Monday, April 16, 2007

The Boston Marathon

Today is the day I have been waiting for. I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and downed a few Blueberry Clif Bars. People in my church surprised me with a big banner they made for me. It meant so much and I was so grateful.

I took the train from near Harvard to the buses and then took the buses to the holding area near the starting line. The Athlete's Village, near the local high school, was crazy. Thousands of runners were getting shelter from giant tents. We all had to get cozy because there was not enough room. Cozy was good because cozy is warm. It was cold, windy, and raining from 6:45 to 9:30. I shared one of my dry garbage bags with a woman so she could sit on that as opposed to the wet ground. She offered to kiss me. I told her a warm smile would be more than sufficient.

It was cool meeting new people and speaking with them. Three sisters had all qualified together in Chicago last fall and were running in honor of their mom who died of cancer. A man on the other side was running his 27th straight Boston. Sara, a 22 year old from Phoenix, starting running a few years ago so she could spend time with her boyfriend who was a runner. They broke up. She fell in love with running and was running in her first Boston. A married couple wanted to do an activity together. Their journey to Boston began with a local 5K race in Atlanta over five years ago. I didn't get to meet all 20,000 runners, but I learned there were 20,000 different stories.

About 9:30, kind of like Superman, I went into a port-a-potty and changed from my street clothes into my running gear. I put Body Glide on the parts of my body that needed Body Glide. Not going to go into much detail here. I then dropped off my gear and made the journey to my corral. I hooked up with Ricky, an accountant a few years younger than me from Philadelphia. He had run Boston three times before and was in my corral. He was helpful in getting me to the right place on time.

The start was way crowded. It reminded me of driving in Atlanta during rush hour: bumper to bumper traffic and going nowhere fast. And I got to start near the front of the pack. It took me a just over a minute to cross the starting line and my first mile was 7:15. It felt so easy. I was optimistic!

The weather conditions changed drastically right before the race and were actually pretty good: very little wind, light drizzle, and the temperature was in the 40s. So I decided to shoot for 2:52. I picked up the pace and was averaging about 6:15 to 6:30 per mile depending on the hills and the traffic--it was still fairly crowded. My first 10K was just under 41 minutes.

The crowd was incredible. There wasn't a point in the race where people weren't cheering us on. I knew that I had hundreds of people tracking me on the Internet and praying for me as well. I felt so blessed to be supported.

My second 10K was also about 41 minutes. I felt so lousy all week and was a little worried about the race, but I couldn't have been running or feeling better. At the 20K mark was the Wellesley scream tunnel. The female students at Wellesley College line the road and literally scream. It was an incredible experience running through there. Many runners stop and kiss the college girls for good luck. I was making good time, so I just kept running. Plus at this stage in my life I generally kiss just three people: Amber, Benjamin, and David. When I see my grandma, she gets a kiss too. So I guess there are four people.

I was feeling great and I picked it up at the 20K mark. Halfway I was 1:26:20 -- 2:52 seemed both possible and likely. I was cooking along and passing people pretty easily. I threw off my disposable jacket at 14 miles as I was getting hot. Big mistake.

The much publicized winds and the rain made their appearance and were absolutely brutal between 15 and 17 miles. The first of the major hills was kind of like this: running on a treadmill at a 7% grade for a half mile underwater against a 30 mile per hour wind while running 9 miles per hour. The weather settled down but the hills were just getting started. I did great on the uphills. I don't think I was passed by anybody on the first two or three. The downhills and the last six miles were brutal. My thighs were shot.

I was no longer trying to run 2:52 or even beat my personal best of 2:57--I was trying to finish. I went from running 6:30 per mile to about 7:30 per mile. By 22 miles, my left foot was pretty numb. Not a good sign. I felt like I had to throw up at 23 miles and was freezing. I had a huge crash the last 7 or 8 miles, but enjoyed the experience more than I could ever explain in words. The fans and other runners were so great!

