Family Runs.

Having a running companion not only creates accountability, but it also has a way of breaking down walls, allowing for unique bonds to be established… by letting your guards down you are able to connect and relate to your running partner(s). Things that might normally separate you (vocation, age, gender, etc) lose their effect while running.

– Mile 6. Companionship.

This past spring I had the privilege of coaching a track team. We were a small team. So small in fact, there were some meets where opposing teams brought more coaches than we brought athletes. To some this size may have been a disadvantage and in some ways I cannot disagree. We were not capable of fielding a girls relay team simply because we did not have enough girls on the team! However, as the season began to gain momentum I truly cherished the size of our team.

One distinct advantage of our size, was that on certain days we were capable of going on runs as one group, a thing we eventually called our ‘family runs.’ These runs were special to me not only because they let me run with them – but more so because each runner seemed to care more about the success of the others, than their own success. After each split high-fives were exchanged and people were asking if goals were met. Their times and goals were not as important as their teammate’s times and goals.

Another great advantage to our family runs was the unique role each runner filled. Jason always seemed to ask the questions – what were people doing on the weekend, what big tests were coming up, who was crushing on who. Lindsay provided the consistency that made everyone else feel at ease. The consistency was seen not just in her running, but in life. Her updates on pop-culture brought entertainment to the others (and provided me with a lot of facts I could spout out to act like I knew what was going on). Samantha provided the stories…that generally had no real point whatsoever – at least not that anyone else could find. Kip, the youngest of the crew, would easily take any conversation in the most random of directions. Whether it was sharing his dreams to create a music album, or chasing a nearby gopher, Kip kept everyone on their toes (both of those happened during one 400m recovery).

As I have been reflecting on our season, I find the above quote from the book extremely applicable. Each member of our family runs is in a different grade. A typical day could pass without us sharing more than a quick glance in the halls while moving from class to class. All have different schedules and class loads. During the school day there is very little that connects them. Yet, get them out on the running trail, and you have a family running together.

He did it!


I distinctly remember writing the line and thinking to myself, “That sounds pretty corny. I really don’t know if I want to put that in the book.” But the more I thought about, the more I kept thinking, “there is going to be somebody who has a goofy sense of humor and actually does it.”

This past weekend my friend, Victor, ran his first marathon. He and I have been emailing back and forth (since he currently lives in the Netherlands) over the past 16 weeks, as he progressed through his training regimen. The timing was great, as I was also training and was capable of answering some of his questions with experiences and thoughts I had been thinking myself on a run earlier that week. About a month ago, he sent me a picture with a portion of the book underlined. The caption simply read, “do you remember writing this?” Then, as pictures of his race were being posted on Facebook, I couldn’t help but notice one where he was taking me up on the offer.

Victor, first of all, well done on completing your first marathon! Great job of sticking it out and challenging yourself. Secondly, thank you for having a sense of humor and taking the picture.

If you want to read a little bit more about Victor and the way his marathon is going to impact his summer plans, follow this link to get to his blog and read about the awesome adventure he will have in Burkina Faso. 

Larisa’s trip update

As you may recall, at the beginning of 2014 a shirt was created to pair with the book. The purpose of the shirt is to help spread the word about the book, but also to help support student led mission trips. When the shirt was first created, it was decided that the profits from the shirt sales would go toward Larisa’s trip. When she returned from the trip she wanted to provide a summary of her experience:

I wanted to give you a little update on my amazing trip to Jordan. Lufthansa had a strike so our tickets on the way there got cancelled and we had to rebook, which turned out to be a HUGE blessing as we had a whole extra day in Amman and had a bit of time to rest before starting to work. The first day we were there we had orientation and visited a school on the outskirts of town. Then we painted two different rooms in a community center, walked around the city, led a short children’s program and had a potluck type welcome dinner with some of the missionaries there. On Sunday we got to go downtown and visit some of the souks in the morning and have traditional Jordanian food. Then we went back to the center, painted some more and planned for an English fun night that we were to have soon. In the evening we attended an Arabic church, which was really different but still interesting to be a part of.

