I care. And so I tri. (How did the race go?)

On the first day of Summer, which happened to be Father’s Day, I competed in a sprint triathlon here in Oregon City. Here’s a bit about how I did, and especially WHY I raced in this fundraiser for Team World Vision. Some of you gave (Thank You!), and many have asked “How did the race go?” Plus, a new and different race is just around the corner.

Team World Vision » triathlon

This was my second attempt at a triathlon, as I did this same one here in our backyard in 2014. As one who has endured some acute and chronic injuries1 since high school, I found a cross-training balance has improved my life in immeasurable ways.

AeromanOne of my brothers compelled me to start training as I observed his legit endurance. He’s competed in multiple cycling races and a few years ago became a triathlete. He’s conquered every distance up through Ironman2 and this Fall we’ll be there cheering him on at Ironman Arizona. (His new goal is to go sub-ten-hours, which means he will likely pass some pros.) We train virtually together from afar; swimming-biking-running has become an enjoyable triad, a shared experience for us.

This race was about much more than a triathlon, though. “Sprinting” for an hour or so was the easy part. The real challenge is the six kilometer plus daily hike women and children in East Africa have to endure just to get water for the day. Every day, multiply times for so many, hauling many gallons and dozens of pounds at once. All for un-clean water! It’s exhausting, dangerous, and yet this problem is solvable. Through the community development efforts of World Vision, partnering with countless local and national organizations, clean water can be accessible for the poorest of the poor. Lives can be rebuilt, children have new opportunities, women can flourish as made in God’s image. Their sufferings are ours to lean into, to be part of what God can do, if we will care.

Clean WaterIn Africa they say, “Water is Life.” About 768 million people in the world lack access to safe water.

Lack of clean water is the number one preventable cause of death in the world. Women and children often walk 6 kilometers or more each way, two to three times a day, to gather water that isn’t even safe to drink; for water that could kill them.

It was an extraordinary experience doing fundraising while training, gaining confidence each time I told others about why I wanted, scratch that, they needed to give. At first I was apologetic about it, and then I realized that no apologies are needed, and I couldn’t be ah-shucks about it: kids are dying and through us be given a whole new opportunity in life.

When I broke it down that $50 provides water for one child in East Africa FOR LIFE, then people started to take notice.

That’s why I tri-ed.

I’ve been asked: How did I do in the actual race?

I trained long and hard, enjoying it all. Besides thinking about and praying for the kids who will no longer thirst, the hour or two every morning is the highlight of each day. This was my second triathlon (sprint: 800m swim » 12mi bike » 5K run) so I am still a total newbie, especially on transitions, and I usually feel like I’ll drown on the swim.

Running with Heidi

Running with Heidi

The best part is how our kids got involved, cheering me on in training. Nearly all my training times are complete before 6:45 AM every day, so they usually don’t see me out there running, biking, even swimming. (They see me spent and sweaty afterward, though.)

But Dutch and Heidi asked me about it, and ask if they could “train” with me, so we’d go out front and run some sprints, or ride bikes a few dozen times up and down the block. Then it occurred to my wife Kari and I to connect our extra giving to this vital need. We decided that if I placed third overall we would donate $500, second place would be $1,000, and first place overall would have us matching the $1,500 goal.

Happy finish (& a leg massage)I was the first one to cross the finish line, by a few minutes, which made my family think I won it. (Our kids were so enthusiastic!) Alas, I knew the athlete — another pastor named Jeff as well — I passed to start the 5K run not only beat me last year by a good margin, but he started behind me in a different wave by at least 5 minutes. I kept thinking, somehow I need to gain 5 minutes in these 5 kilometers. If only I could have matched my personal best in a 5K to end the race! Fatigue set in and the mind games started. Don’t slow down!

Nothing topped this hug at the finish line …
Father-son joy!  We did it, son.

Yet we were so stoked with the finish, and I couldn’t say ‘no’ to our kids (nor to those kids in Africa!), so we happily matched the $1,500 to make it $3,000 for clean water. That made the whole race so much more enjoyable. Announced at Renew Church that morning when I arrived late, thankfully not preaching a sermon that day. Best Father’s Day I can remember.

Official results:

Official times2nd place overall, 1st in age group

Swim 800m: 13:04 (+ half mile run extra transition)
Bike 12mi+: 36:38
Run 5K: 20:08
===========

Total 1:15:56

Afterwards a few of the sponsored triathletes I passed asked about my Team World Vision race kit and if I was “sponsored by World Vision.” Got to explain how it works the other way around (!) and share about the project.