As I turned onto Boylston Street I could see the finish line. As bad as I felt physically, spiritually and emotionally I had never been better. I started to get tears in my eyes. When I started running just over a year ago, I did't know if I actually believed I could do this or not. Thankfully God believed in me! The moment didn't compare to getting married or having a baby or the Sunday when we launched worship at The Water's Edge, but it was so special. A lifelong dream had come true. The pain would be gone in a few days. This memory will last forever. As I stumbled through the last quarter mile, I enjoyed every step. I will never forget this day.

I finished in 3:01:19 at an average of 6:55 per mile. I placed 1,032nd out of roughly 20,000 finishers. I was the 2nd finisher from Nebraska out of 60 runners. I won the clergy division. I don't know if that says more about me or other clergy.

I threw up shortly after finishing. I was placed in a wheelchair and taken to the medical tent. I lost 7 pounds during the race and my temperature was 94 degrees: I had some serious dehydration and hypothermia! The doctors and nurses in the mobile hospital were so great. They took off my cold and wet shoes and clothes and wrapped me up in foil blankets and kept giving me chicken broth. A couple hours later I was almost as good as new. They were true servants.

When I was laying down in the medical tent one of the nurses asked me: "Are you ever going to come back to our city?" I replied as I shivered to get warm, "Yeah, next year. And I am going to run those last eight miles on my terms."

This was one of the great days of my life. Thanks so much to all who made it possible. To my running partners who put up with me, to my church who has been so supportive and encouraging, and to Amber who has let me chase this dream: I will always be grateful. Dreams come true and today I was blessed to experience such a thing.

The Day Before

I slept in until this morning. With a five year old and a 3 month old at home, that doesn't happen often. I was out until two o'clock last night, so I needed the extra sleep. Today was a miserable day weather wise and tomorrow is looking worse. I picked up my race packet downtown and then went to the Expo and I bought a shirt for Amber and Benjamin and a bib for David. We then spent some time at the Aquarium. I learned a lot about the jellyfish. Very interesting creature.

I carbo loaded at Massimino's tonight with some old friends and some new friends. The owner, or maybe it was the owner's cousin, Pauli, hooked me up with some serious Italian food, a t-shirt, and a big kiss. This Norwegian has never been kissed by an adult male who is not related to me. I guess there is a first time for everything. If I crash in the last six miles, it is not because of lack of food. I threw down about a loaf of bread, three Cokes, a big bowl of fussili pasta, and some mussels. I was in bed by 11:00 p.m. as 4:00 a.m. was going to come early.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Blue Man Group

I arrived in Boston mid-afternoon. My luggage wasn't so fortunate. I went to see the Blue Man Group in Boston at 10:15 p.m. with some friends. This was a little late for me, but the show was incredible.

Jeff Kuo describes the Blue Man Group as following (I added a few comments):

What is Blue Man Group? Stand up comedy, theater, rock show, vaudeville, or dance? There is no easy way to describe the boundless humor, energy, eccentricity, and silliness of a Blue Man Group show.

The evening begins with de-programming to get us out of our generic theatrical mindsets. In fact, the pre-show is one of the more interesting parts of the entire evening. For instance, guests, like me, sitting in the “poncho seats” wore opaque plastic sheets nervously in anticipation of heaven only knows what sort of inundation. Sitting in the front row on the side, I had no clue why I was wearing this. I was thinking about keeping it for the marathon on Monday, but they made us give them back when the show was over. The floor crew handed out fistfuls of crepe paper ribbons to be tied as a headband. Yes, it seems silly and has no function in the show; but since almost everybody else has crepe on their heads, you actually feel more foolish if you don’t wear it.

Exercising a virtual dictatorship, electronic marquees rehearse the audience in thanking guests who have supposedly won Pulitzers or have completed the Human Genome Project; these guests are forced to stand up. Then, the marquees rehearse the audience into chanting our love for another guest “who is not particularly remarkable” so that “he deserves our love even more”; he is also made to stand up. Another guest has a headache and another has a birthday. It is actually a relief to escape the tyrannical marquee when the show begins with a percussion number.

The quasi-“Blast” and quasi-kodo-like drum numbers sprinkled throughout the evening were great, but they aren’t enough to sustain the entire show. Fortunately, they didn’t have to because if there is anything Blue Man Group resembles, it is vaudeville style variety theater. Non-narrative in content and assembled from a hodgepodge of what can only be called “skits” and “gags,” the otherwise structureless evening is unified by the percussion numbers, satirical pieces, and of course the inscrutable Blue Man Group themselves.