On Monday (my 18th birthday!) we drove up to Mufraq, a city about 20 km away from Syria. Our three days in Mufraq were definitely the highlight of the trip. We would visit Syrian refugee families, bring them food and supplies and sit and talk to them anywhere from an hour to three. We would hear their stories of life in Syria and fleeing across the border into Jordan. One girl that we visited had been shot in the leg at the age of 4 by the government army and had to have it amputated and now used a prosthetic leg. What amazed me most about this adorable seven year old girl was how joyful and happy she was. As her dad told the horrific story about her being shot, she sat there with me and we colored and she would look at me every so often with this beautiful smile on her face, so content. Not angry, bitter or mad – this was not at all what I would have expected. Yet another family had 7 kids with one more on the way; they could only afford for three of the kids to go to school and the dad had a broken hip due to a tank shooting a wall and the wall falling on him and crushing him. These people had lost everything – their home, friends, possessions, jobs, their whole LIVES yet they were so inviting and hospitable and would serve us Turkish coffee and tea and ask us about our lives and what it was like in Germany. I also got the chance to distribute supplies to refugees that had registered for help at the center there. We would come in a pickup and go to people’s houses, determine how much they needed and then start bringing supplies in. These supplies included mattresses, blankets, pillows, mats, gas stoves and gas cookers. Our team would have to do this as fast as possible, as others would surround the supply truck, often trying to steal from it. I went with a Syrian refugee ladies group to a Jordanian school for handicapped children one day, we made crafts and spent time with these autistic and Down Syndrome kids. They were precious. I will never forget the stories, faces and hopes of the refugees we visited and spent time with.

We drove back to Amman did some more work there, painting a coffeehouse and another room, then leading an English Fun Night twice; a time of games and fellowship and meeting the locals. We attended church once more and on Friday went on a picnic with the local church and spent time with them, talking and discussing stories. On Saturday we got to do some sightseeing, we visited Mt. Nebo, where Moses died, to the site where Jesus was baptized and finally the Dead Sea. I loved my time in Jordan and the people there really impacted and encouraged me. I hope I did the same for them. I cannot even thank you enough for enabling me to go on this trip. I have travelled a lot in my life and been to different countries but this was a completely different and eye-opening experience. This trip even helped me realize a bit more what I want to do with my life – I am now considering going into Pediatrics more seriously and then working with refugees in war torn countries.

Thanks again, Larisa






In the days since my last marathon I have had three thoughts continually running through my mind:

1. It is awesome to have friends who will run with you when you need them to. 

Similar to my last race, I had a friend step up in a massive way and show great support and encouragement during the race. This past race I had a friend hop on and run the first twelve miles with me. Those were hands down the most enjoyable and relaxing miles of the entire race. And, not just because they were at the opening part of the race – they were enjoyable and care-free because I was running with one of my closest friends, and we were going through the race together. He was out there to support me; the pace we were running was mine, whether or not we talked was dictated by me, whether we stopped for water along the way was my call, he was there for me. We ended up talking the majority of the time we had together and a few times I commented to him, “I feel like I’m in that running trance – where you’re going and feel great. You barely even recognize you’re running. You just feel so relaxed and comfortable.” As soon as he left, I noticed myself fall out of that trance. Perhaps it was a result of the massive hill I had to climb, but I tend to think it was more because I knew I was going to be running alone. I have logged countless miles with him over the years, and these miles helped me feel so relaxed and comfortable. 

2. Accountability is a good thing. 

A few days prior to the race I sent out an email to friends giving details on how to follow and track my progress throughout the race. Additionally, I told a few of the runners I am currently coaching how they could track me. I know every person I told about the tracking, and I thought about each and every one of you while running. At times where I had a moment’s thought to slow my pace, I reminded myself of those who were tracking me. I knew if I didn’t work as hard as I could, I would not be in a place to ask my runners to work as hard as they can. In those moments where the miles were piling up, I knew others were looking at my time. That accountability kept me moving. Even though most of those people were hundreds of miles away, I could sense the accountability, and it propelled me forward.

3. I’m close, but not there yet.

I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I. Really. Want. To. To date, my PR is a 3:15:47. I need to run 3:04:59 or better to qualify. This past weekend I came across in 3:22:00 – not a tremendous race, but not terrible seeing as how I PR’d just three weeks earlier. Throughout the race I could sense a greater strength in my stride and in my determination. This time it wasn’t until a nasty decline at mile 23 where I fell off pace with the 3:15 group. I can sense that I am getting close, but I am not there yet. Today was the first run I went on since the race, and my body felt good. Still a bit sore and weak, but good enough to get a light run in. I have begun to let my mind think about the next race (most likely not until September). I’m not at a BQ yet, but I can tell I am getting close.