I am a Runner

  
I’ve been what I would call a ‘runner’ for 11 years this month. While my wife was pregnant with my oldest son I gained about 25 sympathy pounds. After his birth my wife looked at me and said, ‘I was pregnant, so I gained baby weight and I’m not pregnant anymore… what are you going to do?’ So I started running. And kinda like Forest Gump, I never stopped. But after 11 years of running, I completed my first ever tempo run. While I have run often and far, I realized I was a lazy runner, running for distance and not really caring about the pace. Not anymore. I’ve started a new training plan that is going to kick

my butt. But it will also get me ready to destroy my current half marathon pace. I’ve set my eyes on the Tomoka half marathon at the end of March. 

So today, as I ran my first ever tempo run I feel like I’m now beginning to train like a runner. Refine my skill and become better more efficient at it. 

I like running. 

Wisdom

  

It’s 8:30 on a Friday night and I’m on I-75 in the middle of South Georgia. Why?
I’m heading to north Georgia with two of my independent living youth. We are headed for the culmination of a mentoring program they started on the spring. It feels a little odd to be wrapping up the mentoring program I wasn’t really a part of. But tha s kind of how it goes. 

I have mixed feelings about being away from home this weekend. Without letting the cat out of the bag, there’s a lot going on back in Orlando. Ronda and I are in the midst of praying through a big situation for us. On one hand, I want to be there with her. One the other hand, I’m looking forward to the space and clarity that comes with spending a weekend in the woods. 

I suppose that means this weekend has a twofold purpose for me. To capstone the mentoring program and solidify my place in the lives of these youth as a mentor. And to allow God to speak to and mentor me this weekend. I have high hopes for this weekend. I’m trusting God won’t let me down. He doesn’t usually. 

The Celldweller song ‘The Last Firstborn’ is playing. That song always make me think of the Apostle Paul. He claimed his apostleship cake as one untimely born. I feel that way. Not that I’m an apostle, but that I often wonder about God’s choice to love me and use me to fulfill his purposes. But he does. And I believe this weekend he is going to teach me as much as he teaches these dudes with me. 

In some ways, I really need to hear God speak to me this weekend. I need it more than I have in quite some time. We started a new sermon series at church last week on the book of James. I’ve been reading it this week. In chapter 1, James says any who lacks wisdom should ask God in faith that he give generously to the obedient. That’s where j find myself. Asking for wisdom. Asking for God’s spirit of be upon me and inform my decision-making. I want to be a spirit-filled wise leader of the family and ministry God has trusted me with. 

This seems like a good place to close… God grant me your spirit of wisdom to be a wise leader of the people you have given to me. 

Admitting Defeat

  

I don’t admit defeat.

I don’t like defeat. I don’t like admitting I have been defeated.  I don’t like admitting I started a challenge I couldn’t finish. I especially don’t like admitting defeat when it highlights my shortcomings or inadequacies. 

Today, I admit defeat. I admit to biting off than I could chew. I ain’t to thinking more highly of my abilities than I should have. 

I endeavored to run 8 miles this morning. I made it to 3.3 before I completely bonked. There was just no gas left in the tank. I write this as I hang my head in shame walking the reminder 5 miles home. Luckily, I won’t have to because my wife is on her way to save me.  This experience has taught me a few cuable lessons about running, training and life. 

  1. You have to fuel your body. Now this may sound simple, but I’m notorious for not doing it. I didn’t eat or drink anything this morning before setting out to run. I have learned to be able to ‘compete’ at the level I want to, I need to take my nutrition and hydration seriously. Eat healthy. Drink water. Fuel my body appropriators the task at hand. This is true across all areas of life. You must prepare yourself appropriately for the task ahead of you. You have to be prepared to tackle the obstacles ahead. Pre-planning prevents poor performance. Or as I like to practice: piss poor planning provides piss poor performance. Fuel yourself for what you are doing. 
  2. You have to be realistic about your limits. Last Friday I had a minor surgery removing a mole or something. The doctor said to lay low for two weeks. Let the stitches heal and come out. Blah blah blah. I took a couple days off after I had been slowing down leading it the procedure. I then expected to jump back into a long run. I ran once or twice this week and last week and then expected I could pound out 8 miles unfueled. This wasn’t realistic. I should have planned a week or two of light running to get back to where I needed to be for an 8 miler. This is also true across life. Trying new things and pushing ourselves are fantastic ideas, but only after we have trained and prepared ourselves for what comes next. 
  3. You have to be serious. I have realized the best way to describe my approach to total fitness (training, running and eating) is undisciplined. I’m undisciplined. This is harder to admit than defeat. It’s hard to admit I love my life haphazardly, coming and going with whatever and not sticking to discipline. I’ve known this about myself for a year or so. I’ve been trying to work on it, but I still have a long way to go. I believe, being undisciplined is the main thing holding me back from doing incredible things in my life. Having order and organization feels rigid and robotic, but being disciplined allows for things to be accomplished, tasks to get completed and progress to be made. I’m making progress in becoming disciplined and slowly I’m seeing my life pull together. 

