RAGNAR: Run. Drive. Sleep. Repeat.

My finisher medal says it best, “The wildest experiences become the best stories”. And after 200 miles, and very little sleep, this is 100% on point!

It’s called RAGNAR. Here’s the skinny. You put together a team of 12 people, and run roughly 200 miles. From city streets to sidewalks, to bike paths and blowing beach sand. Through the day, and through the night. Rest is optional. Bathrooms are a blessing.

I completed my first RAGNAR in 2018. When I originally signed up, I really didn’t know what to expect. And, I think that might be the coolest part. To simply expect the unexpected. We assembled a 12 person team, (many of which I never knew until this RAGNAR event) rented 2 vans, bought a ton of food, and tried to plan the best that we could. We bought everything from peanut butter filled pretzels, to fruit, snacks, lots of water, and hydration drinks. The van was packed, and we were ready to make a memory.

Our team, “Better At Running Up A Tab”, got our instructions, and were ready to run! We began our race Friday at 11:30am from Muskegon, Michigan. The finish line was 200 miles away, in Traverse City, Michigan. Pretty daunting. But my team was up for a challenge, and ready to make some serious memories.

We split our team into 2 vans. I was in van 1, and was set to run the 3rd leg of the race. Each teammate runs three separate legs of the race, with downtime in between, for a total of 11 to 24 miles per runner (twice that for ultra teams of 6). In my van was Andrew, Spencer, Gretchen, Betsy, Holly and myself. In Van 2 was Jennifer, Tim, Alec, Kristen, Lindsey and Peter.

As Spencer ran first, we drove our van to the 2nd checkpoint. And man did Spencer run FAST! So fast, that Andrew, who ran the second leg, wasn’t expecting him to be there that quickly. As Spencer hit the checkpoint, Andrew was still in the van with the rest of us. (I guess when you find a good pace, you nail it!) He flew out of the van, grabbed the baton, and headed to the 3rd checkpoint, which was mine. After Andrew’s blistering pace, he tagged me, and I was off.

I was set to run 4.7 miles for my first leg. This was to be the lowest mileage of my 3 scheduled legs. It didn’t quite turn out that way. After about 2 miles, I approached a sign that appeared to point for me to go right. I was following another runner in front of me, who was about 1/2 mile ahead, and he also turned right. I was feeling good about everything until I noticed that he began to slow down, and stop. He kept looking left and right. As I approached him, I asked, “You alright?” In a confused tone, he said, “Yeah, but I’m not sure if we’re supposed to go left or right. And, I don’t see any signs.” Uh-oh. I didn’t see any signs either. That meant one thing. The only way to know if we took a wrong turn, would be to run back the way that we came, which was 1 mile back, and look at the sign again. We decided to stick together for that 1 mile, and tackle it together. His name was Josh. We chatted, consoled, and encouraged each other for a very long mile.

We finally approached the RAGNAR sign. Suddenly I heard the quote from “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” run through my head, “You’re going the wrong way”! I did! I ran an extra 2 miles out of my way. The good news is that I was now back on course.

Josh took off, and I ran the final 2 miles alone. I felt so bad for my teammates waiting for me at the next checkpoint. They had to be wondering if I passed out, gave up, or got hit. I spent a good amount of time praying while running through the streets. I asked God to guide me to the next checkpoint, since I got lost on my own. (insert sermon idea here!)

As I arrived, I heard the cheering from my team. “Tommy!! You’re alive!!” It was like they just had their own prayers answered. I tagged Gretchen, then did the “runners walk of shame” to the van. I felt awful. I lost about 20 minutes of time for my team. Yet, they NEVER made me feel bad about it. They were just thankful that I was OK. Overall, my scheduled 4.7 miles turned into 6.7.

Fast forward a bit…Our team made up for my lost time, as Gretchen, Betsy and Holly ran faster than anticipated. Then there was Van 2 – stocked with speedsters that really kicked some asphalt! They really were flying. So much so, that as we stopped to grab a bite to eat, we had to cut time short at the restaurant to get back to the race course for the official exchange.

Enter night time running. This was tough! Dark. Quiet. Alone. All we had were our lit vests, headlamps, and flashlight. Some areas had street lights, but many miles were consumed in pitch dark.

