It’s been awhile since I posted — I blame this on my life getting pretty busy. My wife went back to school (she’s a teacher), my 5 children went back to school and participate in sports, and my workload picked up at work. Once I got out of the habit of posting, I just kind of let it slide…
Yesterday was my yearly marathon… If you don’t want to read a book… you may want to go ahead and get out now. When I write about my marathon experiences, usually I go into a decent amount of details… (When I say ‘decent,’ you should read ‘excessive!!!!’)
Alright then, I typically get this out of the way first… I did not qualify for Boston. This is a bummer, but that’s OK. I was exactly on pace through the first 20 miles. This is pretty typically for people trying to complete a marathon. The last 6.2 miles I was about 17 minutes over pace. Isn’t that crazy!!! Basically what happened yesterday was that once I faded in mile 20, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to do it. What actually happened was that in mile 19 and 20, I was about 30 seconds behind (however I was still on pace because I had been slightly ahead until then). Mile 21 was a full minute behind pace. I knew that my goal of qualifying for Boston was over, so I just decided to enjoy the last 5.2 miles. Now, you may ask how you enjoy the last 5.2 miles of a 26.2 mile race. Obviously, the body is pretty beat up. People that I talked to about my race found this whole enjoying the last 5.2 miles idea a little bit hard to understand. I slowed it down until I was pretty comfortable. I thanked the volunteers. I actually enjoyed the lake scenery (this marathon was a big loop around the lake. For much of the second half, you couldn’t actually see the lake, which was a bummer. But during the last couple of miles you could). As runners passed me (and plenty did during the last 6 miles), I offered them words of encouragement and let them know what a good job they were doing. I also walked through some of the final water stops and tried to refresh myself as much as possible. My brother Jeff came out to meet me at about mile 25. I slowed it down ever more for the last mile and just chatted with him. And then, as I crossed the finish line, I un-quirked a multi-part finish line dance. It was supposed to start with the Icky Shuffle, (but I couldn’t quite get the timing of this down, probably had something to do with just running 26.2 miles), then I did a bad cowboy rodeo dance, I somersaulted across the finish line, and then I did a Brian Kinne original. I acted like I was trying to start a lawn mower a few times. I kicked the stupid imaginary lawn mower. And then it started and I zig-zagged and mowed the grass until they placed the finishers medal around my neck. The folks at the finish line had smiles on their faces about this goofy outburst!!!
At the finish line, I was told that one of the person’s that I had come up and run the marathon with, another Brian– Brian M., was in the medical tent. He was running his first marathon and was on pace to qualify for Boston after 23 miles. At mile 24 he started to experience serious symptoms from dehydration. At mile 25, he was not able to stay standing anymore. His brother was with him at mile 25 and literally had to carry him for large portions of the rest of the course. He was literally out on his feet, and had the appearance of someone who is drunk. He was hallucinating, etc. Brian M. finished and was immediately tended to by medical personal. They got an I.V. going and took him to the hospital. He spent the rest of the day in the hospital getting fluids pumped into him and they kept him over night as a precaution. Brian M. does not remember the last mile or so of the marathon. There were probably about ten family and friends at the marathon supporting both Brian and myself. Obviously we were all very concerned about Brian M. until we started hearing the good news that everything was going to be OK. This was Brian M.’s first marathon, and he gets the award for most dramatic finish for a first timer of anyone that I know. We’re all obviously extremely grateful that he is OK.
I also have some spiritual reflections and other random thoughts to tell anyone who is still reading. As I began falling off the pace a little in mile 19 and 20, I was having a conversation with God (or a God moment). It seemed to me that He was telling me that I need to do a better job of soliciting or encouraging prayers, of evangelizing in my own way. This may seem like an odd conversation to you, but that’s OK because I am most likely a bit odd!!! The conversation went something like this, “God, what’s going on? When am I ever going to qualify for Boston?” And then, He put some contentment and joy in my heart and I was like, “Oh, I get it. You want me to really focus on the spiritual aspect. You want me to really focus on my own transformation, to do more in my own spiritual life and You want me to really go out there and get people to use my efforts as a vehicle for prayer.” I had the idea that He is trying to use my desire to qualify for Boston as a mechanism in my own spiritual transformation. He knows how much energy I have toward qualifying, so He is tapping into this. He wants me to take my spiritual life to the next level, and the carrot that He is dangling in front of my face is qualifying for Boston. What a motivator!!!!! So, I’m going to probably spend some time thinking about this conversation and try to get my mind about what it means on a concrete level for me. Initially though, I’m thinking that it means two things. Number one, I need to devise a plan to beef up my spiritual life during the next year. I need to get more God. The second part of this conversation seems to be saying that I need to do a better job of using my ‘Running for Souls’ to solicit prayer power. This is out of my comfort zone because I’m not that social or that much of a social network kind of a guy. However, I think that He is more or less telling me that in order to qualify for Boston, I need to hit a quota of prayers and I have not even come close to that yet. Ultimately it is going to be prayer power that is going to get me there! So far, the main fruit of Running for Souls has been the thousands and thousands of prayers that I have offered. I think that He is telling me that he wants hundreds of thousands and hundreds of thousands of prayers being offered via this platform and for me to have a shot at that, I’m going to have to get socially networked and get another whole level of group praying going on associated with this. So — If any of you out there are interested in having some ‘interesting’ conversations with God, just go out and run 20 plus miles, say a couple of rosaries along the way and see what happens!!!!