The Blue Men are simply amazing. Three androgynous figures in blue face and skull caps, black outfits, and boots, the Blue Men at times assume a hilarious deadpan expression and at other times look at each and at the world with a kind of childlike wonder. Certainly, they have no fear of the many fluids that comprise their act or of the unidentifiable substances that they put in their mouths (they’d be perfect for a special oral edition of Fear Factor).

The skits follow each other without pause. A game of paint splattering one upmanship is followed by long distance gumball and marshmallow mouth catching. This was incredible, they were tossing marshmallows twenty feet across the stage into each other's mouths. I think they hit like 29 of 30. The even more amazing thing is that one of the Blue Men fit the 29 marshmallows in his mouth.

They then invaded the audience and soon brought back the first of two audience participants, a woman game enough to join them in a Twinkie eating skit full of gags involving a fire extinguisher, a jig saw, and a shop vacuum. The Twinkie skit also features a gob of jello flung at the poncho seats and the ingestion of unnamable semi-liquid substances mixed with Twinkie bits. I got hit with the Twinkie mixture pretty good and was grateful for the ponchos.

As in the vaudeville tradition, Blue Man Group skits poke fun at contemporary targets – high art, Internet coffee shops, and young female pop stars, for example.

There is an Yves Klein satire involving a triptych of three fish and an audience participant who is taken offstage to be hung by his feet, smeared with blue paint, and flung against a large canvas. He was a big guy so I’m sure it didn’t hurt too much.

Another irony poked fun at people who sit in Internet coffee shops ignoring the people they are sitting next to while chatting with some strange person in virtual space that they may never physically meet.

In another skit, the authoritative electronic voice of a self-actualization rock-n-roll website advises the Blue Man Group that whereas rock music formerly was a folkish reaction to the industrialization of the modern world, now rock is all about Choreographed Dance Moves – pelvic swivels, isolations, hand pumping, and etc. The sight of the three android-like figures arms akimbo and pelvises grinding is itself worth the price of admission. Elitist high art, technology, American mass culture, whatever – they’re all grist for the Blue Man Group’s mill.

The Blue Men may disdain conventionality but they are astute enough showmen to program a fast and furious, multimedia, participatory finish. I’ll hold off on describing the big finale for those who haven’t experienced the show yet, but let’s say it involves strobe lights, very loud techno/industrial music, and a great deal of coarse, inexpensive toilet paper.

One final note – don’t show up late – the Blue Men will set off a loud siren, halt the show, and shine a spotlight and video camera on you for the entire house to laugh at.

Incredible. Check them out on the web at

Two days and the dream comes true.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Thank You

During the last few weeks I recieved so much encouragement from so many people. This was especially true today. People served me spaghetti, brought me over spaghetti, Blueberry Clif Bars, balloons, cards, hugs, smiles, emails, phone calls, etc... Every one of them is greatly appreciated.

No running today -- I only chased Benjamin and his friends Nicolas and Blake around the park this afternoon. No running tomorrow or Sunday either. Just resting the legs.

To track me during the Boston Marathon, visit and type in my bib number: 2271. The face of the web site will change on race day and it will be clear how to track the runners. The race is Monday, April 16th at 9:00 a.m. Central Time. My time will be updated every 5 kilometers.

I was hoping to run 2:45 (6:17 per mile). That isn't going to happen. Here's why -- I recieved this forecast from the Boston Marathon earlier today:

The most up-to-date weather forecast calls for a predicted Spring storm on Monday, including heavy rains (potentially 3 to 5 inches), with the start temperatures in the mid to upper 30's. Wind will likely be East (in the face of the participants for most of the race) in the 20 to 25 mile per hour range, with gusts to as much as 50 miles per hour. This will produce a wind chill index of 25 to 30-degrees Fahrenheit.

Thanks again to everybody for your support, encouragement, and prayers. I am going to have a blast running in the rain and look forward to what God is going to teach me.

