Sunday, December 31, 2006

Norovirus, Day 3

Norovirus, Day 3

I prayed for a two hour sabbatical from the bathroom between 10 a.m. and noon. God answered the prayer. I made it through worship! We had a great morning despite the holiday weekend and the bad weather.

Seven interesting facts about my battle with norovirus:

1. Pounds lost in three days: 12.5
2. Number of cans of 7UP drank: 16
3. Number of bottles of Gatorade drank: 7
4. Pounds of food ate: 0
5. Miles run in the 4 days leading up to the norovirus: 60
6. Miles run since getting the norovirus: 0
7. One word to describe my wife: sweet

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Norovirus, Day 2

Norovirus, Day 2

Still on the shelf with the norovirus. The only running I did was to the bathroom. If you are really desperate for something to read, here is my article for the weekly church newsletter.

Earlier this week, I started to feel tired and weak. I knew the flu was approaching and there was nothing I could do about it! It was terrible.

A few days after the birth of our son David, I was in quarantine in our bedroom on a diet of 7UP and Chicken Noodle Soup. Of the seven symptoms of the flu, I had nine of them. I couldn’t see my family, I couldn’t run, I couldn’t help around the house, I couldn’t work, I couldn’t do much except sleep and watch television.

Yesterday morning I woke up and felt decent for the first time in days. I actually wanted to get out of bed. I was hungry and thirsty. I played with Benjamin. I showered, shaved, messed up my hair, and got dressed. I started answering my phone. It was a new day!

As I was laying in bed on Friday I was thinking that many of us are living life with flu-like symptoms. Not influenza. But flu-like symptoms. We are isolated from people. We aren’t enjoying life. We lack purpose. We don’t have energy. And there seems to be nothing we can do about it.

But God can do something about it. God loves us where we are and loves us so much that He doesn’t want to leave us where we are. Are you ready for a God-driven revolution in your life?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Norovirus, Day 1

Norovirus, Day 1

I became very ill last night. Won't go into details. If you really want to know more, visit the Center for Disease Control web site.

No running. Thinking about running. Dreaming about running. Writing about running.

When I wasn't suffering from the symptoms, I laid in bed, watched television (mostly college football and poker), drank 7UP, and slept.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Good Friend

Good Friend

I got home from running this morning and our older child Benjamin came and hugged me. At five years old, I don't seem to get as many of those as I used to. He looked at me with a long face and said mommy was up with the baby. He asked me if I will always love him. I said, "Yes! Of course!" Benjamin and I often call each other "good friend". Probably not a perfect name for a relationship between a father and a son, but, among other things, we are good friends. We are about to build a big train track. Later we are going to go to Scheel's where I am going to get some new running shoes, he is going to get some fudge, and we are going to ride the Ferris Wheel.

I was thinking about God and how God has billions of children. He loves them all the same and all of us differently. As Augustine wrote: "God loves us like we are the only person in the whole world to love." Not based upon what we do or what we haven't done or who we are or who we are not, but based on whose we are. Our imperfect love for our children only provides us a glimpse of God's perfect love for us. It is something special to know that we are God's "good friend". (John 15:13-14)

I ran with some friends this morning. I started off fast with Paul. That is his preferred speed. Then I hooked up with Curt, Joanie, and Tracy. We ran with Christy and Jill for a while. Twice around Zorinsky--14.82 miles. The slower pace was welcome relief more my tired legs. I have put in about 60 miles in the last four days.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006



I ran fast today. I did 2 x 3 mile tempo runs with Christy and Kurt. They are both out of my league when it comes to running. I worked hard to keep up with them.

After a two mile warm-up, we were off.

My first 3 mile run was 18:31 for a 6:11 pace. That is an average speed of 9.7 miles per hour. Average heart rate was 165 bpm.

We jogged a mile. My second 3 mile run was 18:49 for a 6:18 pace. This one had a couple hills and a decent wind in our face when we ran over the dam. The average speed here was 9.5 miles per hour. Average heart rate was 161 bpm.

I cooled down a mile or so.

Ouch. Having run a marathon two days ago, twelve really hilly miles yesterday, and six really fast miles today--my legs were hurting.