One more strand of thought and I’ll be all done!!! (I think.) You can’t rush perfection, right?! Anyway, I just want to report on the marathon experience for me. I love marathons, I really do. Of course, I’m going to tell you all about why, but obviously I love them otherwise I wouldn’t keep finding a way to train and run them every year even though I have a pretty busy life right now with 5 children between the ages of 6-15. So… I love marathons. There are rather obvious reasons, like the sense of purpose that it gives your life for a 4 month period, the physical fitness benefits, the stress relieving quality of running, etc. However, there are much less obvious things about the marathon experience that I want to highlight. Starting before the marathon, I would say that at least 20 people told me that they were thinking about me, wishing me good luck, praying for me, etc., in the final two days leading up to the marathon. My own children and wife were particularly effusive with their encouragement!! Yesterday, at Grand Lake, it was an awesome marathon experience. Why? Well, first of all, it was a gorgeous day and gorgeous scenery. It was picture perfect. We got to watch the sun rise over the Eastern side of the lake. We got to run through gorgeous scenery with a mix of trees, morning fog, lake front houses, corn fields (not too exciting there!) and lake. All in all, it was an awesome day, an awesome playground, delivered to us by the Big Man! This marathon was by far the smallest one that I’ve every participated in. There was a max of 2,000 participants, and it definitely felt small. However, there were benefits to running in small town, mid-west U.S.A. The hospitality of everyone that I came into contact with was out of this world. I’m not kidding. I was seriously impressed with how nice and hospitable everyone was. It was an awesome change of pace to what is sometimes the norm with human interactions and it just highlights to me how important hospitality really is. It started when Shannon and I arrived in our hotel. The lady that was working the desk was over the top in her niceness! This set the stage for a great experience with so many of the people that we came into contact with during and after the marathon. At the beginning of the race, a prayer was offered via the man with the microphone. This was a first for me at a marathon and I think it happened only because it was small town U.S.A. The course did not have tons of crowd support, but there was support all along the way. The small crowd of supporters that came to specifically cheer for a runner did a great job of leap-frogging around the course so that we could see them at multiple places. (I heard from my family that this was no easy chore because of road closures, which makes me appreciate the effort all the more). In addition to this, the people that lived around the course made there presence felt. People were out in chairs on their front lawns cheering us on. There were many great signs, as usual. As we passed through about 7-10 miles of cornfields from about mile 15-22, there was an ongoing joke going on with signs. Separated by about a 1/2 mile, there would be a question, such as, “Why did Mozart get rid of his chickens?” and then 1/2 mile later, “Because they kept saying, ‘Bach, Bach, Bach.” You can’t beat that. There was probably a joke every mile for 5-10 miles. Awesome!!!! Marathon supporters are too cool and Grand Lake St. Mary’s did a great job hosting the marathon. My strategy to keep my mind in the race was to break it up between saying the rosary and listening to music. I listened to my ipod for the first 5 miles. For miles 5-12, I said a rosary, one decade per mile, plus some beginning and ending prayers. I listened to music again from miles 12-17 (this was the cornfields and jokes, and I think that my music helped me to not be bored). I said another 5 decades of the rosary from 17-22 and then I finished the last section, 22-26 with music. In this way, even though there wasn’t as many distractions offered by the course and the city because it was such a small town marathon, I wasn’t ever bored and I was able to just appreciate all of the many small and large efforts that people were making to support us. There’s nothing like passing a group of 3-4 small children that are there to cheer on their mom and dad and giving them high fives!!!!!
Well, I think that about sums it all up!!!! Hopefully if you stuck through and read all of this mumbo-jumbo, you are amused or otherwise positively affected! I’m going to take some time and think about that conversation with God at about mile 19-20 and see what I can do about following what He may be wanting me to do next. However, for some reason I’m thinking about doing another marathon this season (maybe November or something). I’m in great shape and I love the whole experience, so I may have the energy to find another race that is relatively close and do this all over again in the next couple of months. We’ll see…..
I’ll be, ‘Running for souls!!!’