In the beginning…

Genesis 1:1 tells us “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” I have interpreted this ancient text multiple ways throughout my life. At times, it has been a comforting thought of a loving God, a highly involved intelligent being, carving out space in eternity for humanity, and, eventually, me. At other times, it has been an extremely vague explanation for an event that no one understands, and so, with a shrug of the shoulders, it is tossed up to God by default. And yet, as I drift from a vague interpretation to a concrete one, faith and doubt, I have always settled on a constant conclusion: existence started with a single action.

“In the beginning God created…” All earth, sky, and life started when someone, something, sparked an action. That action set into motion the beautiful story of Genesis 1. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

I have been thinking of this text as a runner; it parallels my running story. It all started with an action: a choice to get up off the couch and go. That action ushered in a series of events that changed my life. I have seen beautiful sunrises jogging through my neighborhood and been awed by hidden mysteries of nature in urban life. I have met and heard the stories of amazing people drafting in a community of runners. I have experienced a change in my body; it is stronger and leaner. Running has helped focus my mind and energize my spirit. It has changed me in a beautiful way. And it all started with an action.

All new beginnings start with an action. All wonderful creations start with a decision.

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My 2013

2013! What a year. There were highs and lows. There were new lessons learned and old lessons remembered. And, with only a few hours to go until 2013 is forever gone, I have to say I am thankful for every experience.

This was my 2013.

A corporate merger brought a new boss, job title, office, and (the best part of the deal) new co-workers. Our family took the opportunity to make new friends.

There was lots of running in 2013. A total of 1,282 miles equaling around 191 hours on the road. 3 hours and 44 mins spent on the Country Music Marathon in April: a cold and thrilling day. A pulled calf muscle was suffered; a runner’s knee was endured; plantar fasciitis was earned.

July of 2013 marked 10 years of marriage to my best friend. We celebrated with a trip to Asheville, NC, leaving the kids with the grandparents. It was the perfect time to fall in love again. Wine, chocolate, and the Biltmore…

We became a homeschool family in 2013. Our 8 year old jumped ahead a few reading levels. Our 4 year can now point out the Tigris and Euphrates and tell you all about Sargon. 2013 was a special year of education.

Our family travels took us to the Appalachian, Ozark, and Rocky Mountains, the gulf coast of Florida, and the plains of Oklahoma City. We hung with some dolphins, felt the wind off the wings of hawks and owls, and we took a fly fishing lesson. We attended an OKC Thunder game. We saw some dinosaur bones.

The family also took some time to explore our city of Nashville. We loved on our favorite spots of Percy Warner, Ellington, and Radner. We saw some art at the Frist and Cheekwood. We paid our respects to history with first time visits to Traveler’s Rest and the Belmont Mansion. We found a new favorite pizza spot (Two Boots). We attended our first Belmont University basketball game.

Speaking of Belmont, I returned to my alma mater as an adjunct instructor.

Having been a gluten free family in 2012, we started to dabble with gluten again with no negative side effects. Yay!

The family celebrated the amazing wedding of my sister-in-law in Banner Elk, NC. We welcomed a new Andrade baby to the family in Austin, TX.

Acivii, Katy Perry, the Luminteers, Capitol Kings, Imagine Dragons, Daft Punk, and TobyMac were overplayed in our house. The kids were educated with Elvis, Led Zeppelin, Brooks and Dunn, and Johnny Cash.

2013 was a maintenance year: both expected and unexpected. Our cars were lovingly repaired. The kitchen was remodeled. The garage was turned into a bonus room. And, specifically for the house, the remodeling projects will spill over into 2014. Yay!

2013 brought us the flu, asthma attacks, whooping cough, one broken arm, allergy troubles, and a triple bypass. We got to know our health insurance policy and doctors very well this year. And, most gratefully, we are ending the year with rosy cheeks and stronger immune systems.

That pretty much sums up 2013 for me.