When I got the baton from Andrew for my 2nd leg, it was about 9:30 p.m. My mission was to run on a road through a very dark Manistee Forest. Talk about a freaky feeling. I kept waiting to hear the sound of a chainsaw, or see some dude in a hockey mask. Neither happened. But, due to the freaky surroundings, I knocked down another 6.7 miles faster than my normal pace.

Fast forward again…it is now about 1:30 a.m. and we parked the van to try and get some rest. Not so much. Cramped quarters, and rumors were flying that I might’ve snored. (Sorry, but I never heard anything.) At about 3:30 a.m. we met up with Van 2 for another exchange. This would be the final legs for Van 1, and we were ready!

Spencer grabbed the baton and took off for a VERY challenging, hilly run. Especially in the middle of the night, on very little sleep, and already having several miles under him. Andrew mowed down his miles in epic fashion, and I was sitting near lake Michigan, trying to stay warm, waiting for him so that I could tackle my last leg – another 6.7 miles.

As I grabbed the baton, it was about 5:30 a.m. It was still quite dark. The only lights I could see ahead of me were headlights, and a few blinking lights from the vests of other runners. It’s probably best that it was still dark so that I couldn’t see the gigantic hill that awaited me. And I do mean gigantic!

The hill is in Empire, Michigan and is literally 1/2 mile straight up. I kept running and asking God for strength to get up that hill. “Help me God! No walking! Don’t stop!” Then, there it was, the top of the hill. I made it. (here’s a partial view from near the top)

From there, it was a long gradual run down the hill with a beautiful sunrise greeting me. I shed a few tears, as I had a “moment” with God. He helped guide me when I was lost. He surrounded me when I was scared. He pushed me when I was tired. It was pretty amazing. Thank you, Lord!

As I tagged Gretchen, I had an amazing feeling of accomplishment wash over me. I did it! I knocked down another 6.7 miles for a total of 20.1 miles for all 3 legs.

One final fast forward…we drove to Traverse City and awaited Van 2. Of course they were blazing fast. At this point, we actually began to calculate that maybe, just maybe, our team did quite well overall. As we saw our teammates running down the road, we all ran to the finish line together. We crossed the line as we heard, “Team 262 : ‘Better At Running up a Tab‘!”

We did it. And, we did it in style. A few days after the completion of RAGNAR, we learned that our team finished in 3rd place. And, if someone didn’t take a wrong turn, our time was fast enough that we would’ve actually won!

The medals are amazing. And, when all 12 of them are put together, they say, “We Are Ragnarians: We Believe…Together We Can Accomplish Anything.”

When’s the last time you attempted your own, “wildest experience”? It’s completely worth it! After 200 miles, 2 vans, and very little sleep, RAGNAR made for one of my best stories.

Craziest Race I’ve Ever Done!

“The wildest experiences become the best stories”. That’s the mantra on one of my favorite medals. I gotta tell ya, that is legit!

Recently, I was asked to join two of my friends, Dan and Kevin, to try a rogue race in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan called, “Race The Rapid”. (put together by November Project Grand Rapids). “The Rapid” is a Grand Rapids city bus. So yes, we raced a city bus.

Here’s the deal. “Race The Rapid” is a 3-person relay team with 1 goal: beat the Rapid’s Silver Line express bus through downtown Grand Rapids. The only rule is this: get hit by a car, or bus, and your team is DQed. Easy as that.

For some reason, all day I was nervous about this race. I knew I had to run just under an 8 minute mile. Now, I can totally do that, but I felt that the pressure was on! How did I handle it? Prayer! I literally spent time praying for peace. I asked God to calm my nerves, and give me what I needed to pull through. Hey, God says to “pray about everything”, right?

I did a bit of research, and found, “Take On Me” by 80’s band “A-Ha”, is a perfect song for an 8 minute pace. As is, “Runnin Down A Dream” by Tom Petty. I decided to do a little shakeout run and cue up the songs. They were a perfect pace! My nerves were calmed, (thank you, Jesus) and I was ready!

Here are my early thoughts as I sat in the parking lot.

As we arrived, 9 teams of 3 lined up at 6:30 p.m. We listened for our instructions, which were pretty simple: beat the bus, and not get hit. Then, we strategized.