Eggs In One Basket

It was a beautiful morning this morning. Chilly and brisk, but the sun was poking through and gradually warming up the air. Christy and I did 6 x 4 minutes at half-marathon pace (about 5:50 to 6 minutes per mile) followed by 2 minutes of recovery at about 8:00 minutes per mile. We did a 2 mile warm-up and a 4 mile cool-down for about 11 miles total. She is racing a half-marathon in Kansas this weekend and will be defending her Lincoln Marathon title in a few weeks. She is running great.

Tomorrow, if I have time, I'll do 4 miles really easy and then take Saturday and Sunday off. The marathon is only a few days away. Let the eating begin!

Tomorrow I am having pasta for lunch courtesy of some people from the church and then Amber and I are going to Prima 140 where Paul, the owner, chef, friend, and fellow marathon runner will hook me up with with some needed carbs. Saturday it's fresh chocolate chip cookies courtesy of Midwest Airlines. Sunday it is whatever I can get my hands on. Monday morning it's Clif Bars, Jelly Beans, and Cytomax.

So the weather pretty much looks like a done deal. A Nor'easter will arrive in Boston this weekend and not leave until well after the race. Conditions are going to be miserable. Snow the day before on Sunday. On race day, temperatures will hover around 40 degrees, rain will be constant and heavy, and the winds will blow in our face from the Ocean at about 30 miles per hour for all 26.2 miles. My goal of a personal best time is not likely going to happen.

I was talking to Christy during the run yesterday about being a little disappointed with the weather. I have trained for a year for something that doesn't last three hours. I won't be able to run as fast as I hoped; there won't be nearly as many fans; it is going to be cold and wet, et. al.

I put all my eggs in one basket for this race. Now the basket has dropped and the eggs are broken. Turning back the clock, I wouldn't have done things any differently. I controlled what I could control and I'll will deal with what I can't control.

Other phrases exist for putting all one's eggs in one basket. A poker player calls it "going all in." A rock climber calls it "exposure." The investor calls it "risk." Disciples call it "getting out of the boat."

Matthew 14:24-29

Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.

Peter put all his eggs in one basket when he got out of the boat and walked on the water. He did what nobody else has ever done--he walked on water.

A person will never discover new lands in life without losing sight of the shore. Annie Dillard writes: "If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be too cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down." Mark Twain adds: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." And Ralph Waldo Emerson says: "People wish to be settled: only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them."

Take a step out of the boat and try walking on water. You will never succeed if you don't try. And know that God is with you. He promised us His presence.

So here's the deal, bite off more than you can chew and then start chewing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Perfect Storm

It was snowing / sleeting this morning with a north wind. I still had a good run with Christy and Maureen. I ran 12 miles pretty slow and easy.

I got the weather forecast from the people in Boston today. The predicted conditions could not be any worse: 40 degrees at race time, heavy rains, and an east wind will be blowing at 25 miles per hour. Since the entire course is west to east, this means we will be running into a big wind with rain pounding our faces for 26.2 miles. This is a combination of the perfect storm and a really bad dream come true.

Genesis 35:10 -- “Your name is Jacob, but you will not be called Jacob any longer. From now on your name will be Israel.”

God gave Jacob a new name, Israel, which means "one who struggles with God." Although Jacob's life was littered with difficulties and trials, his new name was a tribute to his desire to stay close to God despite life's disappointments.

One could believe that claiming the name of Christ entitles one to a problem free life. Consequently, as life gets difficult, one draws back and is disappointed. Jacob gives us a better model. We should be determined to prevail with God through life's storms. Problems and difficulties are painful and inevitable; we may as well see them as opportunities for growth. We can't prevail with God unless we have troubles to prevail over.

So lookout last six miles, lookout hills, and lookout bad weather: I have trained for all of them. I am ready, with God's help, for the worst Boston has to offer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Quotes on the Marathon

No running today. Just rest. Six days and counting until Boston. I was doing some research for a sermon a week from Sunday and I ran across some really cool quotes about the marathon...