Which brings me to another race I was just asked last week to join. This one is more ambitious, and I get to do the easy part of training and running, and you get the joy and challenge of providing life-changing water for more kids!

Team World Vision » Hood to Coast

The New Race: On August 28-29th I’ll be running, fundraising to provide life-changing water and resources for the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan. Working with the 4 South Sudan organization (founded by US Olympian Lopez Lomong, one of South Sudan’s “Lost Boys”), Team World Vision has ten teams participating in Hood-to-Coast, the world’s largest relay running race.

How about we aim to support 200 now?! $10,000 will provide water for TWO HUNDRED children FOR LIFE!

In joining a Team World Vision running team during the Hood-to-Coast relay, a total of 120 runners on ten teams are seeking to collectively raise one million dollars. Most of my new teammates are raising $10,000 each. Since I’m new to this party, let’s try to catch up. Okay?

Thanks for your support! » Please Give at teamworldvision.renewjeff.com.
—Jeff

(p.s., Many companies have programs to provide matching gifts.)

World Vision works with communities in desperate need to help provide things like clean water, nutritious food, education, medical care, and economic opportunity.

World Vision has the largest privately funded water initiative on the continent of Africa.

Clean water is a problem for which there is a solution. World Vision is the leading organizations bringing clean/safe water to communities in Africa in a sustainable way. When a community gains access to clean water:

  • Child mortality rates can be cut in half
  • Children enrolled in school can increase by as much as 80%
  • Women can begin working to provide for their family
  • Individuals and communities are changed in almost every way

  1. A couple challenging injuries include: a broken vertebrae at age 16 (never completely healed), and later ran over left foot in Jeep Wrangler a decade ago.
  2. An Iron-distance or official “Ironman” triathlon is 140.6 total miles in three legs: starting with a 2.4 mile swim, transitioning to a 112 mile bike ride, and then capping it off with a marathon. Yep, run 26.2 miles to finish.
 

Father’s Day Race to Give Kids Life!

In Africa they say, “Water is Life.” About 768 million people in the world lack access to safe water.

It is the number one preventable cause of death in the world. Women and children often walk 6 miles or more each way two to three times a day to gather water that isn’t even safe to drink, water that could kill them.

Through Team World Vision, $50 will provide clean water for one person for a lifetime!

Continue reading

 

Do adults ever play?

Calvin & Hobbes
 Source: Calvin & Hobbes 1

Last weekend a bunch of dads and daughters ventured into the great outdoors, endeavoring to build lasting memories together while camping, eating, s’mores-ing, fishing, playing, giggling, et cetera. The thing is, each of the fathers had to at one point recognize their ambitious plans for a great weekend had to step aside for the joy of whatever their daughter(s) wanted to do at that moment.

Plans that would need to be as fluid as the changing weather. And they were.

We didn’t catch any fish, though some newts became instant pets (before returning to their marshlands safely). Meals and bedtimes and dietary restrictions were merely guidelines, not rules. We had a ton of fun.

When the rain subsided, a beloved activity of this group of giddy girls was riding razor scooters and bikes around the campsite loop, with some rolling hills. It was a challenge to maintain speed all the way around. At least one of us dads needed to accompany, and I’m glad to say most of the dads joined in with their daughter(s) at one point or another. Since I’m no use in food prep nor in cooking a large-group meal, I instead volunteered to join these impromptu wheeled adventures.

Daddy-Daughter Campout

The biking and scooter-ing were way more fun when it wasn’t raining, and that’s when one of the girls asked me how long the loop was. “I don’t know,” I responded, “how long do you think it is? Definitely less than a mile; maybe a half mile?”  She then asked if I had my GPS watch to “keep track.” Yep, it’s in my bag as usual. So I put on my Garmin, and we all started out again on our loops. There were the inevitable bumps and bruises when one of the riders did a yard sale over the scooter bars, yet those girls are tough and within minutes each time were back at it.

Later we figured out each loop was about a third of a mile, and one girl noted she had done twenty-five loops. A bit of math scratched out in the dirt led her to realize that day’s bike riding added up to more than eight miles around that campground. Whoa. Solid effort. That is active play.

 

I took a little flack from some of the men for “measuring” the play time. I quipped back that I had been the one running the loops with the kids, gathering the wounded, and bringing them back, while (some of) the other dads sat around. (Men can take jabs at one another like this, and still remain friends.) Yet the remark about not measuring has some merit, because an unmeasured life has significant qualities to it.