All first leg runners, (which was me) had to wait for the 7:00 bus. Meanwhile, Dan and Kevin, who ran legs 2 and 3, jumped on the 6:55-ish bus. The bus dropped Dan off at exchange #2, Fulton and Ransom, and Kevin proceeded to exchange #3, DeVos Place on Monroe Avenue.

As we waited, I cued up “Take On Me”. I checked my ‘gently used’ Garmin Forerunner 920XT, and was ready. Unfortunately, I had to wait 4 long minutes. That’s because the first bus wouldn’t be there til about about 7:00. This gave us a 5 minute head start vs. The Rapid.

As we heard, “Go!” I fired up the song. It was ON! But, like a dummy, my Garmin wasn’t. After nearly .10 mile, I finally started it.

We took off like rockets. I usually need a few miles under me before turning up the heat. Not this time. I had to go microwave mode. Fast! Now!

As I knocked down my first .25, I was already feeling it. My lungs were burning! My pace was not on beat with the song, so I knew I was actually running faster than what I planned. I took a deep breath, dodged a dog-walker, and headed up Jefferson Avenue.

I was fortunate to have no traffic. No stoplight. Only pedestrians. It was funny to watch everyone’s face, because they couldn’t figure out what was going on. They witnessed 9 people moving at the speed of light on Jefferson.

All was going better than expected for me. Prayer works, ya know! I could see exchnge #2. All of Grand Rapids could hear Dan screaming, “C’mon Tommy! My boy!” Then, I hit a stoplight at Fulton. Literally 10 yards from the exchange. No rules, right? So, I checked traffic and went for it!

I crossed Fulton, and tagged Dan. He took off like a cannon. I did my best Ric Flair, “Woooo”! Totally spent. That 8 minute pace ended up being 7:11!! It was fast. It was flat. Literally 6.6 feet of elevation for .80.

As all 9 first Leg runners waited for the bus, which was still a few minutes behind, we congratulated each other. Mission accomplished. So far.

Dan had to tackle a huge hill on Ransom. Dan is fast, and he is trained. I had no doubt he would nail it. And, he did! As he went up Ransom, he would get the glory of gliding down Michigan Street hill. The only potential problem: traffic!

As we got on the bus, every team rooted for traffic. Sadly, it was pretty light. The bus only had 1 rider get on at a certain station on Ransom. It was making up time in a hurry.

I kept looking for Dan’s red shirt, but I never saw it. That was good news. The bad news? The bus hit zero lights on Michigan street. So, a monster bus, going down a monster hill, with massive gravity equals made up time! (Gulp)

The Rapid passed a runner. Then another. And yet another. Still no sign of red-shirted Dan.

As we turned onto Monroe, near exchange 3, there we saw Dan. But not Kevin. Kevin took off fast and headed up Monroe toward the finish. Speaking of fast, Dan nailed a mile pace of 6:25. (That included 65 feet of elevation gain)

As Dan jumped into the bus, he said that Kevin was moving fast! The bus had to wait for several riders to get on. Advantage us!

Only about 6 teams were left. So everyone on the bus began cheering for each other. (Loved the teamwork and sense of unity) Again, light traffic on Monroe caused the bus to keep moving. Until, Monroe and Ionia. (Cue the Angels singing) Finally, a traffic light. And it was a long one!

Eventually, the light turned green, and the Rapid took off. But, still no sign of Kevin.

As it headed up Monroe and turned onto Grandville Ave., we passed a few more runners. The bus began to moan because there was growing concern over anyone beating the bus.

But, then came the corner of Grandville and Oakes. Heavy traffic near “The Intersection” caused a bus delay. (And of course anytime you get near Founders, it causes traffic congestion)

As the bus turned left onto Oakes, then made a slight right headed back to the bus station, we still didn’t see Kevin. We knew we had a chance!

With the bus only needing about 100 yards to the final bus stop, Dan shouted, “Is that Kevin?” Yes it was…Kevin was waiting for us at the finish line! We beat the bus!

As soon as that bus came to a hault, we shot out of it, and screamed. What an amazing feeling!

Kevin said that when he turned the corner, and didn’t see the bus, he threw his arms up into the air, and gave his best “Rocky Balboa” pose!

As you’ll see in the picture, any team with a, “thumbs up” beat the bus. While not everyone beat it, all teams had an amazing time!Well done, November Project.

