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#50by50 Rehoboth Beach Marathon

Here we go again! Tomorrow morning (LORD willing) I will wake up, lace up my gospel shoes, and run 26.2 miles through the beautiful beach streets and scenic trails surrounding Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. This is another step (well, actually a lot of steps) towards reaching my goal of running a marathon in each of the 50 states by age 50.

My immediate family will be here to cheer me on again, and this will be state #5, for those of you who are counting. (Yes, I know that I have a LONG way to go.) We left our home in Ohio early Thursday morning, drove a little over 5 hours to meet at a Chick-fil-A with my good friend, Dean Plumlee (and his lovely family), and then drove another 4 hours to a house not far from the Start/Finish Line. Jodi and I got a nice 5k in this morning, running to the Start Line and back. I will run there again first thing tomorrow morning.

Not only is this another step towards my “#50by50” goal, but it will also be another step towards a goal that Jodi and I both set back in May 2019. She has a goal of running or walking at least a 5k each day for an entire year. I have a similar goal, but no walking for me. I want to run at least 3.1 miles each day for a year. Some days, like tomorrow, have been a little over 3.1 miles. Tomorrow will be day 221 in a row of running at least 3.1 miles each day.

I am hopeful that tomorrow will be the day that I reach another goal. This one is pretty lofty… I am hoping to run a Boston Qualifying time tomorrow during the marathon.

My current best run is 3 hours and 7 minutes. I ran that time at my first official marathon, the Holland Haven Marathon in Michigan. At the time, it was a Boston Qualifying time. Unfortunately, it was not fast enough to actually get me accepted into the Boston Marathon. That was super disappointing, but I knew that it was the absolute fastest that I could run at the time. I left nothing on the course.

Several months later, I ran my second official marathon, the Louisville Derby Marathon in Louisville, Kentucky. I was stronger, faster, smarter, and it didn’t matter. I bonked. I crashed hard halfway through the race. Both of my calves tightened up and I cramped harder than I have ever experienced in my life. As I adjusted my stride, and did whatever I could possibly do to maintain a similar pace to what I was running, I watched my BQ dreams fade away mile after mile as I simply could not run the pace that I needed to run -the pace that had been so attainable for the first half of the marathon. I crossed the Finish Line in 3 hours and 15 minutes. It was a sad day.

Worse than the letdown of not qualifying for Boston, I had significant lingering affects from the cramping and stride adjustment. With the new stride, the only one that allowed me to actually keep running and finish the race, I essentially ran 14 miles on muscles that had never been engaged during previous runs. The overworking of those muscles brought substantial pain. From April 2018 through January 2019, I was on the “injured” list. I tried to run through the pain, to take time off, to see a medical professional, to do whatever I could… but in the end I had to just slow down, rehabilitate, and start all over.

Slowly but surely, I worked myself back to being able to run longer distances at a decent pace.

I tested my legs during my third “#50by50” run in May 2019 at the Nutmeg State Marathon in Hartford, Connecticut. My goal during that run was to simply maintain an 8 minute or less pace and finish in 3 hours and 30 minutes or less. I finished in 3 hours and 27 minutes (and actually won the entire marathon!) and I felt great.

After a busy summer, I ran my fourth “#50by50” in September 2019, as I paced the Akron Marathon in Akron, Ohio. As a “Pacer”, my job was to run a solid 8 minute and 24 second pace to help other runners reach their goal of finishing in 3 hours and 40 minutes. That was a different, and wonderful, experience.

If you are paying attention, I am not trending very well…

Marathon #1: 3 hours 7 minutes

Marathon #2: 3 hours 15 minutes

Marathon #3: 3 hours 27 minutes

Marathon #4: 3 hours 40 minutes

Marathon#5… hopefully a PR!

Now here I am in December, in Delaware, and I am looking to run strong tomorrow. It should be around 28 degrees at the start (brr) and I am hoping to maintain an average of 7 minutes or less per mile. I need to finish in 3 hours and 5 minutes in order to qualify for Boston. I would like to run a bit faster than that. I have the world’s greatest cheering section, and I have put in a lot of miles since becoming healthy again. I am strong enough, I am fast enough, and I am determined to run well.

As I step up to the finish line, I will be wearing my G.O.S.P.E.L. shoes. I do this for every official marathon, because it reminds me of my actual purpose on earth.

For we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10, ESV

My purpose, or “good work” that God has prepared for me to do is to advance the gospel!

And [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Mark 16:15, ESV

Running reminds me so much of sharing the gospel. You don’t always know how it is going to turn out, but you always try to take the next right step, running towards (and pointing others towards) the Finish Line.

My goal in running tomorrow is to qualify for Boston. My goal in life is to point others to Jesus Christ, who is the source of all truth, love, life, and good… and in the process not to miss Him for myself!

To help remind me of this, I will run with the G.O.S. on the back of my left shoe and the P.E.L. on the back of my right shoe. What does it stand for?

God created us to be with Him

Our sins separate us from God

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life

Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever!

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