapids Marathon.

For years, I ran for myself. For my PR. For my personal goals. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that, and I do love to challenge myself. But, with MTT, you push your goals aside, and push one amazing Captain! And, for the GR Full, we pushed for Captain Kristen.

Who is “We”? My running friends, (from L to R) Corey, a fellow MTT Member from the Wisconsin Chapter, Dan, me, Janene, and Amber. And in the middle, the star of the 26.2 miles, Captain Kristen! (this pic taken at mile 10)

My alarm rang at 5:15. I got dressed, put on my Smartwool socks, laced up my Brooks Adrenaline shoes, and drove downtown. We arrived at 6:30. MTT had a wonderful hospitality tent loaded with snacks, bagels, and even bacon!

We met Captain Kristen, got our assignment from Directors Terrence and Tim, and we headed to the start line. We huddled up, prayed for our protection and strength, (remember, we are to pray about everything) and snapped a quick pic!

We took turns pushing our Captain 26.2 miles through Grand Rapids. We laughed a lot! We cranked the music loud! We encouraged other runners along the way. But here’s something amazing about MTT, every runner LOVES every Captain! Captains love hearing a cheer, a personal “way to go”, and MTT Angels always get some love, too!

We loved the shade at mile 20 as things were warming up in a hurry!

But, it’s not about us as Angels, MTT is about the Captain! In fact, although we wear a bib, we do not get a finishing time. The time belongs to the Captain! And, WE have the time of our life!

A little blurry, but that’s what sweat’ll do after 25 miles!

So why do MTT? As Dan once said to me, “We’ve raced enough for ourselves. It’s time to give back!” It is just so sweet to see the faces of the Captain’s families when we cross the finish line. We give those families a chance to experience something that we take for granted. We have our health. We have our abilities. Together, we have a finish line!

Totally the BEST DAY EVER!!

I want to take a moment and thank my friends Amber, Dan and Janene. We’ve all run a LOT of miles together! We’ve encouraged each other. Sweat with each other. Shared stories of struggle and pain. And, we conquered 26.2 miles together! I’m so grateful for each of you! You’ve each made me stronger in more ways than you know. Thanks also to my wife, Patty, and my oldest son, Casey, for cheering us in as we finished! What a wonderful surprise!

And, I just have to brag on Dan for a second. This was Dan’s very first marathon. While his official time didn’t count, we now share a PR of 4:13:31. Besides, the memories will always outlast a P.R. Dan, I’m proud of ya, Bro! You’re not only speedy, you’re the most encouraging runner I know! Thanks for teaching and leading us all.

So, what are YOU waiting for? I highly encourage you to connect with MTT. Race for someone else. They will love on you, and you will LOVE being an Angel.

Keep making a difference, and Run By Faith!

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Running A Marathon

“It sounded like a good idea at the time.” That’s what I overheard, recently, from a runner who signed up for her first marathon. She’s now second guessing herself.

Running 26.2 miles is NO joke! Think about it. How far can 26.2 miles take you in a car? Answer? A long way. Now, imagine traveling that to that same destination by FOOT! That’s the Goliath you have to slay!

I’ve done 3 marathons, and am gearing up for my 4th. Each of them have been challenging in their own unique way. They took a toll on me. They pushed my limits. And most importantly, made me realize I can do hard things!

That said, I decided to take my experience, and put together a list of 6 things I wish I knew before I ran a marathon.

  1. Prepare for the Mental Game. As I said before, 26.2 miles is a long stinkin’ way. It’s basically running 1 mile, 26 times. (Sheesh! Just typing that sounds daunting) But, each mile brings a challenge of its own. It could be the obvious: you’re getting tired. It might be second guessing your nutrition. Did I eat enough? Do I have enough? Will I make it to the next “Port-O- Potty”. It’s all stuff that will happen. The mental game is real. But, you are not alone in those thoughts. I believe that each runner out there has a thought like that at some point. How do you fix it? Try this next idea.
  2. Set Mini-goals. What is a mini-goal? It’s beating the mental game by allowing yourself to break the race up into chunks. You can’t clean your entire house at one time. You break it up into rooms. First, you clean a bedroom. You then move to the kitchen. Then, the bathroom. Etc. So, tackle 26.2 miles the same way. Break the race up into chunks. Make it to the next port-o-potty. Listen for the cheering at the next aid station. Push to the next mile marker. Remember, when you get to “that point in the race” think of cleaning up your house. A little bit at a time.
  3. Be Grateful. When you’re on the course, take a moment to soak it all in. I remember when I ran my first marathon, it was at the peak of the leaves changing color in Michigan. Instead of staring at the pavement, I picked my head up and looked around at the trees. I took in the beauty. I breathed in the air. I took a moment to thank God for the gift of my health. I thanked Him for my family, which supported me in the hours, and miles, of training. Your perspective completely changes when you take the focus off of yourself, and simply learn to be grateful. “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1).
  4. The Wall Is Real! I had always heard that every runner hits a wall on a marathon. And it usually happens near miles 18-21. (That’s about when the aforementioned “Mental Game” begins). What’s the wall? (No, sorry it’s not a Pink Floyd reference) The wall is a term used to describe the feeling of, “I think I’m done. How can I possibly keep going?” The wall IS real. I remember hitting it. It happened at about mile 19. My legs were starting to cramp, and I needed help at the aid station. I got what I needed, and got back onto the course. After I took those first steps, it hit me. “I. Am. Done.” I still had another 7 miles, or so, to go. So, how do you get through? Mini-goals. Prayer. Being grateful. Embracing the suck.
  5. Enjoy it. I know this sounds simple, but it really is true. You need to enjoy the experience. You’ve trained too long, endured too many elements, and altered your life’s schedules to not enjoy it. Oh, and yeah, you’re using your heard earned money to pay for this thing. Tell the volunteers thanks. Cheer for those cheering for YOU. Read the signs people have made. Thank the police officers. Thank the volunteers. Be on the lookout for a struggling runner, and be a source of encouragement.
  6. Tears are a thing! I will admit, I’m a sensitive guy. Now, I might not cry watching coffee commercials at Christmas, but they certainly do give me “the”feels”. So what does this have to do with a marathon? Expect emotion! I can recall seeing the finish line at EACH marathon and remembering the tidal wave of emotions that rushed over me. My mind went to all of the hours of training. Training runs when a small injury began causing me doubt. And, with each step, more clearly hearing the names of the runners just ahead of me being announced. Wow! The tears just started flowing. And you know what? I’m proud of those tears. And you WILL be too!

One last little thing. There’s a story in the Bible about two guys named Joshua and Caleb, who were commanded by God to cross the Jordan River. God did a miracle for them and allowed the water to open, which caused a path way for the people to pass over on dry land. Pretty crazy huh? After they crossed, God told them to take up 12 stones and make a “standing stones memorial” of sorts, as a reminder to the people of the miracle God had done. Now, you don’t having standing stones, but you DO have a training log. I think this is a great way to remember all that has happened in leading up to your marathon. Look back and recall your logged mileage. See if you made any notes to yourself. I bet there will be something in there that you will have forgotten about. Those are your standing stones!

The Marathon will be tough. YOU are tougher. You’ve done the work. Now, go enjoy. Smile. Encourage. Cry. Be grateful. And, Run by faith!