You don’t run against a bloody stop watch, do you hear? A runner runs against himself, against the best that’s in him. Not against a dead thing of wheels and pulleys. That’s the way to be great, running against yourself. Against all the rotten mess in the world. Against God, if you’re good enough. - Bill Persons

To describe the agony of a marathon to someone who's never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind. -Jerome Drayton

You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming. -Frank Shorter

Marathoning is like cutting yourself unexpectedly. You dip into the pain so gradually that the damage is done before you are aware of it. Unfortunately, when awareness comes, it is excruciating. -John Farrington, Australian marathoner

There is the truth about the marathon and very few of you have written the truth. Even if I explain to you, you'll never understand it, you're outside of it. -Douglas Wakiihuri speaking to journalists

I felt like I played in a very rough football game with no hitting above the waist. -Alan Page, former NFL football star

I'm never going to run this again. -Grete Waitz after winning her first of nine New York City marathons

The marathon can humble you. -Bill Rodgers

I am too tired, even to be happy. -Gelindo Bordin, Italy, immediately after winning the Olympic Marathon in Seoul

I was unable to walk for a whole week after that, so much did the race take out of me. But it was the most pleasant exhaustion I have ever known. -Emil Zatopek's description of the Olympic Marathon win in Helsinki

Anyone can run 20 miles. It's the next six that count. -Barry Magee, marathon bronze in Rome, 1960

A marathon is like life with its ups and downs, but once you've done it you feel that you can do anything. -Author Unknown


During my workout this morning it dawned on me that in one week I will be running the Boston Marathon. I can do nothing else at this point in the journey to make myself run faster or farther. But, I can do silly things to make me go slower and shorter. So from here on out, the motto is, "Train smarter, not harder."

Christy and I ran 4 x 2 miles at marathon pace (6:20 per mile / 2:46 marathon) with 800 meter recovery runs between reps. I am not sure whose marathon pace this is, I guess it must be Christy's since I ran with her. Christy is an awesome runner and is a joy to run with. She has run in the last two Olympic Trials and has qualified for 2008 as well. We did the two mile repeats in 12:40, 12:46, 12:37, and 12:40.

(Photo courtesy of

I think runners are generally misunderstood. I was reading a book the other night that had absolutely nothing to do with running. It was a theology book. Out of the blue, the author starts writing about running:

Running is supposed to be good for the heart, the lungs, the muscles, and physical well-being in general. It is also said to produce a kind of euphoria known as runner's high. The look of anguish and despair that contorts the faces of most of the people you see huffing and puffing away at it by the side of the road, however, is striking. If you didn't know directly from them that they are having the time of their lives, the chances are you wouldn't be likely to guess it. (Whistling in the Dark by Frederick Buechner, p. 72.)

mĭs'ŭn-dər-stʊd' adj. Past participle of misunderstand.

1. Incorrectly interpreted.

As runners we are probably misunderstood. When running fast, anguish generally appears on the face that is huffing and puffing. But, I remember when the workout ended, Christy and I both made a fist and smacked our fists together--kind of like a high five. It was rewarding. The pain was temporary. But we pushed our bodies and are challenging the limits God has given us. The runner knows that pain, if it does not cause injury, leads to growth.

Being misunderstood is frustrating for anybody who is misunderstood. As a parent of five year old whose communication skills are obviously not fully developed yet, Benjamin and other kids Benjamin's age get frustrated when they are misunderstood. When I visit patients in the hospital, I sense frustration when they are not understood. Christians can be misunderstood. Culture may see us as people who think everybody should live by strict moral rules when the heart of Christianity is simply loving God and loving God's children.

Being misunderstood is going to happen. Sometimes it is funny. Other times it is frustrating. One thing we can all do is try to understand others.

ŭn'dər-stănd' Verb.

1. To know and be tolerant or sympathetic

So we will do our best to know, be tolerant, and be sympathetic. And be flexible and forgiving when misunderstandings happen.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter in Pictures

Craig praying at the very cold
Easter Sunrise Worship Experience

David, the little Easter Bunny

The Water's Edge Easter Egg Hunt at Russell Middle School

Easter Worship @ The Water's Edge
Over 400 people joined us
We've come a long way since September!