Like the Calvin and Hobbes comic above, we grown-ups don’t often go outside and play. Our lives are rigorously measured, with many goals and timelines, so when we get some down-time we seek out other ways to set aside responsibilities for a breather. (Ahh. Let me just sit here in peace.)

I wonder what happens to us adults as we lose our “childlikeness” (not childishness, which is foolish and immature, and many keep). Rather, like a child, when we do give ourselves permission again to be overwhelmed with a sense of awe and wonder when out and about in nature?

Why do we glue ourselves to gadgets to be amused, rather than go muse about out in creation?

(I’m not talking about the difference between using an exercise tracker versus playing “free” of any devices.) Continue reading

  1. Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson, May 12, 2015
 

Love: Fitness, Fatigue & Form

In recent months a few friends have asked me to help them get in shape. Mostly through “friendly” encouragement, but sometimes more directly (and firmly) as a coach would. Various requests came in the form of invitations to run together, so we formed the Arch Bridge Running Club (Tuesdays, 5:00 AM running in/between Oregon City and West Linn). 1 A couple of us are training for a triathlon. Mostly we’re just running buddies.

RiskOne friend — not a runner nor desiring to become one! — asked me earnestly one day in mid-January if I would help him get in shape. Sure!

It took 86 days for his verbal desire to become “day one” of action. This month he began the journey through physical fitness. His resolve is now taking the shape of a new habit. (Don’t give up. Habits are usually stronger than desires.)

The key for him? Probably many things, like being disillusioned with getting older and sedentary. The inspiration of others on the journey, and a commitment to eating healthier has helped. Probably, like me, saying “no” is a challenge for him, so that there’s little left for cultivating a whole life.

Yet the key factor was this: beginning a new routine alongside his wife. (Yes!) This meant saying no to the customized fitness plan I had sent him (85 days prior) in order to say yes to a better and more realistic plan. (Principle: It’s good to say no to your friends for the sake of your wife.)

Personally, I default to doing just about anything alone. Which is precisely why I must not do so. Sure, there are times of solitude, and out of six runs in a given week, five usually are alone before the sun comes up (though with Strava you’re never really alone). Tuesday mornings are a reminder that I am both known and needed, and not just because I’m the one who usually sets the week’s running plan.

Being known is about vulnerability, where others can see you as you are: whether fit and fresh or fat and fatigued. In physical terms that means getting up early, when no one else will (especially yesterday’s you), to hit the road or gym hard. It means showing up to give your best, while not looking your best. It means turning on screens in order to get needed sleep. It means running slower on recovery days, since that’s wisdom. It means asking someone significant to check on what you’ve eaten, what you’ve spent, giving personal access to someone to see the behind-the-scenes of your life. The same holds true spiritually, relationally, emotionally. This is the pursuit of wholeness, where we see God’s love at work it us, whether fit or fatigued. Continue reading

  1. The Arch Bridge Running Club is open to all, though for your enjoyment some basics and baseline fitness are needed: 1) Be able to run continuously for thirty minutes, 2) sustain sub-9:00/mi for three miles, 3) a desire to be challenged. There are no dues, nor t-shirts (yet).
 

swim-bike-run » for clean water & fullness of life

You’ve heard it said, “New year, new you.”

What if I told you that goal is too small? What if you and I were made for so much more than self-glory?

In view of all the reasons I run, and with a goal of getting uncomfortable, in 2015 I’ve made it a goal to take something 1) I personally enjoy, that is 2) a noble pursuit, and 3) make it less about me … by connecting it to a bigger ambition. Last year, as part of a noble pursuit of health and fitness, I attempted a sprint triathlon, especially enjoyed the training and was pleased with the results.

Since triathlon—like all other pursuits—can easily morph into a triple event in self-actualization (look at me! 3x), I have to fight against that urge and make it more about true global needs. Instead of asking God to make my dreams come true, I’m learning to let those dreams die to see His dreams come to life. 1

Team World Vision | Triathlon

So, this year I’m swimming-biking-running with Team World Vision to help provide clean water for communities in Africa. The needs are real, but there is something we can do!

$50 = clean water for 1 person

Will you donate to provide clean water for 1, 2, 3, or even more people in Africa?

Clean WaterTogether we can help change lives in Africa across Ghana, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia.

