Monthly Archives: October 2013

Lessons from a Marathon Debut

Today our middle son Adrian joined 25,000 other runners to run his first marathon in the Scotiabank course in downtown Toronto and along the beautiful Toronto waterfront.  Although our sons, including dad, have been competitive runners, only Adrian has had the gumption to invest the time, energy, focus and tenacity it takes to execute the ‘classic distance’ of some 26 miles 385 yards.

Adrian’s training began in earnest last winter and he logged thousands of miles since then mixing those miles with ‘roadwork’, ‘speed training’, ‘long runs’ and other cross training.  Oh ya, he has also employed the services of an excellent coach and runner, Megan Brown, who adeptly wove together a series of workouts throughout the last six months.  Adrian followed his coach’s advice and exhortation to the tee.  Adrian has been wonderfully coachable, and a coach himself on the club he runs with and for.

In my work as a life, ministry and business results coach, I love when I have a ‘coachable client’, one who doesn’t ‘ya but’ their way through the whole coaching call.  Of course, there are times coach and coachee need to dialogue and trust each other, but at the end of the day, the coachee will be best served by following the coach’s direction, which they have agreed upon together.

Of course, for those of us who don’t run at the level of those runners who are blessed with what appears to be ‘superhuman’ talent, we can still benefit from our own race.  The most important lesson for me is that marathon training not only builds your capacity for a long run, but it also develops you in your spirit, soul and body, to crash through other quitting points in life, be they relational, career, relational or spiritual.

Very rarely does a marathon runner ‘feel good’ for the whole run, so developing the capacity to crash through quitting points is a non negotiable virtue.

Not only did Adrian achieve a personal goal today in competing in and completing his first marathon, he inspired our whole family to keep on chasing after our dreams and goals.  Adrian’s example was huge for all of us. After the race over lunch and while we watched Adrian limp and crawl around the house, we were all talking about what our next challenge would be and it was all because we watched our son, our brother, our husband, our father, our son in law, our friend, do something that was difficult, challenging, fulfilling all at the same time.

Just before the race Adrian tweeted us a favourite line from his all time favourite movie “Hoosiers’. In that movie Jimmy Chipwood, one of the most silent characters says in reference to an important basket he needs to make, “I’ll make it!”, which is exactly what Adrian did, “He made it!”

Seconds from a 2:54:15 finish.

Celebrating with his bride Amy and proud son, Jakey.

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Thanksgiving Prayer by Soren Kierkegaard

Thanksgiving Prayer by Soren Kierkegaard

A Thanksgiving Prayer from Kierkegaard

“Father in heaven! You hold all the good gifts in your gentle hand. Your abundance is richer than can be grasped by human understanding. You are very willing to give, and your goodness is beyond the understanding of a human heart, because you fulfill every prayer and give what we pray for or what is far better than what we pray for. Give everyone [their] allotted share as it is well pleasing to you, but also give everyone the assurance that everything comes from you, so that joy will not tear us away from you in the forgetfulness of pleasure, so that sorrow will not separate you from us, but in joy we may go to you and in sorrow remain with you, so that when our days are numbered and the outer being is wasting away, death may not come in its own name, cold and terrible, but gentle and friendly, with greetings and news, with witness from you, our Father who is in heaven! Amen.”

– Kierkegaard, opening prayer to “Strengthening in the Inner Being,” from Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses

It’s Often Too Soon To Quit

During this time of year I get nostalgic with the fall air and as I enjoy watching elementary, high school, and university students running cross country races. It reminds me of my days as a runner in the late 60s, early 70s, and more recently, my own sons’ many fall cross country running seasons. It’s a wonderful time of year. This video piece from a high school runner’s determination to finish her race inspired not only the spectators but allowed her team to have a superb result.

This season also reminds me of a poem I have had in my possession but not been able to discover the author.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Question: Is there anything you wish you had finished? What can you do to increase your capacity to finish the things you start?