I visited Ray, the massage guy for runners. He worked over my legs for an hour. It was incredible. I feel rejuvenated!

We all need a massage, of sorts. Maybe not for our legs, but for our minds, our relationships, our emotional status, our finances, our addictions, and our spiritual journey. Sometimes it takes a lot of pain to make us get help. Some are wise enough to seek help before the pain gets out of control. Know that where ever you are in life--rejuvenation is possible.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006



Last Sunday during my sermon I spoke about this Christmas gift I was going to get: the Garmin 305 GPS running watch. I currently have the Garmin 201. The 305 is a serious upgrade. It is not supposed to ever lose the signal, it has more features, better software, and a wireless heart rate monitor.

In the sermon I was speaking about forgiveness. I said that forgiveness is a gift. It is something we can accept or reject. I could say: I am happy with the 201. I'm used to it. The 305 sounds better, but "No thanks, I'll stick with the 201." The 305 is an upgrade from the 201 and forgiveness is an upgrade from unforgiveness. We all know that it is much better to forgive and live than it is to remember and resent.

So I tried the Garmin upgrade today. It is a sweet watch. I run on the hills south of Gretna near the Holy Family Shrine. This is the hilliest route I have found in Omaha (check out the stats below). Probably an ambitious workout less than 24 hours after a 26.2 mile training run and just a few weeks out from the Rock n' Roll Marathon in Phoenix, but it was a great day. I ran slow and steady up and down the hills.

From now on I could post nerdy stats like this:

Total time: 1:50:47
Moving time: 1:50:39
Ascent: 46:53
Descent: 48:45
Flat: 15:01
Stopped time: 0:09 (no details needed here)

Distance: 12.09 miles
Ascent: 4.97 miles
Descent: 5.46 miles
Flat: 1.66 miles

Elevation gain: 2,511 feet
Elevation loss: 2,468 feet

Ascent grade: 9.6%
Descent grade: 6.7%

Heart Rate Average: 138 bpm
Low: 89 bpm
High: 173 bpm (I pushed really hard up the steepest hill)

High Temperature: 46.4 degrees
Low Temperature: 39.2 degrees
Average Temperature: 45.1 degrees
High Wind: 4.6 mph ENE
Low Wind: calm
Average Wind: 1.3 mph ENE

I'll spare you this kind of information on a daily basis, although if you want it, my Motion Based account name is PastorCraig.

So that is a serious upgrade. But not as good as the upgrade from unforgiveness to forgiveness.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Marathon

My Christmas Marathon

We woke up and opened presents. Benjamin was the big winner of the morning. He got some pretty cool stuff. Amber bought me a few new shirts and a funky jacket. I'll be styling on Sunday morning. I bought her some lotions and potions. She'll be smelling pretty sweet. My mom joined us for the festivities and was welcome help for David.

After three days of little running (a couple miles late Friday night) or no running (Saturday and Sunday)--I set out to run 31 miles (50K) this afternoon. It was a great run. The trail was pretty empty. I decided to cut it short after only 26.2 miles--a marathon. I ran pretty easy: about 3:23 for the marathon. I could have finished the next five pretty easily, but I ran out of time as we need to get to Amber's parents for Christmas dinner.

We finished the day the same way we started--opening presents. Benjamin did well again. I think the Finnestads may be finishing our basement or building an annex for Benjamin's growing collection of toys.

The most important thing about Christmas is not giving or family or eating or presents or running. It is recieving. Recieving the gift of Christ. That gift makes all the other things about Christmas more possible and more meaningful.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve means different things for different people. For pastors it means work. In case you were wondering what my day looked like, here you go.

6:00 to 10:00 - Finish sermon
10:00 to Noon - Worship
Noon to 3:45 - At the hospital with Amber and David
3:45 to 4:00 - Took Amber and David home
4:00 to 8:30 - Two worship experiences at the middle school
8:30 to 9:30 - Hang out with family
9:30 - Fell asleep

Not complaining. It was a great day. It was cool to tell the church about David being born. It was the perfect illustration for Christmas Eve.