We came. We saw. We beat that bus!

Not Your Typical Taco Tuesday

Shells. Meat. Cheese. Ah yes, the blessing of Taco Tuesday. But, on this warm night, it was shells, meat, cheese, hills and trails. Not your typical Taco Tuesday. This was Taco Tuesday at Cannonsburg Ski Lodge in Belmont, Michigan.

On select Tuesday nights, Cannonsburg offers runners, walkers, hikers and bikers the opportunity to use their trails for FREE! And, at the end you can treat yourself to tacos!

I had heard about Taco Tuesday at Cannonsburg for a very long time. But, it wasn’t until my friends Dan ad Nate invited me, that I finally decided to take the challenge. (The power of an invite!)

So, I grabbed my Oakley sunglasses, Adidas visor, Brooks Adrenaline running shoes, and made it happen.

The first challenge was this hill. Yep. It’s actually a ski hill if that tells you anything.

How did it go? Take a look.

After coming down the hill, which was quite challenging in its own way, it was time to tackle the trail. Now, I have run literally thousands of miles, but they all have been on the road. So, this was a completely new experience.

When I got into the trail, after just a few strides, I immediately knew I was about to use muscles I had not used in a long time. Whew!

Dan and Nate set the pace. I followed quite a bit behind. Those bros are experienced, and won’t get lost. Me? The trees all look the same. (Insert deep breath)

When running Cannonsburg, no step is the same. Some are short. Some are long. Sometimes you jump over roots. Sometimes, you dodge craters and rocks. But, I learned right away, core strength makes a big difference! The ability to tighten your core helps with lateral movement. There is a lot of back and forth movement. A lot!

Also, when running trails, it’s a completely different pace than running the roads. I average about 8:25 per mile on the road. Trails dropped me to about 10:00-10:30 per mile. It’s a much slower, tougher, tactical pace. (Sidenote: proper trail shoes would’ve helped, too)

We climbed. We climbed more. Ok, we climbed a lot! We zigged, zagged, and I almost zonked. Wow! What a workout. And yes, you have permission to walk if you need too. There is no shame!

After this video, we headed back to the finish. Oh baby! Tacos are calling my name! Roughly one mile to go! Suddenly, it occurred to me. A memory from Mrs. Ashley from 4th grade. “What goes up, must come down.” So, if I spent time climbing up all of these hills, I get go run down them, too. Boom!

So, Dan and Nate took the lead to head back toward “taco land”. They took off like a bottle rocket on the 4th of July. I followed a bit behind, watching my footing carefully. I knew the equation: Gravity+roots+sand=potential fail!

Again, different terrain. Except this time, I’m moving much faster. (Thank you gravity) Dodging roots. Avoiding twigs. Singing 80’s rock songs a little louder to pass the time. Yes, I was excited for tacos!

And, in what seemed like only moments, when in reality was about a mile, we shot out of the woods, saw clearing, heard voices, and smelled victory cooking!

What a great experience! And those tacos? Legit! This taco was only $3. How good does this look? And yes, adult beverages are also available for consumption.

Here are the lessons I learned.

  1. Trails are tough.
  2. Hills make you stronger.
  3. Tacos are from God!

Thank you, Cannonsburg, for thinking outside “the shell”, and creating a “not your typical” Taco Tuesday .

The Black Suitcase With The Blue Stripe

It was a cloudy Monday. Roughly, 2:00 in the afternoon. I came home from work and one of my boys, Tommy, was beginning to pack for his 4 month adventure with the Disney program in Florida. (insert jealous parents here) “Dad, do you know where my black suitcase with the blue stripe is?” I had no clue.

He had been looking for quite some time, so when he asked me if I knew where it was, it’s almost like he was hoping I’d have the answer to one of the great mysteries of life.

He looked all around the house. From closets, to the basement, to the back of our van, in the random chance it was left there. It was not.

I headed downstairs to double check the basement. (Remember, he had already checked that before). I said a simple prayer, “God would you please help me find that black suitcase with the blue stripe? And I would like to find it within the next 2 to 3 minutes. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.” That’s all. I’ve learned prayer works. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6. Before I act, I pray. I remember it this way: P.F.A.S. Pray first. Act Second.