I admit defeat. I admit that an 8 mile run defeated me today. But I also admit, I have learned about myself and will be better equipped for the next one. 

What have you learned from times you’ve admitted defeat?

#trainingformy40s

  
Some time ago, I began to use #trainingformy40s when posting my training whether it was running, crossfit, weight training or hiking. Anything athletic or exercise or training related. I did this because I decided to take a long haul approach to my fitness. I have always trained in some way, never with any real purpose or meaning behind it. Never with a goal in mind. Never with anymore thought than I should do this.

When I train now, it is less haphazard and slightly more on purpose. I want to be interesting the best shape of my life physically, mentally and emotionally by the time I am 40. On my 40th birthday, I want to look back at my life and say, ‘I have never been healthier than I am at this moment!’
As we age, too often it seems we lose the many of the things we once had in our youth. I don’t want to be that way. I want to be better than I am now and when I was younger. I want to stand on the precipice of ‘the hill’ and as I begin my descent down, I want to be in my Prime. I want to face the second half of my life better prepared than I faced the first half.

For this to become reality, it takes determination, drive, discipline and sweat. It takes getting out of my comfort zone and forcing myself to train… especially when I don’t feel like it. It is about finding a routine of training that works to cover all aspects of what I want to accomplish. It is about getting my eating habits under control (the piece I’ve always struggled with).

It is about total health.

It is about discipline.

It is about 1 Corinthians 9:27 – but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

17 Years

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On Saturday (8/1), Ronda and I celebrated 17 years of marriage. I am not 100% sure if she knew what she was getting into when she married me… but I am glad she did. We have had our ups and downs and rough roads, but despite it all we love each other and have committed to work through whatever comes our way.

We celebrated this year by doing some activities that only strange, warped married couples would enjoy doing to celebrate…

We started the day off with an 8 mile run at 6:45am. Yes, we went running to celebrate.

Then I did yardwork. Then we cleaned the house.

After this, we went to a rock climbing gym.

We capped off the night with Greek food.

As you can see, we spent the day punishing ourselves by physically… this doesn’t seem right, but it’s what we did. They may seem like strange activities, but they are activities that are special to us. They are activities that speak to the core of our relationship. The first date I took Ronda on was to Mt. Currahee in north Georgia to go climbing and rappelling. We had a blast. We have continued to participate in outdoor, adventure type activities throughout our relationship. I believe it assists us in remaining together. We like the same things. We enjoy the same activities.

Mind you, this is the only ingredients in the recipe to last 17 years, but they are critical pieces. Since you asked, I will share three thoughts which I am sure have been essential in our success.

  1. She is my best friend. This may seem a little silly, but it’s true. I don’t use that term frequently… at all. Ronda is my only best friend (other than Jesus). She is the one person I would spend time with hands down everytime given the opportunity. She is the one person I would want with me no matter where I am going or what I am doing. She is my best friend.
  2. Our commitment is bigger than just us. We committed to more than just each other when we got married. We made a commitment to God. I know for a fact, it is this commitment that has saved our relationship. If the commitment was just to each other, there is always room to wiggle out of it and to allow our own sinfulness to torpedo the relationship. Bringing God into our relationship has without a doubt been the glue that has kept us together.
  3. Stubbornness. Yep, you read that right. I am certain there is some piece of Ronda (and myself) that will forever stay married to the other just so we can pridefully say we weren’t the one that gave up. I have often told Ronda, most mules have nothing on her. She will not yield her position on almost anything, just so she can win. And so will I. Of course, this is all in healthy humor. Which is the real thing, fun. We just plain have fun together. While we may frustrate and annoy each other, no one can make us laugh like we do.