The Finnestad family after worship

Benjamin and David at Grandpa and Grandma's for
Easter Dinner / Supper (very long story)

Watching a hot air balloon land

Happy Easter everybody!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Thoughts About the Day After Easter on the Day Before Easter

Thoughts About the Day After Easter on the Day Before Easter

I was on the trail well before sunrise today. I had to be home by 8:00 to entertain the boys so Amber could get ready to go see some of her patients. I ran the east lake with Gary and then did then did both lakes with Gary and Chris. I hadn't run with Chris before. Great guy. I ran 11.7 miles in 1:26:20. I didn't realize this happened until after the run, but the Garmin 305 auto-spilt had us picking up the pace each mile: 8:11, 7:49, 7:41 7:40, 7:37, 7:26, 7:06, 6:53, 6:52, 6:50, 6:49, and 5:20 (.76 miles). I was blessed to be tapering for a marathon and up against a time constraint: they averaged 6:21 for the last 4.5 miles.

I got the forcast for Boston for a week from Monday: 46 degrees and cloudy. Perfect conditions for a marathon, unlike this morning. It was cold, dark, and windy at 6:00 a.m. The wind chill index was four degrees above zero. We did see one runner keeping it real by wearing shorts. We also enjoyed a beautiful sunrise.

(Photo: Gary Dougherty --

Earlier this week a friend ask me what the big deal was about Easter. I talked with her a bit about it. After talking to her, I think her question was: "So what is different about Christians on the day after Easter?"

Our kids, some who will still be on a high from too many Easter eggs, will return to school. Most of us will go to work at the same job we did last Monday. A few of us might want to investigate about the possibility of getting our taxes done before next Monday. We will be busy. The weather will be about the same, hopefully a little warmer and a little less windy. We will live in the same houses. Creighton will still have the same basketball coach. Nebraska probably will too. Football season is closer, but it is still not late-August yet.

So what will be different? Well, for some the answer is absolutely nothing. For others, something will be different.

Death is natural. Loss is natural. Grief is natural. Pain is natural. But Jesus came to the world to trade places with us. Our sin became his sin. His life becomes our life. We have problems with our life. Jesus is the carpenter who can construct us into the wonderful image of God that we are created to be.

When the stones were rolled away from the tomb, something really unnatural happened. On that day, the dead came to life. God planted a seed of life in us that cannot be killed and if we are blessed enough to have figured this out, there is not a whole lot that we can’t do: move the mountains in front of us, banish fear, love our enemies, forgive somebody who has hurt us, hope for a better tomorrow, get a good night’s sleep, laugh, experience joy, serve the hurting, grow closer to the One who wants nothing more than for you to grow closer to Him.

I believe that living has very little to do with a heart that beats and lungs that breath. The Greeks call the beating heart and breathing lungs bios. I believe that living has to do with relating, serving, caring, sharing, daring, dreaming, and loving. The Greeks have a word for this kind of life: zoe. Bios appears in the New Testament 5 times. Zoe appears in the New Testament 133 times. As God’s creation we are granted bios at our birth. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we are given zoe.

My prayer for all of us is more zoe. I pray we live as we have never lived before. I pray for us lives full of faith, hope, and love.



I went to see Ray the massage guy today. One of the things I will remember my future former training partner Maureen for is hooking me up with him. He has sharp elbows and hands like vice grips. He worked every muscle and tissue and tendon in my legs and feet for sixty minutes, including some I didn't even know I had. It was simultaneous pain and pleasure. I feel like a new man.

Hands can be used to take. They can give. They can make obscene gestures. They can say, "I love you." They can serve.