I headed into one area of the basement, but saw nothing. Then, as I turned the corner, behind some boxes, there it was, the black suitcase with the blue stripe that had been missing for weeks!

And guess what? I found that black suitcase in about 90 seconds. Just like I asked. “Thank you God”, I said, as I grabbed the suitcase, and walked upstairs.

As I approached Tommy’s bedroom, I said, “you know, many people laugh at me when I say, ‘I’m going to pray about it’, but, I do it because I expect an answer. All I know is that I prayed about finding your suitcase, and look what I just found”.

“Where did you find it?”, said Tommy with a dropped jaw. “In the basement”. I said confidently. Obviously, he was a bit dumbfounded after looking there several times before. He looked at me and said, “Thanks, Dad.” “No need to thank me,” I said, ‘thank God”.

As I left his bedroom, I heard in a voice filled with a hint of a smile, “Thanks God”.

Prayer. I do it before races. I’ve done it during races. Shoot, I’ve even done it trying to find just the right running shoes. I pray! And yes, I pray about finding the black suitcase with the blue stripe.

Nope. I don’t have magical powers. I just try not to worry, and to P.F.A.S. Pray first. Act second.

One Runner, And Two Sets Of Joneses

Long before we ever tried keeping up with the Kardashians, we were keeping up with The Joneses. You know the Joneses? The people you compare yourself too. The ones with the nicer car? The better job? The yard that’s mowed into those cool diamond shapes? Yeah, those Joneses.

We spend way too much time living our lives comparing ourselves to others. Not just with possessions, but with everyday life.

Recently, I was out for a run with my run group. It was a crisp, beautiful, Saturday morning. (Someone cue that ‘Pure Michigan’ music, please) I felt rested. The trail was shaded. And our cadence was much faster than normal. It just felt right. We knocked out 8.71 miles at a 8:10 pace. We were movin’!

When we returned, someone new to our group said, “next time you pass me on a run, can you make it look like you were struggling?” We all laughed, but she was serious. “There’s no way I could ever run like that. I wish I was as fast as you.”

Without missing a beat, we all chimed in, “Please don’t get sucked into the comparison game. All of us were much slower when we first started running. This has taken us a few years of training to run like this”.

Sadly, I don’t think it worked. This runner, like many of us, was livin’ in the land of the Joneses. Dreaming. Wishing. Comparing.

Friends, this isn’t healthy. I’ve been there. In many ways, I still am. You see, I often wish my work hours were different, so I could do things at night, without waking up at 3:45am. I wish my pay was different, so that I could travel and run more races. I wish a few thousand more people would read my blog, instead of sitting around and watching cat videos. Sigh.

When you compare yourself to others, you create pain, and a false sense of security. It stirs up emotions of either feeling, “less than” or “greater than” someone else.

Back when CD’s were cool, there was a song by Big Tent Revival called, “Two Sets of Jones'”. It compared two families, Rothchild and Evelyn, and Rueben and Sue. They lived similar lives, but their morals were built on completely different foundations.

When the storms of life hit Rothchild and Evelyn, they were broken because their foundation was built on money, and climbing the corporate ladder.

But, when the storms of life hit Rueben and Sue, they were able to withstand the storm, because their foundation was built on a foundation of faith.

I’ll let Big Tent Revival sum things up about, “keeping up” with others, “What is the point of this story? What am I trying to say? Is your life built on the rock of Christ Jesus? Or sandy foundation you’ve managed to lay?”

Whether it’s your pace on a Michigan trail, looking around your neighborhood, or watching someone’s Facebook feed, you will be faced with an opportunity to compare. “There’s two sets of Joneses, which ones will you be?”

That Dreaded F Word

Recently, I’ve spoken to several people about a rather famous ‘F word’ that has infused our culture. It’s a word that has caused Preachers to preach, social media to blow up, and prescription companies to make billions! FEAR! I hate that four letter word!

Fear keeps you from taking another step. Fear robs your joy. Fear keeps you from doing greater things.

Fear has always been ‘a thing’. From friends afraid of signing up for a tough, challenging race, to plots in movies. Remember, “Back To The Future”, when fear almost kept George McFly from asking Loraine to the “Enchantment Under The Sea” Prom. To music, with lyrics like “Fear is a Liar”, “My fear doesn’t stand a chance, when I stand in your love…”, and “Fear No More”. But, it’s nothing new. Fear itself has been around for a long, long, time.