Oh yeah, no running today.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006



David turned one day old today. Benjamin is still five years old. No time to run today. I spent much of the day at the hospital. If you ever have to be in the hospital--Lakeside is the place to be. I ate three meals there today. The food there is incredible. We had lots of visitors and lots of fun. I went out and bought four "It's a boy!" signs at Nobbies and put those outside our house. They look pretty sweet. David is a good kid. I started and finished my Christmas shopping and wrote a sermon too. Neither were my best work...but they are both done!

Friday, December 22, 2006



Tonight I ran 4 x 400 hill repeats with a 800 meter downhill recovery jog. Had to fly solo as I didn't think it would be an easy sell to try to convince any of the usual suspects to do hill repeats in my neighborhood at midnight. I was going to do ten of them, but the cheeseburger and onion rings that sat in my stomach put an end to that plan.

I was at the hospital from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. We had the baby today. David Jackson was born at 11:14 a.m. He weighed 8 pounds and 2 ounces. After Benjamin finished school, I picked him up and brought him to the hospital to meet his little brother. Benjamin seems fond of David and was giving him lots of kisses.

I remember after David was born and the nurses and doctor left the room, it was just the three of us. I prayed. I thanked God for David. I thanked God for a safe delivery and a baby that seems to be healthy. I prayed for guidance for us as parents. I prayed David would relentlessly pursue and chase God's dreams.

David is now running a race much more important than the race that is run in Boston in April. He is running the race of life. Isaiah had a beautiful prophecy of this race:

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

-Isaiah 40:28-31

Thursday, December 21, 2006



Today's run was easy and relaxing. I ran with Maureen, Christy, and Onyx. The conversation was kind of like an episode of Seinfeld--we mostly chatted about nothing. I learned that Christy doesn't like Aquafina water which makes her a water snob. Maureen claims she is 5 feet 6 inches tall which makes her vertically optimistic. They made fun of my hair when I took off my hat. I hear it was pretty scary. 11 miles.

Tomorrow is a big day. Amber is going to be induced early in the morning to have the baby. Today has been almost surreal. I woke up really early and cleaned the house knowing two things: 1) our house wouldn't be clean again for a really long time and 2) we will be having friends and family come and visit. I went to the office went through my email. Then I did a hospital visit. After that I went to Wild Oats and bought six boxes of Nature's Path Optimum Rebound Cereal and some sparkling pear juice. I tried to get everything ready for the three worship experiences on Sunday and didn't even come close. Thankfully God is in charge of that anyway.

Amber, Benjamin, and I are going out for dinner in a few moments--our last night before the baby arrives. We are all so excited to meet the little one.

Check back tomorrow. Probably not much running news, but hopefully lots of baby news.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006



There was some serious rain this morning. Not serious as in the opposite of joking; serious like heavy and lots of it. Maureen and I started off and quickly ran into Kurt, Christy, and Jill. I hadn't met Jill before. She is a senior at some college in Iowa and is a very good runner.

Here are a few things that everybody should know about rain.

1. Rain is wet.
2. When it is 35 degrees, rain is also cold.
3. Wet and cold are not good when mixed together.
4. Rain is not good when your are wearing glasses.

With all that being said, this morning was a great run. 12.26 miles. And I had lots of fun, felt great, and I got to meet a new friend.

So when it rains in life, just keep living. The rain won't last forever.


I lifted weights with John during lunch. We did our chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006



Maureen and I met at The Holy Family Shrine for a 12 mile hilly run this morning. Twenty degrees, sunny, and no wind. Perfect for a run. Some of the hills were brutal. Especially the first few miles and the last few miles.

Hills are tough. But they make the runner stronger. Most of us who run prefer a flat course, but we all know that hills happen in running--and in life.

Hills teach us an important lesson: climbing and growing and working hard and struggling are usually the things that make us stronger and the things that bring us closer to God.

There is something about reaching the summit of a hill. Maybe it's a feeling of accomplishment. Maybe it's knowing that if you climbed this hill there is not much else you can't do. Maybe it is the fact that the best view is from the top of the hill. Regardless, we can choose to defeat the hill or let the hill defeat us. Climbing a hill in running and in life takes hard work and discipline. But there are few things in running or life like reaching the summit.