Today I served communion two times with my hands. Once at a nursing home. Once at church. I typed part of my sermon for Sunday with my hands. I changed a few diapers and then washed my hands. I pitched a ball with my hands to my son who stood on the other side of our family room eagerly awaiting the ball's arrival with his bat that he was holding with his little hands. I am typing this with my hands. Hopefully you get something out of these scribblings. Hands are most beautiful when they are serving and saying "I love you."
A few years ago I did a wedding when I was at Lovers Lane Church in Dallas. With a name like that, you are correct in assuming that I did a lot of weddings. The couple asked me to do a hands ceremony. I had never seen one before. They asked me to make a few revisions to the liturgy they gave me. Here is the final product:
Shane, please hold Jamie's hands, palms up, where you may see the gift that they are to you.
These are the hands of your best friend, smooth, young and carefree, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as she promises her love and commitment to you all the days of her life.
These are the hands that will hold your children in tender love, soothing them through illness and hurt, supporting and encouraging them along the way, and knowing when it is time to let go.
These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through the difficult times and cheer you through triumphs.
These are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick, or console you when you are grieving.
These are the hands that will love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness.
And lastly, these are the hands when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
Jamie, please face Shane, and hold his hands, palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you.
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love,
that are holding yours on your wedding day, as he promises his love and commitment to you all the days of his life.
These are the hands that will work along side yours, as together you build your future, as you laugh and cry, as you share your innermost secrets and dreams.
These are the hands that will work long hours for you and your family. These are the hands that will love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe tears from your eyes: tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when you feel fear or grief. These are the hands that will reassure you with strength and love.
These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into his eyes: eyes that are filled completely with his love for you.
And lastly these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching four yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
How are your hands doing?
My hands got a workout today, but the legs and feet didn't. I had a planned day off from running to rest for the race which is only ten days away.
Here is a picture of David and David and Georgia. Maybe these little hands will get him a spot on Nebraska's baseball team in about 18 years. Thanks to Mike and Carly for the outfit. Thanks to Georgia for taking time out of her busy day to pose.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Preparation and Flexibility

Preparation and Flexibility

It was a cold Nebraska morning. The temperature was only about twenty degrees and the wind was still blowing from the north.

Christy and I ran a two mile warm-up in about 16 minutes with Curt and Maureen. Christy and I continued with 5 miles of faster running. The goal was to run 10 x 400 at 5:40 to 6:00 per mile (1:25 to 1:30) followed by a 400 meter recovery run at 7:00 per mile (1:45). Our total time for 5 miles was 31:59. The faster 400s were 1:24, 1:23, 1:23, 1:26, 1:23, 1:26, 1:23, 1:24, 1:25, and 1:26. The recovery jogs were 1:43, 1:45, 1:46, 1:47, 1:52, 1:49, 1:45, 1:50, 1:50, and 1:43. We cooled-down with two miles in 14:40.

Dressing for running in cold weather is always tricky. As we were warming-up, it was noticeably cold. Thirty minutes into the workout we were both overheating. A simple rule exists for dressing for running in cold weather: wear layers. In other words, be prepared and flexible. Today, I took off my gloves and hat and was getting ready to lose my jacket.

The same truth works in life. That is: be prepared and flexible. As I walked out the door, I was warm enough. I was also flexible enough to take off some clothes when things heated up. That is quite simple in running; not quite as simple in life.

Some are prepared. Some are flexible. Some are neither prepared nor flexible. Some are both prepared and flexible.

We can prepare for much of life. Work, retirement, and personal organization are a few things that come to mind. Some friends of ours have a ten-year plan for their life. They are prepared for the future. School is preparation. So is prayer, Bible study, discipline, planning, learning, listening, resting, and about a million other things.

But, you know as I know, that life sometimes throws a 110 mile-per-hour curve ball that can sink like cement in water. As hard as we prepare for life, we will find ourselves at times totally unprepared. People get sick. Terrorists attack. Doors close. The unforeseeable happens. Flexibility now supersedes preparation.

It is good to be prepared. It is good to be flexible. Blessed is the person who is both prepared and flexible.

Gale Wind

Gale Wind

The past few weeks have spoiled us. The temperatures have been very pleasant, there hasn't been much rain, and with wind has been mostly absent. Today it wasn't raining, but it was cold and windy.

It was still a great morning to run. Any day is. A gale wind was blowing from the north. But, I didn't consider the wind to be harsh or cold. It was more fresh and reviving.

The word for Holy Spirit in the Old Testament is "ruah." (For all you Hebrew scholars out there, I can't get the symbols to work on HTML, so, yes, I know I have it spelled incorrectly.) The word Spirit in the Old Testament is translated into the English word wind. Running in the wind is very similar to life with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit gives us strength like wind behind our backs. The Holy Spirit balances us like wind cools a runner who is getting warm. The Holy Spirit revives and refreshes us just like the north wind I experienced this morning.