In the Bible, I think about a guy named Peter. If you don’t know the story, let me share it with you. In Matthew 14:25-31 it says, “Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid. “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

It’s easy to read this and think, ‘What was Peter afraid of? Jesus was right there!” But, let’s break it down. These people, the Disciples, were already in fear. So, when Jesus said, ‘don’t be afraid’, Peter had to actually take a step out of his comfort zone, the boat. So, he did. He pushed fear aside and was WALKING ON WATER, with a storm surrounding him. Wow!

That said, despite the storm, what was the one thing that caused him to sink? FEAR! He was afraid. Fear changed him. But, as soon as Peter realized what was happening he cried out, “Lord Save Me!” I love the next word, ‘immediately’. Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him.

I don’t know what you’re fearing today. Maybe it’s the fear of trying something new. Or, the fear of losing a job, or a relationship. But remember, “FEAR is a liar!” Say it aloud. FEAR IS A LIAR!

Think about what’s holding you back, push fear aside, and take a step. Sign up for a new race. Be George McFly and ask Lorraine to Prom. Go be that guy named Peter. Step into something you’ve been afraid to tackle. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Together, let’s we run by faith, and put an end to that dreaded F word!

Going Rogue: Rogue River Park Review

How often do YOU run the same route? I feel like I always do. Now, that said, there are some benefits.

  1. I know the exact place where each mile lands. (Fire hydrants, tall grasses, telephone poles)
  2. I basically know how long the route is going to take for me to complete it.
  3. When you run a familiar area, you do feel safer.

But, it gets very mundane, right?

That’s why I love running with my Gazelle Sports Run Camp. Each week, we have a different place to meet up, and get our miles in.

I was recently introduced to Rogue River Park in Belmont, Michigan. A well thought out Trail Head, with a restroom, and lots of parking!

We met up on a HOT Saturday morning. The temp was 74° at 7:30, with 80% humidity. It was like walking into the mouth of a dog!

For the last few months, I’ve been running inBrooks Adrenaline shoes. But, thanks to Gazelle Sports. teaming up with Topo, I decided to try Topo shoes. (Which were very comfy with a low drop)

The low drop did take a bit of an adjustment, but once I settled in, i really liked the comfort and ease of the stride. I really liked the shoe!

We headed north on the trail toward the city of Rockford, MI. (Which is about 3.5 miles from the Trail Head) It’s a very shaded trail. But, be prepared, when you head north, it’s a long gradual incline.

One of the best parts of the trail? It is very shaded. That’s a major blessing in the heat!

The scenery getting to Rockford was great, too. I loved the views of Rogue River! However, make sure you’re lubed up on Bug Spray as flies and other bugs could find you delicious.

One of the highlights was entering Rockford. As I ran over a beautiful bridge, I noticed a farmers market to my right. And, heavenly smells coming from several restaurants. I also loved the fact that we ran along Rogue River. It’s hard to beat that view!

After crossing over a small wooden boardwalk, we arrived at our water stop. (Here’s video I shot at Mile 4)

As we turned back, and headed for the trail head, the sun was definitely beating down! Again, another reason to be thankful for a shaded trail! Oh, and since we spent the majority of the run north with a gradual incline, the run south was a decline. (Cue the Hallelujah Chorus)

After we got back to the trail head, a few of my friends wanted to try on a demo pair of Topo Shoes. So, we took off and ran another 2 miles. This time, we headed south.

Heading south felt much more urban. We did run under a nice little bridge, and we even saw a Deer run alongside a fence. But, for the most part, we saw lots of houses and swingsets.

At this point, I was pretty spent! We pulled off a 8:27 pace in that heat and humidity. My calves were burning, and I was ready to be done.

Oh, and as you head to Rogue River Park, grab money! I found these little treasures for a post-run reward.

If you known of any cool trails, or areas, that I should check out, please let me know!

Keep making a difference, and Run By Faith!

Lord, have Mercy.. Health Seaway Run

Race day. I love those two words. But, for years, those two words brought me a lot of fear and nerves. You know, it’s the culmination of months of training for a half marathon, into one morning of 13.1 miles. What if I hit an early wall? What if my nutrition is off? What if?

