Saturday, 17 November 2012

Keep the Earth below my feet

As I prepare for the upcoming 10.8 km Egg Nog Jog in December, the 21.1 km Chilly Half Marathon in March, and eventually the 42.2 km Cleveland Full Marathon in May I thought back to my first Marathon.  As I have talked about many times I now have the full support of my family. My first marathon was the Mississauga Marathon 2009.  For some reason the Race director scheduled it on Mother`s day.  The next part of this writing is taken from an email sent to a group of Faithful and somewhat naive Ladies who offered to pray for me as I attempted my first marathon.  Faithful, because they are still praying for me and my family.  Naive as I am like the gift that keeps on giving in that they may never be free of my prayer requests.

"I am not the smartest husband, and I have a lot to learn about members of the opposite sex.
However even I realized that 12 years of marriage, and bearing me the two most wonderful kids in the world deserved some sort of special reward for Mother`s day.

In one of my rare wise moments I saw that watching your husband limping around the house, watching him taking Epsom salt baths, popping Advil’s, and smelling the wonderful fragrance of tiger balm muscle cream, was not what Gloria expected as a reward.
So I decided I would take Gloria and the girls out for dinner on Saturday, the night before the marathon.

I should have saw what was coming next as for quite some time Katarina and Isabella had been asking me about what they called "my race".  I quickly told them it was a Marathon I was not going to race.
This didn`t seem to work so well as the next day they would again inquire about "the race."

Katarina hadn`t shown as much interest as Isabella but at dinner she found out that the first three finishers would receive cash prizes.  I hope I do not bother Lisa Cheong too much in the future because this girl has a career somewhere in the financial market, and I could use some connections.
Well at dinner Katarina asked me what our family would do with the money if I was to finish first.

I assured her there was no possibility of this happening.
She then asked me what we would do with the money if I came second.

I again assured her there was no possibility of this happening.
She then asked me what we would do with the money if I was to come in third place.

Yet, again I assured her there was no possibility of this happening.
She told me I had to think more positive if I wanted to finish well.

I think I had dashed her plans of another family vacation.
Next was Isabella's turn.

I finished 336 out of 1413 competitors.
I was, and am a little surprised and quite content with my placing.

Don’t let Isabella’s sweet and angelic looks fool you.
Do you know her response to her Father’s placing?

Daddy you did terrible!
Three days have not softened her stance, as I suppose she had visions of her father on a podium collecting gold like Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, so hearing that 335 people beat me is not a consolation prize for her.

Well as they say, “if you want to know where you stand in life ask a child.”
Since that interesting dinner I have come a long way as has my family.  Katarina really got excited about the Boston Marathon prize money $150 000 and worked out a deal with me that our family would keep half and Ratanak International would receive half if I was to win this race.  As you will see later I came quite a ways back of collecting the prize money.  Katarina has come to accept that I will never make any money at my running and celebrates the fact I am able to finish.

In the above email I wrote three days have not softened Isabella.  I think it took three years for her to accept my placing’s.  In Boston you are given a number based on your qualifying time.  I was given the bib number 8 144.  To say Isabella was not impressed is an understatement.
Isabella has come full circle thanks in part to a group of Teachers at her School who run 10km races and were impressed when she told them of my running.  This summer while watching a world class track meet on television Isabella asked me if "I could beat these runners?” yes she has come full circle indeed.

I remember a song from my childhood; it is from the show Sesame Street.  I am going to play this game with you now but I am going to change the words from things to people.
One of these things (people)
One of these people is not like the others.
One of these people just doesn`t belong.
Can you tell which person is not like the others?
By the time I finish my song.

          This is Reid Coolsaet
Birth place Canada
Height 5feet 9inches Weight 140 pounds
3rd place Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2011 time of 2 hours 10 minutes 55 seconds
27th place London Olympics Marathon 2012 time of 2 hours 16 minutes 29 seconds
1st place Around the Bay 30 km race 2012     time of 1 hour 33 minutes 20 seconds

 This is Geoffrey Mutai
Birth place Kenya
Height 5feet 6inches Weight 119 pounds
1st place  Boston Marathon 2011 time of World`s fastest ever 2 hours 3 minutes 2 seconds
1st place New York Marathon 2011 time of  Course record 2 hours 5 minutes 5 seconds1st place Berlin Marathon 2012 time of  Course record 2 hours 4 minutes 15 seconds
This is me
 Birth place Canada
Height 5feet 11inches Weight 185 pounds
6 234 place Boston Marathon 2011 time of 3 hours 25 minutes 10 seconds
683 place Around the Bay 30 km race 2012 time of 2 hours 26 minutes 22 seconds
6th place Erindale Park Children of Merendon Mountains 10km 2011 time of 45 minutes 19 seconds