– – –
The Race: On June 21st I’ll swim-bike-run in the Clackamas Cove Triathlon (you’re welcome to join me). 2 Last year was my first attempt at a triathlon; this time I want to not only place first in my age division, but more importantly: reach this goal of providing clean water for 30 people in Africa? Will you join me?

World Vision works with communities in desperate need to help provide things like clean water, nutritious food, education, medical care, and economic opportunity.

Links:

Thanks for your support!
—Jeff

  1. My body ‘needs’ many things, including being daily punished into godly submission to Christ (see 1 Cor. 9:24-27), yet more than that: everyone needs clean water!
  2. An aside: the Clackamas Cove Triathlon is not officially connected to my fundraiser. Their good work in the Oregon City community focuses on local charities.
 

Let’s get uncomfortable!

“Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives. No sense of adventure. We get in a car, we get in an elevator, it all comes easy. What I’ve found is that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and I’m struggling for high achievement, and in that struggle I think there’s a magic.”1

That’s a keen insight from long-distance runner Dean Karnazes. His words apply to all “adventure,” really all of life, as running and training can be a good metaphor for the real “endurance” events we call daily life. The ordinary, common, everyday activities are where we need the will to persevere and willingness to get uncomfortable.

In short: We can either be comfortable and stagnate or stretch ourselves—become uncomfortable—and grow.

We tend to think that comfort leads to happiness. It doesn’t. “Happiness” comes from growth, a deeper joy than temporal circumstances. In comes in part from making commitments and keeping them. We find a measure of joy in making progress, and especially joining others in their development. When we persevere, we grow.

Let's run up those hillsFor me that means hitting the pavement in search of some hills almost every morning. In reality, running is the easy part. It’s the other “endurance” events of life where we must embrace the uncomfortable: relationship tensions, hard decisions, confrontation, adversity, setbacks, each new challenge an opportunity. This is essential if we are to reject apathy.

I wonder if one reason 80%+ of people fail on their New Year’s resolutions is they remain committed to their own comfort. The love of comfort keeps them from a better adventure. People embrace apathy, which is a slow death. And a love of self-comfort keeps them for pursuing health and wholeness for the sake of others. If we are to benefit—and better yet: if others are to develop under our care and leadership—we must get uncomfortable. Seek out a measure of adversity, and train for the real adversity than will inevitably come your way.

“Nothing is more important than to learn how to maintain a life of purpose in the midst of painful adversity.”2

  1. Dean Karnazes in an interview with Outdoor Magazine, published online December 2006.
  2. Timothy Keller, Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering.
 

Today: Run Happy!

Today, June 5th is National Running Day!

Will you go for a run? A jog? A Wog (walk-jog)?

A great feature of running is the only person you’re compete with is … yourself.

national_running_day

Could you run a mile? A quarter-mile? Around your block?

A runner takes about 150-250 steps per minute (the lower figure for 9:00/mile and the higher at a 6:00/mile pace). So, if you run one mile that’s about 1,200-1,500 steps +/-. You have that many steps in you, right?

As for me, I usually run early mornings 3-6 times a week, but this week I’m laying low, with a sprained right ankle, and a gimpy left one too. Something about using a stool as a ladder that I learned last week was unwise.

Logging milesWhile that setback bummed me out, it was on the heels of the logging the most miles in consecutive months since I last weighed the same as I do now (at age 19). So, taking a long-view helps, for elite runners (or elite-anybodies) are not made overnight. It takes step after step, and mile upon mile. For example, I average more than 30-seconds-per-mile faster than I did a year ago. On top of averaging an additional three miles per run.

In 24 days I’ll run in a half-marathon. Yet, a mere three years ago it had been years since I’d been a consistent running, and thought it was just due to injury and being too busy. My foot hurt and life was packed. But honestly, my main problem was a lack of motivation.

2012-2013-running-progress_june-may_lg

So, let me encourage you to lace up those shoes and go for a run — no matter how long or short — and enjoy the freedom God gave you to be healthy.

34cf9decee4011e1a2ce22000a1c86dc_7As you run: need some encouragement?

  • Tell someone your goals (or set goals together)
  • Read encouraging stories of those pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone (runners’ stories here and here and here).
  • Download an app on your smartphone. My favorite by far is Runkeeper, which is FREE (download app), and is far more than an app. It’s a running community (for more than just running) … make that a workout community.

Here’s what the Runkeeper community collectively completed in workouts during the first quarter of 2013:

Continue reading