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Want a Different Life? Have You Run a Marathon?

“If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.” – Emil Zatopeck

I love this quote. As a marathoner, it is a source of much strength and encouragement. And, additionally, though a runner really doesn’t need justification, it edifies a habit that most people find crazy.

Zatopeck had to be more than a gifted runner. He must have been a genius. He summed up in two sentences the philosophic reason a runner continues mile after mile beyond athletic competition. It is a life choice for better living.

The marathon reflects the tensions in life: joy and pain, success and failure, humor and sorrow. In a way, the marathon captures most human emotions and displays them like a painter expressing his view of the world on a canvas.

The marathon is an art form. And great art manipulates and molds its creator so that the art isn’t the only new creation in the process. The marathon changes the runner. The runner is born again.

Zatopeck is completely right. Once you run a marathon, you are never the same. You have a new life.

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Running Out the Germs

When it is 40 degrees, the sky is clear, and the sun is gently warming the air, how can a runner deny a trek? That was the question I faced yesterday. How could I deny my body a perfect day for cardio celebration? I actually had a perfectly good reason to deny the celebration. A reason called bronchitis (or maybe just a bad cold – the doc wasn’t convinced). But, feeling so chipper, I declared I was at the end of the illness and a run would be the most magical way to kick the germs out of my body. So off I ran…

The run was beautiful: gliding over muddy dips through a maze of woodland set to the right of a creek. The sound of water is refreshing to me. Running water, like a cheering crowd, brings energy to my legs. And, perhaps not so different from a spiritual experience, water baptizes my runner’s soul; I am born again in its babble.

I ran 4.5 miles yesterday at an easy pace. It did kick out a lot of germs (in my opinion). It also induced a good bit of coughing that clear my lungs.

I am thankful for the gift of running.

Thankful to be feeling better.

Thankful for the huge amount of vitamin C I have been consuming.

I have another 5 miles scheduled for today.

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3 Life Lessons in Running

1. A well trained person can run a marathon. A well trained person with a passion for running can crush a marathon. Training is necessary for success; passion is necessary for victory. Passion wins in life.

2. Running isn’t one dimensional; it is a sport dependent on emotion, time, diet, weather, health, community, and a number of other variables all connected in some way. A wholistic approach to running is best. Same is true for life. Humans are mind, body, and spirit connected.

3. It isn’t a question of “if” you’ll be injured as a runner but “when” you’ll be injured. Running is a tough sport. You experience pain and hurt. And, when you are injured, you need to take the proper time and steps to heal or you’ll risk a permanent injury. The same is true in life. If you have a beating heart, you are in danger of pain: emotional, physical, spiritual, financial, environmental, etc. Proper healing is needed or the whole body falls apart.

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Filling Life

Life is what you seek out. Life is what you fill it with.

A runner needs to fill life with healthy food.

A writer needs to fill life with good reading.

A father needs to find a loving father to embrace.

When a beggar finds thankfulness, he becomes a king.

If the words of Deuteronomy are true, and man does not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from God, then chose a God that speaks love.

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Maybe Barefoot Running

Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run literally changed my life. It changed my attitude, my diet, my understanding of anatomy and history, and it ignited this passion for running. It encouraged me to seek out a community of runners; an underground culture of endurance freaks seeking sanity on cement and dirt trails and wet grass. It made me want to be one of those people waking up at 5:30 am on a Saturday, running 15 miles, pacing the run just right, knowing the route well enough to crest a hill at the exact moment of sun rise: glimpsing into a picture of clarity. The book made me a long distance runner.

But there is one thing I haven’t completely followed in the book. I haven’t transitioned into pure barefoot running. I’ve done the 5 Finger thing. I’m all about the minimalist shoes. I am down with the zero drop. But the transition to no shoes at all is something I haven’t attempted.

After reading this, I am thinking about making the change. Perhaps I’ll follow Barefoot Ted.

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