Over the course of my relationship with Ronda, I have noticed she embodies and typifies Christ in ways I can only wish I do for her. She has an unwavering commitment to me that goes beyond love and devotion. It is purely supernatural in its origin. More times than not, when I see her I see Christ. In her love, I see the way Christ loves me.

We have had an incredible 17 years together and I can’t wait for 17 more.

Running Thoughts

IMG_6759These are not thoughts of an earth-shattering nature. They are my thoughts on somethings I wanna share. Since this is my website, I can. Take them apples.

I have been running for just over ten years now. When my wife was pregnant with our first child, I gained about 25 sympathy pounds. At the conclusion of the pregnancy, she inquired as to how I intended to lose those sympathy pounds.

So I started running.

This year has found me drastically changing some of the fundamentals about how I run. Two significant adjustments were made by me in 2015.

The first is I stopped listening to music when I run. I have been listening to music while I run for about as long as I have been running. I am not 100% sure what prompted me to make this switch, but I did. It may have been I invested in a case for my iPhone and now it doesn’t fit into the armband. Or it may have been I just wanted a change. Either way, I don’t listen to music anymore. Which leads to another subtle change, I don’t use the Nike+ app while I’m running. I have switched back to using my Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS watch to track my runs. I still carry my iPhone in a small CamelBak in case I need to be gotten ahold of, but it lays dormant while I run. I have to admit, I have enjoyed this change much more than I anticipated I would. It allows me to enjoy the scenery around me more… when there is scenery to enjoy around me. I find myself running in the early morning or late night often and therefore don’t have much to enjoy from the scenery. This has been a big shift. This is a big deal, because now I have to find something to consume the space while I run. I have used it to pray, to think and just shut down my brain. Running has always been about the solitude I get from it for me… I would almost rather run by myself than with anyone. So for me, running is about time alone, space to just be with myself. And strangely, not listening to music makes that solitude more solitary.

The second big change came in the form of a change to the running shoes I run in. Several years ago, I found a pair of Vibram Five Fingers (I later determined they were KMD Sport model) on the road. I had run in them a few times, but this year I began to run in them in earnest. This was a drastic and significant change as it totally redefined the way I run. These shoes work your muscles differently due to their design. They stimulate a more barefoot style of running. This was a change that left my calves very sore for a time. I have gotten used to it now and I really like it. I like it so much, I just bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers Bikila LS. This is a dedicated running model of the Five Fingers. They are spectacular. They feel very good. I have for several years now, enjoyed a more minimalist approach to running shoes. This is by far the most minimalist I have ever had. But it kinda fits my personality too, I think. I feel more in touch with the ground and more importantly more in touch with my body. I have decreased the knee pain I have had for over a year by running on the Five Fingers. I can better feel when my legs are tired or if I am pushing myself too hard. This is a big change, that I believe has the potential to propel my running game forward.

There you go. It’s not even March and 2015 has dramatically and forever changed my running strategy. It has already been a year of paradigm shifts in running. My next dramatic shift is going to be in my overall discipline and approach to training. If I can get all aspects of my training under a disciplined control, 2015 could see the fittest most athletic Eli Westfall the world has ever known.

#5kadayfor30days

IMG_6184I haven’t done this for some time, but I am going to do it today. I am going to share a running story. Well, it’s not much of a story as much as it is a plan of attack. Honestly, ever since I ran the Clearwater Marathon last January I have struggled to want to run. It is not because I felt as though I had run my best and there was nothing else to run. Quite the contrary. Overall, I am unsatisfied with my marathon experience and would prefer to have another one. The downside to that is know how terrible training for and then running a marathon is. So, I am having trouble feeling like I want to run. Then, I start going to crossfit which further complicates this because I am doing things with muscles I have done before and consequently tiring myself out. I have been going to crossfit for about 8 months now and I am beginning to feel the bug of running. By going to crossfit, I have greatly improved my running by spending dedicated time working on leg muscles… something I never did before, because I was running. Two days ago, I began a challenge for myself (this typical works to motivate me to do something) to run a 5k everyday for 30 days. My initial intention was after the running I do during the crossfit wod, I would ‘make up’ any additionally need running to total a 5k for the day. Both days so far, I have actually run during the wod and also run a full 5k. I know, 5k isn’t that far… but it is constant running everyday which in the long run will be much more beneficial than not running at all. Running 5k a day for 30 days is a total of 93 miles over the course of the month. That is not a bad number to post over the course of a month. I would be supremely happy with that number. And again, 5k isn’t that far. At my pace (which isn’t terribly fast) it only takes me about 28 minutes to run a 5k. That is if I am running with my dog. We have two Weimaraners and one is still a puppy and therefore in need of daily exercise. Although, being an energetic and vivacious puppy she still doesn’t run the pace I prefer. So I run a bit slower with her. Even with the Weimaraner handicap, 28 minutes is not a huge time commitment from me. Another bonus is quality time with my pup. I have begun to look forward to our runs together. She is our third Weim we have had and I have greatly enjoyed running with the others. The other one we have is an old man. He turned 10 this year. The only place he wants to run is to his food bowl! I have yet to bond with the pup in this way and now I am having the opportunity to do so. And I like it. She is a great dog. Little does she know, she is embarking on a #5kadayfor30days challenge too. You can follow me on Instagram over the next 27 days to see photos and all the fun we have as a dynamic running duo.

