Same Race But Much Has Changed

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. –Jeremiah 29:11

IMG_5282CRUEL JEWEL 108- REPEAT

In two weeks I will once again stand at the starting line of the Cruel Jewel. This 108-mile ultra that occurs deep within the beautiful Chattahoochee National Forest of Georgia was the most difficult race I had faced last May. In addition to the extra 8 miles the race director added from the normal “Century” run and 33,000 feet of climbing, I somehow got lost and added on another half-dozen miles for fun. Based on these obvious challenges, it was no surprise that it took me over 34 hours to finish.

Why on earth would I do it again? That would be a fair question. However, as I wrote in my race report last year, I learned more about myself and what my body and mind were capable of here more than during any other event. Based on this and a nagging desire to know what I was capable of if I had stayed on course, drove me to sign up once again. Another reason I decided to tackle this course was the hopes that it may help prepare me for my next adventure in August, Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc. UTMB is a race that traverses 3 countries around Mount Blanc in Europe and is even more brutal, given its longer climbs and higher altitude.

(see amazing views from the course in the video below)

NEVER SETTLE –NEW COMPANY

I want to be challenged in all areas of my life. I believe we often learn more when we face adversity and take on difficult responsibilities than when we can coast on cruise control. This is true in other areas of my life and resulted in my recent decision to leave the company I had worked at for the last 12 years collectively. It is a great company with wonderful friends but where I was no longer being challenged. Some may find comfort in the security of a big company but I know I have so much more to offer and knew that it was time to make another professional change. Less than 2 weeks before running the same race, I will start my new job. Much like at the start of the race, I know there are many factors that are within my control. However, there are many which are not that I must adjust to in order to succeed and thrive. I am excited for this next adventure and look forward with anticipation of what may lie ahead.

FOLLOWING THE SPIRIT –  CHURCH

A year ago I also made a very difficult decision to leave the church where I had come to better know Jesus as my Lord, my Savior, and my friend. I served as an Elder and was deeply involved. I felt comfortable there with many good friends, a beautiful building, and wonderful music. These were all reasons that made it difficult to leave but I knew in my heart they were also not reasons to stay.

Unlike running or working, I have come to understand that my faith is the foundation for every other aspect of my life. Given the commitment to my faith and desire to be in an environment that would challenge me and help me to grow in a manner consistent with the teachings from scripture, I made this difficult decision. I have no doubt a year later that it was the right one. I still miss many things about my old place of worship but I am blessed in my new church home to be inspired each week in worship with wonderful and consistent teaching.

NEVER EASY

I have heard it said that the right decision is often the most difficult one. This has been true for me in many areas of my life, and as a result, I will continue to pray that each decision I make on the race course or in life is the right one. Even when things do not go according to plan, I must continue to put one step in front of the other and press on toward the goal to do what is right for my faith and family.

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Last Summer in Hilton Head

THANK YOU

It means a great deal that you have taken the time to read this. I have not been writing as much as I’d like and I am unsure how much I will be able to in the future given the new job. However, I look forward to continuing to share my race reports and other lessons that I have found helpful.

 

God Bless,

Nick

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 Javelina 100: Race Report and Being Thankful

 

A little salty!

A little salty!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
… A time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-6

There are times in our life when it seems like things are going great. Unfortunately we can more often identify when things do not go according to our plan.

One of the strange attractions in running 100 miles is the acceptance that I will face unexpected challenges which must be overcome. This distance is unlike the marathon where most runners strive for that prefect race, regardless of how elusive it may be.

Learning how to overcome difficulties one can face in ultra-marathons has served me well in my previous 6 finishes at this distance and in life. It has been at these races that I learned I am capable of more than I ever imagined with the Lord’s help. I’ve learned that when things may seem hopeless, strength to continue can be found if I take the time to pause, pray, and persist. Continue reading

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A Change of Plans and A New 100 Mile Race

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:20-21

September 2014 - I thought I'd also run a little race while in Taiwan

September 2014 – I thought I’d also run a little race while in Taiwan

Over the last 12 months my training was focused on one event, the Grindstone 100. It was here where I experienced my first DNF (Did Not Finish).  Previously I wrote about how my crazy idea of arriving the day before the race from Taiwan (12 hour time difference) would work to my advantage with a 6:00pm start. While it did help me stay alert throughout the night, I fell apart during the day and had to drop because of the cold and being unprepared at mile 87.

I was finally going to complete those last 13 miles on October 2nd until torrential rains resulted in the U.S. Forest Service pulling all permits for that weekend in the George Washington National Forest. Continue reading

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DCR – 5 Years And Still Running!

5 Year Anniversary Run

5 Year Anniversary Run

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20

It is humbling to think about how much things have changed in the last 5 years.  Whether we look at our world or our personal lives, 5 years is a long time.

On October 17th the Doylestown Christian Runners (DCR) celebrated our 5 year anniversary. There are many wonderful stories that have come out of the DCR during this time. The most notable are the many friendships that have been formed as a result of individuals getting together on the 3rd Saturday of each month.

It has been a blessing to see how the Holy Spirit has used DCR to help neighbors meet, have members of the same church come to know one another, and allow those who were signed up for the same race to find a friend to train with. Continue reading

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Trails, Yoga, & Faith: Remain Engaged

IMG_4372“Let your eyes look directly in front of you and let your gaze look straight before you” –Proverbs 4:25

There is nothing like running on great trails while being surrounded by His amazing creation. This was my experience as I ran in Maui earlier this year. As I was descending down some gnarly trails in Haleakalā National Park, I was constantly challenged to keep my eyes on the path rather than by the beauty all around.  A wrong step could result in being sliced open by the treacherous lava rock or worse.

Eventually I let my mind drift and eyes wonder off the task at hand. I let my body relax and BAM! My ankle rolled, I began to stumble, but fortunately I remained vertical and on the ledge. Immediately, after thanking the good Lord for saving me, I thought of my yoga class! Continue reading

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Battling The Ultra-Running Sleep Monsters

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.    -Romans 12:2

Also known as a sugar coma!

Running right to sleep!

One of the battles I have struggled with during my previous 100 mile races, before the Cruel Jewel, was the debilitating and relentless sleep monsters that would attack as darkness descended. The desire to close your eyes for just a quick nap can be so overwhelming. It can lull you into the crazy idea to stop on the side of a cold, wet trail in the middle of the night for just a few minutes of rest despite the inherent danger in doing so. Continue reading

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“CRUEL” Jewel 108 Mile – Race Report …. OUCH!

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Ran approximately 115 Miles in 34 hours and 42 minutes

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”            Matthew 18:20

It was my 7th 100 mile race and I thought I knew what to expect from the course, my body, and from my mind.  However, I was challenged and learned more about myself in the mountains of northern Georgia than any other race.

IMG_5282The Cruel Jewel is a name that is well deserved. The website boast that this is a “108 mile foot race deep within the beautiful Chattahoochee National Forest…It consists of 96 miles of trails, 12 miles of mountain roads, and 20 aid stations. Along your journey…you will experience tough, and sometimes technical, single track trails, ferns and old growth poplar trees, steep ascents and even steeper descents, a historic steel bridge spanning the Toccoa River, the Dragon’s Spine, lush green hardwood forests, rocks, roots and ridge lines … all of which will be passed before you reach your final destination. And as a bonus we have thrown in 33,000 feet of gain and 33,000 feet of loss just to keep it interesting”.

If this description wasn’t scary enough, throw in a little humidity for a guy who spent most of the winter running in single digits (I know it could have been much worse) and add an extra 6-7 miles as I did… but that’s for later. Continue reading

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