I ran about 10 miles in 1:17:30. I was a little late this morning because Benjamin wanted me to make him a cheese omelet. I caught up with Paul, Kurt, Christy, and Maureen and ran with them most of the way.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


My day was booked full today, so I got to do an early morning run in the dark. Today is an easy day, so I took just one trip around the lake: 7.38 miles. I started in the dark and finished in the light.
It is interesting that the sunrise is not like turning on a light switch. It is much more gradual. The light didn't come on at 5:58 or 6:23--it happened over the course of 55 minutes.
That seems to be the promise of the Bible: light gradually overcoming darkness. It was dark the day Jesus died. Light was restored the day he rose from the dead. Such is the story of Easter. Frederick Buechner writes of Easter: "If it is true, there is nothing else that needs to be said. If it is not true, there is nothing else that needs to be said. Either way, for the whole world life has never been quite the same since. And for some, neither has death."
I got a second trip around the lake in the evening, just before sunset. I ran with Mark for part of the way and with Charissa the entire 7.38 miles. Mark is training for a triathlon and did a great job. Charissa is about to wear out her treadmill so she will be running outside more. She has some serious running skills. She was pushing 7:00 minutes per mile at the end of the run.
Shortly after I arrived home, the sun set. But the good news is that it will rise tomorrow. Light overcomes darkness just like grace overcomes sin, comedy overcomes tragedy, love overcomes hate, hope overcomes despair, and life overcomes death.
Here is a picture of Benjamin taken today. I pray for him, for you, and for me: light, grace, comedy, love, hope, and life.

Monday, April 2, 2007

I Got My Number

I Got My Number

I got my race number for Boston the other day: 2271. To track me during the race, simply go to on race day and type in my number. The face of the web site will change on race day and it will be clear how to track the runners. The race is two weeks from today: Monday, April 16th. I'll be in the first wave of runners, so my starting time is 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time. (Lonnie, to clarify, that is 9:00 a.m. here in Omaha -- so you may need to pull yourself out of bed a little earlier than usual.) My time will be updated every 5 kilometers. The goal is 2 hours and 50 minutes which is about 20 minutes per 5 kilometers.

The last two weeks of training for a marathon are the best. We don't run as far or as fast. I cut my normal long run on Monday down from 20 to 22 miles and just did 15.05 miles this morning. I ran with Maureen at Lake Zorinsky on a nearly perfect morning. We ran most miles between 7:30 and 7:40. Some were a little faster and some were a little slower.

Running is a lot like life when it comes to resting. To be at my best for 26.2 miles, my leg muscles need to be rested. To be at our best for the opportunities of life, we need proper rest as well. Rest is defined as peace, ease, or refreshment resulting from sleep or the cessation of an activity. Peace, ease, and refreshment are all nice, aren't they? I know when I am at my best as a parent, husband, pastor, friend, child of God--it is when I have balance in life. A big part of that balance is rest and enjoying all that life has to offer.

Here is a picture of David getting some rest a little bit ago. Notice his smile / laugh as I must have caught him in the middle of a dream.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

I Quit Running

I Quit Running

I have decided to quit running. I may just scrap exercising all together. I am definitely not going to Boston in two weeks. And, I am getting rid of all running related products. Here is my running will--you all just need to come over and get the stuff...

To Maureen:

I have 17 cases of Diet Lipton Green Ice Tea in my garage. It's all yours. Now that I am not training, I can drink the real stuff.

To Gary:

I have figured out a way to make burping babies and changing diapers an effective form of cross training. I'll give you my secret now that I am not trying to become fast like you are.

To Will:

My Garmin 305. You will become a convert the first time using it!

To Christy:

You get my "I Eat Marathons For Breakfast T-Shirt." It may be a little big for you, but you will look great in it!

To Kurt:

Our feet are the same size, so you can have my Asics Gel Nimbus training shoes and my Asics Gel Ohana Racing shoes.

To Joanie:

You get all my Clif Bars. I have a couple dozen left of various flavors. Heck, I'll throw in a full container of Go Grape Cytomax.

I am going to spend my spare time becoming a nature photographer. I started out with these tulips outside our house this afternoon.