Fruit of the Spirit

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I sit here in my office and I am reflecting on several things at this moment.

Later today, we are heading to Jacksonville for our first soccer tournament with one of the boys. This is new for us. We have played recreational soccer up tip this point and now we are in a competitive soccer. This is all new territory for us. This is on my mind.
Additionally, I am thinking through the many tasks needing to be accomplished as a part of the job whose office I sit at now with my feet propped on my desk listening to Celldweller’s Purified writing these rambling thoughts about stuff. There always feels to be a mountain of tasks to be accomplished. I guess this is good, because it is rarely that I sit around with nothing to do. Usually when I have nothing to do it is because I simply choose to not do what needs to be done.
I am also thinking through tasks needing to be wrapped for H2O Church. Adding this FT job to my plate has forced me to rearrange priorities and is causing me to have to specifically make time to get those tasks accomplished. We have recruited a bunch of new people and I am in need of connecting with them to ensure we don’t lose the momentum. On top of that, we are having church tomorrow and not on Sunday… and I am not sure we are going to have the staff to really handle the service. It would be a stretch to begin with if all the leadership of the kids ministry were going to be there, but they are not… added to this is a new variable which will significantly impair how we do things up there tomorrow.
Now, We as Human is rocking Sever through my speakers.
It is at times like these I become implicitly aware of my need for assistance in getting everything accomplished. Yes, I need a personal assistant. Wonder what it would cost to hire someone to follow me around and do the things I don’t feel like doing or don’t have the time to do? You know like on Monk…
Anyway, what I mean to say is… it is at seasons like this I realize my need for something bigger than me offering me peace, patience and contentment in getting things finished. I don’t think being a Christ-follower offers me some sort of supernatural ability to multitask or organize my time in such a way that I am more successful. But I do think being able to lean and trust in God offers me the peace, patience and contentment I can’t find elsewhere. My natural bent in life is not to be peaceful, patient or contented. I need assistance from something else, someone else to get these characteristics. I just don’t have them in my toolbox.
What I also realize in these times is how little I rely on God. As I am writing this, I think the fruits of the spirit sure would be helpful in times like this… yet I spend very little time cultivating those fruits in my life purposefully. It is more like i stumble through life hoping along the way I will stumble across or bump into the fruit of spirit and somehow some of them will stick to me, There isn’t the discipline needed to intentionally build these into my life.
At the beginning of August, I began training for marathon number two (the Space Coast Marathon on 11/30/14). I took a couple of weeks to think through the best training plan for me. What was going to be the best approach to training for the marathon so I could do better in this one than I did in the last one. I would never think of haphazardly training for this marathon. I am being very purposeful and diligent in my training. Every aspect of it is being thought through from the running the cross training (which looks like crossfit 3x a week) to the nutritional intake. Why do I approach a marathon this way but not my spiritual life… which has four other people depending on me to have a strong, close relationship with Jesus?
It appears there is no excuse for me. I owe it to Jesus and Ronda, Noah, Hayden and Jagger to be more purposeful… more disciplined… more intentional in my walk with Jesus. My life as a father and husband is just like a marathon… it is a long distance race requiring stamina allowing me to stay in the race when I feel like I can’t go on any farther. The ability to persevere comes from the strength the spirit of God offers me. I must eat more of his fruit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22,23

Where does the Pavement lead from here?