As I compare my accomplishments against these two World class Marathoners of whom I have raced against I am grateful people make donations for Ratanak International when I run instead of relying on me to try and collect prize money.  I also can see where Isabella may have had the gift of wisdom at a very young age.
Throughout the years I have heard many Pastors’s using the story of the frog in the pot of water in a sermon.  The story is that if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it will jump out right away.  If you put the same frog in a pot of cold water and gradually turn the heat up the frog will not notice the difference and will stay in the pot being boiled to death.  The Pastor always used this story with sin in our lives being the frog.
I used to wonder why I never heard an example of this story being used in the positive.  For example Mother Theresa and other great people of our time.  Did they have a gradual process of doing good that lead them to a lifetime of the amazing blessings that they were responsible for?

I have come to realize training for a marathon in my life has become the frog, in that I am doing much more then when I started in September, but I have a long way to go to when I really stretch out my training in March and April.  Like the frog if I tried to train now like I will in April I am pretty sure I would be injured.

This is, for those who are interested a two week sample of my training.  It is a pretty good reflection of what I do to prepare for a marathon, although each week I will add a few more minutes of training to each cardio exercise, until my outside runs are over three hours with 10x Centennial Hill, my treadmill runs will be as long as seventy minutes, my elliptical training will be as long as two hours, and my bike rides will be well over one hour.
To save time and space when I write worked out; it means approximately a 45 minute time I take to lift weights, stretch, and do sit ups.

October 28 ran outside for 48 minutes
October 29 worked out, 50 minute elliptical

October 30 worked out, ran for 50 minutes treadmill
October 31 worked out, 10 minute bike 40 minute elliptical

November 1 worked out, ran for 23 minute treadmill
November 2 worked out, 30 minutes elliptical

November 3 ran outside for 72 minutes including Centennial Hill 5X
November 4 day off

November 5 worked out, ran outside for 53 minutes
November 6 worked out, 45 minutes elliptical

November 7 worked out, ran outside for 77 minutes including Centennial Hill 5X
November 8 worked out, 40 minutes bike 20 minutes elliptical

November 9 worked out, ran for 50 minutes treadmill
November 10 day off

November 11 ran outside for 63 minutes
Now I close with the words from a new Mumford and Son song which inspired me as I ran outside last weekend.

Below my feet
Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat, my blood turns weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve
My hands to learn
This is a prayer of sorts for me as I do not track how many miles I run to prepare for a marathon, but it must be in the Thousands. What I could never track are how many steps I must take. This must be in the Billions and yet it would only take one misstep to injure a person. I have read about professional athletes tearing up muscles by falling on the treadmill, or even slipping on ice.
Geoffrey Mutai who I mentioned earlier developed severe cramps in the 2012 Boston Marathon and had to quit at the 18 mile mark, ending his chance to compete in the London Olympics.

So, yes Lord keep the earth below my feet as I run!
These words also take on a deeper meaning as I relate it to running in my ravine. The day I wrote this the weather was 18C Sunny and beautiful; but I really look forward to the winter down my ravine when I run in solitude.

Sometimes God speaks to us away from the hustle and bustle of life. Sometimes God speaks to us in the wilderness wherever that may be, for me this is in my ravine. In the Bible Jesus was lead into the desert to be tempted. Moses was in the wilderness when God appeared to him in the burning bush. David before he became King was hiding from Saul in the wilderness.
Keep the earth beneath my feet as I run! Let me see things as you do, let me use this unusual gift of preparing for a marathon to further Your Kingdom which in my life is advocating for the girls in Cambodia.

In spite of my sweat of hard work many times I am afraid and my blood goes weak. Let me learn from my experiences and may I bring you Glory.
In the song I mentioned above the chorus is sung three times. The first time is very low, the next time is a bit higher, the last time the lead singer`s voice literally explodes as he is singing with such emotion. That day as I ran it seemed as if I sang the first two verses but the third one I listened to as a foreshadowing of the trying weeks ahead and the reward that awaits at the end of them.
Keep the earth below his feet
For all his sweat, his blood turns weak
Let him learn from where he has been
Keep his eyes to serve
His hands to learn
That day as I ran a choir of 30 000 sexually exploited children in Cambodia sang this verse to me, and for me.

To sum up training for and running a full marathon is the hardest physical event I will do in my life. I was interviewed recently at work and I told the person interviewing me knowing what I know now I do not think I would run a marathon for myself. For a Country I have never been to, to a group of people I have never met though, this is easy.


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