Hebrews tells us that no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. -Hebrews 12:11

Monday, December 18, 2006



Maureen and I ran 13.33 miles this morning in about 1:45. We hooked up with Joanie, Christy, Kurt, and Pam for a few miles. I lifted with John at the gym during his lunch. We did our back and biceps. An interesting observation: I would rather run 13.33 miles than do four sets of pull-ups.

Marathon running allows runners to practice patience. And today I needed patience.

Our baby is due on Thursday. So we make our weekly visit to the doctor this morning. We waiting about 45 minutes in the big waiting room and then had another 30 minutes in the exam room. Right before the doctor was about to see us, she was called to a different hospital for a delivery. Late in the afternoon, we went back. So did lots of others who didn't get to see her earlier. We did the waiting thing again. Finally got to see her. No new news.

I thought about the day. After some reflection, I was glad I got to wait. May women try to get pregnant and are not able to. Thankfully there are doctors who and be called to deliever babies. Rearranging our schedule doesn't seem like so big of deal in the grand scheme of things.

Patience is a gift from God. (Galatians 5:22) Like a lot of other gifts, we can either choose to open them and use them or not open them and not use them.

Looking back, I can see where more patience would have been helpful today. Hopefully I can keep opening and keep using this gift that God gives us to make our lives a whole lot easier.

Sunday, December 17, 2006




To strike or occur to with a sudden feeling of wonder or astonishment, as through unexpectedness.

Tonight I ran a 5K (3.1 mile) tempo run at Millard West. It was cold and windy, but no problem, I had new racing shoes! The new GEL-Ohana Racers came on Friday and I had to try these bad boys out.

I was going to start off a little slower than my anticipated time because of the wind. The first 400 meters was fast and almost effortless. I kept feeling stronger as the run progressed and beat my previous best time by well over a minute. I was surprised! I am a lot faster and stronger than I thought I would be in mid-December.

This morning I was surprised as well. We have had a few down Sundays at The Water's Edge. I don't know why. This morning we had a huge morning. It was one of our three largest Sundays in our brief three month history. We had an incredible worship experience and I could feel that people were experiencing the forgivness that I was talking about. We ran out of room, food, beverages, and bulletins. The people also surprised Amber and me with a baby shower during worship. We are blessed to be surrounded by such a loving group of people during this time in our lives.

Grace is the suprise of Good News that comes as a gift to us when we least expect it. It is grace when a runner runs much faster than he or she thought he or she would be able to run. It is grace when a middle school cafeteria fills up with people on a Sunday morning and people experience forgiveness. It is grace when a pregnant woman and her husband are showered with gifts of love, some of those gifts coming from people we don't even know. It is grace when God sends His Son to show us how to live and how to love. Such is the gift of Christmas.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Road to Boston

The Road To Boston

In exactly four months I will be running down the streets of Boston with thousands of other runners. I have wanted to run the Boston Marathon for about twenty years. I started training in April 2006. That was about sixty pounds ago. I qualified for Boston on my first attempt at the Lewis and Clark Marathon in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday, October 21st, 2006. Over the next four months you can read about a dream coming true and my thoughts about running, God, and life.

Today's Training

This morning Maureen and I ran 15.30 miles in just over 2 hours. We ran on a hilly course on the gravle roads surrounding her and her husband's horse farm. We couldn't have asked for a nicer morning.

Running can be done by oneself or it can be done with others. The same is true for life. I could have run 15.3 miles by myself this morning, but it is much more fun and meaningful to do it with someone else. Maureen is a better runner than me. She has won marathons and is a gritty runner. She makes me a better and more consistant runner. In life I am blessed to have a small group from my church who makes life more fun and meaningful and makes me better. The same can be said for friends and family.

Any of us can choose to live life alone. We all have that capability. But God has a better plan. Paul writes, "Bear each other's burdens and fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2) Ecclesiastes writes, "If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?" (Ecclesiastes 4:10-11)

So I thank God for friends and family who bear my burdens, reach out to me, keep me warm, make life more fun and meaningful, and make me better.