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This is the question I find I’m asking myself as I begin 2014 and I’m planning what it will bring for me and running. 2013 saw me make vast improvements in my running game and saw me take on challenges I wasn’t sure I was able to overcome. Here are a few of the milestones I hit last year:
Set my fastest half marathon time
Beat my fastest half marathon time… twice.
Ran over one hundred miles in a month… twice. I ran 125 in November and 116 in December.
Ran in my first half marathon race (setting my current personal record)
Began training for a marathon
Ran the farthest I ever have in one run – 20 miles.
Ended the year with over 750 miles ran
In January (next Sunday actually) I will run my first marathon.

Where do I go from here? Where else is there? Run 1000 miles in 2014. This is the golden egg I have been chasing for eight years. To run 1000 miles in a year. I came very close in 2013, less than 200 away from it.

How will I get there? What is my strategy? Run. A lot. Just kidding! Well, that is my strategy, but I have it more defined than just running a lot. The race is next Sunday. Step one, run the race and finish it. Step 2, take a slow week or 12 days to recover… take it easy until the end of January. Step 3, begin anew the marathon training schedule on February 1st and complete the cycle two times through the month of September. Step 4, finish out the year.

So as not to leave anything to chance, how many miles is that exactly. I wasn’t sure, so I did a little math. The 16 week marathon training schedule calls for 586 miles. If I complete that twice, it’ll be 1172 miles for 32 weeks of running. Those numbers don’t account for any running I do in January or anything in October through December.

Feels ambitious to me. Very ambitious.

One of the things I have learned as I have run on this training schedule for the last two and a half months – I have paid almost no attention to the end result of month, because I was so focused on each run of the week. I got to the end of November and December and was like, ‘I ran how far this month? Are you kidding me?’ I was focused enough on the short term, I didn’t see the long term.

This could be the way for me to push past the magical 1000 miles I desperately crave. I now know I am actually capable of running more Thani could have imagined in any given month. Capable by more than an additional 50% more. Crazy talk!

What this says to me is my goals for 2014 are very audacious. But very achievable if I stay focused and keep my eye on the prize.

Go big or go home.

Being sick could be worse

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I’m sick.

I hate being sick. It is the worst thing.

Ronda was sick for the entire Christmas break. It sucked. And now I am sick. I hate being sick. Ronda is out of town until tomorrow afternoon. She’s been gone since Wednesday evening. I came over to my in laws house because my boys are really annoying me. I can’t believe how loud they are. And their farts really stink.

I want to do nothing other than sleep… or maybe die. Either would be fine. I almost didn’t get the boys from school today. I woke up 3 minutes after their school let out. Luckily we live close.

I realize I’m sorta rambling & not really discussing much, but I want to keep my commitment/challenge to write 500 words everyday for 30 days. I can do this.

In reality, being sick right now most frustrates me because it is keeping me from running. I have a race in nine days. A marathon. I need to make sure I am ready and taking a couple of unplanned days off from running doesn’t help my anxiety level when it comes to ensuring I am prepared. I’m sure I will be fine, but I still am a little perturbed I couldn’t run eight miles today. Just makes the next few days busier with miles.

I am very excited about the race, it’s going to be awesome.

But being sick really sucks.

I ache from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I’m coughing, sneezing and wishing I was dead. No fun.

I am glad I have family living close enough to me they can help in a situation like this. If we lived away from family and Ronda was gone it would be all out lord of the flies at my house with my boys. There is literally no telling what they would do. I would wake from a medicine induced coma to find rodents and small woodland animals in various states of consumption and taxonomy in my living room. The dogs would have war paint on them. The whole house would be a giant fort. They would be hopped up on Mountain Dew and donuts. It would be epic levels of awesome manliness by three young men. Awesome.

I can see Ronda now, she comes home and wonders why the house looks like a warzone. She’ll wonder why the dogs have war paint. The boys would probably have war paint too. How do you explain that? Uhh, honey I have absolutely no idea what happened… that would work about as well as if you admitted you knew exactly what was happening. You’re screwed either way. Nice.

Lucky for me, this isn’t the case because I have family close. Family I can run to for help. Family who can handle the boys while I sleep in the next room. Family who will tame the savage beasts and choke on the farts that smell like dead wildebeest.

Turns out being sick could be far worse than it is.