I’ve changed my thinking from ‘what if’ to ‘trust my training’. For months, I have rehearsed this race in my mind. But now, it’s time to take rehearsal, to the “13.1 mile stage”.
Race day happened to be the Mercy Health Seaway Run Half Marathon. As I lined up, the weather was fantastic. It was cool, and somewhat cloud covered. I got to the starting area of the 8:30 pace group, and I was not sure if I was going to race it, or run it. There is a difference. Racing it means going ALL OUT and shooting for a P.R. (personal record). Running it means to enjoy the miles. Take a few pics, enjoy the scenery, not worry too much about time.
I got into the groove of the race and held a steady 8:30 pace for the first mile. It is VERY easy to race Seaway AND enjoy the beauty of the water, and feel the summerbreeze, (sing along) ‘which makes me feel fine’.
By mile 4, I was still on that 8:30 pace. I was thinking, ‘I feel good at this pace’. My half way point, which is by the amazing view of the submarine, I crossed the timing mat at 55:51:93. Wow! If I could hold that pace, I might set a P.R.
As I passed through Pere Marquette Beach, which has a simply amazing view, I didn’t really focus on my time. I took in the breeze off of Lake Michigan, the sound of the water, and the change of footing as I ran on the boardwalk. (Was this Michigan? Yeah baby!!)
At mile 8, I was starting to feel it. I walked through an aid station, got my nutrition and got back at it. The run through the neighborhood provided cheers, a water hose, and much needed shade!
At about mile 10.5, I asked my running friend, Amber, what our total time was. She said 1:30 and change. I remember thinking, ‘if we keep this pace, maybe I will P.R.. That said, I knew we had the challenge of a hill near the 11.5 mile mark. So, I just kept my pace.
At the dreaded hill, I put my head down, leaned into the hill, swung my arms a bit more and tackled it. I maintained my pace and knew I only had about 1.3 miles to go.
I took in one more water from the aid station, and headed for the finish line. As I heard the cheers, I knew my finishing time would be close. ‘I don’t have much more I the tank to push it for the finish’, said Amber. I was gassed too, but when I saw the timing clock, if I was close to my P.R., I was going for it.
With about 100 yards left, I saw the clock. It said 1:51:something. I couldn’t quite make it out. I sprinted to the finish, gave it all I had, and crossed.
As I crossed, I saw my wife, Patty. She was handing out medals to all of the finishers. As I saw her, another great volunteer began to the medal around my neck. “Can I have my wife put my medal around me?” The volunteer smiled, “Oh my gosh, yes!” I turned to Patty. She put the medal around my neck,l as I sunk into her arms. “I’m so proud of you. You ok?”, Patty said. I was good. Just exhausted.
My second half of the race was 55:38, for a total time of 1:51:30. I missed my P.R. by 20 seconds. Ugh!!!!
After collecting my thoughts and realizing I was THAT close, I had nothing to be upset about. I ran my heart out on a beautiful, yet very challenging, Half Marathon.
I gathered my things and headed to Pigeon Hill for the after party. I met up with several runner friends, and, met some new friends, too. It’s funny, with all of the agony and sweat and tired legs, everyone kind of forgets about it at the after party. And let me tell ya, Seaway throws a heck of an after party!
Sweat. Swag. Seaway. That is the beauty of race day!

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”!

The Starting Line

Running has changed me. It started by signing up for a simple 5k race in 2005. I never would’ve thought that a 5k would end up changing how I do everyday life.

It’s the running community. It’s the challenge of the training. It’s the journey of walking, or in this case, learning to run by faith.

I’ve often heard that we should, “learn to enjoy the journey”. What does that really mean? To me, it’s always about the destination, right? How soon can we get from Point A to Point B to really begin to have some fun! But, if we are always rushing to get to the destination, we will miss the little blessings of the journey it takes to get there.

As a runner, I am always focused on finishing the race “How is my pace?” “How much longer til I cross the line?” “Will I get a P.R.? “(personal record) But, if I solely focus on the finish, I lose the joy of the journey to get there.

My goal is to help you to learn to enjoy the journey. To explore new places to run, cool places to grab a bite, or a beverage, and share some encouragement along the way.

Go make a difference, and run by faith!