Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Running Buddy

When asked for advice about training for a marathon, one of the first things I always say is, "find a running buddy." And I say this with much conviction every time because it is born out of my own experience.

With me in the following pictures is Stephen, my running buddy, trainer, encourager and friend. Stephen runs ultramarathons (yes, the 100 mile type). He has been my inspiration in running.

Stephen ran my first 5K with me 5 years ago.

He was the one who said, "I think you can run a marathon." He ran my first three marathons with me. I would not have been able to finish these races without Stephen. I would not have gotten to a point where I would be ready to even run a marathon if not for him.

Mayors Marathon in Anchorage
Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks
Winter Solstice Marathon in Willow
A running buddy is not only one who runs with you but someone who holds you accountable. When you don’t feel like getting up in the morning, they are there. When you don't feel like running at all but you need to, they are there. When you are tired and want to quit, they encourage you and push you on. When you are slowing down, they run in front of you and pace you back. In distance running, they remind you to hydrate, to eat, to pay attention to your body. They remind you to stretch after a run and to take time to rest. They give you tips on fitness, food and footwear. They know when to trade stories with you while running and when its time to just run alongside you in silence.

I am truly thankful for Stephen. And I am thankful for those who are my running buddies in this race called life, those in the past and those who still are. The apostle Paul constantly expressed his thankfulness to his partners in ministry in the different churches he planted and served. To the Philippians, he wrote, "Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us..." (Philippians 1:3-5a, The Message).

Right now, I am thankful for those who were willing to fill-in and preach at Chugiak and First UMC. You are great partners in ministry. Thanks for running the race with me and with these two churches.

Crystal Feaster is a great "running buddy" at the conference office. She has been very helpful and very patient with me as I learn the ropes. And talking about partnership, as I write this piece, Lonnie Brooks, our conference lay leader, is working with Crystal, going through old files in the office and providing the much needed historical knowledge and church systems expertise to determine what needs to be kept and what can be discarded. Lonnie, of course, has been and will continue to be one of my go to people for advice and opinion on church matters. Thank you, Lonnie.

I wouldn't be able to run this race without my wife Radie and our boys. You have been wonderful partners in life and ministry!

I have many other "running buddies" and partners in ministry. You know who you are. And you know how thankful I am for you.

What about you, my dear reader? Who are your running buddies? Mike Slaughter, in his book "Momentum for Life", underscores the importance of "investing in key relationships." Who are the people running the race with you? Who are the people you listen to, whose words matter to you? Who are the people you model your life after? Who are the people who help shape who you are?

Are there people like this in your life? Or have you been going at it all alone? Remember, life is like a race, a marathon. And if you want to stay in it and finish strong, I would give you the same advice I give "would-be marathoners": find a running buddy.

May you find running buddies for this race called life. May you, like Paul, be thankful for these people and find time and ways to express this to them. And may you be a running buddy to someone else beginning today.


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